There are five orders of knighthood awarded in recognition of service to the Italian Republic. Below these sit a number of other decorations, associated and otherwise, that do not confer knighthoods. However, the former Royal House of Savoy
The House of Savoy was formed in the early 11th century in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, it grew from ruling a small county in that region to eventually rule the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until the end of World War II, king of Croatia and King of Armenia...
also continue to award knighthoods in three orders of chivalry previously recognised by the Kingdom of Italy
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...
The degrees of knighthood, not all of which apply to all orders, are Knight (Cavaliere
abbreviated Cav.), Officer (Ufficiale
abbreviated Uff.), Commander (Commendatore
abbreviated Comm.), Grand Officer (Gr. Uff.), Knight Grand Cross (Cav. Gr. Croce) and Knight Grand Cross with cordon. Italian citizens may not use in the territory of the Republic honours or distinctions conferred on them by non-national orders or foreign states, unless authorised by decree President of the Council of Ministers
The Prime Minister of Italy is the head of government of the Italian Republic...
. The use of awards of the Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...
(including the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre) is subject to permission,
[See Royal Decree No. 974 of 10 July 1930.]
while the use of those of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is unregulated.
The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic effectively replaced as national orders the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (1362), the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (1572) and the Order of the Crown of Italy (1868), which the sovereign, as fons honorum
, did not abdicate. Today these continue merely as dynastic orders of the former Royal house in exile. While their bestowal is suppressed by law in Italy, the continued use of those decorations conferred prior to 1951 is permitted, exclusive of any right of precedence in official ceremonies.
| Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi in 1951...
|The Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, instituted in 1951, is the highest ranking honour and most senior order of the Republic. It is awarded in five degrees for "merit acquired by the nation" in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers. Save in exceptional circumstances, no one may be awarded a rank higher than Knight in the first instance (two well-known exceptions are for musicians Luciano Pavarotti
right|thumb|Luciano Pavarotti performing at the opening of the Constantine Palace in [[Strelna]], 31 May 2003. The concert was part of the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of [[St...
, who was first awarded a Commander in 1976, and Claudio Abbado
Claudio Abbado, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI , is an Italian conductor. He has served as music director of the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera,...
, who was awarded a Knight Grand Cross in 1984).
Investiture, from the Latin is a rather general term for the formal installation of an incumbent...
normally takes place on 2 June, the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic
The Italian constitutional referendum which officially took place on 2 June 1946, is a key event of Italian contemporary history. Until 1946, Italy was a kingdom ruled by the House of Savoy, kings of Italy since the Risorgimento and previously rulers of Savoy...
(celebrated in Italy as Festa della Repubblica
Festa della Repubblica is celebrated in Italy on the second of June each year. The day commemorates the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, following the Second World War and the fall...
) and on 27 December, the anniversary of the promulgation of the Italian Constitution. The badge bears the inscription Al Merito della Repubblica encircling the national emblem
The emblem of Italy was adopted by the newly formed Italian Republic on 5 May 1948. Although often referred to as a coat of arms , it is technically an emblem as it was not designed to conform to traditional heraldic rules...
on the obverse and Patriae Unitati and Civium Libertati encircling the head of Italia Turrita
Italia Turrita is the national personification or allegory of Italy, characterised by a mural crown typical of Italian civic heraldry of communal origin.. In broader terms, the crown symbolizes its mostly urban history.Italia Turrita is a woman with typical Mediterranean attributes...
on the reverse. The order is bestowed by decree of the President of the Italian Republic
The President of the Italian Republic is the head of state of Italy and, as such, is intended to represent national unity and guarantee that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. The president's term of office lasts for seven years....
