The modern insignia of The Order of Saint Joachim is similar to that used after it changed its name from The Order of Jonathan in 1785.
When The Equestrian, Secular and Chapterial Order of Saint Joachim was founded in 1755 it was originally under the name The Knights of the Order of Jonathan, Defenders of the Honour of Divine Providence. The insignia of the original Order of Jonathan took its inspiration from other lodges and secret societies, particularly, according to one author, the masonic lodge in Leitmeritz where the first Grand Master was stationed with his regiment and where the Order was founded. Freemasons may recognize some of the symbolism in the below insignia, which were in fact common to many Enlightenment “secret” societies, such as the “all-seeing eye of God”.
Below is original mid-18th Century insignia of the Order of Jonathan, including a Commander’s breast star and neck cross. Both have the Order motto Junxit Amicus Amor (Love hath united friends) and the letters FSCV (Fide sed cui vide – “Trust, but be careful in whom you trust”) on the arms.
The Grand Master’s collar included a banner with the Order’s oldest motto: “Junxit Amicus Amor” (love hath united friends). The order originally took its name from Jonathan, a figure in the Bible’s Book of Samuel, Chapter 20, which tells of the enduring friendship between David and Jonathan. The Order’s motto Junxit Amicus Amor (Love hath united friends) is a reference to their close friendship. It appears there were different insignia for the different offices of the Order, much like a Masonic lodge’s officers’ jewels.
Pictured is an original neck cross from after the name change in 1785 along with a period illustration of the older form of neck insignia worn by Grand Commanders, Commanders and Knights, suspended from a green watered silk ribbon with a golden knightly helm hanging device. The front shows St. Joachim with his staff, and the reverse detail shown underneath displays a green cross-pattée.
Below are examples of versions of the older versions of the breast cross worn by the Grand Master, Grand Commanders and Commanders, with The Order’s motto surrounding the centrepiece: DEO PRINCIPI LEGI. Except for the motto, the breast badge has changed little in design in more than 200 years.
These illustrations of the ancient insignia of the Order of Saint Joachim are from A.M. Perrot’s work: Historische Sammlung aller Ritterorden der verschiendenen Nationen (A Historical Collection of all Knightly Orders of Different Nations) published in Leipzig in 1821.
Levett Hanson provides an extensive description of the ancient insignia for all the classes in his 1802 book:
“The Badge, appertaining to the Knights, Commanders, and Grand Commanders, consists of a gold Cross with eight points, the whole enamelled in white. In the middle, and on both sides, is a laurel Crown enamelled on a flat Circle. Upon the foreside, is the figure of Saint Joachim in a green dress, with a white sash round the Body; from his left Shoulder is suspended a white scrip, and, upon his Head, he wears a green cap, according to the oriental Fashion. In his left hand is a Shepherd’s Crook. Upon the reverse is a green Cross pattée. This Cross hangs by a large gold Ring from a knightly helmet of massy Gold, and is worn suspended from a dark green watered Ribbon.
“The Grand Master wears over the Coat, from the right Shoulder to the left side, a Ribbon of the breadth of the hand: to the loop of which is attached the Grand Cross. He likewise wears a Star upon his Coat, such as will be mentioned hereafter. The secular Grand Commanders wear the same cross suspended from the same Ribbon and over the coat likewise.
“The Grand Commanders, who are Ecclesiastics wear the same cross suspended from the same Ribbon; but it is worn en Sautoir, or about the Neck. All the Grand Commanders, seculars and ecclesiastics, wear a Star upon their coat, similar to that of the Grand Master. The cross assigned to the class of the Commanders, is likewise similar to the one worn by the Grand Master, and the Grand Commanders, Seculars, as well as Ecclesiastics; but it is something smaller. It is worn en Sautoir, and is suspended from a Ribbon of the breadth of three fingers. All the Commanders, Seculars and Ecclesiastics wear a Star upon their coats; of which a Description will be given.
“The Knights wear the small cross attached to a Ribbon, nearly equal in breadth to that worn by the Commanders. It is worn suspended from the Neck; but, they have not the Silver Star embroidered upon the coat, as have the Commanders. The Grand Master, and the Grand Commanders, wear upon the left breast of their coats, a Star of eight points embroidered in Silver; in the middle, on a white satin ground, is embroidered a green cross pattée surrounded with a laurel Crown: around all which; upon a border of dark green Velvet; is embroidered the Motto, JUNXIT, AMICOS AMOR, in letters of Gold. The whole is terminated with the date of the creation, 1755 in figures of Gold. The Commanders, wear on the left Breast of their coats, a Star of Silver, bearing eight points. It is of the dimensions of three inches taken from the Diameter of the circle; which circle is ornamented with a green cross pattée.”
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, The Order had different insignia for noble and non-noble “Honourary” members. The noble version included the golden helm hanger. Non-noble members did not have the hanger and instead had a green band around the centrepiece with the word “NOBILI” at the bottom and “CORDI” on the reverse (“Noble Hearts”). This is the form in use by all members today.
Ladies of The Order of Saint Joachim wore the same cross as male Knights, but without the helmet hanging device. Instead the ladies’ version was supported by a gilded skull and crossed bones hanger shown here. This somewhat macabre addition was principally to signify and remind ladies of the transitory nature of beauty and life, and that one should devote one’s life to the more lasting virtues of honour, education and family. The ladies’ cross from the Order of Jonathan also used the skull and crossbones symbolism. The cross itself shows Saint Joachim in green on the face of the white enamel cross surrounded by a gold or green wreath. The reverse has a green cross in the centrepiece, surrounded by a wreath. The green cross is again a hybrid design between a Maltese cross and a proper cross-pattee. Originally ladies wore this cross on a long green ribbon around their necks in the centre of the breast.
Because of the Order’s relatively small membership, actual surviving examples of The Order’s insignia from its earliest period are rare but not unknown. Some of the variations seen in The Order’s early insignia can be attributed to the fact that most of it was custom made for individual members of the Order by jewellers who had never seen an actual example. The Order did specify in its 1793 Abrégé (Abridged Rules of the Order) that members could request insignia from a Mr. Jean Gottlob Grellmann, the banker of The Order, at Hamburg, although many apparently chose to have their insignia custom made locally by various Court jewellers, likely working only from drawings and descriptions. Although unauthorized, individual embellishments to the approved design occurred.
The awarded example of the neck cross belonging to Philip d’Auvergne, Prince de Boullion and Rear-admiral of the Blue is preserved in the museum of the island of Jersey, where he was Governor. He also wore the breast cross similar to that of Nelson on his admiral’s uniform.
Lord Horatio Nelson’s breast cross has been preserved in a photograph taken at the end of the 1800s (top right of photo above). This is one of a set of medals that was presented to him in 1802 and came directly from The Grand Chapter on his being made a Knight Grand Commander of The Order of Saint Joachim. The original was stolen in 1900 and has never been recovered. The photograph shows his breast cross as somewhat plainer than published examples, with the Order’s motto – JUNXIT AMICUS AMOR – surrounding the centrepiece and the date 1755 at the bottom. In the centre, likely hand painted on enamel, is a version of the cross-pattee of the order surrounded by laurel leaves. The arms of the cross are in patterned silver brightwork.
Also in the above photograph (top left) is Nelson’s grand cross of The Order of Saint Joachim. The grand cross – worn over the shoulder on a broad, dark green ribbon – is shown suspended from the knightly helm hanger described and shown above by Perrot in 1821. At some point prior to being photographed it was removed and incorrectly reattached backwards to the hanger, as in the photograph the reverse of the cross is shown instead of the correct figure of St. Joachim that should be on the front.
The reverse shows a cross that follows the example in the 1787 guidebook of the Order, surrounded by a thin line of laurel leaves. The smaller cross patée should be in green, but it is impossible to tell from the black and white photograph.
Horatio Nelson had several tinsel or wire versions made of his Saint Joachim breast star, and wore the insignia from 1802 until his death. An embroidered version was lighter and more practical than a heavy metal award, and Nelson had all four of his orders of knighthood rendered in sequins, silk, velvet and bullion embroidery for semi-permanent attachment to his uniform. Nelson typically did not wear the metal version of his insignia, instead preferring to wear a wire-embroidered or “tinsel” version on his uniform coat.
On March 15, 1806, French cavalry general and Marshal of France Joachim Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon, unilaterally assumed the Grandmastership of the Order of Saint Joachim after being given the land and possessions of the Order’s existing Grand Master, the Count zu Leiningen. As Grand Duke of the Berg and Cleves, Murat adopted the Order of Saint Joachim and revised the statutes to allow him to admit any holder of the French Legion of Honour. He proceeded to award the Order of Saint Joachim to a large number of French generals and officers, particularly his former friends and comrades in the cavalry.
Murat made subtle changes to the Order’s insignia, including a rosette on the ribbon and a variation of the breast star which uses an eight-pointed “Maltese cross” instead of the proper cross-pattee of the Order, and added gold and silver rays between the arms of the cross. The French example of The Order’s breast cross for Knights Commander uses The Order’s older motto – DEO, PRINCIPI, LEGI.
In 1809 Murat left the Grand Duchy of the Berg and Cleves to become Napoleon’s King of Naples. He is believed to have left behind his Grandmastership of the Order of Saint Joachim, however there are several contemporary accounts that refer to the Order of Saint Joachim as “The Order of Saint Joachim of Naples” indicating he was still associated with the Order in some way. Murat was executed in 1815 , although French generals continued to wear the Order of Saint Joachim along with their other awards long after the defeat of Napoleon as shown in the many portraits of them.
Even while Murat was claiming to be Grand Master of the Order and awarding his Order of Saint Joachim to his French friends and colleagues, the original (and genuine) Order of Saint Joachim now in exile from the Grand Master’s lands continued to make awards, particularly to the enemies of Napoleon. British Rear-admiral Philippe D’Auvergne considered returning the award of the Order of Saint Joachim, thinking it was associated with Murat, the enemy he was fighting. Assured that Murat was a usurper and the Order of Saint Joachim continued to ally itself against France, D’Auvergne retained the award, having aleady received permission from the King of England to wear it on his admiral’s uniform.