Order of Philip the Magnanimous, Type I, Commander
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A Leopold cross constructed of gold and enamels. The arms of the cross are in white enamel. The obverse centre bears an ovular medallion with the image of Philip the Magnanimous, encompassed by a white enamel border with the inscription "SI DEUS NOBISCUM QUIS CONTRA NOS". The reverse centre bears an ovular medallion with the image of a Hessian Lion within a white enamel border with the inscription "LUDOVICUS II MAGN. DUX HASSIAE INSTIT.". With a loop for suspension.
The Order of Philip the Magnanimous was instituted on May 1, 1840 by Grand Duke Ludwig II in commemoration of his ancestor, Landgraf Philip I the Magnanimous, and was conferred in recognition of civil and military merit. Landgraf Philip I the Magnanimous was known for his combative and diplomatic skills to which the House of Hesse owed much of its success. Philip established an alliance which protected and brought the Reformation to Hesse in 1526, with the goal of uniting the opposing Reformation groups.
The Order of Philip the Magnanimous was established in four classes: Grand Cross, I Class Commander, II Class Commander, and Knight. Grand Duke Ludwig II appointed himself and all successors in government to be Grand Master of the order. The order was directly lower in status to the Order of Ludwig. A chancellor was appointed to take care of the responsibilities of the order. If a member of the order received a higher class, the lower class had to be returned to the chancellery. Upon a recipient's death, the order had to be returned.
In 1849, the Silver Cross of Merit was added as the order’s fifth grade. In addition, golden crossed swords were added to the order as a possible addition for the four highest grades. Silver crossed swords were a possible addition to the Silver Cross of Merit. In 1859, the Knight Cross was divided into I and II Class. Silver crossed swords became a possible addition for both grades of the Knight Cross.
In 1876, the Order was renamed Großherzoglich Hessischer Philipps-Orden or the Grand Ducal Hessian Philip Order. However, the official renaming of the order did not change the fact that it was continued to be issued under its original name. In 1881, a surmounting crown was added to the order by Duke Ludwig IV. In 1893, it was determined that the conferral of crossed swords would be limited to extraordinary achievements in war. When receiving a higher class, the lower class with swords did not have to be returned. In 1900, the Honour Cross was introduced by Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig as a class, which fell between the II Class Commander Cross and I Class Knight Cross. In 1911, golden rays were added between the cross arms of the I Class Commander Breast Star.
The Type I Order grades feature a full image of Philip the Magnanimous on the obverse.
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