The empress Elizabeth of Russia during the war with Sweden commanded the old hetman of the Cossacks to come to court on his way to Finland. " If the emperor, your father," said the hetman, "had taken my advice, your majesty would not now have been annoyed by the Swedes." "What was your advice ?" asked the empress. "To put all the nobility to death, and transplant the people into Russia." "But that," said the empress, "would have been cruel." "I do not see that," he replied quietly; "they are all dead now, and they would only have been dead if my advice had been taken." more...
Prince Felix Yusupov -- --conspirator in the murder of Rasputin in 1916
MGM produced a film called Rasputin and the Empress. They sought to avoid legal action by Prince Yusupov, so they changed his name in the film to Prince Chegodieff. Surprisingly, Prince Yusupov sued the film company for neglecting to give him credit for his role in Rasputin's murder. He won the case and MGM was forced to pay a substantial sum in damages to the prince. Ironically, a real Prince Chegodieff also sued the studio for libelous use of his name and MGM was forced to pay him additional damages. more...
Leon Trotsky--Russian Revolutionary
Having emigrated to Austria during World War I, Leon Trotsky spent much of his time playing chess at the Cafe Central. Many viewed the Russian as docile, quiet man who kept to himself. In March of 1917, when told that revolution had broken out in Russia, the Austrian foreign minister could not believe it. He skeptically responded, "Russias is not a land where revolutions break out. Besides, who on earth would make a revolution in Russia? Perhaps Herr Trotsky from the Cafe Central?"
Leo Tolstoy - practical pacifism.
Tolstoy was a great pacifist and was once lecturing on the need to be nonresistant and nonviolent towards all creatures. Someone in the audience responded by asking what should be done if one was attacked in the woods by a tiger. Tolstoy responded, "Do the best you can. It doesn't happen very often."
Suvorov in the Alps: how to talk to soldiers
SUVOROV QUELLING A MUTINY.
In crossing the Alps, the soldiers of Suvorov, overwhelmed with fatigues, and dispirited with hardships, no longer obeyed his voice, or observed their usual discipline. He ordered a ditch to be dug, and stretching himself in it, cried out to his mutinous soldiers, "Cover me up with earth, your general desires here to be interred, since you abandon him." They all threw themselves at his feet, and followed him with devotion and enthusiasm.
From The Percy Anecdotes more...
Saved by the Empress
Maria Fedorovna, Empress of Russia and wife of Tsar Alexander III, was known for her charitable works. In fact, she once saved a comdemned man from exile in Siberia by changing a single comma in the warrant signed by her husband. Instead of reading: "Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia," she changed the document to read: "Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia." The man was thus saved and released. more...
Peter the Great's fool
Often by Peter's side at table, and in his cups, was to
be seen an individual addressed as the "Patriarch of
Russia," and sometimes as the "King of Siberia." He
was attired in sacerdotal robes, and covered with loosely-
hung gold and silver medals, which sounded musically as
he moved. It was a favourite trick with Peter, when he
and the Patriarch were equally drunk, to suddenly overturn
him, chair and all, and exhibit the reverend gentleman
with his heels in the air. There is record of a similar
fool in the person of the "King of the Samoieds." He
was a Pole who was boarded, and who received a rouble
monthly, for entertaining the Czar and court by the
exercise of such small wit as was reckoned at such
Peter the Great and the lawyers
Peter the Great, being at Westminster Hall in term time, and seeing multitudes of people swarming about the courts of law, is reported to have asked some about him, what all those busy people were, and what they were about? and being answered, "They are lawyers." "Lawyers!" returned he, with great vivacity, "why I have but four in my whole kingdom, and I design to hang two of them as soon as I get home." more...