House Order of the Golden Lion, Type II, Knight's Cross with Swords
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The House Order of the Golden Lion was instituted by Landgraf Friedrich II of Hesse Kassel and was dedicated to Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, an ancestor of the founder. The Order was conferred upon individuals who demonstrated exceptional civil or military merit.
In 1818, Prince-Elector Wilhelm I added three additional grades to the Order, and from this point onward, the awards of the Order featured his name or initials on the reverse. The classes now were: Grand Cross, I Class Commander, II Class Commander, and Knight Cross. Although the Grand Cross is documented, there is very limited information on it.
On August 20, 1851, the Order was again reduced to one class, and the three lower classes were assimilated into the newly established Wilhelm Order.
The House Order of the Golden Lion and the Wilhelm Order feature a very similar obverse and reverse design. The main difference being that the lion featured on the obverse of the House Order of the Golden Lion has the back paw held higher than the front paw, while the lion featured on the obverse of the Wilhelm Order has both paws held at the same height.
Following the death of the last prince-elector of Hessen-Kassel, the Order was taken over by Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hessen-Darmstadt. On June 6, 1876, the Order was given new statues and was introduced as a Grand Ducal Order (See Hessen-Darmstadt).
The Grand Cross of the Order was equal to the Grand Cross of the Ludwig Order.
The Order became obsolete in 1918, following the abdication of the last Grand Duke of Hessen-Darmstadt.
The Knight Cross with crossed swords was awarded for military merit.
Obv: VIRTUTE ET FIDELITATE Rev: WK
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