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Friday, 11 July 2014
Ekaterinburg Prepares for Royal Days
Topic: Ekaterinburg


The Ural city of Ekaterinburg is preparing for its annual celebration of “Royal Days" to be held July 12-20, 2014. During these days, thousands of believers will honour Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were all murdered in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918. 

The event which honours the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs draws large crowds in Ekaterinburg each year. Events during this year’s festival include exhibitions, lectures, concerts, liturgies and a religious procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama. Admission is free.

The ceremonial centres of worship during the "Royal Days" will, according to tradition, be the Church on the Spilled Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House, and the Monastery at Ganina Yama, built on the site where the remains of the martyrs were originally disposed of by their murderers.

Many of the pilgrims will begin arriving in Ekaterinburg on July 16th. According to a press service of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, the number of pilgrims from across Russia, and even abroad is growing each year. About 300 people attended in 2000, the first year the "Royal Days" was marked, and last year, in 2013 their number exceeded 50 thousand. Organizers are expecting an even greater number of pilgrims at this year’s event. 

In order to accommodate the large crowds, the ceremonies and a Divine Liturgy will be organized in the open air. A large tent with an altar platform will be erected in front of the Church on the Blood, large video monitors, and a powerful sound system and lighting will be installed.

A Divine Liturgy is scheduled to begin at 11:30 on the evening of July 16th, after which the faithful will participate in a 20 km religious procession from the Church on the Blood to the monastery at Ganina Yama in the early morning hours of July 17th.

As in previous years, Royal Russia will offer full coverage of this year’s "Royal Days" at Ekaterinburg, complete with news, photographs and videos.
 
This is an enormous event, spreading to more Russian cities each year. Take a moment to review Royal Russia's coverage of the "Royal Days" at Ekaterinburg in 2013, 2012 and 2011: 

2013 - Russia Commemorates the Holy Royal Martyrs - includes 3 videos & 16 photos

2013 - In Memory of the Royal Martyrs ~ 17 July, 1918 - includes 1 video & 3 photos

2012 - Russia Commemorates the Holy Royal Martyrs - includes 4 videos & 25 photos

2012 - In Memory of the Royal Martyrs ~ 17 July, 1918 - includes 1 video & 3 photos

2011 - Pilgrims Pray for the Intercession of the Royal Martyrs in Ekaterinburg - includes 1 video & 20 photos

2011 - In Memory of the Royal Martyrs - 17 July, 1918 - includes 1 video & 15 photos

 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:43 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014 4:15 AM EDT
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Thursday, 10 July 2014
Monarchs' Menu: Feasts Fit for Russian Tsars and Emperors
Topic: Imperial Russia


Ceremonial Dinner in the Faceted Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin. Artist: Mihaly Zichy (1827-1906)
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 9th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alexei Denisov, owns the copyright presented below.

Tsar Ivan the Terrible was radical both in his politics and his cuisine. Reformer Peter the Great never ate fish. Enlightened Empress Catherine the Great treated her guests to pheasants. RBTH explores these and other curious facts in Russia's gastronomic history.

Little is known about meals that were served to Ivan the Terrible, one of the most eccentric Russian tsars. According to Austrian envoy Sigismund von Herberstein, the author of "Notes on Muscovite Affairs", the tsar was an incredibly hospitable host. "Lunch would last three or four hours," von Herberstein wrote about meals at the tsar's palace. "During my first mission to Russia, we even ate till after midnight… The tsar often treats his guests to food and drink…" A more detailed description of a royal meal can be found in a historical novel by Aleksei Tolstoy called "Prince Serebrenni": "Once the swans were eaten, servants, in pairs, left the chamber and returned with three hundred fried peacocks… The peacocks were followed by kulebyakas, chicken pies, meat and cheese pies, all possible varieties of blinis, pastries and fritters…" The next change of dishes was even more impressive: "The tables were laid first with meat jellies, followed by cranes with spicy herbs, marinated roosters with ginger, bone-free chicken, and duck with cucumbers. Then there came different soups and three varieties of ukhas."

