CZAR NICHOLAS II (1868 – 1918)

EMPEROR OF RUSSIA 1894 – 1917

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 The dictionary defines “Czar” as a king or emperor, especially one of the former emperors of Russia. The word itself derives from the surname “Caesar” of the early Roman Empire, which became the title of the ruler after Hadrian. The German  “Kaiser” is obviously another derivative title of the same origin.

In today’s world the title Czar is loosely used in the press, politics and the media. We all know of the Homeland Security “Czar”, the Intelligence “Czar”, the Finance “Czar” and many others. So, perhaps it is worthwhile to take a look at how the last legitimate Czar and Emperor of Russia looked like in those long forgotten days prior to the 1917 Revolution in Russia. The portraits shown here and the description of the medals he wore on official occasions are of interest to all students of Russian history. The resemblance of Czar Nicholas II to his British Royal family cousins is striking.

Our friends at the Moscow Museum of the Imperial Dynasty (please visit their web site at http://www.museum-romanov.narod.ru/) kindly provided the following list of the decorations:

  1. The Order of St. Andrew the First Called (the light blue sash over the shoulder, and the star).
  2. The Order of St.Vladimir, 4th class. Was bestowed to Nicholas Alexandrovich (when he was the Throne Heir) for his diligence being the Chief of the State Committee for building the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
  3. Alexander III Coronation Medal
  4. Alexander III Commemorative Medal

Foreign Awards:

  1. Danish Order of the Dannebrog.
  2. Greek Order of the Redeemer.

Here is a brief description of these decorations:
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Instituted: 1698

The Order of St. Andrew the First Called, was Imperial Russia’s highest ranking order. The order was named for Andrew, whom Jesus called first to be one of His Disciples, who was popularly thought to have traveled and evangelized in the region that would become Russia, eventually martyred on an X-shaped cross. For this, Andrew is taken as the patron saint of Russia. Hence the blue cross saltire symbol used on this order, and the Imperial Russian Navy ensign. Though the 1700s and 1800s, The Order of St. Andrew was bestowed mostly to royalty and heads of state, but also for great accomplishment in war. While not at all common during the Great War, we’ve included it here in case you see it around some notable’s neck in formal photographs. There was only one class, usually worn from a light blue sash over the shoulder.

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The Order of St.Vladimir was instituted in 1782, originally as a civil order of merit, such as for life saving or famine relief. There were four classes. During the Crimean War, it was awarded for military merit as well. If awarded for deeds in arms, crossed swords were placed between the cross arms. To be included in the Order of St. Vladimir (of any class) also granted the recipient hereditary noble rank. After 1826, only the Order of St. George shared this distinction. A person would be awarded the order’s lowest class for the first heroic act. A second meritorious act could be rewarded with the next higher class and so on. Usually only the badge of the highest class was worn. If a recipient had been awarded a lower class with swords, for valor in battle, crossed swords would be set between the cross arms. If the recipient went on to be awarded a higher class, but in peace time, small crossed swords would be set across the upper cross arm. The Order of St. Vladimir can sometimes be seen in medal groups of non-Russian Allied soldiers, including examples awarded by the White Russian armies after the fall of the Czar. It ranked above the Order of Saint Anne, and below the Order of Saint George. The order of St. Vladimir, fourth class, can be seen as the solitary decoration worn by Czar Nicholas II in the photos taken of him during his final days of captivity before he and his family were executed.

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Instituted: 1782

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Alexander III Coronation Medal

Order of the Dannebrog The Order of the Dannebrog was established by King Waldemar II in 1219. The Order renewed by King Christian V in 1671. The Order was only to comprise 50 noble Knights in one class plus the Master of the Order, i.e. the King, and his sons. In 1808, the Order was reformed and it was divided into four classes: the Grand Commander class and below that the three regular classes of the Order: Grand Cross (first Order class), Commander 1st Degree and Commander (second Order class), and Knight 1st Degree and Knight (third Order class). The Cross of Honour is attached to the Order of the Dannebrog.

Today, the Order of Dannebrog is a means of rewarding the faithful servants of the modern welfare state for meritorious civil or military service, for a particular contribution to the arts, sciences or business life or for those working for Danish interests.

The monarch heads the Order.

The badge of the Order of the Dannebrog is a white and red-enamelled Dannebrog cross, for the Knights in silver and for everyone else in gold. The cross hangs in the crowned monogram of the bestowing monarch. On its front, the cross bears the crowned monogram of Christian V as well as the motto of the Order: Gud og Kongen (God and the King). On the reverse, the crowned monograms of Valdemar II Sejr, Christian V and Frederik VI, as well as the years 1219, 1671 and 1808 appear. In each of the four angles of the cross a royal crown has been placed.

The Grand Commander class has been reserved to persons of princely origin, and not more than seven Orders are bestowed. The Grand Commanders wear the badge on a necklet (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies). An eight-pointed silver star is worn on the left side of the chest.

The insignia of the Grand Cross class consist of the badge, the star of the Order (the same as for Grand Commanders), the collar and the sash. The collar of the Order is of gold and the sash is white with a red border. The sash is draped from the right shoulder to the left hip.

Commanders 1st Degree and Commanders wear the badge on the necklet (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies). Commanders 1st Degree also wear a breast cross.

Knights 1st Degree and Knights wear their cross on a chest ribbon (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies). Knights 1st Degree have a rosette on the chest ribbon or bow.

The Cross of Honour of the Dannebrog is awarded to Danes on whom the Order of the Dannebrog has already been bestowed. It is also worn by the individual members of the royal family.  Its badge is all in silver and it is worn on a ribbon (gentlemen) or bow (ladies) with rosette. (http://www.pinetreeweb.com/bp-honours-denmark.htm)

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Greece: Order of the Redeemer Instituted: 1 June 1833 by King Otto I. Awarded: To distinguished Greek citizens who have defended the interests of the country in time of war or, who have rendered highly exceptional social services in Greece or abroad. The Order is also conferred upon eminent personalities who are not Greek citizens. Grades: 5.
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