ursula: (bear)
[personal profile] ursula
My translation of the portion of the statutes of the sixteenth-century French Ordre du Saint-Esprit concerning the initiation of a new member. In comparison to fifteenth-century ceremonies, this shows a much greater emphasis on the power of the Sovereign. As one might expect from a kingdom embroiled in religious wars, there is also a far greater emphasis on the role of the Church.

Those who will have been received to enter into said Order, will find themselves on the said day after dinner, in the place where the Cardinals, Prelates, Commanders, and Officers assemble with us to go to the church to hear vespers; into which they will be led, walking apart, or two-by-two if there are several, according to what they will have been called on their election, that is to know, those who will be received on the same day, according to their age, clothed in chausses and pourpoints of full cloth of silver, or another fabric with silver, as honorable as they can.


Being arrived at the church, they will kneel, facing said order, close to the benches which will be placed at this end inside the choir, on the other side from those of the Officers.  When vespers are sung, we will leave our seat and we will go near the altar, the Officers walking before us, and on our being seated in the chair prepared to this effect, the Provost and Master of ceremonies of said Order, the Heralds and Ushers walking before him, will go to announce the two Dukes last received in the Order, if the one of said chosen to be received is a Prince or a Duke, and in the case that he is not a Prince or a Duke, will go to announce only the two Commanders, the longest ago received into this, to go to take the first of said chosen, whom they will lead and conduct between them, walking, said Provost before them, to where we will be seated, where being arrived, he will kneel and the mantle and collar of said Order will be opened to him by us, with the assistance of its Officers, each to do his office as follows.


That is to say; the said Chancellor to present and hold the gospel, on which said Gentleman will have his hands placed, while making his vow and oath.


Then after the clerk has shown to said Gentleman the form of said vows and oath which he will make written on parchment, he will read them himself in a loud voice, then he will sign the attachment with his hand and give it to us: which attachment will afterwards be registered by said Clerk in the register of the Order, to serve as witness of the day of his reception, and the original will be placed by him in the treasure of the charters of said Order, to be carefully guarded there.


The Provost and Master of Ceremonies will give us the mantle and mantelet of said Order, with which we will cloth him while saying: The Order clothes and covers you with the mantle of its friendly company and brotherly union to the exaltation of our Faith and the Catholic Religion: In the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost; while making the sign of the Cross.


After the Grand Treasurer of said Order has given us its collar, we will place it on the neck of the said Commander, saying: Receive from our hand the collar of our Order of the Blessed Holy Spirit, to which we, as Sovereign Grand Master, receive you, and have in perpetual memory the death and passion of Our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ; in sign of which, we order you to wear forever stitched outside your habits the cross of this order, and a gold cross on your neck, with a sky-blue ribbon; and may God give you the grace never to contravene the vows and oath which you just made, which you have perpetually in your heart; being certain that if you contravene them, in any way, you will be taken from this company and will incur the punishments included in the Statutes of the Order.  In the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost.  Amen.


To which said Commander will respond: Sire, God give me the grace never to fail until death, very humbly thanking your majesty for the honor and good which you have pleased to do me. And on finishing, he will kiss our hand.


Oath of the Commanders.

I swear and vow to God, before his church, and promise you, Sire, on my faith and honor, that I will live and die in the Faith and Catholic Religion, without ever taking leave, nor from the union of our mother the Apostolic and Roman Holy Church; that I will bear you entire and perfect obedience, without ever failing, as a good and loyal subject must do.  I will guard, defend and sustain with all my power the honor, the quarrels and the rights of Your Royal Majesty, before all and against all; that in time of war I will place myself in your train, with the equipage that is appropriate to a person of my station; and in peace, when some occasion of importance presents itself, it will please you to command me to serve you against any person who is able to live or die, without any exception, and until death; that on such occasions I will never leave your person, or the place where you have ordered me to serve, without your express dismissal and command signed by your own hand, or of someone whom you have commanded me to follow, except when I have shown him a just and legitimate excuse; that I will never leave your kingdom, especially to go to the service of some foreign prince, without your said command; and will never take a pension, contract, or estate from any other King, Prince, Potentate, or Lord, nor obligate myself in service to any other living person than Your Majesty alone, without your express permission; that I will faithfully reveal to you all that I know henceforth of import to your service to the estate, and preservation of the present Order of the Holy Spirit, with which it pleases you to honor me; and I will not consent, nor ever permit, in anything which is mine, that there be any innovation or attempt against the service of God, nor against your royal authority, and to the prejudice of said Order, that which I will take pains to sustain and augment with all my power.  I will guard and observe very religiously all of its Statutes and Ordinances.  I will always wear the sewn cross and the gold one on my neck, as I am commanded by said Statutes, and I will find myself at all of the assemblies of the General Chapters whenever it pleases you to command me, or else I will make you my excuses, which I will not consider good, if they are not approved and authorized by Your Majesty, with the opinion of the majority of the Commanders who are near, signed by your hand and sealed with the seal of the Order of which I will have the permission to withdraw.

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