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Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, founded by St. Helena, is conferred by the monks of St. Francis. “ It is not a little honour,” says a French writer, “which has been conferred upon these poor barefooted monks, that they should have the privilege of creating knights for the defence of the holy land, sanctified by the birth, life, passion, and death of our Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.” 1
Knights of the Garter, the decoration of which illustrious order still remains, were admonished at their installation to wear the symbols of their order, that “ by the imitation of the blessed martyr and soldier of Christ, Saint George,? they may be able to overpass both adverse and prosperous adventures ; and that, having stoutly vanquished their enemies, both of body and soul, they may not only receive the praise of this transitory combat, but be crowned with the palm of eternal victory." The Church considered chivalry as the protection
| La Colombiere, Theatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie, tom. i.
? The account of St. George killing the dragon and delivering the princess is not found in any of the early manuscripts of his life ; it first occurs in a manuscript in the Ambrosial Library at Milan, written later than the age of the Crusades. The story had been brought from Palestine. Constantine had painted an emblematical picture of a contest between a knight and a dragon, the latter signifying the enemy of the Church. St. Theodorus, a soldier and martyr, was similarly represented in St. Mark's Place at Venice. In the twelfth century this contest was ascribed to St. George, though it had been usual to represent all the saints in this manner, as may be instanced in St. Victor ; nay, even holy virgins, such as St. Catherine and St. Dymphnæ, are made to stand upon serpents. St. George suffered under Diocletian: his festival was celebrated as early as the time of Constantine, as appears from the Missal of Gregory the Great. St. George was born in Cappadocia, of a warlike father, who trained him to arms; and in his twentieth year he was made a count. On the persecution breaking out, he declared himself a Christian, and was cast into prison and tortured : he miraculously recovered from his wounds, and escaped, but was again imprisoned, and at length suffered martyrdom. He was the patron of England as early as the time of Richard I. He is also patron of Malta, of Genoa, of Valentia, and Arragon. “In England," say the Bollandists, " the honour of St. George per schismata et hæreses jam pene extinctus, aut in profanam omnino ceremoniam conversus. He is called St. Georgius Anglorum Protector et Patronus. Some have thought, however, that he was patron of England before the Norman conquest. In the old manuscript Martyrology in Benet College, Cambridge, written about the time of St. Dunstan, the 23d of April is devoted to cele
of the weak and oppressed, and therefore as worthy of celestial benediction. 1
Dr. Lingard gives the prayer used on the occasion of making a knight, from a manuscript copy of the Sarum Missal, written after the conquest. “ Deus, concede huic famulo tuo, qui sincero corde gladio se primo nititur cingere militari, ut in omnibus galea tuæ virtutis sit protectus : et sicut David et Judith contra gentis suæ hostes fortitudinis potentiam et victoriam tribuisti: ita tuo auxilio munitus contra hostium suorum sævitiam victor ubique existat, et ad sanctæ ecclesiæ tutelam proficiat. Amen."
I am aware that in our age this constant reference of rank and chivalrous distinction to the service of religion will appear unintelligible, or contrary to prevailing views; but I am not the less sensible that it is beyond the power of any generation of men to alter the great laws of our na
brate St. George, omitting mention of all other saints which might fall on that day, “ tamquam singulari gaudio exultans.” Some AngloSaxon poems also mention St. George. Bede likewise gives it in his Collection IX. Kal. Maii natale St. Georgis Martyris. Till the time of Henry VIII. parts of his armour used to be borne in procession from Windsor Castle. Henry VIII. left this festival as a day of rest from all labour. Edward VI. (vel potius sub illo parlamentum) suppressed it altogether: “ et gloriosus Christi miles St. Georgius de equo, ut aiunt, ad asinos, per istos traductus est.” Thus St. George had churches to his memory when the wicked Bishop of Alexandria, the enemy of St. Athanasius, was justly punished with death under Julian; yet Reynolds and Echard confounded this George of Cappadocia with the saint: still there might have been later saints of the same name. Pope Gelasius, A.D. 494, says in council, after rejecting the acts of the martyr as spurious, " Nos tamen cum prædicta ecclesia omnes martyres, et eorum gloriosos agones (qui Deo magis quam hominibus noti sunt) omni devotione veneramur. Mr. Gibbon asserts, that Pope Gelasius was the first Catholic who acknowledged St. George, and that St. Gregory knew nothing of him : he is able to recognise in the acts of St. George the combat which was sustained in the presence of Queen Alexandria against the magician Athanasius. In this he alludes to a legend of St. George having overcome a magician. He concludes with saying, “ The infamous George of Cappadocia has been transformed into the renowned St. George of England, the patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the garter;" adding in a note, “ This transformation is not given as absolutely certain, but as extremely probable :” and then he refers his reader to the work which I have consulted, the Bollandists' Acta S.S. April. tome iii. pp. 100-163; a dissertation which, it would appear, he had not read, unless we prefer accusing him of wishing to deceive his reader.
