I am pleased to announce that Royal Russia Annual will publish two issues in 2014. Our official magazine was intended to be published only once a year as an annual, but due to its popularlity, Royal Russia Annual will now be published twice a year, while retaining its original name. An annual Winter edition and an annual Summer edition will now be issued.
The No. 5 issue (above left) will be published in February 2014. This issue will include 8 full-length articles, including the cover story A Life of Servitude: Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna of Oldenburg by Irene W. Galaktionova, and an interview with Vladimir Soloviev, Chief Major Crimes Investigator for the CID of the Public Prosecution Office of the Russian Federation. Soloviev discusses his investigation into allegations that Lenin ordered the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
For an up-to-date list of articles in the No. 5 issue, please refer to the following link;
The No. 6 issue (above right) will be published in August 2014. The cover story, Far from the Fatherland: The Romanovs in Exile will be an expanded, more comprehensive article based on the power point presentation which I gave at the Hermitage Museum Society in Toronto in March of 2013.
Watch for our advertisements in upcoming issues ofMajestyandRussian Lifemagazines.
Please NOTE that we are NOT accepting any pre-orders for either of these titles at this time.
Tsarskoye Selo Receives 2 Awards Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Photo: Directors of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve hold the awards and trophies received at the 2013 Museum Olympus Awards ceremony. Included are Deputy Director for Science and Education, Dr. Iraida Bott (second from left) and Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve Director, Olga Taratynova (third from left) Photo Credit: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
The 2013 Museum Olympus Awards ceremony was held on December 2nd and saw Tsarskoye Selo win two Mnemosyne statuettes in the categories: Exhibition Project of the Year and Museum Book of the Year.
Our first winning nominee is Serving Magnificence, a large joint exhibition dedicated to suppliers to the Imperial Court of Russia and to the Romanov 400th Anniversary. Called a breakthough of the year for showing the backstage of court life like never before, this project drew over eight thousand visitors during its three-month run in the summer.
The other winner is the e-book about Russia’s role in the First World War, a special project developed by Tsarksoye Selo and designers from Mantrastudio. This is the first e-book ever nominated for the Museum Olympus Awards. It should become available at App Store in the early 2014, paving a way for our museum Russia in the Great War which is to open at the Martial Chamber next year.
Tsarskoye Selo was nominated in three categories this year.
The awards of the St. Petersburg museum community have been handed out by the St. Petersburg Culture Committee since 2008. Our first Mnemosyne came in 2010 for Museum of the Year. Now, Tsarskoye Selo has two more.
For more information on the exhibition, Serving Magnificence, please refer to the following link;
Emperor Nicholas II with the Tsesarevich Alexei Nicholayevich attending a church Parade of the Finlandsky Guard Regiment, December 12, 1905. Artist: Boris Mikhaylovich Kustodiev (1878-1927)
The Finnish Regiment was formed under the patronage of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich as a battalion of the Imperial militia. In 1811 it was transformed into the Imperial Finnish Lifeguard Regiment. The title came after the first recruitment that was made up of Finnish peasants.
The commanders of the Russian army thought highly of the battle training and courage of the Finnish regiment. They had more George Crosses – Russia’s highest military award, than any other regiment. Plenty of eminent figures served in the regiment including the famous conductor of the regimental band Nikolai Titov and painter Pavel Fedotov.
The Day of Saint Spyridon, which is celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church on December 12th, became an official holiday for the Finnish regiment. Saint Spyridon’s chapel is in St.Petersburg just next to the building where the Officer Assembly of the Finnish regiment gathered.
Next door you can find the regimental library and a monument to grenadier Leonty Korennoy. Songs were composed about Korennoy, and Napoleon himself even hailed him as an example for his soldiers.
