1812, Part 9

Here is what the Kremlin would have looked like before the great conflagration.

Moscow’s Red Square, by F. Y. Alexeyev

View of the Spassky Gate in the Kremlin, by F. Y. Alexeyev.

All-Saints bridge and the Kremlin in the late XVII century, by A. Vasnetsov.

Instead, as A. E. Yegorov wrote in his memoirs:

The picture was filled with terrible effect, especially at night. The enormous expanse of the sky was drenched in a bright purple colour, creating a kind of background for this picture. On it, strange snake-like shapes writhed in jets of white. Burning fragments of various sizes and wondrous form and bizarre appearance rose in masses into the sky and fell back scattering sparks of fire. The most skilled pyrotechnic could not have imagined a more whimsical fireworks than Moscow, this heart of Russia, covered in flame. The impression on the villagers in this picture was extraordinary: the women wept bitterly, and the men cursed everyone – both Bonaparte (as the Russians called Napoleon) and the Russian generals, saying, ‘How could they let him approach our white-stoned Moscow, our mother? Why did they not fight at the Poklonnaya hill and stop him?’

The town burned as though possessed by demons.

The Fire of Moscow, 1812, by Viktor Astaltsev.

Napoleon arrived at the Petrovsky Palace and awaited developments.

Petrovsky Palace in 1811, by Francesco Camporesi.

Napoleon at Petrovsky Palace, by V. Vereshchagin.

Three days later, when the fires died down, Napoleon returned to Moscow

Return from Petrovsky Palace, by V. Vereshchagin.

Moscow was in ruins.

Moscow in ruins, by Dmitry Kardovsky.

The French struggled to bring order among the locals, or discipline among their own.

Looting and violence by the French in 1812, by I. M. Lvov (postcard).

Arsonists, by I. M. Lvov

Execution of arsonists, by V. Vereshchagin.

[Translated excerpts from КНИЖКА С КАРТИНКАМИ.]


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