Thursday, January 15, 2009

Biographer Pierre Bardin Discovers Death Report of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799)

[Saint-George/Mozart Quatuors à cordes; Quatuor Antarès; Integral Classic INT 221.125/1 (2003)]

The most recent authoritative biography of Joseph de Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, is Joseph de Saint-George, le Chevalier Noir, by Pierre Bardin. It was published in France by Guenegaud in 2006. On January 8, 2009 I received an E-mail from Monsieur Bardin, which I have translated as follows: "Dear Professor Zick, I want to share a discovery I recently made. It will surprise you and will undoubtedly expand on AfriClassical's biography of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, in addition to my book, Joseph de Saint George le Chevalier Noir. With my thanks, Regards, Pierre Bardin.” As webmaster of, and author of AfriClassical Blog, I am pleased and grateful that Monsieur Bardin has chosen to announce his discovery on my website and blog. Daniel Marciano is a Professor Emeritus at l'Université de Franche-Comté at Besançon, France. Prof. Marciano has graciously provided an English translation of the latest findings, for which I am also very appreciative:

As a conclusion:
The biography I wrote had already been published when I made an astonishing discovery in the archives of the police while trying to follow the steps of some among the men who enrolled in The Légion des Américains et du Midy” (aka The Saint-George Legion”).

The police superintendent of the Montreuil District was on duty on June 10th 1799, when at 8:00 PM, he had four visitors, well-dressed gentlemen who, after introducing themselves, had come to present a request. The first to identity himself was citizen Jean-Pierre Gomard, a fencing master, living on rue du Bout du Monde, No. 18, Division de Brutus. The next one was citizen Philibert Menissier, Jr., another fencing master, who resided on rue Neuve Sainte Eustache No. 12, Division de Brutus. Then came Major Charles François Talmet of the 9th Regiment of Hussards, a resident of Monceaux near Paris; the last one being Pierre Nicolas Beaugrand, a retiree (a former head clerk at the National Assembly), residing in Paris on rue Neuve des Petits Champs, No. 16, Division de la Butte des Moulins.

They all declared that “citizen Joseph Bologne, also called Saint-George, colonel of the 13th Combat Regiment, died today at 1:00 P.M., on rue Boucherat No. 13, division of the Temple and recorded at the City Hall of the 13th District, his body having been carried today in a coffin to the Temple de la Liberté et de l’Egalité of the 8th district. As the informants knew the deceased well and were his close friends, they expressed the desire to exhume his body and place it in a lead coffin. They had thus come to us to carry out their wishes and be certain they were not infringing upon the law, assuring us that all this was sincere and true and signed with us after we read the statement.


PILLECAT, police superintendent.

Copies of this statement will be sent to the central and city administrations to close the matter according to the law.”

Thus, this discovery enables us to state, contrary to what has often been repeated, that Saint-Georges did not die alone, abandoned, and then forgotten. The people who appeared at the police station were very likely acting on behalf of a group of friends, among whom were fencing masters. This is shown by the presence of two of the most eminent representatives of the profession. This exceptional initiative proves the complete respect that so many people felt for this man, in refusing to allow his body to be buried in some anonymous place. They wanted to keep his body in the lead coffin and take it to a more appropriate spot. At last, this discovery enables us to know the place where Saint-Georges was buried. Indeed “The Temple de la Liberté et de l’Egalité” (“Temple of Liberty and Equality”) is Sainte Marguerite Church, whose name was changed as was done for so many churches at the time. It still exists on Rue de Chanzy in the 11th district, the adjoining cemetery being one of the most important in Paris at the time. Was the permit of exhumation granted? We may suppose it was, but once again, the relevant documents are missing. They disappeared, like millions of others, in the fires accompanying the repression of “The Commune” during the bloody week of May 1871.

Documents consulted: Archives of the police - Aa 173.

Section of Montreuil

Reports of the police superintendents


Unknown said...

Dear Bill,

Here is the gist of what I wrote to Pierre Bardin congratulating him on his latest find about
"our" chevalier'(in English) and welcoming, (thanks to you, Bill letting me have a copy of his
message) the opportunity to henceforth continue our mutual correspondence by e-mail.

Cher Ami, etc., In the spirit of your generous words e.g. that "my work and yours complement
each other" I took the liberty to point out that, as you know,the two documents reproduced
exclusively in my book,"The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow,
(published in June, 2006) proved that the latter did not die alone. Moreover, a sentence in the
obituary: "some time before his death, he stayed with his friend (Nicholas Duhamel)", and an
entry in the second, "Nicholas Duhamel, Ex officer same house, rue Boucherat 13," signed by
the collector of his remains, already corrected the "impression that he died alone and in his
own house on rue Chartres".

Entry in doc. DQ839, City of Paris arch. by Chagneau, ("collector of remains")(Page 520 in my book)

Obituary in "Courier des spectacles" June 10, 1799, by J.A.Cuvelier (Page 484 in my book)

Thanks, Bill, and keep up the good work!

Gabriel Banat

Ambre Troizat said...

Dear Bill,

Thanks for having published this document on your blog.

Thanks for the work you are doing, all of you. I put it all on my FaceBook.

Alexis Marise Bique.