"It's a historic moment not only for me, but for our two countries. Napoleon was one of the last people to see him alive."
The remains of General Charles-Étienne Gudin, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s most valued military commanders, have been uncovered in Smolensk, Russia by a team of French and Russian archaeologists. According to LiveScience, the one-legged military man was killed by a cannonball at age 44, on Aug. 22, 1812 — and his remains were left buried until now.
Found on July 6 beneath the foundations of a dancefloor, the skeleton was indeed missing a left leg and also showed evidence of injury on the right leg — two essential details that suggest that these remains in fact belong to Gudin.
Records from 1812 note that the man had his leg amputated below the knee after sustaining grievous harm during the Russian invasion. Upon his death, Napoleon ordered Gudin’s name be inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe while his bust was put in the Palace of Versailles, and a Parisian street was named after him.
Meanwhile, his heart was removed and placed in a chapel in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery as a token of honor.
“It’s a historic moment not only for me but for our two countries,” said French historian and archaeologists Pierre Malinovsky, who helped find Gudin’s remains. “Napoleon was one of the last people to see him alive, which is very important, and he’s the first general from the Napoleonic period that we have found.”
Bonaparte and Gudin were childhood friends and attended the Military School in Brienne together. Gudin’s death had a profound impact on his old friend. Napoleon reportedly cried when he heard the news and immediately ordered that the man receive high honors.
The research team currently plans to test the skeleton for DNA. This will remove any shred of doubt and confirm that these remains are actually those of Gudin, according to Reuters.
“It’s possible that we’ll have to identify the remains with the aid of a DNA test which could take from several months to a year,” it explained. “The general’s descendants are following the news.”
After learning about the remains of General Charles-Étienne Gudin, discover some of the most interesting facts about Napoleon. Then, learn about archaeologists finding the remains of America’s first colonists underneath a Florida wine shop.