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Langensalza-Medaille

Langensalza Medal

Langensalza Medal was instituted on July 27, 1866 by the fifth and the last king of Hanover Georg V (Georg Friedrich Alexander Karl Ernst August, 27.05.1819-12.06.1878) who reigned from 18.11.1851 till 20.09.1866. That commemorative medal was the last award of Hanover that was annexed by Prussia and absorbed into the kingdom on September 20, 1866.

Langensalza Medal was awarded to veterans of Hanover troops who participated in the battle of Langensalza on June 27, 1866. Hanoverian units did win the battle and gained a victory over Prussians and their allies from the duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Unfortunately two days later Georg V had to surrender in the face of further bloodshed being surrounded by much larger reinforced Prussian troops. This misfortune affected the very statute of a medal according to which it was awarded “to all those who fought in that glorious battle even though its outcome turned out to be unfortunate” (“für Alle, welche in dieser Schlacht tapfer, wenn auch ohne Erfolg, gekämpft haben”).

Design of the medal was created by a noted engraver and medalist from Vienna Heinrich Jauner (15.05.1833-11.03.1912).

An obverse has a bust of the king Georg V facing left and circumscribed “Georg V, King of Hanover by the Grace of God” (“Georg V v[on]. G[ottes]. G[naden]. Koening v[on]. Hannover”) in capital letters. Surname of designer (“Jauner”) also executed in capital letters is situated at the bottom of the bust.

A reverse has an inscription in capital letters running in three lines: “Langensalza 27.Juni 1866.” within a laurel wreath tied by a ribbon at the bottom.

Close dynastic ties between Hanover and the Great Britain (e.g. Georg V was a member of the British royal family and was a cousin of the Queen Victoria) had an obvious impact on design of the medal or, to be more precise on the way those awards were personalized: unlike other German medals each Langensalza medal carried an initial of the name and a surname of a holder engraved on its edge.

Circular medal with a loop for ribbon suspension was 36 mm in diameter and was made of bronze. It was manufactured in Austria.

Langensalza medal was worn on a white 35 mm wide ribbon with two 9 mm vertical orange stripes closer to its edges thus leaving just 1 mm white space at the left and the right sides.

The first ever decoration took place on December 23, 1866 in the Austrian city of Gitzen when already dethroned and gone in exile Georg V bestowed commemorative medals on his faithful warriors. The vast majority of medals were handed to former commanders of Hanoverian units that were entitled to distribute them between veterans of the battle of Langensalza. No award documents were issued. With the lapse of time those medals were issued to every Hanoverian veteran who participated in battles during summer 1866 and not only at Langensalza.

Response of the Prussian king Wilhelm I to the institution of a medal commemorating victory over his own troops was extremely significant. Royal decree of the future first Emperor of the German Empire issued on March 19, 1867 in Berlin stated that “officers and other ranks of the former Hanoverian army are authorized to wear all awards instituted by the king of Hanover Georg V, including those issued to commemorate battles of the year of 1866”. Hanoverians on Prussian military service were entitled to wear those awards as well as a token of appreciation of their bravery and courage in field. That was a decisive step by Wilhelm I who craved for the unification of Germany and have chosen to consign to oblivion hostilities of yesteryears and do away with internecine wars.

Langensalza medal was awarded from December 1866 till 1898 and approximately 16,000 medals were presented. 

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