The LEGION OF HONOUR, full name NATIONAL ORDER OF THE LEGION OF
HONOUR (French : Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur), is the
highest French order of merit for military and civil merits,
established 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte . The order is divided into
five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier (
* 1 History
* 1.1 Consulat * 1.2 First Empire * 1.3 Restoration of the Bourbon kings in 1814 * 1.4 July Monarchy * 1.5 Second Republic * 1.6 Second Empire * 1.7 Third Republic * 1.8 Fourth Republic
* 2 Organisation
* 2.1 Legal status and leadership
* 2.1.1 Grand Master * 2.1.2 The Grand Chancery
* 2.2 Membership
* 2.2.1 Civilian awards
* 126.96.36.199 French nationals * 188.8.131.52 Non-French recipients * 184.108.40.206 Collective awards
* 220.127.116.11 French service-members * 18.104.22.168 Collective military awards
* 3 Classes and insignia * 4 Gallery * 5 See also * 6 References and Notes * 7 External links
* 5,000 francs to a grand officier, * 2,000 francs to a commandeur, * 1,000 francs to an officier, * 250 francs to a légionnaire.
The order was the first modern order of merit. Under the monarchy, such orders were often limited to Roman Catholics, and all knights had to be noblemen. The military decorations were the perks of the officers. The Légion, however, was open to men of all ranks and professions—only merit or bravery counted. The new legionnaire had to be sworn in the Légion.
It is noteworthy that all previous orders were crosses or shared a clear Christian background, whereas the Légion is a secular institution. The jewel of the Légion has five arms.
In a decree issued on the 10
Pluviôse XIII (30 January 1805), a
grand decoration was instituted. This decoration, a cross on a large
sash and a silver star with an eagle, symbol of the Napoleonic Empire,
became known as the Grand Aigle ("Grand Eagle"), and later in 1814 as
the Grand Cordon (big sash, literally big ribbon). After Napoleon
Emperor of the French in 1804 and established the
Napoleonic nobility in 1808, award of the Légion gave right to the
title of "
Although research is made difficult by the loss of the archives, it is known that three women who fought with the army were decorated with the order: Virginie Ghesquière, Marie-Jeanne Schelling and a nun , Sister Anne Biget.
The Légion d'honneur was prominent and visible in the French Empire.
The Emperor always wore it and the fashion of the time allowed for
decorations to be worn most of the time. The king of
THE LEGION OF HONOUR UNDER THE EMPIRE
A depiction of
As Emperor ,
Embroided insignia of the Legion of Honour, detail of Napoleon's uniform of colonel of the Chasseurs à cheval of the Imperial Guard.
RESTORATION OF THE BOURBON KINGS IN 1814
First Légion d'Honneur investiture, 15 July 1804, at Saint-Louis des Invalides by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1812)
Louis XVIII changed the appearance of the order, but it was not
abolished. To have done so would have angered the 35,000 to 38,000
members. The images of
Louis Philippe I , King of the French, wearing the sash of the order
Following the overthrow of the Bourbons in favour of King Louis-Philippe of the House of Orleans , the Bourbon monarchy's orders were once again abolished and the order of the Légion d'honneur in 1830 was restored as the paramount decoration of the French nation. The insignia were drastically altered. The cross now displayed tricolour flags . In 1847, there were 47,000 members.
Yet another revolution in
In 1870 the defeat of the French Imperial Army in the Franco-Prussian
War brought the end of the Empire and the creation of the Third
Republic (1871–1940). As
In the second term of President Jules Grévy which started in 1885, newspaper journalists brought to light the trafficking of Grévy's son-in-law, Daniel Wilson, in the awarding of decorations of the Légion d'Honneur. Grévy was not accused of personal participation in this scandal, but he was slow to accept his indirect political responsibility, which caused his eventual resignation on 2 December 1887.
World War I
The establishment of the Fourth Republic in 1946 brought about the latest change in the design of the Legion of Honour. The date "1870" on the obverse was replaced by a single star.
LEGAL STATUS AND LEADERSHIP
Legion of Honour
Since the establishment of the Legion, the Grand Master of the order has always been the Emperor, King or President of France. President Emmanuel Macron became the Grand Master of the Legion on 14 May 2017.
The Grand Master appoints all other members of the order, on the advice of the Government. The Grand Master's insignia is the Grand Collar of the Legion, worn only by the President of the Republic, as Grand Master of the Order.
The Grand Chancery
The Grand Chancery is headed by the Grand Chancellor, usually a retired general, and the Secretary General, a civilian administrator.
* Grand Chancellor: General Benoît Puga since 23 August 2016 * Secretary-General: Luc Fons since 2007
The Grand Chancery also regulates the National Order of Merit and the
médaille militaire (
There are five classes in the Legion of Honour:
* CHEVALIER (Knight): minimum 20 years of public service or 25 years of professional activity with "eminent merits" * OFFICIER (Officer): minimum 8 years in the rank of Chevalier * COMMANDEUR (Commander): minimum 5 years in the rank of Officier * GRAND OFFICIER (Grand Officer): minimum 3 years in the rank of Commandeur * GRAND CROIX (Grand Cross): minimum 3 years in the rank of Grand Officier
The "eminent merits" required to be awarded the order require the flawless performance of one's trade as well as doing more than ordinarily expected, such as being creative, zealous and contributing to the growth and well-being of others.
