WHAT IS THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN FLEECE?
The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded by Philip III the Good, duke of Burgundy, at Bruges in 1430, to commemorate his wedding to Isabella of Portugal.
The order, founded to defend the Roman Catholic religion, to uphold the usages of chivalry, and to increase the prestige of the dukes of Burgundy, was ideally supposed to settle all disputes between its knights
Through the marriage of Mary of Burgundy to the Austrian archduke Maximilian (1477), the grand mastership was then passed to the house of Habsburg.
The Holy Roman emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain), left the grand mastership to his son Philip II of Spain, but, following the extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs (1700), it was disputed between the Bourbon kings of Spain and the Austrian Habsburgs.
The emperor Charles VI instituted the order in Vienna in 1713, and from then on both the Austrian and the Spanish sovereigns continued to award the Golden Fleece as their principal order of knighthood.
It was exclusively reserved to Roman Catholics of the highest nobility.
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