Order of the Tower and Sword

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Order of the Tower and Sword
Ordem Militar da Torre e Espada
Ordem t e esp.jpg
Badge, collar and star of the order
Awarded by Flag of Portugal.svg Portuguese Republic
Type Order
Motto VALOR, LEALDADE E MÉRITO
Eligibility Portuguese and foreigners; military and civilian
Awarded for Awarded for exceptional and outstanding merits in the highest offices in Parliament, Government, courts of justice or in the presidency of the Republic or in the command of troops in campaign; for military or civic deeds of heroism and to reward outstanding acts of abnegation and sacrifice for Portugal or mankind
Status Currently constituted
Sovereign President Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Chancellor General Vasco Joaquim Rocha Vieira
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Grand Collar
Grand Cross
Grand Officer
Commander
Officer
Knight
Established 1459
Precedence
Next (higher) None (highest)
Next (lower) Order of Christ
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Knight BAR.png
Ribbon bar of the Order of the Tower and Sword

The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit (Portuguese: Ordem Militar da Torre e Espada do Valor, Lealdade e Mérito) is a Portuguese order of knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system. It was created by King Afonso V in 1459. The order is not only bestowed to people, but may be bestowed to Portuguese municipalities.

History[edit]

The order was originally created by King Afonso V of Portugal in 1459, under the name of the Order of the Sword, inspired by the legend that Arab rule in Africa would end when a Christian prince would siege the fortress at Fez. Knighthood in the Order of the Sword was given as reward to those who participated in the conquests and battles in Africa. The order fell into disuse after the conquest of Tangiers and Asilah.

The order was revived on 29 November 1808, by Prince Regent John, later John VI of Portugal. It commemorated the safe arrival of the Royal Family in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, 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, Duke of Braganza (who was then Regent for his daughter Queen Maria II), 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.

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

On 15 October 1910, after the end of the monarchy, the new 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.

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 with notable military deeds and since 1963 it has only been awarded to Presidents of Portugal.

Insignia[edit]

  • The badge of the Order is a five-pointed gilt star, enamelled in white and with one point pointing downwards. The star has a wreath of green enamelled oak leaves between the arms of the star, and is topped by a gilt tower. The obverse central disc bears a sword 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.

Grades[edit]

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 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 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."[1][2][3]

Ribbon bars
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Grand Cross BAR.png
Grand Collar (GColTE)
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Grand Cross BAR.png
Grand Cross (GCTE)
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Grand Officer BAR.png
Grand Officer (GOTE)
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Commander BAR.png
Commander (ComTE)
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Officer BAR.png
Officer (OTE)
PRT Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword - Knight BAR.png
Knight (CavTE) / Dame (DamTE)

Current knights and officers[edit]

Insignia from the 19th century

Grand Collar:

Grand Cross:

Grand Officer:

Commander:

Officer:

Knight:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]