Order of the Ship and the Mussel
The Order of the Ship (French : Ordre du Navire) was founded in 1269 by the French king Louis IX the Saint. It was also called the Ordre d'Outremer (Overseas Order), Ordre de la Coquille de Mer (Order of the Sea-shell = Ordre of the Mussel), Ordre du Double Croissant (Order of the Double Crescent).
The Collar was composed of double golden shells (mussels) and double silver crescents interlaced in saltire. Hanging from the collar, a red-enameled golden medallion with a silver ship, the point of which was waved in silver and green (Image).
The shells were representing the war and the harbour of Aigues-Mortes, from which the knights embarked for the cruisade. The crescents were to symbolize the Muslims to be fought. The ship marked the overseas character of the glorious expedition.
The knights of this order were allowed to put a silver ship with french flags (= semé-de-lis on azure) on the helmet of their coat of arms or to put the same golden ship in a silver chef directly in their coat of arms. As such, using "gold on silver" (metal on metal) by this royal honour, those coats of arms became some armes à enquerre.
But, according to Moreri, it remained famous in the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily because Charles of France, King of Naples and Sicily, Count of Anjou and Maine, Count of Provence and Forcalquier, a brother of Saint Louis, used it as the Ordre du Croissant for himself and his successors, Kings of Naples. René of Anjou revived it in 1448 in Sicily and Provence.
Famous recipients were (ages in 1269):
- Louis IX's elder son, the Philip the Bold, Count of Orleans (later Philip III of France), aged 24, returned safely
- his second son, John Tristan, Count of Nevers and of Valois, aged 19, dead during the cruisade on 3 August 1270
- his third son, Peter, Count of Perche and Alençon, aged 18, returned safely
- his brother Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, aged 49, dead on 21 August 1271 (probably in Savona, Italy) on the way back
- his son-in-law Thibaud II of Navarre, aged c. 31, dead on December 4, 1270 in Trapani (Sicily) on the return travel due to an epidemic. He was the husband of Isabella of France, Queen of Navarre, aged 28, who made the cruisade travel as well but returned safely.
- François Frédéric Steenackers, "Histoire des ordres de chevalerie et des distinctions honorifiques en France", Librairie Internationale, Paris, 1868, p. 148 - Google Book citing:
- Gustav Adolph Ackermann, Ordensbuch, Sämtlicher in Europa blühender und erloschener Orden und Ehrenzeichen. Annaberg, 1855, p. 208 n°77 "Orden den Schiffs und der Seemuschel" – Google Books (Former orders of France : p. 205-214)
- Maximilien Bullot & Pierre Hélyot, Histoire des ordres monastiques, religieux et militaires, et des congregations seculieres de l'un & l'autre sexe, qui ont esté establies jusque'à present, 8th Tome, 6th Part, Chapter XXXVIII, pp. 279–281 Ed. Nicolas Gosselin, Engravings by François de Poilly, Paris, 1719 - Google Book
- Louis Moreri, "Le Grand Dictionnaire Historique, ou Le mélange curieux de l'histoire sacrée et profane", Paris, 1747, Tome 6, p. 392 (3rd col.) : article Navire - Google Book
- R.P. Honoré de Sainte Marie (Carme Déchaussé), "Dissertations historiques et critiques sur la Chevalerie ancienne et moderne, séculière et régulière, Ed. Nicolas Pepie & Jean-François Moreau, Paris, 1718, p. 128 - Google Book