At this time, Moscow was largely made up of traditional Russian wooden architecture; the fire of 1812 destroyed three quarters of the city. Rastopchin, the governor of Moscow, ordered that certain buildings should be blown up or set on fire, but this is not thought to have been the cause of the widespread blaze that was so destructive. He also declared that anything that could be of use to the French - food stores, arsenals, cloth stores - should burn, but it is not certain whether this order was carried out deliberately. The French soldiers themselves started a number of bonfires upon their arrival in Moscow, which contributed to the blaze, and there may have been a certain amount of deliberate sabotage on the part of Russians left behind. It seems most probable that a combination of deliberate and accidental incendiary acts are to blame for the enormous scale of the fire.
On the 12th October 1809, after a parade in Vienna, Napoleon wrote the following to the Police Minister Fouché:
"A young man of seventeen years, son of a Lutheran minister from Erfurt, tried, at the parade today, to approach me. He was stopped by officers, and, noticing a suspicious nature in him which aroused suspicions, he was searched, upon which a dagger was discovered. I had him brought before me, and this miserable scoundrel, who [nevertheless] appeared reasonably educated, informed me that he intended to assassinate me to deliver Austria from French presence."
The young man was Fredriech Staps, a German. He was offered a stay of execution if he asked for pardon, but refused, and was executed by firing squad shortly afterwards.
For more on Russian eschatology, see the bookmark to Page 644, "the end of the world".