Order of Calatrava

The Order of Calatrava was founded in the twelfth century by Don Diego Velázquez. Velázquez, a Cistercian monk and a former soldier, received permission to train lay brothers of his house in warfare, and by 1158 they were charged with defending the castle of Calatrava. Soon thereafter the monks returned to their abbey, leaving the knight-brothers to their own direction like the Templars and Hospitallers, but still observing the Cistercian rule.

This Castilian order continued to grow through the ensuing centuries, with hundreds of commanderies to provide income for the knights. The Order of Calatrava fought the Moors through the reconquista and other Spaniards as the kingdoms of Iberia battled for supremacy over the peninsula.

By the sixteenth century the religious character of the order diminished and in 1540 the vow of celibacy was replaced with the vow of “marital chastity,” permitting the knights to marry. Novices must be of noble birth and are expected to serve in the galleys of Spain for six months, but this latter requirement is often waved. The order is second in size and importance behind only the Order of Santiago in Spain.


Order of Calatrava

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