Orders, decorations, and medals of Spain

Orders, decorations, and medals of Spain

The oldest Military Honours of Spain existing today originated mainly at the time of the Muslim invasions of current-day Spain. Today however they have lost their military significance and are purely symbolic honours.


Ancient orders of chivalry

Current orders of chivalry

The Catholic Monarchs Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon introduced a military honours system which was approved by the Pope Adrian V in 1523. They awarded titles and hereditary honours to nobles and soldiers. Of those titles only the following still exist today:

Military Decorations

  • CroceLaureada.PNG Real y militar Orden de San Fernando (Royal & Military Order of Saint Fernando)
  • Medalla Militar Individual.PNG Medalla Militar (Military Medal)
  • Cruz de Guerra.png Cruz de Guerra (War Cross)
  • Medalla del Ejército.png Medalla del Ejército (Army Medal)
  • Medalla Naval.png Medalla Naval (Navy Medal)
  • Medalla Aérea.png Medalla Aérea (Air Force Medal)
  • Cruz del Mérito Militar con distintivo rojo.png Orden del Mérito Militar (Order of Military Merit) (Royal Decree 1040/2003)
  • Cruz del Mérito Naval con distintivo rojo.png Orden del Mérito Naval (Order of Naval Merit)(Royal Decree 1040/2003)
  • Cruz del Mérito Aeronáutico con distintivo rojo.png Orden del Mérito Aeronáutico (Order of Air Force Merit) (Royal Decree 1040/2003)
  • Cruz de la Real y Militar Orden de San Hermenegildo.png Real y Militar Orden de San Hermenegildo (Royal & Military Order of Saint Hermenegildo)
  • Cruz de Bronce a la Constancia en el Servicio.png Cruz a la Constancia en el Servicio (Long Service Cross)
  • Western European Union Mission Service Medal Ribbon 100px.png Medalla de Servicio de la Unión Europea Occidental (Medal of service to the WEU)
  • Medalla dels Patiments per la Pàtria - Mutilats.jpg Medalla del Mutilado (Medal of the Maimed)
  • Medalla dels Patiments per la Pàtria.jpg Medalla de Sufrimientos por la Patria (Medal of Suffering for the Motherland)
  • Sahara Medal 1977.png Medalla del Sáhara (Sahara Medal)
  • NATO Medal ISAF ribbon bar.svg NATO Medal
  • Mención Honorífica (……)
  • Citación como Distinguido (Distinguished Service Award)

Civil Decorations


  • The Orden del Toisón de Oro, is a chivalrous Order founded in 1430 by the Duke of Burgundy, Philip III of Burgundy.[1] Fue instaurada en España por Felipe II, aunque ya Carlos I intentó llevarlo a cabo.[2]

Established by Charles III of Spain in 1771 to decorate those having benefited Spain and her Crown by the actions. It is the highest civil decoration that exists in Spain.

  • The Real Orden de Isabel la Católica, established by Fernando VII in 1815, to “reward unflinching loyalty to Spain and the merits of Spanish and foreign subjects in benefit of the Nation and especially those services relating to the prosperity of the American and other overseas territories”. The decoration is currently the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The Orden del Mérito Civil, established by Alfonso XIII in 1926 to “reward the civic virtues of civil servants as well as the extraordinary services to the Nation of Spanish and foreign subjects”. It too is currently. the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Politics & Justice

  • The Orden del Mérito Constitucional, established by Felipe Gonzalez’s government in 1988 to “reward those persons who distinguish themselves by their services to the Constitution and of the values established therein”. It can be awarded both to persons or organizations (public or private).[3]
  • The Orden de la Cruz de San Raimundo de Peñafort, established in 1944 to “reward relevant merits performed by those persons involved in the administration of Justice and for their contribution and study of all branches of Law and for the untarnished services to judicial activities under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.[4] Depende de la Subsecretaría de Justicia, a través de la División de Tramitación de Derechos de Gracia y Otros Derechos, y dentro de la orden existen diversas cruces y medallas.[5]
  • The Orden de Cisneros,founded in 1944 to reward political merit. It is one of the least known decorations still in existence today.[6]
  • The Real Orden de Reconocimiento Civil a las Víctimas del Terrorismo, created in 1991, in order to honour those killed, wounded or kidnapped by terrorists. It consists of a Crand Cross, that can be awarded posthumously to the deceased and a Comendation, for those injured and kidnapped.[7]

