Hanna (John) Kobrossi

Picture of The Légion D'honneur Medal

First boy. He was born in Nazareth during 1781.
Hanna left to France and joined the Inkisharieh
(Janissary) cavalry group which was formed
      on the 1st Messidor during the eighth year of the Republic of France (June 22nd, 1801).
He received the medal of honor known as
"Ordre Royale de la Légion D'honneur"
(Royal Order of the Legion of Honour)
on the 14th of April, 1807.
On the 8th of February during the battle of Eylau
he was wounded by a bullet to the head and
a sword hit to his left shoulder
He passed away in the city of Milan,
Italy, on January of 1812.

  Picture of The Légion D'honneur Medal


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EYLAU , Battle of (7-8 February 1807)
Fought around the town of Preussich-Eylau, just inside the Eastern Prussian border,
twenty-two miles south of Konigsberg. Eylau was an indecisive engagement
in the Polish campaign. The main French army, checked by nagging attacks
from Bagration and the Russian rearguard, entered the town after a sharp
encounter on 7 February, leaving Bennigsen and his army to hold positions
on the plain north of Eylau. Overnight there was more than 30 degrees of frost;
next morning a blizzard obscured the movements of both armies, delaying the
arrival of Ney and Davout to support Napoleon's center. Despite the terrible
weather, a Russian column penetrated the town during the morning and almost
captured Napoleon's headquarters. He was saved bya remarkable charge by
eight squadrons of Murat's cavalry against the Russian batteries, giving the
French a respit until Ney and Davout arrived in the afternoon. The Russians
withdrew that night, with some 25,000 casualties from the fighting and the blizzard;
Napoleon lost 10,000 men and at least 1,500 cavalry horses. On 9 February
Napoleon, who had come close to defeat, dictated the official bulletin: he
described the battlefield after the Russian withdrawal and declared, 'Such a
sight as this should inspire rulers with love of peace and hatred of war'. Tsar
Alexander did not sue for peace but both armies retired into defensive positions
until June. When the Red Army entered East Prussia in 1945 and annexed the
region to the Soviet Union, Eylau was renamed in honour of the Russian
rearguard commander of 1807. As Bagrationovsk, it is the Soviet frontier post
between Warsaw and Kaningrad (Konigsberg)."

From Alan Palmer's book "Napoleon's Europe" republished in 1998 by Constable
and Company Ltd.


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Legion of Honour, officially ROYAL ORDER OF THE LEGION OF HONOUR,
French ORDRE ROYALE DE LA LÉGION D'HONNEUR, premier order of the
French republic, created by Napoleon Bonaparte, then first consul, on
May 19, 1802, as a general military and civil order of merit conferred without
regard to birth or religion provided that anyone admitted swears to uphold
liberty and equality.

Napoleon's ideas for this order, which finally prevailed, aroused a certain
amount of opposition, particularly from those who felt the Legion should have
purely military qualifications. After becoming emperor, Napoleon presided
over the first investiture into the Legion, which took place in 1804 at the Hôtel
des Invalides, Paris. In 1805, schools were started for daughters of members;
later, hospitals were maintained for sick and infirm legionnaires. During the
Restoration, the Legion became a royal order, ranked below the restored
military and religious orders of the ancien régime. Upon the downfall of the
monarchy, the Legion once again became the highest-ranking order and
decoration in France.

True to the stated ideals of Napoleon when founding the order, the membership
of the Legion is remarkably egalitarian; both men and women, French citizens
and foreigners, civilians and military personnel, irrespective of rank, birth,
or religion, can be admitted to any of the classes of the Legion. Admission
into this order, which can be conferred posthumously, requires 20 years of
civil achievement in peacetime or extraordinary military bravery and service in
times of war. Admission into the Legion for war services automatically carries
with it the award of the Croix de Guerre, the highest French military medal.

