A reader named Marek clued me into this topic, so thanks, Marek!
The Order of the Dragon was a faux-chivalric order of knighthood active in Eastern Europe during the early 1400s. I say a faux order because the Age of Chivalry was pretty well over by then. Orders of Knighthood had been most active during the Crusades (roughly 1095-1291). Founding a chivalric order in 1408 was akin to modern Americans organizing ourselves according to the legends of the Wild West.
And here I shall refrain from snarky comments about the current political affairs of the United States.
The Order of the Dragon was founded by Sigismund, King of Hungary and Croatia. Like the European political leaders during the Crusades, Sigismund was under threat by the expansion of the Ottoman Turks into Eastern Europe. His reign (1387-1437) was turbulent with both internal and external strife. The Order of the Dragon allowed him to identify a core of supporters who he could count on in his various battles.
Members got the status boost of being in a chivalric order. They earned the rank of baron, if they didn’t already have it. (Many were princes of smaller territories within Hungary and Croatia.) There were twenty-one initial members at its founding. More were admitted in 1418 and again in 1431.
The purpose of the Order, set forth in founding documents, was to “crush the pernicious deeds of the same perfidious Enemy, and of the followers of the ancient Dragon, and of the pagan knights, schismatics, and other nations of the Orthodox faith, and those envious of the Cross of Christ, and of our kingdoms, and of his holy and saving religion of faith…” So, basically, they were out to destroy the Turks, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and anyone else they considered a heretic.
The Order of the Dragon had two main symbols. One was an ouroboros (a dragon eating its own tail) and the other a red equal-armed cross with flames at all four ends. Not surprisingly, St. George was their patron saint. Even after Sigismund’s death, several notable families kept these symbols in their personal arms. Among these were the Dracul family of Wallachia and the Bathory family of Hungary.
It does not appear that the Order of the Dragon took part in any actual battles, either with the Turks or with purely political opponents. Simply having an order stocked with Sigismund’s supporters may have been enough to create a deterrent. However, being so strongly linked to Sigismund, the order faded away once he died. The few relics of the Order of the Dragon are preserved at the University of Budapest.