With this publication we start a series of articles on the history of European orders prepared for us by Sergey Levin, head researcher of the numismatics department of the Moscow State Historical Museum, member of the Heraldic Council under the President of the Russian Federation.

Why did we decide to start this series with the Danish Order of the Dannebrog?
​You will find the answer to this question in this article.

​(Original written in Russian. Translation: C.Lapinsh)

Motto – GUD OG KONGEN (God and the King),
​also – PIETATI ET JUSTITIAE (Piety and Justice)

Sash – White with red stripes around the edges, was worn over the left shoulder

Badge – an elongated and expanded four-point cross of white enamel with a red (orange) and gold (silver for knights) enamel border on the edge. At the top of the cross is a royal monogram, suspended from the royal crown. Between the arms of the cross are the royal crowns. In the centre of the cross – the initial of King Valdemar under the crown: W. On the arms of the cross, beginning with the left – the motto of the order: GUD // OG // KON // GEN. On the reverse – the order’s founding dates: 1219, 1671, 1808. The Silver Cross of Honour has the same appearance, but without enamel. Grand Commanders wear badges decorated with 14 diamonds.

Collar – gold, consists of three alternating links: the monogram of Christian V under the crown, the aforementioned monogram of Valdemar and the Order’s crosses. In accordance with the statute of 1671 the chains were made by the Grand Commanders themselves.

Star – silver, eight-pointed, with the cross of the badge without a crown superimposed on it. It is worn by the Grand Commanders and Knights Grand Cross on the left side of the chest. The first class Commander’s breast star looks like a large badge of the order, but has a faceted surface instead of white enamel; it also has the crowned letter “W” in the centre, and the motto of the order on the arms of the cross. It is worn on the left side of the chest.

Ceremonial Dress – White jacket and white breeches to the knees, white silk stockings with embroidered gold and silver garters. Black hat with 3 rows of white and red feathers. A long robe of red velvet lined with white satin, with a small shoulder cape of white satin with two long cords of white and red silk with fringe. A large star of the Order is embroidered on the right side of the mantle.

Chapel of the Order – is the chapel in castle Frederiksborg, located on three islands in the middle of the lake in the city of Hillerod, 40 kilometers from the Danish capital – Copenhagen. It was in this chapel, that the coronation of the monarchs took place from 1672.

Grand Commanders wear badges decorated with 14 diamonds on the sash at the right hip without any inscriptions on the avers. Grand Cross with Diamonds, Model 2 (1808-1861/64) with monogram of Christian VIII. Tallinn Museum

Grand Cross with monogram of Christian X. Tallinn Museum

History of the Dannebrog

​The national flag of Denmark, which the Danes call Dannebrog, is a red flag with a white Scandinavian cross. The design of this cross was later used by other Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Iceland), as well as by Finland (the latter is not part of Scandinavia, but for a long time was part of Sweden) and the Faroe Islands (which are a self-governing part of Denmark). During the existence of the united Danish-Norwegian state, Dannebrog was also the flag of Norway until Norway approved its own flag in 1821.

Dannebrog is the oldest active state flag, ​its documented history dates back to the 14th century.

​In 1219, under the pretext of helping German colonists in the Baltic lands and with the blessing of the Pope, the army of Danish king Valdemar II, later named the Victorious, landed near Lyndanisse and, having captured the fort, settled down near Toompea hill.

Dannebrog falling from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanisse, June 15, 1219 by Christian August Lorentzen, 1809. National Gallery of Denmark

#efefefOn June 15, 1219 Estonian troops attacked the Danish army led by the king and bishops. The attack of the Estonians was so unexpected that part of the Danish troops began to retreat. Seeing this, the bishops ascended the hill and turned to God for help. Suddenly a large red cloth with a straight (Latin) white cross – Dannebrog – descended from the heavens.

Uplifted by the Sign of God, the Danes rejoiced and defeated the Pagans. Victory Day at the Battle ofLyndanisse, also known as the Battle of Valdemar, is celebrated as Dannebrog’s birthday.

Every summer in the Garden of the Danish King in Tallinn, there is a celebration in honour of the Dannebrog, which is highly successful with the Danish tourists. According to legend, an iron knight in the garden points to the place where the flag descended to the ground.

Next year our museum will be joining in the celebrations of the 800 anniversary of the Battle of Lyndanisse and the birth of the Danish flag and invites everyone to make this day a joyous occasion.

Garden of the Danish King in Tallinn. Photo: C.Lapinsh

The flag was modified only once: in 1397 Danish Queen Margaret I united Denmark, Sweden and Norway into the Kalmar Union. As a result of this Union three crowns were added in the top left corner of the flag. In 1523 Sweden separated from Denmark, and in 1814 Norway. Then Dannebrog lost the 3 crowns and became just as described in legend when it descended from heaven.

