|Order of the Iron Crown|
Ordine della Corona Ferrea
Insignia of the Order of the Iron Crown
|Awarded by the King of Italy|
Kingdom of Italy|
|Status||Abolished in 1815|
|Next (higher)||Order of the Reunion|
Ribbon bar of the Order
The Order of the Iron Crown was established on June 5, 1805 by Napoleon Bonaparte (under his title of King Napoleon I of Italy). 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. After the fall of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, the order was re-established as an Austrian order in 1815 as the Order of the Iron Crown (Austria).
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.
Three weeks later, Napoleon founded the Order of the Iron Crown on June 15, 1805. The Order was divided into three classes, with 20 grand cross knights, 30 commander knights, and 50 ordinary knights. With Napoleon's eventual defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the French version of this order ceased to exist. However, the order was re-established in Austria as the Order of the Iron Crown (Austria).
The ribbon colors of the order were gold and green, with the badge of the order being an imperial eagle set upon a representation of the Iron Crown of Lombardy.
- 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.