The Order of Saint George was established on 26 November 1769 by Empress Catherine II. The statutes for the order were revised in 1913.
Originally awarded in six classes, the first four were awarded to officers; the last two classes were awarded to non-commissioned officers. With the death of the Czar, this distinction was removed resulting in four classes.
During World War I, the Order of Saint George was bestowed upon officers for exceptional bravery. The first and second classes were awarded only by decree of the emperor. The third and fourth classes were awarded by approval of the Georgevsky Council, a group of Saint George Knights. Additionally, the third class was only awarded to senior officers while the fourth class was the highest award bestowed upon non-senior officers by the Russian Empire. During the war, a commanding general, with the approval of at least seven Knights of the order, could award the fourth class in the field. Recipients of the Order of Saint George were guaranteed a promotion in rank and were required to wear the medal or its ribbon at all times.