War and Peace

War and Peace

by

Leo Tolstoy

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At the beginning of the novel, Russia’s Emperor is viewed by his people as an idealized savior of Russia and Europe. He is a handsome, mild-mannered young man with a gentle voice and is often moved to tears by others’ suffering. His mere presence enchants and inspires his men. Nikolai Rostov especially idolizes him, though when Nikolai sees Alexander and Napoleon at Tilsit, he struggles not to criticize the Emperor for a war that increasingly seems like a senseless bloodbath. When Alexander first came to the throne, he was known for a liberalizing agenda, but after 1812, he develops a reputation for being more reactionary.

Emperor Alexander I Quotes in War and Peace

The War and Peace quotes below are all either spoken by Emperor Alexander I or refer to Emperor Alexander I. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Society and Wealth Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of War and Peace published in 2008.
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 10–13 Quotes

That night Rostov was on the picket line with his platoon forward of Bagration’s detachment. […] His eyes kept closing, and in his imagination the sovereign appeared, then Denisov, then Moscow memories […] “Why not? It might well be,” thought Rostov, “that the sovereign, meeting me, gives me some assignment, saying as to any officer: ‘Go and find out what’s there.’ There are many stories about how he got to know some officer quite by chance and attached him to himself. What if he attached me to himself? Oh, how I’d protect him, how I’d tell him the whole truth, how I’d expose the deceivers!”

Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 14–19 Quotes

“But that can’t be him, alone in the middle of this empty field,” thought Rostov. Just then Alexander turned his head, and Rostov saw the beloved features so vividly imprinted on his memory. The sovereign was pale, his cheeks were hollow, his eyes sunken; but there was all the more loveliness and mildness in his features. […]

But as a young man in love trembles and thrills, not daring to utter what he dreams of by night, and looks about fearfully, seeking help or the possibility of delay and flight, when the desired moment comes and he stands alone with her, so now Rostov, having attained what he desired more than anything in the world, did not know how to approach the sovereign and presented thousands of considerations to himself for why it was unsuitable, improper, and impossible.

Related Characters: Nikolai Rostov (speaker), Emperor Alexander I
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 19–21 Quotes

Rostov stood at the corner for a long time, looking at the feasting men from a distance. Painful work was going on in his mind, which he could not bring to an end. Terrible doubts arose in his soul. Now he remembered [] the whole hospital with those torn-off arms and legs, that filth and disease. He imagined so vividly now that hospital stench of dead flesh that he looked around to see where the stench could be coming from. Then he remembered that self-satisfied Bonaparte with his white little hand, who was now an emperor, whom the emperor Alexander liked and respected. Why, then, those torn-off arms and legs, those dead people? […] He caught himself in such strange thoughts that it made him frightened.

Page Number: 416
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 1–7 Quotes

Understandably, these and a countless, endless number of other causes, the number of which depends on countless different points of view, presented themselves to contemporaries; but for us, the descendants, who contemplate the enormity of the event in all its scope and delve into its simple and terrible meaning, these causes seem insufficient. For us it is not understandable that millions of Christians killed and tortured each other because Napoleon was a lover of power, Alexander was firm, English policy cunning, and the duke of Oldenburg offended.

Page Number: 604
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 19–23 Quotes

“Angel! Father! Hurrah! Dearest! . . .” cried the people and Petya, and again peasant women and a few men of the weaker sort, including Petya, wept with happiness. A rather large piece of the biscuit that the sovereign was holding broke off, fell onto the railing of the balcony, and from there to the ground. A cabby in a jerkin, who was standing closest of all, rushed to this piece of biscuit and snatched it up. Some people in the crowd rushed to the cabby. Noticing that, the sovereign asked for a plate of biscuits to be brought and began tossing biscuits from the balcony. Petya’s eyes became bloodshot, the danger of being crushed aroused him still more, he rushed for the biscuits. He did not know why, but it was necessary to take a biscuit from the tsar’s hands, and necessary not to give it up. He rushed and tripped up a little old woman who was trying to catch a biscuit. […] Petya knocked her arm aside with his knee, snatched a biscuit, and, as if afraid to be late, again shouted “Hurrah!” in a voice now grown hoarse.

