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The French Culture

The decision to build the Modlin Fortress was taken by Napoleon Bonaparte. It happened precisely on 1 December 1806. Napoleon claimed that “who possesses Warsaw, Modlin and Serock is the ruler of the entire Poland.” Originally, it was meant to be a temporary fortress located on two islands situated at the mouth of the Narew River. The task to design and build the fortress was assigned to General Prosper de Chasseloup-Laubat. During the initial scouting of the terrain, the general noticed a better location on a high hill near Modlin village and the building of the fortress began in its present location. As early as two years later, the Modlin Fortress acquired its initial combat readiness. In that time, wooden, free standing pavilions were erected – the barracks for the troops and the brick building accommodating a hospital, a drugstore and the uniform warehouse. Also the main embankment of the Fortress was completed.

In subsequent years, Napoleon transformed the Fortress from the food warehouse into a military fortification. Jean Mallet de Granville was appointed the constructor of the Fortress. Even several thousand people were employed at times on the construction site, then.

The 1810-1812, were the years of glory of the Modlin fortress in the Napoleon’s epoch. It was nominated by Napoleon the principle fortress of the Duchy of Warsaw. On 1 February 1812, Modlin was granted the municipality by a decree of the Grand Duke of Warsaw, Frederic Augustus. In that time, new fortifications were built according to the designs of the French Fortification Committee and the final design was approved by Napoleon himself.

In August 1812, due to the Moscow expedition, the fortification works were suspended. Up till then, some facilities were built which we can admire today like the main earth embankment of the Fortress consisting of the combat slope where the park was established; the main communication passage of the Fortress – the brick Northern Gate facing one of several ravelins or the gunpowder magazine from 1811. The external embankment remained unfinished.

The Napoleon period ended in the Modlin Fortress after Bonaparte’s defeat near Moscow. The Modlin Fortress as the lone bastion had been under the siege by Russians for nearly a year. It surrendered on 1 December 1813.

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