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Morton & Eden Ltd
Auction 90  23 Nov 2017
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Lot 79

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Estimate: 15000 GBP

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Austria, Imperial Austrian Military Order of Maria Theresa, Knight's breast badge, awarded in 1800, in gold and enamels, with suspension loop, 41mm (including suspension) x 28.5mm width, tiny chips to lower reverse points of cross and reverse enamel at central wreath, very fine. This award was conferred upon the eight recipients of the 1794 Villers-en-Cauchies gold medals (see preceding lot) on 7 November 1800 following a change in the statutes of the Order of Maria Theresa, allowing its award to foreigners for the first time. Permission to wear was granted by King George III and announced in the London Gazette, 2 June 1801. Together with the award came the title of Baron in Austria, considered equivalent to the award of the Knight Bachelor in Britain and in Europe. As one of the terms of this award, the Villers-en-Cauchies medal was no longer supposed to be worn although it was to be retained by the recipients. 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.
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