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The Order of the Golden Fleece is a famous order order of chivalry founded by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, on January 10, 1429. He was at his wedding to Isabella of Portugal at Bruges in The Netherlands. Philip is believed to have chosen the symbol of the golden fleece not only because of its connection with the mythological story of Jason and the Argonauts, but also because of the importance of the wool industry to the economy of The Netherlands.

Philip founded the order because his marriage represented the reunification of some of Charlemagne's territory. The knights were supposed to be like the Argonauts, Jason's chosen companions during the quest for the fleece, only more Christian (this was 15th century Europe, after all).

The Order of the Golden Fleece consisted of 31 knights. In the late 15th century, The Netherlands and the office of grandmaster of the Order of the Golden Fleece passed by marriage to the Habsburg family. In 1559 the pope granted King Philip II of Spain permission to nominate knights to the order himself. After the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), The Netherlands were ruled by Emperor Charles VI of the Holy Roman Empire, who claimed the headship of the order and celebrated its inauguration in Vienna, Austria, in 1713. King Philip V of Spain disputed this claim and introduced another order in his country, which continued until it was abolished by the Spanish Republic in 1930. The Austrian branch of the Order of the Golden Fleece lasted until the fall of the Habsburg empire in 1918.

The emblem of the order is a golden fleece suspended from a gold and blue enamelled flint stone emitting flames. The opposite side of the emblem is inscribed with the Latin motto Pretium Laborum non Vile, which means "no mean reward for effort." The emblem is suspended from a red ribbon. The knights of the order also wore an elaborate costume consisting of a robe, mantle, cap, and hood in deep red, purple, gold, and white, with red shoes and stockings.

This is the highest order in Austria. (Thanks to pylon)

You can see a picture of the medal at http://www.antiquesatoz.com/sgfleece/

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