The Order of Saint Stanislaus (sometimes referred to as The Order of Saint Stanislas) existed as a Polish state award from 1765 until 1831, and since then until 1917 as an order of the Russian Empire. In 1917 it entered award system of the short-lived Russian Provisional government.
Initially decoration was instituted on May 08, 1765 by the last King and Grand Duke of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stanisław August Poniatowski (17.01.1732-12.02.1798) as Order Świętego Stanisława Biskupa Męczennika. It was named after Stanislaus of Szczepanów, Bishop of Krakow, proclaimed the patron saint of Poland for his defense of human rights and Christian teachings.
The order was awarded until the Third Partition of Poland that followed on October 24, 1795 and effectively ended Polish-Lithuanian national sovereignty. The Order of Saint Stanislaus was reinstituted in 1809 by the King of Saxony Friedrich August I (23.12.1750-05.05.1827), who also ruled Poland as a Duke of Warsaw (09.06.1807-22.05.1815) and was proclaimed the second Grand Master of the Order.
The major part of Duchy of Warsaw created by the French Emperor Napoleon I in 1807 was retaken by Russia in 1813 following French defeat. Royal declaration issued on December 01, 1815 by the Russian Emperor Alexander I, the third Grand Master of the Order, kept the Order as a decoration for the subjects of the Tsardom of Poland. With the loss of Polish autonomy to the Russian Empire on November 17, 1831 after the Polish-Russian War (1830-1831) Order of Saint Stanislaus was incorporated into the Chapter of Russian Imperial and Tsarist Orders. Its final design was introduced on January 11, 1832 when the Polish single-headed eagle was replaced by the Russian double-headed eagle. According to its statute published on May 28, 1839, since then Order of Saint Stanislaus had three classes (the lowest 4th class instituted in 1815 was abolished) and was awarded for military and civil merits.
Badge of the order in the shape of a grand gold cross worn on a sash over the right shoulder and attached to the left hip, together with a silver multi-rayed eight-pointed star worn on the left breast.
The following description of insignia of the Order of Saint Stanislaus is taken from the “State statute code” (volume VIII, section II chapter 9) introduced in 1892.
“Gold four-pointed and red-enameled cross, each arm being divided into two sharp tips with gold beads; semicircular serrated gold arches are situated on each arm of the cross, cross has double gold edging; SS being the Latin cipher of the Saint Stanislaus is executed in red letters and is situated in the middle of a white enameled circular gold-edged shield bordered with a green laurel wreath; Russian gold double-headed eagles are placed between arms of the cross. A reverse is plain gold with a central white enameled circular shield bearing cipher SS [Sanctus Stanislaus]”.
“The silver star has an octactinal design with a big white circular shield placed in its centre; shield is surrounded by a wide green rim that is bordered by two gold edgings, the inner one being thinner and the exterior one thicker; gold laurel branches tied with two flowers each are situated on a green rim; SS being the cipher of the Saint Stanislaus is executed in red letters and is situated in the middle of medallion inside the lesser gold ring; Order’s motto “Praemiando incitat” (by awarding encourage) in gold letters is inscribed around the ring on the white rim and is divided by the gold flower on top”.
Badge of the order in the shape of a smaller size gold cross was worn as a neck award on a
Badge of the order in the shape of a smaller size gold cross was worn either on the left side of a breast suspended from a
Since August 09, 1844 non-Christian recipients were decorated with a special version of an Order that had cipher of St.Stanislaus on stars and crosses replaced with the Russian coat of arms, i.e. black double-headed eagle.
When bestowed for military merits, crossed swords were added to both star and cross of the Order, since 1855. Those crosses passed through the centre of cross and star.
If holder of an Order with swords was decorated with a higher class of an award for civil merits, the swords were attached either above the cross or on an upper ray of the star. However, this regulation was abolished by the Royal Decree of December 03, 1870.
The Russian Provisional government retained Order of Saint Stanislaus in 1917, but replaced gold double-headed eagles regarded as a monarchist symbol with eagles that bore no crowns and had their wings lowered.
According to the statute of the award, “Foreigners who have drawn attention of His Majesty the Emperor and the Tsar by providing outstanding merits for the benefit of the Russian Empire were also eligible for decoration with the Order of St.Stanislaus” (Paragraph 518 of the Part 2 “Entitlement to decoration with the Order of Saint Stanislaus” of the “State statute code”). At the same time, Paragraph 523 of the Part 3 “Regulations of nomination and decoration with the Order of St.Stanislaus” stipulated that “Decrees on decoration of foreigners not being in the service of the Russian Empire with the Order of St.Stanislaus are prepared and submitted for the signing ceremony by His Majesty by the respective ministries and superordinates authorized for such deeds”.
Foreign holders of the Order of St.Stanislaus who were not in the service of the Russian Empire as well as certain entity of the Russian subjects were exempt from a lump-sum that was commonly paid to the Chapter of the Order. Fee paid by the rest recipients depended on the class of an award, viz. 120 Roubles for the 1st class, 30 Roubles for the 2nd class, 15 Roubles for the 3rd class. The money collected was put at the disposal of the Chapter and directed to charitable deeds, e.g. care of wounded soldiers and maintenance of students in schools and institutions. However, being conferred with an Order with swords, the holder was entitled to pay only half of the amount stated above.