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?)