, as head of the orders of knighthood, on the recommendation of the President of the Council.
| Military Order of Italy
The Military Order of Italy is the highest military order of the Italian Republic and the former Kingdom of Italy. It was founded as the Military Order of Savoy, a national order by the King of Sardinia, Vittorio Emanuele I, Duke of Savoy in 1815...
|The Ordine Militare d'Italia, until 1947 the Military Order of Savoy (1815),
|[Founded by Letters Patent dated 14 August 1815, renewed by Royal Decree on 27 September 1855 and 28 March 1857.] is awarded for distinguished wartime conduct of individual personnel (or units of the armed forces
The Italian armed forces are the military of Italy, they are under the command of the Italian Supreme Council of Defence, presided over by the President of the Italian Republic. The total number of active military personnel is 293,202...
) that have "proven expertise, sense of responsibility and valour." The lowest of its five degrees may also be awarded for peacetime actions. Recipients of the Ordine Militare di Savoia were transferred and retain their existing insignia and seniority.
[Under Legislative Decree of the Provisional Head of State No. 15 of 2 June 1947, renewed by Law No. 199 of 27 March 1952.] The badge bears the inscription Al Merito Militare—1855; the Savoy cross and letters V.E. substituted with R.I. and 1947, the date of the promulgation of the constitution.
The order is bestowed by decree of the President of the Republic, head of the order, on the recommendation of the Minister of Defence. Today there are just 14 living recipients. The associated Medal of Military Valour, established in 1932, is subdivided into gold
The Gold Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal established on 21 May 1793 by King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia "....per bassi ufficiali e soldati che avevano fatto azioni di segnalato valore in guerra" .The face of the medal displayed the profile of the king, and on its reverse was a flag...
The Silver Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal for gallantry.Italian medals for valor were first instituted by Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia on May 21, 1793, with a gold medal, and, below it, a silver medal...
The Bronze Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal for gallantry.It was established by Charles Albert of Sardinia on March 26, 1833, along with the higher ranking Gold and Silver Medals for Military valor...
| Order of Merit for Labour
The Order of Merit for Labour was founded as national order of chivalry in 1923 by King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy; it is awarded to those "who have been singularly meritorious" in agriculture, industry and commerce, crafts, lending and insurance. It is a continuation of the earlier Ordine al...
|The Ordine al Merito del Lavoro is awarded to those "who have been singularly meritorious" in agriculture, commerce and industry. It was first instituted by Royal Decree on 9 May 1901, replacing the Ordine Cavalleresco al Merito Agrario, Industriale e Commerciale which had been created by Royal Decree on 1 March 1898.
|[Revived by Law No. 199 of 27 March 1952.] The order is open to all Italians, at home and overseas. Each year, on 1 June, 25 new Knights of Labour are invested. The badge bears the inscription Al Merito del Lavoro—1901.
The order is bestowed by decree of the President of the Republic, head of the order, on the recommendation of the Minister of Economic Development (successor to the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Craftsmanship). The associated Star of Merit for Labour, established in 1923,
[Established by Royal Decree No. 3167 of 30 December 1923, renewed by Law No. 316(1) of 1 March 1967.] confers the title of Master of Labour.
| Order of the Star of Italy
|The Ordine della Stella d'Italia was originally instituted in 1947 as the Star of Italian Solidarity, to recognise those expatriates and foreigners who made an outstanding contribution to the reconstruction of Italy after World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
[Instituted by Decree Law of the Provisional Head of State No. 703 of 27 January 1947, amended by Decree Law No. 812 of 9 March 1948.] The badge bears the inscription Solidarietà Italiana encircling a depiction of the Good Samaritan. The order is bestowed in three degrees by decree of the President of the Republic, head of the order, on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
As in most countries, in Italy the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which is the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is one of the most important ministerial positions...
