Song of the Legions

‘Song of the Legions’ is the story of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Polish Legion, the forerunner of the French Foreign Legion. It is the great untold story of the Napoleonic Wars. It is also the true story of Ignatius Blumer, a half-Irish, half-Polish gentleman soldier, mercenary and pirate. More

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About Michael Large

The story of General Dabrowski's legendary Legion is one of the most tragic and heroic in military history. A wandering nation of exiled freedom fighters, soldiers, mercenaries, revolutionaries, princes, pirates and poets, and their glamorous wives and mistresses, who were equally as brave and dangerous as their menfolk. They were the original French Foreign Legion. This is the untold story of the Napoleonic Wars.

In the last few years hundreds of thousands of Polish people have come to the UK, to live, to work and to study. But in the UK we know next to nothing about Polish history or culture. As a writer of Polish descent I thought this was a shame, particularly as Poland has military heroes whose real-life exploits would not look out of place in the pages of any novel. I first heard the story of General Dabrowski's Legion from my Polish grandmother, having been intrigued by the words of the Polish national anthem. Who was Dabrowski? Why was he fighting for Napoleon Bonaparte? What was he doing in Italy? What happened to Poland?

I needed to enlist a hero of the Legion, and in my research I found a real person more extraordinary than any character I would have ever dared to invent. This is Ignatius Blumer, the half-Irish, half-Polish gentleman soldier, who married an Italian Countess. A freemason, Blumer was a soldier, mercenary, pirate, was briefly crowned the King of Florida, and (perhaps most disreputably of all) later became a judge. He fought for Napoleon at a score of legendary battles, and was awarded both the Virtuti Militari and the Legion D'Honneur, the Polish and French equivalents of the Victoria Cross. He was a controversial man, with many enemies, happy to bend the rules to breaking point.

'Song of the Legions' follows the first episode of his eventful career from 1791-1798.

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