For those of you who have been watching the TV adaption of Tolstoy's epic WAR & PEACE each Sunday evening, the 5th chapter was by far the most dramatic. The Battle of Borodino on 7th September 1812 pitted the advancing Napoleonic Grande Arrmee of the Emperor across the River Niemen and to clash with the Czar Alexander's men and horses 90 miles from Moscow. Tolsoy wrote his masterpiece half a century later.
The French had 150,000 men and 587 cannon while the Russians had 130,000 men and 634 cannon. Both armies were dressed in gorgeous costumes with gold braid, elaborate hats, leather boots and saddles and fine steel swords and cutlasses. IT WAS THE MOST GORGEOUSLY DRESSED ABATTOIR IN HISTORY ! Mud, blood, guts and intestines of men and horses, blown up, mutilated and eviscerated by shells, schrapnel.and grapeshot. Imagine how many people and hours it took to make the uniform of just one soldier. We saw one of the stars having his leg sawn off, without anesthetic in a blood soaked battle hospital tent.
It was a bit of a stalemate with Bonaparte unwilling to unleash his Imperial Guard. 35.000 French dead and injured and 45,000 on the Russian side. The Russians under Count Mikhail Kutuzov retreated to Moscow and set it on fire. Bonaparte chased them and waited there in the ruined Kremlin for a month before deciding to retreat to France. On the way home 80% of his Grand Armee died of cold and exposure and lack of food and warm clothes while Cossack troops attacked them mercilously. Alexander l army later went West and took Paris. I have toured the site of The earlier Battle of Austerlitz near present day Brno in the Czech Republic, but the easiest battle site is WATERLOO, just outside Brussels in Belgium. It was the final defeat for Emperor Napoleon on June 18th 1815 by The Duke of Wellington. I took an extensive tour on a large jeep like converted passenger truck. Well worth it.
I have been reading a new book by Simon Sebag Montefiore: THE ROMANOVS 1613-1918: At one time they ruled one-sixth of the world with savagery, murder, cruelty and intrigue.. The story of 20 czars and czarinas , Holy autocracy and mystical ambition. Peter the Great tortured his own son to death. Catherine the Great murdered her own husband...and few of them died peacefully in their beds. Paul was strangled by his courtiers and it all ended when Czar Nicholasr ll abdicated in 1917 and his whole family including wife Alexandra and 4 daughters and a son were taken East to Yekaterinburg and murdered.
Not so different than the goings on in Zurich at FIFA recently?
The last year has been an eruption in Zurich wirh about 40 football politicians arrested, in jail, under house arrest, banned, fined and on the receiving end of American and Swiss justice. With Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini banned for 8 years from all football related activities, on 26th February we have an extraordinary FIFA Congress in FIFA to decide on a new president. There are 5 contendors with 2 major candidates. GIANI INFANTINO the 45 year old Swiss-Italian UEFA Secretary General and 15 year employee against Bahrain Asian Football Confedertaion President SHEIKH SALMAN EBRAHIM al-KHALIF. Bahrain is an absolute monarchy with Salman and his extended family part of this dictatorship.
The latter has evidently stitched up a deal between Asia and Africa while INFANTO has the support of most of Europe, CONCACAF and South America.. At Wembley earlier this week he announced his 90 day plan for reform. He also revealed that a UEFA Congress cost $1 million to stage compared to $33 million for a FIFA Congress. All those guys and gals flying first class from Australia, South America, Africa etc and having somebody else paying for 5 star plus luxury at the Bauer au Lac plus individual limos and daily per diems plus $200,000 annual pay outs to EXCOS.
INFANTINO has said that UEFA has attempted to counter match fixing, and that he and his family have received death threats. A good job he is not living in Russia under the Romanovs or the modern equivalent Vlad Putin. !!