Patriotic War of 1812

Patriotic War of 1812

The 200th anniversary of one of the most momentous events of the Russian history – the Patriotic War of 1812 - was celebrated in 2012. “The 1812 Thunder” left a deep imprint on the memories of contemporaries and descendants, affecting all spheres of life of our country. Alexander Herzen once highlighted “it is the year of 1812 that genuinely reveals the real Russian history; everything before that was just a preface.” The collection that commemorates the event comprises a wide variety of materials which spotlight the history of the Patriotic War of 1812 in all its diversity.

Deep Russian-French contradictions, including Russia's refusal to support the continental blockade of Britain, had become the main reasons for the war. On June 10 (22), the French Ambassador sent a note on the severance of diplomatic ties between the countries and the beginning of the war. On June 12 (24), the Napoleonic army invaded Russia.

At the first stage of the war, which lasted from June to September 1812, the Russian army was forced to retreat inside Russia. The key event of this period was the Battle of Borodino on August 26 (September 7).

The Patriotic War became truly national in scope. The heroism of the Russian army, partisan detachments and militia, brilliant generalship of the Russian command contributed to the turning point of the war and ensured future victory. At the second stage, which covered the period from October to December 1812, the French army was defeated by the Russian army and forced to leave Russia, while military actions were moved to the territory of European states.

The collection features studies, official and archival documents, maps, visual and multimedia materials from the Presidential Library’s electronic holdings. In the spotlight are memoirs and official papers which read about the participation of the people in the defense of the Fatherland. It was specially for the collection that portraits of the heroes of the war of 1812 provided by the State Hermitage were digitized to become a part of the Presidential Library’s electronic holdings.

The collection has been built up of over 800 items, which are placed in thematic sections and feature brief annotations. Access to the whole collection is available in the Electronic Reading Room, while some of the documents can be accessed via the library's website.

The work over the collection involved a variety of materials on loan from the Foreign Policy Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the US Library of Congress, the Library for Natural Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the M. Gorky Vladimir Regional Research Library, the M. Gorky Volgograd Regional Research Library, the A. Pushkin State Historical and Literary Museum-Reserve, the State Hermitage Museum, the State Public Historical Library, the “National Film Center” Film Studio, the Ministry of Culture of Moscow Region, the N. Krupskaya Moscow Regional State Research Library, the Kremlin Research Library, the A. Pushkin Omsk State Regional Research Library, the Russian State Library, the National Library of Russia, the Russian State Film and Photo Archive, the Russian State Historical Archive, the Herzen Russian State Pedagogical University, the M. Gorky Ryazan Regional Research Library, the St. Petersburg State University, the St. Petersburg State Theater Library, the Center for Information Technologies and Systems of Executive Bodies, the Federal Guard Service of Russia.

  • General section

    Collection opens with the materials that reflect the history of the War of 1812 as a whole. Among them are highlighted normative legal acts and documents, memoirs and recollections of witnesses, the works of researchers.
  • Russia and France in the first quarter of the 19th century

    The Patriotic War of 1812 is an important step in the development of the Russian-French relations in the first quarter of the 19th century. The section contains materials on various aspects of the history of the two countries involved in the war, including the documents and researches on the diversity of relationships of the two powers in the international arena; works that describe the events of the time in the light of the personalities of the two emperors and their relationships; sources and studies reflecting the nature of the domestic-policy situation in Russia on the eve of the war.
  • Russian society in 1812

    Presented in the section materials reflect the features of Russian society in the situation of the Patriotic War of 1812, illustrate the rise of patriotism, tell about people helping the regular army. A large group of papers covers the formation and activities of the militia of the provinces and regions of the Russian Empire. A small collection of documents reveals the history of some social and ethnic groups during the war.
  • Certain areas in 1812

    The fighting and the French occupation had different impact on the usual life of the various provinces, regions and cities. The materials of the section reflect the specific features of life of certain territories in the Russian Empire during the war of 1812.
  • Defenders of the Fatherland

    The section is devoted to outstanding military and political leaders, national heroes, whose efforts contributed a lot to the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812. Among the presented materials the special focus is given to the portraits of Russian generals in the famous Military Gallery of the State Hermitage Museum.
  • Foreign campaigns of the Russian army in 1813-1814 and 1815. Congress of Vienna

    Foreign campaigns of the Russian Army of 1813-1814 and 1815 was a logical continuation of the War of 1812. The documents of the section reveal various issues of hostilities and the relationship of the warring sides in the final stage of the Napoleonic wars.
  • Consequences of the Napoleonic wars for Russia

    Russia's participation in the anti-Napoleonic wars as a whole, and the repulse of the invasion in 1812 in particular, had a significant impact on the further development of the country. The section contains materials illustrating the devastating effects of war and occupation in certain regions of the Russian Empire, as well as public policy in relation to prisoners of war and migrants.
  • Aid to war veterans and victims

    Presented in the section materials cover the public and social support to the population of the Russian provinces affected by the Patriotic War, as well as to war veterans, their families and descendants.