|THE ORDER OF THE WHITE EAGLE
The measure of a nations' greatness is the degree and number of honours it bestows upon its meritorious citizens, and
especially to foreign dignitaries. Bestowing the highest award is a sign of great respect, and expression of deepest
appreciation. There is no other nation in history which matches Poland in its fervent desire to honor great leaders, both
men and women.
In November 1705, Augustus II the Strong officially instituted the Order of the White Eagle to the highest ranking civilians
and the military for their exemplary contribution to and sacrifices for Poland. It is interesting to note that Augustus the
Strong awarded the Order of the White Eagle only forty times during his reign. However, after his death his son Augustus
awarded the Order more than three hundred times!
According to decree, the Order of the White Eagle is attached to a blue ribbon and is worn on the left side of the chest
(draped over the left shoulder to the right side.).
Originally the Order was an oval shaped, red enamel, gold medal with an image of the Polish white eagle on the front. On
the reverse, it displayed Augustus IIs royal cypher over crossed swords and was attached to a light blue ribbon. In 1709
it was replaced by a Maltese cross. It changed again in 1713, when it bore a star, and was worn from the neck.
After Poland had been partitioned a third time in 1795, the Order was abolished. But in 1807 it was renewed and was the
highest award bestowed in the Duchy of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Poland. In fact, the Russian czars were so dazzled
by the splendor of the medal, that they began to bestow the honor upon themselves.
Following the November Uprising in 1830, Imperial Russia modified the jewels of the Order so that it resembled that of
On February 4, 1921, the Polish Parliament decreed that the Order of the White Eagle was the highest decoration to be
granted. The insignia however was redesigned. During the inter-war period, the Order was bestowed on 24 Polish citizens,
and 87 foreigners, including monarchs, heads of state, prime ministers, and ministers of state.
After the end of World War II, when the People's Republic of Poland was unlawfully inaugurated in place of the legitimate
Polish government, the communists officially abolished the Order of the White Eagle and it was no longer awarded.
Nevertheless, the Polish Government in Exile continued the long-standing tradition of awarding the Order.
With the collapse of communism and the liberation of Poland and restoration of its sovereignty, the Order of the White
Eagle was once again re-instated on October 26, 1992. Soon afterwards, the first person to receive the Order was the
late Pope Joh Paul II.
The following is a partial list of Polish recipients of the Order of the White Eagle. I have had to drastically edit this
list in orderr to maintain brevity. If you wish to read the entire list, including names of foreign recipients, please check
out the Wikipedia page,, as follows: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_White_Eagle_(Poland)
Pope John Paul II
Lech Kaczynski (ex officio)
Bronisław Komorowski (ex officio)
Ignacy Moscicki (ex officio)
Stanislaw Ostrowski (ex officio)
Gabriel Narutowicz (ex officio)
Józef Piłsudski (ex officio)
Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz (ex officio)
Kazimierz Sabbat (ex officio)
Lech Wałęsa (ex officio)
August Zaleski (ex officio)
Cross of the Order of the White Eagle
XVII century (Author: Maciej Szczepańczyk