The Order of the Dragon

The Order of the DragonSocietas Draconistarum, meaning “Society of the Dragonists”– was a chivalric Order for selected nobility, founded in 1408 by Sigismund von Luxembourg, who through marriage became the King of Hungary (1387–1437) and later Holy Roman Emperor.

The Order was fashioned after the military orders of the Crusades, requiring its initiates to defend the cross and fight the enemies of Christianity, in particular the Ottoman Empire.


Sigismund von Luxembourg, King of Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Order flourished during the first half of the 15th century, primarily in Germany and Italy.

After Sigismund’s death in 1437, its importance declined in Western Europe, but it continued to play a role in Hungary, Croatia, Albania, Serbia and Romania which bore the brunt of the Ottoman incursions.

The Order’s statutes, written in Latin, call it a societas (society) whose members carry the signum draconis (a dragon).

The members were mostly Sigismund’s political allies and supporters, who were at first largely associated with the ruler of Serbia, Prince Stefan Lazarević

The twenty-one original members of the Order were named one by one in the founding charters.

To mention a few, Stefan Lazarević, Hermann II, Count of Celje, Stiborius de Stiboricz Voivode of Transylvania, and so on. As the Order grew, it expanded to two degrees: first degree of superior class and second degree members.

Some of the later members were the brother of the Serbian Prince, Fruhzin, the son of Tsar Ivan of Bulgaria, King Henry V of England, Vlad II Dracul,  Vlad III Dracula The Impaler, King Alfonso the Magnanimous of Aragon and others.

Seal of King of Aragon displaying the dragon helmet
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The edict of 1408 describes two insignia to be worn by members of the Order:

…we and the faithful barons and magnates of our kingdom shall bear and have, and do choose and agree to wear and bear, in the manner of society, the sign or effigy of the Dragon incurved into the form of a circle, its tail winding around its neck, divided through the middle of its back along its length from the top of its head right to the tip of its tail, with blood forming a red crossflowing out into the interior of the cleft by a white crack, untouched by blood…

The official coat of arms depicts the biblical beast, the dragon with its tail coiled around its neck, that bears comparison to the ouroboros, which is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.


Reconstruction of the emblem (II) based on the sketches in Austrian Museum custody; the original badge is missing.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Dragon represents the Beast of Revelation who is slain by the forces of good. There is no original form of the emblem that has survived, but it has been referenced on coins, art and in writing.  

Order of the Dragon Insignia. Reconstruction of the order patch (I) based on existing Austrian museum artifacts.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)



Coat of Arms of Prince Stefan Lazarevich depicting the dragon as described by the Order
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The official Cross of the Order is a Red Cross, with yellow flames at the end of each arm of the cross.

It is taught that each of the fiery flames of the cross represents virtues, obligations or aspirations of the knights, similar to those later found on the eight points of the Maltese Cross.

The official Cross insignia of the Order of the Dragon
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Although founded in 1408 by King Sigismund, some evidence points to the existence of the Order of the Dragon to an earlier period. Looking further back into the history when the Ottoman Empire was pushing deeper into Balkans and Christian Europe we find that Turkish raiding party, passing unobstructed through territories broke into Moravian Serbia in 1381.

The Ottoman army penetrated Serbia and neighbouring areas, killing and looting, then clashed with the subjects of Serbian ruler Tsar Lazar (father of Prince Stefan Lazarevich) at Dubravnica, where they were successfully fought off.

With a larger force, the Ottoman Sultan Murad I attacked Serbia in 1386 where the two armies fought at the battle of Plochnik.

The Serbian army emerged victorious. More than 60% of the Ottoman army was destroyed. According to the tradition, Serbian knight and folk hero Miloš Obilić participated in this battle where he distinguished himself.

Miloš Obilić at the tent of Sultan Murad.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

At a later date a much bigger and decisive battle between the two armies took place at the Battle of Kosovo in year of 1389. Sultan Murad I with his Ottoman army on one side, Tsar Lazar with the Serbian army on the other.

In the battle both sides suffered great losses and both leaders lost their lives. It is said that twelve Serbian knights were given order to kill Sultan by any means.

The death of the Sultan is widely attributed to Miloš Obilić.

