Emperor in Paris

Emperor in Paris

On March 19, 1814, Emperor Alexander I entered Paris, defeating the last defenders of Napoleon at the gates of the city.

On March 18, 1814, the allied armies of Field Marshals Blucher and Schwarzenberg attacked and, after fierce fighting, captured the approaches to Paris. The capital of France capitulated the next day before Napoleon could move his troops to rescue it.

“The Emperor Alexander Pavlovich achieved his cherished goal. He, with his allies, the Prussians and Austrians <...> entered the capital of France that surrendered to him, - writes Grigory Danilevsky in the historical novel "Burned Moscow" (G. P. Danilevsky "Mirovich. Burnt Moscow", Moscow, ed. "Pravda" , 1981). "Napoleon's uninvited visit to Moscow was repaid by Alexander's visit to Paris."

The Russian Emperor entered the city through the Panten Gate and the Faubourg Saint-Germain on a light gray horse named Eclipse. This horse was presented to him by Caulaincourt when the latter was ambassador in St. Petersburg. Alexander, unlike Napoleon, carried the world with him.

“All the streets along which the allies had to pass, and all the streets adjacent to them were packed with people who even occupied the roofs of houses,” Mikhail Orlov recalled (Mikhail Fedorovich Orlov was a major general, a participant in the Napoleonic Wars, who drew up the conditions for the surrender of Paris to the Allied army. — S. I.). (Quoted from M. F. Orlov’s book “The Capitulation of Paris. Political Writings. Letters”, Moscow, publishing house of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 1963)

The last time enemy (English) troops entered Paris was in the 15th century during the Hundred Years' War.

“The French enthusiastically poured white roses and lilies under the feet of the Russian tsar, who was traveling along the boulevards, accompanied by the Prussian king and a magnificent, hitherto unseen retinue of thousands of officers and generals of various ranks and nationalities,” we read in the novel by G. P. Danilevsky. - Spectators waved handkerchiefs and shouted: “Vive Alexandre! Vivent les Russes!" (“Long live Alexander! Long live the Russians!”). “Is it really the same savages, the descendants of the hordes of Genghis Khan, about whom we were told such horrors? - Parisians and Parisians asked themselves in surprise, looking at the smart and valiant Russian regiments marching along the boulevards to the Champs Elysees. - No! These are not Tatars of the desert! these are our saviors! Vivent les Russes! Vive Alexandre! babas le tyran! (Long live the Russians! Long live Alexander! Down with the tyrant!)

The Russians lived happily in Paris. The authorities and officers visited theaters, coffee houses, clubs and dance evenings. At the house of Talleyrand, where Emperor Alexander was placed, crowds of people stood for days on end, meeting and seeing off the Russian Tsar with joyful exclamations. At the entrance of this house and on the Champs Elysees, where the Russian guards bivouacked, Russian and German hails were heard at night: "Who is coming?" and "Wer da?" ("Who's there?"). In the German camp, emptying barrels of bad Parisian beer, they enthusiastically shouted: “Vater Bücher, lebe!” (“Long live Father Blucher!”). The French marveled at the generosity of their conquerors. An allegorical play, The Triumph of Trajan, was being prepared at the opera house. The Russian governor of Paris, General Saken, was given a noisy ovation at every step. The Senate voted to dethrone Napoleon and his dynasty. Everything Russian was in great fashion.”

And here is how Nikolai Bestuzhev describes the entry of Russian troops into Paris in his story “A Russian in Paris 1814”:
“Command words flew from mouth to mouth along the entire line, the drum gave a sign to the march; the troops moved, wavered, and flowed like a river. Their columns, following at measured intervals, hid in the suburbs one after another, like waves that beat and wash away a stronghold opposed to their striving.
Where many people are gathered in one place, each news flies like an electric shock. Yesterday's news about the proximity of Napoleon, today's words of Caulaincourt (Caulaincourt Armand-Auguste-Louis (1772 - 1826) - French diplomat, former envoy in St. Petersburg. - S.I.) were known to the last flute player, and when a friendly soldier's step began to echo between the walls of the empty houses of the abandoned suburbs, when locked doors and windows, sometimes broken by force, or broken chests in the middle of the streets showed that there were no inhabitants, then the soldiers, honoring this already by themselves Paris, they began to talk quietly among themselves, "that this entrance to Paris is similar to Napoleon's entry into Moscow."

