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The Military Order of Max Joseph (german: Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden) was the highest military order of the Kingdom of Bavaria. It was founded on 1 January 1806 by
Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria Maximilian I Joseph (german: Maximilian I. Joseph; 27 May 1756 – 13 October 1825) was Duke of Zweibrücken from 1795 to 1799, prince-elector of Bavaria (as Maximilian IV Joseph) from 1799 to 1806, then King of Bavaria (as Maximilian I Joseph) ...
, the first king of Bavaria. The order came in three classes: * Grand Cross (''Großkreuz'') * Commander's Cross (Kommandeurkreuz'') *
Knight's Cross Knight's Cross ( German language ''Ritterkreuz'') refers to a distinguishing grade or level of various orders that often denotes bravery and leadership on the battlefield. Most frequently the term Knight's Cross is used to refer to the Knight's ...
(''Ritterkreuz''). Individuals who received the order and were not already members of the nobility were ennobled and would add the title of " Ritter von" to their family name. A Bavarian title of nobility obtained through the Military Order of Max Joseph was valid for the recipient's life only. The order became obsolete in 1918 with the collapse of the Bavarian monarchy on Germany's defeat in
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, the United States, and the Ottoman Empire, with fight ...
. However, the orders chancery continued to process outstanding award recommendations to at least 1922.


Description

The ''badge'' of the order was a white-enameled gold
Maltese cross The Maltese cross is a cross symbol, consisting of four " V" or arrowhead shaped concave quadrilaterals converging at a central vertex at right angles, two tips pointing outward symmetrically. It is a heraldic cross variant which developed ...
with balls at each cross point. The center medallion, in blue enamel and edged in gold, featured the monogram of Max Joseph on the obverse (a cursive "MJK") and the Latin motto of the order, "Virtuti pro patria" ("Bravery for the fatherland") on the reverse, both in gold. Above the cross was a gold crown. The badge of the Knight's Cross was much smaller than that of many other military orders and decorations. It measured 28 mm in width (and 50 mm in height including the crown and ring), compared to Bavaria's Military Merit Order, the badge of whose lower grades measured 41 mm by 45 mm. It was worn from a ribbon on the officer's medal bar ahead of other decorations or, typically, separately worn through the buttonhole. In 1951, wear of the Knight's Cross around the neck, an unofficial practice for some time, was permitted by the still-existing chancery of the order. The badge of a Commander's Cross was somewhat larger than the Knight's Cross, measuring 38 mm by 55 mm. It was worn from a ribbon around the neck. The Grand Cross was still larger (68 mm by 100 mm), and had golden rays between the arms of the cross. The ''star'' of the order, which only came with the Grand Cross, was a silver eight-pointed star (with each point made of five rays). The center of the star featured a badge of the order, but with an oversized medallion, bearing the motto "Virtuti pro patria". The ''ribbon'' of the order was black moiré with inner white and outer blue edge stripes.


Nobility

For recipients of the order who were not already members of the nobility, receipt of the order conferred a patent of nobility. This patent was not inheritable, similar to a
knighthood A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the Pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood finds origins in the ...
in the United Kingdom. When a recipient was ennobled, his surname name was changed by the addition of the title "Ritter von" ("Knight of"). Thus for example the later Field Marshal
Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Wilhelm Josef Franz Ritter von Leeb (5 September 1876 – 29 April 1956) was a German field marshal and war criminal in World War II. Leeb was a highly decorated officer in World War I and was awarded the Military Order of Max Joseph which g ...
was born Wilhelm Leeb. Such a patent of nobility only applied to Bavarian subjects; non-Bavarians could receive the Military Order of Max Joseph but not use a title because of this. Thus for example General
Erich Ludendorff Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, politician and military theorist. He achieved fame during World War I for his central role in the German victories at Liège and Tannenberg in 1914 ...
remained plain Ludendorff, although he was decorated with the Grand Cross of the order in 1916. Note that not all Bavarian "Ritter von" were knights of the Military Order of Max Joseph. The Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown, a high civil honor (but also frequently awarded to military personnel) also conferred a patent of nobility. For example, the 1920s-era Minister President of Bavaria
Gustav Ritter von Kahr Gustav Ritter von Kahr (; born Gustav Kahr; 29 November 1862 – 30 June 1934) was a German right-wing politician, active in the state of Bavaria. He helped turn post–World War I Bavaria into Germany's center of radical-nationalism but was th ...
was a recipient of the Merit Order of the Bavarian Crown rather than the Military Order of Max Joseph. Furthermore, "Ritter von" was also a hereditary title in some noble families and had no connection to these orders.


