Military Order of Maria Theresa

Der Militär Maria Theresien Orden

Military Order of Maria Theresa

The Military Order of Maria Theresa was an Order of the Austro-Hungarian Empire founded on June 18, 1757, the day of the Battle of Kolin, by the Empress Maria Theresa, to reward especially meritorious and valorous acts by commissioned officer, including and especially the courageous act of defeating an enemy, and thus, "serving" his monarch. It was specifically given for "successful military acts of essential impact to a campaign that were undertaken on [the officer's] own initiative, and might have been omitted by an honorable officer without reproach." This gave rise to a popular myth that it was awarded for (successfully) acting against an explicit order. It is considered to be the highest honor for a soldier in the Austrian Armed services.

Originally, the Order had two classes: the Knight's Cross and the Grand Cross. On October 15, 1765, Emperor Joseph II added a Commander's Cross and a breast star to be worn by holders of the Grand Cross.

A prospective awardee was considered only in regards to their military service record; their ethnicity, birth and rank (as long as he was a commissioned officer) were irrelevant. Knight Cross recipients were automatically ennobled with the title of Ritter in the Austrian nobility for life, and admitted to court. Upon further petition they could also claim the hereditary title of Baron (Freiherr). They were also entitled to a pension. Widows of the Order's recipients were entitled to half of their spouse's pension during the remainder of their lives.

The Order ceased to be awarded by the Austrian Emperor at the fall of the Habsburg Dynasty in 1918, when its last sovereign, Charles I, transferred his powers concerning this honour to the Order Chapter. The Chapter then processed applications until its last meeting in 1931, when it was decided that further awards should not be made.

For valorous acts performed during the World War1, were admitted in the Order : 11 Knights Grand Cross, 10 Comanders and 110 Knights.

Only seven navy officers were admitted in the Order including three U Boat officers, but only after the end of the conflict.

CommanderDate  Command
LSL. Rigele, Hermann21 Dec 1929  

Singule, Rudolf21 Dec 1929  

KrvKpt. Trapp, Georg Ritter von21 Apr 1924  

3 officers decorated with Military Order of Maria Theresa (Der Militär Maria Theresien Orden) located.

Note: This listing is still being compiled and some recipients might be missing.

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