- So that we also do not come out of here, like the French, - said one.

“So that we don’t fall into a trap,” another added.

<...> Such conversations as the buzzing of bees spread from head to tail of each column and passed on to others as they entered the streets of the suburbs. Finally, the gates of Saint-Martin appeared. The music blared; the columns, passing through the narrow gates in sections, suddenly began to line up platoons, speaking out onto the wide boulevard. One must imagine the amazement of the soldiers when they saw countless crowds of people, houses on both sides, humbled by people on the walls, windows and roofs! The bare trees of the boulevard, instead of leaves, were breaking under the weight of the curious. Colored cloths were lowered from every window; thousands of women waved handkerchiefs; exclamations drowned out the military music and the drums themselves. Here the real Paris had just begun - and the gloomy faces of the soldiers were revealed by unexpected pleasure.

<...> The platoons moved in the middle of the people, who were crowded, distributed to the sides, but constantly accumulated in front in such a multitude that the soldiers had to shorten their steps, and the rear platoons to stop so as not to run into the front ones.

<...> Paris, compared by one writer with the ocean and its houses with waves that petrified and remained motionless, now looked like a living sea: it moved, flowed, swayed and its waves came to life, boiling, shimmering and spinning with people who covered the houses to the very top, while the earth groaned with a prolonged rumble from the storm that shook him. Allies that appeared for the Parisians as if from the bowels of the earth - they were so little prepared for their appearance; the Russians, whom they found not at all what they had imagined; the slenderness of their regiments, the brilliant dapperness of the officers who spoke their language with the inhabitants, the beauty of the Russian Tsar, his peaceful intentions, the meekness in the troops, which they did not expect - all this was so sudden for the Parisians, so contrary to what they used to imagine that the appearance of allies within the walls of the capital became the same triumph for the vanquished as for the winners. Everywhere there were shouts: “Long live sovereigns! Long live the liberators!..” (Quoted from N. A. Bestuzhev’s book “Selected Prose”, Moscow: Sov. Russia, 1983.)

A small incident happened when Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky, who was in Alexander's retinue, suddenly saw a man in the crowd near the emperor who raised his gun. Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky rushed to him, pulled out his gun, grabbed him by the collar and shouted to the gendarmes to take him. In the crowd of Parisians, they made a noise: “Yes, he is drunk!” Alexander said: "Leave him, Danilevsky," after which the man disappeared into the crowd. This risk completely paid off in the future with sympathy for Alexander I and his army on the part of a significant part of the Parisians.

“We have been waiting for the arrival of Your Majesty for a long time!” Said the Parisian, who managed to squeeze through the crowd to Alexander. “I would have come to you earlier, but the courage of your troops delayed me,” the emperor replied. His words quickly spread among the townspeople, causing them genuine delight.

“The royalist party ... went around the city, accompanied by a multitude of people who are carried away by every change; they knocked down the Napoleonic monograms, broke the imperial coats of arms, and finally appeared on the Place Vendôme,” writes Nikolai Bestuzhev. - There they beat off the door leading to the Napoleon column; many people climbed to the very top of the statue, they went on a rampage; they knocked down the image of victory that was in his hand, laid a rope around the neck of the statue, threw its other end down, harnessed several horses and, with frantic shouts: “a bas le tyran! A bas l'usurpateur! A bas le mangeur d'ertîans ... "("Down with the tyrant! Down with the usurper! Down with the fanfaron") tried to overturn the colossal figure, but the image of the giant, having dropped only victory from the hands, remained unshakable and laughed at their insignificant efforts! .. ".

Upon learning that they wanted to destroy the statue, Alexander hinted that this was undesirable. Order was restored and, according to Nikolai Bestuzhev, "the image of a great man was freed from desecration." A guard was assigned to the statue, and a little later it was carefully dismantled and taken away.

The Emperor of France learned of the surrender of Paris at Fontainebleau, where he was waiting for the approach of his lagging army. He immediately decided to withdraw all available troops to continue the fight, but under pressure from the marshals, who took into account the mood of the population and soberly assessed the balance of power, on March 23, 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated.
In May, a peace was signed, returning France to the borders of 1792 and restoring the power of the Bourbon dynasty there. The era of the Napoleonic Wars is over.

Sergei Ishkov.

Photo from the site https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/

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