Military Maria Theresia Order, Commemoration Medals, Part II

This is the third of what will be a multiple part series of blogs on the Military Maria Theresia Order. Before reading this blog you may find it worthwhile to review the first two blogs in this series on the Military Maria Theresia Order. Also this blog on the commemorative medals associated with the Military Maria Theresia Order is the second of two on this subject. It was preceded by a blog which described the Military Maria Theresia Order, Foundation Medal, and the Military Maria Theresia Order Archduke Karl Commemoration Medal. I hope you find this second blog in the two part series regarding commemorative medals interesting and informative.

The Military Maria Theresia Order was founded on June 18, 1757 and the first awards were issued on June 22, 1757. The order continued to be issued until October 3, 1931.

During the 174 year history of the order there were commemorative medals issued on five occasions. These medals were issued to commemorate notable events or personages associated with the Military Maria Theresia Order. In this blog I am going to review the Last three of these medals and what they commemorated.

 3. Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal

The third commemorative medal issued by the order was the Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal (Militär-Maria Theresien Orden 100 Jahre Jubiläumsmedaille).  This medal was authorized on June 18, 1857 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Military Maria Theresia Order in 1757.

Classes or Types:  Three

  • Gold Medal
  • Silver Medal
  • Bronze Medal

Interesting Facts:

  • Gold medals were only issued to Grand Cross holders and the Order Chancellor, Prince Klemens von Metternich
  • Silver medals were issued to all living recipients of the Military Maria Theresia Order
  • The bronze medals were for exhibit purposes
  • The medals were issued on the occasion of the jubilee celebration at the Hoftheater

Hallmarks: None Known

Design:  A round medal

Obverse: (Figure 1,2 & 3) A portrait of Maria Theresia facing to the viewers right in flowing robes and with a diadem in her hair. Around the edge of the medal is inscribed M.THERESIA 18 JUNI 1757. Below the bust is the medalist’s name, Seidan (Wenzel Seidan)

Figure 1: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Gold, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 1: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Obverse, Gold, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

 

Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Silver, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 2: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Obverse, Silver, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, obverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Figure 3: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Obverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Reverse:  (Figure 4,5 & 6) Inside a raised rim is the image of a Military Order of Maria Theresia cross superimposed over laurel boughs one of which curls over the cross between the right arm and the lower arm. An unsheathed sword passes under the cross diagonally from the space between the lower arm and the left arm and the upper arm and the right arm of the cross. Around the cross in the center is a raised ring. Between it and the raised edge of the medal the space is finely pebbled. In the upper two-thirds of this space is the following inscription: HUNDERT JAHRE REICH AN HELDENTHATEN (One Hundred Years of Empire Heroic Deeds).  At the bottom of this medal in this same space is * 18 JUNI 1857 *. (18 June 1857)

Figure 4: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Reverse, Gold, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 4: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Reverse, Gold, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

 

Figure 5: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Reverse, Silver, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 5: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Reverse, Silver, Image courtesy of Dorotheum

Figure 6: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Reverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Figure 6: Military Maria Theresia Order 100 Year Jubilee Medal, Reverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Weight:

  • Gold Medal 139.6 grams (40 Ducats)
  • Silver Medal 87 grams
  • Bronze Medal 101.4 grams

Size:

  • Gold Medal 58 mm
  • Silver Medal 58 mm
  • Bronze Medal 58 mm

Type of Material: Gold, silver and bronze

Variations:  None known

Designer: Wenzel Seiden

Manufacturer: Vienna Hauptmunzampt (Vienna Imperial Mint)

Number Issued:  Unknown

Some known recipients of the gold medal ae:

  • Prinz Klemens von Metternich, Order Chancellor
  • Joseph Wenzel Graf Radetzky von Radetz, Feldmarschall
  • Ludwig Anton Duke von Angouleme
  • Count Eduard Clam-Gallas, General der Kavallerie
  • Arzherzog Karl Joseph von Habsburg
  • Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria
  • Ivan Feodorowitsch Paskiewitsch, Prince of Erivan and Warsaw, Russian Field Marshal
  • Alfred Prince Windischgraetz, Feldmarschall