The tsar treated his guests only to classical Russian dishes of the time. For example, a kulebyaka (coulibiac) is a traditional pie in the form of a thin pastry shell and a generous filling, often consisting of several ingredients. The filling of a chicken pie (called "kurnik") was no less complex, with poultry meat, primarily chicken, being the main ingredient. A meat jelly (also known as aspic) is a cold jelly made of meat broth with finely chopped meat inside; while an ukha is the traditional Russian fish soup. Culinary pragmatism The first Russian emperor, Peter the Great, was a man of modest tastes. One of his close associates, a mechanic and a sculptor, Andrey Nartov, recalled: "Peter the Great did not like any splendour, luxury or to be surrounded by many servants. … His food consisted of cabbage soup, aspic, porridge, grilled [meat] with pickled cucumbers or lemons, corned beef, ham. He was particularly fond of Limburger cheese. All of the above was served by his chef Felten. Of vodkas, the tsar preferred anisette. His usual drink was kvass. At dinner, he drank Hermitage wine (red wine from the northern Rhône – RBTH), sometimes Hungarian wine (sweet, Tokaj – RBTH). He never ate fish…"

Anisette, which Peter the Great so favoured, is widespread in Europe too, whereas kvass is a traditionally Slavic drink that remains very popular in Russia still. In olden days, it was invariably served at weddings and other feasts (there were different varieties of it, depending on alcohol content). Taste of Enlightenment Catherine the Great had the reputation of one of the best educated women of her time and a proponent of the philosophy of European Enlightenment. In her later years, she developed as simple a taste in food as Peter the Great had. According to historians, her favourite dish was boiled beef with pickled cucumbers and sauce made of dried venison tongues.

Of sweets, she preferred the famous Kolomna pastila (this classical Russian dessert is made of whipped fruit puree that is later dried following a special recipe). When entertained by her favourite, Count Potemkin, who had a dozen foreign cooks working for him, the empress was particularly impressed by "bombs a la Sardanapal" prepared by a French chef. The dish consisted of cutlets made of minced game meat. However, during official meals the empress was not as modest as in her private life. In his book "Repast History of the Russian State", Professor Pavel Romanov describes one such banquet consisting of over a hundred dishes. The empress and her guests were served a dozen soups, poularde and quail with truffles, pheasants with pistachio nuts, bass with ham, teal with olives, tortoise meat, lamb roast, etc. Some of the dishes were clearly inspired by French influences. This is not at all surprising since, during Catherine the Great's rule, it was fashionable among the Russian nobility to hire French chefs and Russian cuisine was changing under their influence. Those strange Russians To an unprepared foreigner, Russian tsars' menus often seemed puzzling. One historical anecdote tells the story of how a Russian tsar sent a Western European counterpart of his a pound of black caviar and the European monarch, out of ignorance, instructed his cooks to boil it first. An English ambassador to the court of Alexander I once found himself in a similar situation.

The tsar liked discussing gastronomical topics with him and once, as a follow-up to a discussion they were having, presented the ambassador with botvinya (a complex soup based on kvass, sorrel and beet greens with boiled fish). The ambassador, thinking that "those strange Russians" have sent him a soup that has grown hopelessly cold, ordered it to be warmed up, unaware that this Russian specialty should be consumed only cold. Having said that, not all foreigners showed themselves so ignorant when it came to Russian cuisine. For example, the legendary French cookery specialist and author Alexandre Dumas Sr. described the above mentioned botvinya as "the queen of Russian soups". Under 50 minutes Alexander II, who abolished serfdom in Russia in 1861, was known on the culinary front as the tsar who introduced a strictly observed duration of meal times at breakfast and lunch for members of his family. Each meal was supposed to take exactly 50 minutes.

