In 1812 Napoleon army invaded Russia. Russia had already taken part in the war against Napoleon but suffered defeats against France, such as the Battle of Austerlitz (1805), and signed the humiliating Treaty of Tilsit in 1807. This time everything was different. This critical situation united Russian people and helped them to find powers to expel Frenchmen out of the country. The weather was also on the Russian side as Napoleon had underestimated severe climate in Russia and, left without supplies, hundreds of thousands French soldiers froze to death during their winter campaign. In order to save the country and not to let Napoleon enjoy triumphal entry to the ancient capital, the great Russian commander Mikhail Kutuzov decided to sacrifice Moscow. Deserting the city, Russian troops set Moscow on fire; as a result two thirds of the wooden city were destroyed. Left without food, which they hoped to find in Moscow, French soldiers were forced to abandon the city and start their terrible retreat.
Later Moscow's architectural look was completely changed; a brand new architectural plan was introduced by Osip Bove, the chief architect of Moscow reconstruction after 1812. Rebuilding the historical centre of the city, Bove introduced extremely patriotic Empire Style, mostly presented in noble mansions.
The Napoleonic wars were a turning point in the history of the Russian Empire, as many soldiers returned from Europe "infected" with liberal ideas. Moscow became a fertile environment for the seeds of growing political discontent, which resulted in so-called "Decembrists Rebellion". The Decembrists strove for the freedom of the serfs, constitutional monarchy and other civil rights. But this small group of liberal noblemen couldn?t change the situation; instead they provoked a period of reaction and stagnation during the reign of "the Iron Tsar", Nikolay I (1825-1855).
Finally the Big day for Russian peasants came: 1861 is the year of the Emancipation of the serfs. Slavery in Russia was officially over and some other liberal reforms by tsar Alexander II (1855-1881) opened the way for capitalism in Russia. Anyhow, former serfs were too poor to buy their own land and were forced to go to Moscow and other big cities searching for a job, as it was the time of rapid advances in industrialization. They worked at factories 14-16 hours a day, while their families were starving at home. Their miserable existence was one of the reasons why the Bolshevik's revolution was accepted so easily by the working classes.