Order of Virtuti Militari, Type II, Grand Cross Breast Star
Image courtesy of Republic of Poland
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The Order of Virtuti Militari was established by King Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1792. 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 ruling as King of Poland, but after Poland had been fully incorporated into the Russian Empire, the Tsar did not continue to confer the Order. Instead, a badge was created in its likeness for Russian military personnel in an effort to humiliate the defeated Polish forces. The Order was not awarded again until the restoration of Polish independence in 1921. It has since been awarded by the Polish People’s Republic from 1944-1989, by the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile from 1939-1989, and by the Republic of Poland since 1992.
The Order is currently conferred upon Polish military personnel in recognition of bravery and gallantry in combat. It may also be awarded posthumously.
The Order is classified into two types based on changes in form. Type I decorations are medals and Type II decorations are crosses.
There are three different models of the Type II breast star. The first model features an inscription in the arms of the superimposed cross and a crowned eagle in the medallion. The second model has been awarded since 1921, and is similar to the first model except for an additional inscription in the medallion that translates to “Honour and Fatherland." The third model was awarded in the Polish People's Republic and features an uncrowned eagle. The inscription is the same as the second model.
The Grand Cross Breast Star is conferred upon the Supreme Commander of the Polish Army for war victories or upon high-ranking Commanders for meritorious command in war operations.
See also the Order of Virtuti Militari in the Orders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795) and Partitioned Poland (1795-1918), the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939) and the Government of the Republic of Poland (1939-1989) and the Polish People's Republic (1944-1989).
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