The Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour of France
Awarded to Dutch Prime Minister Willem Drees in 1954

The establishment of the Order of the Legion of Honour, after much discussion and opposition, arising from a feeling that it was contrary to freedom and equality, the watchword of the Revolution, was at last carried in 1802 in the Legislative Body by a majority of one hundred and sixty-six to one hundred and ten. The Legion of Honour was meant to be an institution, at once the safeguard and protection of all republican principles and regulations, of all the laws of equality, and for the abolition of all the differences of rank in society as created directly or indirectly by the nobility.  The real object, however, of Napoleon in creating this Chivalry, to which merit of every social grade was eligible, was to popularise the idea of personal distinction, and pave the way for the establishment of the Empire, and the more exclusive titles of nobility which accompanied it.


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