Military Order of St. Henry, Type III, Grand Cross


SKU: 01.SXK.0104.101.01.000

Estimated market value:

$25,000 USD

  • Grand Cross Obverse
  • Grand Cross Obverse
  • Grand Cross Reverse
  • Grand Cross
  • Grand Cross Reverse

Estimated market value:

$25,000 USD


  • Country
  • Composition
  • Inscription
  • Size
  • Version Remarks
    This item is very rare. Ca.

Physical Description and Item Details

A Saxon Military Order of St. Henry (1736-1917); Grand Cross in Gold - In Gold and enamels, 76.36mm (x 120.5mm including crown suspension), weighs 103.5 grams; unmarked, of superb quality manufacture, hardly worn, without sash, near mint condition, 1849-1866 period issue. This Cross is pictured and described in the definite book on Saxon Orders “Die Orden des Königreiches Sachsen", on page 84. Grand Cross of the Military Order of St. Henry was seldom awarded, only 41 times, and was reserved for a Head of States and exceptional military leaders. Among recipients were (awarded in 1917-1918): King Ludwig of Bavaria; King Wilhelm II of Wurttemberg; Emperor Karl of Austria; Wilhelm, German Crown Prince,Crown Prince of Prussia; General von Ludendorff. Most of the surviving Grand Crosses are held in museums, with very few remaining in private collections. This exceptional Cross is a key piece for a collector of German Orders in general, and of Saxon Orders in particular.


This Order was first instituted by King Augustus II of Poland, Elector of Saxony, on his 40th birthday. The original title of the Order was the "Knightly Military Order of St. Henry".

The Order was awarded to the Crown Prince and several Generals in recognition of military and wartime merit. This Order was the oldest German war medal, and until 1918, was the highest Saxon honour for bravery.

Type I decorations were awarded from 1736-1768. According to the statutes of 1736, the order comprised 6 commanders and 30 knights. The decoration is slightly larger for the commander than the knights, but is of the same design. The obverse arms present the crowned monogram AR III for Augustus Rex III. A total of 31 Type I decorations were awarded, including 22 in 1769, four in 1737, three in 1738 and two in 1745.

Type II decorations were introduced when Augustus III died, and the end of the Saxon/Polish Union occurred in 1768. His successor died after 74 days of reign, and the next legitimate successor, Elector Friedrich August III, was only 13 and therefore not governable. His uncle, Prince Xavier became administrator and on September 4, 1768 the Order was renewed and redesigned. The Prince expanded the Order to include into three main grades, Grand Cross with Grand Cross Breast Star, Commander Cross, and Knight Cross, and one small cross for Officials of the Order. The Order continued to be awarded in recognition of military merit.

The Polish eagles were removed and were replaced by green enamelled diamond shaped wreaths between the arms. The medallion was changed from a profile to a standing emperor with the inscription XAVERIUS P P D E AD S INSTIT 1768, translating to Xavier, Prince of Poland, Duke and Administrator of Saxony has (the order) erected in 1768. Minor changes to the order also occurred in 1806, following the Poznan Peace. The crossed swords on the reverse were replaced with the new royal national coat of arms.

Type III awards consist of the period 1829-1918. On December 23, 1829 the Order was renewed by King Anton, he changed the Order title to the "Order to the Military Order of St. Henry" and added the grades of Grand Commander and Grand Commander Breast Star. He also connected the gold and silver military merit medal to the V class.

Over the course of 182 years, this order was awarded a total of 3843 times. The military medals in gold were awarded 403 times (including 47 copper and gold-plated) as well as 8995 silver military merit medals, the majority of which were awarded during the First World War.

The motto of the Order is PIETATE ET BELLICA VIRTUTE meaning “For Piety and Martial Bravery” until 1768 when it was altered to VIRTVTI IN BELLO meaning “For Bravery in War”. Makers of this order include Karl Wilhelm Hoeckner, Friedrich Ulbricht, and Rothe.

This order became obsolete in 1918 after Germany’s defeat in the First World War.

The Grand Cross was worn under the royal crown since 1807. There were grand crosses with laurel wreaths around the medallion that were described as special decorations. One of these was awarded to King Wilhelm I of Prussia in 1870. During the First War, a total of 12 Grand Crosses were awarded. It was worn on a sash over the shoulder, with the badge resting on the left hip. The Grand cross was worn with the Grand Cross Breast Star. It is notably larger than other classes.


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