This is the only surviving neck chain from the early period of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The chain consists of two elements recurring in a continuous pattern: flint (a type of stone that produces sparks when struck with steel, employed for igniting fires), represented by black-enamelled, hemispheric stones with white flecks, emitting flashes of fire laterally; and fire-steels (used to strike the flint), two of which frame each flint and whose hook-shaped handles are linked together to form the chain. Each of the thirty knights of the order is represented by one fire-steel, with the sovereign (for reasons of symmetry) symbolised by two. Duke Philip the Good incorporated flint and fire-steel into his coat of arms when he ascended the throne in 1419, as an illustration of his motto "Ante ferit quam flamma micet" ("It strikes before bursting into flame"). These symbols were later also adopted by the order, whose actual insignia is the ram's fleece that hangs from the chain. The chain was awarded by the sovereign and symbolised the fundamental concept of equality and brotherhood among members of a secular order of knights, since membership in the Order of the Golden Fleece was experienced as a strong, distinctly holy bond. Consisting of a series of loose elements that support each other and create a unified whole only when they are linked together, the chain is thus a vivid symbol of this idea of unity.
Burgundisch - Niederländisch
2. - 3. Drittel 15. Jahrhundert
L. 90 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Weltliche Schatzkammer
Schatzkammer, WS XIV 263
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