Estimate: 15 000 GBP
Price realized: 22 000 GBP
Austria, Gold Medal of Honour for English Cavalrymen, 1794 (Ehrenmedaille für Englische Kavalleristen), as awarded by the young Holy Roman Emperor Francis II in recognition of his personal rescue by eight Officers of the 15th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Villers-en-Cauchies on 24 April 1794, by Johann Nepomuk Würth; obv., IMP. CAES. FRANCISCVS. II. P. F. AVG., bust of Emperor Francis II right, signed i.n. wirt. f. below truncation, rev., FORTI. BRITANNO. IN. EXERCITV. FOED. AD. CAMERACVM. XXIV. 24. APR. MDCCXCIV., crossed laurel sprays below, diameter 60mm, height (including suspension ring) 70mm, weight 136.75g (Montenuovo no.2296; Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallists, Vol. 6, pp. 569-70, illustrated), fitted with a finely-made gold split-ring loop for suspension from a gold chain, a couple of rim knocks and with contact wear, generally very fine, extremely rare Only nine examples were struck on the instructions of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II (later to become Emperor Francis I of Austria and also known as the 'Doppelkaiser'). The medal was created as a gallantry award and reward to the eight British Cavalry Officers of the 15th Light Dragoons who took part at the Battle of Villers-en-Cauchies and who rescued Francis from capture by the French, with one specimen being retained for the Imperial Cabinet of Vienna. The action, against greatly superior numbers, was later likened to that of 'the renowned Black Prince at the hard fought battles of Cressy and Poictiers [sic]', and the eight recipients to be honoured were: Lieut.-Col. William Aylett (in command), Captains Robert Pocklington and Edward Michael Ryan, Lieutenants Thomas Granby Calcraft, William Keir (as he was known at the time) and Charles Burrell Blount, and Cornets Edward Gerald Butler and Robert Thomas Wilson. All eight were also awarded the Military Order of Maria Theresa in 1800; see the following lot. The medals, weighing 40 ducats, were originally presented with substantial gold suspension chains for wearing. How many of the eight still survive is unknown but it is recorded that those to Cornet Butler and Captain Pocklington (ex Whitaker Collection) appeared in commerce in 1967 and 1968 respectively. Awarded to Major-General Sir William Keir Grant K.C.B., G.C.H., 6th Dragoon Guards, late 15th Light Dragoons, who became Colonel of the Royal Scots Greys. William Keir (later Keir Grant) was one of just eight Officers of the 15th Light Dragoons to receive the spectacular gold Ehrenmedaille für Englische Kavalleriste, expressly awarded by the Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, for gallantry in saving him personally from capture by French forces at the Battle of Villers-en-Cauchies (which is variously spelled in historical records), near Cambrai, in 1794. As it so happened, Keir Grant was later to become the recipient of an equally rare honour – the Collar and insignia of the Order of the Lion and Sun of Persia - for commanding a major British military expedition to the 'Pirate Coast' on the south-eastern Persian Gulf. Having roundly defeated the enemy and pacified the pirate stronghold of Ras al-Khaimah, Keir Grant succeeded in securing an agreement with a number of important tribal leaders, leading to an historic Peace Treaty of 1820 which heralded local truces and the foundation of the Trucial Sheikhdoms as well as the abolition of the Slave Trade in the area. Modifications to the Treaty and a full revision many decades later, in 1892, contributed to an enhanced British presence in the Southern Gulf and important new relationships with the Trucial Sheikhdoms. A loose British Protectorate was to last until the gaining of their independence on 2 December 1970, in turn leading to the creation of the United Arab Emirates.