Order of Saint Louis, Grand Cross Breast Star
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The Order was founded by Louis XIV on April 5, 1693. It surpassed the Order of Saint Lazarus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in precedence when it was created.
It was conferred upon Catholic Officers of the Royal Army for meritorious and distinguished military service. It was the first order of merit in France which permitted an Officer who was not of noble birth to be named a Knight. Napoleon’s Legion of Honour was inspired by this Order.
It was renamed the “Military Decoration” in 1791 and was preserved for a short time during the Revolution, but was later discontinued on October 15, 1792. It was re-established by Louis XVIII in 1814 and discontinued permanently in 1830. During the July Monarchy members of the Order were permitted to wear their decorations, but only with the Fleur-de-Lys removed from between the arms of the Cross.
There were three grades of the Order of Saint Louis: Knight, Commander, Grand Cross. Under the statutes of the Order there were limits on the number of Commander and Grand Crosses and an unlimited number of Knights.
Estimates place the number of decorations awarded between 1693-1792 between 34000-35000. From 1792-1814 an estimated 2500 decorations were awarded and from 1815-1830 and estimated 20800 were awarded.
The Order of Saint Louis is translated from the French "Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint-Louis".
Until the middle of the 18th century the Breast Stars were entirely embroidered. They were supposed to be made entirely of gold, however some silver embroidered stars exist. Beginning in the middle of the 18th century the Fleur-de-Lys and medallions were metallic. Later, during the Restoration period, Breast Stars were made entirely of silver. There is a great deal of variation across versions of the Embroidered Breast Star.
Similar to the crosses of the Order, the Breast Star presents a great deal of variation. The Breast Star may be made of gold, silver gilt, silver and may have enamelled parts. Some versions resemble Embroidered Breast Stars, while others have medallions with inscriptions or swords. The inscriptions may vary in abbreviation.
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