In the season of 1899-1900 the wool exports weighed 420,000,000 lb, and averaged more than 5 lb per sheep. The extra weight of fleece was owing to the large importation of better breeds.
A permanent memorial of it remains in the famous Order of the Golden Fleece, which was instituted by the duke at Bruges in 1430 on the occasion of his marriage with Isabel of Portugal, a descendant of John of Gaunt, and was so named from the English wool, the raw material used in the Flemish looms, for which Bruges was the chief mart.
The regent was president of the council of state, of which the knights of the Golden Fleece were members.
These great magnates, all of them Knights of the Fleece and men of peculiar weight and authority in the country, were disgusted to find that, though nominally councillors of state, their advice was never asked, and that all power was placed in the hands of the Consulta.
GOLDEN FLEECE, in Greek mythology, the fleece of the ram on which Phrixus and Helle escaped, for which see Argonauts.
For the modern order of the Golden Fleece, see Knighthood And Chivalry, section Orders of Knighthood.
The chief domestic animals are the camel, horse, ass, ox, buffalo (used both as a beast of burden and for riding), sheep with a short silky fleece, the goat and the pig, which last here reaches its southernmost limit.
Charles the Bold maintained the traditions of his house as a patron of literature, and showed special favour to Chastellain, who, after being constituted indiciaire or chronicler of the order of the Golden Fleece, was himself made a knight of the order on the 2nd of May 1473.
The story of the fleece was as follows.
But before the sacrifice the shade of Nephele appeared to Phrixus, bringing a ram with a golden fleece on which he and his sister Helle endeavoured to escape over the sea.
Phrixus, however, reached the other side in safety, and proceeding by land to Aea in Colchis on the farther shore of the Euxine Sea, sacrificed the ram, and hung up its fleece in the grove of Ares, where it was guarded by a sleepless dragon.
Jason, having undertaken the quest of the fleece, called upon the noblest heroes of Greece to take part in the expedition.
Successful so far by means of the mixture which Medea, daughter of Aeetes, had given him as proof against fire and sword, Jason was next allowed to approach the dragon which watched the fleece; Medea soothed the monster with another mixture, and Jason became master of the fleece.
Suidas says that the fleece was a book written on parchment, which taught how to make gold by chemical processes.
Muller, it had its origin in the worship of Zeus Laphystius; the fleece is the pledge of reconciliation; Jason is a propitiating god of health, Medea a goddess akin to Hera; Aeetes is connected with the Colchian sun-worship. Forchhammer saw in it an old nature symbolism; Jason, the god of healing and fruitfulness, brought the fleece - the fertilizing rain-cloud - to the western land that was parched by the heat of the sun.
Others treat it as a solar myth; the ram is the light of the sun, the flight of Phrixus and the death of Helle signify its setting, the recovery of the fleece its rising again.
The characteristic skirt is sometimes supplemented by a coarse cloth, perhaps a fleece, thrown over the J, shoulders; and in later times it is seen fastened outside a tunic by means of a girdle (see fig.
The diet held at Frankfort in 1456 recalled the fact that the council of Constance had forbidden the pope to impose tenths without the consent of the clergy in the region affected, and that it was clear that he proposed to " pull the German sheep's fleece over its ears."
The Egyptians adopted from the Greeks, with considerable modifications of its attendant symbolism, the twelve-fold division of the zodiac. Aries became the Fleece; two Sprouting Plants, typifying equality or resemblance, stood for Gemini; Cancer was re-named Scarabaeus; Leo was converted, from the axe-like configuration of its chief stars, into the Knife: Libra into the Mountain of the Sun, a reminiscence, apparently, of the Euphratean association of the seventh month with a " holy mound," designating the biblical tower of Babel.
==Sheep== Only in Africa do we find a sheep-god proper; Ammon was the god of Thebes; he was represented as ram-headed; his worshippers held the ram to be sacred; it was, however, sacrificed once a year, and its fleece formed the clothing of the idol.
The latter is afterwards carefully separated, when the fleece in a good specimen weighs about half a pound.
And such bodies placed under the command of a sovereign or grand master, regulated by statutes, and enriched by ecclesiastical endowments would have been precisely what in after times such orders as the Garter in England, the Golden Fleece in Burgundy, the Annunziata in Savoy and the St Michael and Holy Ghost in France actually were.4 During the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as somewhat earlier and later, the general arrangements of a European army were always and everywhere pretty much the same.5 Under the sovereign the constable and the marshal g or marshals held the chief commands, their authority being partly joint and partly several.
Here belong, inter alia, the well-known orders of the Garter (England), Golden Fleece (Austria and Spain), Annunziata (Italy), Black Eagle (Prussia), St Andrew (Russia), Elephant (Denmark) and Seraphim (Sweden).
The Golden Fleece (La Toison d'Or) ranks historically and in distinction as one of the great knightly orders of Europe.
Four different sources have been suggested; the classical myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts for the golden fleece, the scriptural story of Gideon, the staple trade of Flanders in wool, and the fleece of golden hair of Marie de Rambrugge, the duke's mistress.
It was in defiance of this right that Alva refused the claim of Counts Egmont and Horn to be tried by the knights of the Fleece in 1568.
It may be noticed that while the Austrian branch excludes any other than Roman Catholics from the order, the Spanish Fleece may be granted to Protestants.
The badges of the two branches vary slightly in detail, more particularly in the attachment of fire-stones (fusils or furisons) and steels by which the fleece is attached to the ribbon of the collar.
A magnificent exhibition of relics, portraits of knights and other objects connected with the order of the Golden Fleece was held at Bruges in 1907.
The following are the principal orders other than that of the Golden Fleece (supra).
(ii.) THE Golden Fleece (Spain).
The Spanish branch of the Order of the Golden Fleece has been treated above.
Was founded in 1771 by Charles III., in two classes; altered in 1804, it was abolished by Joseph Bonaparte in 1809, together with all the Spanish orders except the Golden Fleece, and the Royal Order of the Knights of Spain was established.
These pretty animals have a long, very fine, silky and curly fleece of a creamy white.
By the moderns he has been variously explained as a solar deity; a god of summer; a god of storm; a god of rain, who carries off the rain-giving cloud (the golden fleece) to refresh the earth after a long period of drought.
One bears a white fleece, the other a russet or black one.
The average weight per fleece was 8 ib.
At the coronation of Ferdinand II., when he officiated as grand-standardbearer, he received the order of the Golden Fleece and fresh donations.
His other honours included the Golden Fleece and the grade of commander in the order of Maria Theresa.
Not only is coarse cloth for their own garments made in this manner from the fleece of the llama, but cotton and woollen goods of a serviceable character are manufactured, and still finer fabrics are woven from the wool of the alpaca and vicuña, sometimes mixed with silk or lamb's wool.
About the time when he was writing The Mask of Pandora, he could see "in the sunset Jason's fleece of gold," and hear "the waves of the distracted sea piteously calling and lamenting" his lost friend.