Order of the Crown, Military Division, Type I, I Class Cross (with oak leaves, swords on ring, ORE ribbon, in gold)
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This Order was founded by King Wilhelm I on the day of his coronation and it was awarded in recognition of civil and military merit.
The introduction of a new order offered the opportunity to settle issues of rank and equality, following the takeover of the House Order of Hohenzollern under Royal Prussian Order in January of 1851. In 1861, designs for a “Wilhelm Order” were presented, however, the Prince Regent changed the name to the “Royal Crown Order”.
The Order originally featured the I Class Cross with I Class Breast Star, II Class Cross with II Class Breast Star, III Class Cross, and IV Class Cross.
Throughout history, there were three different crown models featured on the obverse medallion of the Order awards.
From 1861 to 1862, the awards featured a tall "heraldic" crown, similar to the Austrian crown.
From 1862 to 1868, the awards featured a small and round crown.
From 1869 to 1916, the awards featured a large crown.
There were many attributes added to the Order grades.
In 1862, the king decided that all foreigners who deserved the awards who did not already have the Red Eagle Order would be awarded the Order of the Crown in the deserved class. If the foreign recipient did have the Order of the Red Eagle, they would receive the Order of the Crown in the next higher deserved class.
On March 27, 1863, all Order grades could be awarded with Jubilee dates. For I Class Stars, the ‘50’ was to be placed directly above the medallion. The Jubilee date corresponds to the Landwer celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding. It was also chosen to incorporate the Jubilee date, as it was used on the Order of the Red Eagle, and the King desired these two orders to be equals. The award of higher anniversary dates is possible as well, being “60”, “65” and “70”.
On February 27, 1864 crossed swords, through the centre of the cross and on the ring, could be conferred upon awards for military and war merit. These were incorporated to increase the equality of the Order of the Red Eagle. The decorations with swords were largely introduced because of the German-Danish War of 1864.
When a recipient of a civil award was then awarded a military award, it was to be worn on a black ribbon with white edging. If a recipient of a military award had already been awarded a decoration with swords, they were then to wear the higher class on a ribbon with two black and three white stripes. Military senior officials who were awarded the medal with swords for performing duties under enemy fire, wore the award on a white ribbon with black edging. If awarded a civil decoration, as they performed their duties while not in the line of fire, the decoration did not have swords, but was still worn on a white ribbon with black edging.
On October 18, 1864, a miniature version of the St. John Cross could be added to Order awards, which were conferred for the meritorious service of caring for sick and wounded military personnel during the German-Danish War of 1864 and the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
Decorations before 1865 were worn on a dark cornflower blue (the favourite colour of the king), however this became a lighter medium blue from 1865 onwards.
On January 18, 1865, Order grades could feature the enamelled ribbon of the Order of the Red Eagle (ORE) surrounding the centre medallion. At this time, the statues were altered and as such, if a recipient of the I Class Order of the Red Eagle was awarded the I Class of the Order of the Crown, he was to remove the ORE star, and wear the star of the Crown Order. However, the Crown Order was to have the enamelled ribbon of the ORE, to make it clear he had been awarded both. The recipient would wear the cross of order they were granted first, and the star of the order they were granted second.
Following the 1870-1871 war, the State Ministry proposed that people who had distinguished themselves should be awarded an existing medal that is modified for this purpose. The king decided that the III and IV Class of the Royal Crown Order, as well as the General Honour Badge should be worn on a white ribbon with six blacks stripes and a red edge. This would later be called the memory ribbon. However, in reality, on June 22, 1871, an enamelled red cross on the upper cross arm could be awarded on the III Class Cross and IV Class Cross for merit in voluntary nursing during the Franco-Prussian War.
In 1872, a total of eight were awarded, including one I Class, three for a II Class with star, and four for a II Class. Most civil servants first received the IV Class of the Order of the Red Eagle, followed by the III Class of the Crown Order. Therefore it was rare for civil servants to receive the IV Class of the Crown Order.
In 1914, the small decoration for the I Class was introduced.
During the First World War, most awards were made to nationals, however the last two were awarded to foreigners, one to Austria in 1917 and one to Bulgaria in 1918.
The Crown Order Medal is not a part of the order. It was approved on December 1, 1888, however it was known to have been awarded prior to this date. It was awarded to sub-servants of non-Prussian courts on the correct cornflower blue ribbon. As of 1889, the medal could also be awarded to foreign sub-employees. In 1893, it was allowed to be awarded to native civilians in German protected areas to recognize their good work.
The motto of the Order was "Gott Mit Uns,” which translates to "God be with us.”
The first decorations were made by court goldsmith, Wagner, in Berlin.
The Type I Order awards rarely featured the tall Austrian-like crown, and more often featured the small, round crown. While there is no period literature denoting a physical change, the split into types was denoted by Dr. Klietmann, who identified that decorations after 1888 had a different crown pattern. The second form was likely used in the beginning of the 1870s as well, as examples have been seen on a fourth class with swords. Type I is therefore identified as 1861-1866.
Swords were added to the Order of the Crown, largely based off of the Order of the Red Eagle.
The I Class with Swords was awarded 6 times. It was first awarded to Vogel von Falckenstein, General of Infantry and Commander of the 1st Army Corps in 1864.
The I Class cross with oakleaves, swords and the enamel ribbon of the ORE was awarded once in 1865 to von Motlke, General of the Infantry, Chief of the General Staff of the Army, and twice in 1866, to von Bonin, General of the infantry and Adjutant General of the King of Prussia, as well as von Wrangel, Field Marshal General.
The I Class cross with oak leaves, swords on the ring and the enamel ribbon of the ORE was awarded 6 times, exclusively to Prussian Generals.
The I Class cross with oakleaves, swords, swords on the ring and the enamel ribbon of the ORE was only awarded once, to Vogel von Falckenstein, General of the Infantry and Commander of the 1st Army Corps.
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