Alternate History

Nobility and orders of Austria-Hungary (Twilight of a New Era)

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Golden Fleece dsc02934

Neck Chain of a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece

The Imperial Rescript of 1921 (On titles, orders of chivalry, medals and decorations given out by His Imperial and Royal Majesty) reaffirms the exclusive and discretional right and authority of the Emperor-King with the assistance or advice of the Council in granting titles, orders of chivalry, medals and decorations of the honors system to nobles and non-nobles. It also abolishes all special courts of justice and privileges given to the nobility and reaffirms the constitutional equality before the law of all citizens and inhabitants of the Federal State.

The Imperial Rescript also creates the Council of Imperial and Royal Orders which is in charge of the administration and registration of orders of chivalry, medals and decorations of the honors system, and registrar of the titles of nobility. It also arbitrates in problems of succession of noble titles and certification.

Noble titles

The Imperial Rescript also standardizes of the denomination of all noble titles. Regardless of the ethnicity, religion or type of demesne (historically part of the Habsburg dynasty or other nobility within the Federal State of Austria-Hungary) thus the titles are:

  • Archduke/Archduchess (Erzherzog/Erzherzogin)
  • Grand Duke/Grand Duchess (Großherzog/Großherzogin)
  • Prince/Princess (Fürst/Fürstin)
  • Duke/Duchess (Herzog/Herzogin)
  • Margrave or Marquess/ (Markgraf, Marquis / Markgräfin, Marquise)
  • Count/Countess (Graf/Gräfin)
  • Baron/Baroness (Freiherr/Freifrau and Freiin)
  • Knight (Ritter) (no female version exists)
  • Edler/Edle (roughly equivalent in meaning to "Sir" or "Dame", but not a common translation)

The Austrian-Hungarian nobility is divided up into two categories: the higher nobility (hoher Adel), and the lower nobility (niederer Adel). To the higher nobility belonged the archdukes, grand dukes, princes, dukes, marquesses and counts, the lower nobility was made up of the rest. The members of the House Habsburg-Lorraine have the exclusive right in using the title of Archduke.

Non-ruling members of the imperial family are given the title of Archduke/Archduchess (Erzherzog/Erzherzogin) and styled Imperial and Royal Highness (Kaiserliche und königliche Hoheit). The wife of the emperor bore the title of Empress (Kaiserin) and was styled Her Imperial Majesty. Agnates of the imperial family, who were excluded from the line of succession, were created dukes and duchesses or princes and princess and addressed as Highness (Hoheit) or Serene Highness (Durchlaucht).

Imperial and Royal Orders

The Council of Imperial and Royal Orders was also in charge of handing out the medals and administering the Imperial and Royal Orders. The main Imperial and Royal orders are:

  • Teutonic Order (male order)
  • Order of the Golden Fleece (1430, male order)
  • Order of the Slaves of the Virtue (1662, female order)
  • Order of the Starry Cross (1668, female order)
  • Order of love of neighbor (Ordre de l'amour du prochain 1708 female order)
  • Order of Elisabeth and Theresa (1750, female headship but male recipients)
  • Military Order of Maria Theresa (1757, male order)
  • Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary (1764, male order)
  • Imperial Austrian Order of Leopold (1808, male order)
  • Imperial Austrian Franz Joseph Order (1849, male order)
  • Imperial Order of the Iron Crown (1815, male order)
  • Imperial Austrian Order of Elizabeth (1898, female order)

Military awards and decorations

  • ross for Military Merit (Militär-Verdienstkreuz, 1849 for military officers only)
  • Medal for Bravery (Tapferkeitsmedaille, 1789)
  • Military Merit Medal (German: Militär-Verdienstmedaille, 1890 Austro-Hungarian officers and officials of similar rank)
  • War Cross for Civil Merits (German: Kriegskreuz für Zivilverdienste, 1915)
  • Civil Merit Medal (Zivilverdienstmedaille)
  • Merit Cross (Verdienstkreuz)
  • Wound Medal (Laeso Militi) (Verwundetenmedaille (Laeso Militi) 1918)
  • Red Cross Decoration (Ehrenzeichen vom Roten Kreuz)
  • Decoration for Services to the Red Cross (Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Rote Kreuz, 1915)

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