Jump to content

Bulgaria Order for Bravery with skulls and bones and the pieces of the Monarchs

Recommended Posts

Hello gentleman,

I start this topic, because we know very little about the personal badges of the Bulgarian Monarchs and especially about the ones with skulls and bones.

Let's try to share our knowledge and to see how far we can get.

We know I believe that the skulls and bones are a maçonic symbol and that Prince Alexander and King Ferdinand were maçons. I don't believe that the skulls and bones are related to King Ferdinand's attraction to the occult, because this type was introduced by Prince Alexander who was quite sober and practical person. He was certainly a maçon and was incognito a part of the first Bulgarian loge "Etoile des Balkans", founded in Rousse by Ivan Vedar, quite inlighted person that saved the city from massacre during the Liberation war thanks to his maçonic relations with the Turkish command (source wikipedia & one book).

Do you have any info on what stands for those symbols and why the Bulgarian rulers were so keen on having exactly these unique pieces for their own use? 

I also assume we cannot talk about "emissions" on these pieces? Probably we can guess their producers?

I attach two photos I made in the Legion d'Honneur Museum in Paris and link to the other examples known on Ilieff's website.







@Graf, @ilieff, @new world, @922F

And another photo  I took, that leads me to another question: why Bulgarian Monarchs worn mainly I grade pieces (on neck ribbon) and virtually never Grand cross sets?

This one is King Ferdinand's star from a Grand cross set. Judging by the flowers in the swards handles most likely Krelty French made, right @Graf?


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, V.Vazov said:

This one is King Ferdinand's star from a Grand cross set. Judging by the flowers in the swards handles most likely Krelty French made, right @Graf?

This star reminds me of several Belgian grandcrosses I've seen. They were most likely also made in France.

Kind regards, Laurentius

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 23/01/2020 at 16:21, V.Vazov said:

...And another photo  I took, that leads me to another question: why Bulgarian Monarchs worn mainly I grade pieces (on neck ribbon) and virtually never Grand cross sets?



Perhaps one of the reason is that Grand Cross star does not really look like Bravery award, as there is no white cross for what it is known to most of people. It looks more like a foreign award than Bravery. Badge of 1st class on the other hand can be clearly seen from a distance and in the photographs. Probably Bulgarian Tsars wanted to make sure there's no confusion and everyone who sees them with the cross with skulls knows what they are wearing? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

My humble opinion is that the skulls and bones do not represent masonic symbols in this particular case but rather the symbolism of the Totenkopf and what the Germanic people of the 19th century (and earlier) make of it in its military sense (not to be confused with the later Nazi symbol of the SS). 

As a side note, the same symbol was used by various armies through the centuries and some still do to this very day.

I don't share your opinion regarding the highest class of the order - I think that the Grand cross badge has been used on multiple occasions - there are several images and paintings confirming its usage on regular basis. Prince Alexander was wearing the sash on official ceremonies, as per protocol. He also kept his orders after the abdication and even had a portrait of himself  painted where he appears in full parade Bulgarian generals' uniform and wearing the Grand cross (though without the skulls and crossed bones). Prince Ferdinand, being quite pedantic about wearing his orders, also wore the sash whenever he was performing military inspections and manoeuvres, opening the annual sessions of Parliament, St George's day etc. Naturally, after 1909 the Grand cross of the Order for Bravery was used less and less (since the introduction of a higher order in 1909). King Ferdinand was occasionally putting it on even after His abdication - just for photoshoots and the rare official occasions (e.g. the wedding of King Boris in 1930). 

The first two images Vazov posted above should be those of the 1st class set which was presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II during WW1. These were essentially the same overall-looking set as the one King Ferdinand had. The minor differences are in the central medallion (By the way, note the shape and position of the lion's tail - it's the same as that of the lion, found on the Samara flag top. Possible clue, perhaps. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Blog Comments

    • Sounds great other than the Orange & Mango squash only because I prefer cran-pomegranate juice.
    • "(...) disgusting herbal concoction (...)" I took note of this description, to enrich my otherwise limited, English "Wortschatz"...
    • At work the standard indian tea such as PG tips is referred to as chimp tea. This goes back to the days when we had a Spanish girl working for us whose command of the English language was extremely limited. One lunch she said she was going to the shop could she get anything. I asked if she could get a pack of tea bags. She returned with some disgusting herbal concoction. I tried to explain what was required but without success. I then remembered PG tips had a picture of a chimpanzee on the packe
    • When I read Lapsang Souchong i decided to post something about these Tea . Many years ago I dont  know about Lapsang until I read James Michener book Centennial and the description of the savour of the Lapasang as a mix of tar and salt & smoked made me proof . It was exact ! and i liked it since then .
    • I have been known to drink Lapsang Souchong and Tea, Earl Grey, Hot... both "without pollutants". I normally have one mug of coffee in the morning, then spend the rest of the day drinking Orange & Mango squash (by the pint). Then evening comes and it's a pint, followed by red wine with dinner and sometimes a drop of Laphroaig afterwards.
  • Create New...