The creation of the monument, that shows Korennoy at the battle of Leipzig, was funded by officers of the Finnish regiment. Dmitriy Klochkov, an expert from the Russian Ministry of culture on the military-historical reconstruction, says Korennoy was a real hero:
“Leonty Korennoy was a soldier of the Finnish Regiment, who showed incredible courage at the Battle of Leipzig – the so-called Battle of Nations. He was also a cavalier of the George Cross for the battle of Borodino. At the Battle of Leipzig he helped his fellow-soldiers, who got caught in the encirclement to recede. Korennoy himself was captured by French troops while covering a field-officer and a few officers who were escaping climbing over the stone fence. Leonty received 18 wounds but the French took good care of him and appreciating his bravery cured him and let him go. When Korennoy came back to his regiment he got promoted to flag-bearer, which was a great honor for an ordinary soldier,” Dmitriy Klochkov said.
Unfortunately, all that is left of the Korennoy’s monument today is a half-ruined pedestal with the inscription “to the dear regiment”. But the memory of the Finnish Lifeguard Regiment’s hero is still alive. There is even a song devoted to the brave grenadier.
Just days before the First World War broke out, the Finnish regiment was celebrating the arrival of a squadron of the French President Poincare. Who would have thought that shortly after the festivities virtually the whole regiment would be wiped out.
On July 26, 1914 the Finnish regiment attended the farewell prayer and a march-past. The lifeguards were heading towards Warsaw. Their task was to stop the German troops on the “Warsaw-Poznan-Berlin” direction,” says Stanislav Malishev, chairman of the military-historical society “Soldiers of the Motherland”.
“The Russian regiments entrained Saint-Petersburg and its suburbs at different times but on August, 7 the whole second division, of which the Finnish regiment was a part, entered the Western province. That is where they encountered the enemy for the first time – near the villages of Grodzisk and Lovich. On August, 21 the lifeguards were moved to the South-Western front, to the region of Lublino. On August, 24 the Finnish regiment engaged in its first major battle near the village of Gelchev,” Stanislav Malishev said.
The Finnish regiment’s troops had quite a few strong points, namely fighting skills and the number of officers. There were lots of non-commissioned officers in the regiment who were used as privates due to overcrowding. For the most part those officers died first.
The three-day-long battle of Gelchev was a baptism of fire for the Finnish regiment in the Great War. On the 25th of August the commander of the regiment announced the strategy. But by that time, the village was already under attack. The next night battalions headed off and attacked the enemy, forcing the Austrians to retreat.
The Finnish Lifeguard regiment also played an important role in the Battle of Galicia – the first battle in the history involving such a great number of troops. The regiment entered Austria-Hungarian territory through the so-called Ivangorodskie gates. After this campaign the commander of the regiment Major-general Teplov received the Order of Saint George fourth class.
The hardest time for the regiment came in summer of 1915 when they fought by the Vepr river. Despite the shortage of ammunition, the Finnish Lifeguard managed to repel all enemy attacks.
The Battle of Kowel is famous thanks to the heroic feats of staff-captain Slashev. He lead his men directly into the enemy’s entrenchment, risking his life for the victory but the soldiers covered Slashev from the German bullets.
During the winter of 1916-1917 the Finnish regiment build up strength for the upcoming spring offensive. On March 15th, 1917 Emperor Nikolai II abdicated. The uprising that followed was the cause of hard feelings among the officers. But leaving the front to establish order back home was out of question. In summer 1917 the Finnish regiment took part in the so-called June offensive – the break through the German frontline. Many great soldiers were lost in this operation – staff-captain Petrovsky, lieutenants Melnitsky and Teglev, warrant officer Bahmutov.
The last battle of the Finnish Lifeguards was in October, 1917. After that the Soviet government decided to disband the regiment,” Stanislav Malishev says.
“All the regiments of the former Imperial army were officially disbanded, but the most loyal officers went to the Don and joined anti bolshevist’s forces. Colonel Alexander Moller was given permission by general Krasnov to form a new Finnish regiment as part of the Don Army. The main body of the regiment consisted of 27 officers later joined by corporals and privates who managed to flee to the Don. They declared mobilization and more and more soldiers came, so on June 13th, 1918 the regiment was restored to life. They took part in most of the campaigns of the Don Army and after the retreat in March of 1920 united with lifeguards of the Volunteer Army,” Stanislav Malishev said.
