The Order of the Legion of Honour was created by First consul Bonaparte on 29 Floréal Year 10 (May 19th, 1802). It replaced Old Regime decorations that the French Revolution had abolished. The cohabitation of civilians and military people in the same Order insured its survival throughout several eras. The Legion of Honour is the only decoration that survived to the different political administrations that France had from 1802 until today.
This decoration was created to reward the civilian and military acts that contributed to the defence and the prosperity of France. Moreover, article R.1 of the Code of the Legion of Honour and of the Military Decoration says it is « the reward of the eminent merits acquired while serving the nation, whether as a civilian or while serving in the army. » The Order includes three grades (Knight, Officer et Commander) and two dignities (Grand-Officer and Grand-Cross).
The President of the Republic is the Grand Master of the Order. The recipient must have accomplished 20 years of public service or professionnal activities. The nominations or promotions in the Legion of Honour are done by the President following his ministers proposals. They are published in the Journal officiel by decree of the President on January 1st, Easter and July 14th. Everyone admitted in the Order is first given the Knight grade. Each promotion in the Order rewards additional merits. Quotas have to be respected for each level, and the total number of legionnaires cannot exceed 125 000. Nonetheless, those living outside France don’t have to respect the Order’s hierarchy rules of grades and dignities, having been awarded to in consideration of their personnality or the services.