Order of Isabella the Catholic, Knight I Class (1875-1931)
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The Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica) was instituted as the Royal and American Order of Isabella the Catholic (Real y Americana Orden de Isabella Católica) by royal decree of March 24, 1815. The name of the Order was modified when the Spanish Crown abandoned its intentions of ruling Latin America and overseas on April 15, 1889.
The Order was founded as a civil and military order awarded in recognition of those men who had served the interests of the Spanish Crown in Latin America and overseas.
Originally, the grades were Grand Cross, Knight I Class, and Knight II Class. Additional grades were added over the history of the Order; the Commander by Number was added in 1847; the Silver Cross was added in 1903; and, the Silver and Bronze Medals were added in 1907 for low-ranking soldiers and sailors. The Knight of the Collar was added in 1927, while the Officer grade in 1931.
There was a special medal depicting the bust of Ferdinand VII, that was conferred only upon those who were born in Latin America, and had served to Spanish interests. However, there are no known versions of this medal.
In 1938, the Order was extended to reward women in all ranges, but in a reduced size.
The badge changed as consequences of political events in Spain; during the reign of Ferdinand VII (1815-1847) and the Restoration (1875-1931) the badge featured the cipher of Ferdinand VII; during the reign of Isabella II (1847-1868) the badge featured the cipher of Isabella II; at the Second Republic (1931-1938) the badge depicted a caravel, and during the Franco era (1939-1975) the badge featured a “FY.”
In order of precedence, this Order was the highest decoration for the government of the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1937).
The Order is active in Spain, and its current statements were approved on November 6, 1998. It is conferred to foreigners and Spanish citizens either women or men for meritorious civil acts, especially those that foster the relationships between Spain and other nations.
The Order consists of nine grades, i. e., Collar, Grand Cross, Commander by Number (in some sources known as Grand Officer,) Commander, Officer, Knight (in some sources known as Cross,) Silver Cross, Silver Medal, and Bronze Medal.
The motto of the Order can be translated to “For the Pure Loyalty of Isabella the Catholic." The inscription "PLUS ULTRA" features on the banner surrounding the towers on the obverse medallion.
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