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This is an exceptional and very rare military gold decoration, issued by Emperor Franz II of Austria, as a sign of appreciation to the Bohemian Nobles who had fought alongside him in the war against France 1813-1814.
After Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Leipzig, the French began to retreat, pursued by the Austrian army. Emperor Franz II marched with the troops, protected by an old and often invalided army of protectors. The Bohemian aristocracy suggested forming their own guard of 38 individuals to protect the emperor. They became known as the “Bohemian Noble Guard.”
On May 3, 1814, the emperor decided that a new medal was to be instituted specifically for the Bohemian Noble Guard.
The cross was designed by Johann Baptist Harnisch and was made by the Viennese goldsmith Johann Haas. The medal is a golden eight-pointed red enameled cross in 18k gold. In the medallion, it shows a white enameled lion standing upright looking to the left. The inscription on the reverse: NOB . BOHEMIS. BELLOGALL. FIDIS CORPORIS CUSTODIBUS. FRANC.AUG. MDCCCXIV. (translates as The Bohemian nobles, the loyal bodyguards during the French wars of Emperor Franz 1814). It was worn on a white ribbon with a red central stripe. The cross was awarded to 38 male Bohemian Nobles who protected the emperor, no further medals were produced or issued. The emperor declared this medal to only be worn by the recipient and no other. As such only 38 of these were ever made, each by hand from the goldsmith Johann Haas, a slight variation on the enamel, this example appears to have holes in the sides, perhaps for pearls or as a converted Mark I? Interesting piece for research.
Czech aristocratic cross from 1813-1814. Bohemian Nobles Gold Cross (Model II)
Bohemian noble cross Czech aristocratic cross from 1814, part 1/2 Václav Měřička
František Xaver I. Count of Cracow from Kolowrat
OBJECT: Military Decoration
DATE: 1814 AD
MATERIAL: 18k gold and enamel
WEIGHT: 8.38 grams
SIZE: 30.35mm x 27.58 x 6.62mm
PROVENANCE: Formerly in a Private Collection, New-Jersey, USA.