Order of the Iron Crown
|Order of the Iron Crown|
Ordine della Corona Ferrea
Badge of the Order
|Awarded by the King of Italy|
|Type||Order of merit|
|Established||June 5, 1805|
|Next (higher)||Order of the Reunion|
Ribbon of the Order
The order took its name from the ancient Iron Crown of Lombardy, a medieval jewel with an iron ring, forged from what was supposed to be a nail from the True Cross as a band on the inside. This crown also gave its name to the Order of the Crown of Italy, which was established in 1868.
Significance of the Iron Crown
The Iron Crown of Lombardy, made for Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards, was alleged to be crafted from one of the original nails in the True Cross used in the Crucifixion of Jesus. Regardless of origin, her crown was crafted of six hinged plates of gold, set with precious gems, and held together with an iron circlet structure underneath. Thus came the term of “Iron Crown”.
Upon Theolinda’s death in 628, her crown was donated to the Church at Monza, where it still remains. It was used during the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, as he took the throne of Lombardy in 774. Later Holy Roman Emperors followed suit in this tradition.
Founding of the Order of the Iron Crown
During his continued expansion of power, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy in much the same manner as Charlemagne. As a symbolic gesture, he had himself crowned as King of Italy using the Iron Crown of Lombardy for the coronation, which occurred on May 26, 1805.
Soon after, Napoleon founded the Order of the Iron Crown on June 5, 1805. The Order was divided into three classes, with an allowance of up to 20 grand cross knights, 100 commander knights, and 500 ordinary knights.
With the eventual end of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, the French version of this order ceased to exist. However, the Emperor of Austria, Francis I, re-established the order in 1815 as the Austrian Imperial Order of the Iron Crown.
- Knights wore a traditional military style medal on the left chest.
- Commanders wore a traditional military style medal on the left chest, with the addition of a bow in the center of the ribbon to distinguish them from ordinary knights.
- Holders of the Grand Cross wore a sash over the right shoulder and a neck badge, with an eight-pointed star (that featured the Iron Crown at its center) on the left breast.
Master of the Order
- Napoleon I, Emperor of the French and King of Italy, 1806 – 1814; 1815
- Blom, Philipp. To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting. Overlook, 2003. pp. 146–147.
- Gottschalck, Friedrich. Almanach der Ritter-Orden. Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony: Georg Joachim Goeschen, 1819.
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