Basic Time line of Events *
8 May 1667 - Order of Generosité established.
9 June 1740 - Renamed and established as the Pour le Mérite by Friedrich II.
18 January 1810 - Order Pour le Mérite reserved as a military order.
10 March 1813 - First stated in the foundation document of the Iron Cross that the Oakleaves would be awarded to the Pour le Mérite for extraordinary achievements.
17 December 1817 - Distinctive ribbon established for the Oakleaves Addenda.
1832 - Badge lettering style changed from Italics to Roman letters; blue enamel darkened.
31 May 1842 - Civil class for arts and science established.
18 July 1844 - Crown Addenda established for holding the military order for fifty years.
24 January 1846 - Statues of the civil class revised.
18 September 1866 - Grand Cross badge and star established.
9 November 1918 - All Imperial orders abolished with the Kaiser's abdication.
26 February 1922 - Civil class established as a free association of scientists, scholars, and artists.
4 March 1924 - Civil Order Pour le Mérite approved by the Prussian Ministry of State.
31 May 1952 - Civil class of the order reinstitued by President Theodor Heuss of the Federal Republic of Germany.
18 June 1956 - President of the Federal Republic of Germany became protector and master of the civil order.
27 January 1963 - Statutes of the civil order revised.
30 June 1969 - Amendment to the statutes of the civil order.
* Basic time line structure based upon information provided by David Edkins. (Please see References for more details)
Unusual Facts About...................
There were five recipients of both military and peace class (Arts & Science) Pour le Mérite Orders. They were Generalfeldmarschall Graf von Moltke, Minister of War von Verdy de Vernois, Generalfeldmarschall Freiherr von der Goltz-Pascha, General Freiherr von Freytag-Loringhoven, and General Dr. Hermann von Kuhl.
The highest variation of the Pour le Mérite ever awarded were Oakleaves to the Grandcross. This variation was only awarded to Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (Emperor Friedrich III) and to Prinz Friedrich Karl of Prussia.
Imperial Russian Staff Captain, Count Gustaf Gustafovich Armfelt had his Pour le Mérite revoked after 43 years. It had been awarded for distinction in action on 19 March 1814. It was revoked and returned on 16 April 1857 and no reason for this revocation is known.
Some recipients of the Orden Pour le Mérite received the award twice and some thrice.
Count Franz Florentin Valory received his Pour le Mérite for outstanding leadership and distinction in action 21 years late.
Karl August Ludwig von Wedell was the only Prussian who did not receive the Oakleaves during the "Liberation War." He was severely wounded in battle and required that both legs be amputated. As the field surgeon removed one leg, Leutnant von Wedell being still conscious said, "that is for my king." And when the second one was removed, he uttered, "and that one is for my fatherland." He did not survive his severe wounds. And that is why he did not receive the Oakleaves.
There are two Manfred Freiherr von Richthofens. According to two resources on the Order Pour le Mérite there are two. One Manfred is the famously known pilot the "Red Baron" and the other Manfred is Lt. General Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen.