Order of the Tower and Sword
The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit 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 knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system
Honorific orders of Portugal
Honorific orders of Portugal is the attribution of decoration to individuals personal bravery, achievement, or service to Portugal. Portugal has had a long tradition in rewarding its citizens....

. It was created by King Afonso V
Afonso V of Portugal
Afonso V KG , called the African , was the twelfth King of Portugal and the Algarves. His sobriquet refers to his conquests in Northern Africa.-Early life:...

 in 1459.

It fell into disuse and was revived on 29 November 1808, by Prince Regent John, later John VI of Portugal
John VI of Portugal
John VI John VI John VI (full name: João Maria José Francisco Xavier de Paula Luís António Domingos Rafael; (13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826) was King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (later changed to just King of Portugal and the Algarves, after Brazil was recognized...

. It commemorated the safe arrival of the Royal Family
Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil
The Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil was an episode in the history of Portugal and the history of Brazil in which the Portuguese royal family and its court escaped from Lisbon on November 29, 1807 to Brazil, just days before Napoleonic forces captured the city on December 1...

 in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, after Napoleon had invaded Portugal. Its full title was “the Royal Order of the Tower and Sword”. It was available to both Portuguese and foreigners and for military, political or civilian achievement. Among the intended recipients were subjects of His Britannic Majesty, who had assisted the Royal Family to reach Brazil, but who were ineligible for the other Portuguese orders due to their religion.

In 1832 Peter IV of Portugal, Duke of Braganza
Duke of Braganza
The title Duke of Braganza in the House of Braganza is one of the most important titles in the peerage of Portugal. Since the House of Braganza acceded to the throne of Portugal in 1640, the male heir of the Portuguese Crown was known as the Duke of Braganza and Prince of Brazil until 1822, or...

, reformed the Order which now became the "Ancient and Most Noble Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit".

The re-formed order had four classes:
  • Grand Cross
  • Commander
  • Officer
  • Knight

In 1896 the class of Grand Officer was inserted between Grand Cross and Commander.

On 15 October 1910 the Republican government of Portugal abolished all military orders, with the exception of the Order of the Tower and Sword. Despite the fact that the order had not been abolished, on 26 September 1917 the order was revised for the third time. The order had four classes, the highest of which was confined to the President of the Republic of Portugal.

In 1918, the Order was expanded to five classes:
  • Grand Cross
  • Grand Officer
  • Commander
  • Officer
  • Knight

The President is ex officio the Order’s Grand Master and a member of the Order, Grand Cross.

The degree of Grand Collar was added in 1939. It was awarded only to Heads of State
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 with notable military deeds, and it was first conferred on Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

, Caudillo
Caudillo is a Spanish word for "leader" and usually describes a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian power. The term translates into English as leader or chief, or more pejoratively as warlord, dictator or strongman. Caudillo was the term used to refer to the charismatic...

of Spain. Since 1963 it has only been awarded to Presidents of Portugal.


The Order of the Tower and Sword, as awarded by the Portuguese government today, comes in six classes:
  • Grand Collar (GColTE), which wears the badge of the Order on a special collar (chain), and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
  • Grand Cross (GCTE), which wears the badge of the Order on a collar (chain), or on a sash on the right shoulder, and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
  • Grand Officer (GOTE), which wears the badge of the Order on a necklet, and the star of the Order in gold on the left chest;
  • Commander (ComTE), which wears the star of the Order in silver on the left chest;
  • Officer (OTE), 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 (CavTE) or Dame (DamTE), which wears the badge of the Order on a plain ribbon on the left chest.

Rear Admiral Thomas Western
Thomas Western
Thomas Western may refer to:*Sir Thomas Western, 1st Baronet , British Liberal politician, Member of Parliament for North Essex 1865–1868*Sir Thomas Western, 3rd Baronet...

 was one of the first to be awarded the Knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword. "In 1807 the Admiral (then Captain) Western rescued the Portuguese royal family from Napoleon's advancing ground forces and conveyed them to Brazil. In gratitude the King of Portugal made Thomas Western a knight commander in the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword."


  • The badge of the Order is a five-pointed gilt
    The term gilding covers a number of decorative techniques for applying fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. A gilded object is described as "gilt"...

     star, enamelled in white and with one point pointing downwards. The star has a wreath of green enamelled oak
    An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

     leaves between the arms of the star, and is topped by a gilt tower
    A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

    . The obverse central disc bears a sword
    A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

     surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves on a white enamel background, which is in turn surrounded by a blue enamel ring bearing the motto "Valor Lealdade e Mérito" (Valour, Loyalty and Merit). The reverse central disc bears the Portuguese coat-of-arms, surrounded by a blue enamel ring bearing the name "República Portuguesa" (Portuguese Republic).

  • The star of the Order is a five-pointed faceted star, in gilt for Grand Collar, Grand Cross and Grand Officer, and in silver for Commander, with the obverse of the badge (minus the wreath between the arms of the star-badge) superimposed upon it.

  • The ribbon of the Order is blue.

  • The fourragère is solid blue.

Current knights and officers

Grand Collar:
  • António Ramalho Eanes
    António Ramalho Eanes
    António dos Santos Ramalho Eanes, GColTE, GCL, CavA, KE is a Portuguese general and politician who was the 16th President of Portugal from 1976 to 1986.-Background:...

  • Mário Soares
    Mário Soares
    Mário Alberto Nobre Lopes Soares, GColTE, GCC, GColL, KE , Portuguese politician, served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1976 to 1978 and from 1983 to 1985, and subsequently as the 17th President of Portugal from 1986 to 1996.-Family:...

  • Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (1993-07-05)
  • Juan Carlos I of Spain (2000-09-08)
  • Jorge Sampaio (2006-03-09)

Grand Cross:
  • King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
    Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
    Carl XVI Gustaf is the reigning King of Sweden since 15 September 1973, succeeding his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf because his father had predeceased him...

  • Francisco Sá Carneiro
    Francisco Sá Carneiro
    Francisco Manuel Lumbrales de Sá Carneiro, GCTE, GCC, GCL founded the Portuguese Social Democratic Party in 1974 and was elected Prime Minister of Portugal in January 1980, but only held office for eleven months, dying in a plane crash with his partner, Snu Abecassis, on December 4, 1980...

     (after his death) (1986-03-17)
  • José Lemos Ferreira (1989-05-29)
  • Mário Firmino Miguel (after his death) (1991-11-07)
  • Gabriel Augusto do Espírito Santo (2000-08-23)

External links

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