Dubrovnik's Military Graveyard: The Ghost of the French chevalier
In the city of Dubrovnik, in the small glen called Gospino Polje (Our Lady's Field), near the hill Gorica of St. Blaise, there is a church of Our Lady of Mercy. This church is the oldest votive sanctuary of Ragusan seafarers, dating back to the 13th century. Right next to the church, there is a Military graveyard, dedicated to the Croatian Home Guard. It was founded in 1832 and up until World War II many soldiers, marines, officers of historical European armies and diplomats who died in Dubrovnik were buried in this hallowed ground. After the war, the graveyard had been systematically vandalized. Many graves and gravestones had been demolished, while the Archives with all the personal data of the buried disappeared for good. The exact number and the names of buried people in the graveyard are unknown.
This story begins in the year 1806. That infamous year Napoleon's troops occupied the Republic of Dubrovnik, under the command of the French general Lauriston. About that same time Russian and Montenegrin forces entered the territory of the Republic, and soon the military conflict between the two opposing armies began. The French were forced to retreat to the safety of the City walls, and the Russians Montenegrins besiege Dubrovnik. During the siege, the Montenegrin forces ruthlessly pillaged and burned the suburbs of the City. The French reinforcement that arrived a bit later that year from the North made the Russians and Montenegrins retreat to the Bay of Kotor. Even though the siege was lifted, the French stayed in Dubrovnik. After two years, on 31 January 1808, the Republic of Dubrovnik ceased to exist. The French marshal Marmont issued a decree proclaiming the end of the Republic. This was one of the saddest days in the history of this city.
In one of these battles that happened in 1806, among the fallen, there was one French soldier whose body was buried in the ground near the church of Our Lady of Mercy in Gospino Polje. Sometime later, his spirit became restless. His ghostly figure would be seen leaving his grave and wandering around the area, riding a white horse during nighttime.
One night, when the shadowy figure of the horseman appeared in the moonlight, somebody dared to ask him: „Why don't you rest in peace? Why are you still bound to Earth?“ „An infidel was buried on top of me. His unfaithful bones are a burden to me. As long as they are on me, I shall not have my peace.“ – The chevalier explained. Following this encounter, the locals dug out the remains of the atheist from the grave of the French horseman, after which his spirit left the area of Gospino Polje and the graveyard, and he never appeared again.