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Médaille Militaire (Republique Française): CM.1461-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: Paris
State: France
Artist: Barre, Albert-Désiré
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 cannot be awarded the medal in these circumstances, but a variant of it is awarded to generals for leadership. In this class Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt are among the medal's very few foreign recipients.
With the proclamation of the Third Republic in 1870 the monarchical image of Napoléon III which had previously adorned the Médaille Militaire was replaced with a bust of Marianne, the heraldic figure of France, and an appropriate legend.
This example is unnamed, and it cannot now 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: 27 mm
Weight: 17.37 g

Place(s) associated

  • Colmar

Acquisition and important dates

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


1870 - 1915



Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Marianne facing left with inscription around on blue enamel, laurel wreath surrounding; suspended from separate piece comprised of crossed war trophies behind shield

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Inscription inside blue enamel circle with laurel wreath around

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1461-2009
Primary reference Number: 141555
Watson Catalogue: D
Ordering: M-0344
Previous object number: LW.0344
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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Médaille Militaire (Republique Française)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-20 02:15:34

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{{cite web|url= |title=Médaille Militaire (Republique Française) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-20 02:15:34|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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