Royal Order of Merit of St. Michael, Grand Cross Breast Star (circa 1890)
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The Order was founded by Joseph Clemens of Bavaria, who at the time was the Archbishop Elector of Cologne. It was originally a military order, which could only be conferred upon members of the Catholic nobility.
The Order originally included 2 classes, the Grand Cross and the Knight’s Cross.
In 1808, the Order was extended to include a Commander Cross.
On September 11, 1812, King Maximilian Joseph confirmed the order. The king became chief of the Order, and the Grand Master was selected from the princes of Bavaria.
On February 16, 1837, King Ludwig I reorganized the Order and it became open to all individuals regardless of faith or class. It was renamed in Royal Order of Merit of St. Michael.
The award was conferred in recognition of loyalty, patriotism and meritorious service in various fields.
On June 24, 1855, Maximilian II extended the Order to include the grade of Grand Commander and divided the Knight’s Cross into I and II class.
The Order underwent a further reorganization in 1887 and by 1910 it included: Grand Cross, Grand Cross Breast Star, I Class Cross, I Class Breast Star, II Class Cross, II Class Breast Star, Honour Cross, III Class Cross, Knight’s Cross I Class, Knight’s Cross II Class, Merit Cross with Crown, Merit Cross, Silver Merit Medal and Bronze Merit Medal.
The inscription, “PIETAS FIDELITAS FORTITUDO PERSEVERANTIA,” translates to "Piety, Fidelity, Fortitude, Perseverance.”
The Order was awarded until the abolition of the Monarchy on November 7, 1918.
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