09.09.

1828: The Famous Writer Leo Tolstoy Was a Russian Count and the Owner of 350 Serfs

1828: The Famous Writer Leo Tolstoy Was a Russian Count and the Owner of 350 Serfs
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 9 September 1828
  • Tolstoy owned the Yasnaya Polyana estate (about 1,600 hectares of land). About 350 serfs lived there, in four hamlets, and four lakes were in the vicinity. Tolstoy was very worried about the welfare of his serfs. He built thirteen schools for their children.

On this day, Leo Tolstoy was born as a member of an aristocratic Russian family.

He inherited the title of Count from his father. The Tolstoys were one of the most famous Russian noble families.

They gained influence in the late 17th century, when Peter Andreyevich Tolstoy lived, and he had a good relationship with the Emperor Peter the Great. This mighty emperor appointed him Russian ambassador in Constantinople, and he also became the head of the secret police (which was an even more powerful position).

Empress Catherine I gave him the title of count because he had helped her to accede the throne. Many members of the family held important positions in the Russian Empire.

He was born on the Yasnaya Polyana estate, which is located 200 kilometers from Moscow.

It is interesting to note that Tolstoy’s grandfather, Prince Nikolai Volkonsky (the father of Tolstoy’s mother), owned this estate. He gave it to his only daughter, who settled there with her husband. Tolstoy’s father Nikolai built there a new house with 32 rooms.

When Tolstoy’s parents died, he inherited Yasnaya Polyana – the 1,600-hectare estate. About 350 serfs lived there, in four hamlets, and four lakes were in the vicinity.

Tolstoy was very worried about the welfare of his serfs. He built thirteen schools for their children. Such efforts were unusual at the time, and caused negative reactions among the authorities.

Tolstoy wrote “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” on his estate. He would wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning, exercise, walk in the park, and then write. Tolstoy worked with his serfs during harvest.

When he was 34 years old, he married the 16 years younger Sofia Andreevna, called Sonya (the Russian traditional abbreviation for the name of Sofia).

Leo had very small handwriting, and his novels had many corrections, additions and notes. Sofia made “clean” copies, which her husband would then rewrite.

Therefore, each chapter usually had five or six alterations before the final one. Sofia outlived Leo, who died at the age of 82.

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