Order instituted on 17 January 1701 by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg.
The Order of the Black Eagle had only one class, but could also be awarded at the king's prerogative "with the Chain" ("mit der Kette") or without ("ohne Kette"). By statute, members of the order also held the Grand Cross of the Order of the Red Eagle, and wore the badge of that order from a ribbon around the neck. From 1862, members of the Prussian royal house, upon award of the Order of the Black Eagle, also received the Prussian Crown Order 1st Class.
The badge of the Order was a gold Maltese cross, enamelled in blue, with gold-crowned black eagles between the arms of the cross. The gold center medallion bore the royal monogram of Friedrich I ("FR", for Fredericus Rex).
The star of the Order was a silver eight-pointed star, with straight or faceted rays depending on the jeweler's design. The center medallion displayed a black eagle (which gripped a wreath of laurels in its left claws and a scepter in its right) on a golden background, surrounded by a white enamelled ring bearing a wreath of laurels and the motto of the Order.