He was funny and affable, and he could impress anyone with his anecdote about seeing a French soldier get lashed 20 times for referring to Empress Josephine as “Horse Face.”
Jean-Yves Harpin, the last remaining veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, has died at the age of 218, according to his nurse.
In 1812, while only 16 years old, Harpin joined as a conscript Napoleon’s Grande Armée. He participated in the failed invasion of Russia, and he nearly died of typhus on the return to his village near Camboulit, in southwest France. For the next several decades, he led a quiet life as a farmer, but was again recruited in 1870 to fight against the Prussians in northeast France, where he was hit by cannon fire and lost his leg. He spent the remaining 144 years on his farm, living off his military pension.
Family members say Harpin enjoyed playing cards, amusing friends by cursing in a now-extinct Occitan dialect, and recounting the time in 1943 when a Nazi officer mistook him for a plundered Egyptian mummy.
Harpin is preceded in death by his wife, Etiennette, their six children,15 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, 143 great-great-grandchildren, 493 great-great-grandchildren, 1304 great-great-grandchildren, and 3098 great-great-great-grandchildren. He is survived by his 9092 great-great-great-great-grandchildren.