The Military Merit Order (Militärverdienstorden) was a military order of the Kingdom of Württemberg, which joined the German Empire in 1871. The order was one of the older military orders of the states of the German Empire. It was founded on February 11, 1759 by Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg as the Militär-Carls-Orden, and was renamed the Militärverdienstorden on November 11, 1806 by King Friedrich I. The order underwent several more revisions over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It became obsolete with the fall of the Württemberg monarchy in the wake of Germany's defeat in World War I.
The order came in three classes:
- Grand Cross (Großkreuz)
- Commander's Cross (Kommandeurkreuz) and
- Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz).
Generally, the rank of the recipient determined which grade he would receive. Between 1799 and 1919, there were an estimated 95 awards of the Grand Cross, 214 of the Commander's Cross, and 3,128 of the Knight's Cross, with the bulk of these awards made in World War I; the numbers may only cover native Württembergers.
The badge of the order was a white-enameled gold cross pattée with curved arms and slightly concave edges. Around the white-enameled center medallion was a blue-enameled gold ring bearing on both sides the motto "Furchtlos und trew" ("Fearless and loyal"). On the obverse, the medallion bore a green-enameled gold laurel wreath. On the reverse, the medallion bore the monogram of the king of Württemberg at the time of award. The cross was the same size for the Grand Cross and the Commander's Cross, and slightly smaller for the Knight's Cross. The Grand Cross and Commander's Cross, and from 1870 the Knight's Cross, were topped with a crown. On September 25, 1914, the crown was removed from all grades.
The star of the order, awarded with the Grand Cross only, was a gold-rimmed silver eight-pointed star featuring the ringed medallion of the obverse of the cross.
The ribbon of the order was, until 1818 and after 1914, yellow with broad black stripes near each edge. After November 1917, when the ribbon was worn without the medal, the ribbon bore a green-enameled wreath to distinguish it from other Württemberg decorations on the same ribbon. The ribbon from 1818 to 1914 was blue.
- Duke Albrecht of Württemberg
- Gottlob Berger
- Oswald Boelcke
- Nikolaus Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien
- Max von Fabeck
- Wilhelm Groener
- Paul von Hindenburg
- Franz Ritter von Hipper
- Erich Ludendorff
- Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
- Karl August Nerger
- Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen
- Erwin Rommel
- Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria
- Reinhard Scheer
- Hugo Sperrle
- Jona von Ustinov
- Julius von Verdy du Vernois
- Otto Weddigen
- Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- Königlich Statistischer Landesamt,Hof und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Württemberg, 1908.
- Neal O'Connor, Aviation Awards of Imperial Germany in World War I and the Men Who Earned Them: Volume IV - The Aviation Awards of the Kingdom of Württemberg, Flying Machines Press 1995
- Dr. Kurt-Gerhard Klietmann, Pour le Mérite und Tapferkeitsmedaille, 1966.
- Website on the Decorations of the Kingdom of Württemberg
- Numbers based on research by Eric Ludvigsen, printed in Neal O'Connor, Aviation Awards of Imperial Germany in World War I and the Men Who Earned Them: Volume IV - The Aviation Awards of the Kingdom of Württemberg, Flying Machines Press 1995, Appendix VIII
- O'Connor, pp. 37-38.
- O'Connor, p. 38.
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