About the Order: The Order of Saint Michael (French: Ordre de Saint-Michel) was a French chivalric order, founded by Louis XI of France on 1 August 1469, in competitive response to the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece founded by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, Louis' chief competitor for the allegiance of the great houses of France, the Dukes of Orléans, Berry, and Brittany. As a chivalric order, its goal was to confirm the loyalty of its knights to the king. Originally, there were a limited number of knights, at first thirty-one, then increased to thirty-six including the king. The Order of St Michael was the highest Order in France until it was superseded by the Order of the Holy Spirit.
The first knights were among the most powerful nobles in France, close relatives of the king and a few from other royal houses in Europe. Originally, the number of members (called companions) was limited to thirty-five. In 1565, during the Wars of Religion, when loyalties were strained and essential, Charles IX increased the membership to fifty but there may have been as many as seven hundred knights under Henry III in 1574.
The Order of St. Michael dedicated to the Archangel Michael conveyed to every member a gold badge of the image of the saint standing on a rock (Mont Saint Michel) in combat with the serpent.The motto of the order was "immensi tremor oceani" (meaning the tremor of the immense ocean) derived from the idea of Saint Michael looking out over the Atlantic from Mont Saint Michel. It was suspended from an elaborate gold collar made of cockleshells (the badge of pilgrim, especially those to Santiago de Compostela) linked with double knots. The statutes state that the badge could be hung on a simple chain, and later it was suspended from a black ribbon.
The Order of St. Michael was abolished by Louis XVI on 20 June 1790. After being revived by Louis XVIII on 16 November 1816 but the king took little interest in the order and no new knights were added after 1816. The Order was again abolished by the French authorities in 1830. The Order's last member died in 1850.
In 1937 Henri d'Orléans, Earl of Paris founded a new Order of Saint Michael, not meant as a title of honor but as a personal honorable gift (non comme distinction honorifique, mais comme service d’honneur autour de son auguste personne).
See Wikipedia for more information:
Members: No formal list of members of the order exists. The names of members can be gleaned from reference to their receipt of the order, from secondary sources, or from periodic lists compiled showing companions from particular families or regions.
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