In the Dutch honours system, most orders are the responsibility of ministers of the Netherlands Government. The house orders, however, are awarded at the discretion of the Dutch monarch alone.
Over the centuries, hundreds of medals, decorations for merit or valour and orders of knighthood have been instituted by the successive governments of the Netherlands. The oldest were founded by the counts of Holland. Their successors, the House of Burgundy, founded the famous Order of the Golden Fleece. This order still exists in Spain and in the Austrian imperial House.
The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands did not possess an order of knighthood. Instead so called "Beloningspenningen", golden medals on golden chains, were given as gifts to ambassadors and successful admirals.
In 1781 a medal called the "Doggersbank medaille" was awarded to the officers who took part in the Battle of the Dogger Bank against the British fleet. It was the first modern Dutch decoration.
The Batavian Republic, founded after the French invasion of 1795, did not institute any orders or medals.
The Kingdom of Holland was founded in 1805 to provide a throne for Napoleon's younger brother Lodewijk Napoleon Bonaparte. The "King of Holland" founded an "Orde van de Unie", (English: Order of the Union, later dubbed "Order of Holland" then "Royal Order of Holland").
The first king of the Netherlands, William I, founded the Military Order of William and a civilian order, the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
His successors founded several orders of merit and some two hundred medals, stars and crosses. The Netherlands never established a colonial order for the Dutch East Indies.
The order of wear of Dutch Honours is published in the Official Gazette of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The orders, decorations and medals are listed in that order below.
The Dutch government allows the following orders of chivalry to be worn on military uniforms: