Page 676. " the story of Bluebeard "
Bluebeard and his wife by Gustave Doré
Public DomainBluebeard and his wife by Gustave Doré
 Bluebeard is a folk tale about a wealthy man who marries a great beauty. He gives his wife a bunch of keys that open all the rooms in his castle, warning her not to open the door to one small room, although she is free to explore everywhere else. Inevitably she heads for the forbidden chamber and discovers the bodies of Bluebeard's previous wives, all of which he has murdered. Bluebeard is angry with her for having opened this chamber and threatens to kill her; however her brothers arrive in the nick of time and kill him instead.

The Bluebeard story has been reinterpreted by a number of artists, including the Hungarian musician Bela Bartok, who wrote an opera called Bluebeard's Castle (listen to this on Spotify).

Page 678. " Prince Andrei found Barclay de Tolly "

Barclay de Tolly by George Dawe
Public DomainBarclay de Tolly by George Dawe
 Prince Barclay de Tolly (1761-1818) was a Field-Marshall and Minister of War under Tsar Alexander. He was born in Germany to a Scottish family, members of the Barclay clan. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia Barclay de Tolly was in command of the largest Russian army, the First Army of the West. He commanded the right flank at the Battle of Borodino. After Napoleon's defeat and Kutuzov's death, he took over as commander-in-chief of the Russian army, leading the capture of Paris in 1814.

Page 693. " a Russian Thermopylae "

The Battle of Thermopylae by Jacques-Louis David
Public DomainThe Battle of Thermopylae by Jacques-Louis David

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought over the course of three days in 480 BC, between an alliance of the city-states of Ancient Greece and the Persian Empire under Xerxes I. Herodotus describes the heroic stand by the Spartans, who fought to their deaths against a much larger Persian force, allowing the rest of the Greek army to withdraw safely.

Three hundred Spartans led by King Leonidas, alongside a force of over a thousand Thebans, Thespians, and others, held the pass at Thermopylae against a Persian force which numbered between 70,000-300,000. The Greek force was largely destroyed, but they resisted the Persians long enough to save the rest of the Greek army. Simonides composed an epigram to commemorate the bravery of the Spartans, which was engraved on a stone at the site of the battle:

Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,

That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.