The task was made all the more challenging because the tsar from time to time changed the venue for these family meals, with some of them being so far from the kitchens that staff found it extremely difficult to get all the food on the table in time and hot. In the end, they came up with the idea of using large hot water bottles to keep the food warm. The trick did not always work with delicate sauces, whose original taste and smell was sometimes affected. But punctuality was more important. Alexander II's son, Emperor Alexander III, was much less of a pedant and remains in royal culinary history as the tsar who "started a new era for Russian winemaking". According to the head of staff at the Imperial Court Ministry, Aleksandr Mosolov, "under Alexander II, all served wines were foreign ones. Alexander III started a new era for winemaking in Russia: he ordered serving foreign wines only when there were foreign monarchs or diplomats present at the meal. Otherwise, all served wines should be Russian. I remember that many officers found this wine nationalism misplaced: instead of assemblies, they began eating in restaurants, which were not obliged to follow the monarch's instructions." However, soon attitudes towards Russian wines changed: largely thanks to the efforts of Prince Lev Golitsyn, who set up the famous wineries Massandra and Novy Svet. Gradually, Russian wines ceased to be seen by the Russian nobility as an oddity. Last menu The best chronicled in history are the culinary preferences of Russia's last tsar Nicholas II. Here is, for example, what Aleksandr Mosolov says in his book "At the Emperor's Court": "Lunch [at the Livadia summer palace in Crimea] began with a soup with small vol-au-vents, savoury pastries, and small cheese toasts. Importantly, vol-au-vents were served together with the soup rather than as a separate dish, as they are abroad. The soup was followed by fish, a (game or chicken) casserole, vegetables, sweets, fruit… To drink, there were madeira, white and red wines for breakfast (or beer as an option) and different wines served at lunch, as is the custom everywhere else in the civilised world. And liqueurs with coffee…"

All this was cooked by the emperor's favourite chef, Frenchman Pierre Cubat. Alas, after the 1917 revolution, French influences on imperial cuisine became a thing of the past. As did imperial cuisine itself, to be replaced by a Soviet culinary era. 
 
© Alexei Denisov / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 10 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:09 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014 8:21 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Royal Russia Annual Welcomes Margarita Nelipa as Resident Writer
Topic: Books


'Servant to Three Emperors: Count Vladimir Frederiks' by Margarita Nelipa will be published in the Royal Russia Annual No. 7 in January 2015
 
Royal Russia is pleased to announce that Russian historian and author, Margarita Nelipa has agreed to share her professional insights on the Romanovs and Imperial Russia as resident writer for our official magazine, Royal Russia Annual*. Her academic, exemplary research and writing skills will be welcomed by readers of Royal Russia Annual

Her debut article, Servant to Three Emperors: Count Vladimir Frederiks will be published in the Royal Russia Annual No. 7 issue in January 2015. Count Frederiks** was a statesman who served as the Minister of the Imperial Court between 1897 and 1917 under Nikolai II. He is seen in countless photographs walking with the last emperor, whom he served faithfully. He was praised in this role by the French ambassador, Maurice Paléologue, who called him 'the very personification of court life'. Other than minor mentions in a few memoirs, little is known of this man and his loyal service to the last monarch and to Russia. For the first time, Margarita Nelipa offers readers the first comprehensive study of this honourable gentleman of the Imperial Court.

Margarita is of Russian heritage, her parents who arrived in Australia in 1948 as war refugees, provided her with a passion for Russian culture. Her foremost concern is to explore the latter decades of the Russian Imperial era. Formerly a medical scientist with a post-graduate qualification in Legal Studies, she has, over a decade concentrated on researching medical, legal and historical issues related to the Russian Imperial era. Fluent in the Russian language, she has translated numerous Russian scientific papers into English and written for periodicals as well as reviewed work related to the Imperial Russian Court. She co-maintains a web page: Faces of Russia: Past and Present and is a member of the American based S.E.A.R.C.H. Foundation (whose President and Founder assisted in finding the remains of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg).

Margarita relies on Russian primary sources for her research. These include diaries, letters, courtroom documents as well as memoirs and newspapers of the day all translated by the author and which have never been previously brought together. Her work is enhanced by extensive annotations, appendices and bibliographies.

“I enjoy the research work immensely and more so when I strike gold and am able to challenge long held myths with documented facts,” she said. “There is much to be done now that Russia is opening up their archives and is publishing more diaries etc. including serious academic tomes that apply to the imperial era. I am fortunate to have considerable resources and probably the only person in the West who writes about Russian imperial history as if I am a Russian eyewitness and can furthermore employ relevant self-translated Russian material.”

