The first Russian order

In 1698, by decree of Tsar Peter the Great, the first Russian order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was established. According to legend, the Apostle Andrew was the first preacher of Christianity in Russia. He was crucified on an oblique cross (St. Andrew's Cross) in Greece around 70, which determined the design of the award signs.

It is believed that the idea to establish the award came from Peter I during a trip to England at the head of the Grand Embassy in 1698. The fact is that the British at that time had already introduced similar awards.

The order was intended to reward for military merit and public service "so that, looking at these clear signs of mercy and advantages, encourage others to brave and faithful services and other feats in war and peacetime ...".

The insignia of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called consisted of:

1) the Sign-cross, the main image of which was Saint Andrew the First-Called, crucified, according to legend, on an X-shaped cross; at the four ends of the cross there are letters: S.A.P.R., which means lat. Sanctus Andreus Patronus Russiae - Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Russia. The badge was worn near the hip on a wide silk blue ribbon over the right shoulder.

2) A silver eight-pointed star with the motto of the Order "For Faith and Loyalty" placed in its central medallion. The star was worn on the left side of the chest above all other awards.

3) On especially solemn occasions, the badge of the order was worn on the chest on a gold figured chain covered with multi-colored enamels (see photo). The Order of St. Andrew the First-Called was the only one of all Russian orders to have a chain.

The first knight of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called was Fyodor Alekseevich Golovin - one of the closest associates of the sovereign, distinguished for his outstanding military and diplomatic abilities.

Traitor hetman Ivan Mazepa, one of the first to receive the order from the hands of Peter I in 1700, but was deprived of the award later. He went over to the side of the enemy of the Russian state in the Northern War - the Swedish king Charles XII, almost a year before his defeat by the Russian army. For betrayal, he was sworn into civil execution with the deprivation of titles and awards, which he received from the king.

Peter himself was awarded the order in 1703 for managing a military operation to capture two Swedish warships at the mouth of the Neva. Currently, the St.Andrew's Order of Peter I is kept in the Diamond Fund of Russia.

During the reign of Emperor John Antonovich, a tradition arose to award the order of the Grand Dukes at baptism. Paul I legalized this custom. After baptism, a blue St. Andrew's ribbon was tied to the child. By the way, it is for this reason that boys in the hospital are traditionally tied with a blue ribbon.

Emperor Paul was the first to present the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called to the representative of the clergy - Metropolitan Gabriel of Novgorod and St. Petersburg.

In 1807, the highest Russian order was awarded ... Napoleon. The French emperor received the award after the conclusion of the Tilsit Peace Treaty between Russia and France. In addition to Napoleon, his brother Jerome, Marshals Berthier and Murat, diplomat Talleyrand were included in the list of awardees.

Until 1855, the insignia of the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called for military and civil merits did not differ from each other outwardly. By decree of August 5, 1855, crossed swords were added to the Order of Military Merit.

It is interesting that not everyone could receive the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called. A candidate for Knight Commander of the Order had to have a count or princely title or a military rank not lower than that of a general, possess a great fortune in order to "support the importance of this event."

In total, during the existence of the order, according to various sources, from 900 to 1100 people became its cavaliers.

After the 1917 revolution, the awarding of the order was discontinued, and the wearing of the order was perceived as involvement in the White Guard.

By the decree of the President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin of July 1, 1998, the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was restored. According to this decree, the order is the highest award of the Russian Federation.