During the Consulate and the First Empire, Napoleon served as the grand
master of the order, while a grand council of seven grand officers administered
the 15 territorial units, or "cohorts," into which the order was divided. Currently,
the president of France serves as grand master, and the order is dministered by
a civil chancellor with the help of a council nominated by the grand master. The
Legion has five classes, listed in descending rank: grand cross (limited to 80
members), grand officer (200), commander (1,000), officer (4,000), and knight,
or chevalier (unlimited). Napoleon himself made some 48,000 nominations.
Foreign recipients in the classes higher than chevalier are supernumerary.
Promotion from a lower grade to a higher grade is done according to the service
performed in the lower. However, extraordinary services may admit candidates
at once to any rank.

The changes in design of the insignia reflect the vicissitudes of French history.
Originally, the star of the order depicted a crown surrounded by oak and laurel
wreaths with the head of Napoleon, while the other side displayed an eagle
holding a thunderbolt with the motto emblazoned "Honneur et Patrie" ("Honour
and Country"). During the first Restoration, Louis XVIII, in 1814, replaced the head
of Napoleon with that of King Henry IV of France, and on the other side introduced
the royal fleur-de-lis emblem. Napoleon III, in 1870, restored the original design,
although he replaced the head of Napoleon with the female head of the Republic.
The badge of the Legion depicts this head with the inscription "République
Française"; the reverse side has a set of crossed tricolours with the motto
"Honneur et Patrie."

From Britannica Online
"Legion of Honor." Britannica Online.
Available http://www.eb.com:180/cgi-bin/g?DocF=micro/343/29.html
[May 18, 1997]

Légion d'Honneur
The Légion d'Honneur was created on May 19, 1802 by Bonaparte, First
Consul of the French Republic. Bonaparte himself was head of the Legion (chef
de la Légion) and President of the Council of the Legion, and members were
called légionnaires. The ranks were, in decreasing order: grand-officier,
commandant, officier and légionnaire. The badge was the well-known
five-branch star, worn from a red ribbon. It was gold for the first two ranks and
silver for the other two. The Legion was conceived as a military institution, as
the names of the ranks indicate; members were organized in cohorts which were
distributed geographically. This elite group would serve as a cadre for the civil

With the Empire, the nature of the institution began to change. On Jan. 30, 1805
a new rank was created above the other: it was called "la grande décoration de
la Légion-d'Honneur", later called grand-cordon (from the red sash) or
grand-aigle (from the badge which hung from the bottom of the sash, and the
breast plaque). It was limited to 60 members and conferred only to grand
officers, not counting members of the imperial family and foreigners who could
receive it without being members of the Legion. This rank was created in
imitation of that of grand-cross in other orders; Napoleon wanted to be able to
award it to foreign sovereigns and their highest officials, so as to receive in
exchange the grand-cross of various national orders of Austria, Prussia, Spain,

At the Bourbon restoration in 1814, Louis XVIII made clear early on that he
intended to maintain the institution: an explicit promise to that effect was
contained in the Charte of June 1814, and an ordinance of July 19, 1814
confirmed it, while making the king its "sovereign head and grand-master" (chef
souverain et grand-maitre). Later, by an ordinance of March 26, 1816, the
Legion took the name of Royal Order of the Legion of Honor. The rank of
grand-aigle was changed to grand-croix, that of commandant to commandeur,
and légionnaires were henceforth known as chevaliers. The badges and
decorations were altered to their present status.


The Order has a grand-maître. From lowest to highest, it has three ranks:
chevalier, officier, commandeur ; and two dignities, grand-officier and
grand-croix. The insignia consists of a five-arm cross with (currently) the
profile of the French Republic surrounded by a wreath of oak and laurel. The
motto is Honneur et Patrie.

Knights and officers wear the cross hanging from a red ribbon, commanders
from a red ribbon around the collar, grand-officers and grand-cross from a red
sash with a breast plaque. On business suits, the ranks are represented by small
threads and/or a button woven into the lapel next to the button-hole. Chevalier is
indicated by a red thread, officier by a red button, commandeur by a red button
on a silver thread, grand-officier by a red button on a silver and gold thread, and
grand-croix by a red button on a gold thread.

