The Iron Cross has an interesting place in history.
Known as an award for bravery, heroism and leadership that started with King Frederick William III of Prussia during the war with Napoleon it was introduced on March 10, 1813. It was modeled after another cross that had deep roots in German/Prussia blood.
(Knight costume) (source unknown, I can’t find it ;~;)
The Teutonic Knights, a merry band of German (using the term German to mean those from that area as there was no Germany in the 12th century and using the term merry band lightly and ironically) knights (and they had to be Germans of higher status, like nobility), that were established in 1190 in Arce. Unlike their brothers, the Hospitallers and Templars, the Knights Teutonic were both an order that offered care (medical/nursing) and military might. Their symbol was a black cross on a white background.
The Teutonic Knights eventually made their way into Prussia, which, at the time, was pagan. As a group under the command of the church, it was their duty to convert pagans.
And convert pagans they did (there is an irony in this because originally the Germanic tribes resisted being converted to Christianity back when it was all the rage in Rome and now you’ve got a bunch of Christian German knights converting pagans).
From there, Prussia became the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights. When it became the Kingdom of Prussia, the symbol of the Knights Teutonic became a military decoration, later used in the German Empire and the Third Reich. If you say German Cross nowadays, most will probably think of this:
(A/N: personal experience, I was looking for an Iron Cross pendant and the jeweler I asked was horrified.)
When they should actually think of this:
(Variations from 1813-1870)
Everyone who knows Hetalia knows Germany’s
narcissistic awesome older brother, Prussia.The character represents several different entities all except the very first having some connection with the Iron Cross. The first being a representative of a Germanic territory (he does at one point talk about other brothers, meaning other Germanic territories so one can theorize he was one before being Teutonic and you have to have Germanic blood to be Teutonic in the first place), then the Knights Teutonic, followed by the different versions of Prussia, which included the Duchy of Prussia (1525), the union of Brandenburg-Prussia (1618) which led to the Kingdom of Prussia (1701), then a uniting of the German principalities (excluding Austria, the two did argue a lot) in the 19th century to create Lesser Germany. In 1867 the North Germany Confederation was formed with Prussia being the core. In 1871 it became part of the Germany Empire (Deutsches Reich). From 1918 until 1947 it was the Free State of Prussia. Prussia was officially dissolved in 1947, February 25 by the Allied Control Council.
On a side note: Königsberg was originally Prussia’s capital, later Berlin.
In Hetalia, (particularly fanart) both Prussia and Germany are seen wearing Iron Crosses. And it should be known that Prussia was one of the great military strengths in Europe for a long time. When American rebels needed training, a Prussian trained them.
On another side note: This was the headquarters of the Knights Teutonic in Prussia (what is today Poland)
(The Order’s Marienburg Castle, Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, now Malbork, Poland) (Look at this beautiful castle! Built in 1406, largest brick castle in the world upon its completion. More information about castles in a later post ;D)
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