Order (distinction)

An order is a visible honour awarded by a sovereign state, monarch, dynastic royal house or organisation to a person, typically in recognition of individual merit, that often comes with distinctive insignia such as collars, medals, badges, and sashes worn by recipients.

Modern honour systems of state orders and dynastic orders emerged from the culture of orders of chivalry of the Middle Ages, which in turn emerged from the Catholic religious orders.


The word order (Latin: ordo), in the case referred to in this article, can be traced back to the chivalric orders, including the military orders, which in turn trace the name of their organisation back to that of the Catholic religious orders.

Orders began to be created ad hoc and in a more courtly nature. Some were merely honorary and gradually the badges of these orders (i.e. the association) began to be known informally as orders. As a result, the modern distinction between orders and decorations or insignia has become somewhat blurred. While some orders today retain the original notion of being an association or society of individuals, others make no distinction and an "order" may even be the name of a decoration.

Most historic chivalric orders imply a membership in a group, typically a confraternity. In a few exclusive European orders, membership is or was also limited in number. Decorations seldom have such limitations. Orders often come in multiple classes, including knights and dames in imitation of the original chivalric orders.[1]


Modern national orders, orders of merit, and decorations, emerged from the culture of chivalric orders established in the Middle Ages, originally the military orders of the Middle Ages and the crusades, who in turn grew out of the original Catholic religious orders.

While these chivalric orders were "societies, fellowships and colleges of knights",[2] founded by the Holy See or European monarchs in imitation of the military orders of the Crusades, granting membership in such societies gradually developed into an honour that could be bestowed in recognition of service or to ensure the loyalty of a certain clientele. Some of modern Europe's highest honours, such as the Order of the Golden Fleece, England's Order of the Garter, Denmark's Order of the Elephant and Scotland's Order of the Thistle, were created during that era. They were essentially courtly in nature, characterised by close personal relations between the orders' members and the orders' sovereign.

Orders by fount of honour

Dynastic orders

By the time of the Renaissance, most European monarchs had either acquired an existing order of chivalry, or created new ones of their own, to reward loyal civilian and especially military officials. Such orders remained out of reach to the general public, however, as being of noble rank or birth was usually a prerequisite to being admitted.

In the 18th century, these ideas gradually changed and the orders developed from "honourable societies" to visible honours. An example of this gradual development can be seen in two orders founded by Maria Theresa of Austria. While the Military Order of Maria Theresa (1757) was open to any deserving military officer regardless of social origin, and would grant titles of nobility to those who did not already have them, the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary (1764) still required that one had to have at least four generations of noble ancestors.

Still today many dynastic orders are granted by royal families to worthy individuals for service and achievements.

Orders by type

Orders of chivalry

Military orders

Orders of merit

In 1802 Napoleon created the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour), which could be awarded to any person, regardless of status, for bravery in combat or for 20 years of distinguished service. While still retaining many trappings of an order of chivalry, it was the first modern national order of merit and is still France's highest award today. The French Legion of Honour served as the model for numerous modern orders of merit in the Western world, such as the Order of Leopold in Belgium (1832) and the Order of the British Empire in the United Kingdom (1917). Curiously, orders of merit based on the French Legion of Honour typically retain five classes in accordance with habits of chivalric orders.

In communist countries, orders of merit usually come in one to three grades, with only a badge worn with or without a ribbon on the chest. An example of a communist order of merit was the one-class Order of Lenin of the Soviet Union (1930). Unlike Western orders, however, communist orders could be awarded more than once to an individual. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, most Eastern European countries reverted to the Western-style orders originally established before the rise of communism.

Today many countries have some form of order of merit or national decorations. Both Thailand's Order of the White Elephant and Japan's Order of the Rising Sun are over 100 years old. In Canada and some Commonwealth Realms, the Order of Merit is the highest civilian honour. Canada has the Order of Canada and provincial orders such as the Order of Nova Scotia. Australia has the Order of Australia, and New Zealand awards the Order of New Zealand and the New Zealand Order of Merit. The Order of Mapungubwe is the highest honour in South Africa, while the Orders of Luthuli, and the Baobab exist alongside other decorations. The United States awards the Medal of Honor to members of its military for acts of valour, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal to civilians. The Legion of Merit is the only United States decoration which may be issued in award degrees (much like an Order of chivalry or certain Orders of Merit), but award degrees are only made to foreign nationals, typically senior military officers or government officials.

