Franz Joseph Order

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The Imperial Austrian Franz Joseph Order was founded on December 2, 1849 by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I as an award for services in military and civil matters. The foundation took place on the first anniversary of Franz Joseph I's accession to the throne.

Star to the Grand Cross
Officer's Cross
Knight's Cross (lapel)

The order is not to be confused with the Franz Joseph Cross , which was donated in 1916 after the death of Emperor Franz Joseph I by his successor Karl I, or the Civil Merit Cross , which visually resembled the insignia of the Franz Joseph Order.

Order classes

The award, designed as a knightly order, originally comprised the three classes of Grand Cross, Commander's Cross ("Comthure") and Knight's Cross, which were later expanded to five classes:

The Franz-Josephs-Orden was the only one of the monarchy's orders of merit that was awarded in five stages.


The insignia of the Franz Joseph Order consists of an octagonal, carmine-red enameled gold cross , the arms of which are wider at the ends. In the middle is a white sign with FJ (Franz Joseph). Between the arms of the cross is the black enamelled Austrian double-headed eagle with a gold chain in its beaks with the motto of the order Viribus unitis (with united forces). Above the cross there is an unspecified crown in gold, which does not represent the actual Austrian imperial crown , but abstract majesty. The insignia of the five classes differ only in size.


Triangle ribbon of the medal of valor

The ribbon is a single color, bright red. For merit in the First World War , the red ribbon was replaced by the ponceau red and white striped ribbon of the medal of bravery . The ribbon of the Bravery Medal was also used for the Military Merit Medal ("Signum Laudis") , the Military Merit Cross and the Civil Merit Cross , provided it was awarded for services in the war.

Carrying method

Knights of the Franz Joseph Order wore the insignia on the ribbon in the buttonhole , officers as a pin decoration on the left side of the chest. Commanders of both ranks wore the insignia around their necks, Grand Cross bearers with the sash over their right shoulder. Commander with a star and holder of the grand cross also wore an order star that was attached to the left side of the chest.

The insignia of all order levels of the Franz Joseph Order can be viewed in the Army History Museum in Vienna.


The award was made regardless of birth, religion or status and nationality. All members of the order had access to the court festivities. However, the Franz Joseph Order was not associated with a right to elevation to the nobility , which is an innovation compared to the Order of Merit of the Monarchy ( Military Maria Theresa Order , Saint Stephen Order , Leopold Order , Order of the Iron Crown) ) represented.

Attached to the Franz Joseph Order was the (kk) civil merit cross , which was awarded in various stages (e.g. as an iron merit cross with the crown or as a gold merit cross on the ribbon of the medal of bravery ). The insignia of the Cross of Merit corresponded to the Knight's Cross of the Franz Joseph Order, but did not show the black enameled double eagle.

Socio-historical importance

Even more than other orders of merit, this order with unlimited members became the "mass order" par excellence. Particular attention was paid to members of the middle social classes, who were to be honored without receiving a claim to elevation to the nobility. In business circles, the credit rating of company owners was sometimes derived from whether they were "at least" holders of the Order of the Iron Crown (mostly III class) or "only" those of the Franz Joseph Order.

See also


  • The orders, coats of arms and flags of all regents and states. Appendix, Ruhl, Leipzig 1884.
  • Peter Diem: The symbols of Austria. Krenmayr & Scheriau, Vienna 1995, p. 218.
  • Maximilian Gritzner : Handbook of the knight and merit orders of all civilized states in the world. Leipzig 1893, ISBN 3-8262-0705-X .
  • Franz Schnürer, Guido Ritter von Turba; ed. from Leo Hirsch: The Imperial Austrian Franz-Joseph Order and its members. Vienna 1912.
  • Johann Stolzer, Christian Steeb: Austria's order from the Middle Ages to the present. Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz 1996, ISBN 3-201-01649-7 , pp. 170–182.
  • Christian Ortner , Georg Ludwigstorff: Austria's medals and decorations. Part I: The imperial-royal orders until 1918. Verlag Militaria , Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-902526-81-6 .

Web links

Commons : Franz-Joseph-Orden  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files