So…what have I been doing while I was MIA from the Riskies for a couple of weeks??? Have been a bit under the weather (ugh!), and using up all my energies trying desperately to get caught up on the deadline for my “Regency in Brazil” story–and also in being jealous of Risky Diane and her England adventures! And being much too excited about the prospect of a new Royal Baby, of course. (I hope it’s a girl! Prince George would make a fantastic big brother, LOL)
But today in Regency history–in 1812, the great fire of Moscow broke out and raged for several days. According to the “In Your Pocket” city guide (which gives some good, concise info on the march to Moscow, and the bitter disappointment to Napoleon that those stubborn Russians were willing to burn the country down to keep it from him!):
On 15 September Napoleon arrived at the Kremlin and the very same day massive fires began in the Kitay Gorod area just to its east. Fanned by high winds and wooden housing, the inferno soon threatened the Kremlin itself and more fires were being spotted in other parts of the city. Moscow was soon ablaze in a terrifying firestorm. As a French diplomat in Moscow later noted in his memoirs, “the air was charged with fire; we breathed nothing but smoke, and the stoutest of lungs felt the strain after a time.” With fire raging across the city, on 16 September Napoleon was forced to leave the Kremlin, relocating to the safety of the Petrovsky Palace, an imperial residence on the road to St. Petersburg, while his troops gave up the fight against the fire and instead took to pillaging whatever treasures remained.
By 18 September the fire was brought under control and Napoleon returned to the Kremlin at the centre of a city of ashes – still awaiting the tsar’s final surrender. Yet the tsar refused to give up, while Kutuzov was based south of the city, out of reach of the French and busy mustering new troops and bolstering his army. To make matters worse, the great fire had destroyed yet more of the French army’s rapidly dwindling supplies, and Napoleon’s men were now beginning to starve. Finally after occupying Moscow for just five weeks the situation reached critical levels and Napoleon was left with no choice but to begin a long retreat west.
And, of course, these very dramatic events inspired a very dramatic piece of music–Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”!
I think it might be time for a re-read for War and Peace! (Don’t laugh–when I first read it, I took it on a beach vacation, and everyone laughed at me for choosing THAT as a beach read! But it was fascinating….)
Should we go set off some fireworks today in sympathy?? What have you all been doing this week????