Austria - Austro-Hungarian Empire: Order of Iron Cross, 1st Class with Crossed Swords and War Decoration Wreath set of insignia comprising sash badge and star. No makers marks, in the form of that which was produced as a jewellers piece by Rothe of Vienna. The sash badge of bronze-gilt and enamels, with full length of sash ribbon; the Star of bronze-gilt, silver and enamels. A very good example of type.
Condition: enamel work in good condition, Nearly Extremely Fine.
The Austrian Imperial Order of the Iron Crown (German: Kaiserlicher Orden der Eisernen Krone) was one of the highest orders of merit of Austria and Austria-Hungary until 1918. It was re-established in 1815 by Emperor Franz I of Austria. The original Order of the Iron Crown had previously been an order of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.
The order had three classes and till 1884 all classes conferred automatic hereditary ennolement; the third class conferred the rank of Ritter, the second class conferred the rank of Baron, and the first class conferred the title of Privy Councillor, the style of Excellency, and the right to attend court. Appointment to the third or second class of the Order of the Iron Crown became one of the main routes to ennoblement for Austrian bourgeois families and for civil servants and military officers. The first class was in practice often awarded to people who were already noble. The order was also awarded to foreigners.
The Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the Habsurg dynasty, gave way to the Empire of Austria between 1804 and 1806. The last Holy Roman Emperor, Franz II, was proclaimed Emperor Franz I of Austria. His daughter, the Archduchess Maria Louise, was Napoleon’s second wife and Empress Consort, and the mother of Napoleon’s only legitimate son and heir, Napoleon, Duke of Reichstadt. With the collapse of Napoleon’s empire, Imperial Austria regained its traditional control of Lombardy as the Kingdom of Lomardy-Venetia.
The Austrian order was also divided into three distinct classes of knighthood, recognized as the First, Second, and Third Classes. Investment of this order carried an Imperial patent of nobility. With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1918, all but one of the chivalric orders of its monarchy were formally abolished.