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How the French Emperor in Russia has become the devil’s glory, but the Roman hero gave the name of the Russian peasant.

The events of the Patriotic war of 1812 marked by so many stories and tales that are sometimes difficult to establish where the truth and fiction. For example, the legend about the Russian Scevola — peasant, which compartment his hand, not to serve Napoleon. Whether such person actually is or this way gave rise to clever propaganda, it’s hard to say.

The Museum-panorama “Borodino battle” houses a number of exhibits dedicated to this subject. On how he became one of the main symbols of the era — in joint material and the Agency “Moscow”.

Russian peasant with Roman character

The story about the Russian Scevola gained popularity not only in the Russian Empire, but also abroad. Its most probable source — the historical, political and literary magazine “Son of Fatherland”, which is from October 1812 published in St. Petersburg Secretary of the Ministry of internal Affairs and a teacher of literature Nicholas Greek. In the fourth issue of the weekly appeared the following note.

“In the army of Napoleon (as we do for horse plants) brand soldier with a will or unwillingly, come into his service. Following this custom, the French put a stamp on the hand of a farmer, which fell into their hands. In surprise he asked: what is it okleymili? He replied: it is a sign of entry into the service of Napoleon. The farmer grabbed from his belt a hatchet and cut off myself laminou hand. Do I need to say that this new Scevola was Russian? One thought to be an instrument to Napoleon or to be more criminal of the executors of the will of the tyrant inspired him to this heroic act. To do this Russian, if Providence had provided him with the opportunity to be Kursiem the Fatherland?”

A Patriotic note was sent the reader to two examples of self-sacrifice of the mythic heroes of Ancient Rome — Hai Mutiu Savola and Mark Kurtz. According to legend, guy Mucjusz during the siege of Rome by the Etruscans in 509 BC snuck into the enemy camp to take the life of the Etruscan leader Porsena, but was captured. When he was threatened with torture, he thrust his right hand into the fire and did not draw back until it was charred. The resistance of the Roman defeated the Etruscans, and Porsena immediately made peace with his hometown. The young man, now forced to use only the left hand, called Saveloy (Latin Scaevola — left-handed).

According to another myth, in the mid-sixth century BC Marcus Curtius for the sake of Rome was sacrificed to the gods underground. In the middle of the Eternal city, the forum, in his time a giant hole that nothing could fill. Desperate the Romans went to the Oracle, and he gave a vague answer: the fact that the gods want to get the most valuable in the city. The young man Curtius interrupted the disputes of citizens, announcing that the most valuable thing in Rome — the weapons and the courage of the Romans. In full battle gear, astride his steed Curtius threw himself into a terrible hole, and its edges immediately closed over him.

The mark of Napoleon or the mark of the beast?

“Son of the Fatherland” did not give any details of the history about the farmer, but they quickly appeared. Shortly after the publication of the military Governor of Moscow count Fyodor Rostopchin, in his “the Truth about the Moscow fire” casually mentioned this: “Everyone knows the story of the peasant of Smolensk, seen (branded. — Approx. on hand to be recognized that severed it with one blow of the axe.”

Smolensk was mentioned in English print by John Augustus Atkinson “Russian loyalty and heroism” (1816), which was accompanied by the following caption in English: “the Joke about the Russian peasant of Smolensk, who being forced by the French, cut off your hand, but would not be accompanied Bonaparte in his March to Moscow.” Atkinson, who has long lived in St. Petersburg most likely was inspired by one of the Russian engravings, published at the time. For example, an engraving of Ivan Ivanov, “the Russian Scevola”, created three years earlier — not to notice the similarity in the composition of the two works is impossible.

The popularity of this legend in the national Patriotic caricature captures well-known art historian of the XIX century Dmitry Rovinsky. In his book “Russian folk pictures” he gives five different images of the Russian Scevola that appeared in the engravings 1813-1814 years four artists — Ivan Terebenev, Ivan Ivanov, Ivan Tupylev and Domenico (of Dementia) Scotty. They all left a significant mark in the fight against Napoleon through satirical graphics.

Derbenevskiy Russian version of Scevola was repeated in the 1815 split the alphabet “a Gift to children to commemorate the events of 1812”, which United the most popular cartoons in wartime. He illustrated it To the letter — whether the word “stigma”, or by beginning with the couplet on the page: “Nintendo As a king in Russia don’t reign Supreme, So the name on his hand I don’t wear”.

