Order of the White Eagle

From Academic Kids

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Order of the White Eagle (badge)

The Order of the White Eagle (Polish Order Orła Białego) is Poland's highest decoration awarded to both civilians and the military for their merits. It was officially instituted on November 1, 1705 by August II, though it was probably created by Ladislaus I in 1325, for the wedding of his son, who would become Casimir the Great.



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The Order of the White Eagle was, in 1705, originally a red enamel oval on a light blue ribbon. This was replaced by a cross in 1709. By 1713 it was worn from the neck, with a sash and a star. After the first partitioning of Poland in 1795, the Order was abolished, though it had been renewed by 1807 and was the highest decorations of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and of the Kingdom of Poland during their existences. It was also popular among the Russian tzars who granted several of those medals to themselves.

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Order of the White Eagle (star)

In 1830, after an uprising against Imperial Russia, to which Poland belonged at the time, the Order was modified to more closely resemble Russian decorations. It remained like this until the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which Poland achieved independence.

The Order of the White Eagle officially became Poland's highest decoration by act of Parliament of February 4, 1921, and the insignia was redesigned. In the interbellum the Order was awarded to 24 Polish citizens and 87 foreigners. Among them were 33 monarchs and heads of states, 10 prime ministers, 12 members of royal families and 15 ministers.

After the 1948, when the People's Republic of Poland came into existence, the Order of the White Eagle was no longer awarded, but it was never officially abolished. It was also used by the Polish Government in Exile. Following the collapse of communism, the Order was once again reinstated on October 26, 1992. The President of Poland is always the Grand Master of the Order.

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Order. 18th century

Insignia during the Tsarist era

The badge of the order consisted of a gold crowned double-headed eagle enamelled in black, with a cross superimposed upon its chest: this was a gold Maltese cross enamelled in red with white enamel outline and golden rays between the arms. A white enamel crowned eagle with spread wings, facing left (the coat-of-arms of Poland) was superimposed on the cross. It was worn on a plain dark blue sash.

The star of the order consisted of an eight-pointed gold star with straight rays; the central disc bore a red-bordered white enamelled cross patte with golden rays between the arms, surrounded by a blue ring bearing the motto "Pro Fide, Lege et Rege" (For Faith, Law and the King).

Insignia after 1921

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Plaque. 18th century

The badge of the order consists of a gold Maltese cross enamelled in red with white enamel outline and golden rays between the arms. A white enamel crowned eagle with spread wings, facing left (the coat-of-arms of Poland) is superimposed on the cross. It is worn on a plain light blue sash.

The star of the order consists of an eight-pointed silver star with straight rays, with a cross superimposed upon it: this is a gold Maltese cross enamelled in red with white enamel outline and golden rays between the arms. The motto of the order, Za Ojczyznę i Nard ("For Fatherland and Nation"), appears on the arms of the cross. the central disc is in white enamel, with the monogram "RP" (Rzeczpospolita Polska) surrounded by a green enamelled wreath.

See also

pl:Order Orła Białego


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