Hungarian Order of St. Stefan

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michael van lauesen
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Dec 2004 13:19
Location: budapest hungary

Hungarian Order of St. Stefan

Post by michael van lauesen » 18 Dec 2004 16:18


In checking the forum fact file on several Hungarian Horthy era orders (earlier issued in the Monarchy), I have found that there is a lot of missing information. I have published several comprehensive articles in the UK on two orders, Hungary’s Highest Civil Honor: The Order of Saint Stefan, and the The Military Order of Maria Theresa. I have listed a history of the order, the basic criteria of the award, a Recipient and more.


Hungary’s Highest Civil Honor: The Order of Saint Stefan

Austro-Hungarian Diplomacy

Austria's role in world affairs was focused for the most part with the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and to a lesser degree with Russia. Both the Austrian and Ottoman empires considered their claims to the Balkans to be legitimate for religious reasons in addition to security concerns. As the Ottoman tide ebbed, Russian westward expansion increased. The westward thrust of Russia that started under Peter the Great began to swell in the nine-tenth century. The Hapsburgs and Ottomans developed a common interest in stemming Russian pressure, in quelling pro-Russian (often pan-Slavic) sentiment, particularly in Bulgaria and among the Serbs and Croats. As a result, the Ottoman Empire was willing to endure limited encroachment by the Austrians if only to hamper the Russian advance. At the same time, the Hapsburgs did not wish to weaken the Ottomans in other areas, particularly in the Levant, Syria and Palestine. Starting in 1754 Austria had its Oriental Academy, which trained translators, diplomats and scholars.

Austria’s power and prestige were significantly diminished by the defeat at the hands of Prussia in 1866. After 1866 Austria was relegated to second place among German powers, and her total exclusion from Germany altogether after 1870. The Ottomans knew that they were dealing with a power whose projection was dependent upon the relationship it would maintain with Germany. However, the Ottomans continued to see Austria as an important power, because they knew that she had the power to affect the strategic balance throughout the Balkans.

Austrian policy-making was the underestimation of Ottoman potential. The military organization in Austro-Hungary after 1867 and the Ottoman Empire where much more united than divided. Both armies were multi-ethnic, unified by the language of command (German and Turkish) but composed of large numbers of soldiers from different ethnic groups and backgrounds. In both cases, the central nationality was in the minority. This required particular administrative measures and increasing administrative skills both politically and to control the military and preserve it as a fighting force.

In February, 1912, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro formed an alliance to push Turkey out of what remained of her European territory. War began in October 1912, the Turks, fatally handicapped by the inefficiency and poor organization of their commissariat under Enver Pasha, were steadily driven back by the invading armies, and Scutari and Adrianople, their most important cities in Europe, were besieged. Austria totally misunderstood the capacity of the Ottoman Empire to hold Adrianople in 1912 before making a come back the following year in the Second Balkan War at the expense of Austria's protégé, Bulgaria. As the Balkan states emerged and pressures grew, Ottoman power, influence and territory receded.

Both Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman armies survived as effective fighting forces until after the dislocation of the two states in 1918. Since they were adjacent states with conflicting territorial aims in the Balkans, they viewed each other as potential enemies until 1914. The poor judgment towards the Turks and the lack of confidence regarding the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungary shared with the other powers of the day: Britain, France, Germany and Russia, in particular Britain, which was to pay dearly for it with the disastrous Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

The Recipients

One of the leading statesmen who received the highest grade of the order of Saint Stefan was the ambassador to Turkey, Graf Heinrich Freiherr von Calice. Calice held many important diplomatic posts within the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Service and was a Ministers Resident (Ministerresidenten) to China and Japan from 1871 to 1875 and later Ambassador at Constantinople from 1880 to 1906. The turbulent politics in the Balkans and declining Ottoman Empire made the ambassadorship to Turkey a pivotal post for the Austro-Hungarian Empire in their gambit to gain control of the Balkans and subdue ethnic dissent against the Hapsburgs and weaken Turkish control. Calice was instrumental in dealing with the turbulent Balkans struggle between the Central Powers and the Ottoman Empire. Calice help draft and negotiate the Hapsburg takeover of administrative functions for Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1878 as the least of all potential evils for the Ottoman Empire. Considering the alternatives that were being considered by Russia under the Treaty of San Stefano. This lead to Calice’s appointment as ambassador to Constantinople in 1880. Austria urged and advised Turkey to try to maintain the confidence of its peoples in the Balkans.

