Circular silver and silver-gilt medal with hinged military trophy of arms suspension; the face with a circular central gilt medallion bearing a laurel-crowned female head facing left representing the French Republic, within a blue ring inscribed ‘REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE * 1870’ encircled by a laurel wreath, Paris Mint cornucopia mark, ‘1’ silver purity mark and ‘tête de sanglier’ silver hallmark on the ribbon at the base; the reverse with a circular central gilt medallion inscribed ‘VALEUR ET DISCIPLINE’ within a blue ring encircled by a laurel wreath; on replaced correct ribbon.
The Military Medal ranks second amongst all French decorations, giving precedence only to the Legion of Honour (and an exception made for the Order of the Liberation).
It was created by Louis Napoleon on 22 January 1852 and was novel in being specifically intended for non-commissioned officers and soldiers. It may be awarded for completion of eight years of military service, on receipt of a citation, for being wounded in combat and for acts of courage and devotion to duty.
Given the course of European history since its inception, it is not surprising that more than a million awards have been made. There have been successively nine main types and some specialists point to more than 30 variants as a result of differences in manufacture.
This example with hinged suspension and dated ‘1870’ is of the ‘8th’ type from the Third Republic period, 1870 to 1951.