The National Order "Star of Romania"

Modern History
a) insignia: AR+AU+enamel; b) plate - AR+enamel; c) sash: canvas
molding, enameling, weaving
insignia: 78,49 g, 75 mm; b) plate: 88,50 g, 95 mm

    The National Order Star of Romania it was instituted on May 10th 1877, being the first Order officially granted by the Romanian state. It was awarded to militaries and civilians for outstanding services to the state. The shape of the insignia was established as early as Alexandru Ioan Cuza’s reign, being used for the predecessor of this distinction, the “Order of the Unification”. This failed to be instituted during Cuza’s rule because of external factors related to the country’s status as a vassal to the Ottoman Empire. On the heads side of the first model of insignia, there was a cross eagle perched on a scepter and the motto of the Order was IN FIDE SALUS. On the tails side, in the central medallion, there was King Carol I’s number. Between the arms of the cross, there were rays, and from the upper arm hung the royal crown to whose ring the ribbon was attached.

    The first Set of Rules was issued in 1885 and it stated the manner of receiving the Order, the manner of wearing the insignia, and the duties of its members. Through the second Set of Rules, from 1906, the number of members was fixed to 2000, divided into 5 grades – 1000 Knights, 720 Officers, 200 Commanders, 60 Great Officers, and 20 Great Crosses, but these numbers did not include those decorated on the battlefield, nor foreigners. For the grades of Great Officer and Great Cross, an additional plate was worn, shaped like a star with eight rays and bearing the cross of the Order, on the right side of one’s chest, the only difference between the plates being size depending on grade. The sash was initially red, with two blue stripes along its edges. Decorated sub-officers would receive annual pensions of 240 francs, corporals 180, and soldiers 144. The number of years served for advancement to a superior grade was: three years for Knight, two years for Officer, three years for Commander, and five years for Great Officer. Every year on the battlefield was considered double. There was no condition of seniority imposed on those with exceptional civil or military merits in times of peace or war. The first distinctions ever awarded were during the War of Independence of 1877, for the battles of Plevna. For militaries, there were different insignias for peace and for war (in times of peace, militaries would receive two crossed swords between the insignia and the crown to which the ribbon was attached; the war design had the swords between the arms of the Order’s cross). In 1932, the Order was reorganized by King Carol II. The shape of the insignia was modified: between the arms of the cross, instead of rays, there are eagles with spread wings, the eagle in the central medallion is replaced with Carol I’s number, and on the tails side, the founder’s number disappears in favour of the year it was founded, 1877. the number of members is also modified: the Great Cross 35, Great Officer 75, Commander 200, Officer 500, and Knight 1000. The ribbon now becomes red with silver edges. In 1938, the military version with swords was introduced. The ribbon would change slighly, now displaying golden edges. Another change is the introduction of the grade Class I, inserted between the grades Great Officer and Great Cross. For this grade, the plate was different, having the shape of a square star. The same year, it was established that the grades of Knight and Class I should be silver, while the rest should be gold-plated silver. The number of members grew: Great Cross 45 (35 civilians and 10 militaries), Class I 65 (a maximum of 50 civilians and 15 militaries), Great Officer 100 (75 civilians and 25 militaries), Commander 275 (200 civilians, 75 militaries), Officer 650 (500 civilians, 150 militaries), and Knight 1350 (1000 civilians, 350 militaries). For the military, the Order could also be accompanied by the ribbon of the “Military Virtue” medal, for outstanding military feats of the battlefield.

    During World War II, marshal Ion Antonescu introduced the awarding of an oak leaf on the Military Virtue ribbon (for this Order and for the “Crown of Romania”, as well as for the German Order of the “Iron Cross”). This Order was produced: type 1 (until 1932, with Carol I’s number between the arms of the cross) by the Houses Kretly (Paris), Zimmermann (Pforzheim), and Resch, and at the State Mint (Bucharest); type 2 (from 1932, with a royal crown between the arms of the cross) cu o coroană regală între braţele crucii) by the Houses Souval (Viena), Zimmermann (Pforzheim), Resch, and Weiss, and the State Mint (Bucharest). On the backs of the plates the marks of their producers can somethimes be found: IR, JRF – Resch, CFZ – Zimmermann, MN – the National Mint, RS – Souval, HW, BW – Weiss, a swan – Kretly. The Byzantine cross was used as a model for other decorations as well: the “Danube Crossing” Cross (1878), the “Elisabeta” Cross (1878), and the honorific Sign of 40 years for officers (1930), and as far as foreign orders, the Cross of the proclamation of the Bulgarian Kingdom (1908). This Order is among the few decorations (the “Sanitary Merit” Cross and the Orders of “Cultural Merit and “Agricultural Merit”) that will be found, in another form, in Romanian honorific systems after the years 1948 and 1989.

    MNIR possesses:

    The grade of Great Cross (inventory no. 147147 a-c) made up of:

    a) Insignia, AR+AU+enamel, 78,49 g ,75 mm b) Plate, 88,50 g, 95mm c) Sash.

    The Order of the “Star of Romania”, civilian, grade of the Great Cross, md. 1878

    a) Insignia with sash – AR unverified, 70 mm (40 mm crown) b) Plate - AR marked, 88,49 g, 90 mm (Carol I model)

    Engraver Joseph Resch & Sons, Bucharest.