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The Order of Saint Stephen (Hungarian: Szent István rend) was an order of knighthood founded by Maria Theresa in 1764. In 1938, Miklós Horthy took the rights and activities of Grand Master as Regent of Hungary. The name of the Order changed to The Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen (German: Königlich Ungarischer Sankt-Stephans-Orden, Latin: Ordo Equitum Sancti Stephani Regis (Hungariae) Apostolici). The Order was terminated at the time of the proclamation of the Republic of Hungary in 1946. It was recreated in 2011 as the Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, and to this day remains the highest order in Hungary.
Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, Grand Cross
Cape and gown of a knight of the order
Significance to Hungarians
The order is named after Hungary's most famous king, Stephen I, whose reign (997-1038) was marked by his consolidation of the monarchy, the establishment of the medieval state of Hungary, and his adoption of Christianity as the state religion. His coronation, as recognized in the Church, is dated 1001. He died August 15, 1038, during the Feast of the Assumption. His feast day in Hungary is August 20. Canonized by Pope Gregory VII in 1083 along with his son Imre (who preceded him in death in 1031, after a hunting accident) and Bishop Gerhard of Hungary, St. Stephen is the patron saint of "Hungary, kings, the death of children, masons, stonecutters, and bricklayers." Though its exact provenance is somewhat disputed, the Crown of St. Stephen is said to have been a gift from Pope Silvester II, upon Stephen's 1001 coronation.
Creation and qualifications for membership
Maria Teresa, founder of the Order and first Grand Master, wearing the robes of the Order
Grand Cross breast star
Empress Maria Teresa and her son, Emperor Joseph II, made several political concessions to ease tensions within their empire—most especially between Austria and Hungary, among them being the creation of the Order. Membership was available to various members of the Hungarian nobility. To receive the Order, according to collector and historian Stephen Herold,
one had to have at least four quarterings of arms showing as many generations of noble status. It helped promote her (Maria Teresa's) position as Queen of Hungary and reinforced the quasi independent position of Hungary in the Empire. The original statutes allow for only 20 Grand Crosses, 30 Commanders and 50 Knights who are to be "distinguished for virtue and merit and noble birth". Grand Cross Knights were considered so important that the Emperor was to address them as "Cousin". These insignia were to be returned to the Chancellery of the Order on the death of the holder. There was no military application of this order. It is rare, and even modern awards of St. Stephen are seldom seen. Perhaps more than any other Austrian order, this one approached the ideal character as put forth in its statutes and regulations.
For ceremonial purposes, a full set of robes were prescribed, following the tradition of other orders, such as the Austrian and Spanish Orders of the Golden Fleece and Great Britain's Order of the Garter. The robes were crimson and green, and were lined with ermine. A collar of gold was worn about the neck and shoulders, with the badge of the Order suspended from the collar. For normal occasions and every-day wear, a sash of crimson, edged with green, was worn over the right shoulder and extended to the left hip, the distinctive badge of the Order suspended from the sash at the hip. An eight-pointed star was worn on the left breast. During the waning days of the monarchy, especially during the Great War, a less formal option was also authorized, whereby a miniature (a so-called "kleine Decoration") of the breast star was affixed to the center of the ribbon of an ordinary knight's cross, and was worn on the left breast with other orders and military medals, in order of precedence.
Wore the badge of the Order at the throat, suspended from the crimson edged with green ribbon about the neck. During the Great War, the informal wear of the miniature, gold, Crown of Saint Stephen kleine Decoration was worn on an ordinary knight's cross, to delineate them from ordinary knights and Grand Cross knights, and worn on the left breast with other orders and military medals, in order of precedence.
Wore the badge of the Order, suspended from a tri-fold ribbon of crimson, edged in green, on the left breast with other orders and military medals, in order of precedence.
Partial list of members
The following is a partial list of knights of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, as compiled from a variety of sources listed in the bibliography. A nearly complete list, MAGYAR KIRÁLYI SZENT ISTVÁN REND, is available in the Hungarian language, online.
