Military Order of Santiago, Medal (rhomboid)
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The Military Order of Santiago (Orden Militar de Santiago) was established in Spain at behest of Fernando II/Ferdinand II, King of Leon and Galicia, on July 29, 1170, when he took control of the city of Cáceres, territory of Santiago of Compostella, and gave it to Don Pedro Fernandez with the task of its defense against Moor invasions.
The Order was established as a Religious and Military Order with the initial task of protecting the pilgrims of St. James Way, the most important pilgrimage center in Western Europe, and to safeguard Christendom in Galicia. The Order was approved and regulated by Pope Alexander III on July 8, 1175.
The Order is also known as the Order of Saint James of the Sword, as well as the Order of St. James of Compostella. As direct heir of the Order of Malta and the Temple, this Order was the most important Military and Religious Order within Spain.
In 1495, Pope Innocence VIII conferred the Grand Master ship to the Spanish Crown, but just in 1587, it was fully integrated into the Spanish Monarchy. After its incorporation, the Order became an Order at the service of the Spanish Crown.
The Order was suppressed in 1873 during the First Spanish Republic, but it was re-instituted next year by Alfonso XII during the Bourbon Restoration (1874-1931.) Later, during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), the Order was under command of the Pope in Rome; it was only until 1939, just after the end of the Civil War, that the Order returned under Spanish control.
The Order is currently awarded in recognition of the defense of Christianity, especially the veneration of the immaculate conception of Mary. The recipients must have a noble origin, being able to trace their nobility through their maternal or paternal grandparents, and must not have any non-Christians in their lineage.
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