Creation of the Council
By means of the decree of 29 January 1941, General De Gaulle named the first Companions who, at the same time, became the first members of the Council of the Order of the Liberation under the authority of the first Chancellor, Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu. The other members of the Council at the time were Governor Félix Eboué, Lieutenant Emmanuel d'Harcourt, Edmond Popieul, officer of the Merchant Marine, and Henry Bouquillard, Warrant Officer of the Free French Air Forces.
Its original role
Originally, the Council's role was mainly to review the nominations to become a member of the Order, and to turn in a decision - accepted or rejected - to be submitted for signature by General De Gaulle, whose final word in the matter decided the nominations of the Companions of the Liberation.
"As long as military operations allow it", the Council was to meet once every quarter to discuss the proposals received. The Council was not sedentary, and this was especially true in its early days; its members were dispersed because of their respective civilian and military posts. Governor Eboué, for example, lived in Brazzaville and Thierry d'Argenlieu was on several diplomatic assignments (in Canada, among others) while d'Harcourt, Popieul and Bouquillard went on their respective assignments in France, at sea and in the sky.
The Council was also to meet at any time, upon request by the Leader of the Free French movement, to examine any urgent proposals for membership.
During these meetings, the members examined the files on each of the military and civilian candidates for whom proposals were being studied. A proposal that climbed the hierarchical ladder all the way up to the Council of the Order was usually one that had been prepared by a corps commander (the Free French) or by the leader of a movement or network (the Resistance). This proposal often included a brief summary of the services rendered by the candidate from the time he/she had joined the Forces or the Resistance movement, and the reason for the proposal or a text proposed for the summons.
If the various points were found to have merit, yet insufficient, additional information could be requested or a decision on the file was adjourned.
Its present-day role
Today, and ever since the Order was deactivated on January 23rd, 1946, the role of the Council of the Order is basically to further and maintain the tradition and the ideal as imagined by General De Gaulle, and to provide discipline within the Order.
When the Council of the Order was created, it had only five members. It has changed every since. No maximum number of members has been established by any text. Members of the Council - a prerequisite is that they must be Companions of the Liberation - are named by decree. They are currently sixteen, and they have all been members of the French Free Forces or the Resistance movement.
Since the death of General De Gaulle, the Council's role has only been that of an advisor. It is no longer the Grand Master who decides, but rather, the Chancellor who takes the opinion of the Council.