Military Order of St. Henry
Militär-St. Heinrichs-Orden
SHMOrder Knight
Wearer's copy (Spangenstück) of a Knight's Cross, obverse and reverse
TypeMilitary Order of Merit
Awarded forBravery and military merit
Descriptiongold Maltese cross with a white-enameled border; the center medallion, ringed in blue enamel, features a portrait of St. Henry. Suspended from a royal crown.
Presented byElectorate of Saxony Electorate of Saxony
Kingdom of Saxony Kingdom of Saxony
EligibilitySaxon military officers and officers of allied states
EstablishedOctober 7, 1736
First awarded1736
Last awarded1918
D-SAX Militaer St-Heinrich Orden BAR.svg
Ribbon of the order
Next (higher)Order of the Rue Crown
Next (lower)Albert Order

The Military Order of St. Henry (Militär-St. Heinrichs-Orden) was a military order of the Kingdom of Saxony, a member state of the German Empire. The order was the oldest military order of the states of the German Empire. It was founded on October 7, 1736 by Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. The order underwent several more revisions over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It became obsolete with the fall of the Saxon monarchy in the wake of Germany's defeat in World War I.[1]


The order came in four classes: Grand Cross (Großkreuz), Commander's Cross 1st Class (Kommandeurkreuz I. Klasse), Commander's Cross 2nd Class (Kommandeurkreuz II. Klasse) or sometimes just Commander, and Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz). Generally, the rank of the recipient determined which grade he would receive - the Grand Cross went to monarchs and the highest field commanders, the Commander 1st Class to senior generals, the Commander 2nd Class to officers major and above (with a few exceptions) and the Knight's Cross to all officers. Again with few exceptions, one was required to have received a lower grade before receiving the next higher grade. During World War I, there were 12 awards of the Grand Cross, 14 awards of the Commander 1st Class, 153 awards of the Commander 2nd Class, and 2,728 awards of the Knight's Cross[2] As an example of the progression, Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, a general and later field marshal, received the Knight's Cross in August 1914, the Commander 2nd Class in June 1915, the Commander 1st Class in January 1917, and the Grand Cross in May 1918.

Description and wear

The badge of the order was a gold Maltese cross with white-enameled edges. Around the center medallion was a blue-enameled gold ring bearing on the obverse the words "FRIDR•AUG•D•G•REX•SAX•INSTAURAVIT" and on the reverse the motto "VIRTUTI IN BELLO" ("Bravery in War"). On the obverse, the medallion was yellow-enameled with a painted portrait of St. Henry, the last Saxon Holy Roman Emperor. On the reverse, the medallion bore the Saxon coat of arms (alternating horizontal black and gold stripes with a diagonal rue crown). Between the arms of the cross were green-enameled rue crowns, a symbol of Saxony. The badge was suspended from a royal crown. The Grand Cross was larger than the Commander's Cross, and the Commander's Cross was larger than the Knight's Cross.[3]

The star of the order, awarded with the Grand Cross and the Commander 1st Class, was a silver eight-pointed star featuring a larger version of the medallion with St. Henry of the obverse of the cross, but with the text of the ring of the reverse. The star was slightly larger for the Grand Cross.[4]

The ribbon of the order was light blue with yellow stripes near each edge.

The Knight's Cross was worn as a breast badge on the upper left chest. The Commander's Crosses were worn from the neck, with the breast star of the Commander 1st Class on the lower left chest. The Grand Cross was worn from a sash over the shoulder, with the badge resting on the left hip. Its star was worn as with the Commander 1st Class. On occasion, the Grand Cross badge was worn from the neck and was distinguishable from the Commander's Crosses only by its size.[3]

Notable recipients

King Friedrich August III, wearing a special version of the Grand Cross as a neck badge, the breast star on his left chest, and the Knight's Cross on his medal bar.
King Friedrich August III, wearing a special version of the Grand Cross as a neck badge, the breast star on his left chest, and the Knight's Cross on his medal bar.

Grand Crosses

Commanders 1st Class

Commanders 2nd Class





  1. ^ Some awards for actions before November 11, 1918, however, were still processed after the war's end.
  2. ^ O'Connor, Aviation Awards, p.18; Klietmann, Pour le Mérite und Tapferkeitsmedaille, p.32.
  3. ^ a b O'Connor, pp. 17-18.
  4. ^ O'Connor, p. 18.