Switzerland does not award any orders. Article 12 of the 1848 Swiss Constitution prohibited the acceptance of honours and titles by Swiss citizens.[3] The current Constitution of 1999 has no specific prohibition, but a federal statute effectively continues the prohibition by barring holders of foreign orders from holding public office.

In 1974 the Cabinet of Sweden passed a regulation forbidding the Monarch of Sweden from awarding membership in orders to Swedish citizens. The orders themselves were not abolished, but only the Royal Orders of the Seraphim and the Polar Star (both established in 1748) continue to be awarded, and only to foreign citizens and stateless individuals. In 1995 the regulation was altered, allowing the Monarch to bestow the two remaining active Orders to members of the Swedish Royal Family.[4]

Modern orders are usually open to all citizens of a particular country, regardless of status, sex, race or creed; there may be a minimum age for eligibility. Nominations are made either by private citizens or by government officials, depending on the country. An order may be revoked if the holder is convicted of a crime or renounces citizenship. Some people nominated for an award refuse it.


See also


  1. ^ Definition adapted from www.turkishmedals.net, accessed 2010-02-20. Archived 2012-05-05 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "St. George's Chapel: History: Order of the Garter". See the definition of the Order of the Garter as "a society, fellowship and college of knights" there. – St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. 2005. Archived from the original on 15 September 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2006.
  3. ^ "Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (1848)". Verfassungen.de. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  4. ^ The Monarchy and the Royal Court (Kungahuset), The Orders in Sweden.
Award or decoration

An award is something given to a person, a group of people, like a sports team, or an organization in recognition of their excellence in a certain field. An award may be accompanied by a trophy, title, certificate, commemorative plaque, medal, badge, pin, or ribbon. The accompanying item may vary according to purpose. For instance, awards for sports tournaments often take the form of cups, following a tradition harking back to the ancient Greek tripod given to winners in athletic contests. The Stanley Cup is a modern example. In contrast, awards for employee recognition often take the form of plaques or crystal pieces.. An award may carry a monetary prize given to the recipient. For example, the Nobel Prize recognizes contributions to society, while the Pulitzer prize honors literary achievements. An award may also simply be a public acknowledgment of excellence, without any tangible token or prize. Finally, an award may recognize participation rather than victory. There is controversy regarding the appropriateness of participation awards for students in United States schools.A decoration is an object, such as a medal or an order's insignia, that is awarded to honor the recipient (see List of prizes, medals and awards). It may be awarded by a sovereign state (see state decoration), a fount of honour or an organization.

An honorable mention is an award, prize or recognition given to something that does not make it to a higher standing but is worth mentioning in an honorable way.

Gene expression profiling in cancer

Cancer is a category of disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and proliferation. For cancer to develop, genes regulating cell growth and differentiation must be altered; these mutations are then maintained through subsequent cell divisions and are thus present in all cancerous cells. Gene expression profiling is a technique used in molecular biology to query the expression of thousands of genes simultaneously. In the context of cancer, gene expression profiling has been used to more accurately classify tumors. The information derived from gene expression profiling often helps in predicting the patient’s clinical outcome.

German Order (distinction)

The German Order (German: Deutscher Orden) was the highest award that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual for his services to the "state and party". It was designed by Benno von Arent. Adolf Hitler awarded the first such order posthumously to Reichsminister Fritz Todt during Todt's funeral in February 1942. A second posthumous award of the German Order was given to SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich at his funeral in June that year. Cynics called the award the "dead hero order" as it was almost always awarded posthumously. The only two recipients who received the German Order and survived the war were Konstantin Hierl and Arthur Axmann.

Grand Cross

Grand Cross is the highest class in many orders, and manifested in its insignia. Exceptionally, the highest class may be referred to as Grand Cordon or equivalent. In other cases, the rank of Grand Cross may come after another even higher rank, e.g. Grand Collar. In rare cases, solely the actual insignia is referred to as the "grand cross".

In international relations, in many times the class of Grand Cross is typically reserved for royalty, heads of state and equivalent. Sometimes a holder of the highest class or grade are referred to as "Commander Grand Cross", "Knight Grand Cross" or just "Grand Cross".

