Originally, grenadiers were soldiers who distinguished themselves by the use of grenades. They formed specialized units for assault during siege warfare from the 17th century onwards. Afterwards, they formed elite units, which kept the name grenadier, even if these units made only a secondary use of grenades, or even no longer use them.
During the First Empire, grenadiers formed elite companies within line infantry regiments, one per battalion. Transferring to a grenadier company was a reward, and pay and equipment were superior, with grenadiers continuing to carry sabers, while riflemen had to make do with the bayonet.