French and Russian enemies of the Napoleonic war ceremonially buried together

The remains of more than 100 French and Russian soldiers who died on the battlefield nearly 200 years ago received a ceremonial burial on Saturday outside Moscow.

The corps included 120 soldiers who fought in the Battle of Vyazma of 1812, in which the forces of the Russian Empire defeated Napoleon’s retreating army after the failed invasion of Moscow in November 1812. There were also three women, who were believes they provided food and first aid to the troops, and three teenagers, believed to be drummers, AFP reported.

When the bodies were found during a construction project in 2019, archaeologists initially thought the mass grave was from World War II, but researchers determined that it was much older. Alexander Khokhlov, head of the archaeological expedition, said the discovery of metal uniform buttons helped establish the French army regiments in which some of the victims served.

Military attaché to the French embassy in Moscow, Brigadier General Ivan Martin (right) carries a box containing the remains of Russian and French soldiers who died during Napoleon's retreat in 1812, in a small church in the monastery of John the Precursor in the city of Viazma, on February 8, 2021.
Military Attaché of the French Embassy in Moscow Brig. General Ivan Martin, right, carries a box containing the remains of French and Russian soldiers who died during Napoleon’s retreat in 1812.
AFP via Getty Images

The burial ceremony was attended by officials from both countries and direct descendants of the battle leaders, Yulia Khitrovo, a descendant of Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, and Prince Joachim Murat, a descendant of one of Napoleon’s most famous marshals. “Death made them the same: now they are all in one grave,” Khitrovo said.

The event was seen as a moment of unity between France and Russia, who have been at odds over Russia’s crackdown on political protests and other issues.


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