Corruption was rife in Tsarist Russia especially in the major cities of Moscow and Petersburg. Tolstoy compares this corruption to that of Babylon depicted in the Bible, a strong indicator of his religious belief. Babylon was the capital of Mesopotamia, in present day Iraq. The city state was famous for its dictatorial rulers, especially Hamurabi and Nebuchadnezzar.
The page corps was a privileged military establishment in imperial Russia, which prepared aristocratic children for military service.
It was replaced by the Suvorov Military school after the Russian revolution of 1917.