Order of the Legion of Honor / Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur

Orders & Medals Society of America Forums French Medal Collecting French Orders and Medals pre-1870 Order of the Legion of Honor / Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur

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    The Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur / Order of the Legion of Honor is France’s highest award.

    It has been instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte on 29 Floreal an X (19 May 1802). It has been established as a national order open to both officers and soldiers, and civilians, for outstanding services.

    The insigna itself has only been created on 1st July 1804, with a 5 arms, 10 pointed star, the star of conquerors. The badge did not change a lot in more than 200 years, even if each French political regime more or less modified it until 1870. The actual insigna of the Legion d’Honneur is very close to the one chosen in 1870, with the end of the Second Empire (Napoleon III) and the institution of the 3rd French Republic. Most books or websites describe these changes, and the OMSA Medal Database contains a lot of nice pics…

    Only 4 classes existed at the beginning : Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandants (Commander), Grand-Officier (Grand-Officer). The higher class, "Grande-Décoration" (also called "Grand-Aigle") has been established on 30 January 1805. It now corresponds to the Grand-Croix (Grand Cross). On 1st March 1808, Napoleon I re-established nobility in France (Noblesse d’Empire), and the recipients of the Légion d’Honneur became Knights.

    Napoleon III is the first having decorated women, and artists (writers, authors, theatre players…). A new Code of the Légion d’Honneur has been implemented by General de Gaulle on 28 November 1962, and it is still in use. It limits the number of Legion d’Honneur members : 75 Grand-Crosses, 250 Grand-Officers, 1250 Commanders, 10,000 Officers and 113,425 Knights.

    Attached is a pic of an insignia of Knight of the Légion d’Honneur – 5th French Republic (actual).


    Pic : Ed Haynes – OMSA Medal Database.

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    You can find the complete code of the Légion d’Honneur, Médaille Militaire and Ordre National du Mérite, here :

    viewtopic.php?f=44&t=228 (post #2)

    or directly here :

    http://www.legiondhonneur.fr/shared/fr/ … ation.html




    Could any collector help me identify what type of legion of honour and period this medal is?

    Kind Regards
    Matthew Tredwen
    The Fallen Eagle Militaria

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    Your Knight class of the LOH dates from 2nd Republic (1848-51). It is proper for this type to lack the crown suspension.
    Hope this helps,
    Kris Johnston,



    Three documents from my collection from the 2nd Empire.

    1. Knight:

    2. Commander (2 documents whit the same name):

    I have no decorations for this documents. But I hope to buy them next year.

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    Good afternoon all,

    Recently I have bought a document and a Legion d’Honneur. In the document somebody is named that he was awarded the knights class.
    The document is dated 1857:

    Now I have also a Knights class of the Legion d’Honneur. Does somebody knows of this order is of the same time period as the document?

    The order:

    The order came in a dark brown box with LEGION D’HONNEUR / CHEVALIER in 2 lines on the top.

    And what means the black line on the ribbon? And the button, is that a private made suspension?

    Many Thanks in advance.

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    to bad, I just heared it is a version of the 3rd republic (1870).



    Yes, it is a 3rd Republic period award (1870-1951). Button on ribbon is privately attached, black line is not official either but occasionally added to display of a deceased recipient’s award.
    To complete your document you’d need a 2nd Empire type (1852-1870). Let me know if you need one, I have few available.



    Good morning Kris,
    Thank you for your answer. Does the black line mean that the award was posthumously awarded, or is it just added after the person has died?

    The button usually indicates that is is awarded to a civilian?

    I’m still looking for one. I am looking for a one with its original box. I’ve allready looked on liverpoolmedals and saw the prices for the 2rd empire version. I must wait to buy one, because I want to go to the international meeting in Geneva.



    Black stripe was not an official device so it’s meaning cannot be stated for certain.
    Button on ribbon is simply a personal arrangement of attachment. It also cannot be used to designate civilian/military recipient. Many older examples (1st Empire/Restoration of Monarchy) used a button-hole type ribbon arrangement to help with LOH attachment, this was occasionally used on neck badges of various States etc. Again, this was simply a recipient’s choice.

    Cases for 2nd Empire can be difficult to find and can cost as much as the badge itself. The most common example is in dark green-grayish box with full image of the insignia gold embossed on the lid (note that Officer case would actually show a rosette on the ribbon in comparison with Knight where no rosette is shown). This goes for the Official maker of the LOH during 2nd Empire- Quizille Lemoine. There were many other makers and cases range in color from red to white but those are not as common.
    Unfortunately I do not have any cases for sale. Good luck with your search.



    Good evening Kris,
    thank you for this useful information.


    Frank Dutil

    Below is a poem (hence the odd arrangement) sent to me by a friend in France who’s also an ODM collector. It’s on a large very nice parchment, I translated it for this membership. I know of at least one member here who will rejoice in its reading.



    Hi Franck,

    Nice poem. Please post the French text as well…

    It’s true that I have always heard people awarded the French Legion d’Honneur say : "Elle ne se demande pas. Elle ne se porte pas." (You don’t ask for it. You don’t wear it).




    paul wood

    Very nice. Yes it is a shame that the Legion d’Honneur has become like the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.=other bugger’s efforts).




    But hadn’t it always been both civil and military? And, as the first "revolutionary" award, it was based on achievement not birth, a very novel idea.

    Not to say that the contemporary standards haven’t been badly distorted . . . .

    Nice poem.

    The quote I’d always heard was that you’d get the LdH about the same time you got your prostate operation.

    I always regret not getting a 1st Empire LdH (back when they were cheap), bad shape, tattered ribbon, with a contemporay note by an English officer documenting that it had been found on the field after the Battle of Waterloo.

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