Military Order of Maria Theresa, Knight (in bronze gilt)
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The Austrian Military Order of Maria Theresa was the highest war decoration awarded by the Habsburg Monarchy and was considered one of the most respected military orders of merit. It was conceptualized around 1749-1750, following the conclusion of the Peace Treaty of Aachen in 1748. The Order was officially founded during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), on June 18, 1757.
Count Leopold Joseph Daun reorganized the army in the late 1740s, which included the creation of a ‘military order of honour.’ This Order contained three classes and a pension that the recipient would receive.
The first designs for the order included a white maltese cross with the central medallion inscribed with the monarchs’ initials on one side, and the other side to have the words “Fortitude”, “Virtuti Militari”, or “Praemium Fortitudinis”. It was officially named “Military Maria Theresa Order” in early 1757, which was intended to express the gratitude and affection the Empress had for the soldiers. The first knights were inducted into the order March 7 and April 23, 1758 by Emperor Franz I, the first Grand Master of the Order. The Order official ceased to exist in 1986, when the last recipient died.
The Knight was conferred upon Officers for extraordinary acts of valour and bravery. From 1757 to 1931, a total of 1,039 Knight’s Crosses were awarded.
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