Order of the Golden Eagle, Cross
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A Maltese cross, constructed of gold and enamel. The cross arms are enamelled in red with narrow golden edges. In between the arms are golden eagles with spread wings. In between the tips of the cross arms are red enamelled hunting horns with golden edges, on a golden loop, and with red/white/blue enamelled mouthpieces, except for the 12 o’clock arm, which is partially filled with a golden segment that serves as the eyelet to which the loop is attached. The obverse centre medallion is enamelled in dark green and features the crowned golden monogram ‘FR’. The medallion ring is golden and smooth. The reverse is similar, except that the centre medallion features a golden eagle with spread wings facing to the viewer’s left. On a loop for suspension, on a red ribbon.
The Order of the Golden Eagle was originally established in 1702 by Duke Eberhard IV of Württemberg as the Order of the Hunt or the Order of St. Hubert. The order was reorganised on March 6, 1807 by Friedrich I and renamed the "Order of the Golden Eagle".
This order was conferred upon royalty, members of the nobility, and senior civil servants who held a rank that was equivalent to at least a Field Marshal Lieutenant. Originally, Knights of the order were required to have noble ancestry that dated back at least 16 generations, but this requirement was removed in November 1812. The decoration was conferred upon royalty, such as sovereign princes, as a means to pay tribute to and demonstrate the friendship between the two parties. Members of the nobility and others received the decoration as a reward for virtue and merit. The order was intended to serve as a public symbol of goodwill and its motto was "Virtutis Amicitiae Que Foedus", which translates to "Virtue and Covenant of Friendship".
The number of Knights admitted to the order was limited to 50, not including members of the king’s family and the members of the reigning prince's family. The children of the king were entitled to receive the order after they were baptised; the king’s first son received the decoration after his first full year of life; the king’s other sons and the uncle of the crown prince received the decoration at the age of 7. The remaining princes of the royal family received the order when they turned 14.
Every recipient of the order was required to conduct himself with dignity and honour, in order to further the reputation of the order. In addition, members of the order were to live in peace with one another, and they were also required to care for and be charitable to the poor.
As master of the order, the king alone decided who was conducted into the order.
On September 23, 1818 the Order of the Golden Eagle was combined with the Order of Civil Merit to create the Order of the Württemberg Crown.
The Cross was suspended from a crimson red ribbon that was worn across the right shoulder and secured above the left hip. The breast star was attached to the left breast of the wearer’s tunic. It is estimated that the Cross was awarded 124 times.
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