Order of the White Eagle, Cross (1921-1939)
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This Order was established by King Augustus II in 1705. It was abolished following the Third Partitioning of Poland in 1795 and was not awarded again until 1807 when it was revived by the Duchy of Warsaw. It was awarded from 1815-1831 by Tsar Alexander I as King of Poland and was then taken over by the Russian Empire in 1831. It was not awarded again until 1921 following the restoration of Polish independence. From 1941-1992 it was awarded by the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile and was officially re-instated as the highest order of the Polish Republic in 1992. The Grand Master is the President of the Republic.
The Order is conferred upon Polish citizens and foreigners in recognition of outstanding contributions to the nation. It may also be awarded posthumously.
The Cross was introduced in 1709 as a replacement for the Medal of the Order. The first model was awarded during the 18th century and features diamonds in between the rays of the cross and initials that stand for "Augustus Rex" (King Augustus) in the reverse medallion. The second model was awarded during the reign of Stanisław August Poniatowski and remained unchanged when it was awarded by the Duchy of Warsaw. It does not feature diamonds, and the reverse medallion features stylised letters for "MARIA," the Virgin Mary. The third model has been awarded since 1921 and features initials that stand for "Rzeczpospolita Polska" (Republic of Poland) in the obverse medallion and an inscription that translates to “For Fatherland and the Nation" in the reverse medallion.
Other versions are listed in the Orders of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth (1565-1795) and Partitioned Poland (1795-1918), and the Third Polish Republic (1989-). See also the Order of the White Eagle in the Orders of Imperial Russia (1721-1917).
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