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"tombé pour notre liberté"

The discussion over on Crooked Timber of Republican candidate Fred Thompson's claim that "our people have shed more blood for other people's liberty than any other combination of nations in the history of the world" reminds me of one of the few monuments I have seen which sincerely thanks another country for fighting for the liberty of the locals. It's in an Eastern European capital, and the nation thanked are the French (specifically one Frenchman, Napoleon), not the Americans.

The monument also contains the remains of an unknown soldier of the Napoleonic wars; as you see on one side there is an enthusiastic endorsement of Napoleon in the local language, and on the next side is this poem:
Sous cette pierre nous avons déposé tes cendres
Soldat sans nom de l'armée napoléonienne
Pour que tu reposes au milieu de nous
Toi qui en allant à la bataille pour la gloire de ton empereur
Es tombé pour notre liberté
This country's gratitude for past assistance from France is not well known even in France, let alone elsewhere. I can't imagine that there is any other capital city where Napoleon is so enthusiastically venerated (certainly not Paris, where I have always sensed a certain ambivalence).

OK, folks, no sneaky googling: which capital, and which country, am I talking about?

(For a bonus: which ruler of nineteenth-century France is buried in this same country?)


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2007 08:40 am (UTC)
Solely on the fact that the monument has 'Slovenze' and 'Iliria' written on it, I'm going to go for Ljubljana in Slovenia, though it'll no doubt turn out that Napoleon was protecting them from the Slovenes.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 08:42 am (UTC)
Given that the name of the country is on the inscription, I'm going for Ljubljana.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 09:08 am (UTC)
Other thanks
reminds me of one of the few monuments I have seen which sincerely thanks another country for fighting for the liberty of the locals.

A couple of others that I know of are at Villers-Bretonneux

and Le Quesnoy
Sep. 23rd, 2007 09:10 am (UTC)
A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu
I was going to guess Slovenia, but googled the French text and found that the top entry was... your post.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 09:23 am (UTC)
......Slovenia and he liberated them for the Austro-Hungarians Hapsburgs
Sep. 23rd, 2007 10:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, ditto on Ljubljana

Also, isn't it in Estonia where the Nazis were actually reguarded as liberators rather than as oppressors?
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
The mayor of Lihula tried to put up a monument to the Estonians who fought with the Germans last year but it caused such a storm that the statue has been hidden away somewhere.

On a 1 - 10 scale where 1 = good and 10 = the pits, the Nazi's get a 9 and the Soviets 10+ so there's not much difference.
Sep. 24th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
The Nazis killed only 2-3% of the population, versus something like 10% for the Soviets. "Liberation" is a relative term.
Sep. 24th, 2007 07:01 am (UTC)
That was their word - not ours
Sep. 24th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)

Are you from Saaremaa?
Sep. 24th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
Not originally, but I have lived here over 10 years now. I was teaching in the local vocational school but I gave up my teaching contract at the end of June and am now free-lancing: editing, translating & tourism guiding.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 10:22 am (UTC)
> which ruler of nineteenth-century France is buried in this same country?

King Charles X. Poor chap died from cholera.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
Rough guess is Bucharest, Slovakia. Because it could be Prague but I don't think it is, and after that I run out of countries that speak Russian-related languages that have Roman alphabets. Although it could be Croatia, using that logic.

Bonus guess - Charles X?
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)
Bucharest isn't in Slovakia
Sep. 23rd, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
Sadly, I've made my usual mistake of confusing Bucharest with Bratislava. Sorry about that.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
Going by the "Slovenze" on the monument, I'll guess it's in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Isn't there a statue to Tsar Alexander II in Helsinki?
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
Finland was a Russian protectorate for a very long time. Nobody liberated them - they liberated themselves. First from the Russians after WW I and then from Sweden by joining the EU.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
Not Hungary because that's not Hungarian, I'd say Slovenia but I'm probably wrong.
There is ambivalence in Italy towards Napoleon as well, but I'd say it's the ambivalence of betrayed love, which makes me very, very grumpy whenever I read an historical something set in the Napoleonic wars. Strange-Norrell and O'Brien are out for me for precisely this reason. They are celebrating what for me is the wrong side of the war.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
Reading C. S. Forester is weird for that as well, as he tended to portray the Napoleonic Wars as equivalent to the Second War World, fighting a huge evil, when it just wasn't so.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)

I think I vaguely remember something like it being one of Napoleon's provinces or territories or something. I fell asleep a lot in Dr. Vialt's history class. The "Slovenza" on the monument was the biggest clue.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
That is in Ljubljana, that is the monument on the French Revolution Square in front of the open-air theatre Križanke. I recognize it, since I live in Ljubljana;)

That is old Slovenian writing, the 'bohoričica', that was still used in the 19th century...I've never read the inscription on the monument though;) I knew it is a monument to an unknown French soldier, that's how I knew as well it is in Ljubljana, but had no idea it was also dedicated to Napoleon...

I guess (from my history classes) it has to do with the fact that Napoleon made Ljubljana the capital of the Illyric provinces and the city only became a capital again upon Slovenia's independence in 1991. Many Slovenes still find it very significant for our history, even though it was only for about 6 years or so;)But it was the first time for Ljubljana to indeed be a capital of something, in Austria it was just one of the towns...

'Napoleon is coming, Illyria, let's rise...Napoleon's spirit is entering into Slovenians' souls...and drives a whole revived people...'
Sep. 23rd, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
I admit I was waiting and hoping for your reply!!!!

It's all a part of Jože Plečnik's plans to make Ljubljana the city it is today, turning it from sleepy Habsburg backwater to the gateway to the Slavic Balkans with a strong sense of its own history. It's fair to say that he succeeded.
Sep. 25th, 2007 08:23 am (UTC)
I was at a conference in Bled which is gorgeous by the way - and we had a full day trip to Ljubljana. Its a charming, beautiful and gracious city. But then I would say that - I'm a sucker for dragons.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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