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Chivalric Orders Umbrella

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Briefly put, Orders may be either be;

  1. Military orders,
  2. Chivalric/Knighthood orders or
  3. Orders of Merit

A military order is any one of a variety of Christian societies of knights that were founded from the Middle Ages onwards for the purpose of crusading, either in the Holy Land or against Islam (for example, in Spain during the Reconquista) or against pagans (for example, against the Cathars or the Bogumils) in Europe. Many orders after the end of the Crusades and the Ottoman incursions have become secularized, and are usually represented by ceremonial, missionary and charitable organizations in modern times.

Chivalric orders are societies and fellowships of knights founded in imitation of the military orders of the Crusades. The late medieval chivalric orders reflected an ongoing military effort against the Ottoman Empire. During the 15th century, orders of chivalry became a mere courtly fashion, some of them purely honorific, consisting of nothing but the badge. These institutions in turn gave rise to the modern-day orders of merit.

Orders of Merit. Most orders created since the late 17th century were no longer societies and fellowships of knights with a common mission, but were established by monarchs or governments with the specific purpose of bestowing honours on deserving individuals. At times, members were entitled to a title of nobility.