Related Characters: Petya Rostov (speaker), Emperor Alexander I
Page Number: 675
Explanation and Analysis:
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 18–22 Quotes

“Here it is, the reward for all those of little faith,” he thought, looking at his retinue and at the troops approaching and forming up. “One word from me, one movement of my hand, and this ancient capital des Czars is destroyed. […] [H]ere she is lying at my feet, her golden cupolas and crosses playing and glittering in the sunlight. But I will spare her. On the ancient monuments of barbarism and despotism, I will write great words of justice and mercy . . . Alexander will take precisely that most painfully of all— I know him.” (It seemed to Napoleon that the main significance of what was happening lay in his personal struggle with Alexander.) “From the heights of the Kremlin—yes, yes, that’s the Kremlin—I will give them the laws of justice, I will show them the meaning of true civilization; I will make the generations of boyars remember the name of their conqueror with love.”

Related Characters: Napoleon Bonaparte (speaker), Emperor Alexander I
Page Number: 872
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 1–4 Quotes

[Historians’ reproaches consist in the fact] that a historical figure such as Alexander I, a figure who stood on the highest possible step of human power […] a figure who felt upon himself at every moment of his life the responsibility for all that was happening in Europe; and not an invented figure, but a living one, and, like every man, with his personal habits, passions, strivings for goodness, beauty, truth—that this figure, fifty years ago, was not so much not virtuous (the historians do not reproach him for that), but did not have those views of the good of mankind now possessed by a professor who from his youth has been taken up with learning, that is, reading books, attending lectures, and copying things from these books and lectures into a notebook.