Margarita Nelipa is the author of two books: The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin A Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire (2010), Alexander III: His Life and Reign (2014). She is currently working on her third book, Alexei: Russia’s Last Imperial Heir, A Chronicle of Tragedy. This will be the first comprehensive biography in English on the only son of Nikolai II, and Heir to the Russian throne. This book is due to be published in early 2015. 
 
 
* Our official magazine was intended to be published only once a year as an annual, but due to its popularity, Royal Russia Annual will now be published twice a year, while still retaining its original name. An annual Winter edition and an annual Summer edition will now be issued.

** The longer form 'Freedericksz' is the ancestral surname that was Russianized to 'Frederiks' by the first generation born in Russia. Although the surname appears in several forms in the West this author uses the literal translation of the Minister of the Imperial Court’s signature.
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 09 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:40 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 July 2014 10:08 AM EDT
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Faberge Exhibit Coming to Oklahoma City Museum of Art in 2015
Topic: Faberge


A peek inside the Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg. Photo © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
 
More than 230 rare and storied treasures created by the House of Fabergé will be celebrated in a new exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. “Fabergé: Jeweller to the Tsars” will be on view from June 20 through September 27, 2015. The exhibition, drawn from the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, will showcase Carl Fabergé’s fine craftsmanship in pieces of jewellery and adornments once belonging to the Russian Imperial family.

From dazzling Imperial Easter eggs to delicate flower ornaments and from enchanting animal sculptures to cigarette cases, photograph frames and desk clocks, Fabergé often turned the most mundane objects into miniature works of art. The vast majority of his designs were never repeated, and most pieces were made entirely by hand.  The success of his business was inextricably linked to the patronage of the Romanov dynasty and the close ties among the British, Danish and Russian royal families, who often exchanged works by Fabergé as personal gifts.

The “Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg” of 1912, which will be on view at OKCMOA, was a gift to Empress Alexandra from her husband, Emperor Nicholas II. The egg commemorates their son, Alexsei, who nearly died the previous year of haemophilia. For the shell, craftsmen joined six wedges of highly prized lapis lazuli and hid the seams with an elaborate gold filigree encasement. Inside the egg, a diamond encrusted Romanov family crest frames a two-sided portrait of the young child.

These objects were associated with refinement and luxury because the House of Fabergé was known for accepting nothing less than perfection as well as for being business savvy. Beyond the elegant showrooms in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, hundreds of the country’s finest goldsmiths, enamellers, stone carvers, gem cutters and jewellers were at work creating innovative and complex designs that could not be readily imitated. 
 
© Oklahoma City Museum of Art. 09 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 July 2014 5:03 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Giving Back to Russia - Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof - 2014
Topic: Royal Russia


For the second year in a row, Royal Russia has made a donation of 10,000 Rubles ($300 USD) to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve, and a further 10,000 Rubles ($300 USD) to the Peterhof State Museum Preserves. These gifts were made possible thanks to the sales of our 2014 calendar, Romanov Legacy: The Palaces and Residences of the Russian Imperial Family. 

Since 1994, I have worked as an independent publisher and bookseller specializing in books and periodicals on the Romanov dynasty and Imperial Russia. In the past few years I have branched out into rare and second-hand books, and currently work through dealers in Moscow and St. Petersburg to offer collectors unique titles published in Russian and English.

Bookselling and publishing are my sole means of income, I do not earn an income from Royal Russia. Therefore, I am very, very grateful to each and every one of you who support my online bookshop, because without your patronage there would be no Royal Russia.

Earning a living from my book business allows me to devote my free time to my web site and blog, even if that requires working extra hours 7 days a week. I love my work, and I trust that is reflected through my web site, blog and the publications that I produce. I am privileged and honoured to share Royal Russia with other Romanovphiles and Russophiles around the world.

Royal Russia is supported through the generous donations of people who share an interest in the Romanov dynasty and the history of Imperial Russia.