The Founding of the Order

​The semantic basis of the order was the national banner of Denmark. This order has a rank lower than the Order of the Elephant, but, nevertheless, is also considered one of the most famous European orders of knighthood. It was for a long time believed that it takes its origin from the order established in 1219 by King Valdemar II in the time of close cooperation between the Danish crown, the Apostolic See and the Danish nobility.

The establishment of the Order, following the medieval tradition of chivalry, is attributed to the “miraculous and divine” event of the flag’s decent from the heavens on June 15, 1219. It is most probable that the banner was sent by the pope, and King Valdemar II unveiled it before the army only at the most critical moment. The image of the Dannebrog is found on the seals of Waldemar III, but only from the 15th century does it become the most important Danish military banner. It was believed that in the same 1219, Valdemar II founded the order of knighthood, allegedly choosing the first 35 knights. ​The Order soon became inactive for many centuries and was restored after the Reformation by King Christian V on the occasion of the birth of his first son Frederick.

On October 12, 1671 ​Christian V (1646-1699) “revived” the order and appointed twenty-three knights

Christian V, Jacob d’Agar, National Historic Museum in castle Frederiksborg

According to the statute of 1693, for 200 years the order was in disarray and therefore on October 12, 1671 Christian V (1646-1699) “revived” the order and appointed twenty-three knights – mostly from the ranks of royal courtiers, who were with him at the time when he was heir to the throne.

Coat of Arms of the first knight of the Order Baron Georg-Christophe Hammerstein

​At the same time, it should be noted that already on July 2 of that same year, the first Baron Georg-Christophe Hammerstein (1624-1687) became the first Knight of the Order, and on August 25 – Christian V’s Hoffmarskalk (Chief of Court), later General War Commissioner of Norway Erik Banner (1618-1687). Initially, Christian V instituted an order for the princes of the blood and fifty knights, chosen from the highest dignitaries of the Danish court. ​Between the years 1671-1808 780 people were accepted into the order. During the reign of Christian V (1670-1699), insignia were issued 116 times, under Frederick IV (1699-1730) – 140 people were awarded, under Christian VI (1730-1746) – 79, under Frederick V (1746-1766) – 119, and under Christian VII (1766-1808) – 326 people.

Out of the 780 knights of the order, 87 were court dignitaries, 165 representatives of the central administration of the kingdom, 152 representatives of regional authorities, 268 military personnel, 37 diplomats, 15 clergy and 56 subjects of foreign states.

First Knights of the Dannebrog

​1. G. Hammerstein (1624-1687),
Ambassador of the Elector of Osnabrück in Denmark
2. E. Banner (1618-1687), Privy Councillor
3. G. Bielke (1621-1696), Lieutenant-General
4. O. Pogwisch (1610-1684), General War Commissioner
5. O. Juel (1615-1686), Vice Governor General of Norway (1666-1675)
6. H. Windt (1623-1683), Vice-Chancellor
7. E. Kragh (died in 1677), Privy Councillor
8. C. Trolle (1628-1684), Privy Councillor
9. E. Parsberg (1632-1680), Privy Councillor
10. C. Scheel (1619-1686), Privy Councillor
11. C. Adelauer (Sivertsen, 1622-1675), Admiral General
12. P. Schumacher (1635-1699), Count Griffenfeld с 1671, Chancellor
13. M. FrŸs (1623-1675), Count Frisenborg, Ober-Rentemester
14. H. Winterfeld (1617-1694), Chief -Marshal
15. С. Rosenkrantz (1628-1685), Privy Councillor
16. E. Holck (1627-1696), Baron, Major-General
17. H. Ruse (1624-1679), Baron, Lieutenant-General
18. J. Juel (1631-1700), Baron de Juling, Vice-President of the Commerce College, Vice-Governor of Norway (1675-1682)
19. W.J. Hahn (1632-1680), Ober-Jaegermeister
20. F. Ahlefeldt (1623-1686), Major-General, Commandant of Copenhagen
21. C. Osten (? -1677), Chief Chamberlain
22. J. Schultz (? -1692), Baron, Major-General
23. U. Vianen, Count Brederode

​One of the First Knights of the Order

Cort Sivertsen Adelar was born on December 16, 1622 in Brevik, Norway. (see a portrait with two badges: Dannebrog and St. Mark, as well as seven gold medals from European sovereigns).

At fifteen he entered into the Netherlands sea service in the rank of cadet, under the command of Lieutenant Admiral General of the Dutch Republic Cornelis Maartenszoon Tromp.

Around 1648, he joined the Venetian service and participated in the war against the Turks. Particularly distinguished himself in the naval battle of Paros on July 10, 1651, and then in the battle against the Turkish fleet near Dardanelles on May 13 and 14, 1654. He was known as an outstanding sailor and warrior, and his ships were repeatedly appointed flagships of the Venetian admirals.