In the United Kingdom, the rank entails admission to knighthood, allowing the recipient to use the honorific "Sir" (male) or "Dame" (female) as a style before his or her name, while entitled "Knight Grand Cross" or "Dame Grand Cross". This stands in contrast to the typical practice in other countries where knighthood is conferred at the initial, lowest rank of the order, typically "Knight".

In Bavaria, the royal military order established by Maximilian Joseph consisted of three classes with the Grand Crosses ranking above the Commanders and Knights. The Grand Cross title has also been used to confer military merit. For instance, the Grand Duchy of Baden awarded Prince Rupprecht a Grand Cross after World War I.From 1870 to 1918, the German Empire also set the Grand Cross as the highest rank of the Order of the Iron Cross, followed by the first and second classes.


Honour (or honor in American English) is the idea of a bond between an individual and a society as a quality of a person that is both of social teaching and of personal ethos, that manifests itself as a code of conduct, and has various elements such as valor, chivalry, honesty, and compassion. It is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or institution such as a family, school, regiment or nation. Accordingly, individuals (or institutions) are assigned worth and stature based on the harmony of their actions with a specific code of honour, and the moral code of the society at large.

Samuel Johnson, in his A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was "nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness".

This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it. On the other hand, Johnson also defined honour in relationship to "reputation" and "fame"; to "privileges of rank or birth", and as "respect" of the kind which "places an individual socially and determines his right to precedence". This sort of honour is often not so much a function of moral or ethical excellence, as it is a consequence of power. Finally, with respect to sexuality, honour has traditionally been associated with (or identical to) "chastity" or "virginity", or in case of married men and women, "fidelity". Some have argued that honour should be seen more as a rhetoric, or set of possible actions, than as a code.

María Teresa Linares Savio

Maria Teresa Linares Savio, Musicologist, and Ethnographer, was born in Havana, Cuba in August 14, 1920. She has dedicated her life as a professor and Cuban Music researcher. She has a Degree from the University of Havana in Literature and Hispanic Language Majoring Cuban Studies, PhD in Art Sciences, a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Superior Arts Institute of Cuba (1996), from which is former tenured Lecturer. MTL, as she initials most of her hand scripts, has taught in Havana’s prestigious music conservatories “Amadeo Roldán” and “Alejandro García Caturla” as well as lecturing at the University of Havana. Since young she was involved in music interpretation and investigation.

She was, along with her late husband, ethno-musicologist Argeliers León, a founder of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, where she carried out field researches and gave courses to students and interns. Then she was an important producer of music disks in EGREM. Later she was appointed director of the Museum of Music. She also became vice-president of the Fernando Ortiz Foundation. Her professional activities also include production of ethnographic records based on personal research and investigations, as well as Cuban Country Music, promoting rising stars as well as seasoned traditional artists. She has traveled extensively at home and abroad, visiting more than twenty countries in Europe, Africa, North, Central and South America.

Dr. Linares has been president of the Musicology Section of the Association of Musicians of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC, Spanish acronym) and was member of its Presidency Council, later becoming a Merit Member.

Maria Teresa has an extensive bio-bibliography with emphasis in the Cuban and Latin American cultural roots. She has written 10 books, over 30 articles and more than 100 music records about Cuban and Caribbean music and ethnology. Her most distinguished books include “Introducción a Cuba”, “La Música y el Pueblo”, “La Música Entre Cuba y España”, “El Punto Cubano” musicological analysis of Cuban Country Music and “La Habanera” an in-depth analysis of a 19-Century genre still popular in Spain and Mexico, among other publications.

Maria Teresa Linares has been awarded the “Frank País” Order, “Juan Marinello” Order, “Romárico Cordero” Order, Distinction for the National Culture, “Antero Regalado” Distinction, “Alejo Carpentier” Medal, National Award for Research in Culture, “Fernando Ortíz International Research Prize”(2000) and the National Cultural Research Prize (1999).

Orders, decorations, and medals of Italy

The Italian honours system is a means to reward achievements or service to the Italian Republic, formerly the Kingdom of Italy including the Italian Social Republic.

(by traits)
Other distinctions
People, titles, and styles
Ceremonies, and events
Regalia, and insignia
Related organisations
Related concepts
Personal name
By sequence
By trait
By life situation
Pseudonyms (list)
By culture
Surnames by country
Courtesy names
Religious names
Manners of address
of authority/of honour
Related traditions


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.