High Order of the Black Eagle, Cross (in silver gilt)
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This Order was founded by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg on the day before his coronation to become King Friedrich I of Prussia. Elector Friedrich III instituted the Order to demonstrate the importance and dignity of Prussia within the European hierarchy.
The Order was primarily conferred upon foreign and domestic princes, heads of state, and dignitaries in recognition of extraordinary civil and military merit and achievements. It was also awarded to members of the Prussian military.
From 1703 to 1847, the Order was only awarded to members of the nobility who could trace their lineage through multiple generations.
On February 20, 1847, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV amended the Order to include individuals who were not of noble lineage. These recipients, in turn, would receive hereditary nobility.
The Order featured only one grade, which included a Collar, Cross, and an associated Breast Star. The reigning King could award the Order with or without the collar. The Order members had to wear their decorations at all times or risk fines for violating the Order’s rules.
The Order decorations could be conferred with diamonds to members of royal families and other high-ranking recipients for exceptional merit.
The Order's motto was "Suum Cuique," which is translates to, “To each according to his merits.”
The Order was discontinued in 1918.
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