. In 2011, it was reformed and the emphasis shifted to the preservation and promotion of national prestige abroad.
| Order of Vittorio Veneto
The military Order of Vittorio Veneto was founded as national order by the fifth President of the Italian Republic, Giuseppe Saragat, in 1968, "to express the gratitude of the nation" to those decorated with the Medaglia e Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare who had fought for at least six months in...
|The Ordine di Vittorio Veneto
Vittorio Veneto is a city and comune situated in the Province of Treviso, in the region of Veneto, Italy, in the northeast of the Italian peninsula, between the Piave and the Livenza rivers.-Geography:...
was instituted with a single rank of Knight in 1968, "to express the gratitude of the nation" to those decorated with the Cross of War
The Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare is an Italian decoration for military valour.- Past recipients :* Edouard Izac, Lieutenant, United States Navy* Douglas MacArthur, General, United States Army...
who had fought for at least six months in World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
and earlier conflicts.
[Instituted by Law No. 263 of 18 March 1968.] A small annuity was granted in favour of those recipients who did not enjoy an income above their tax allowance. The order was bestowed by decree of the President of the Republic, head of the order, on the recommendation of the Minister of Defence. Laying dormant, it was formally abolished in 2010.
Kingdom of Italy
The Kingdom of Sardinia consisted of the island of Sardinia first as a part of the Crown of Aragon and subsequently the Spanish Empire , and second as a part of the composite state of the House of Savoy . Its capital was originally Cagliari, in the south of the island, and later Turin, on the...
orders of the Most Holy Annunciation, of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and the Military and Civil orders of Savoy were continued on the unification of Italy
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...
in 1861. These were augmented during the Liberal period by the Order of the Crown of Italy, the Chivalrous Order of Agricultural, Industrial and Commercial Merit, the Colonial Order of the Star of Italy and later, by the Civil and Military Order of the Roman Eagle. In contrast to the Republican orders, the feminine style Dama
is used for women.
The Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...
, usually transmitted by male primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...
, was similar to a British baronetcy but older. These Cavaliere Ereditario
were not, however, members of an order of chivalry.
| Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
The Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation is an order of chivalry, or knighthood, originating in mediæval Italy. It eventually was the pinnacle of the honours system in the Kingdom of Italy, which ceased to be a national order when the kingdom became a republic in 1946...
|The origins of the Ordine supremo della Santissima Annunziata date from 1362, when Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy, instituted the Order of the Collar, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eventually, it became a requirement for a person to have already received the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus before being admitted. The highest ranking honour of the Kingdom of Italy and limited to 20 Knights; it continues to be awarded by the Sovereign Head of the order, the head of the House of Savoy, in recognition of "eminent services in high military positions, to those who have distinguished themselves in senior positions in the civil service and to those who, as private citizens, have brought distinction upon Italy as exemplary benefactors of the nation or of mankind or have rendered particularly noteworthy services to [the former Royal] house."
| Military and Religious Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus is an order of chivalry awarded by the House of Savoy, the heads of which were formerly Kings of Italy...
|The Ordine militare e religioso dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro was formed in 1572 by a union of the original Order of Saint Maurice (1434) and the Italian foundation of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (1142).
|[Instituted by Papal Bull of the Supreme Pontiff Pope Gregory XIII] Eventually, it became a requirement for a person to have already received the Order of the Crown of Italy in at least the same degree before being admitted. The order continues to be awarded by its Grand Master, for "significant contributions to science, literature, the arts, industry, trade, scholarship and research, the liberal arts, the professions, public service and other worthy fields of endeavour, which bring honour and greatness to the House of Savoy and benefits to humanity."
Pope Gregory XIII , born Ugo Boncompagni, was Pope from 1572 to 1585. He is best known for commissioning and being the namesake for the Gregorian calendar, which remains the internationally-accepted civil calendar to this date.-Youth:He was born the son of Cristoforo Boncompagni and wife Angela...
on 16 September and 13 November 1572.
The formerly associated Maurizian Medal for Military Merit of fifty years, established in 1839,
[Established as Medaglia Mauriziana pel Merito Militare di dieci lustri by Royal Magistral Patent dated 19 July 1839, approved by Royal Decree of 21 December 1924.] was one of the few medals not suppressed by the Republic, becoming the Maurizian Medal of Merit for fifty years military career in 1954.
| Order of the Crown of Italy
The Order of the Crown of Italy was founded as a national order in 1868 by King Vittorio Emanuele II, to commemorate the unification of Italy in 1861...
|The Ordine della Corona d'Italia was founded in 1868 by King Vittorio Emanuele II
Victor Emanuel II was king of Sardinia from 1849 and, on 17 March 1861, he assumed the title King of Italy to become the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century, a title he held until his death in 1878...
