IMPERIAL SOVEREIGN TIBERIAN DOBRYNIAN HOUSE OF ROME BYZANTIUM AND RUSSIA
GRAN MAGISTERO ORDINI DINASTICI NON NAZIONALI
The Sovereign Imperial Roman
Order of the Dragon
Prince Stefan Lazarevic became a Hungarian vassal and knight of the realm and brought the traditions of the Dragon Order to the attention of Sigismund von Luxembourg, then King of Hungary. Sigismund immediately latched onto the idea of reviving Obilic’s society and, on December 13, 1408, he publicly announced the charter for the Order of the Dragon, a crusading society pledged to the defense of the Christian faith, charity and the protection of Central and Eastern Europe from the Ottoman Turks.
Twenty four members were initially inducted into the order in the single rank of Knight of the Dragon. These esteemed individuals included: Sigismund von Luxembourg as Grand Master, Stefan Lazarevic, King Alfonso of Spain, King Ladislas II of Poland, Grand Duke Vitold of Lithauania, Christopher III of Denmark and Duke Ernst of Austria. Other important members who would be initiated in subsequent years included Thomas Duke of Norfolk, Albert von Habsburg and Vlad II, Prince of Wallachia.
The Order received Papal recognition in 1411 and its ritual and symbols were formalized. The motto of the order would be “O Quam Misericors est Deus,” and the protector of the Order would be Saint George. The symbol of the order was to be the insignia of the dragon, with its tail curved around its neck and the cross of Saint George emblazoned on its flank. Mantles of the order were black with red lining. Knights of the order were required to wear their dragon insignia at all times and some were even buried with their regalia.
As the Order expanded among the knights and nobility of Hungary, Poland and the Balkans, Sigismund chose to expand the order in 1431, creating a rank system and galvanizing the main aim of the society, that of driving the Ottoman Turks from Eastern Europe and protecting the Byzantine Empire. To this effect, the Order of the Dragon divorced itself from a traditional, dynastic Order of Chivalry associated with the House of Luxembourg, the Holy Roman Empire or the Crown of Hungary. Instead, the Order became a crusading brotherhood, akin to the Orders of Malta, the Temple or the Hospital of Saint John. It was agreed among the leading members that, upon the death of Emperor Sigismund, the position of Grand Master would not pass to his descendents but to a worthy member of the Order, popularly elected by the other chief nobles. Thus, with Sigismund’s death in 1437, Albert von Habsburg succeeded to the role of Grand Master and was followed by the famed Hungarian crusader, Janos Hunyadi. Hunyadi and his colleagues shunned the public nature of Sigismund’s Order and chose instead to operate along more clandestine lines. Thus, the Chivalric Order would gradually disappear from the rank and file of history’s noble Orders while continuing its increasingly important mission of protecting the Church and helping the poor and the sick, especially in those areas of Eastern and Central Europe dominated by the Ottomans. Ultimately, due to this clandestine event, it is difficult to fully elucidate the history of the Order although rumors of its existence are noted.
The focus of the crusading order would remain the fierce opposition to Turkish dominance and, to this effect, the Order continued into the sixteenth century, eventually assuming the role of a clandestine dynastic Order under the ecumenical princes of Transylvania by charter in 1580. At the time, Transylvania was the eastern bulwark of Central Europe, absorbing the brunt of Ottoman incursions. The people of Transylvania were composed of polyglot nations of various creeds and the principles of the order were further revised to reflect this fact. In the ecumenical tradition of weighing political and religious balance, the Transylvanian Bathory princes remolded the Order into a Dynastic Ecumenical Order, creating a fraternal rallying standard for those of various creeds and cultures who were determined to stave off the Ottoman advance. The Order maintained its Catholic trappings and insignia but members of the Orthodox Church, Protestants and Jews were also admitted.
In hopes of galvanizing further resistance against the Ottoman menace, Cardinal Andrew Bathory and his successor as Grand Master, Gabor Bethlen, sought to increase the number of Russian potentates admitted into the society. Thus several Czars and Grand Dukes who became patron of the Order, as Ivan III Velichy "The Great", Gran Duke of Russia and High Protector around the 1500.
The famous Polish King, Jan Sobieski, the architect behind the great Turkish defeat at the gates of Vienna, also served as Grand Master between 1657 and 1696. As Hungary and Transylvania crumbled beneath the weight of the Turkish onslaught, many members of the Dragon Order fell in battle and the orientation of the surviving knights drifted further eastward. With the death of Jan Sobieski, leadership passed to Prince Dmitri Cantemir, the Despot of Moldavia, who was valiantly engaged in a conflict to stave off the Turks. Dmitiri rallied the last of the loyal Dragon knights but was ultimately defeated by the Turks and ousted from his principality. The circle of the Order had dwindled significantly and, once Cantemir died without issue, the title of Grand Master passed to Dmitri’s suzerain, Peter the Great of Russia. Without a circle of knights, however, the raison d’etre of the noble society ceased to exist and Peter chose to place the Order in abeyance. Nonetheless, the titular right to reconstitute the order remained within the provenance of the Russian Crown.
Nature and Sovereignty of the Order
The Aims of the modern order have a different focus from that of Sigismund’s creation but hold true to the basic precepts:- Perpetuation of the original traditions and history of the Dragon Order.
- Propagation of the principles of universal brotherhood, friendship and amity between men of all races, faiths and nationalities.
- Defense and maintenance of the chivalrous ideals of Justice, Honor, Care of the Sick and Protection of the weak and infirm.
- Furtherance of philanthropic and benevolent virtues and aims.
Membership in the order is bestowed by the grace of the Grand Master, in recognition of worthy individuals with a long record of varied humanitarian, scientific and artistic efforts or motu proprio for various honoris causa. In the Order of the Dragon, successive ranks are commonly achieved through promotion although the conferment of any rank can be incurred upon recommendation of the Prince in instances he deems appropriate (ie extreme meritorious endeavors or achievements). Categories of the order Exist as follows:
Class I – Knight Grand Cross with Swords: Outside of members of the Imperial Family, this rank is reserved for those individuals who have shown the highest devotion to the principles of the order: to faith, justice, humanitarianism, charity, chivalry and nobility. Recipients of this class of the order are entitled to the prefix of “Excellency,” and may include the symbol of the order on their respective coat of arms.
Class II – Knight Grand Cross: This rank is awarded to members who have shown themselves to perform at an outstanding level, meriting recognition, in the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Religion and Philosophy. Also bestowed to those select individuals who have worked tirelessly to further the charitable and philanthropic aims of the Order.
Class III – Grand Official - KOOD
Class IV – Commander - KCOD
Class V – Knight - KOD
Mantle: Cowled mantle of obsidian black with red lining. The embroidered badge of the order is a red crusader’s cross worn over the level of the heart on the left side.
Class V – Dragon Cross of Dragon order dragon centered in a red crusader’s cross hung from a red and black ribbon over the chest chevalier fashion.
Class IV – Dragon Cross suspended from the neck by a red and black ribbon.
Class III – Chest badge of eight points with surmounted red and black crusader’s cross with dragon emblem in the center surrounded by motto. Four Byzantine eagles accent the points of the crusader’s cross.
Class II – Black crusader’s cross with Byzantine Eagles as evinced on chest badge suspended from red and black ribbon hung about the neck. Chest badge as for Class III.
Class I – As for class II but with crossed swords behind both cross and chest badge
Feast Day of the Order: April 30
Patron of the Order: Saint George the Dragonslayer
Motto: (Latin) O Quam Misericors est Deus (How Merciful is the Lord)