I just wanted to follow up on the debate over the Poles and Alexander I. I have an example and would welcome Kevn's opinion on it.
It is to do with General Wincenty Krasiński.
Commander, of course, of the Polish Lancers but earlier a member of the patriotic Friends of the Fatherland. He served Napoleon loyally and as soon as Napoleon entered Poland. He ended up being supreme commander of Polish troops in France in 1814. This would suggest he was fiercely pro-Napoleon, or fiercely anti-Russian. But his actions after 1814 show otherwise.
After all at one point he was vice-regent of the Polish territories in the Russian empire.
I think we should stop imposing our views on Napoleonic figures and hear what they themselves had to say. Or, at the very least, watch what they themselves did.
The most pertinent comment I have found for the discussion is by Henryk Dembiński who wrote a wonderful set of memoirs. Here he is in October 1812, waiting for the retreat from Moscow to begin:
"We saw how our strength and numbers were slowly disappearing, but our trust in Napoleon’s genius, in his many victories, was so strong that these conversations always ended with the conclusion that he must know what he was doing. I doubted that such a man could ever have erred, but now I confess that the more I was his admirer then and the more I considered him to be an extraordinary man, the more I am now unwilling to follow anyone blindly."
Interestingly, after the wars, Henryk Dembiński became a member of parliament in the Congress Kingdom under Russian rule.