Alcantara, Orders of
Alcantara, Orders Of
1. The name of a military order in Spain. The town of Alcantara having been taken from the Moors in 1212 by Alphonso IX, he intrusted the keeping of it to the knights of Calatrava, in the first instance, and two years after to the knights of St. Julian, an order instituted in 1156 (according to Angelo Manrique) by Suarez and Gomez, two brothers, and confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1177, under the mitigated rule of St. Benedict, as in the case of the knights of Calatrava, whose other observances they also, subsequently, followed. Gomez at first was only styled prior, but afterward he assumed the title of grand master, and the order itself came to be styled the order of the knights of Alcantara. Upon the defeat of the Moors and the capture of Granada, the mastership of the order, as well as that of Calatrava, was united to the crown of Castile by Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1540 the knights of Alcantara obtained permission to marry ("to avoid offense"). Joseph Bonaparte, in 1808, deprived the order of all its revenues, part of which was restored in 1814 and the following years by Ferdinand VII. In 1835 it was abolished as an ecclesiastical order, but it still exists as a court and civil order. Their arms are a pear-tree with two grafts. This order, in its best days, possessed 50 commanderies, and exercised lordship over 53 towns or villages of Spain; it had the same dignities, and nearly the same statutes, as the order of Calatrava. The dress of ceremony consisted of a large white mantle with a green cross, fleurdenisse, on the left side, to distinguish them from the knights of Calatrava. They were bound by vow to maintain the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin. — Helyot, Dict. des Ordres Religieux; Landon, Ecclesiastes Dictionary, 1, 217.
2. The name of a branch of the Franciscan order. SEE FRANCISCANS.