Skip to main content

Médaille Militaire (Louis-Napoleon): CM.1460-2009

An image of Médaille Militaire (Louis-Napoleon)

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: Paris
Ruler: Napoleon III (1852-70)
Artist: Barre, Albert-Désiré
Ruler: Louis Napoleon (With the title of)
Mint: Colmar, Paris




Many of the medals currently on issue in France date back to the reign of Emperor Napoléon III, in whose time France renewed its international rôle in politics without the ignominy of defeat that it had endured under Napoleon I. One such decoration is the Médaille Militaire, which was instituted in 1852 (within days of the then-President Louis Napoléon arrogating supreme power to himself), to be awarded to any junior officer or enlisted man who distinguished himself by an act of bravery. Commissioned officers could not be awarded the medal in these circumstances, but there is a variant of it which is awarded to generals for leadership; in this class Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt are numbered among the medal's very few foreign recipients.
This example of the medal bears the bust and name of Louis Napoléon; after his death a new version was struck in the name of the new Republic. Minor changes to the design that were made after the Crimean War are absent, so that the award of this medal must have been between 1852 and 1855. It is unnamed, so it cannot be known to whom it was awarded. Although this medal is part of the Watson Collection, Lester Watson's own lists give no provenance for it.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, no provenance.

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 25.4 mm
Weight: 17.32 g

Place(s) associated

  • Colmar

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


1852 - 1855



Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Napoleon facing left with inscription around on blue enamel, laurel wreath around the whole surmounted by eagle to whose head is attached suspension

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Inscription with laurel wreath around, whole surmounted by eagle's back

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1460-2009
Primary reference Number: 141554
Watson Catalogue: C
Ordering: M-0343
Previous object number: LW.0343
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Médaille Militaire (Louis-Napoleon)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-21 20:43:24

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Médaille Militaire (Louis-Napoleon) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-21 20:43:24|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="Médaille Militaire (Louis-Napoleon)"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Médaille Militaire (Louis-Napoleon)</figcaption>

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...