The Order of the White
Obverse of the GC Badge
GC Star, War Merit Division
||King Milan I instituted the Order of the White
Eagle on 23 January 1883, concurrently with the Order of St. Sava. Serbia
was proclaimed a Kingdom on 22 February (Old Style, in Gregorian calendar
5 March) 1882. The white eagle with wings displayed and inverted was reestablished
as the State Arms of Serbia, a majestic symbol descended from the Comnene
Emperors of Byzantium, and understood to stand for the Universal Christian
Empire. It was used by the Medieval rulers of Serbia, as well as by the
Holy Roman Emperors and the Emperors of Russia and Austria; the basic difference
was tincture (or metal) of the bird- Argent for Serbia, Gold for Byzantium,
Sable for Holy Roman, Russian and Austrian Emperors!
After his accession to the Throne in 1903, King Petar I continued awarding
the Order of the White Eagle, but the Founder's cipher was removed from
the reverse medallion and substituted with the year of the proclamation
of the Kingdom (1882), which at the same time made the date of the proclamation,
originally inscribed on the reverse of the flowing infullae of the royal
crown suspension, redundant.
The War Merit Division, with crossed swords between the Royal Crown
suspension and eagle's heads, was introduced in 1915, and conferred for
conspicuous bravery of the officers in the field, as well as for the exception
merit during the wartime actions.
The Order was organized in five classes, and was awarded to Serbian
citizens and foreign nationals, for peace or wartime merit or significant
services rendered to the Crown, State and Nation. Between 1883 and 1898
this was the senior Order of Serbia; in 1898 the Royal Order of Milos the
Great got precedence over it, and in 1904 the Order of the Star of Karageorge
became the senior award.
The Order is conferred by the Crown. Recent awards include last Grand
Master of the Sovereign Order of St. John (Fr. Angelo de Moiana da Cologna),
as well as posthumous conferment upon three Crown Council Members (Borislav
Pekic, Miodrag-Mica Popovic and Borislav Mihailovic-Mihiz, all GCs).
The Order's insignia were first manufactured in Vienna (Austria), by
Rothe & Neffe, Vincent Mayer's Soehne, Karl Fischmeister and Wilhelm
Kunz. After the outbreak of the Balkan and Great War, the insignia were
manufactured by Arthus Bertrand of Paris (France) and Huguenin Freres of
Le Locle (Switzerland).