Order of the Red Eagle, Type V, Military Division, Grand Cross Breast Star (with swords on ring, in silver gilt)
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This Order was originally founded by Magrave Georg Wilhelm of Brandenburg-Bayreuth as the Ordre de la Sincerité. The Order quickly fell into disuse, but was revived in Brandenburg-Bayreuth in 1712. It was revived again in 1734 in Brandenburg-Ansbach and renamed the "Order of the Brandenburg Red Eagle.”
In 1777, the Order name was changed to the "Order of the Red Eagle.”
From 1777-1792 the Order only had one grade with a maximum of 50 members.
The Kingdom of Prussia absorbed the principalities of Brandenburg-Bayreuth and Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1791, and in 1792, King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia redesigned the Order as a Prussian Royal Order.
The Order of the Red Eagle was the second most prestigious Order in the Kingdom of Prussia, after the High Order of the Black Eagle.
In 1810, King Freidrich Wilhelm III expanded the Order into three classes, I Class Cross with I Class Breast Star, II Class Cross, and III Class Cross. From 1810 onward, the Order grades could be awarded with diamonds.
In 1811, surmounting oak leaves could be added to the I Class Cross and II Class Cross. The oak leaves were an indicator that the recipient had already been awarded a lower Order grade.
For instance, recipients of the II Class Cross who had already received a III Class Cross, were conferred the II Class Cross with oak leaves. The same rule applied to I Class Cross recipients who had already received the II Class Cross or III Class Cross.
In 1830, the II Class Breast Star and the IV Class Cross were added to the Order.
In 1842, the Medal of Merit was added to the Order.
On September 16, 1848, crossed swords through the centre of the award were added for military and war merit. If a recipient was awarded a second higher grade, the swords from the lower grade were attached to the new award on the ring.
On January 18, 1849, a surmounting crown and crossed scepters through the centre of the award were conferred on the Order grades awarded to participants of the 1849 Order celebrations.
From 1851 onward, the jubilee number, "50," "60," or "70" could be added to the Order grades to recognize years of service by state employees.
In 1854, the purple colour of the eagle was replaced with scarlet colouring.
The Order statutes were amended again in 1861, resulting in the addition of the Grand Cross with Grand Cross Breast Star.
On February 27, 1864, King Wilhelm I amended the Order to allow for the swords on the ring and the swords through the centre of the cross to be worn simultaneously on Order decorations.
In 1892, a surmounting crown could be added to all Order grades.
The Model IV awards feature the monogram "WR" on the obverse of the Grand Cross grade, and a red eagle on the obverse of all other grades.
The Grand Cross Breast Star with swords were largely manufactured by Sy & Wagner, Berlin. Prior to 1916, the swords were made of gold.
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