The Order of the Star
Obverse of the GC Badge
GC Star (War Merit Division)
||King Petar I instituted the Order on 1 January
1904, to commemorate his own accession to the Serbian Throne and the centenary
of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Turks, lead by the Founder
of the Dynasty, Djordje Petrovic, called Black George (or Kara-George)
owing to his dark complexion. The National Assembly voted Kara-George the
Hereditary Supreme Leader of the Serbs, and the Sultan eventually recognized
him as vassal Prince status.
The new Order was aimed to replace two previous awards of the House
of Obrenovic that had distinctly Family Order characteristics: The Order
of the Cross of Takovo and the Royal Order of Milosh the Great. Both, in
fact, commemorated the Obrenovic Dynasty Founder, Prince Milos, leader
of the Second Serbian Uprising (1815). The Order of the Star of Karageorge
was defined as senior state award, with some elements of the House Order
(since Princes of the Blood were by birth GCs, invested at baptism). It
was organized into four classes, and was awarded to Serbian citizens for
exceptional merit rendered to the King, State and Nation, for civilian
or military service, and in 1906 foreign nationals were declared also eligible.
During the Balkan Wars, a War Merit Division (with crossed swords through
center of the cross) was introduced, to reward conspicuous gallantry of
the commissioned officers in the field, as well as (in higher classes)
senior officers successful troop command. The insignia of this Division
were worn suspended from the plain red watered silk ribbon. In 1915 a sub-Division
was introduced, aimed to reward acts of conspicuous bravery of the NCOs
and soldiers in the field, with two Classes (Gold and Silver Cross).
The Order is conferred by the Crown, and should not be confused with
the homonymous three classes Order awarded by Republika Srpska. The War
Merit GCs were extremely rare (only 18 were awarded, among them the American
General Pershing, the British Field Marshals Haig and the French Marshals
Joffre, Sarrail, Petain, Franchet d'Esperey and Guillaumat, the Italian
General Cadorna, the Romanian King Ferdinand I, etc., and among Serbs-
King Aleksandar I and Field Marshals Misic and Stepanovic; in the Second
World War the only GC awarded was to the town of Kragujevac, in 1942).
Recent conferment of the peacetime Division was that of 3rd Class to British
Author Michael Lees.
The Order's insignia were originally manufactured by G.A.Scheid of Vienna
(Austria), and later by Arthus Bertrand of Paris (France) and Huguenin
Freres of Le Locle (Switzerland), as well as by the national companies
(as Sorlini, of Varazdin).