Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) was a French-speaking writer and philosopher from the Duchy of Savoy. He was an influential defender of monarchy during the period after the French Revolution. In 1803 he served as an ambassador to Tsar Alexander in St Petersburg, a position he held until after Napoleon's defeat. He wrote down his observations of the Russian court in memoirs that Tolstoy later used as material when he was writing War and Peace.
When Napoleon addressed his troops before the Battle of the Pyramids in 1798 he said "Think of it, soldiers; from the summit of these pyramids, forty centuries look down upon you."