This section is from "Every Woman's Encyclopaedia". Also available from Amazon: Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.
The Story of the Order of the Torch - An Order Founded by a Shah in Honour of some Christian Ladies - The Order of the Broom Flower - Of the Scarf - Some Other Orders
Twenty-seven orders of chivalry alto-gether have been founded for women only, and of these fourteen have owed their foundation to women. Three orders have female branches, nine admit both sexes.
To account for the foundation of the Older of the Torch in Spain, it is told how the women of Tortosa sternly opposed the suggested surrender of their city to the Moors, and, arrayed in armour and men's clothes, so aided and encouraged the Spanish garrison that the enemy was put to flight and the city saved. The Torch was founded in their honour, and all of them were admitted to the "order, and had the right to transmit the membership to their posterity. Moreover, at all public functions the women members preceded the men, and were exempt from taxation.
In 1814 Frederick William III. of Prussia established the Order of Louisa for women, nurses in military hospitals being eligible for admission. The Shah of Persia founded the Order of the Sun for women in 1873, and in 1878 the Sultan of Turkey instituted the Order of Shefakat (Pity) for women, in honour of the benevolence shown by the late Baroness Burdett-coutts, Lady Layard, and other ladies to the innocent victims in Turkey during the Russo-turkish War, and these ladies became members of the order.
Charles X. of Wurtemberg, in 1871, founded the Order of Olga, in commemoration of the patriotism displayed by his wife, Queen Olga, during the Franco-german War. It is for both sexes.
Both the Liberian Humane Order of African Redemption, instituted in 1879, and the Hawaiian Order of Kapiolani admit women as well as men.
Several orders have been established in honour of some particular woman or women, as, for instance, those already mentioned; while others have been founded in honour of a particular marriage.
The earliest of these was the Torch, but the second was the Broom Flower or Broom Pod, with which Louis IX. of France and of saintly memory sought to commemorate the coronation of his queen.
In 1334 Edward III. of England established the Order of the Garter, but it is difficult to say whether the foundation had for its object the pointing of a moral or the beatification of the garter which the Countess of Salisbury had lost during a dance at Court.
In 1714 Peter the Great founded the Order of St. Catharine, in honour of his empress, whom he made his heir and grand mistress of the order; and in 1735 Duke Charles of Holstein-gottorp instituted in
Holstein that of St. Anne, in memory of the Empress Anne of Russia, and of his wife, daughter of the Empress Anne. This order was transferred to Russia by the duke's son.
Orders founded in honour of certain marriages are White Eagle (Poland, 1325), Golden Fleece (Burgundy, 1429), Elephant (Denmark, 1478), Saviour of the World (Sweden, 1561), Precious Blood (Mantua, 1608), and Rose (Brazil, 1829).
The protection and relief of widows and orphans are the objects, among others, of the Orders of Wing of St. Michael (Portugal, 1172), Knights of the Mother of God (Italy, 1233), and the Brician Knights, already mentioned.
The Order of the Scarf, instituted by Alphonso XI. of Leon and Castile, in 1330, to protect himself and his kingdom, had for one of its rules that a member, if he should meet a lady of the Court, must dismount and tender his services to her forthwith.
The Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John the Baptist was established by some merchants of Amalfi, in 1048, at Jerusalem, to protect a large hospital they had built on the site of the chamber of the Last Supper, and to look after those who occupied the hospital.
After being driven out of Jerusalem by Saladin, the Knights Hospitallers settled in turn at Acre, in Cyprus, Rhodes, Candia, Sicily, and at Viterbo, and finally reached Malta in 1530. This island, with Gozo and Tripoli, was granted to them as a fief by Charles V. of Germany, and there, with branches elsewhere, they remained until Napoleon I. took possession of Malta, and quashed the jurisdiction of the Order as inconsistent with his sovereign rights.
Other states followed this example, and confiscated all the Order's property.
Two modern societies, described as "Johanniterorden, of Brandenburg," and the "Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in England," whose headquarters are at Saint John's Gate, Clerken-well, would appear to regard the old Order of Knights Hospitallers as the source from which they have sprung.
This latter society was incorporated as it now exists in 1888; and from its headquarters it has directed many useful, philanthropic works, and has earned for itself an enviable reputation as the founder of the St. John Ambulance Association, and as being concerned in originating the Red Cross Society, to both of which women are admitted as members.
Women are admitted, as Ladies of Justice, to the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England.