Case:  Unknown

4.   Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order,
Knights Cross Commemoration Medal

The forth commemorative medal issued was the Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal (Prinz Alexander von Hessen und bei Rhein Militär-Maria Theresien  Orden Ritterkreuz Erinnerungsmedaille). This medal which was authorized in 1859 is in many ways the most confounding of the Maria Theresia Order commemoration medals. The reasons are as follows: fist there seems to be less information regarding this medal to be found in the literature than any of the other medals being discussed in this blog; second Prince Alexander was tolerated but not liked by the Habsburgs; third the action for which he won the Military Maria Theresia Order, knights cross was an Austrian defeat; forth, since Emperor Franz Joseph was personally commanding the Austrian forces at Solferino, the loss of the battle was a personal humiliation for him.

With these things in mind one has to wonder why the Austrians chose to issue a commemorative medal featuring Prince Alexander and a medal awarded for service at a battle lost by the Austrians. On the other hand, it is true that Prince Alexander, by all accounts, conducted himself in a brave and heroic manner at the Battle of Solferino on June 24, 1859.  What follows is a quote from the journal of Jean Henry Dunant (the founder of the Red Cross) who observed the battle, which was part of the Second War of Italian Independence. This entry is describing an action which took place in the midst of the battle which resulted in the Austrian forces being able to retire from the battlefield in good order thus avoiding a defeat on the field of battle. “ … But the noble Prince of Hesse, one of the heroes of Austria’s Army, a worthy foe for the illustrious conqueror of Magenta (here he is refereeing to French General MacMahon) , after having fought valiantly at San Cassiaono, held the three slopes of Mount Fontana against continuous attacks.”  This is the action for which Prince Alexander was awarded the Military Maria Theresia Order, knights cross.

Reason Issued:  Issued to commemorate the award of the Military Order of Maria Theresia Knights Cross on Alexander Prince of Hesse on Rheine for his services at Solferino in the Second War of Italian Independence

Classes or Types:  Two

  • Silver Medal
  • Bronze Medal

Interesting Facts: None other than what is being described under other headings

Hallmarks:  None Known

Design:  A round medal

Obverse: (Figure 7 & 8) A bust of Prince Alexander facing to the right (Based on his photographs this is a very good likeness). Around the edge of the medal is inscribed ALEXANDER PRINZ VON HESSEN UND BEI RHEIN. Below the bust is the medalist’s name, C. SCHNITZSPAHN (Christian Schnitzspahn)

Prince Alexander von Hess on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, obverse, Silver, Image from the authors archive

Figure 7, Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, Obverse, Silver, Image from the authors archive

Figure 8, Prince Alexander von Hess on Rhein, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, obverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Figure 8, Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, Obverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Reverse:  (Figure 9 & 10) In the center of the medal is a knight cross of the Order of Maria Theresia around which are oak and laurel boughs. At the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions are ribbons with the following inscriptions; at 3 o’clock is inscribed SOLFERINO XXIV JUNI (Solferino June 24); at 6 o’clock is an inscription that is too faint for the author to decipher and at the 9 o’clock position is inscribed MONTEBELLOU XX MAI (Montebello May 20) Around the rim of the medal is inscribed: SI DEUS NOBISCUM QUIS CONTRA NOS MDCCCLIX (If God be for us who can be against us 1859).  At the bottom of the medal in small letters on the rim is inscribed C.S.CR.REC (believed to be a reference to the medalist and designer Christian Schnitzspahn .

