The general Charles-Étienne Gudin de la Sablonnière, one of the closest military personnel of Napoleon, who died more than 200 years ago during the Russian campaign, will finally rest in his homeland. Russia handed over his remains to France on Tuesday.
“It is a truly historical fact, because a person who was an enemy of Russia in his lifetime, in 1812 became a symbol of reconciliation and even strengthening of relations between the two countries,” Elizaveta Peskova, vice president of the Foundation, told the EFE news agency. for the Development of Franco-Russian Historical Initiatives.
In the arms of historical rebuilders, dressed in uniforms of the napoleonic guard, the coffin was transferred to Moscow’s Vnukovo 3 airport, used for official foreign delegations, where it was handed over to the general’s descendants.
The coffin, covered with the French flag and accompanied by shouts of “Viva Francia” and drum roll, was honored by forty Napoleonic soldiers, who paraded with their sabers raised.
In addition, a Russian military band performed the “Marseillaise” while a platoon of the Russian Guard honored it by parading on a red carpet.
The remains of General Charles-Etienne Gudin, who died in Russia in 1812, were taken to France on Tuesday. Photo: AFP
Those present dedicated a minute of silence to the memory of the general before transferring the coffin to the plane with the accompaniment of a funeral march.
Back to france
As reported by the Foundation for the Development of Franco-Russian Historical Initiatives, the general’s great-great-grandson, Albéric d’Orléans, traveled to Russia to collect the remains of Gudin de la Sablonnière.
“A ceremony is scheduled for December 2 in Les Invalides (in Paris), with the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, but we do not know if he will invite Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Peskova said.
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, told the TASS agency on Tuesday that “for now” the Russian president does not plan to attend the burial of the general’s remains.
A skeleton and a historical find
On July 7, 2019 a group of Franco-Russian archaeologists found near the Russian city of Smolensk a skeleton. After performing DNA tests it was shown that he was Charles-Étienne Gudin de la Sablonnière, one of Napoleon’s closest generals.
General Charles-Etienne Gudin de la Sablonniere returned to France this Tuesday with honors from Russia, where he died more than 200 years ago. Photo: EFE
The main promoter of this search was the historian Pierre Malinowski, 33, a former French military man and former assistant in the European Parliament of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the far-right National Front.
The also president of the Foundation for the Development of Franco-Russian Historical Initiatives, created in 2018, embarked on “the largest historical project between France and Russia” with a team of about 50 people between experts from both countries and students, and that it had the direct support of the Russian Presidency.
Who was General Gudin?
Born in Montargis on February 13, 1768 into a family with a military tradition, Gudin studied at the Brienne military school, where he was a companion of the one who would become Emperor of France and where the two became friends.
A portrait of the French general Charles-Etienne Gudin de la Sablonniere, during the ceremony this Tuesday at the Vnukovo-3 airport, in Moscow, from where the coffin left for France. Photo: EFE
Gudin had a brilliant military career and at age 44 he fought in the Battle of Smolensk during the Russian campaign of 1812.
A few days later he had to support Marshal Michel Ney with his division in the battle of Valútino, about 20 kilometers east of Smolensk, and there was hit by a Russian cannon shot which ripped off his left leg and destroyed his right calf to the bone.
Three days later he died of gangrene and was buried.
His death shocked Napoleon, who went to see the general directly after the battle and gave in to his private physician to try to save his life.
His heart was taken to Paris, where he rests in a chapel in the Père Lachaise cemetery and his name inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe.