Medallion of Bonaparte


On May 20, 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte crossed the Great St. Bernard Pass with his reserve army to win the famous battle of Marengo.

Passing through Bourg-Saint-Pierre, he bivouacked there with more than 40’000 soldiers. Aware of leaving a great debt to the commune, a debt estimated at 39’000 francs, he wrote

“I received, citizen, your letter of March 20. I am very satisfied with the zeal shown by all the inhabitants of St-Pierre and the services they have rendered us. Have an estimate made of the damage that the passage of the army would have caused and I will compensate you for everything. This is only fair and I wish moreover to be able to do something advantageous for your commune.

However, he will not do anything about it. Bourg-Saint-Pierre will claim its due for a long time. Only in 1984, while visiting Switzerland, the French president François Mitterrand wrote this letter.

“Dear Mr. President,

It is with pleasure that France donates to your town a medallion representing Bonaparte crossing the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass and gives it today to the descendant of a family, yours, which was closely associated with this event. At the same time, I wish to bring the cordial greeting of my country to this friendly commune of Bourg-Saint-Pierre and I beg you to accept the expression of my faithful sentiments.”

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