The Order of St. Joachim: A Confraternal Order of Chivalry.
By: Nathan M. Glover
It has been said by so-called heraldic experts that the Order of St. Joachim (hereafter the OSJ), is a “self-styled” order of chivalry. The evidence of this they claim is that the OSJ lacks a proper “Fons Honorum.” A Fons Honorum, is a person or government which is a sovereign (A Prince, Duke, Head of State etc.), whom has lawfully established an Order of Knighthood. A “Self-Styled” order is one in which no valid “Fons” can be produced. I would like to counter these claims, and provide evidence that the OSJ is indeed what is known as a “Confraternal Order of Chivalry,” and is most certainly not “Self Styled.” First, let’s look at the claims made against the OSJ, that it is “Self-Styled, “from Guy Stair Sainty. Below I will rebut his claims, bit-by-bit:
“The Order of Saint Joachim, is a modern "revival" of an Order whose legitimacy was in question from its foundation. Promoted by a British writer on Orders (1802), who claimed that Admiral Lord Nelson had accepted the "Grand Magistery" - the Admiral being Britain's greatest hero at the time - but there is no historical evidence that Lord Nelson ever took up these duties. The Order ceased to function early in the 19th century. The present "Order" has been revived under the "Grand Magistery" of a certain Helmut von Braundle-Falkensee (this family is not included in the Genealogische Handbuch der Adeligen Häuser, the principal reference source on German noble houses). This appears to be a body genuinely dedicated to charitable works, and the small sum required for membership (£15 sterling) is so modest that no-one could be fooled into believing this was any more than a charitable association which has assumed the guise of an order, rather than a body which seriously pretends to be an Order of Knighthood in order to defraud.”
The first claim Mr. Sainty makes, is: “Promoted by a British writer on Orders (1802), who claimed that Admiral Lord Nelson had accepted the "Grand Magistery" - the Admiral being Britain's greatest hero at the time - but there is no historical evidence that Lord Nelson ever took up these duties.”
This argument is somewhat of a red herring. For starters, Lord Nelson was never made “Grand Master of the Order, as is so stated in the quotation above.” He was simply given the honorific rank of “Knight Grand Commander” and never had any administrative duties or otherwise in the OSJ. Hence, why there is no “historical evidence” supporting that he was ever the Grand Master, because necessarily there wouldn’t be any would there?
A second claim: “The Order ceased to function early in the 19th century. The present "Order" has been revived under the "Grand Magistery" of a certain Helmut von Braundle-Falkensee (this family is not included in the Genealogische Handbuch der Adeligen Häuser, the principal reference source on German noble houses.”
While the OSJ was “re-organized,” it never ceased to function. Whether or not the “Helmut von Braundle-Falkensee” family were nobility or not is immaterial, as this is not needed in a Confraternal Order of Chivalry as the “Grand Magistery” is an elected position.
The third and final claim of Mr. Sainty: “This appears to be a body genuinely dedicated to charitable works, and the small sum required for membership (£15 sterling) is so modest that no-one could be fooled into believing this was any more than a charitable association which has assumed the guise of an order, rather than a body which seriously pretends to be an Order of Knighthood in order to defraud.”
No, the OSJ does not “pretend to be an Order of Knighthood,” nor an “Order of Knighthood in order to defraud.” It is an Order of Knighthood, and the only pretending going on, is that it’s not, by some “Historians” with questionable agendas at best, and malicious intent at worst. Francis Townsend, the “Pursuivant of Arms,” of the English College of Arms had the following to say about the OSJ:
So, let’s take a look at the founders of the OSJ, and see if we can determine what sort of Chivalric Order that it is. This is an excerpt from the official OSJ website:
“The Equestrian, Secular and Chapterial Order of Saint Joachim was established on the 20th of June, 1755 by fourteen nobles and distinguished military leaders of the Holy Roman Empire. Having seen the terrible consequences of ongoing religious wars in Europe, our founders dedicated themselves to "worship the Supreme Being, show tolerance towards all religions, loyalty towards their princes, support the needs of their military, the poor, widows and orphans." The Order was uniquely composed of both Protestant and Catholic nobles and leaders at a time when religion violently divided Europe and the German states within the Holy Roman Empire, and other knightly orders allied themselves exclusively with one faith or the other. The Order was headed by His Serene Highness Prince Christian Franz von Sachsen-Coburg Saalfeld, son of reigning Duke Franz Josias. Prince Christian Franz was installed as our first Grand Master on June 20th, 1756, a position he held until 1773. In addition to Prince Christian Franz, the other founding members of the Order in 1755 were:
· Duke Karl Friedrich of Württemberg-Oels
· Prince Piccolomini
· Count Josef von Clary und Aldringen
· Baron Friedrich Karl von Eib
· Ritter Michel Fachner von Trauenstein
· Keck von Schwarzbach
· Count Procop von Kollowrat-Krakowsky
· Baron Johann Philip Schutzbar von Milchling
· Baron Moser von Filseck
· Count Johann Wilhelm von Nostitz
· Baron Anselm Josef Reichlin von Meldegg
· Johann Josef Wiedersperger von Wiedersperg
· Baron Friedrich von Zobel von Giebelstadt”(2011, the Order of Saint Joachim)
This excerpt from the official website of the OSJ makes it clear that the founding head of the Order in 1755 was not a sovereign. Yes, he was a Prince, but it were his Father whom was a reigning Duke, and hence, a sovereign. Even though the next few Grand Masters of the Order would most certainly qualify as a “Fons Honorum,” the position of Grand Master was an elected position due to the Order being Confraternal, and not based upon familial bloodlines, or other titles of nobility. So what is a “Confraternal Order of Chivalry?” According to Jonathan Dacre Boulton D’Arcy, a Confraternal Order is: “A class made up by those orders which took the form of a devotional confraternity but, unlike the monarchical orders, were endowed with a formally democratic constitution under which the chief office was elective rather than hereditary.” (1987, 2000, D’A.J.D. Boulton)
This precisely describes the Order of St. Joachim. As we can clearly see, the OSJ is a legitimate confraternal order of chivalry, based upon the definitions of such. We can speculate as to why there have been those whom have slandered the order, or claimed it was “self-styled.” Could it be because of the ecumenical nature of the Order? Could it be that they are opposed to religious tolerance, and forging relationships between religions? Could it be that they do not like that there are no religious requirements to join the order, and feel that Christianity, and more precisely Roman Catholicism has a monopoly over Chivalry? I think perhaps more light may be shed by viewing the order’s foundation with the understanding that it’s stated raison d’être was highly unconventional and even radical at the time it was created. Making it more radical, were some of the early members of the order, which had known memberships in the Freemasons, the Perfectibilists (Adam Weishaupt’s Bavarian Illuminati), and the Rosicrucians. These individuals founding this order in those times of radical upheaval would certainly have not garnered the generosity of other more conventional (Catholic) orders of Chivalry. I think perhaps viewed through this lens, it can possibly be seen why the order has historically had detractors!
In summary, I treasure my membership in the Order of St. Joachim. I strongly believe in its stated principals of religious tolerance, and brotherhood. It is an honor to belong to such an August company of men such as Lord Horatio Nelson. The order’s obscure historical connections with secret societies, and political intrigue, make it a very interesting order to research and belong to. For my next paper on the Order of St. Joachim, I will go into more detail of the order’s connections with the Freemasons, The Illuminati, and the Rosicrucians.
Nathan M. Glover
Mr. Glover is a Knight Expectant in the Order of St. Joachim. He is also a Master Mason in Mcmillan Lodge # 141, AF&AM, Grand Lodge of Ohio, Affiliate of King Solomon Lodge # 8, PHA Kentucky Inc., and a Knights Templar in Webb Commandery # 1, Lexington York Rite Bodies. Mr. Glover is an avid historian, fraternal enthusiast, and mystic. He also currently serves the citizens of the United States, as a Federal Police Officer, and was Honorably Discharged from the Army, where he served as a Combat Engineer in the 82nd Airborne Division. Mr. Glover is the proud father of three beautiful children, and a beautiful wife whom is originally from Lagos, Nigeria.
Sainty, G.S. (N.D.). Almanach De La Cour: Confraternal Orders of Chivalry. Retrieved from website: http://www.chivalricorders.org/orders/self-styled/slfstlod.htm
N.A. (2005-2012). The Order of St. Joachim. Retrieved from website: http://www.stjoachimorder.org/
Boulton, D’A.J.D. (1987-2000). Knights of the Crown. Retrieved from website: http://books.google.com/books?id=Pv1RUpw5ss4C&pg=PR16&lpg=PR16&dq=what+is+a+confraternal+order?&source=bl&ots=2p4W_caBMn&sig=TpAh394NDYW8Ye-3jCf_dtLiWB4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZG9zUN_8CYPg8ASyioDwDg&ved=0CCEQ6AEwATgU#v=onepage&q=what%20is%20a%20confraternal%20order%3F&f=false