One-legged skeleton could solve 200-year Napoleonic mystery

29 August 2019, 16:22 | Updated: 29 August 2019, 18:59

A one-legged skeleton unearthed during a dig in Russia could solve a Napoleonic mystery more than 200 years old.

Researchers from France and Russia believe the remains are those of General Charles-Etienne Gudin, one of Napoleon's favourite generals, who died aged 44 after his leg was torn off in a blast during the French invasion of Russia in 1812.

His burial place was considered lost until the discovery was made during a joint archaeological dig in Smolensk, in western Russia, in July.

A fraction of the remains could now be handed over to France for DNA testing, according to Russian state agency TASS.

Pierre Malinowski, head of the Foundation for the Development of Russian-French Historical Initiatives, reportedly made the request for the tests.

"It's very important to me that the remains of this hero, who is very popular in France, could return to the homeland," TASS quoted Mr Malinowski as saying.

"We want to ask the Russian Academy of Sciences and the authorities to allow some samples of the genetic material to be exported to France for research, so that we can be 100% sure that we are dealing with the remains of Gudin."

Mr Malinowski said what will happen to the remains, should they be confirmed as those of Gudin, will be decided by descendants of the general.

The remains belong to a man aged 40-45 with "anthropological materials" that are consistent with Gudin's injuries, according to the international search expedition, supported by the Russian Military Historical Society.