September 16 in Russian history

A legendary military commander who lost his eye and Russia’s notorious Alaska contract are recalled in tonight’s Historama.

­One-eyed commander becomes legend

Today in 1745, one of Russia’s most famous commanders, Mikhail Kutuzov, was born in St. Petersburg.

He is widely regarded as the hero of several Russian-Turkish wars and the Patriotic War against Napoleon’s forces.

It was his decision to leave Moscow to the French army, move south and block Napoleon’s access to vital fertile lands.

On portraits, Kutuzov is often seen looking sideways, as he lost his right eye in a battle with the Turks.

For his outstanding achievements, the commander was named the Prince of Smolensk. He became the first person to receive the Order of St. George.

­Golden surprise for Americans

On this day 190 years ago, the Russian Empire officially claimed its right over Alaska.

Nearly a century before, the land had been explored by Vitus Bering and Aleksandr Chirikov. A few Russians had started to colonize it.

After the abolition of serfdom, Emperor Alexander II paid out huge amounts in compensation to Russian noblemen who lost their workforce.

His brother suggested selling Alaska to the Americans to get the money, which was done in 1867 for 7 million dollars.

Some years later, Americans found large deposits of gold there.

Read more on this day in Russian history

Leave a comment