Books from the Personal Libraries of the Imperial House of Romanov at the Russian State Library Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 22 minutes Topic: Exhibitions
I have a great love of books, so this particular exhibition piqued my interest. Earlier this year, the Russian State Library (RSL) in Moscow opened a unique exhibition of books from the personal libraries of members of the Russian Imperial family which they have in their possession.
Books from the Personal Libraries of the Imperial House of Romanov was held in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.
The exhibition opened on May 17, 2013 in the Blue Room of the RSL and closed on June 7, 2013, however, it is still noteworthy and will be of interest to Romanovophiles and book lovers alike. I came across a video and a beautiful slide presentation, both prepared by the RSL, that I wanted to share on Royal Russia.
Click on the link below to view the media presentation prepared by the Russian State Library;
Historic Romanov Exhibition Closes in Moscow Topic: Exhibitions
The lineups for the Romanov exhibition in the Manege grew longer every day. The Manege is the long white building with a green roof, located in the upper left hand side of the photo. The golden cupolas of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral can be seen just behind the exhibition hall.
The 12th Church and Society Exhibition-Forum has closed in Moscow. This year’s immensely popular exhibition, Orthodox Russia: The Romanovs was attended by more than 300,000 visitors over a 20 day period from November 4th - 24th, 2013 (the exhibition was due to close on November 26th, however, it was officially closed on November 24th).
Organizers claim that every day, between 13-18,000 people attended the multimedia historical exhibition held in the Central Exhibition Hall of the Manege.
The exhibition was opened with the participation of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus, Kirill on November 4, National Unity Day. In 1613 tsar Mikhail Romanov instituted a holiday named Day of Moscow’s Liberation from Polish Invaders, a day which was celebrated in the Russian Empire up until 1917. In 1918, the name was changed to The Day of Great October Socialist Revolution. In 2005, President Vladimir Putin re-established the holiday in order to replace the commemoration of the October Revolution. From 1612 the holiday had been celebrated on October 22nd (Old Style) up until 1917, it has since been marked on November 4th. The day is also the feast day of the Russian Orthodox icon of Our Lady of Kazan.
Preparatory work for the exhibition was carried out by more than a thousand people - including historians, designers, creative experts, specialists in computer graphics, sound, light, video, film makers, fitters lasted more than 6 months. The exhibition covered more than 4 thousand square meters spread throughout 21 rooms of the Manege.
Great interest from the public was displayed from the earliest days of the exhibition, and as the line-ups grew, a decision was made to extend the daily opening hours until midnight. However, some eager visitors stayed after the closing time with some showrooms empting only after midnight. As a result, the closing date of the exhibition was extended twice.
Visitors attending the exhibition came from all walks of life, and included people of different generations and social statuses, different beliefs and political views, believers and unbelievers. Every day the exhibition received more than 40 tours of school and university students. Requests for tours were received by the organizing committee right up until the closing of the exhibition.
According to the executive secretary of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunova), the main shock to the organizers was not the number of attendees, but the reviews that were left in the guest book by visitors. "People came up to me and said some very important, kind words - says Archimandrite Tikhon. - For example: ‘You introduced us to our own history.’ Maybe it's too much, but it's probably the most important thing that has been heard."
This exhibition was dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. It was designed to help Russians to learn a more honest and balanced appraisal of the Romanov dynasty, and their contribution to Russia's history. This is a very different interpretation of the Romanov legacy portrayed by the Soviets.
On the closing day, Alexander Myasnikov, one of the organizers of the exhibition, announced that the exhibition will now tour 15 other cities in Russia over the next few years. The venues and dates have yet to be announced.
