Italian orders of knighthood
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 also continue to award knighthoods in three orders of chivalry previously recognised by the Kingdom of Italy.
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 use of awards of the Holy See (including the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre) is subject to permission,[nb 1] while the use of those of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is unregulated.
Italian RepublicThe 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 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, who was first awarded a Commander in 1976, and Claudio Abbado, who was awarded a Knight Grand Cross in 1984). Investiture normally takes place on 2 June, the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic (celebrated in Italy as Festa della Repubblica) 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 on the obverse and Patriae Unitati and Civium Libertati encircling the head of Italia Turrita on the reverse. The order is bestowed by decree of the President of the Italian Republic, as head of the orders of knighthood, on the recommendation of the President of the Council.|
|Military Order of Italy|
|The Ordine Militare d'Italia, until 1947 the Military Order of Savoy (1815),[nb 2] is awarded for distinguished wartime conduct of individual personnel (or units of the armed forces) 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.[nb 3] 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, silver and bronze categories.|
|Order of Merit for Labour|
|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.[nb 4] 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,[nb 5] 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.[nb 6] 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. In 2011, it was reformed and the emphasis shifted to the preservation and promotion of national prestige abroad.|
|Order of Vittorio Veneto|
|The Ordine di Vittorio Veneto 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 who had fought for at least six months in World War I and earlier conflicts.[nb 7] 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 ItalyThe Sardinian 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 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, usually transmitted by male primogeniture, 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 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 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).[nb 8] 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." The formerly associated Maurician Medal for Military Merit of ten lustrums (fifty years), established in 1839,[nb 9] was one of the few medals not suppressed by the Republic, becoming the Maurician Medal of Merit for ten lustrums military career in 1954.|
|Order of the Crown of Italy|
|The Ordine della Corona d'Italia was founded in 1868 by King Vittorio Emanuele II, to commemorate unification.[nb 10] The order was awarded more liberally than the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and could be conferred on non-Catholics 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 Ordine Civile di Savoia was founded in 1831 by the King of Sardinia, Charles Albert, 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 Ordine coloniale della Stella d'Italia was founded in 1914 by King Vittorio Emanuele III, to reward soldiers deployed in the colony of Libya. It had fallen into abeyance by 1943, when Allied forces re-took the colonies of Italian North Africa.|
|Order of the Roman Eagle|
|The Fascist Ordine civile e militare dell'Aquila Romana founded in 1942 with civil and military divisions[nb 11] was formally abolished in 1944;[nb 12] although it continued to be awarded in the short-lived Italian Social Republic with, from February to April 1945, the Order of the Patron Saints of Italy.|
- Nobility of Italy
Nobility of Italy
The Nobility of Italy comprised individuals and their families of Italy recognized by sovereigns, such as the Holy Roman Emperor, the Holy See, Kings of Italy or certain other Italian kings and sovereigns as members of a class of persons officially enjoying hereditary privileges which distinguished them from other persons and families. They often held lands as fiefs and sometimes were endowed with hereditary titles. Medieval "Italy" was a set of separate states until 1870, and had many royal bloodlines. Italian royal families were often related through marriage to each other and to other European royal families.
Pre-unificationBefore Italian Unification, the existence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (which before 1816 was split in Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily), the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Modena, the Duchy of Savoy, the Duchy of Milan, the Papal States, various republics and the Austrian and French dependencies in Northern Italy led to parallel nobilities with different traditions and rules.
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
Unification (1861-1870)Modern Italy became a nation-state during the Risorgimento on March 17, 1861, when most of the states of the peninsula and Kingdom the Two Sicilies were united under king Victor Emmanuel II of the Savoy dynasty, hitherto monarch of the Kingdom of Sardinia, a realm that included Piedmont. The architect of Italian unification was Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Chief Minister of Victor Emmanuel. Rome itself remained for a further decade under the Papacy, and became part of the Kingdom of Italy only in 1870. In September of that year, invading Italian troops entered the city, and the ensuing occupation forced Pope Pius IX to his palace where he declared himself a prisoner in the Vatican until the Lateran Pacts of 1929.
Nobility in the KingdomUnder the united Kingdom of Italy a new national nobility, with an attempt (not wholly successful) to impose a uniform nobiliary law, was created, including male succession (although it was possible for ancient titles to be transferred to an heir in the female line by royal authority), and some acknowledgement by the King of Italy of titles conferred by Francis II of the Two Sicilies in exile by making new grants in the same name. Those nobles who maintained allegiance to the pope became known as the Black Nobility.
After the unification the kings of Italy continued to create titles of nobility to eminent Italians, this time with a validity for all of the Italian territory. For example, General Enrico Cialdini was created Duca di Gaeta for his role during the unification. The practice continued until the 20th century, when nominations would be made by the Prime Minister and approved by the Crown. In the aftermath of World War I most Italians who were ennobled received their titles through the Mussolini government. Examples include General Armando Diaz (Duca della Vittoria), Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel (Duca del Mare), Commodore Luigi Rizzo (Conte di Grado e di Premuda), Costanzo Ciano (Conte di Cortellazzo i Buccari), Dino Grandi (Conte di Mordano) and Cesare Maria de Vecchi (Conte di Val Cismon). Many of these were victory titles for services in World War I. The writer and aviator Gabriele d'Annunzio was created Principe di Montenevoso in 1924, and the physicst, inventor and Nobel laureate Guglielmo Marconi was ennobled also in 1924 as Marchese Marconi. In 1937, Ettore Tolomei was ennobled as Conte della Vetta.
in 1929, the Lateran Treaty acknowledged all Papal titles created before that date and undertook to give automatic recognition to titles conferred by the Holy See on Italian citizens in the future.
After the invasion of Abyssinia the Mussolini government recommended further Italians to the king for titles of nobility. For example, Marshal Pietro Badoglio was created Marchese del Sabotino and later Duca di Addis Abeba, and General Rodolfo Graziani became Marchese di Neghelli.
Republic of ItalyIn 1946, the Kingdom of Italy was replaced by a republic. Under the Constitution of the Republic of Italy adopted in 1948, titles of nobility are not legally recognised. Certain predicati (territorial designations) recognised before 1922 may be attached to surnames and used in legal documents, and in most cases these were historic feudal territories of noble families. A high court ruling in 1967 definitively established that the heraldic-nobiliary legislation of the Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) is not current law.
Titles of NobilityThe official ranks under the Kingdom of Italy (1871–1946) were:
Italian Translation Masculine Feminine Masculine Feminine Re Regina King Queen Principe Principessa Prince Princess Duca Duchessa Duke Duchess Marchese Marchesa Marquess Marchioness Conte Contessa Count (Earl) Countess Visconte Viscontessa Viscount Viscountess Barone Baronessa Baron Baroness Cavaliere (Cav.) Dama Baronet Patrizio Patrizia Patrician Nobili Nobiluomo (N.H.) Nobildonna Nobleman
The southern kingdoms of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, as well as the Papal states, granted the ranks typical of monarchies such as Spain, France or England: Prince, Duke, Marquess, Count, Baron. The title of Viscount was not as frequent in Italy as elsewhere.
In Northern Italy and Tuscany the situation was more complex, because there were many kinds of authorities granting titles.
Typically, Italian comunes (also in the Kingdom of Naples) and Republics granted or recognised the title of Patrician, which was only regarded as a rank of nobility in Italy. The patriciate was an urban aristocracy, as opposed to a feudal one.
However, the Republic of Venice also granted feudal titles. In the two Republics of Venice and Genoa, the head of state had the title of Doge, a variant form of Duca (Duke).
Until 1806, Northern Italy (except Venice) and Tuscany formed the Kingdom of Italy, belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. The Emperor retained for himself the right of creating dukes and princes. The Northern Italian monarchs had received from the Emperor the right of granting the lower feudal titles (from Marquess downwards), since these monarchs often were princes and dukes themselves.
During Renaissance the monarchs conquered all the city-republics except Venice, Genoa, Lucca, San Marino and Ragusa. So, in most of Italy, patricians were integrated into the low ranks of aristocracy.
In the Middle Ages,
“ The majority of feudatories were simply signori (from the French seigneur, a title introduced into Italy by the eleventh-century Normans), vassalli (vassals) or cavalieri (knights). Eventually, this class came to be known collectively as the baroni (barons), as in Italy barone was not always a title descriptive of a particular feudal rank. During the fourteenth century, most minor feudal lands became baronies, their holders barons. It must be observed that the use of these titles usually required some form of sovereign sanction or feudal tenure.  ”
Papal nobilityThroughout Italy, various influential families came to positions of power through the election of a family member as Pope or were elevated into the ranks of nobility through ecclesiastic promotion. These families freely intermarried with aristocratic nobility.
Like other noble families, those with both papal power and money were able to purchase comunes or other tracts of land and elevate family patriarchs and other relatives to noble titles. Hereditary patriarchs were appointed Duke, Marquis and even Prince of various 16th and 17th century principalities.
The period was famous for papal nepotism and many families, such as the Barberini and Pamphili, benefited greatly from having a papal relative. Families that had previously been limited to agricultural or mercantile ventures found themselves, sometimes within only one or two generations, elevated to the social circles of Italian nobility when a relative was elected to the papal throne.
Modern Italy is dotted with the fruits of their success - various family palazzi remain standing today as a testament to their sometimes meteoric rise to power.
Italian Royal Palaces
- Palace of Caserta: residence of the King of the Two Sicilies.
- Royal Palace (Naples): residence of the King of the Two Sicilies.
- Museo di Capodimonte: residence of the King of the Two Sicilies.
- Palazzo dei Normanni: residence of the King of Sicily.
- Residences of the Royal House of Savoy: residences of the King of Italy.
- Palazzo Ducale di Mantova: residence of the Duke of Mantua.
- Palazzo Pitti: residence of the Grandduke of Tuscany.
- Castle of Racconigi: residence of the Carignano line of the House of Savoy.
Italian Sovereign Houses
- House of Savoy: Kings of Italy, Kings of Sardinia, Dukes of Savoy, Princes of Piedmont
- House of Este: Dukes of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, counts of Polesine and Garfagnana
- House of Farnese: Dukes of Parma, Piacenza and Castro
- House of Bonaparte: King of Italy, King of Rome, King of Naples and Sicily, Emperor at the principality of Elba, Queen of Naples, Principi di Canino e di Musignano, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
- House of Bourbon: Kings of the Two Sicilies, Kings of Naples, Kings of Sicily, Dukes of Parma and Piacenza
- House of Medici: Grand Dukes of Tuscany
- House of Visconti: Dukes of Milan
- House of Sforza: Dukes of Milan
- House of Gonzaga: Dukes of Montferrat, Dukes of Mantua
Italian Papal Houses
- House of Barberini
- House of Borghese
- House of Borgia
- House of Borromeo
- House of Chigi
- House of Colonna
- House of Mattei
- House of Orsini
- House of Pamphili (later Doria-Pamphili-Landi)
- Sicilian Nobility Listings
- Southern Italy Nobility Listings Archived 31 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Nobiliary and Aristocratic History
- European Royal Houses
- Castles in Italy: the medieval life of noble families (Clemente Manenti)
- Il Corpo della Nobiltà Italiana#