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Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun for National Hero of Hungary


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Gyula Count Andrássy de Csíkszentkirály et Krasznahorka a.k.a. Count Julius Andrassy

(3 March 1823 – 18 February 1890) and his Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun order will be the heroes of our today story. Thanks to generous decision of our colleague Pieter1012 to show the photos of this extra rare piece from his collection. But before we’ll go straight to the treasure, let’s have a quick tour through distinguished career of the recipient.

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Julius Andrássy was born into a distinguished Hungarian aristocratic family at Kassa (now Košsice in Slovakia) on March 3, 1823. As a young man, he supported the policies of the moderate reformer Count Stephen Széchenyi. Later, however, he switched to the more radical Louis Kossuth, who opposed Austrian control of Hungary and advocated Hungarian nationalism. In 1848 Andrássy took part in the Hungarian revolution against Austria. After Hungary's defeat he lived in exile in Paris and London. He was actually condemned to death in absentia by the Austrian government for his share in this revolt in 1851. But by the mid-1850s Andrássy had become an advocate of a Hungarian compromise with Austria.

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Receiving amnesty in 1857, he returned to Hungary and joined forces with the middle-of-the-road liberals. Together with Francis Deák and Count Beust, he participated in the preparation and execution of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. This agreement established the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, or Dual Monarchy.

Andrássy was appointed prime minister and minister of defense of the new Hungarian government. He was convinced that Hungary's territorial integrity was gravely endangered by Russian-supported nationalistic stirrings among the empire's Slavic minorities and by Russia's own designs on the Balkans. He sought to neutralize this danger by strengthening and perpetuating the German-Hungarian leadership in the monarchy and by increasingly relying on Germany's support. In 1871 Andrássy became foreign minister of the Dual Monarchy, and he worked with much success to strengthen the empire's international position. In the interest of this policy, he agreed to a partial rapprochement with Russia in the form of the Three Emperors' League (1872), but he made certain that Austria-Hungary's interests would be protected in the Balkan entanglement that followed the crisis of 1875.

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At the Congress of Berlin (1878) Andrássy secured the right to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina. From his viewpoint this action was aimed at counterbalancing Russia's increased role in the Balkans, while also taking account of his compatriots' wish to limit the number of Slavs in the empire. Although this "occupation" (turned into "annexation" in 1908) satisfied Austria-Hungary's immediate political interests, in the long run it proved to be a serious mistake, which contributed much to the eventual dissolution of the empire. For Andrássy personally, its ill effects were more immediate. Domestic dissatisfaction with the policy of expansion, coupled with the difficulties of the occupation itself, led to his resignation in 1879. But before he left office, he capped his career with the conclusion of the Dual Alliance (1879), which united Germany and Austria-Hungary and thus was the ultimate fulfillment of his foreign policy.

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Following his resignation, Andrássy withdrew from most political activity and died on February 18, 1890, at Volosca in Istria.

He was a man of culture, refinement, aristocratic charm, and broad European outlook.

His younger son of the same name (with whom he is often confused) was a distinguished statesman in his own right.

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Common rumor has it that Count Andrassy had a long romance with Queen Elisabeth (Sissy), the wife of Emperor Franz-Joseph, and fathered their only son Archduke Rudolf. There is no concrete evidence for this story, except that Elisabeth had a strong sympathy for Hungary, spent often time in Budapest, away from the court in Vienna, and could speak fluent Hungarian. She became famous worldwide in the late fifties with the Sissy films, starring Romy Schneider as Empress Elisabeth. Andrassy also features prominently in these films.

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The translation of the document (many thanks to Pieter for making it!)

We, under the grace of Heaven, and descendent of an unbroken line of succession, have nominated the Imperial Austrian and Royal Hungarian Privy Councilor Julius Count Andrassy, in the First Class of our Meiji Order of the Rising sun, and We confer herewith the insignia of the order as a token of Our esteem.

Given in the 2540th year after the accession to the throne of Emperor Jimmu, the 13th year, 6th month, 7th day of Our reign, at the Tokyo Palace, under Our Sign Manual and affixed with the Seal of State.

Prime Minister, Councillor of the Bureau of Imperial decorations, First class of the Order of the Rising sun, Sanjo Sanetomi Entered under number 174 in the Registrar of Orders.

So this was only 174th order of rising sun issued for foreigner back in June 7, 1880.

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