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The Grand Ducal Order of St. Joseph was originally established in 1807 by Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany during his short reign as the Grand Duke of Würzburg. The Order was established in three grades and citizens of Würzburg and foreigners alike were eligible to receive the award. The decoration was conferred upon civilians and military personnel who rendered exceptional service which perpetuated the influence of the Grand Ducal House, the state, and the Catholic faith. In order to receive the award, a potential recipient had to be a member of the Catholic Church, whether by birth or through conversion.
The number of Order members was limited to 18 Grand Cross recipients, 20 Commander Cross recipients, and 24 Knight’s Cross recipients. Every recipient was granted personal nobility and given access to the court. In addition, each decoration was presented with an award document and a copy of the award statutes. Recipients were required to wear the decoration in public or else they would be penalised. The Order grades were decorated with precious stones when awarded to the Grand Master and hereditary princes.
In 1814, the Order was transferred to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1817, the Order was renewed and it was awarded in Tuscany until 1860.
It is estimated that the Commander Cross was awarded 24 times.
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