Order of Aviz
The Military Order of Aviz , previously to 1910 Royal Military Order of Aviz , previously to 1789 Order of Saint Benedict of Aviz , previously Knights of St. Benedict of Aviz or Friars of Santa Maria of Évora, is a Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 Order of Chivalry
Order (decoration)
An order or order of merit is a visible honour, awarded by a government, dynastic house or international organization to an individual, usually in recognition of distinguished service to a nation or to humanity. The distinction between orders and decorations is somewhat vague, except that most...

. They gave their name and arms to the Aviz Dynasty that ruled Portugal between 1385 and 1580.

Early history

The order, as a monastic military order, was founded in emulation of such military orders as the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

, which existed in Portugal as early as 1128, and received a grant from Teresa of León in the year of the Council of Troyes
Council of Troyes
There have been a number of councils held at Troyes:* 867 - proclaimed that no bishop could be disposed without reference to the Holy See* 1129 - convened by Pope Honorius II:...

, which confirmed their early statutes. A native order of this kind sprang up in Portugal about 1146. Afonso
Afonso I of Portugal
Afonso I or Dom Afonso Henriques , more commonly known as Afonso Henriques , nicknamed "the Conqueror" , "the Founder" or "the Great" by the Portuguese, and El-Bortukali and Ibn-Arrik by the Moors whom he fought, was the first King of Portugal...

, the first King gave to it the town of Évora, captured from the Moors in 1166, and the Knights were first called "Friars of Santa Maria of Évora". Pedro Henriques, an illegitimate son of the King's father, was the first grand master.

After the conquest of Aviz
Avis (Portugal)
Avis is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 606.0 km² and a total population of 5,054 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 8 parishes, and is located in the District of Portalegre....

 a castle erected there became the motherhouse of the order, and they were then called "Knights of St. Benedict of Aviz", since they adopted the Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 rule in 1162, as modified by John Ziritu, one of the earliest Cistercian abbots of Portugal. Like the Knights of Calatrava in Castile, the Knights of Portugal were indebted to the Cistercians for their rule and their habit—a white mantle with a green fleur-de-lysed cross. The Knights of Calatrava also surrendered some of their places in Portugal to them on condition that the Knights of Aviz should be subject to the visitation of their grand master. Hence the Knights of Aviz were sometimes regarded as a branch of the Calatravan Order, although they never ceased to have a Portuguese grand master, dependent for temporalities on the Portuguese King.

At the death of King Ferdinand
Ferdinand I of Portugal
Ferdinand I , sometimes referred to as the Handsome or rarely as the Inconstant , was the ninth King of Portugal and the Algarve, the second son of Peter I and his wife, Constance of Castile...

 (1383) war broke out between Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and Portugal. When João I
John I of Portugal
John I KG , called the Good or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal the Bastard, was the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta...

, who had been grand master of the Knights of Aviz, ascended the throne of Portugal, he forbade the knights to submit to Castilian authority, and consequently, when Gonsalvo de Guzman came to Aviz as Visitor, the knights, while according him hospitality, refused to recognise him as a superior. Guzman protested, and the point remained a subject of contention until the Council of Basle (1431), when Portugal was declared to be in the wrong. But the right of the Calatravans was never exercised, and the next grand master of the Knights of Aviz, Rodrigo of Sequirol, continued to assert supreme authority over them.

The mission of the military orders in Portugal seemed to end after the overthrow of Muslim domination, but the Portuguese expeditions across the sea opened up a new field for them. The first landings of Europeans in Africa, the conquest of Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 by King João I (1415), the attacks upon Tangier
Tangier, also Tangiers is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 700,000 . It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel...

 under João's son Duarte (1437) were also crusades, inspired by a religious spirit and sanctioned by similar Papal Bulls. The Knights of Aviz and the Knights of Christ from Order of Christ
Order of Christ (Portugal)
The Military Order of Christ previously the Royal Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ was the heritage of the Knights Templar in Portugal, after the suppression of the Templars in 1312...

, scions of the Knights Templars, achieved deeds of valour, the former under the Prince Fernando, the latter under Henrique, brother of King Duarte. Fernando displayed a no less heroic forbearance during his six years of captivity among the Muslims, a long martyrdom which after his death placed him among the Blessed (Acta SS.,5 June).

This enthusiasm did not last, and the Crusade in Africa degenerated into mere mercantile enterprise. After the grand mastership of the order had been vested in the King in perpetuity (1551), he availed himself of its income to reward any kind of service in the army or the fleet. If the wealth of the Knights of Aviz was not as great as that of the Knights of Christ, it was still quite large, drawn as it was from some forty-three commanderies. The religious spirit of the knights vanished, and they withdrew from their clerical brothers who continued alone the conventual life. They were dispensed from their vow of celibacy by Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI , born Roderic Llançol i Borja was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname—Borgia—became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era, most notoriously the Banquet...