Calice was instrumental in guiding the Austro-Hungarian Empire to benefit from receding Turkish interests in Europe. Calice was awarded the Order of Saint Stefan gold chain, the Order of Stefan Grand Cross with sash and beast star, the Order of Leopold gold chain and the Order of the Iron Crown Commander grade. Calice died in 1912 at the age of 81.

Graf Calice’s son was born in 1875 and followed in his fathers foot steps as a leading diplomat in the Austrian Foreign Service. Franz Calice was a draft candidate of the k.u.k. Royal House Ministry and the provisional foreign service candidate in the k.u.k. embassy at Constantinople. On January 5, 1898, he passed the formal diplomatic exam and on November 1898 he was assigned to the post of First Commercial Attaché in Constantinople. On December 5,1898 Calice was assigned duties as Constantinople Legation Secretary. On May 9, 1901 to November 6, 1903 Calice was assigned duties with the embassy in Stuttgart. On October 20, 1906 Calice was awarded the Order of the Iron Crown third class. On May 18, 1909 he was promoted to Legation Secretary First Category. On November 28, 1909 Calice received the title of Assistant Head of Division Category II, on December 10, 1909 he was also promoted to Legation Counsel Category II. On June 30, 1911, Calice was transferred to the embassy in the Hague and on October 15, 1912 he received the Order of Leopold, Knights Cross for outstanding duty in the Diplomatic Foreign Service.

The Insignia

The Hungarian Saint Stefan Order was named in honor of the first Christian king of Hungary Stefan, who was born on 969 A.D. King Stefan received his crown from Pope Sylvester II in 1000 A.D. and founded many dioceses in Hungary. Stefan was well known as a just, peaceful, and pious ruler always observing the rules of the Church, he was Canonized on 1083 A.D., the date of his death.

The Hungarian Order of St. Stephen was founded by the Empress Maria Theresa on May 5, 1764 to reward civil merit by members of the Austro-Hungarian nobility with at least four quarterings of nobility. The Order was awarded in three grades: The Grand Cross, the Commanders Cross and the Knights Cross. The Grand Cross holder was distinguished by a large silver and enamel breast star also a shoulder sash for wear on formal occasions. The Grand Cross insignia was also awarded with diamonds and rubies, at the sole desecration of the Monarch. I have also seen several original examples of the SStO breast star in embroidered gilt wire. A solid gold collar chain with interlocking “SS“ and the St. Stefan crown could also be awarded. The Commanders Cross was a neck decoration and the Knights Cross could be worn on the left breast suspended by a triangular ribbon. The ribbon common to all grades of the order was narrow stripes of green and a large central strip of lavender.

The Saint Stefan cross is composed of green enamel with a gold frame to the center of the cross. On the obverse center of the order is a white enamel cross surmounted on a hill with the initials “M” to the left and “T” to the right representing Maria Theresa the founder of the order. The white enamel that surrounds the center of the order is the Latin inscription “Publicum Meritorium Praemium” (Reward for Public Merit). The Saint Stefan breast star is of a eight pointed design with the same central design as the other insignia of the order. The white outer enamel with the orders motto is replaced on the breast star with a wreath of green enamel oak leaves.

The Saint Stefan Order was awarded from 1764 until the collapse of the monarchy in 1918. I was unable to find a complete roll of recipients of the order but surely the number of awards must be small. One source at the Hadtörténeti Múzeum in Budapest claims that about 200 were awarded.

