Military Order of Aviz, Type I, Grand Cross Breast Star
Image courtesy of Morton & Eden Ltd.
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The Military Order of Aviz (Ordem Militar de Avis) was established around 1175 by King Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, right after he took control over the city of Evora when this was part of the Almohad Caliphate Empire. The Order was founded as a military and ecclesiastic Order to protect Evora and fight against Moors invasions in the Peninsula. Originally, it was under the Calatrava's Order rule and followed the Cistercian principles; reason why the Order of Avis was closely related to the Castile Kingdom.
However, the Grand Master of the Order, João I, became King of Portugal in 1385, and since then the Grand Master remained with the Portuguese Crown. The Order was finally recognized as an autonomy branch independently either the Calatrava's Order or the Spanish Crown by Pope Boniface IX circa 1389.
In 1789, the Order was secularized by Queen Mary I, renamed the Royal and Military Order of Saint Benedict Avis, and became an Order of Knighthood with religious and aristocratic character. At the time of its secularization, the Order was only composed of three grades: Grand Cross, Commander, and Knight.
In 1834, the Order was conferred upon military personnel as well as civilians in recognition of military, political, diplomatic, and civil services rendered to the Portuguese Kingdom. The Order was restricted only for military personnel in 1894, and since then it has continued to be conferred exclusively upon military personnel.
The Order was disbanded on October 15, 1910 following the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic, but was re-established in 1918 with five grades; the Grand Officer and Officer were added during the First Portuguese Republic.
Currently, the Order is awarded to Portuguese military personnel of the Army, Navy, Civil Guard, and military bodies, in recognition of outstanding services in the performances of their duties. The President of the Republic is the Grand Master of the Order.
The Order consists of five grades; the Grand Cross is awarded to Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals, Generals, Vice-Admirals and Admirals; Grand Officer is awarded to Colonels, Brigadiers, Navy Captains and Rear Admirals; the Commander is for Lieutenant Colonels and Commanders; the Officer for Majors and Lieutenant-Commanders, and the Knight for Army Captains and Navy Lieutenants.
In Medal Book, the Military Order of Aviz is classified into three types based on changes in official awarding statutes. Type I decorations were conferred from 1789 to 1894, Type II decorations were conferred from 1894 to 1910, and Type III decorations have been conferred since 1918.
In Type I, there was a limit of 6 Grand Crosses, 49 Commanders, and unlimited Knights from 1789-1834.
The Type I Grand Cross Breast Star has 22 or 24 rays. The centre medallion is surmounted by a Sacred Heart. Versions with 8 rays were manufactured outside of Portugal.
Type I decorations are highly variable and may differ in design, manufacturer, size, or composition.
The example pictured here was manufactured in France.
early mid-19th century
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