Perhaps the most famous Russian Scevola in the domestic arts, the eponymous sculpture in 1813. Its author — a prominent representative of the Russian Empire Vasily Demut-Malinovsky (1778-1846) — received for creating this sublime image the title of Professor of the Imperial Academy of arts. His work not only is regarded as the epitome of Patriotic ideas in plastic genre, but also became one of the first images of the people in Russian sculpture.

Bronze half-naked peasant-bearded, carrying an axe over his own hand, represented in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, his full-size plaster repetition stored in the Moscow Museum-panorama “Borodino battle”. In 1998, the image of this masterpiece was chosen for the jubilee coin of three rubles, issued by the Bank of Russia in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Museum.

Why this story was so popular at the time? Perhaps the clue is religious-mystical interpretation of the story, which can be seen in the above verses of the alphabet. For the Orthodox hero of this stigma was the obvious metaphor of the devil print.

Holy war

Patriotic war of 1812 in a sense, was for Russians a religious war. In Europe at that time there was no lack of preachers who interpreted the events of the first great French revolution with its cult of atheism and separation of Church and state and then the military success of Napoleon as evidence of the coming Apocalypse. Bonaparte in this theory was played an obvious role. This rhetoric quickly reached Russia.

6 Dec 1806, after the beginning of the Russian-Prussian-French war, the Holy Synod issued a Manifesto, one of whose tasks was to justify the need to convene a military militia. The French Emperor in a document called the Antichrist and false Messiah, who “showed their contempt for the pastors of the Holy Church of Christ”, and now “threatens to shock the Orthodox Greco-Russian Church in all its purity and Holiness…”

The Russian clergy was obliged to read out the manifest after the Liturgy every Sunday and feast day. A similar announcement was made for the Catholic flock. And while a few months after the conclusion of the Tilsit peace, the Manifesto was cancelled, he managed to lay the unequivocal attitude of the Russian citizens to Bonaparte.

Evidence of the results of preaching may serve as a bike, described by a friend of Pushkin, Peter Vyazemsky in his “Old address book”. It deals about the first meeting of Alexander I and Napoleon at Tilsit, which, as we know, took place on a raft in the Niemen.

“When I found out in Russia on the date of the emperors, has gone on the speech of the two peasants. “How is it, — said one, — our father Orthodox Tsar, could decide to get back together with this damned, with this heathen? After all, it is a terrible sin!” — “How are you, brother, ‘ replies the other, not understand and do not know what things? Our father that and told him to prepare the raft to first to christen Bonaparte in the river, and then to prevent it before bright and Royal eyes””.

After the invasion of the French army, the Holy Synod issued a new anti-Napoleonic Manifesto, as in all churches of the Empire were read with a kneeling prayer for deliverance from adversaries, in which were these words: “Behold the enemy, sashay Your land and Hotei put the universe in your empty, vossta on us

The aforementioned “Son of the Fatherland” was reprinted translated from the Spanish “Civil catechism” of 1808, which was built in the form of questions and answers. There was, for example, are:

— How much he (Napoleon) is natural?

Two: the satanic and human.

— What is Napoleon?

— From hell and sin.

Another curious evidence of the era was the letter written in the summer of 1812 on the name of the Minister of war Mikhail Barclay de Tolly Professor of biblical exegesis and Oriental languages at the University of Dorpat with Getelem. In his message to the learned man deduced from the letters that have developed in the French titles Le AmigaOS Napoleon, the beast from the revelation of St. John the theologian.

“Napoleon is the beast, in the Apocalypse, the number 666 mean”, — summed up Professor, offering to spread his version of the army’s “distribution whether the printed sheets in the Russian language or just word of mouth from the clergy of suggestion”. Interpretation regularly spread regimental priests among the soldiers of the 1st Western army by order of the Minister of war.

Awake and folk art — many examples of the abuse of the invaders desecrated Orthodox shrines gave rise to the genre as tales about Napoleon. In them the French Emperor miraculously got rebuffed when trying to profit in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, the Chudov monastery and other Holy places. Of course, in such circumstances, the subjects of the Russian Emperor simply could not emerge doubt the veracity of the stories about the farmer who got rid of the “mark of Antichrist” by cutting off a hand.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure will not be perfect.

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