Related Characters: Emperor Alexander I
Page Number: 1130
Explanation and Analysis:
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Emperor Alexander I Character Timeline in War and Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Emperor Alexander I appears in War and Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Part 1: Chapters 1–4
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...be Europe’s “savior.” No other country, especially not England, understands the motivations of their virtuous Emperor. As they have tea, Prince Vassily asks Anna Pavlovna, with pretend nonchalance, about a political... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 6–9
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The next day, the Russian and Austrian emperors both review the 80,000-man allied army. Cavalry, artillery, and infantry stretch across an enormous field... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 10–13
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...in reserve, however, and even after victory at Wischau, Rostov feels deflated. Suddenly, however, the Emperor passes by, and Rostov’s melancholy mood instantly transforms. When the Emperor’s eyes meet Rostov’s for... (full context)
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 14–19
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The emperors and their suite approach. Kutuzov, who’d just been yawning, jerks to attention. The Emperor wonders... (full context)
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...feels joyful—all his wishes are coming true, as he might even cross paths with the Emperor during this mission. (full context)
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...gets an orderly to stop and speak to him, the man claims that the wounded emperor was driven away by carriage an hour ago. Another directs Rostov to a nearby village... (full context)
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When he reaches the village of Hostieradek, Rostov still can’t find either the emperor or Kutuzov, but the Russians—calmer here—all agree that the battle has been lost. Riding a... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 1: Chapters 1–6
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...Eventually, opinions began to circulate regarding Austrian treachery, poor provisioning, Kutuzov’s failings, and the youthful emperor’s inexperience. (full context)
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...great success, and soon it’s time for the champagne toasts. When the Count toasts the Emperor, Nikolai almost weeps. After drinking, he throws his empty glass on the floor, and many... (full context)
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Pierre is so lost in thought that he fails to toast the Emperor. Then, Dolokhov provokes Pierre by raising a toast to pretty women. At this, Pierre lunges... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 2: Chapters 19–21
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...Rostov rides to Tilsit with Denisov’s letter for the sovereign. On June 13th, Napoleon and Emperor Alexander are meeting at Tilsit. Boris Drubetskoy is also stationed there. Boris witnesses the two... (full context)
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Rostov’s timing is poor. The two emperors are signing a preliminary peace agreement and then attending a celebratory banquet. Rostov decides that... (full context)
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As Rostov leaves, he hears the emperor approaching, and he can’t resist crowding close along with some townsfolk. Seeing Alexander, Rostov’s love... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 1–6
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Two years later, in 1808, Emperor Alexander meets with Napoleon at Erfurt, and the event is the talk of Petersburg society.... (full context)
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At this time, Speransky’s reforms are at their height. Emperor Alexander, who’s staying nearby while recovering from a leg injury, meets often with Speransky, beginning... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 11–17
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On New Year’s Eve, an old dignitary throws a ball. The diplomatic corps and the Emperor are to attend. Despite their fears of being excluded, the Rostovs are invited, too, because... (full context)
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The orchestra strikes up a specially composed polonaise, and Emperor Alexander walks in with the host and hostess. Ladies, suddenly heedless of their dresses, press... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 3: Chapters 18–22
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...relieved when Bitsky, a fellow commissioner and society gossip, drops by. Bitsky rapturously recounts the Emperor’s speech at the State Council that morning—he’d made a strong stand for principled reform instead... (full context)
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...that night. Pierre wanders through the party with a sad, distracted look.  Ever since the Emperor’s ball, he’s been inclined to hypochondria. Recently granted the rank of gentleman of the chamber,... (full context)
Volume 2, Part 5: Chapters 1–4
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That winter Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky comes to Moscow with Princess Marya. Emperor Alexander has fallen out of favor, and Prince Nikolai becomes a central figure in Moscow’s... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 1–7
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For the past month, Emperor Alexander has been at Vilno. His troops aren’t prepared, and there’s no plan, though several... (full context)
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While dancing with Hélène, Boris watches Emperor Alexander closely. He notices that Balashov, an adjutant general, receives some obviously important news. When... (full context)
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Emperor Alexander sends Balashov to Napoleon with his letter. He instructs Balashov to personally convey his... (full context)
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...now occupied by the French. He will meet with Napoleon in the same house where Emperor Alexander’s party was held four days ago. (full context)
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Balashov remembers what the Emperor had ordered—he’s to tell Napoleon that Alexander will not make peace while a single armed... (full context)
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Napoleon continues to insult Alexander, the Russian army, and Russia’s allies. Balashov keeps trying to speak in his sovereign’s defense,... (full context)
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...over, Napoleon seems to assume that Balashov is his friend. As they have coffee in Emperor Alexander’s former study, Napoleon grows heated again, declaring how he’ll overthrow all of Alexander’s German... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 8–11
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...stock of the military situation. Many people, such as Arakcheev and Count Bennigsen, are with Emperor Alexander at headquarters; they have no official military function, yet they exert much influence. It’s... (full context)
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Other groups include one which is passionately devoted to the person of the Emperor, much as Rostov used to be; they want Alexander himself to take command of the... (full context)
