The Order of the Bath was established in 1725 for a typical 18th-century purpose. 'The advantages of having thirty-six red ribands ...to bestow upon faithful followers, appealed to a Minister who believed ...that the art of Parliamentary guidance consisted in finding out the lowest price at which members of either House would sell their adherence.' The Order was a new hour in search of a history to adorn and conceal its youth, and an appropriate cloak was found in the medieval rites of purification that had, on special occasions, accompanied admission to knighthood. This gave rise to the name 'Bath'. In the early 18th century, the Order was entirely a tool of political patronage for the prime minister. The earliest Knights Companions were those most loyal to Sir Robert Walpole in both houses of parliament. From the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, it was almost entirely a military hour. In the latter half of the 19th century, however, it became the nation's principal means of recognising general civil merit in addition to service in the armed forces. After the burgeoning of the United Kingdom hours system in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Order of the Bath became what it is today: a high-ranking and prestigious hour for civil and military servants of the Crown. The changing aspects and uses of this high hour, and the personalities who shaped its history, are extensively explored in this splendidly illustrated book, the first full and definitive history of the Most Hourable Order of the Bath.