The term grand-croix, borrowed from the Order of Saint-Louis, itself imitating
Malta, originally designated the insignia, but has come to mean the rank and the
holder of the rank as well. In modern French, it is not an adjective, and it is
invariable. In imitation of the Order of Saint-Louis, a decree of 1810 conferred
the hereditary title of chevalier de l'Empire to the third generation of recipients
in male line; this provision was confirmed as an ennoblement by ordinance of
October 8, 1814. The decree has never been rescinded, but since 1875 the
French government does not grant the necessary letters patent. There exists a
private association of individuals who meet the criteria for the "honneurs
héréditaires", 295 families in all. (See also an anonymous but accurate article
on this topic.)

As can be seen, Napoleon's creation, as amended by Louis XVIII, was closely
modeled on the order of Saint-Louis, including the style of the cross, the names
of the ranks, the color of the ribbon and the hereditary honors. The five rays of
the star was the only major break with other orders of Merit. The Legion of
Honor, however, survived every change in regime. Successive heads of state
have acted as grandmasters. Currently, the French president is grandmaster upon
inauguration (and also becomes grand-cross automatically). To this day, the
Legion of Honor is the most prestigious civil or military award in France.

Nominations to the rank of knight are made by presidential decree from lists
proposed by the various ministers: the honors are announced every year on
January 1 and July 14, and the usual number of nominations is about 2000
annually. Twenty years of public service or 25 years of professional activity are
normally required, as well as passing an enquiry of good moral standing.
Promotion to the rank of officer requires a minimum of 8 years as knight, and
additional meritorious achievements; 5 years are required to become
commander, 3 years to become grand-officer and 3 years to become
grand-cross. Jumping ranks is not allowed, except for the French president upon
inauguration as noted, but the time requirements can be waived, and promotions
through all the ranks within the same day have occurred (in 1873).

The current number of members is as follows (Jun 30, 1998):

  • (chevaliers): 85,684

  • (officiers): 22,490

  • (commandeurs): 3,694

  • (grand officier): 324

  • (grand-croix): 58

  • Total: 112,250

Only a few women have made it to grand-officers: the writers Louise Weiss and
Colette, the wives of the marechal Lyautey and the general André. The World
War II flyer Maryse Bastié was the first woman promoted commandeur for
actions in combat. Until recently, no woman aside from foreign queens had been
made grand-cross; Pamela Harriman (1925-97), US ambassador to France, was
made grand-cross (posthumously, although the president had already informed
her of his decision shortly before her death). The first French woman to be made
grand-croix was Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, founder of ATD-Quart
Monde, a humanitarian NGO, in 1998; she was followed by Germaine Tillion, a
member of the WWII Resistance, in 1999. In 2000, general Valérie André
became the first woman military to receive the grand-croix.

The Order has been awarded to moral entities. A large number of cities have
received it. A number of undergraduate schools and colleges have also received
it, as has the French Red-Cross, the abbey of Notre-Dame des Dombes, and the
French railway company SNCF. In the army, regiments have received it since
1859. They wear it, along with any other decorations, hung from a "cravate"
attached to the mast of the regimental flag, and members of the unit wear a red
"fourragère" (lanyard or shoulder-braid). The Code of 1962 does not mention
the possibility of awarding the Order to moral entities (such a possibility was
never mentioned in legislative texts either) and it is understood that the practice
has ceased.

Foreigners can be appointed, to any rank, and they are not subject to any of the
time requirements. A few Americans who received the order in the 19th
century: Thomas A. Edison (commander in 1889), Alexander Graham Bell
(officer in 1881), the astronomer Simon Newcomb (officer in 1896), the
sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens (officer in 1901), the painter John Singer
Sargent (knight in 1889, later promoted officer).

The Order is managed by a Chancery and a Council of the Order; they are
situated in Paris:
Chancellerie de la Légion d'Honneur
1, rue de Solférino
Paris 75007
At the same address is the Museum of the Order, in the Hotel de Salm (a
beautiful private mansion from the 1780s in unusual neo-classical style, whose
floor plan was copied by the Museum of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco's
Lincoln Park). It is a delightful museum for anyone interested in orders and
decorations (including pre-1789 orders).

From: Heraldica
Available http://www.heraldica.org/topics/france/frorders.htm#legion-honneur


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