Josef II, second Grand Master, wearing the robes of the Order
Emperor Franz I of Austria, fourth Grand Master, wearing the robes of the Order
Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary, sixth Grand Master, wearing the robes of the Order
Empress Maria Teresa (May 13, 1717 - November 29, 1780), 1764-1780
Emperor Josef II (March 13, 1741 - February 20, 1790), 1780-1790
Emperor Leopold II (May 5, 1747 - March 1, 1792), 1790-1792
Emperor Franz I (II) (12 February 1768 - 2 March 1835), 1792-1835
Emperor Ferdinand I (April 19, 1793 - June 29, 1875), 1835-1848
Emperor Franz Josef I (August 18, 1830 - November 21, 1916), 1848-1916
Emperor Karl I (17 August 1887 - 1 April 1922), 1916-1922; deposed as emperor and king as a result of World War One, but never abdicated; received beatification ("Blessed Charles I") by Pope John Paul II, 2004
Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este (1 June 1754 - 24 December 1806), fourth son of Emperor Franz I Stephen and Empress Maria Teresa; heir presumptive of the Duchy of Modena
Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria (1756 - 1801), fifth son of Emperor Franz I Stephen and Empress Maria Teresa; Grand Master of the Teutonic Order; Archbishop and Elector of Cologne
Albert, Duke of Saxony-Teschen (11 July 1738 - 10 February 1822), husband of Archduchess Maria Christine, son-in-law of Emperor Franz I Stephen and Empress Maria Teresa, and brother-in-law of Emperors Joseph II and Leopold II
Friedrich Ferdinand graf von Beust (January 13, 1809 - October 24, 1886), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saxony; later Privy Councilor to Franz Josef after assisting him in gaining the throne in Hungary;
Archduke Franz Karl of Austria (7 December 1802 - 8 March 1878), second son of Emperor Franz I (II) and younger brother of Emperor Ferdinand; Member of the State Conference (Regency) for his older brother, Emperor Ferdinand; father of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary and Emperor Maximilian of Mexico
Prince Metternich, the Minister of State, wearing the Grand Cross sash and star on his court uniform. Portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Napoleon II of France (March 20, 1811 - July 22, 1832), King of Rome, titular Emperor of the French, and Duke of Reichstadt ; son of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of the French, and his second wife, Archduchess Maria Luisa of Austria
Count Alfred Josef Potocki (1817 - May 15, 1889), Member of the Austrian House of Peers and the Galician Diet; Vieceroy of Galicia, Minister-president (prime minister) of Austria, 1870 - 1871
Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (July 6, 1832 - June 19, 1867), Archduke of Austria and Prince of Hungary and Bohemia; second son of Archduke Franz Karl; brother of Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary
Archduke Joseph Karl of Austria (2 March 1833 - 13 June 1905), second son of Archduke Joseph (Palatine of Hungary); General der Kavalrie in the Austro-Hungarian Army (K.u.K.)
Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria (30 July 1833 - 19 May 1896), third son of Archduke Franz Karl; brother of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary and Emperor Maximilian of Mexico; father of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; grandfather of Emperor Karl I of Austria-Hungary
Field Marshal Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza (1854 - 1924); Field Marshal of Austria-Hungary; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 26 March 1918
Field Marshal Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli (February 12, 1856 - December 9, 1941), Field Marshal of Austria-Hungary; honorary Army General of Czechoslovakia, 1928; honorary Generalfeldmarschall of Germany, 1938
Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen (4 June 1856, - 30 December 1936), eldest son of Archduke Karl Ferdinand; Field Marshal of Austria and Supreme Commander of the K.u.K. Army; godson and heir of Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen; brother of Field Marshal the Archduke Eugen; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 1 May 1894
Crown Prince Rudolf, wearing the Grand Cross sash and star on his Austrian general officer's uniform
Grand Cross "kleine decoration" as worn on a knights medal. This was authorized for wear on the service dress uniform in lieu of the sash or breast star
Kronprinz Rudolf (21 August 1858 - 30 January 1889), Archduke of Austria and Crown Prince of Hungary
Archduke Eugen of Austria (May 21, 1863 - December 30, 1954), third and youngest son of Archduke Karl Ferdinand; Field Marshal of Austria-Hungary; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St Stephen, 30 March 1911; last Habsburg Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, 1894 - 1923
Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria (15 October 1863 - 4 September 1931), nephew of Ferdinand IV, Grand Duke of Tuscany; Colonel-General and Inspector General of Artillery in the Austro-Hungarian (K.u.K.) Army
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este (December 18, 1863 - June 28, 1914), oldest son of Archduke Carl Ludwig; successor of Francis V, Duke of Modena; heir apparent of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary; uncle of Emperor Karl I of Austria-Hungary
Archduke Otto Franz of Austria (April 21, 1865 - November 1, 1906), second son of Archduke Carl Ludwig; brother of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; father of Emperor Karl I of Austria-Hungary