, to commemorate unification.
[Founded by Royal Decree No. 4251 of 20 February 1868, renewed by Royal Decree No. 4850 of 24 January 1869, Royal Magistral Decree of 17 November 1907 and Royal Decree No. 276 of 16 March 1911.] The order was awarded more liberally than the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and could be conferred on non-Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...
s as well. It continued to be awarded for civilian and military merit by the head of the former Royal house in exile (acting as King of Italy) until the demise of the last reigning monarch in 1983. It was replaced by his successor with the Order of Merit (falling within the Civil Order) of Savoy in 1988.
| Civil Order of Savoy
The Civil Order of Savoy was founded as an order of knighthood in 1831 by the King of Sardinia, Charles Albert, Duke of Savoy. The intention was to reward those virtues not belonging to the existing Military Order of Savoy, founded by Vittorio Emanuele I in 1815. The order has one degree, that of...
|The Ordine Civile di Savoia was founded in 1831 by the King of Sardinia, Charles Albert
Charles Albert was the King of Piedmont-Sardinia from 1831 to 1849. He succeeded his distant cousin Charles Felix, and his name is bound with the first Italian statute and the First War of Independence...
, Duke of Savoy, to reward those virtues not belonging to the existing Military Order of Savoy. Admission, limited to 70 Italians, was in the personal gift of the monarch and, as such, it continues to be awarded, rarely, by the head of the House of Savoy to those who "have by their long and diligent efforts, become outstanding members of society, or who have contributed greatly to the common good," among the scientists, lettered, administrators, engineers, architects, artists, authors and publishers of discoveries and to the teachers of sciences and letters and the managers of education.
| Colonial Order of the Star of Italy
The Colonial Order of the Star of Italy was founded as a colonial order of knighthood on 18 June 1914 by King Victor Emmanuel III, to reward soldiers deployed to the colony of Libya. The order had fallen into abeyance by 1943, when Allied forces re-took the colonies of Italian North Africa.The...
|The Ordine coloniale della Stella d'Italia was founded in 1914 by King Vittorio Emanuele III
Victor Emmanuel III was a member of the House of Savoy and King of Italy . In addition, he claimed the crowns of Ethiopia and Albania and claimed the titles Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania , which were unrecognised by the Great Powers...
, to reward soldiers deployed in the colony of Libya
Italian Libya was a unified colony of Italian North Africa established in 1934 in what represents present-day Libya...
. It had fallen into abeyance by 1943, when Allied forces
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...
re-took the colonies of Italian North Africa
Italian North Africa was the aggregate of territories and colonies controlled by Italy in North Africa from 1911 until World War II...
| Order of the Roman Eagle
The Fascist Order of the Roman Eagle founded in 1942 with civil and military divisions, was abolished in Italy in 1944; although it continued to be awarded by Benito Mussolini in the short-lived Italian Social Republic until 1945. An organisation of the same name was founded by Romano Mussolini in...
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...
Ordine civile e militare dell'Aquila Romana founded in 1942 with civil and military divisions
[By Royal Decree No. 172 of 14 March 1942.] was formally abolished in 1944; [By Decree of the Lieutenant of the Realm of 5 October 1944.] although it continued to be awarded in the short-lived Italian Social Republic
The Italian Social Republic was a puppet state of Nazi Germany led by the "Duce of the Nation" and "Minister of Foreign Affairs" Benito Mussolini and his Republican Fascist Party. The RSI exercised nominal sovereignty in northern Italy but was largely dependent on the Wehrmacht to maintain control...
with, from February to April 1945, the Order of the Patron Saints of Italy.