Order of Saint Michael of the Wing
The Order of Saint Michael of the Wing (Ordem de São Miguel da Ala in Portuguese) is a Portuguese chivalric order of long, interesting, and controversial history. The order in its present incarnation falls under the leadership of Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza, pretender to the throne of Portugal.
Some say that the Order only existed briefly in the 12th century (Alston, George Cyprian "The Benedictine Order". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1907), some claim it lasted until 1732 (James Anderson. Royal genealogies: or, The genealogical tables of emperors, kings and princes, from Adam to these times; in two parts. London.) , and some claim 1910 (Carlos Rodrigues Lima. "Nuno da Câmara Pereira ganha batalha judicial a D. Duarte" (in Portuguese). 2009).
Whatever the ancient order's history may be, the current order was revived sometime in the 19th century (Almeida, Gomes Abrunhosa Marques de and Manuel Ângelo (2007). Precedentes histórico-teóricos dos regionalismos dos Açores e da Galiza. Santiago de Compostela: Univ Santiago de Compostela.) and again revived in 1986 (Carlos Evaristo. "Ordem de São Miguel da Ala". Ordens Militares e Religiosas. Dedechi Heraldica.)
The ancient order was founded by King Afonso I of Portugal with the intent of honoring group of knights of the Order of Saint James of the Sword from the Kingdom of León. These knights 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.The Order's first statutes were approved by Pope Alexander III in 1171.
The Order was revived by King Miguel I in 1828 during his brief rule In 1848 the Statutes of the order, which was now in exile, restructured it as a secret military order to combat Freemasonry and restore the Absolutist Monarchy in Portugal. (Cheke, Marcus (1969). Carlota Joaquina, queen of Portugal. (Reprinted. ed.). Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press). Some consider it at that point simply to have been a secret society aimed at restoring Braganza to the throne. Whatever the case, the order's activity was suspended 10 years later after the Pope prohibited all secret organizations.
The new order today has been held to be an entirely new private entity and not a dynastic award of the House of Braganza (Carlos Rodrigues Lima. "Nuno da Câmara Pereira ganha batalha judicial a D. Duarte" (in Portuguese). 2009). Nevertheless, despite claims in courts disputing the claims of Dom Duarte, the modern and revived Order of Saint Michael of the Wing continues to operate. Members are chosen and pay a fee to the House of Braganza. In recent times it has been alleged that Dom Duarte himself no longer approves membership in his society, but it is controlled by other members. Many members of the Order today are Americans and citizens of the British Commonwealth.
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