The Imperial Austrian Order of the Iron Crown

Knight 1st Class - Kleine Dekoration for Service Dress wear. The 3rd Class is exactly the same without the Star on the RibbonThis most impressive order was originally founded by Napoleon Bonaparte as King Napoleon I of Italy on the 5th June 1805. Following Napoleon's defeat and the incorporation of the province of Lombardy by Austria the Order was reinstated on the 1st of January 1816 in a new form. The Order was to be awarded in three classes:

Knight 1st Class

20 Knights
Knight 2nd Class 30 Knights
Knight 3rd Class 50 Knights

 Additionally instituted on the 12th February 1860 was a War Decoration to be incorporated within the order for meritorious service in direct combat with the enemy. This took the form of a Laurel wreath. Finally crossed Swords were introduced in 1917 as a further distinction for personal bravery before the enemy.

The Knights of the First Class received a sash of yellow with narrow blue stripes on the outer edges with the Order attached to the bow of the sash. The Order worn on the sash was 76mm in length and 45mm at its widest point. It consisted of the a double headed Eagle and the actual Iron Crown. On the obverse side was a Gold F within a blue shield. On the reverse side was a similar shield with the numbers "1815". The sash which was 102mm in width was worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. They additionally received an eight pointed silver breast star . In the centre was placed an Iron Crown on a gold field surrounded by the motto AVITA ET AUCTA (Ancient and Extended) on a dark blue ring. Until the18th July1884 the recipient of the 1st Class Order would have been appointed a Privy Councillor. An amendment to the Statutes of the Order dated the 6th of April 1908 introduced the "Kleine Dekoration" which was in fact an every day version of the Order to be worn in service dress. This took the form of a normal 3rd Class Order with a miniature Star of the order placed on the triangular ribbon (see illustration above).

Knight 3rd Class early variant - obverse Knight 3rd Class early variant - reverse
Knight 3rd Class with War Decoration and Swords and Bar - obverse Knight 3rd Class with War Decoration and Swords and Bar - reverse
Knight 2nd Class Knight 2nd Class
Knight 2nd Class with War Decoration - obverse Knight 2nd Class with War Decoration - reverse
Click to enlarge
Knight 1st Class Breast Star - early variant pre 1870 Feldzeugmeister Alexander Freiherr von Krobatin wearing his EKO-R2

EKO 2nd Class. Picture courtesy of Enzo CalabresiThe Knights of the Second Class wore the order at the throat on a neck ribbon of yellow and blue stripes. The order excluding the ring was 66mm in length and 34mm at its widest point. Similar to the 1st Class Knights, a "Kleine Dekoration" was instituted for Second Class Knights on the 27th October 1917. This took the form of a miniature of the lower part of the crown worn on a triangular ribbon. Until the18th July1884 the recipient of the 2nd Class Order would have been appointed a Freiherr or Baron in the Austrian or Hungarian Nobility. A particularly fine example of an early version of the Second Class order from about 1830 from the Enzo Calabresi collection is pictured to the left.

The Knights of the Third class wore a slightly smaller version of the Order suspended from a triangular ribbon on the left breast. The Order was 55mm high and 30mm at its widest point. Until the18th July1884 the recipient of the 3rd Class Order would have been appointed a Ritter or Knight in the Austrian or Hungarian Nobility.

It should be noted that during the war the award tended to be used very much as a bravery decoration for commissioned officers as opposed to its original function as an Order for both distinguished military and civil service. Already prior to the war the number of Knights created far exceeded the originally determined number of 100 and during the war itself thousands of the awards were made and as an example 166 Third Class awards were made to the three Landesschützen/Kaiserschützen Regiments alone. One final point: There were many variations with regards to the war decoration and or Swords. For example an Officer could be made a Knight of the 1st Class without the War Decoration but already be an holder of the Second Class with the War Decoration. Of course he could be an holder of the War Decoration for both Classes. It was also possible for an holder of an award to be later awarded the Swords to his original Order. Therefore during the period 1914-1918 the following variations could be encountered:

 

 

 

1st Class Breast Star 2nd Class Order with War Decoration
1st Class "Kleine Dekoration" 2nd Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration
1st Class Breast Star with War Decoration 2nd Class Order with War Decoration of Lower Grade
1st Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration 2nd Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration of Lower Grade
1st Class Breast Star with War Decoration of Lower Grades 2nd Class Order with War Decoration and Golden Swords
1st Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration of Lower Grades 2nd Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration and Golden Swords
1st Class Breast Star with War Decoration and Golden Swords 2nd Class Order with War Decoration and Silver Swords
1st Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration and Golden Swords 2nd Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration and Silver Swords
1st Class Breast Star with War Decoration and Silver Swords 2nd Class Order with a Wreath for repeat awards
1st Class "Kleine Dekoration" with War Decoration and Silver Swords 3rd Class Order
2nd Class Order 3rd Class Order with War Decoration
2nd Class "Kleine Dekoration" 3rd Class Order with War Decoration and Swords

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