Cambaceres (1753-1824) To contact me


“Never the titles, the crosses, the cords caused as much pleasure only to him. It made its delights of the representation; in the living rooms and until the public places, it is appeared, with the joy of a child, of his kinds, sometimes out of gold, sometimes in pearls, sometimes out of diamonds, and, through these puerilities, it was certainly the best head of the imperial Council.” (Etienne-Denis Pasquier, Memories of my time)


(pass the mouse on the boxes to open them)


Chain draw (calque by Biennais)On January 30,1805 is created by decree a fifth rank of the Legion of honor called Grand Aigle or Great Eagle. On February 1, a second decree confers decoration on Cambaceres and to the other large officers (Joseph Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Lebrun, Kellermann, Lucien Bonaparte, Lacépède and Dejean).

Cambaceres requires of Martin-Guillaume Biennais, the goldsmith of the Emperor, to manufacture his chain. Biennais carries out a copy (see opposite) preserved today at the Kokagakuin university in Japan.

On February 10, the Emperor gives his decoration during an official ceremony to him to the palate of Tileries. With this occasion was also promoted prince Borghèse, brother-in-law of Napoleon 1st.

With died Cambaceres, its nephew Marie Jean-Pierre Hubert inherits the chain. In 1878, in the register of the objects of the duke of Cambaceres, it is mentioned a chain of the Legion of honor made by Biennais and having belonged to his uncle.

Then, the chain is bought by a British jeweller named Spink in London. The trace of the collar is lost in 1942 in the bombardment which entirely destroyed the building of the jeweller.

IMPORTANT : I would ask any person who might have any information about the "Grand Aigle" chain of the Legion of honour to contact me at  the following address:


Recto (Reboul gallery)Back (Reboul gallery)The Order of the Crown of Westphalia is rested by Jerome Bonaparte on December 25, 1809. If little French receives this decoration, Cambaceres is undoubtedly promoted dignitary of the Order of Westphalia shortly after its creation, because his decoration is of the first type.

The decoration weighs 60 grams of gold and is composed of a crown supported by an eagle on the lightning with the inscription “JE LES UNIS” and of a medallion surrounded by a snake which bites his tail (symbol of eternity).

With the center, an eagle carrying a sceptre is leaned with a drawn up animal (wolf or wild boar) : they carry a crown. Above, one finds the lion of Cassel (on the left) and a pulled up horse (on the right), as well as a blue enamelled ribbon carrying inscription “CHARAKTER UND AUFRICHTIGKEIT” (Character and sincerity : undoubtedly the motto of the Order?).
With the back, the decoration is identical. The ribbon carries the creation date of Order “EERICHTET DEN XXV DEZEMBER MDCCCIX” (25/12/1809) and one finds an blazon marked H NR (Hieronimus Napoleon - Jerome Napoleon).

This important bestiary is at the origin of the nickname of the decoration “the Zoo”. Napoleon declared himself “There is many animals in this order”.

The decoration above is currently on sale in a gallery of the Louvre des Antiquaires in Paris. For any further information, please contact Mr. Patrice Reboul ( I thank him to have allowed me to photograph this decoration.

23/02/07 - Emmanuel Prunaux