Medal for Courage, Devotion, and Humanity, in Gold (1835-1849)
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The Medal for Courage, Devotion, and Humanity was established by Royal Decree on June 24, 1835, and was based on the award established by the ruling Dutch monarchy in the Royal Decrees of April 18, 1818, and June 19, 1822. It was awarded to Belgian citizens for dedication to duty and exceptional acts of courage, as well as for dangerous life-saving rescues.
After gaining independence in 1830, the Belgian government continued to award the medals that were outlined in the decrees of 1818 and 1822. These non-wearable medals with the portrait of Leopold I were awarded until 1835, however, on June 24, 1835, they were legally rendered wearable.
The new medal was outlined in the Royal Decree of September 27, 1837. It was wearable and featured the portrait of Leopold I. A second version with a surmounting mural crown was created by Royal Decree on April 19, 1849. Both versions have an obverse inscription that translates to "Leopold the First, King of the Belgians." The second version features an additional reverse inscription that translates to "Devotion, Courage, Humanity, Public Award."
In 1866, a contest was held for sculptors to engrave a new portrait of Leopold II following the death of Leopold I in 1865. However, it does not appear that this contest led to any subsequent medal production because the award was discontinued in 1867. As a result, any examples that feature the portrait of Leopold II are believed to be fantasy models.
It must be noted that this medal has many different versions. Certainly, not all examples have been found, but of the examples that have been discovered and consulted, the following variables may be encountered: size; manufacturer; composition; small or large portrait; inscription punctuation; stamping; engraver; whether they are non-wearable, rendered wearable, or wearable; whether they have a royal crown, a mural crown, or no crown; and the ribbon.
See also the Civic Decoration in the Medals & Decorations of Belgium for the decoration that replaced this Medal in 1867.
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