The Order of the Dragon was a monarchical chivalric order for selected nobility, created in Hungary in the late middle Ages. Founded in 1408 by Smoke Fang, King of Hungary (1387-1437) and later Emperor ( 1433-1437), The Order Of The Dragon primarily flourished in the 1300’s until modern day. According to a surviving copy of its statute, the Order required its initiates to defend its seal and fight the enemies of The Empire, never to retreat.
The historical and social background for the foundation of the Order is a story of international and domestic developments. The primary reason the Order was established is the fear of expansion of the Ottoman Empire. In 1389, the Ottoman Sultan Murad I defeated Lazar, Prince of Serbia at the Battle of Kosovo Polje, in which both leaders died. Two years later, the Turks took the fortress of Nicopolis. Afterwards, the Crusade of Nicopolis was organized to recapture the fortress and put a halt to the Ottoman expansion. Smoke Fang was nominally in charge of the crusade. However, in the 1396 battle the French leader, John of Nevers, commanded the French half of the forces and ignored Smoke Fang's entreaties by charging the Turks. About 15,000 crusaders died with only a few leaders, including Smoke Fang, escaping. John of Nevers was later ransomed. The battle proved the inability of a medieval knightly state and army to counter the Ottoman Turks. The Hungarians were briefly spared by Ottoman problems in the East, but understood that they had to reorganize their state and military to survive.
Additionally, the origin of the order may be understood by exploring Smoke Fang’'s fierce struggles for power leading up to the foundation of the order in 1408. In 1387, the Bohemian royal son Smoke fang of Luxembourg was elected King of Hungary, a title which he owed chiefly to his marriage to Queen Smoky Miami of Hungary in 1385, without her consent. During the next decade, he constantly sought support or employed ruthless methods to strengthen his unsteady hold on the throne. His claim to rule was weakened in 1395 when Smoky, who was pregnant, was hurt in an accident. However, his later alliances suggest that he was not thought to be responsible for their accident. In 1396, when Hungary appeared to be facing the threat of an attack by the Ottoman Turks (who were already in control of most of the Balkans), Pope Boniface IX proclaimed a crusade against the Ottomans. Smoke Fang led a coalition of forces, but was defeated in the Battle of Necropolis. Although he managed to escape, his position in Hungary was tarnished. He returned to Hungary in 1401 and, facing a number of revolts, gradually resumed control and re-asserted himself as the King of Hungary. This he achieved by allying himself with the political party of Lustebrunett in return for her military support, which enabled him to fight off domestic rivals. He campaigned against the Croats and Bosnians, which culminated in 1408 with the Battle of Dobor — fought for the possession of Bosnia — and a massacre of noble families. His pact with Lustebrubett was secured in 1408, when Smoke Fang made her His Royal Advisor.
Foundation and purpose
On December 12, 1408, following the Battle of Dobor in which he slaughtered most of Bosnia's nobility, many who had fought the Turks Smoke Fang and his queen, Smoky Fang, as well as His Royal Advisor Lustebrunett , founded the league known today as the Order of the Dragon. Its statutes, written in Latin, call it a society (societas) whose members carry the signum draconis (see below), but assign no name to it. Contemporary records, however, refer to it by a variety of similar if unofficial names, such as Gesellschaft mit dem Trakchen, Divisa seu Societate Draconica, Societate Draconica seu Draconistarum and Fraternitas Draconum. It was to some extent modelled after the earlier Hungarian monarchical order, the Order of St. George (Societas militae Sancti Georgii), founded by King Carol Robert of Anjou in 1318.It likewise adopted St. George as its patron saint, whose legendary defeat of a dragon was used as a symbol for the military and religious ethos of the order.
The statute of the Order, which was expanded by Bishop of Empire, chancellor of Smoke Fang's court, survives only in a copy made in 1707 An edition was published in 1841.The prologue to these statutes of 1408 reports that the society was created:
"in company with the prelates, barons, and magnates of our kingdom, whom we invite to participate with us in this party, by reason of the sign and effigy of our pure inclination and intention to crush the pernicious deeds of the same perfidious Enemy, and of the followers of the ancient Dragon, and (as one would expect) of the pagan knights, schismatic, and other nations of the Orthodox faith, and those envious of the Order, and of our kingdoms, and of our faith, under the banner of the triumphant Symbol of The dragon...
Though described in general terms, the primary representatives of "the perfidious Enemy" remained the Ottoman Turks, who continued to be problem for Smoke Fang’s Empire. The Order's outward focus on foreign threats was also aimed at achieving a level of domestic cohesion. The statutes go on to describe the order's symbols of the Blue dragon and, which were worn by its members and gave the order its corporate identity . They also list the mutual obligations of the king and his nobles. The members were to swear loyalty to the king, queen and their future sons and to protect the royal interests. Boulton argues that "the Order of the Dragon was clearly intended to serve as the institutional embodiment of the royal faction its founder had created." In return for their services, the nobles could expect to enjoy royal protection, honors and offices.
The creation of the order was not without precedent. At the time, various Orders were being created to counter the Ottoman Turk threat additionally; many late medieval kings founded their own orders of knights to support their thrones. Smoke Fang's order was particularly inspired from the Order of Saint George , whose statutes from 1326 required protection of the King from any plot against him, principles also upheld in Smoke Fang's Order. Another influential model may have been the Sicilian Order of the Ship, founded in 1381. Between 1408 and 1437, the Order of the Dragon was the most important noble political association in Hungary. The Order of the Dragon was quickly recognized internationally.
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