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Austrian Imperial Order of Leopold

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The Austrian Imperial Order of Leopold (German: Österreichisch-kaiserlicher Leopold-Orden) was founded by Franz I of Austria on 8 January 1808. The order's statutes stipulated only three grades: Grand Cross, Commander and Knight. During the war, in common with the other Austro-Hungarian decorations, crossed swords were instituted to reward bravery in the face of the enemy. An Imperial Decree of 1 February 1901 ordered that in future, the senior grade would be split into two separate awards. From then onwards, there were three ranks: Grand Cross, First Class; Commander; and Knight.

Until 18 July 1884, the award of the order also entitled the recipient, if he was not already of that standing, to be raised to the following appointments and/or ranks of the nobility:

  • Grand Cordon: Privy Councillor
  • Commander: Baron
  • Knight: Ritter

Both the Grand Cross and the First Class Members of the Order wore (on formal occasions) their orders in the form of a sash with the Order attached to the Bow and respectively an eight pointed and a four pointed breast Star. The Grand Cross was somewhat larger than the First Class, as was the width of the sash. The Commanders' Cross was worn to the neck, suspended from a 52 mm wide ribbon; the Knight wore his Order on a triangular ribbon on the left breast. The actual Order consists of a red enameled gold cross, with white enamel edging. The obverse of the Order displays the initials FIA in gold on a red enamel background. The Mottoes of the Order were "INTEGRITATI ET MERITO" and "OPES REGUM CORDA SUBDITORUM". The ribbon of the Order is red, with two narrow, white side-stripes. The Cross is surmounted by a golden Emperor's Crown. The Grand Cross could also be awarded with diamonds; from 1808 to 1918 only four people received this honour. The last recipient, Ernst Graf von Silva-Tarouca, was awarded the decoration on 11 November 1918, just hours before Charles I of Austria withdrew from public affairs.

After 1918, the Order was no longer awarded.


  • Gustav Adolph Ackermann, Ordensbuch, Sämtlicher in Europa blühender und erloschener Orden und Ehrenzeichen. Annaberg, 1855
  • Václav Měřička, Orden und Ehrenzeichen der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, Wien 1974