Austrian Order and Decoration - The imperial royal order until 1918 by Dr. M. Christian Ortner, Dr. Georg Ludwigstorff

Verlag Militaria. 2 volumes with hard cardboard slipcase, 832 pages, more than 2,500 color and black-and-white illustrations, linen bound with dust jacket. Format: 29.5 × 26 cm.

The old Austrian system of orders and decorations remains a fascinating area of interest and research to this day. It reflects not only the history of the Habsburg Monarchy from the mid-18th century until the dissolution of the empire in 1918 but is also directly connected, through the Order of the Golden Fleece, with the bygone world of spiritual and ideological chivalric orders, both secular and religious. The orders instituted during the 18th and 19th centuries were already awarded for merit but they still largely retained the nature of spiritual orders, in that they were based on a fellowship whose members were bound in loyalty to their sovereign and ruler. While initially ‘orders’ could only be earned by certain social groups or professions, starting in the 18th century the Austrian award system was gradually expanded. Generally meritorious behaviour, military achievement, seniority and long service were honoured with awards that were sometimes assigned to concrete historical or military events and sometimes commemorated specific personages. This resulted in a system of awards that was comprehensive but also extremely complex and included certain peculiarities not found in the systems of other nations. For example the privileges, gratuities and ennoblement attached to individual awards. Even the hierarchy of orders and honours within the system was very clearly regulated. In this two-volume work it is the decorations themselves, alongside their cultural historical development, that are the focal point. They are collected here, in an abundance and concentration never before presented in one publication, on 832 pages with more than 2,500 photographs and illustrations. In chronological order the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Military Order of Maria Theresa, the Order of St. Stephen, the Order of Leopold, the Order of the Iron Crown and the Order of Franz-Joseph as well as the Order of the Slaves of Virtue, the Order of the Starry Cross, and the Order of Elisabeth are dealt with in detail.

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