28 April 2009

Fashion: The Austrian Golden Fleece

By Jennifer Linforth

Chivalric orders have been around since the dawn of time it seems. Such honors were the order of knights created by European monarchs mimicking the military orders used in the Crusades. Idealized and romanticized as a symbol of high respect and integrity, they reflected the medieval notion of chivalry and devotion as see in Arthurian romances.

A prevalent order during the Victorian ear was the illustrious Order of the Golden Fleece. The most renowned of all collared orders it was divided into two sects—that of the Spaniards and that of the Austrians. Awards of the Order for Austria, or the Habsburg Order, were made for "important personal achievement in the furtherance of the Christian ideal." The Collars of the Golden Fleece had to be returned after the death of a knight, and were worn at ceremonies of the Order, in processions accompanying the Holy Sacrament and at Pontifical affairs. The badge of the Order is worn from a red ribbon with the ornate enameled B and fusil. Those granted knighthood were required to keep a miniature, blessed reproduction of the fleece in an honorable spot on their persons at all times.