Hungarian Awards of the Order of Saint Stefan 1938-1944

In August 1938, the Order of Saint Stefan was revived in Hungary by the Horthy Regime, in the tradition of the Hapsburg Monarchy, it was awarded in three grades, the Grand Cross, the Commanders Cross, and the Knights Cross. Only three awards were rendered of this rare award during the Horthy era. One documented award of the Commander of the Order of St. Stefan was bestowed on Teleki Pál, the Hungarian Prime Minister in 1940.

Want more info see my website at:

The Military Order of Maria Theresa

The Military Order of Maria Theresa was founded by the Empress Maria Theresa on June 22, 1757, as the highest degree of valor that the Austro-Hungarian Empire could bestow on a military officer. Junior officers had to perform outstanding feats of courage to receive the knight's cross. Senior officers had to personally command a unit in a victorious action, directly against their opponents, to be eligible for the higher grades of the order.

The Order was awarded in three grades: The Grand Cross, the Commanders Cross and the Knights Cross. The Grand Cross holder was distinguished by a large silver and enamel breast star also a shoulder sash for wear on formal occasions. The insignia was also awarded with diamonds and rubies, at the sole desecration of the Monarch. The Commanders Cross was a neck decoration and the Knights Cross was worn on the left breast suspended by a triangular ribbon. The ribbon common to all grades of the order was equal stripes of red and white. A ribbon bar could be worn above the left pocket or a section of ribbon could be worn applied to the second button hole of the tunic to indicate award of the order.

A total of 131 Maria Theresa Orders were awarded in all three grades during the First World War. Starting in the 19th century when an award was formally presented to a recipient it was called a promotion. The decoration was to be returned to the Chancellery of the Order on the death of the holder. This is one reason for its great rarity, especially of older awards. Almost all known examples in private collections or held by the recipients family are from the First World War.

Officers of the Order

Chancellor of the Military Order of Maria Theresa: Geza Freiherr Fejérvary de Komlَos-Keresztes (a Hungarian national). Decorations received: Knight grade of the MMThO (Captain with the Austrian General Staff in 1859 for the battle of Solferino), Order of the Iron Eagle, First Class, the Order of St. Stefan, Commander. Komlَos-Keresztes was a Hungarian noblemen or Magnet of high standing and was a member of the Hungarian Parliament, he was awarded the title of Honorary Colonel of the k.u.k. 46th Infantry Regiment.

Payment Administrator: Freidrich von Dreger was the chief financial officer in k.u.k. Financial Ministry. Decorations received: the Order of Franz Josef, Knight grade.

Secretary: Ernst Diemmert. Decorations received: The Military Merit Order on red ribbon. Retired k.u.k. Heer Colonel.

Treasurer: Lieutenant Field Marshal, Freiherr Ludwig Pielsticker. Decorations received: The Order of Maria Theresa, the order of Leopold, Knight (KD), the Order of the Iron Crown, Knight (KD), and the Military Merit Cross (KD). Pielsticker was also Privy Counsel or Royal Adviser.

The Recipients

After the fall of the monarchy many Austro-Hungarian officers who were decorated in the First World War with the Order of Maria Theresa, went on to serve in the new national armies of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. Many officers who received the Order of Maria Theresa also achieved general officer rank. One of those officers became General of Hungarian Cavalry, and Commander and Chief of the Hungarian army, Colonel-General vitéz Kocsárd bulcsi Janky.

During the First World War, Janky commanded the 4th Hussar Regiment (Kommandant Husaren-Regiment 4), on the Russian Front and he went on to command the 6th and 1st Cavalry Brigades in Italy and the Ukraine before the end of the war. Janky won his MMThO while commanding a Battle Group against Russians forces in Poland, from June 18, 1916 to June 26, 1916. Janky’s regiment was part of "Korps Fath" and was separated from the main body of the Corps, near Gruziatyn, Poland. During the three day engagement, June 19, 20, 21, 1916 his Group successfully repelled nineteen fierce infantry attacks by Finnish (Russian) Rifle Regiments, both sides suffered huge loses and many causalities.