Generaloberst Friedrich Graf von Beck-Rzikowsky (March 21, 1830 - February 9, 1920), president of the Military Chancery, General Adjutant to the Emperor, and Chief of the General Staff
General der Kavalrie Alexander Graf von Üxküll-Gyllenband (October 2, 1836 - July 13, 1915), Privy Councilor and life member of the House of Lords; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, August 12, 1907
Prince Ladislaus Batthyány-Strattmann (October 28, 1870 - January 22, 1931), noble by birth, medical doctor by education; dedicated to providing medicine for the peasant class, and remembered as the "Doctor of the Poor", Member of the Upper House from 1915; invested with the Order of the Golden Fleece, Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, and the Papal Order of the Golden Spur, 1915; beatified ("Blessed László") by Pope John Paul II, 2003
Generaloberst Karl Freiherr von Pflanzer-Baltin (1855 - 1925), commander of the 7th Army (K.u.K.), Chief of Staff to the 11th Corps, and Inspector General of Cavalry and later of Infantry; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, August 25, 1918
Generaloberst Eduard Graf von Paar (May 12, 1837 - February 1, 1919), General Adjutant to the Emperor
Generaloberst Arthur frhr von Bolfas (April 16, 1838 - December 9, 1922), Chief of Staff to the 14th Corps, Chief of the Military Chancery, and General Adjutant to the Emperor
Archduke Joseph August of Austria (9 August 1872 - 6 July 1962), son of Archduke Joseph Karl; Field Marshal of Austria-Hungary; claimed to have been awarded (by Emperor Karl I) a war decoration for his Grand Cross, October 1918, despite the fact that the Order was exclusively civilian
Wilhelm II (27 January 1859 - 5 June 1941), King of Prussia and German Emperor, 1888 - 1918; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 1872
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844 - 1900), Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Admiral of the Fleet of the British Royal Navy; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 1873
Prince Leopold of Bavaria (February 9, 1846 - September 28, 1930), son of Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria (1821 - 1912) and Archduchess Augusta of Austria (1825 - 1864); Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) of Bavaria; commander of German and Austro-Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front during World War I
Porfirio Diaz (15 September 1830 - 2 July 1915), seven-time president of Mexico, invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, September 30, 1901
George V of the United Kingdom (June 3, 1865 - January 20, 1936), King of the United Kingdom, May 6, 1910 - January 20, 1936; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 1902
GroßadmiralAlfred von Tirpitz (March 19, 1849 - March 6, 1930), grand admiral and Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office, Imperial German Navy, during World War One; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, August 30, 1911
Gennaro Granito Pignatelli di Belmonte (April 10, 1851 - February 16, 1948), Italian Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Papal Nuncio in Austria-Hungary (1904 - 1911), Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, later Grand Prior of Rome of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; invested with the Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen, August 30, 1911
Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen (December 6, 1849 - November 8, 1945), Prussian Field Marshal
Mindaugas II of Lithuania (né Wilhelm Karl Florestan Gero Crescentius von Württemberg, Prince of Urach, Count of Württemberg; May 30, 1864 - March 24, 1928), 3rd Duke of Urach; elected but uncrowned king of Lithuania, July 11 - November 2, 1918; invested 1917
Zog I of Albania (ne Ahmet Muhtar Bej Zogolli, later Zogu)(8 October 1895 - 9 April 1961), Prime Minister 1922-24, President of Albania, January 21, 1926 - September 1, 1928, King of the Albanians, 9 September 1928 - 7 April 1939
Commander's Cross, Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen
Gen. Géza Fejérváry, eventual Prime Minister of Hungary (and Grand Cross knight), wearing the Knight Commander's cross about his neck, ca 1894
Knight Commander of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen. The lesser decoration worn on a Knight's Cross was authorized during the Great War for those who preferred it to wearing it suspended at the neck.
Feldzeugmeister Franz graf Gyulay (1798 - 1868), Austrian Minister of War; invested as Knight Commander, 1848.
Cardinal János Scitovszky (1785 - 1866), Bishop of Rozsnyó and Pécs; Cardinal 1853; invested as Knight Commander, 1849.
Cardinal György Haulik (1788 - 1869), Archbishop of Zagreb and Ban of Croatia; invested as Knight Commander, 1849
Ferenc (Francis) grof Zichy (1811 - 1900), Secretary of State for Commerce, Széchenyi ministry of 1848, and later Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Constantinople; invested as Knight Commander, 1849.
Batthyány Imre (1781 - 1874), Jurist and Lord Lieutenant of Latvia; invested as Knight Commander, 1861.
Stephen Melczer (1810 - 1896), member of the Hungarian Privy Council and House of the Lords; invested as Knight Commander, 1867.
Baron Levin Rauch de Nyék (1819 - 1890), viceroy of Croatia-Slavonia, and of Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia for four years (1867-1871); invested as knight Commander, 1869.
Joseph Szlávy (1818 - 1900), Hungarian Prime Minister and later president of the Hungarian House of the Lords; invested as knight Commander, 1869.
Baron Béla Orczy, Minister of Defense and Minister of the Interior; invested as Knight Commander, 1873.
