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The Extraordinary Tale of…

The French solider who served his country until the age of 108

1787 THE OLDEST SOLDIER IN THE WORLD

In a life spanning three centuries, Jean Thurel fought in numerous wars, survived serious injury and served under no less than three kings and an emperor

The year was 1787, and a veteran soldier made This way to the gleaming opulence of the Palace of Versailles. Less than five years before a wave of republicanism washed the monarchy from power and turned France upside down, Louis XVI performed an unusual act.

As the ageing infantryman stood before him, ready to be decorated for his service to the country, the King gave him the choice of which medal he would receive. He could choose the Médallion des Deux Épées, an honour bestowed on veterans with 24 years of regimental loyalty under their belt. Or he could opt for the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint-Louis, never before awarded to a soldier from the enlisted ranks.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

September 2016 issue of History Revealed.