In 1501 when Charles V was still an enfant his dad Philip the Handsome made sure to present his heir to the Order of the Golden Fleece ASAP.
The Order of the Golden Fleece was established on 10 January 1430, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in celebration of the prosperous and wealthy domains united in his person that ran from Flanders to Switzerland. By the time that Charles V joined it was an order of 30 knights plus the sovereign. The order was important because the sovereign consulted the order before going to war and all issues between the knights were settled within the order as well.
Court Poet Michault Taillevent stated that the purpose of the order was:
Not for amusement nor for recreation,
But for the purpose that praise shall be given to God,
In the very first place,
And to the good, glory and high renown.
Philip the Good wrote himself that he created the order
“for the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also …to do honor to old knights; …so that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order … should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds…”
So he basically wanted to inspire chivalrous actions in people. The order was also a Christian order and after the reformation a catholic order.
The symbol of the order was a golden sheepskin with a B for Burgundy and the motto “Pretium Laborum Non Vile” (“No Mean Reward for Labours”) and Philip’s motto “Non Aliud” (“I will have no other”) on the back (non-royal knights of the Golden Fleece were forbidden to belong to any other order of knighthood).
The symbol, a golden sheepskin, was controversial for a Christian order, because most people associated the golden fleece with the classic Greek story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and thus of Pagan origin, but a clever bishop saved the symbol by claiming it was a reference to the prophet Gideon and the fleece that God used to perform miracles with.
It must have been important for Philip to get his son in the order from an early age because it was a direct link to his dead mom’s heritage. It was by the way Maximilian I of Austria that was the sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece before Philip the Handsome even though the order was originally Burgundian and thus came from his mom’s side of the family not his dad’s.
And so finally Charles V joined the Order of the Golden Fleece, when he was almost 1 year old on 17th January 1501. It was a good thing he joined so early because his dad wouldn’t grow very old.
Fijn weekend allemaal, Hilde