Alongside Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I, Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (1745-1813) is one of the most important historical figures to appear as a character in War and Peace. The son of a lieutenant general in Peter the Great's time, Kutuzov served under the great General Suvorov, who was an important influence on his approach to warfare.
During the war against the Ottoman Empire, Kutuzov fought in the Crimea, where he was shot in the right temple after leading his men in a charge. Miraculously he survived this wound, although he eventually lost his right eye. After the death of Catherine the Great he became a favourite of the new Tsar Paul I, which caused problems when Alexander I ascended the throne, having tacitly approved his father's assassination. After a brief spell of political ostracism, Kutuzov was called back into service for the war against Napoleon in 1805.
After the disastrous battle of Austerlitz Kutuzov fell out of favour again, although most historians agree that he was not responsible for this defeat. When the French invaded Russia in 1812, Kutuzov was put back in charge of the whole of the Russian army. His cautious policies helped to secure victory against Napoleon.
Kutuzov died a year later, in 1813, ending his life with the rank of Prince (see above). As he had no direct male heirs, his fortune passed to his relations, the Tolstoy family.