Figure 9: Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Silver, Image from the authors archive

Figure 9: Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Silver, Image from the authors archive

Figure 10: Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Figure 10: Prince Alexander von Hesse on Rheine, Military Maria Theresia Order, Knights Cross Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Bronze, Image from the authors archive

Weight:

  • Silver Medal: 4 grams
  • Bronze Medal: Unknown

Size:

  • Silver Medal: 3 mm
  • Bronze Medal: Unknown

Type of Material: Silver and bronze

Variations:  None known

Designer: Christian Schnitzspahn

Manufacturer: Vienna Hauptmunzampt (Vienna Imperial Mint)

Number Issued:  Unknown

Some recipients:

  • Prinz Klemens von Metternich, Order Chancellor
  • Ludwig Anton Duke von Angouleme
  • Count Eduard Clam-Gallas, General der Kavallerie
  • Arzherzog Karl Joseph von Habsburg
  • Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria
  • Ivan Feodorowitsch Paskiewitsch, Prince of Erivan and Warsaw, Russian Field Marshal
  • Alfred Prince Windischgraetz, Feldmarschall

Case:  Unknown

5.  Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal

The fifth and last commemorative medal issued was the Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal (Militär-Maria Theresien Orden Folgaria Erinnerungsmedaille).  This medal was authorized on May 15, 1916 to commemorate the Austrian Punitive Expedition at Folgaria. However the purported back story regarding the issuance of this medal is much more interesting. In November 1916 Emperor Karl I assumed the throne in Austria. As emperor he automatically became the Chancellor of the Military Order of Maria Theresia. He was also by statute and tradition entitled to wear the Grand Cross of all orders and the 1st class of all decorations.  However he was reluctant to wear the grand cross of the Military Maria Theresia Order in time of war without having done anything to earn the award. In December when he assumed supreme command of the army he made an inquiry of its leadership and that of the Navy as to whether they thought it appropriate for him to wear the Grand Cross of the Maria Theresia Order. They apparently advised him that his leadership during the Austrian counteroffensive in the Asiago in May 15, 1916 met the requirement for him to honorably wear the order. As a result the Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal was issued to celebrate this victory but also to mark the success of the emperor. When one observes the medal it is obvious that it is intended to honor not only the victory at Folgaria but also the part played in that victory by Emperor Karl I.

Classes or Types:  Two: Silver (white metal) and bronze

Hallmarks:  None Known

Design:  A round medal

 Obverse: (Figure 11 & 12) The bust of Emperor Karl I wearing a Field Marshals uniform with the Order of the Golden Fleece. Around the top edge of the medal in front and behind the bust of the emperor is the inscription: .CAROLVS. . IMP. ET. REX. (Charles Emperor and King)

Figure 11: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Obverse, White metal, Image from the authors archive

Figure 11: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Obverse, Silver Medal, Image from the authors archive

Figure 12: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Obverse, Bronze Medal, Image from the authors archive

Figure 12: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Obverse, Bronze Medal, Image from the authors archive

Reverse:  (Figure 13 & 14) A wreath composed of oak (on the viewers right) and laurel (on the viewers left) boughs crossed at the bottom. Vertically superimposed on the wreath is an unsheathed sword. The sword has a ribbon wrapped around the upper portion of the blade and the grand cross star of the Order of Maria Theresia with war decoration superimposed over the center of the blade. There is a fine ring forming a border within the edge of the medal that is so placed that some of the leaves of the wreath and the ends of the sword pass over it. There is an inscription placed between this ring and the edge of the medal. It reads FOLGARIA at the top of the medal below which is XV MAI MCMXVI. (Folgaria May 15, 1916). Near the 3 o’clock position on the reverse of the medal is the name of the engraver: Heinrich Kautsch.

 

Figure 13: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Silver Medal. Image from the authors archive

Figure 13: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Silver Medal. Image from the authors archive

Figure 14: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Bronze Medal, Image from the authors archive

Figure 14: Military Maria Theresia Order Folgaria Commemoration Medal, Reverse, Bronze Medal, Image from the authors archive

 

Weight: 113 grams

Size:  65.3 mm in diameter

Type of Material:  Bronze

Variations:  None known

Designer: Heinrich Kautsch

Manufacturer: Vienna Hauptmunzampt (Vienna Imperial Mint)

Number Issued:  Unknown

Some recipients were:

  • Friedrich von Habsburg, Archduke, 1916
  • Karl I Emperor of Austria
  • Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia

Case:  Unknown

I hope you have enjoyed the second part of the review of the commemorative medals issued in association with the Military Maria Theresia Order. In future blogs I will explore the Military Maria Theresia Order in greater depth.

 

Rick

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