 (1502), who tolerated their marriage to prevent scandalous concubinage; Julius III (1551) allowed them to dispose freely of their personal properties. Nobility of birth remained the chief requirement of aspirants to the mantle, a requirement confirmed by a decree of 1604.

The Secularization of the Order

Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI , born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was Pope from 1775 to 1799.-Early years:Braschi was born in Cesena...

 (1789) and Queen Mary I reformed the order into a secular institution. In 1834, when the civil government of Portugal became anti-Catholic, after the defeat of King Miguel
Miguel of Portugal
Dom Miguel I, sometimes Michael , was the King of Portugal between 1828 and 1834, the seventh child and second son of King John VI and his queen, Charlotte of Spain....

 in the Civil War, under the constitutional monarchy the order lost its properties. The ancient military orders were transformed by the liberal constitution and subsequent legislation into mere orders of merit. The privileges which once had been an essential part of the membership of the old military orders also ceased.

In 1910, when the Portuguese monarchy ended, the Republic of Portugal abolished all the orders except the Order of the Tower and Sword
Order of the Tower and Sword
The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit is a Portuguese order of knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system. It was created by King Afonso V in 1459....

. However, in 1917, at the end of the Great War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, some of these orders were re-established as mere orders of merit to reward outstanding services to the state, the office of grand master belonging to the head of state - the President of the Republic. The Military Order of Aviz, together with the other Portuguese Orders of Merit, had its statutes revised on several occasions, during the First Republic (1910–1926), then in 1962, and again in 1986.

The Military Order of Aviz, together with the Military Orders of Christ
Order of Christ (Portugal)
The Military Order of Christ previously the Royal Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ was the heritage of the Knights Templar in Portugal, after the suppression of the Templars in 1312...

 and of St. James of the Sword form the group of the "Ancient Military Orders", governed by a chancellor and a council of eight members, appointed by the President of the Republic, to assist him as grand master in all matters concerning the administration of the order. The order can only be conferred on military personnel, both Portuguese and foreign, for outstanding service. For Portuguese nationals, a minimum of seven years of service in the armed forces is required as well as an outstanding and exemplary service record. The regulations of the order suggest classes to be conferred according to military rank thus: Army Captains and Navy Lieutenants: Knight; Majors and Lieutenant-Commanders: Officer; Lieutenant Colonels and Commanders: Commander; Colonels, Brigadiers, Navy Captains and Rear Admirals (US RADM, Commodore/US RDML being a virtually non-existing rank in the Portuguese Navy): Grand Officer; Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals, Generals, Vice-Admirals and Admirals: Grand Cross. However, a number of further provisions in the regulations of the order allow for exceptions to this general rule.


The Order of Aviz, as awarded by the Portuguese government today, comes in five classes:
  • Grand Cross (GCA), which wears the badge of the Order on a sash on the right shoulder, and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
  • Grand Officer (GOA), which wears the badge of the Order on a necklet, and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
  • Commander (ComA), which wears the badge of the Order on a necklet, and the star of the Order in silver on the left chest;
  • Officer (OA), which wears the badge of the Order on a ribbon with rosette
    Rosette (decoration)
    A rosette is a small, circular device that is presented with a medal. The rosettes are primarily for situations where wearing the medal is deemed inappropriate. Rosettes are issued in nations such as France, Italy and Japan...

     on the left chest;
  • Knight (CavA) or Dame (DamA), which wears the badge of the Order on a plain ribbon on the left chest.

Order of Aviz Ribbon Bars
Grand Cross Grand Officer Commander Officer Knight


  • The badge of the Order is a gilt cross with green enamel, similar to the Order's emblem illustrated here, but with a longer lower arm. During the monarchy the badge was topped by the Sacred Heart
    Sacred Heart
    The Sacred Heart is one of the most famous religious devotions to Jesus' physical heart as the representation of His divine love for Humanity....

     of Christ.

  • The star of the Order is an eight-pointed, faceted star, in gilt for Grand Cross and Grand Officer, and in silver for Commander. The central disc is in white enamel, with a miniature of the modern badge in it. During the monarchy the Sacred Heart of Christ was placed at the top of the star.

  • The ribbon of the Order is plain green.

Selected recipients

  • Roberto Ivens
    Roberto Ivens
    Roberto Ivens was a Portuguese explorer of Africa, Geographer, colonial administrator, and an officer of the Portuguese Navy.-Early life:...

    , 1895.
  • Ernesto Burzagli
    Ernesto Burzagli
    Ernesto Burzagli CB was a prominent figure in the Kingdom of Italy during the early 20th century. During a lifetime career in the Italian Royal Navy , he rose to the rank of Admiral and Chief of Staff...

    , 1920.
  • James L Jones, 2006
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