Notable recipients

*
Prince Leopold of Bavaria Prince Leopold of Bavaria (Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf; 9 February 1846 – 28 September 1930) was born in Munich, the son of Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria (1821–1912) and his wife Archduchess Augusta of Austria (1825–1864). H ...
*
Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, Duke of Bavaria, Franconia and in Swabia, Count Palatine by (the) Rhine (''Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand''; English: ''Robert Maria Leopold Ferdinand''; 18 May 1869 – 2 August 1955), was the last hei ...
* Hans Ritter von Adam * General Sir Colin Campbell *
Franz Ritter von Epp Franz Ritter von Epp (born Franz Epp; from 1918 as Ritter von Epp; 16 October 1868 – 31 January 1947)Lilla, Joachim: Epp, Franz Ritter v.'. In: Staatsminister, leitende Verwaltungsbeamte und (NS-)Funktionsträger in Bayern 1918 bis 19 ...
*
Erich von Falkenhayn General Erich Georg Sebastian Anton von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was the second Chief of the German General Staff of the First World War from September 1914 until 29 August 1916. He was removed on 29 August 1916 after ...
*
Robert Ritter von Greim Robert ''Ritter'' von Greim (born Robert Greim; 22 June 1892 – 24 May 1945) was a German field marshal and First World War flying ace. In April 1945, in the last days of World War II, Adolf Hitler appointed Greim commander-in-chief of the ...
* Wilhelm Groener * Bruno Ritter von Hauenschild * Paul von Hindenburg * Franz Ritter von Hipper *
Prince Heinrich of Bavaria Prince Heinrich of Bavaria (24 June 1884 – 8 November 1916) was a member of the Bavarian Royal House of Wittelsbach and a highly decorated Army officer in the First World War. Early life Heinrich was born in Munich, Bavaria. He was the ...
*
Max Hoffmann Carl Adolf Maximilian Hoffmann (25 January 1869 – 8 July 1927) was a German military strategist. As a staff officer at the beginning of World War I, he was Deputy Chief of Staff of the 8th Army, soon promoted Chief of Staff. Hoffmann, along w ...
* Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein * Hermann von Kuhl *
Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Wilhelm Josef Franz Ritter von Leeb (5 September 1876 – 29 April 1956) was a German field marshal and war criminal in World War II. Leeb was a highly decorated officer in World War I and was awarded the Military Order of Max Joseph which g ...
*
Erich Ludendorff Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, politician and military theorist. He achieved fame during World War I for his central role in the German victories at Liège and Tannenberg in 1914 ...
*
August von Mackensen Anton Ludwig Friedrich August von Mackensen (born Mackensen; 6 December 1849 – 8 November 1945), ennobled as "von Mackensen" in 1899, was a German field marshal. He commanded successfully during World War I of 1914–1918 and became one of ...
* Reinhard Scheer *
Eugen Ritter von Schobert Eugen Siegfried Erich Ritter von Schobert (13 March 1883 – 12 September 1941) was a German general during World War II. He commanded the 11th Army during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Schobert died when his observat ...
* Hans von Seeckt * Hans Ritter von Seißer * Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma * Ludwig Ritter von Tutschek * Adolf Ritter von Tutschek *
Otto Weddigen Otto Eduard Weddigen (15 September 1882 – 18 March 1915) was an Imperial German Navy U-boat commander during World War I. He was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest honour, for sinking four British warships. Biography and car ...
* Karl Ritter von Bolle *
Mehmed V Mehmed V Reşâd ( ota, محمد خامس, Meḥmed-i ḫâmis; tr, V. Mehmed or ; 2 November 1844 – 3 July 1918) reigned as the 35th and penultimate Ottoman Sultan (). He was the son of Sultan Abdulmejid I. He succeeded his half-brother A ...
* Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien


References

* Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv: ''"Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch", gewidmet den Inhabern der höchsten bayerischen Kriegs-auszeichnungen aus dem Weltkrieg 1914/18'', München 1928 * Rudolf von Kramer, Otto Freiherr von Waldenfels und Dr. Günther Freiherr von Pechmann: ''Virtuti Pro Patria: Der königlich bayerische Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden'', München 1966 * Jörg Nimmergut, ''Deutsche Orden'', Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, München 1979. {{Orders of Imperial Germany Orders of chivalry of Germany Military awards and decorations of Bavaria 1806 establishments in Bavaria Awards established in 1806 ! Kingdom of Bavaria