In the past 6 weeks, Royal Russia has offered extensive coverage of this exhibition with a total of 11 news stories. These included a video (see below) and 26 colour photographs. For more information on this exhibition, please refer to the following links;
Rare Russian Coins to Be Auctioned in New York Topic: Auctions
Deep-pocketed coin collectors will soon have a chance to own several valuable pieces of Russian financial history as ultra-rare coins from the tsarist period are scheduled to be auctioned in New York in January.
The most valuable coins come from the collection of the Swedish collector Ake Linden, who served for years as a senior executive at the precursor organization to the World Trade Organization, according to London-based coin dealer Baldwin’s, which is running the auction.
Linden’s ambition was to own an example of every coin struck in the world after 1850, and in the process of achieving that aim he acquired what is likely to be the most expensive item at the auction, a 25 ruble gold coin issued in 1876 to celebrate the birthday of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich.
Only 100 such coins were ever struck, and Linden’s is expected to sell for $200,000, Baldwin’s said Thursday.
Other rare items culled from Linden’s collection include coins that were introduced around the turn of the century by Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte as part of his efforts to stabilize the ruble and to place it on the gold standard.
An 1897 imperial 10 ruble coin and an 1895 half-imperial five ruble coin from this period are estimated at $100,000 each, according to Baldwin’s.
The auction will also feature pieces from the collection of Russian Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, who had sought to own an example of every coin ever issued in the Russian Empire prior to his execution by the Bolsheviks in 1919.
The auction will be held on January 9 in New York, as part of the 42nd Annual New York International Numismatic Convention.
The Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment Topic: Russian History
Emperor Nicholas II in the uniform of the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment
The Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment was a heroic participant of the First World War. As the oldest division of the Russian army, the Lifeguard unit was considered elite. The Preobrazhensky Regiment was founded by Tsar Peter the Great himself.
The Emperor took the fate of the regiment close to heart as it was initially formed from his poteshnye voiska or “toy” forces, which the Tsar had assembled at the age of 11. As Peter grew older the regiment started playing a dominant role in the Russian army. The soldiers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were devoted to the Emperor.
The Preobrazhensky regiment distinguished itself during the major battles of the 18th and 19th centuries. But the main challenge came in 1914, when the First World War broke out. The regiment responded to the call to defend their Motherland with its usual enthusiasm.
The day before their departure to the battlefield, the soldiers went to a public prayer which took place in St. Petersburg in front of the regimental cathedral. Many of those who came to bid farewell to the servicemen on that summer day were confident in the easy victory of the Russian army. Almost nobody doubted that by Christmas the lifeguards would be back in St. Petersburg. The war, however, dragged on for years. Konstantin Zalessky, a Russian historian, says the Preobrazhensky regiment entered the First World War right from the beginning and fought till 1917.
“I can’t say that Preobrazhensky regiment was that much different from other guard regiments but they were the elite of the Russian army with very tight discipline and outstanding fighting qualities. Although, the main factor was the officers – they were best out of best. Nevertheless, throughout the war, Preobrazhensky regiment suffered high casualties. They fought at the battle of Lublino, at the battle of Ivangorod and in the other problem areas of the front,”Konstantin Zalessky said.
The battle of Lublino was one of the first massacres of WW1 but it was won thanks to the Preobrazhensky regiment – a fact acknowledged by all parties.
Over 1500 servicemen of the Kaiser army were taken prisoners. But the regiment sustained significant losses as well. Alexander Kutepov – fourth company commander of the Preobrazhensky regiment life-guards was also badly wounded in the battle of Lublino. But despite his injuries he cheered up his men, who were lying on stretchers, by saying: “There will be no order for retreat”.
The other battles with the Preobrazhensky regiment are no less notable. For instance, the summer battles of 1917, when Russian soldiers managed to stop the German offensive and hold off the assault on Svinyuhi village. The Preobrazhensky pulled off the impossible by stopping the German attack. But again, the regiment paid a high price, losing over 1500 servicemen. The Russian Empress herself wrote about it saying : “I’m in despair because our life-guards lost so many fine soldiers”.
