Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Order of the Black Eagle of Prussia

Regular readers will know that I have an interest in Orders of Chivalry and today is an opportunity to write about one of them - the Order of the Black Eagle of Prussia. Established on January 17th 1701 by King Frederick I, the day before his coronation at Königsberg as the first King in Prussia (the title was changed to King of Prussia by his gransdson in 1772), and it is the premier Order of the Prussian monarchy. As such it was the equivalent of the Orders of the Garter or the Thistle, and like other Orders established before the late eighteenth century comprised only one class.

King Frederick I

He is wearing the collar of the Order of the Black Eagle

There is a good, illustrated, article about the Order here, with links to biographies of recipients. The article does not mention the fact that the orange colour of the riband was a tribute by the King to his mother Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau. The star of the Order was used on the headgear of Prussian regiments. The Black Eagle itself is derived from the arms of the kingdom.

Black Eagle Order star.jpg

Order of the Black Eagle
Breast star with the motto Suum Cuique ("To each according to his merits") around the central medallion.

I have not so far read Karin Friedrich and Sara Smart (eds.) The Cultivation of Monarchy and the Rise of Berlin: Brandenburg-Prussia 1700 ( Ashgate, 2010) which is a study of the establishment of the new Prussian kingdom by Frederick I. It includes an article on the statutes of the Order.

Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia
The riband and star of the Order can be clearly seen

Photo: Mad Monarchist

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