Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy

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Alexander Ivanovich Osterman-Tolstoy
Portrait by George Dawe
Born1770 (1770)
Died(1857-02-12)February 12, 1857

Alexander Ivanovich Count Osterman-Tolstoy (Russian: Александр Иванович Остерман-Толстой; 1770 – 12 February 1857) was a Russian nobleman and soldier in the era of the French Revolutionary Wars. He belonged to the famous Tolstoy family.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Russians are an East Slavic ethnic group and nation native to European Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe, the most numerous ethnic group in Europe. The majority of ethnic Russians live in the Russian Federation, notable minorities exist in other former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine and the Baltic states. A large Russian diaspora also exists all over the world, with notable numbers in the United States, Germany, Brazil, and Canada. The culture of the ethnic Russian people has a long tradition and it is a foundation for the modern culture of the whole of Russia. The Russian language originally was the language of ethnic Russians. They are historically Orthodox Christians by religion.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.



Count Alexander Ivanovich Osterman-Tolstoy was the son of the Lieutenant-General Ivan Matveevich Tolstoy (1746–1808) and his wife Agrafena Ilyinichna, nee Bibikova, "of ancient Tatar stock", and which, as per another member of the family, historian Nikolai Tolstoy, "may account for Alexander's dark complexion." [1]

Nikolai Tolstoy Russian noble

Count Nikolai Dmitrievich Tolstoy-Miloslavsky is an English-Russian author who writes under the name Nikolai Tolstoy. A member of the Tolstoy family, he is a former parliamentary candidate of the UK Independence Party.

He began his military service during the Turkish-Russian war of 1787-1791. In 1796 his two childless great-uncles, Fedor and Ivan Osterman, brothers of his paternal grandmother, gave him their family name, the title of count and a large fortune. Count Osterman-Tolstoy did not leave the military service. In 1798 he was already a major-general, and became Lieutenant General in 1805.

He participated in all major Russian battles of the Napoleonic Wars in 1805-1814. Upon his return from the campaign in northern Germany in 1805, he was named Governor of St. Petersburg. He played a key role in the Battle of Czarnowo on the night and following morning of 23–24 December 1806. In 1811, he inherited the title of Count Osterman from his childless uncle, Ivan Osterman, the last of the Osterman line. During 1812-1814 commanded a corps, and distinguished himself in the battle at Kulm 17–18 August 1813. He participated in the 1812 campaigns as a Commander of the 4th Army Corps, under the overall command of Johann von Klenau. Osterman-Tolstoy was wounded in the Battle of Bautzen (21–22 May 1813), before fighting at Dresden and at the Battle of Leipzig. His corps defended the gorges in the mountains of Bohemia and captured General Vandamme. During the battle the count lost his left hand, as Emperor Alexander I put it, “by sacrificing his hand he bought us victory”.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Battle of Czarnowo

The Battle of Czarnowo on the night of 23–24 December 1806 saw troops of the First French Empire under the eye of Emperor Napoleon I launch an evening assault crossing of the Wkra River against Lieutenant General Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy's defending Russian Empire forces. The attackers, part of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout's III Corps, succeeded in crossing the Wkra at its mouth and pressed eastward to the village of Czarnowo. After an all-night struggle, the Russian commander withdrew his troops to the east, ending this War of the Fourth Coalition action. Czarnowo is located on the north bank of the Narew River 33 kilometres (21 mi) north-northwest of Warsaw, Poland.

In 1815, Osterman-Tolstoy briefly had a diplomatic assignment to Paris. In 1817, he was appointed General of the Infantry.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Count Osterman-Tolstoy remained in service until 1826, after Alexander's I death he retired and started traveling around Europe and the Middle East in the company of the scholar Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer. In 1831, he was a military consultant to Ibrahim-pasha in Egypt and participated in actions against the Turks.

Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer Austrian historian

Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer was a German Tyrolean traveller, journalist, politician and historian, best known for his controversial discontinuity theory concerning the racial origins of the Greeks, and for his travel writings.

Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt Ottoman politician and general

Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces when he was merely a teenager. In the final year of his life, he succeeded his still living father as ruler of Egypt and Sudan, due to the latter's ill health. His rule also extended over the other dominions that his father had brought under Egyptian rule, namely Syria, Hejaz, Morea, Thasos, and Crete. Ibrahim pre-deceased his father, dying 10 November 1848, only four months after acceding to the throne. Upon his father's death the following year, the Egyptian throne passed to Ibrahim's nephew, Abbas.

He never returned to Russia and shared his time between Italy and Switzerland. He loved practical jokes and hoaxes. According to his contemporaries he was “a remarkable and original person, distinguished by his frankness and generosity. Even among his famous contemporaries he could be singled out. Fearlessness, courage, and endurance in battle were his characteristics as a military officer.”

Count Osterman-Tolstoy was married to Princess Elisabeth Alexeevna Galitzine (1779–1853) from 1799; they had no children. He had foreign mistresses and a lot of illegitimate children. There is an engraving, published in Pisa in 1827, on which Count Osterman-Tolstoy is depicted sitting beside a pram with a sleeping baby and two older children playing nearby; the inscription says, ‘Je me flatte que c’est les derniers faries (sic). A 55 ans il est temps de faire la clôture.’ (I flatter myself with the thought that it’s my last extravagancy. At the age of 55 one must stop).

Osterman-Tolstoy finally settled in Le Petit-Saconnex in Geneva (Switzerland) in 1837, where he died in 1857.

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  1. Nikolai Tolstoy, The Tolstoys: Twenty-four Generations of Russian History, Quill (1986), p. 92