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The Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing ( ) is the oldest Portuguesemarker order of knighthood. Unlike many other Portuguese orders, it has not been nationalized as a decoration of the state by the post-1910 Portuguese Republicmarker, and as a result the Duke of Braganza remains the Grand Master of the order by birth and is the Judge of the Royal Brotherhood. It is the Grand Council who decides if a Postulant meets the criteria to be admitted into it.
The Symbol of the Order


The order was founded in 1147 by king Afonso I of Portugal to honor a group of knights of the Order of Saint James from the Kingdom of Leónmarker who assisted him in retaking Santarém from the Moors on the Feast of Saint Michael, May 8, 1147. Originally, the order was formed from members of the Military Order of Saint James and thus the reason why it maintains on its Coat of Arms the red sword of this Order accompanied at the blade by thwo fleur de lis representing the Cistercian Rule its members observed at the Royal Abbey of Alcobaça Where the Order, along with 6 other Military Orders was headquarted until the reestablishment of all Orders as unarmed and non-military Orders of "Honorific Knighthood" in 1834. The Order's first Statutes were approved by Pope Alexander III in 1171 and because of this fact the year 1171 is often referred to in error as the date of the Foundation.

Modern revival

The order fell into disuse after 1733 and it was not included among the royal orders that were nationalized by the Portuguese Republicmarker after the Revolution of 1910. It was restored by King Dom Miguel I in 1848 after he lost the Liberal War to his brother King Dom Pedro IV and given new Statutes whilst King Dom Miguel was living in exile in the Vatican. These Statutes restructured it as a Secret Military Order to combat Freemasonry and restore the Absolutist Monarchy in Portugal. Its activity was suspended however a decade later after the Pope prohibited all Secret Organizations Catholic or otherwise.

From that time on and until 1986 it was bestowed as an award by the descendants of King Dom Miguel who claimed the title of Grand Master by birth of the Order until in 1986, Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza and pretender to the Portuguese Throne, informed the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic that he still considered himself to be the Grand Master of the order and that although he did not have the power to validly alter the Statutes a King had previously approved, he nonetheless still conferred it as an award and Knighthood of Merit.

In 2001, the Duke promulgated new Statutes submitted to various Bishops to govern a Royal Catholic Brotherhood to compliment the Order as an active social group for Catholic Members, and since that time, the order has been conferred on individuals through the Royal Brotherhood chosen exclusively by the House of Braganza, with no input from the Portuguese government.

In 2007 however, Duarte Pio of Braganza was investigated by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation after a trial promoted by Nuno da Camara Pereira, member of the People's Monarchist Party , being accused of theft of license. In 2009 the Civil Court of Lisbon gave reason to Nuno da Câmara Pereira against Duarte Pio of Braganza and forced him to desist from the representation of related Order of St. Michael of the Wing. [586429]


Membership in the order may be bestowed upon individuals of any citizenship, religion, or sex for recognized outstanding contributions to Portuguese Royal Charities or for the spread of devotion to Saint Michael, traditionally venerated as Angel of Portugal and Angel of Peace.

According to Vice-Chancellor and Secretary General Carlos Evaristo, members of the Order who are Roman Catholics are designated as "Professed Brothers", admitted through the Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Wing, a Catholic Association of the Faithful of which HRH the Duke of Bragança is "Judge", created as an active Roman Catholic social compliment to the Order in 2001. Postulants who are not awarded the Order for outstanding services may join the Royal Brotherhood if they are Catholics in good standing (practicing and not divorced or interdicted) and usually after three years as a Professed Brother in the Royal Brotherhood, may be advanced into the Knightly Order. These grade advancements include:
  • Squire
  • Knight
  • Knight Commander
  • Knight Grand Officer
  • Grand Cross Knight
  • Grand Collar (Reserved exclusively for the Grand Master and the Members of the Grand Council ie. Grand Chancellor, Chancellor and Vice-Chancellors)

Status as a Dynastic Order

According to the Vice-Chancellor for the Foreign Delegation of the Royal Brotherhood of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing, "[T]he Order is thus Dynastic and similar to the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa which all have Royal Brotherhoods as active social compliments to the honorific decorations and titles bestowed." However, the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry (ICOC), presided over by Prof. Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti classifies the Order under "Other Institutions of Chivalric Character - Ancient chivalric institutions, originally founded as orders, subsequently revived by the dynastic successor of the founding authority."

See also




  • COMMISSIONE INTERNAZIONALE PERMANENTE PER LO STUDIO DEGLI ORDINI CAVALLERESCHI, Registro degli Ordini Cavallereschi: relazione della Commissione internazionale permanente per lo studio degli Ordini Cavallereschi, Bologna, 2001-2006.
  • Evaristo, Carlos. Il Reale Il Reale Ordine di San Michele dell’Ala. degli Uberti, Pier Felice. And Maria Loredana Pinott (Eds.). Agigento 16-18 Novembre 2007. Convegno Internazionale “Storia, funzione, valori e attualita degli Ordini Cavallereschi e di Merito: I sistemi premiali nel Mondo e nell’Italia pre-unitaria sino al moderno Stato federalista.” International Commission for orders of Chivalry (ICOC). Pp. 232-36.
  • Evaristo, Carlos. Il Reale Ordine di San Michele dell’Ala. Il Mondo del Cavaliere Rivista Internazionale sugli Ordini Cavallereschi - Sommario n° 28 - ottobre-dicembre 2007 P. 103-111. (about the Duke’s honours).
  • Evaristo, Carlos (2002). The Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Wing: History and Statutes: A Portuguese Devotion to Saint Michael, Angel of Portugal and of Peace. (Fátima, Portugal: Oureana Historic and Cultural Foundation)
  • Montells y Galan, Jose Maria de and Escudero y Diaz-Madronero, Alfredo. 2006. La Real Hermandad de la Orden de San Miguel del Ala. Tesoro Ecuestre: Las Ordenes Dinasticas de Caballeria. Sociedad Heraldica Espanola, pp. 82-84.
  • Sainty, Guy Stair. 2006. Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing. World Orders of Knighthood & Merit. Guy Stair Sainty (editor) and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo (deputy editor). United Kingdom: Burke's Peerage & Gentry. 2 Vol. (2100 pp). pp. 1777-1780.

External links

  • Titles and Official Styles. H.R.H. Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza. Burke's Peerage & Gentry International Register of Arms.
  • History of the Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing. Reference, as told by H.E. Dr. Carlos Evaristo, Vice-Chancellor and Delegate for the Foreign Delegation of the Royal Brotherhood of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing. This statements were recently made by Carlos Evaristo on a debate on the Order of St. Michael of the Wing held on the forum 'rec.heraldry', with the participation of Guy Stair Sainty, Pier Felice degli Uberti, David Pritchard. Recorded by Prof. Dr. Carl Edwin Lindgren, former North American Representative of the Foreign Delegation of the Royal Order of St. Michael of the Wing.
  • Other Institutions of Chivalric Character. International Commission for Orders of Chivalry (ICOC), President Prof. Pier Felice degli Uberti.

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