It is also supported by the sale of a calendar, created annually with a unique theme and richly illustrated with rare and beautiful photographs and illustrations. The net proceeds from the sale of this calendar help Royal Russia in 2 unique ways: first, to help offset the costs of maintaining a growing web site and blog which welcomed nearly 2 million visitors in 2013, a huge achievement and a new record! Secondly - sales from the calendar now allow Royal Russia to give something back to Russia, by making a small annual donation to two major palace-museum complexes near St. Petersburg.

I have been very blessed all these years to work at something that I truly enjoy. As a result, I am now in a position to give something back to Russia. In 2013 and 2014, a total of 40,000 Rubles ($1,200 USD) has been donated to the Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof State Museum Preserves.

These donations go towards restoration work and the acquisition of items for the palace-museum collections. I am very proud that I have been given the opportunity to make at least a small contribution to each museum. I am committed to helping to preserve the Romanov legacy when and where I can, and will continue to make ongoing donations in the years ahead.

Further, I have also made a personal donation in the amount of $250.00 CAD to the Children's Village at Pushkin. This wonderful organization helps orphaned Russian children, providing them with a safe place to live and grow. Helping children is a cause which is near and dear to my heart.

In May 2013, I also made a donation of books published by Royal Russia in the amount of $250.00 CAD to the Holy Trinity Monastery Library at Jordanville, New York. The library includes a large repository of books and other documents on the Romanov dynasty. This is further complimented by the recent opening of the Russian Nobility Association Reading Room located in the seminary at the Holy Trinity Monastery.

Once again, thank you to each and every one you who support my publishing efforts and bookshop, as well as those who purchased calendars and/or made donations to Royal Russia. Together, we are making a difference in helping to keep the memories of old Russia alive!

© Paul Gilbert. 08 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:19 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 July 2014 6:26 AM EDT
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Next Stage of Restoration of the Alexander Palace Allocated 200 Million Rubles
Topic: Alexander Palace


The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation have announced that it has allocated a further 200 million rubles for the continued restoration and reconstruction of the Alexander Palace - the former residence of Russian emperors, where Nicholas II was born in 1868. According to the tender documentation issued on Monday, funds will be used to carry out the second stage of work at the palace, with the work to be completed within five months.

The press service of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve told ITAR-TASS that it is committed to a full completion of the restoration of the ground floor of the building which begun in 2011.
 
The restoration of the West wing of the palace is also currently underway (see photos below). This section of the palace is in extremely poor condition, including broken plaster, wall decorations and ceilings, dilapidated attic floor and all engineering systems. The last restoration of this section of the palace was carried out by the Soviets in the 1970s. Contractors must perform the repair, restoration, conservation and reconstruction of the original form of the building, which includes most of the elements of the Alexander Palace. Restoration work will be carried out by the Petersburg Committee on Monuments (KGIOP).
 


Work has begun on the west wing of the Alexander Palace. These photos were taken during my visit to Tsarskoye Selo on June 7th, 2014.
Photos © Paul Gilbert
 
Once complete, the newly renovated rooms of the west wing will be used for temporary exhibitions, offices and a conference room. The basement will be renovated and equipped with facilities for receiving groups. The main exhibition will be located in the eastern wing and central parts of the palace. In the next few years, the private quarters of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra will be recreated in the eastern wing, including the Maple, Pallisander and Mauve rooms. Restoration of the Alexander Palace is now scheduled to be completed by 2018. Funds allocated for its restoration by the federal program Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.

The first restoration works were carried out in the palace in 1996 with a grant of the World Monuments Fund (WMF). The following year the exhibition Reminiscences in the Alexander Palace opened in the east wing, which include many personal items of the last emperor and his family from the collections of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum. Royal Russia was one of the first groups from the West to visit the Alexander Palace, only days after its opening to the public in August 1997. In 2010, three ceremonial halls in the central part of the palace - Portrait, Semi-circular and Marble - were opened.

*

For more information the Alexander Palace, its history and restoration, please refer to our directory situated on the left of this page. Click on the Alexander Palace, where you will find more than 30 articles, plus 7 videos and dozens of historic and contemporary photographs. Note: each page of our blog holds 10 articles. Click on the Older link located in the bottom left hand side of each page to review more articles and videos on the Alexander Palace.
 


