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The Tsar's Doctor


Born in Kincardine in 1767, James Wylie became one of the most celebrated doctors in Europe and the centre of two of the most fascinating and enduring conspiracy theories in Russian history. Having performed the first tracheotomy operation to be carried out in Russia on Count Kutaisof, one of the Tsar Paul I's favourites, Wylie was made the Tsar's personal doctor. When the Tsar was assassinated in March 1801, Wylie made his first steps into infamy when he signed the death certificate, mysteriously giving apoplexy, in place of strangulation, as the cause. Wylie went on to serve the Tsar's son, Alexander I, devotedly for twenty-four years; he was with him at Tilsit, when he concluded a treaty with Napoleon and was as a field surgeon at the battles of Austerlitz, Jenna and at Borodino where he reputedly carried out 200 operations on the field. Tolstoy is thought to have made him the doctor who features in War and Peace". Following Napoleon's defeat