Among those who died were staff-captain Zubov, captain Holodovskiy, Lieutenants Bobrinskiy and Ratkov-Rozhnov and many other officers. Some were killed trying to break through enemy fire and other lost their lives protecting their fellow-soldiers from the German bullets.
One name worth taking a close look at is Alexander Kutepov. The beginning of his career seemed like any other. He was a common combatant officer, who happened to end up in the Preobrazhensky regiment by mere chance. But, as candidate of historical Sciences Ruslan Gagkuev tells us, this brave commander stayed on the line till the very end, being the last living member of the regiment.
“Alexander Kutepov came to the Preobrazhensky regiment in 1905 after disciplinary punishment was imposed on a few officers after the revolutionary events of 1905. There was a need to replace those officers with the new ones who weren’t disgraced by participation in the uprising. That’s when future general Kutepov was selected for the Preobrazhensky regiment. He was initially assigned to the regiment and later enrolled in it. From this point onwards and up until the liquidation of the Preobrazhensly regiment Kutepov’s life was connected with this oldest element of the Russian army.”
Ruslan Gagkuev adds that despite the fact that Alexander Kutepov ended up in the lifeguards by accident and found himself in a completely alien environment, he didn’t lose face:
“He did what he thought was necessary. He conscientiously carried out his duty. But it was not about career-making, it just was so natural for his personality – to do what was needed. That’s why military service was his true calling».
Both by the regiment and the government paid high tribute to Kutepov and the services he rendered to his country. Alexander owned an impressive collection of military awards, including the George Cross. In fact the order was presented to many officers of the regiment. Among them – colonel Konstantin Litke, staff-captain Nikolai Zubov, Lieutenant Ippolit Komarov, staff-captain Michael Moller and others.
They received the George Cross for the outstanding courage shown on the battlefield. But there were also those who became cavaliers of the order without actually receiving the Cross. These were soldiers who distinguished themselves during the summer offensive of 1917. Due to the chaos of the upcoming revolution well-deserved awards were never presented to the officers.
Konstantin Zalessky says it’s important to note that the Preobrazhensky regiment was one of the few that stayed true to the oath during the February revolution:
“A group of officers and soldiers led by Kutepov tried to put up resistance to the rebels and revolution itself. They failed, of course. But the mere fact that the regiment remained faithful to their oath is worth a lot, I believe,” Konstantin Zalessky said.
An even far more disastrous for the Preobrazhensky regiment was the October revolution. In 1918, after the Soviet government came into power, the regiment was disbanded. Sergei Volkov, Doctor of Historical Sciences, says that shortly after that former lifeguards recreated the regiment as a part of the White army.
“The majority of the Preobrazhensky regiment officers that survived by the end of 1917 fought against Bolsheviks on the Southern front. Well, some went to the East too. Few even participated in a First Kuban campaign – the legendary Ice March. After the evacuation of the White army, when many officers ended up in emigration, they formed regimental associations based on the groups of Preobrazhensky soldiers who lived in different countries. First most of these organizations located in Belgrad, then they also appeared in Paris and Belgium.”
Sergei Volkov points out that generation after generation of the Preobrazhensky regiment officers kept traditions of the Russian army alive even years after the founders of the association passed away.
“It is now young man – grandsons and great grandsons of the officers who do their best to maintain the traditions. The association did scientific work too. For instance, they published articles on the history of Preobrazhensky regiment, there was a museum even. We can see some of this activity even nowadays. Some materials can be found in private collections in Russia. In particular, a number pictures and documents were handed to the Russian Foundation for Culture by the “Rodina” association, which collects Russian military artefacts,”Sergei Volkov said.
But that’s not the only tribute to the war-heroes. In December 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the historical regiments should be revived. In April, 2013 Vladimir Putin signed a decree on renaming the 154th commandant’s regiment after the Preobrazhensky regiment. It is currently based in Moscow’s Lefortovo district where is stands sentry.