After the battle, in a letter from the Florentine senate written by Coluccio Salutati dated 20th October 1389, Sultan Murad’s killing was described:

“Fortunate, most fortunate are those hands of the twelve loyal lords who, having opened their way with the sword and having penetrated the enemy lines and the circle of chained camels, heroically reached the tent of Amurat (Murad) himself. Fortunate above all is that one who so forcefully killed such a strong leader by stabbing him with a sword in the throat and belly.”

There are many stories surrounding the battle triumphs of those knights, particularly of Miloš Obilić.

Folk songs singing his praise in one song, it is said

“…your father is the dragon of the sky”


“…mother Yana conceived him with a dragon”,


“…from the dragon he inherited the mark”.


Many references describe him as the son of the dragon.

This is quite similar in the case of well known Romanian ruler Vlad III, the Impaler, also known as Lord Dracula.

His father Vlad II, as one of the first members of Sigismund’s Order of the Dragon became known as Vlad “Dracul” (Dracul meaning Dragon); hence Vlad III is also famous as “Dracula”, meaning the “Son of the Dragon”.

Vlad III, The Impaler, Dracula – the Son of the Dragon
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Is it safe to conclude that Miloš Obilić who is continuously referred to as the ‘son of a dragon’ could be a dragon himself?

Do we then also consider the possibility that the Order perhaps existed earlier than its official date when founded by King Sigismund?

Serbian folk songs do not sing only of knight Miloš but also of other knights, suggesting their link to an Order through the lineage of their fathers, the Dragons.

Moj Miloshe, moje milovanye,

Stho goj ima Srbina yunaka.

Svakoga su odgoyile vile,

mlogoga su zmayevi podigli.

Svakog chu ti po imenu kazat:

Evo prvog tebe, Obilichu,

a drugoga Zmay-ognyenog Vuka,

a tretchega Relyu Boshnyanina,

zmayeva ye i on porodica.

A chetvrtog Banovich Sekulu,

i nyemu ye zmay ognyeni.

A petoga Banovich Strahila,

i nyemu ye zmaj ognyeni babo.                      

A shestoga Lyutitzu Bogdana,

i nyemu ye zmaj ognyeni babo.

A sedmoga Kralyevicha Marka,

i nyemu ye zmaj ognyeni babo.

Svaki ima zmayevu biljegu.

My Milosh, my fondness,

what a hero Serb is.

Everyone has been raised by maidens,

though many were born of dragons.

I shall name each by his name:

Here is you first, Milosh Obilich,

and the second fiery-dragon Vuk,

and the third Relya Boshnyanin,

he is of the dragon family.

And the fourth Banovich Sekula,

he as well is of dragon fiery.

And the fifth Banovich Strahil,

and to him the father is fiery dragon.

And the sixth Lyutitza Bogdan,

and to him the father is fiery dragon.

And the seventh Prince Marko,

and to him the father is fiery dragon.

Each of you bear the mark of the dragon.



Miloš Obilić, oil painting, c. 1900, by Vladislav Titelbah. National Museum of Kikinda.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The oral tradition in many instances refers to the mark that the dragons and sons of dragons are in possession.

The mark that is often mentioned is considered to be the mark of the dragon that members wore about their body as the insignia on their armour, shield and helmet or even as some form of tattoo on their skin.

Svaki ima zmayevu bilyegu“

Each of you bear the sign of the dragon

Od zmaya je nasledio mladezh“

From the dragon he inherited the mark

“Zavrati mu uz ruke rukave, nach chesh nyemu mladezh na mishici

Pull up his arm slieves, you shall find the mark on his muscle

“Druga mu je na nozi bilyega”

Second is the sign on his leg



The coats of arms of the knights: Branković, Zarnoevich, and Dignichich
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

As we look for the answers, we find ourselves finding more questions. In the case of the Order of the Dragon, there are many more questions to be asked.

What is not written on the paper or brush-painted onto the canvas can sometimes be still stored in the oral folklore.

If the fathers of those Serbian ‘Knights as Dragons’ might have been the members of some version of the Dragon Order, can we speculate that the fathers of their fathers, and the fathers of their fathers before them could have been the ‘Dragons’ themselves?

Article by: Alex Lishanin




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