Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Order of SS Cyril and Methodius

In February when I wrote about St Cyril and St Methodius I said I hoped to post something about the Bulgarian monarchy's Order of Chivalry under their patronage. The following piece is largely based upon an online article in connection with the offer for sale of a set of the insignia of the Order.

Today is the anniversary of the foundation of that Order by King Ferdinand I in 1909, following his proclamation of the Kingdom or Tsardom of the Bulgarians the previous year. In February 1910 it was approved by a special act of the 14th Common National Assemby. It was the highest ranking Order of the Kingdom and was conferred on high-ranking Bulgarian statesmen who had already received decorations, and also on foreign Sovereigns or Christian statesmen for services to Bulgaria.

Under its statutes the number of living Bulgarian recipients was not to exceed 15 members. Early members were Ivan Geshov, Vassil Radolavov, Ivan Vasov and there were apparently some 52 foreign members, including Tsar Nicholas II.

The badge of the Order is a 75 mm cross with quatrefoil terminals, enamelled light blue with gold edges. Between the arms of the cross are red enamelled flames each charged with a silver Bourbon fleur-de-lys. The gold circle at the centre bears the motto in blue: Ex Oriente Lux. Beneath the motto is a five-pointed star and two stylised decorations. The two patrons SS Cyril and Methodius are depicted on the central medallion.

On the reverse a similar gold circle bears in blue lettering the date of the Order's foundation: XVIII Majus MDCCCCIX/18 May 1909 and the cypher of King Ferdinand.

The star of the Order derived its design from that of the French The Orderof the Saint-Esprit, and consisted of a silver faceted Maltese cross with arms 75mm long.

Between the arms are flames charged with the silver fleur-de-lys, and in the centre a Seraph, its six wings enamelled in red.

The Order had both a Grand Collar and a Lesser Collar.

The riband of the Order was light orange and 103 mm wide, and worn over the left shoulder.

With the example illustrated is a photograph of King Boris III (1918-43), and this award of the Order dates from his reign.

The insignia was designed by Heyer von Rosenfeld of Rhote and Neffe in Vienna, and was made by Tzermann in Germany.

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