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- Date of production before 1774
- Place of creation Poland
- Dimensions height: 7.5 cm, width: 7.7 cm, weight: 113.8 g
- ID no. ZKWawel 7642/1
- Availability Crown Treasury
- Object copyright Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums Plus project
The oldest and the highest Polish distinction – one of the most important decorations in Europe of the 18th century. It was established by Augustus II the Strong and awarded, since around 1705, to those who performed great services for the monarch. The presented version was shaped in 1793, in the form of a Maltese cross enamelled red with white borders, and with a small ball at the end of each point.more
The oldest and the highest Polish distinction – one of the most important decorations in Europe of the 18th century. It was established by Augustus II the Strong (1670–1733, dates of reigns 1697–1706, 1709–1733) and awarded, since around 1705, to those who performed great services for the monarch. It still exists at the moment, in a slightly altered form. It has been worn on a light blue sash hanging over the left shoulder to the right side, and in case of a clergyman – hanging on the neck.
The presented version was shaped in 1793, in the form of a Maltese cross enamelled red with white borders, and with a small ball at the end of each point. Among the cross arms, there are integrated four bunches of silver rays. In the middle of the obverse, there is set a plastically modelled White Eagle wearing a royal crown (with little diamonds). In the balls on the points and on the transversal rays, twenty-five round settings with diamonds (at present, imitations of diamonds are used) can be seen. In the middle of the reverse, there is a small round white shield with crossed swords of the House of Wettin, a small cross and monogram AR [Augustus Rex]; on the cross arms, there is the motto of the Order: “PRO / FID[E] / [RE]GE / ET LEGE” [For Faith, Law and the King], written with gold on red enamel. At the top, a flat piece of metal with a ring is attached.
According to tradition, this item belonged to Prince Ignacy Krasicki (1735–1801), Bishop of Warmia and Archbishop of Gniezno, the most eminent Polish poet of the 18th century, awarded by Stanisław August Poniatowski on 12 December 1774. Since that time, it has been kept by the beneficiary's family. It was acquired from Xawery Krasicki of Warsaw for Wawel Royal Castle in 1990, with the funds donated by Józef Grabski of Vienna.
Regardless of its damage and the reconstructed parts, it is still one of the most precious order crosses of the 18th century (among the few remaining). Krasicki received the cross, as often happened at that time, after one of the knights of the Saxon period, and this is indicated by the coat of arms of the House of Wettin in the middle of the reverse.
Elaborated by Dariusz Nowacki (Wawel Royal Castle), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved