The Orders of Italy are awards with a long and difficult history. For a long time, the territory of the Apennine Peninsula remained fragmented into many small states, each of which had its own regalia. After unification, not many awards survived in the country’s order system, and after the end of World War II, the institution of regalia was seriously revised. Currently, the orders of Italy are divided into national and local, and the award itself remains confusing and complex.
History of Italian orders
The Orders of Italy as part of the state reward system appeared only after the scattered territories united into a single Italian kingdom. The new state inherited the Order Institute of the Duchy of Savoy, where the Order of the Holy Annunciation was the highest regalia. It was created in 1362, when almost all the royal houses of Europe gathered around themselves associations of loyal vassals, who were called orders (from Latin ordo – organization) following the example of monastic brotherhoods and militant spiritual-knightly unions.
The orders of medieval Italy were a kind of dynastic property of the ruling monarch. The history of the first and highest award in the kingdom is closely related to the name of the Duke of Savoy Amedeo VI (Amedeo VI Conte Verde), who established a knight union in honor of his beloved and named it the Order of the Ribbon. Tradition says that the lady presented her admirer with a piece of jewelry woven from her own hair. A detailed description of the gift has not survived, however, it is assumed that the ornate pattern from needlework migrated to the symbolism of the badge of honor.
Often court alliances fell apart with the death of the sovereign-grandmaster, but the Order of Savoy escaped this fate. The regalia was repeatedly renamed, and it has safely survived to this day under the name of the Order of the Annunziata (Annunciation). After the abolition of the monarchy, it became a dynastic badge of honor, awarded by the heirs of the royal family.
The awards of the House of Savoy were inherited by the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was formed on the territory of northern Italy in 1720. The royal dynasty of Sardinia in 1816 restored the Order of Saints Mauritius and Lazarus. Which arose in the early Middle Ages after the merger of two spiritual-knightly brotherhoods. Then he entered the order system of the Kingdom of Italy as the second most important.
In the second half of the 19th century, there were a huge number of awards in the Apennines. Orders and medals were in every, even the smallest country. The formation of a unified kingdom in 1861 gave rise to a twofold situation. The monarch did not cancel the centuries-old awards of Parma, Tuscany, Sicily, Lucca and Modena, therefore, for a long time, the old Italian regalia were presented by the former sovereigns as dynastic insignia. The right to reward was lost with the death of the last member of the family. At the same time, the institution of the Vatican Orders did not undergo major changes and developed independently of the secular state.
Orders of the Kingdom of Italy
The Risorgimento National Liberation Movement has seriously influenced the Italian award system. The process of unification was preceded by military conflicts and internal contradictions. So the king showed extreme moderation in preserving the regalia established by the subjects. The monarch left only five significant dynastic, state and military orders. New awards began to appear only after 1914, with the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. The heraldry of the House of Savoy still occupied the central place in the design of the award signs of this period.
The rise to power of Benito Mussolini (Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini) led to the emergence of a series of military orders, most of which became a copy of Nazi regalia. Degrees, forms of crosses and statutes were borrowed. The only cardinal difference was only the absence of a swastika; it was replaced by Savoyard or ancient Roman symbols. In design, Italian medalists preferred white and black colors; enamel was used for decoration in most cases.
In 1943, the fascist regime fell, and the government of the newly formed Italian Social Republic created its own reward system. Which for some time existed in parallel with the royal one. However, the honors adopted by the new leadership did not last long and were canceled in 1946 with the proclamation of the Italian Republic and the final abolition of the monarchy.
Famous Orders of Italy:
- Holy Annunciation. St. Maurice and Lazarus.
- Constantine Order of St. George.
- Saint Januarius.
- Order of Saint Joseph.
- Royal Order of the Two Sicilies.
- Order of Francis I.
- Military Order of Savoy (Italy).
- Of the Italian Crown.
- Of the Roman Eagle.
- Order of the Star of Italy.
- Order of Merit for the Italian Republic.
In the post-war period, the Italian reward system lost its former harmony and logic. Ministries and departments have established many of their honorary badges.