He was awarded for participating in several sea battles, and in 1659 was appointed knight of the Venetian Order of San Marco.

In 1660, Cort Sivertsen was elevated to the rank of Vice-Admiral by the Venetian Republic. The glory of the brave naval officer rattled across Europe and almost all the Christian maritime powers vied with each other to attract him with tempting offers under their banners.

Cort Sivertsen Adeler, with 2 badges of the orders of the Dannebrog and San Marco and 7 medals from European countries

This is why in 1661, Cort Sivertsen left Venice, and went first to the Netherlands. During his second stay in the Netherlands, for acting with extraordinary swiftness at sea, Cort Sivertsen received the honorary title Adelaer (Eagle), under which he was subsequently promoted to Danish nobility.

In 1663, he left the Netherlands and as an admiral and a member of the Admiralty Council, became head of Denmark’s naval forces, which he transformed on the model of the Royal Navy of the Netherlands.

In 1675, the King of Denmark and Norway Christian V instructed him to command the combined maritime forces of Denmark in the war with the Swedes, but on November 5, 1675 Admiral Sivertsen unexpectedly died, right before the outbreak of hostilities.

 of the Order

The statutes of the order were approved in 1693. Apart from the king – the Grand Master of the Order – and his sons, the order was to consist of 50 knights older than 25 who “according to their coat of arms have this right, as well as of those whom the Grand master finds worthy”. According to those statutes, the order had only one grade called “White Knight”, corresponding to today’s Knight Grand Cross.

On June 28, 1808, King Frederick VI (1768-1839) changed the statutes and expanded the circle of persons awarded the Order of the Dannebrog, additional changes were made on January 23, 1809.

He turned the order into a merit award, issued regardless of social status. In addition, the structure of the order was finally formed: Grand Commander, Knight Grand Cross, Commander and Knight.

Later, in 1842, by royal decree the Grand Commander degree was reserved for members of the Danish and foreign ruling families. The ruling Danish monarch was considered to be the Grand Master of the Order. Royal decrees of 1864 and 1951 divided the commander and knight classes of the Order into two degrees each. In 1951, the Order was also opened to women. In addition, in 1808, a badge of distinction was established under the order, – the Cross of Honour (Dannebrogsmoend), which was awarded to individuals without distinction of estate for special merits. Since 1812, it could also be received by the Knights of the Order, beginning with the 2nd class – Knight Grand Cross. In 1952 the Cross of Honour was transformed into the Silver Cross of the Order.

The Chapter of the Royal Orders of Denmark was established at the same time (June 28, 1808) and dealt with all the awards of the kingdom.

You can find out more about the Danish orders on the official site of the Danish Monarchy

At present, the Order has three classes (seven grades):

1. Special class
 – Order of Dannebrog Grand Commander with diamonds. Eight members of the Danish royal family, or representatives of the royal houses of Europe, are awarded. The badge is worn on a neck ribbon (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies), plus the star on the left chest

2. First class – Order of Dannebrog Knight Grand Cross. Awarded to admirals, generals, judges of the Supreme Court, ambassadors, etc. in honour of perfect service, as well as to foreign ambassadors for three-year service in Denmark. The badge is worn on a collar or on the sash from the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest)

3. Second class – Order of Dannebrog Commander 1st class. Danish admirals, generals, judges of the Supreme Courts, ambassadors and regional leaders of governments and foreign diplomats are awarded. The breast cross (star) is worn on the left chest, plus the badge on a neck ribbon (for gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies)

4. Order of Dannebrog Commander. Awarded to embassy advisors, colonels, ministers, high-ranking officials etc. The badge is worn on a neck ribbon (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies)

5. Third Class – Order of Dannebrog Knight 1st Class. Awarded to high-ranking officers, politicians, ministers, 1st secretaries of embassies. The badge is worn on a ribbon (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies) with rosette on the left chest

6. Order of Dannebrog Knight. Awarded to other embassy diplomats, depending on merit, high-ranking officers, ministry officials. The badge is worn on a ribbon (gentlemen) or on a bow (ladies) on the left chest.

7. Cross of Honour of the Order of the Dannebrog. Awarded to knights of the Order of the Dannebrog. Worn on a ribbon (gentlemen) or bow (ladies) with rosette on the left chest

The Chapel of the Royal Danish Orders of Knighthood in Frederiksborg Castle church displays coats of arms hung continuously over 300 years to honour knights belonging to the two royal Danish orders of knighthood.(photos: kongehuset.dk and​ E.Pchelov)

Makers of the Insignia of the Order

Royal Goldsmith Poul Kurtz                       1655–1679
Royal Goldsmith Ferdinand Küblich          1670–1687
Royal Goldsmith Fridrich Kurtz                  1679–1703
Royal Goldsmith Pierre Tresfort                1687–1729
Royal Goldsmith Jean Henri de Moor       1688–1696
Royal Goldsmith Andreas Normand         1700–1727
Royal Jeweler Frederik Fabritius                1746–1778
Royal Jeweler Christopher Fabritius          1778–1829
Royal Jeweler Frederik Fabritius                          -1832
Royal Goldsmith Nicolai Christensen              ? – 1832
Jeweler Poul Ressen Eggersen                    1832–1841
Royal Jeweler Anton Michelsen                   1848 –
Anton Michelsen was made a part of Royal Copenhagen A/S who is now the supplier

Estonian Members of the Order of the Dannebrog:

(unfortunately we could only find information until 1980, We will update when we learn more)

Knight Cross (3rd class)

Philip Karl Ferdinand Kaljot (in 1930) – secretary of the Estonian embassy in Denmark
Otto Arthur Grant (1935) – adviser in the Estonian embassy in Denmark
Johannes Sandbank (1925) – naval lieutenant, attaché during Danish Naval officers’ visit to Tallinn
Verner Oskar Väli (1935) – naval lieutenant captain, attaché during Danish Naval officers’ visit to Tallinn
Aleksander Randveer (1938) – officer of Tallinn port police, for furthering good Estonian-Danish relations
Juhan Veelmaa (1938) – journalist and board member of the Estonian-Danish union for furthering cultural bonds
Vello Helk (1980) – head archivist of the Danish National Archives, an Estonian in exile

Commander (2nd class)

Artur Tuldava (1939) – adviser in the Estonian embassy in Denmark

Grand Cross

Konstantin Päts (1933) – head of state, for furthering friendly relations between the two states

The total number of awards from 1808 to 2000 was 2184.

List of Grand Commanders of the Order of the Dannebrog with diamonds

Frederik VI (1784-1839) in gala uniform wearing the Order of the Elephant, a silver merit cross and badge and insignia of Grand Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog. After F. C. Gröger
  1. Frederik VI, King of Denmark and Norway – 1808
  2. Christian August, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg – 14.12.1808
  3. Friedrich, Prince of Hesse-Kassel – 16.12.1813
  4. Carl, Prince of Hesse-Kassel – 10.09.1817
  5. Christian VIII, King of Denmark – 28.10.1828
  6. Marie, Dowager Queen of Denmark – 28.01.1840
  7. Frederik VII, King of Denmark – 10.06.1841
  8. Frederik Ferdinand, Hereditary Prince of Denmark – 01.08.1854
  9. Carl XV, King of Sweden and Norway – 10.06.1860
  10. Wilhelm, Prince of Hesse-Kassel – 10.11.1860
  11. Christian IX, King of Denmark – 15.11.1863
  12. Caroline Amalie, Dowager Queen of Denmark – 15.07.1865
  13. Frederik VIII, King of Denmark – 28.06.1869
  14. George I, King of the Hellenes – 30.06.1871
  15. Louise, Queen of Denmark – 07.09.1883
  16. Alexander III, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russia – 09.11.1891
  17. Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russia – 26.11.1894
  18. Valdemar, Prince of Denmark – 21.07.1900
  19. Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom – 09.09.1901
  20. Christian X, King of Denmark – 14.05.1912
  21. Haakon VII, King of Norway – 1912.
  22. George V, King of the United Kingdom – 09.05.1914
  23. Constantine I, King of the Hellenes – 11.01.1923
  24. Gustaf V, King of Sweden – 29.10.1950
  25. George, Prince of Greece and Denmark – 25.11.1957
  26. Harald, Prince of Denmark – 30.03.1949
  27. Frederik IX, King of Denmark – 1930’s
  28. Knud, Hereditary Prince of Denmark – 1930-‘s
  29. Axel, Prince of Denmark 14.07.1964
  30. George VI, King of the United Kingdom 24.10.1948
  31. Paul, King of the Hellenes – 1940’s
  32. Prince Viggo, Count of Rosenborg – 1940’s
  33. Gustaf VI Adolf, King of Sweden – 1950’s
  34. Alexandrine, Queen of Denmark – 1951
  35. Olav V, King of Norway – 11.09.1958
  36. Ingrid, Queen of Denmark – 11.03.1959
  37. Constantine II, King of the Hellenes – 12.03.1964
  38. Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark – 16.04.1974
  39. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden – 10.04.1975
  40. Harald V, King of Norway – 28.10.1991
  41. Benedikte, Princess of Denmark – 27.01.1993
  42. Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark – 01.01.2004
  43. Joachim, Prince of Denmark – 16.04.2004

Queen Margrethe II is the current Grand Master of the Order of the Dannebrog. Photo: kongehuset.d