1 Le P. Menesthir de la Chevalerie; La Gaule Poétique, iv.
ture, and the principles by which it has pleased the Creator to govern the moral world. That nobility should be intimately connected with religion is not in consequence of human caprice, or of the inconsistency of any age, but of the unchangeable decree of Divine Wisdom. There might, indeed, have arisen an order of men possessing abundant riches and splendid titles, without being either the defenders or the examples of religion ; but such persons, however respectable from possessing the ordinary moral virtues, would no more have resembled the ancient Christian nobility than they would have revived the chivalry of Hercules and Theseus. They must have been satisfied with the material comforts which wealth could command, and with the homage which they would receive in common with all those who had been raised, by whatever means, above the ordinary class of society. The work of jacobinism would have been done, as soon as there was introduced into the higher ranks an intellectual, and moral, and spiritual jacobinism, which, as a profound writer observes, “ is more mischievous than that which is political, and without which the latter could do but little ;” if nobility had adopted this spirit, and had been prepared to hold that it is but a human institution, without any consequence beyond the grave, and that Plato was mistaken in supposing that after death the great and the low would be weighed in a different balance,2 to ridicule sentiment, to strip off custom, to demolish sublimity, to spoil beauty, to have its feelings blighted, its affections stifled, its heart seared as with a red-hot iron, its imagination killed from childhood, that is to say, if it had abandoned the cause of truth, according to which all rank and power proceeds from God, according to which sentiment is held in honour, custom venerated, sublimity excited, beauty cherished, the knowledge of which alone systematically preserves the feelings, fosters the affections, warms the heart, and purifies and exalts the imagination, then ancient and illustrious names might still have been sounded forth, but it would be only to fill the brave with shame and disgust and sor
Slaves and bondsmen might have trembled at beholding a stern aspect, or a gorgeous panoply; but the
1 Guesses at Truth.
2 Gorgias, 169.
presence of men, whose grandeur centred in themselves, would have excited no mysterious veneration, no enthusiasm in the generous and heroic part of mankind; fortune had placed them in the character of Agamemnon, but they chose to play the part of Thersites :
Careless and rude or to be known or know,
No palm shall blossom, and no wreath shall bloom. Religion offered to give them a part in her immortal reign, and they were deluded and base enough to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage. No longer impressed with reverence for sacred muniments, they will blindly contribute to bring to a speedy and shameful end even that external nobility which had survived through ages of violence and desolation, which had passed uninterrupted, and with a spotless renown, through all the wars of Palestine, and of the rival houses of York and Lancaster. Return we where eternal fame is due. It was a noble answer, and finely illustrative of this character belonging to chivalry, which King Louis VII. of France returned to the messengers of our Henry II., who had called upon him to give up St. Thomas à Becket; “ Tell your king, that he will not give up certain customs, because they appertain to his royal dignity; neither will I give up the hereditary privilege of my crown, which is to protect the unfortunate and the victims of injustice.” In Froissart we read the description which the Portuguese ambassadors gave of King John of Portugal to the Duke of Lancaster. “ He is,” said they, “a wyse and a dyscrete man, and fereth God, and loveth holy churche, and exalteth it as moche as he may, and is often tymes in his oratory on his knees in herying of devyne servyce ; he hath ordeyned, that for what so ever busyness it be, that none speke to hym till he be out of his oratory, and is a grete clerke, and taketh lytell hede of ony grete sermones, and especyally he wyll have justyce kepte in all his royalme, and poore men maynteyned in theyr ryght.” John of Salisbury describes the necessity
| Lusiad, v,
and nature of the religious oath which every Norman knight took on his creation : he swore to “ defend the Church, to attack the perfidious, to venerate the priesthood, to repel all injuries from the poor, to keep the coun. try quiet, and to shed his blood, and, if necessary, to lose his life, for his brethren.” Even the institution of the round table is an example of this religious feeling, for the thirteen places were in memory of the thirteen apostles, that of Judas remaining vacant. Romance says that the twelve were successively filled during King Arthur's reign by fifty knights. The rules of the order may be seen in the romance of Merlin. Rodolph of Hapsburg may be cited as an illustrious example of this religious chivalry. No family had ever a more honourable founder than his; for Rodolph was beloved by the surrounding country for his justice and his piety, his prudence and his courage. Schwz begged him to be its governor, Zurich to be her general; and when raised to the throne of the empire, he was still beloved by the country which gave him birth. When he was to be crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle, the imperial sceptre could not be found at the moment when he was to invest the assembled princes ; upon which, with admirable presence of mind, and in the true spirit of chivalry, he seized the crucifix, which stood on the altar, and said aloud, “ With this sceptre will I for the future govern." His religious spirit descended to his posterity; for if we had to select any class of persons who have been most conspicuous for the exercise of unostentatious, humble virtue, it would be the princes of the house of Austria. Many of these illustrious persons have been in the daily practice of acts of beneficence which the most eloquent panegyrist of benevolence and humanity would frequently disdain. The Empress Eleonora might be quoted as a striking example, and chiefly to represent the general character of her house in these particulars. The last choice of these princes is worthy of their faith. The coffins of the Cæsars are placed in a vault under the convent of the Capuchins, the barefooted friars, the poorest of the religious orders, alternately the objects and the dispensers of mercy. We have another instance, in the last advice of Charlemagne to his son, as related by Theganus. “On the Sunday he put on the royal robe, placed his crown on