Grand Master (order)


Grand Master (order)

Grand Master is the typical title of the supreme head (in some national orders below the Sovereign Head of state) of various orders of knighthood, including military orders, various religious orders, and some sectarian orders such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order.

In military orders such as the Knights Templar or the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, the Grand Master was the formal and executive head of a military and feudal pyramid, which can be considered a 'state within the state', especially in the 'crusader' context "lato sensu" (notably Middle Eastern crusades aimed at Jerusalem, Iberian reconquista, pagan territories east of Germany). If an order is granted statehood (and thus widely considered sovereign), the Grand Master is also its Head of State (if within the Holy Roman Empire, a Reichsfürst) and Head of Government, and thus a true territorial Prince of the church, as was the case with the Teutonic Knights and the Maltese Knights Hospitaller.

As most present-day orders are essentially an honorary distinction, as some ancient orders always were (e.g. the Golden Fleece Order), so are its dignities, which may be held by right of birth or another rank, e.g. a Sovereign Monarch often holds the title of Grand Master of (usually the highest) honorary order(s), or by custom awards it to a prince of the blood, especially the Heir to the throne, which in other orders may hold another high rank/title.

ee also

*Grand Masters of the Knights Templar
*Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights
*List of Grand Masters of the Knights Hospitaller
*Grand Masters of the Order of St Michael and St George
*Grand Masters of the Order of the British Empire
*Great Masters of the Order of the Bath
*Grand Masters of the Royal Victorian Order
*Grand Master (Masonic)


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