Order of Ernst August, I Class Knight's Cross (in silver-plated war material)
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Image courtesy of Ludwig. J. Trost, "Die Ritter- und Verdienst-Orden, Ehrenzeichen und Medaillen aller Souveräne und Staaten"
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A Maltese cross constructed of silver plated war material and enamels. The arms of the cross are in white enamel with a smooth gold border and ball finials at each point of the arms. The quadrants between the arms bear crowns. The obverse centre bears a circular medallion with the monogram of Ernst August in the centre, on a red enamel background, encompassed by a blue enamel border with the inscription "SUSCIPERE ET FINERE". The reverse bears a circular medallion in the centre with the monogram of King George on a red enamel background, encompassed by a blue enamel border with the inscription "DEN XV DECEMBER MDCCCLXV". On a loop for suspension with a red ribbon with blue stripes.
The Order of Ernst August was founded by King George V of Hanover on December 15, 1865, in commemoration of his father, Ernest Augustus I of Hanover. The order was conferred upon citizens of Hanover to recognize civil or military merit. The name of the order was to remind citizens of their duties to the king and fatherland. When a recipient received a higher class of the Order of Ernst August, the lower class had to be returned, and when a recipient died, the order had to be returned.
After the Prussian annexation of Hanover and the dissolution of Hanoverian Orders, the Order of Ernst August began to be awarded as a House Order. From 1865 until 1900, the Grand Cross was awarded 42 times, the majority of which were awarded following the expulsion of the royal family from Hanover in 1866. The Royal Guelphic Order was ranked above the Ernst August Order, and both could be worn at the same time. If a recipient held a Grand Cross of both orders, the Royal Guelphic Order was worn on the sash and the Ernst August Order was worn around the neck. For domestic recipients, the rank of Lieutenant General was prescribed for the Grand Cross, Major General was prescribed for the I Class Commander, and Colonel for II Class Commander. Knight's Crosses were not tied to any rank.
The reverse of the cross of the order features the royal cipher of the king that conferred the award. The motto of the order, "SUSCIPERE ET FINERE" (To Tackle and To Finish), was the personal motto of Duke Ernst August von Cumberland.
A total of 213 I Class Knight Crosses were awarded.
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