|Order of the Iron Crown|
Ordine della Corona Ferrea
Badge of the Order
|Type||Order of merit|
|Country|| Kingdom of Italy|
|Presented by||the King of Italy|
|Established||June 5, 1805|
Ribbon of the Order
|Next (higher)||Order of the Reunion|
The order took its name from the ancient Iron Crown of Lombardy, a medieval jewel with what was thought to be an iron ring, later shown to be of silver, 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, which was established in 1868.
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.
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.
Soon after, Napoleon founded the Order of the Iron Crown on June 5, 1805. The Order was divided into three classes, with an allowance of up to 20 grand cross knights, 100 commander knights, and 500 ordinary knights.
With the eventual end of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, the French version of this order ceased to exist. However, the Emperor of Austria, Francis I, re-established the order in 1815 as the Austrian Imperial Order of the Iron Crown.