Napoleon Bonaparte and his epoch
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The directory «Plots of stamps in the catalogue»

Constantine Pavlovich (Константин Павлович)

Constantine Pavlovich (Константин Павлович)(1779—1831)

Grand duke and tsesarevich of Russia, was prepared by his grandmother, Catherine the Great, to become an emperor of the would-be restored Byzantine Empire. Although he was never crowned, he is sometimes listed among the Russian emperors as Constantine I. In his capacity of the first Viceroy of Poland, he is remembered as the great champion of the Poles. His love for a Polish woman cost him the Russian crown. Generally, he was an impossible man in an impossible situation.

During the time of this tragic marriage Constantine's first campaign took place under the leadership of the great Suvorov. The battle of Bassignanowas lost by Constantine's fault, but at Novi he distinguished oi imseif by such personal bravery that the emperor Paul bestowed on him the title of tsesarevich, which according to the fundamental law of the constitution belonged only to the heir to the throne. Though it cannot be proved that this action of the tsar denoted any far-reaching plan, it yet shows that Paul already distrusted the grand-duke Alexander.

However that be, it is certain that Constantine never tried to secure the throne. After his father's death he led a wild and disorderly bachelor life. He abstained from politics, but remained faithful to his military inclinations, though, indeed, without manifesting anything more than a preference for the externalities of the service. In command of the Guards during the campaign of 1805, he had a share of the responsibility for the unfortunate turn which events took at the battle of Austerlitz; while in 1807 neither his skill nor his fortune in war showed any improvement.

However, after the peace of Tilsit he became an ardent admirer of the great Corsican and an upholder of the Russo-French alliance. It was on this account that in political questions he did not enjoy the confidence of his imperial brother. To the latter the French alliance had always been merely a means to end, and after he had satisfied himself at Erfurt, and later during the Franco-Austrian War of 1809, that Napoleon likewise regarded his relation to Russia only from the point of view political advantage, he became convinced that the alliance must transform itself into a battle of life and death. Such sight was never attained by Constantine; even in 1812, after the fall of Moscow, he pressed for a speedy conclusion of peace with Napoleon, and, like field-marshal Kutuzov, he too opposed the policy which carried the war across the Russian frontier to victorious conclusion upon French soil.

During the campaign he was a boon companion of every commanding-officer. Barclay de Tolly was twice obliged to send him away from the army. His share in the battles in Germany and France was insignificant. At Dresden, on the 26th of August, his military knowledge failed him at the decisive moment, but at La Fre-Champenoise distinguished himself by personal bravery. In Paris the grand-duke excited public licule by the manifestation of his petty military fads. His first visit was to the stables, and it was said that he had been marching and drilling even in his private rooms.

Ras al-Khaima, 1970, Napoleon and Queen Luisse of Prussia in Tilsit


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