The culture and "ethos" of the Fraternal Society of St. George can only be gleaned from a variety of passing references made in the original Statutes of the Order established in 1326. The Statutes are the only historical artifact which survives today, which describe the original order and its activities, founded by King Károly Róbert of Hungary. These serve as a reference only with respect to the International Knightly Order of St. George. A brief on the contents of this historical document follow.
|An image depicting the original statutes, which currently reside in Országos Levéltar (National Archives), DL. 40 483. Click to view a larger image of the same.|
The statutes, c1326, consist of a prologue followed by twenty-seven items. The prologue in these statutes explains the actions of the founders in terms of generally accepted principles of the time and explains these in grandiose language. It lists those important individuals who were present when the statutes were adopted who included the Archbishop of Esztergom, Primate of Hungary and seven other Hungarian bishops. The statutes go on to state the highest ideals of Christianity, creating a fraternal union to defend the king and the Holy Crown of the realm from their faithless enemies.
Following the prologue are 27 items detailing the religious or moral obligations of the members, obligations to one another, the habit to be worn by its members, obligations to the Monday meal and other weekly obligations. There is text describing the judgement of members who fail to observe the statutes. Interestingly, membership was limited to "knights", referring to the brothers combined with the use of the term "knighthood" implying that only those who were "dubbed" as knights were permitted into the order.
An exceptional resource can be found online at the Magyar Országos Levéltár (Hungarian Archives) which offers a utility which provides a detailed view of the digitized statutes, and which possesses a feature to adjust the magnification allowing the reader to view the original written text in great detail. The link follows:
Dr. Rácz György. "A Szent György-rend alapítólevele". DL. 40 483. Magyar Országos Levéltár (Hungarian Archives).
There is no information concerning the length of time that the statutes were stored folded, but folded they were, which caused the poor condition of the manuscript along the fold lines, whereby, the text is badly worn and therefore, difficult to ascertain the exact text. Although there may be techniques to enhance the text using chemical compounds, the fear would be that the document may be irreversably damaged further. This explains why the different transcriptions known to have been published may not agree with one another.
To view a scholarly treatment of the statutes of the Order which include references, transcriptions, translations and images depicting the Statutes and the Great Seal, click "An Examination of the Ancient Statutes
- D'Arcy J.D. Boulton. The Knights of the Crown - The Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe 1325-1520. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK. 1987. ISBN 0 85115 417 4.
- Dr. Rácz György. "A Szent György-rend alapítólevele". DL. 40 483. Magyar Országos Levéltár (Hungarian Archives).