The order has a maximum quota of 75 Grand Cross, 250 Grand Officers,
1,250 Commanders, 10,000 Officers and 113,425 (ordinary) Knights. As
of 2010, the actual membership was 67 Grand Cross, 314 Grand Officers,
3,009 Commanders, 17,032 Officers and 74,384 Knights. Appointments of
World War II
Members convicted of a felony (crime in French) are automatically dismissed from the order. Members convicted of a misdemeanour (délit in French) can be dismissed as well, although this is not automatic.
Wearing the decoration of the Légion d'honneur without having the right to do so is a serious offence. Wearing the ribbon or rosette of a foreign order is prohibited if that ribbon is mainly red, like the ribbon of the Legion of Honour. French military personnel in uniform must salute other military members in uniform wearing the medal, whatever the Légion d'honneur rank and the military rank of the bearer. This is not mandatory with the ribbon. In practice, however, this is rarely done.
There is not a single, complete list of all the members of the Legion in chronological order. The number is estimated at one million, including about 2,900 Grand Cross.
French nationals, men and women, can be received into the Légion, for "eminent merit" (mérites éminents) in military or civil life. In practice, in current usage, the order is conferred to entrepreneurs, high-level civil servants , scientists, artists including famous actors and actresses, sport champions as well as others with connections in the executive . Members of the French Parliament cannot receive the order, except for valour in war, and ministers are not allowed to nominate their accountants.
Until 2008, French nationals could only enter the
Legion of Honour
Main article: List of foreign recipients of the Légion d\'Honneur
While membership in the Légion is technically restricted to French
nationals, foreign nationals who have served
Collective appointments can be made to cities, institutions or
companies. A total of 64 settlements in
Organisations to receive the honour include the French Red Cross
(Croix-Rouge Française), the Abbaye de Nôtre-Dame des Dombes (Abbey
of Notre-Dame des Dombes ), the French National Railway Company (SNCF
, Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), the Préfecture
de Police de la Ville de
Notice of posthumous award of the Croix de Chevalier to
lieutenant Tessier—Mort pour la
The military distinctions (Légion d'honneur à titre militaire) are awarded for bravery (actions de guerre) or for service.
* award for extreme bravery: the Légion d'Honneur is awarded jointly with a mention in dispatches . This is the top valour award in France. It is rarely awarded, mainly to soldiers who have died in battle. * award for service: the Légion is awarded without any citation.
For active-duty commissioned officers, the
Legion of Honour
Collective appointments can be made to military units. In the case of
a military unit, its flag is decorated with the insignia of a knight,
which is a different award than the fourragère . Twenty-one schools,
mainly schools providing reserve officers during the World Wars, were
awarded the Légion d'Honneur. Foreign military units can be decorated
with the order, such as the U.S.
The Flag or Standard of the following units was decorated with the
Cross of a
1st Foreign Regiment
1st Marine Artillery Regiment
1st Marine Infantry Regiment
1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment
1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment
* 1st Regiment of African Chasseurs
* 1st Regiment of Algerian Tirailleurs
* 1st Regiment of Riflemen
* 1st Regiment of Senegalese Tirailleurs
* 1st Train Regiment
2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment
CLASSES AND INSIGNIA
The five classes wearing their respective insignia (gentlemen): 1: Chevalier; 2: Officier; 3: Commandeur; 4: Grand Officier; 5: Grand'Croix.
The order has had five levels since the reign of King Louis XVIII, who restored the order in 1815. Since the reform, the following distinctions have existed:
* Three ranks:
* Chevalier (knight): badge worn on left breast suspended from ribbon. * Officier (Officer): badge worn on left breast suspended from a ribbon with a rosette . * Commandeur (Commander): badge around neck suspended from ribbon necklet.
* Two dignities:
* Grand Officier (Grand Officer): badge worn on left breast suspended from a ribbon, with star displayed on right breast. * Grand-Croix (Grand Cross) formerly grande décoration, grand aigle or grand cordon: the highest level; badge affixed to sash worn over the right shoulder, with star displayed on left breast.
The badge of the Légion is a five-armed "Maltese
Asterisk " (for
want of a better description—see Maltese Cross ) in gilt (in silver
for chevalier) enamelled white, with an enamelled laurel and oak
wreath between the arms. The obverse central disc is in gilt,
featuring the head of
The star (or plaque) is worn by the
The ribbon for the medal is plain red.
The badge or star is not usually worn, except at the time of the decoration ceremony or on a dress uniform or formal wear . Instead, one normally wears the ribbon or rosette on one's suit.
Original Légionnaire insignia (1804). *
Late Empire Légionnaire insignia: the front features Napoleon's profile and the rear, the imperial Eagle. An imperial crown joins the cross and the ribbon. *
Louis XVIII era (1814)
Rear of a Republican cross, with two crossed French flags. *
Current medal for the officer class, decorated with a rosette . *
Chiang Kai-shek's Légion d'honneur. This is the reverse of his Grand Cross. *
The insignia of a Grand Cross. Nowadays the star of a
Insignia with figure of Henry IV *
Commander of the Order of the
Legion of Honour
* Category:Légion d\'honneur recipients * List of Légion d\'honneur recipients by name * List of British recipients of the Légion d\'Honneur for the Crimean War * List of foreign recipients of the Légion d\'Honneur * Musée national de la Légion d\'Honneur et des Ordres de Chevalerie * Ribbons of the French military and civil awards
REFERENCES AND NOTES
* ^ le petit Larousse 2013 p1567
* ^ Formerly the Royal Order of the
Legion of Honour
Wikimedia Commons has media related to NATIONAL ORDER OF THE LEGION OF HONOUR .
* Legiondhonneur.fr * Code