THE ROYAL MILITARY ORDER OF SAINT GEORGE FOR THE DEFENSE OF THE FAITH AND THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (BAVARIA)
© Guy Stair Sainty
This foundation was first projected by Maximilian II Emmanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1662-1726), to provide for a means of honoring the nobility and recognizing distinguished military service. It was confirmed in a Papal Bull of March 15, 1728 specifically comparing the Order with the Teutonic Order, which had likewise been transformed from a Crusading Order to an exclusive chivalric religious institution for the Nobility.  The decision to found it may have been at least in part the consequence of the failed attempt by the Wittelsbachs to acquire the Grand Magistery of the Constantinian Order of Saint George, which by decision of the Holy See in 1701 was recognized as pertaining to the Farnese.  The tradition of loyalty to the patron Saint of Chivalry, Saint George, was also long established in Germany and the various Bavarian Princes who made pilgrimages to the Holy Sepulcher where they were invested as knights in the fifteenth century all made a promise to Saint George. Maximilian's son, the Elector Karl-Albrecht (1697-1745), gave the new Order its title of "Order of the Holy Knight and Martyr Saint George and the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary" and its statutes on March 28, 1729 as a Military Order of Chivalry for Roman Catholic noblemen. By a reform of 1741, a clerical class was introduced, also limited to noblemen, including a Bishop, Provosts, four Deans and Chaplains. The statutes in forty articles dedicate the members to an ardent Christian devotion unparalleled among institutions founded in the eighteenth century, the age of the Enlightenment. They required that the knights "must honor God above all else; You must be strong in faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, honor your Sovereign Lord, love and respect him and his royal prerogatives" and, replicating the promises made at the Tomb, ..."you must protect virgins, widows and orphans and whenever possible, save the weak from oppression". 
With Karl-Theodor's death in 1799, both Electorates passed collaterally to the next senior Prince (because of the exclusion of several morganatic lines), the Elector Maximilian-Josef (Duke of Zweibrücken) who in 1806 was elevated to the title of King, following substantial alterations in his territories. The new King now found himself ruling a very different state to that ruled by his ancestors, having lost all the Palatinate and instead been compensated with various immediate Bishoprics, principalities and counties adjacent or within the new, enlarged Bavarian state.  By the settlements at the Congress of Vienna the Bavarian lands were enlarged further with the absorption of the territories of the former Archbishopric, later Grand Duchy, of Wurzburg, while also recovering some of the former Palatinate estates such as Zweibrücken which were recovered from France. By the time Maximilian I of Bavaria died he was ruling a larger and richer state than any previous individual Wittelsbach Prince.
In reforming the various military and noble Orders, including the several organizations of noble ladies, he confirmed the privileges already enjoyed by the knights of Saint George, giving them precedence after the knights of Saint Hubert. By a new Constitution of 25 February 1827, Maximilian's son and successor, Ludwig I declared that the King (or Head of the Royal House) was always to be Grand Master, the Crown Prince the first Grand Prior and other Princes of the Bavarian Royal House second Grand Priors. These statutes, which have remained largely in force, established six Grand Commanders, twelve hereditary commanders (and by a new constitution of 17 April 1871, honorary commanders), and knights.
The badge of the Order is a pale blue and white enameled gold maltese cross with small gold balls on the point and diagonal lozenges between the arms. The medallion in the center has the image of the Virgin Mary on one side and Saint George slaying the Dragon on the other. It hangs from a lions head trophy suspended from a light and dark blue ribbon with white borders. The star is similar to the Cross but silver instead of white, with a blue and silver alternating lozenges between the arms; in the center is the red cross of Saint George.
 Of Pope Benedict XIII.
Brief of 20 April 1701,
 1729 statutes.
 The families which lost their sovereign status to Bavaria were: Castell, Esterhazy, Fugger, Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Lobkowicz, Loewenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, Oettingen, Ortenberg, Ostein, Rechteren-Limpurg, Schönborn, Schwarzenberg, Sinzendorf, Stadio and Thurn und Taxis.