Social Affairs

  • The Medalla al Mérito del Plan Nacional sobre Drogas (Medal of Merit of the National Drug Plan), established in 1995, it comprises 3 levels: Gold medal, for those who “have distinguished themselves in the performance of their activities or for achievements of special significance or importance, or that entailed a risk to their life, both in prevention, assistance, reinsertion or in combating drug trafficking as well as its consequences or derived illicit earnings”; Silver medal, for those “having carried out or carrying out noteworthy activities with continued dedication and solidarity, in the above mentioned areas, taking into account their real results”; White cross, for those “having shown exemplary and significant dedication in the above mentioned reas”.[8]
  • The Orden Civil de Sanidad (Order of Civil Health), created in 1943 to replace the old Cross of Epidemias, to the end of “rewarding service and merit in the ambit of medical care or in the course of assistance in fighting epidemias”.[9]
  • The Orden Civil de la Solidaridad Social (Civil Order of Social Solidarity), established in 1988 to replace the old 'Orden de Beneficencia' (Order of Charity) with the aim of “recognizing persons or organizations, both Spanish and foreign having distinguished themselves in promoting or performing activities related to social welfare”.[10]
  • The Medalla al Mérito Penitenciario (Medal of Penitentiary Merit), introduced in 1996, intended to reward those individuals or institutions that have contributed to the prison camp.[11]
  • The Medalla de Honor de la Emigración (Medal of Honour of Emigration)
  • The Medalla de la Seguridad Social (Medal of Social Security)

Society & culture

  • The Orden Civil de Alfonso X el Sabio (Order of Alphonso X the Wise) (replacing the Orden de Alfonso XII)
  • Medalla al Mérito en la Investigación y en la Educación Universitaria (Medal of Merit for Research and for University Education)
  • Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España (Order of Arts and Literature of Spain, Order of Arts and Letters of Spain, - from Spain)
  • Medalla al Mérito en las Bellas Artes (Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts)
  • Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo (Royal Order of Sporting Merit)
  • Medalla al Mérito Filatélico (Medal of Philatelic Merit)
  • Medalla al Mérito de la Radioafición (Medal of Merit for Radio operators)


  • Orden del Mérito Policial (Order of Police Merit)[12]
  • Orden del Mérito del Cuerpo de la Guardia Civil (Cross of Merito f the Civil Guard)
  • Medalla al Mérito de la Protección Civil (Medal of Merito of Civil Protection)
  • Medalla al Mérito de la Seguridad Vial (Medal of Merito f Road Security)


  • Medalla de Andalucia (Medal of Andalusia)
  • Medalla de Asturias (Medal of Asturias)
  • Medalla de Cantabria (Medal of Cantabria)
  • Medalla de La Rioja (Medal of La Rioja)
  • Medalla de la Comunidad de Madrid (Medal of the Community of Madrid)
  • Medalla de la Región de Murcia (Medal of the Region of Murcia)
  • Gernikako Arbolaren Gurutzea - Cruz del Árbol de Gernika (Cross of the Tree of Gernika)[13]


  • Orden de las Damas Nobles de María-Luisa (Order of the Noble Ladies of Maria-Luisa)
  • Medalla al Servicio de la Política Europea de Seguridad y Defensa (Medal of Service to European Security and Defence Policy)
  • Medalla Plus Ultra (Plus Ultra Medal)
  • Medalla al Mérito en el Ahorro (Medal of Merit in Savings)


  1. ^ Real e Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro, accessed January 12, 2009.
  2. ^ La insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro, historical summary of the history of Order of the Golden Fleece, accessed January 12, 2009.
  3. ^ Orden reguladora de dicha condecoración, accessed January 12, 20099.
  4. ^ Orden de la Cruz de San Raimundo de Peñafort, accessed January 12, 2009.
  5. ^ Sede electrónica del Ministerio de Justicia, the Order of San Raimundo de Peñafort, accessed January 12, 2009.
  6. ^ Heraldaria, Orders of Merit; decorations. accessed January 12, 2009.
  7. ^ Condecoraciones españolas, the Royal Order of Civil Recognition of Victims of Terrorism, accessed January 12, 2009.
  8. ^ Legislación española sobre Drogas, accessed January 12, 2009.
  9. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado, Royal Decree 1270/1983 regulating the said Order, accessed January 12, 2009.
  10. ^ Orden Civil de la Solidaridad Social, accessed January 12, 2009.
  11. ^ Medallas, accessed January 12, 2009.
  12. ^ Reglamentación de la Orden del Mérito Policial, accessed September 28, 2010.
  13. ^ Cross of the Tree of Gernika - Basque Government (English)

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