Herzoglich Württemberg-Oelssischer Ritterorden vom Todtenkopf

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Order of the Skull

The Herzoglich Württemberg-Oelssische Ritterorden vom Todtenkopf was a short-lived house order of the Württemberg-Oels dynasty in Lower Silesia . It was also called the Order of the Skull and was a religious knightly order . The purpose of the order was to commemorate mortality and the members were to cultivate the noble and knightly virtues until death. The order was designed for women and men.


The order was founded by the first Duke of Oels from the House of Württemberg, Silvius Nimrod , in 1652. Duke Silvius Nimrod, who called the Silesian mystic Angelus Silesius to his court as personal physician in 1649, was under the influence of the Silesian Rosicrucians - a movement whose center was in Ludwigsdorf, the estate of Count Abraham von Franckenberg , which was adjacent to Oels . The knights of the new order should devote themselves to the "exploration of the mysteries of God and nature" and exercise contemplation on the purpose of life in the sense of the maxim " Vanitas vanitatum ". Exceptionally women were also admitted to the order. Here the widowed Duchess Elisabeth Marie von Münsterberg-Oels (1625–1686) excelled.

The order initially expired after the Duke's death in 1664, but was renewed again and then finally repealed. The renovation was carried out in 1709 by the widow of Duke Philipp von Sachsen-Merseburg-Lauchstädt , Luise Elisabeth von Württemberg-Oels , and was carried out as a pure ladies' order . It finally became extinct in the course of the 18th century.

Order decoration

The sign of the order was a silver or white-enameled skull hanging on a gold, black enameled ribbon, which bore the inscription Memento mori . For the medal, a finger ring with a skull was worn on the left hand.


  • Christian Gryphius : Kurtzer draft of the spiritual and secular knight orders. Bauch, Leipzig et al. 1709.
  • Will-Erich Peuckert : The Rosenkreutzer. On the history of a Reformation. E. Diederichs, Jena 1927.
  • Gustav Adolph Ackermann: Order book of all in Europe flourishing and extinct orders and decorations. Rudolph and Dieterici, Annaberg 1855, p. 198, online .