(French: La Garde meurt, mais ne se rend pas - sometimes La Garde meurt et ne se rend pas, "The Guard dies and does not surrender")

Much-quoted, this is supposedly a statement made by the French general Pierre, Baron de Cambronne (1770-1842), when called upon to surrender at the battle of Waterloo (1815). General de Cambronne later denied ever having said it (after all, he lived on until 1842), but the story wouldn't die. In fact, it is much more likely that a proper attribution of a Cambronne quotation relevant to the Battle of Waterloo is the word that, today, is still known as Le mot de Cambronne, viz. "merde". Regardless, the brave-but-likely-erroneous quotation is inscribed upon the pedestal of the statue of General Cambronne in his native city of Nantes.

Some would attribute the brave words instead to General Michel, who died at Waterloo. General Michel's sons claimed the honour on several occasions, and tried in vain to prevent the inscription on General Cambronne's memorial.

Victor Hugo gives a masterly, if grossly fictionalised, rendition of the battle in Les Miserables (3.1.15).


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