Order of Saint Joseph, Commander
Image courtesy of Plate 97 of "The Book of Order of Knighthood and Decorations of Honour of all Nations" edited by Sir Bernard Burke.
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The history of the Order reaches back to 1514, but it was largely inactive until Grand Duke Ferdinand III renewed the Order Statutes in 1807, prior to his reinstatement as sovereign of Tuscany in 1814.
It was originally conferred for meritorious service to the Duke and State within military, civil, and spiritual pursuits, and membership was restricted to practitioners of the Roman Catholic faith.
The Order was amended on March 18, 1817, by Grand Duke Ferdinand III, after his return to Tuscany. From 1817 onward, the Order was awarded to Catholic and non-Catholic foreigners and Tuscan citizens for valourous and brave service, in wartime and peacetime, that demonstrated loyalty to the Grand Duke and personal integrity.
Each grade was returned to the State following the death of the recipient.
The Grand Duke of Tuscany was always the Grand Master of the Order, and he and the Prince were the sole Order members allowed to add brilliants to their awards.
This Order was suppressed in 1859 when Tuscany was annexed into the Kingdom of Sardinia.
It is also known as the Order of Merit of St. Joseph.
The obverse inscription roughly translates to "Everywhere the same", and the reverse inscription features the initials of the Order's founder and its year of renewal.
Recipients of the Commander were bestowed with hereditary nobility.
The grade of Commander was limited to 30 members, excluding foreign recipients.
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