The "château d'Écouen"
During Napoleon's reign as Emperor of the French, there were many military schools that educated boys to make them soldiers, but the girls' education was neglected, as the National Convention had closed all convents which ensured education for girls. Napoleon created the Maisons d'éducation de la Légion d'honneur to take care the daughters - among whom many were orphans - of his best soldiers and educate them. His first project was to create a school both for sons and daughters of the soldiers dead in the Battle of Austerlitz, but this project, presented on December 7, 1805, was finally cancelled.
The decree creating the Maisons d'éducation de la Légion d'honneur was signed by Napoleon on December 15, 1805, in the Schönbrunn Palace. It allowed the creation of three schools where daughters of members of the Légion d'honneur could enter if they were between 7 and 10 years old, and went out of them at 21.
Napoleon appointed Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan, former readers of the daughters of Louis XV and lady of the bedchamber of Queen Marie-Antoinette, headmistress of the first Maison d'éducation de la Légion d'Honneur. From 1794, Mrs Campan had ruled a boarding school for girls in Saint-Germain-en-Laye and had had among her pupils Hortense de Beauharnais, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Pauline Bonaparte and Caroline Bonaparte. She wanted Napoleon to set the school in Saint-Germain, but he chose the "Château d'Écouen", which had been a property of the Légion d'honneur since July 6, 1806.[1