Feldzeugmeister Franz von Uchatius (1811 - 1881), ordnance expert and master artillerist, and member of the Viennese Academy of Sciences; invested as Knight Commander, 1875.
Károly Csemegi (1826 - 1899), Hungarian judge and jurist; instrumental in the creation of the first criminal code in Hungary (1878); first Presiding Judge in the Hungarian Supreme Court; invested as Knight Commander, 1878.
Sándor Matlekovits (1842 - 1925), Hungarian economist and author of several treatises on trade policy within the Austro-Hungarian Empire; invested as Knight Commander, 1885.
Beniczky Ferenc, Hungarian aristocrat and Intendant of the Budapest Academy of Music and the Budapest Opera, from 1888; invested as Knight Commander, 1890.
Daruváry Alajos (1826 - 1912), politician, member of both houses of the Hungarian Parliament, vice president 1898 - 1900; invested as Knight Commander, 1892.
Generaloberst Artur frhr von Bolfras (1838 - 1922), chairman of the Military Chancery and general adjutant to Franz Josef I, 1889 - 1917; invested as Knight Commander, 1892.
Dr. Heinrich Wittek (1844 - 1930), Austrian politician: Director General of the Ministry of Commerce, 1886 - 1897, Minister of Railways, 1897 - 1905; invested as Knight Commander, 1893.
Semsey Andor (1833 - 1923), Hungarian naturalist and geologist; eventual member of the Hungarian Parliament; invested as Knight Commander, 1896.
Dr. Miksa Falk, tutored Emperor Franz Josef I in the Hungarian language; invested as Knight Commander, 1898.
Feldzeugmeister Oskar Potiorek (1853 - 1931), III Corps commander, 1897; eventual IG of the K.u.K. (1911 - 1913), Military Governor of Bosnia-Herzegovina (1912 - 1914), and 6th Army Commander (1914) ; invested as Knight Commander, 1906.
Franz, Baron von Zeiller, wearing the cross of a knight of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen. Portrait by Anton Siegl
Knight's Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen
Johann Christoph frhr von Bartenstein (1689 - 1767), Statesman and Privy Councilor to Karl VI, responsible for obtaining succession of Maria Teresa to the throne, personal tutor / educator of Josef II; Director of the House Archives; invested as a Knight of the Order upon its founding, 1764
Friedrich frhr von Binder, invested as a Knight of the Order upon its founding, 1764; later invested as Knight Commander (1765)
Koller Ferenc Nagymányai, invested as a Knight of the Order upon its founding, 1764; later invested as Knight Commander (1765)
Franz Anton Felix Edler von Zeiller (January 14, 1751 - August 23, 1828), Imperial and Royal Courtier; Jurist, legal scholar, theorist and philosopher; Member of the Academy; Invested as a Knight of the Order, 1810
General der KavallerieArthur frhr von Gieslingen (June 19, 1857 - December 3, 1935), member of the General Staff, commander of the Theresian Military Academy, division commander in World War One, and member of the Privy Council; Invested as a Knight of the Order, March 12, 1909
The Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen - Kingdom of Hungary (1920-1946)
After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, Hungary and Austria could not make a legal agreement on the rights of the Order. The base of the argument was whether Maria Theresa founded the Order de jure as the sovereign of Hungary, or the sovereign of Austria, or as Holy Roman Empress. In 1938, when Austria as a de jure successor state of Austria-Hungary ceased to exist by becoming part of Germany, Horthy issued an addendum to be attached on 4 November 1938 to the statutes of the Order which declared that as long as the Regent was the head of the Kingdom of Hungary, he also held the powers and duties of the Grand Master.
Krisztina Egerszegi (born 16 August 1974) is a Hungarian former world record holding swimmer and one of the greatest Hungarian Olympic champions of the modern era. She is a three-time Olympian (1988, 1992 and 1996) and five time Olympic champion. Invested in 2013.
Alexandre Lamfalussy (26 April 1929 - 9 May 2015) was a Hungarian-born Belgian economist and central banker. Invested in 2013.
Botond Roska (born December 17, 1969) Hungarian Neurobiologist. He and his team discovered the basic principles of visual information processing and the development of therapeutic strategies, such as gene therapy, to restore vision in retinal disorders. Invested in 2019.
^Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1918. Kelly's. p. 1250.In view of the fact Austria-Hungary were at war with Britain from August 1914 it is highly likely his award was made before that month. He had entertained Archduke Franz Ferdinand at his English estate in 1913.
^Most likely to have been invested prior to fleeing Albania in 1939, and hence living in Western exile.
^Sauer, Arthur (1889). Almanak Administrativo, Mercantil e Industrial (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert & C.