For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to my article published in Royal Russia Annual No 3: 

My Russia: The Rebirth of the Alexander Palace

 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:06 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 July 2014 8:40 AM EDT
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Monday, 7 July 2014
The Great Eastern Journey of Tsar Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II


Tsesarevich Nicholas (standing to the right of the sphinx) in Egypt
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 5th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Joe Crescente, owns the copyright of the version presented below.

Nicholas II, the future Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias was the first and only Tsar to visit Siberia and the Far East. Taking the journey several years before ascending the throne, Nicholas II covered approximately 51,000 km, including about 15,000 km of railway and 22,000 km by sea over about 290 days. After Peter the Great’s incognito fact-finding Grand Embassy tour of Europe in 1697-1698, a long educational trip became an important part of training Tsars-to-be for the challenges that lay ahead.

One major impetus for this trip was Alexander III’s (Nicholas’s father) decision to establish the Trans-Siberian Railway. He wanted a member of the royal family to be present for the opening ceremony in Vladivostok. This, of course, conflicts with some sources that suggest that Nicholas was considering traveling East to China and then through America and other claims that Nicholas’s father wanted to separate him from his lover, a ballerina at the Mariinsky Theater. What is indisputable is that the Romanovs wanted to use this trip as a spiritual mission to spread the Orthodox faith among new peoples and territories around the world.

The trip was planned by the general staff and the Holy Synod, the supreme governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church. The heir apparent embarked with an entourage on October 23, 1890 (old calendar) from Gatchina. His main companion was Prince Esper Ukhtomsky, a friend of the heir to the throne and official historian of the journey, but was also joined by his sickly younger brother, Grand Duke George. It was hoped that George’s health would benefit from the sun and sea air.

The delegation went first by train to Vienna and then Trieste where they boarded the warship, The Memory of Azov. The next stop was the Greek port city of Piraeus where Nicholas met his uncle, King George I of Greece. The King’s son, Prince George of Greece and Denmark, joined the delegation here. They went next to Egypt, with Nicholas and much of the crew touring the Nile and the pyramids, while the ship passed through the Suez Canal.

From there they sailed to India arriving in Bombay on December 11. It was here that Nicholas’s younger brother turned back as he had become ill. While in India Nicholas visited many of India’s main sites including the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple. He met with rajas, went hunting, but was largely unsuccessful (whereas two princes that accompanied him bagged a tiger each), and bought numerous artworks, many of which can be found today in Russian museums. It was said that the future Tsar did not enjoy India as the heat was intense and he couldn’t stand the sight of British redcoats, reminders of Russia’s strained relations with Britain. The Indian portion of the journey culminated with a visit to the island of Ceylon, where one of the highlights was a show featuring 30 to 40 elephants and “devil dancers”.
 


Tsesarevich Nicholas (standing lower right) hunting in India
 
From there, the journey continued on to Singapore, where according to local accounts Nicholas’s visit created quite a stir. Then it was on to today’s Indonesia and Thailand, where Nicholas spent a week as a guest of King Rama V. Afterwards he made a port of call in China.

It was in Japan that perhaps the most notable event of the journey took place. Nicholas greatly enjoyed his first days on the island, buying handicrafts and even getting a large tattoo of a dragon on his right arm.

He was warmly received, as the Japanese were interested in bettering relations with Russia. However, on April 29, in Otsu, he was attacked by Tsuda Sanzo, a policeman assigned to protect him. Sanzo took a stab at Nicholas’s face, leaving him with a 9 cm scar on the right side of his forehead. The second thrust was blocked by his cousin’s cane. His life was never in danger.
 


Prince George of Greece and Tsesarevich Nicholas in Japan
 
Theories vary although xenophobia is largely considered Sanzo’s motivation. The Emperor rushed to meet the future Tsar. Japan was no match militarily for Russia at the time and feared provoking the government into war. Three Japanese princes accompanied Nicholas as escorts as he left.