1917 Russian Calendar depicting Tsar Nicholas II and his family
This 1917 Russian calendar presents the last Russian Imperial family: Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and their only son and heir to the throne Tsesarevich Alexei. They are depicted as one big happy family, decked out in all their finery, giving the false image that all was well with the state of monarchy and the Russian Empire. Sadly, however, history tells a different story….
In 1917, Russia witnessed a series of catastrophic events which would change the course of the country’s history, forever.
The acceleration of revolutionary activity continued to threaten the lives of the tsar, his family and the monarchy.
The country was still at war with Germany, a war which had a devastating impact on Russia resulting in the loss of an estimated 1.8 million lives. The war took its toll on Russia as discontent grew, food became scarce, soldiers became war-weary, and the devastating defeats on the eastern front threatened the tsar’s leadership.
The February Revolution was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. It was centered on Petrograd, then the capital (now St. Petersburg), on March 8 (Women's Day).
On March 15, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was travelling by train bound for Tsarskoye Selo when he was stopped at Pskov. The Duma insisted that Nicholas abdicate, sending representatives Aleksandr Ivanovich Guchkov and Vasilii Vitalievich Shulgin to meet him there. Nicholas complied and signed the papers.
Nicholas abdicates in favour of his brother, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich.
The following day, on March 16, 1917 (March 3, 1917 old style), Grand Duke Michael ponders the situation briefly and then declines the offer.
Russia is no longer a monarchy.
Vladimir Lenin, exiled in neutral Switzerland, arrived in Petrograd from Zürich on 3 April 1917 O.S. He immediately began to undermine the provisional government.
In July, Georgy Lvov was replaced by the Socialist Revolutionary minister Alexander Kerensky as head of the government.
After months of being under house arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, the Imperial family are exiled to Tobolsk, Siberia in August.
The October Revolution, officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd traditionally dated to 25 October 1917 (by the Julian or Old Style calendar, which corresponds to 7 November 1917 in the Gregorian or New Style calendar).
Vladimir Lenin, a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist served as the leader of the Russian SFSR from 1917.
On 20 December 1917 the Cheka was created by the decree of Vladimir Lenin. These were the beginnings of the Bolshevik's consolidation of power over their political opponents.
The year 1917 was a major turning point for the history of Russia, and also the Russian Orthodox Church. According to Lenin, a communist regime cannot remain neutral on the question of religion but must show itself to be merciless towards it. There was no place for the church in Lenin's classless society.
The assets of the Imperial family, as well as members of Russia’s aristocratic and noble families were nationalized. The Bolsheviks began the persecution, arrest and murder of thousands of innocent Russians.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks set the stage for the Red Terror.
A Russian Moment 21 - The Bronze Horseman, St. Petersburg Topic: A Russian Moment
The Bronze Horseman, an impressive monument to the founder of St Petersburg, Peter the Great, stands on Senatskaia Ploschad' (Square), facing the Neva River and surrounded by the Admiralty, St Isaac's Cathedral and the buildings of the former Senate and Synod - the civil and religious governing bodies of pre-revolutionary Russia.
The monument was built by order of the Empress Catherine the Great as a tribute to her famous predecessor on the Russian throne, Peter the Great. Being a German princess by birth, she was eager to establish a line of continuity with the earlier Russian monarchs. For that reason an inscription on the monument reads in Latin and Russian: Petro Primo Catharina Secunda - To Peter the First from Catherine the Second.
This equestrian statue of Peter the Great, created by the famous French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, depicts the most prominent reformer of the Russia state as a Roman hero. The pedestal is made of a single piece of red granite molded into the shape of a cliff. From the top of this "cliff" Peter gallantly leads Russia forward, while his horse steps on a snake, which represents the enemies of Peter and his reforms.
According to a 19th century legend, enemy forces will never take St. Petersburg while the "Bronze Horseman" stands in the middle of the city. During the Second World War the statue was not taken down, but was protected with sand bags and a wooden shelter. In that way, the monument survived the 900-day Siege of Leningrad virtually untouched.