During the June 20, 1916 engagement the group's flank was in danger of being overrun and Janky personally led the defense and counter attack, that saved his command. He successfully negotiated another crisis on June 21, 1916 when an Austro-Hungarian counterattack was in danger of collapsing, Janky extended the right flank of his group to cover ground that had been abandoned in error by another unit, demonstrating fast tactical command of his position and great personnel courage, Janky was able to save his command from being over run by Russian forces yet again. In all of Janky’s engagements during the large Russian summer offensive of 1916, Janky showed outstanding personnel courage and tremendous stealth and verve in saving a very desperate situation.

After the First World War Janky went on to become Commander and Chief of the Hungarian Army from 1925 to 1930. Janky’s promotions and duties included, August 1, 1920: Promoted to Major-General, January 1, 1922: Promoted to Lt. Field Marshal, May 1, 1925: Promoted to General of Cavalry. June 29, 1922 - May 26, 1930: Chief of the General Staff, December 7, 1922 - November 18, 1925: Simultaneously, Chief of Military Bureau and Minister of Defense. From November 18, 1925 to May 26, 1930: Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Army.

Numbers Awarded From 1757 to 1878

Grand Cross: 49

Commanders Cross: 100

Knights Cross: 650

Miniature Decoration (this small, miniature of the order and was placed on the ribbon of the full size decoration to denote a second award of the order): 162

Prior to the First World War, only two foreigners received the MMThO: the Sicilian Prince Graf Alphons v. Caserta in 1861 and Ernst August Herzog von Cumberland, Duke of Braunschweig und Lünberg in 1866. Von Cumberland was the Honorary Colonel of the 42nd Infantry Regiment.
They were no awards of the order from 1879 to 1913.

Numbers Awarded W.W.I

Grand Cross: 11

Commanders Cross: 10

Knights Cross: 110

After the collapse of the Monarchy in 1918 and the closing of the Maria Theresa Chancellery, a special "Heller Commission" was set up to award the order to deserving recipients who did not receive the MMThO during the war due to a huge back log of recommendations. From 1921 to 1931 ten additional awards of the order were rendered to deserving recipients, the most notable being Admiral Horthy in 1921.

Hungarian Awards of the Order in W.W.II

In November 1938, the Order of Maria Theresa was revived in Hungary by the Horthy Regime, in the tradition of the Hapsburg Monarchy, it was awarded in three grades, the Grand Cross, the Commanders Cross, and the Knights Cross. Prior to 1914 the Order of Maria Theresa’s white enamel cross was framed in solid gold. During the First World War the order was framed in brass and was simply gold plated, due to war time shortages of precious metals. The Horthy era Maria Theresa Order frames were also gilt plated brass. The center enamel is red, white, red with the motto "Fortitudini," (for bravery).

The first and only Horthy era award of the Military Order of Maria Theresa was not made until January 28, 1944, to magyar királyi honvéd vezérörnagy (Major General), vitéz Oszlányi, Kornél. General Oszlányi was the commander of the 9th Light Infantry Division of the Second Hungarian Army, that fought on the Don Front in the Ukraine. This Hungarian army was surrounded by the Russians after the German defeat at Stalingrad and eventually broke out and returned to Hungary with only ten percent of it’s original force intact. During the First World War Kornelius Oszlányi was a Fahnriche in the Archduke Friedrich Infantry Regt. Nr. 52.


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Géza Árbocz
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Joined: 08 Feb 2003 01:20
Location: Brazil

Hungarian Order of St. Stefan

Post by Géza Árbocz » 19 Dec 2004 18:26

Dear Michael,
Very interesting your article about the St. Stefan order.
Unfortunately I could not open any image you posted together.
Could you use another system to put these images back, in order to enable me to open them?
Many thanks, Árbocz Géza

Posts: 35
Joined: 24 Mar 2007 00:58
Location: U.S.


Post by Tengerészgyalogos » 01 Aug 2007 20:09

Dear Sir,
I am reading this long after it's posting. I congratulate you on an excellent article.

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