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...people believe that the sovereign’s presence with the army is harmful and destabilizing, that the Emperor should rule and not command, and that an independent commander in chief is needed. The... (full context)
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Before this happens, Barclay tells Prince Andrei that the Emperor wishes to see him. Andrei finds an informal council of war gathered at headquarters—people whose... (full context)
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Emperor Alexander arrives and greets Bolkonsky, inviting him into the room where the informal war council... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 1: Chapters 19–23
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...comes in and wants to see the manifesto Pierre has brought—a war appeal from the Emperor. The manifesto tells of the threat to Russia, the sovereign’s faith in the people of... (full context)
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...visit, Petya goes to his room and cries. The next day, he dresses carefully. The Emperor is due in town, and Petya plans to make a speech to one of Alexander’s... (full context)
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As Petya’s pain subsides, he relishes his favored vantage point. While the emperor attends a prayer service in the cathedral, hawkers sell snacks, and the crowd lapses into... (full context)
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During the Emperor’s supper in the palace, the people remain gathered beneath his balcony. When he steps out... (full context)
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Then Count Rastopchin comes in and says that the Emperor will arrive soon. He supposes there won’t be much to discuss, and that it’s the... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 1–5
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...being overwhelmed by honors, moved by fine weather, and bursting out in anger at diplomats. Emperor Alexander refuses to negotiate because he feels personally offended. Everyone involved in the war does... (full context)
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...timing of the retreat. Lack of unified leadership, helped by the indecision swirling around the Emperor while he lingers with the army, leads to avoidance of battle. (full context)
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...Prince Bagration writes a letter to Arakcheev, knowing it will also be read by the Emperor. He reports that the minister shamefully abandoned Smolensk while Bagration’s troops held out against the... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 2: Chapters 6–12
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...Kutuzov is appointed to the position with power over all Russia’s armies. Even though the Emperor doesn’t like Kutuzov, the existence of multiple commanders in chief is regarded as a problem... (full context)
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After this exchange, Prince Nikolai becomes more agitated, talking about his son, the Emperor, and the war. Then he has another stroke. Princess Marya flees outside, overwhelmed with love... (full context)
Volume 3, Part 3: Chapters 18–22
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...taking possession of it. He thinks of his conquest in terms of conflict with the Emperor Alexander and fondly imagines “civilizing” this barbarous place and its people coming to revere him.... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 1: Chapters 1–3
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...a patriotic letter from the metropolitan, which was written on the occasion of sending the emperor an icon of St. Sergius. Prince Vassily will perform the reading, as he’s considered especially... (full context)
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Anna Pavlovna is right. The next day, the Emperor’s birthday, Kutuzov sends a report of victory at Borodino. For the rest of that day,... (full context)
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...that nothing else could have been expected from a blind old man like Kutuzov. The Emperor sends an envoy to Kutuzov demanding an explanation for the surrender. (full context)
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...Michaud (a Frenchman who’s “Russian in heart”), with the official news. When Michaud tells the Emperor that Moscow is on fire, the Emperor starts to cry, then quickly collects himself. Michaud... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 1–3
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On October 2nd, after the battle of Tarutino, the Emperor writes to Kutuzov. He observes that Kutuzov hasn’t gone on the offensive since Moscow was... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 2: Chapters 8–14
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...the Kremlin, and draws up a plan for his Russia campaign. He sends diplomats to Alexander in Petersburg. He orders arsonists punished and burns down Rastopchin’s houses. He also sets up... (full context)
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Nothing goes as Napoleon plans. His army loses track of the Russian army. Alexander refuses to receive his diplomats. The administration Napoleon sets up doesn’t stop looting from happening,... (full context)
Volume 4, Part 4: Chapters 10–11
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...on pursuing the French and even more disdainful of Kutuzov. Kutuzov receives word that the Emperor is unhappy with him and will be visiting any day. At that moment, Kutuzov understands... (full context)
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...no more concern in political matters. On December 11th, the sovereign arrives at Kutuzov’s castle. Emperor Alexander embraces the old man, who characteristically weeps. In private, the emperor criticizes Kutuzov for... (full context)
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...enemy has been destroyed, so as a Russian, his job is done. It’s up to Alexander to oversee the restoration of Russia’s frontiers. There’s nothing else for Kutuzov to do, so... (full context)
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 1–4
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In Russia, the “reaction’s” leader was Alexander I—the same figure who’d earlier been hailed for his liberalism by the same historians. Historians... (full context)
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When a modern thinker condemns Alexander or Napoleon, they do so because the man did not act according to their modern... (full context)
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Alexander I, who oversaw the movement of forces from east to west, shows the power of... (full context)
Epilogue, Part 1: Chapters 8–16
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...women go to the nursery. In his study, Pierre paces and gestures animatedly, criticizing the Emperor’s obsession with mysticism (he hates mysticism nowadays). The government stifles efforts at progress, and that,... (full context)
Epilogue, Part 2: Chapters 1–5
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...to power by killing lots of people. He killed more people across Europe, until Russia’s Emperor, Alexander, decided to restore order in Europe by fighting Napoleon. They made a truce, then... (full context)