French, Russian foes from Napoleonic war ceremonially buried together 200 years later

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French, Russian foes from Napoleonic war ceremonially buried together 200 years later

The remains of over 100 French and Russian soldiers who died on the battlefield nearly 200 years ago were given a ceremonial burial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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