A brief view of the history of The Order of (St. James) St. Jacob of Holland.
The history of the Order starts in the year 1279. Floris V was born in July 1254 as the son of King Willem II of Germany also
Count of Holland, and Elizabeth van Brunswijk Lüneburg.
In the year 1277 he is knighted by Duke Jan van Brabant. At this time Duke Jan van Brabant together with the Duke of Gelre and the Count of Holland were the important rulers of the Low Countries.
Floris V becomes a knight after a tournament at 's Hertogenbosch.
On July 25th in the year 1279 the Order of St. Jacob of Holland is installed on the day of St. James the Mayor and is blessed by Bishop elect Jan van Nassau.
first 12 Knights to be installed were:
Diederik, Count of Cleve
Lancelot, Lord of Hamilton, the Ambassador of Scotland
Godevaert, Lord of Bochholt, the Ambassador of Westphalen
Hendrik, Lord of Hennenberg, the Ambassador of Keulen
Dirck, Lord of Brederode
Jan, Lord Heusden
Jan, Lord of Arkel
Dierck, Lord of Lynden
Otto, lord of Asperen
Jaques, Lord of Wassenaer
Gijsbrecht Lord of Amstel
Hugo, Lord of Vianen
the year of the installation of the Order of St. Jacob of Holland became a matter of discussion. Some presumed the installation took place in the year 1279. Others stated the year 1290. Considering the political situation of those days the year 1279 historically
seemed more acceptable. It could be a miswriting of MCCLXXIX, MCCLXXXX.
Becoming a member of an Order under the Crown of Holland was considered a very great honour. For it meant: 'becoming a friend and brother for life.' Once the Installation of the Order was a fact more Knights made their entrance.
On Christmas day Floris V Granted 40 members of his household knighthood under whom Lord Anssum van Weer, from Vuurcapelle. Through documentation some historical books were discovered being able to tell us the story of knighthood of Floris V. Starting with the first book, this book is called: 'De Cronyk van Holland' written in 1316 by: De Clerc van de Lage Landen by der Zee, a clergyman who wrote under a pseudonym. The book was first printed in 1740. With Beka (The Cronycks of Joannes van der Beke) and Melis Stoke they are the three important witnesses of history at that time. Melis Stoke did not write about the Order but this could be a political deciscion that after the death of Floris no writings could come from his hand.
In spite of his power and his loyal Knights Floris V is surrounded with jealousy which makes him a vulnerable man. Although he was considered a brave diplomatic he could be very tempered as well. His ongoing dispute with Lord Gijsbrecht van Amstel comes to an end when Count Floris V is kidnapped and murdered by Lord van Amstel and his companions: Herman van Woerden, Gerard van Velzen and Jan van Cuyk close to Muiderberg on june 27 th 1296. The first Grand Master is dead but the Order continues.
Closing this first episode we now return to the year 1304.
In the 14th century the province Zeeland, the islands and Zierikzee formed a disputed point of the Count of Holland and the Count of Flandres.
Historically, the year 1304 is regarded as an important year because of the siege round Zierikzee ( in the province of Zeeland), where the Count of Holland engaged in battle against Flandres. Due to support of the French fleet count Willem of Holland finally wins the war. Rewarding his effort in the siege, in his function of aide-the-camp Witte van Haemstede, (basterd son of the late Floris V) is knighted. Together with him 48 companions receive the 'Order of the Count' also called 'the Order of the Shell'. In an important historical book called the: 'Reygersberg Croniek' (or Divisie Croniek) published in 1551 and written by Jan Jansz. Reygersberg van Cortgene the story is fully written in chapter 31.
It tells us that Gerard van Voorne, squire of Floris V becomes viscount of Zeeland.
The Reygersberg Croniek from Zeeland has been twice issued in 1551 and in 1634 (see booklist) Jan Reygersberg. The first and second issue write about Jan van Renesse, Dadaijn van Cruningen and Wolfert II van Borselen, as the most important Lords, who carried the chain of the Order with the shells The second issue is corrected by Boxhorn who adds several items and corrections to the version.
In the seventeenth century the famous
historian Boxhorn writes about the Order of St Jacob, in his book: 'Theatrum Sive Hollandiae comitatus et urbium descriptio'. In the year 1632, another writer called Christofor Butkens tells us of the existence of an Order of St. Jacob of Holland founded in
the year 1290. Writer Butkens was a monk and made a study of chivalry and heraldry with a description of the Lynden family called Annales Généalogique de la Maison de Lynden in 1626. The Arms and shield mark of Dierk van Lynden with the chain
and on a bow St. James (St. Jacob) are printed on page 88. On page 18 he refers to a Charter of the Order.
Thomas de Rouck writes about this Charter on page 162 of his book called 'In de Nederlandtfche Herault', a masterpiece describing the nobility and knights of the Low Countries. Two names of knights of the Order can be found on page 295 and 296; the Lord of Hem, knight of St. Jacob, and Philips, knight in the Order of St. Jacob.
Dordrecht was an important city during the reign of Floris V, because of its trade and stratigical position. Floris V granted Dordrecht freedom of taxes for the imported wool and cloth. It may be interesting to find in the history of the City of Dordrecht a few lines written about the Order of St. Jacob (Beschryvinge der stad Dordrecht 1677 page 722.)
In 1677 Adriaan van Schoonebeek publishes a book called History of all Orders of Chivalry. Again he tells us about the chain of the Order carried out in gold consisting of
6 shells. (according to Chr. Butkens ) later in history the golden chain will consist of 7 shells. The Investiture took place in The Haque in de Ridderzaal. In this same year a famous tournaiment is given for the members of the Order; with champions Dirk van
Brederode, Jan van Heusden, Dirk lord of Lynden, and Arend lord of IJsselstein.
Regretfully other writings of Holland about the installation of the Order noted by Elias Ashmole, English armorist (1617-1692) besides the information of Butkens, are never found. (1626.) Butkens stays disputed up till now, but no opponent of the Order can explain why he would fake an armorial for an important noble family of Lynden who would absolutely not accept any falsification in history. Butkens was a monk of the Salvator Cloister in Antwerpen and made a vow the the Holy Church.
The Order remained strictly Roman Catholic until the Protestant Reformation in The Low Countries became a fact. Many Roman Catholics fled abroad because of the terror and severe trials of the 'Geuzen', the Dutch Rebels resisting the Spanish Inquisition of the Low Countries, under King Phillips II of Spain.
Meanwhile in the following years of revival the Order stayed dorminant with a few members, most Roman Catholic. This became different in the 18th century.
Chain and cross.
In the middle of the 18th century most Orders of Chivalry changed their decorations to get a uniform cross. In 1744 in 'Die Beschreibung alter Geist und Weltlichen Ritterorden' it is written that during these years the medaillon is changed into an eight-pointed cross suspended under a shell( a coquille) as a neck ribbon. Since then one might find writings about the Order in different countries, besides Germany, as formerly described, Lancelot Lord of Hamilton, ambassador from the king of Scots who was one of the first twelve knights. Hugh Clark is the author of 'the Concise History of Knighthood' ( London 1784) and he even shows a complete chain with 12 cockle shells and a medallion of St. James.
Et Dambreville publishes in 1807 a book of 'Orders of chivalry' in which he writes about the diplomatic works of Floris V, using notes from 'Aubert Mirée', described by Boxhorn in 1632 as Professor Aubertus Myraeus. Myreaus was one of the most important Late Medieval heralds and historians.
The 19th century.
With the return of the King of Holland, William I, the Order does not become a royal Order but stays independent, and calls herself Sovereign. During the following period many written discussions are published sharing the same subject like the genealogy and the acceptance of the coat of arms; approximately every 20 years the Order appears in a work or essay. Mostly re- discussing the historical facts and sources already accepted in the 17th century. This was the case in the 19th century. In the first half of the 19th century one describes the discussion with the High Court of Heraldry between Max. L. Baron D'Yvoy van Mijdrecht and Baron Lijnden van Hemmen in presentation and letters; while the second half of this century shows a romantic revival in writings about the installation of the Order by Beloo and the feast of Knights by Jongbloed in 1845; and the Maskerade and a Charter of Floris V appear by Meylink and others. In 1906 Mr. de Roever and Dozy start writing about the Order in schoolbooks.