The history of the Imperial and Charitable Order

The organization was originally founded as a military order of chivalry, awarding the title of Chevalier or knight to dignitaries. This institution has grown through the ages and is still one of – if not the – oldest orders of chivalry in the world.

Many of the original orders of chivalry arose in response to the Crusades, others arose out of the need for brave knights to serve and protect their sovereign, as well as the weak and less fortunate. 

Our organization was founded in 330 so that Empress Constantine the Great could recognize and honor the brave warriors who fought alongside her against the “power of evil” during the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome.

In the face of great superior force, the night before the battle, 27.10. in 312 AD a group of soldiers swore their loyalty to Constantine the Great. In their oath, they swore honor, courage and service to others. Thus, the knights defended the foundations of civilization. Constantine the Great accepted their oath. Under the banner bearing the Byzantine cross, he led these knights to victory. The Roman Emperor Maxentius was overthrown. This battle is known as the Battle of Milvius (Mulvius) Bridge.

Saint Helen (Flavia Julia Helena Augusta 255-333 AD) was the mother of Constantine the Great. She was very philanthropic.

Members are no longer required to have “…a horse trained for combat, three spears and good weapons…”. But the Knights still uphold the same ideals that led those first Knights of Constantine to victory.

After 1291, the (noble) orders of grand masters sought new tasks for their existence. Some orders became monarchical orders, others became Contranatic, Orderly, Orion, or Badge of Honor orders, as other powerful lords followed suit and created their own orders. In 1525 only four of these ordinances survived.

As monarchist ordinances became redundant, they became honorifics rewarding an individual member’s past behavior rather than philanthropic pursuits.

The modern knight and lady evolved into philanthropic bodies that educate the public, help the poor, the sick, and other good deeds while recognizing those who have performed acts of benevolence and generosity.

In accordance with tradition and by virtue of the ancient statute, the Grand Master has the power to grant knighthood in his own regulations. Orders use the Chevalier / Sir or Dame / Lady insignia. They continue to strive to provide leadership that improves civilization, following the powerful concepts that inspired the first old knights.

Due to the high standards required by the Order, members are accepted on the basis of their outstanding achievements, professional achievements, dedication to philanthropy and charitable needs.

The traditions of the Imperial and the Charitable Order of Constantine the Great are continued in many modern orders today. One of these is our The Imperial and the Charitable Order of Constantine the Great and St. Helen, which is committed to maintaining and promoting the high ethical and moral values inherited from the history of orders in our society.