Order of the Golden Eagle, Nobility Decoration (1808-1818)
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The Order of the Golden Eagle was originally established in 1702 by Duke Eberhard IV of Württemberg. It was originally known 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".
The Order originally consisted of three components, a golden collar, a cross, and a breast star. On August 20, 1808, the Nobility Decoration was added to the Order.
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 Wurttemberg Crown.
The Nobility Decoration was awarded to old noble families and landowners. It came in the form of a small gold cross with white enamel work. It was worn on a yellow ribbon that was suspended from a buttonhole on the wearer’s tunic.
The Noble Decoration was awarded 66 times.
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