Talk:Fire of Moscow (1812)

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Who was responsible - history of the dispute[edit]

There could be a whole book written about the dispute:

If you don't stop running from one Russia-related article to another in order to sap them all through "feedback" you regularly request on the Polish-related noticeboard, you will inevitably face a backlash. I will have to systematically review the articles on Polish history, which I don't think many Polish editors whould appreciate. --Ghirla-трёп- 18:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the interesting readings, and Ghirla, please be civil and stay on topic.-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  19:53, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your source, Piotrus, and please don't encourage abuse of the Polish-related noticeboard for canvassing. --Ghirla-трёп- 20:10, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
It was Xx236's source, and I don't see how asking for a Polish historiography sources on this event on Polish noticeboard can be described as canvassing. Going back on topic, could you translate the three non-English further readings?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  20:13, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
  • The Fyodor Rostopchin article accuses him. This article presents different opinions. Strange.Xx236 14:07, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Actually, pre-1917 Russian sources listed organized burning by troops (not Rastopchin, forget this creep) as the most obvious and <then> undisputed cause of fire. See the 1912 7-volume ОВИРУ edition ([1]). They took it for granted, later this point of view was deemed unappropriate NVO 19:05, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Another "French" view: Henri Troyat, "Alexandre I"[edit]

Our article on him says the book is from 1981, but my copy (just bought it on the flea market) is marked 1980, Flammarion.

Like most French historians, he puts the blame for the fire at Vitebsk on the Russians. But he is far more cautious about the Moscow fire. Rostopchin must be held responsible, because he ordered the firemen with their pumps to leave Moscow, and opened the prisons. His last-minute orders to the population were contradictory - and he may at one time have claimed to be the one who did it. "Plus tard, il se rétractera, disant que ce sont les soldats de Napoléon qui ont provoqué le sinistre 'en visitant de nuit les maisons et en s'éclairant avec des bouts de chandelles, des torches et des fagots'. Sans doute la vérité est-elle dans une combinaison de ces deux thèses. A l'origine de l'incendie, il y a eu à la fois de la préméditation et des imprudences, la volonté d'un homme et mille petits accidents dus à des comparses irresponsables. Rostoptchine n'est pas l'unique, mais le principal auteur du désastre. En tout cas, pour les Russes, à l'époque, il en va autrement.".

The book also quotes a letter from Napoleon to Alexander, blaming Rostop(t)chin(e), and claiming 400 Russian arsonists had been arrested, had confessed and been put to death by firing squad. 400 seems rather high in view of the other sources. The letter dates from September the 20th however. (Alexander did not answer, he showed it off in court as an object of ridicule and reported it to Bernadotte as "the joke of the day")

Whatever Tostopchin may have ordered (whether or not with English consul Wilson as an accomplice, as one of the sources above claimed), there is no doubt from Troyat's and other people's descriptions that Moscow fell victim to large-scale plundering - how many cities with such a high percentage of wooden structures would have survived that? The fire of Moscow seems mostly the handiwork of criminals, whether Russian or French. They did not take orders, they probably did not even mean themselves to start a or the fire.

The book has a number of illustrations (Rostopchin's portrait shows a very ugly man, BTW, perhaps one reason for his impopularity) most of them works of art now in PD, but unfortunately marked "Photo Flammarion". From what I know of French copyright, that means they cannot be used on Wikipedia. --Pan Gerwazy 20:26, 7 July 2007 (UTC)