The entourage arrived at Vladivostok on May 11 and after commencing with the official ceremony, they left the Memory of Azov behind and traveled overland and by riverboat through all of Russia. They first went north stopping at Khabarovsk and then on to Blagoveshchensk, where an enormous arc dedicated to the visit still remains (commemoration arcs still stand in many of these cities). Next on the itinerary were the Eastern Siberian cities of Nerchinsk, Chita and Irkutsk.
 


Tsesarevich Nicholas visiting the Trans-Baikal region of the Russian Empire on his return home to St. Petersburg
 
He next arrived in Tomsk. This visit is clouded in secrecy, as even Ukhtomsky, the chronicler, is uncharacteristically silent on what Nicholas did in the evening. Rumor has it that he secretly visited the cell of Theodore the Elder, a mystic that mysteriously arrived in Tomsk in 1837. Some believe that Tsar Aleksandr I faked his own death in 1825 to escape his fate, before reappearing years later as Theodore.

From Tomsk, the journey continued to Surgut, Tobolsk, Tara, Omsk and Orenburg, before returning to St. Petersburg by train.

In many ways this trip was more important for what it brought the Russian interior. For example, the future Tsar spent one night in Tomsk and yet it received funds for Tomsk Polytechnic University and the opening of a spiritual academy in the coming years. A monastic workshop there received orders from the Imperial Court for the next 20 years. It seemed that whatever the Tsar touched was gold, at least on this trip. 
 
© Joe Crescente / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 07 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:08 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014 8:22 AM EDT
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Saturday, 5 July 2014
A Russian Moment No 39 - New Jerusalem Monastery near Moscow
Topic: A Russian Moment


Restoration work on the New Jerusalem Monastery near Moscow is scheduled to be completed by 2016
 
The New Jerusalem Monastery is located on the banks of the Istra River, 64 km to the northwest of Moscow. It was founded in 1656 by Patriarch Nikon whose vision was to recreate the holy sites of Palestine near Moscow. The monastery was built by Belorussian masters. New Jerusalem’s first architect was Peter Zaborsky. Thirty-one masters took part in the construction.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the monastery became one of the places for Russian pilgrimages. In 1903, Emperor Nicholas II visited the monastery, where Patriarch Nikon is buried. Once the Moscow-Vindava railroad line was constructed, the number of visitors grew. By 1913, approximately 35,000 people visited the monastery every year.

After the October Revolution of 1918, the monastery was closed. In 1921, museums opened up on its premises.

In 1994, New Jerusalem Monastery ceased to function as a museum and returned to its status as a monastery. In 2002, the World Monuments Fund put the New Jerusalem Monastery on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.
 
In 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and then Patriarch Alexy II visited the monastery and later that year organized a Charity Fund for the Reconstruction of the New Jerusalem Monastery, with Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov appointed its head. 

The following year, in March 2009, President Medvedev signed a presidential decree for the restoration and renovation of the New Jerusalem Monastery. The federal government was instructed to subsidize the monastery restoration fund from the federal budget starting in 2009, estimating it will cost about 13–20 billion Russian roubles.

In an attempt to raise funds for the monastery restoration, a museum was opened. The storage funds of the museum are overflowing with more than 170,000 historical artifacts, with only one per cent on display at any given time. In 2010, the New Jerusalem Museum welcomed 300,000 visitors. By the summer of 2011, more than 350,000 tickets had been sold. The cost of visiting the museum is approximately $2. If you’d like to take photos, that’ll cost another $5. 

Restoration work on the New Jerusalem Monastery is scheduled to be completed by 2016. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:23 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 5 July 2014 8:33 AM EDT
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Friday, 4 July 2014
The History and Development of Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

To mark the 304th anniversary of the Tsarskoye Selo, celebrated on July 5, 2014, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg published on its website an extensive collection of materials related to this memorable date. Historical documents, rare photographs, postcards, books, publications, revealing the three-century history of Tsarskoye Selo are now available to a wider audience.

As you know, June 24 (July 5), 1710 Peter I gave to his future wife Catherine Sarskaja Manor, located 25 km from St. Petersburg. That date is considered the foundation day of Tsarskoye Selo. The name "Sarskaya Manor" (a high place) was given to those lands due to a small Swedish manor house, located there in the early 18th century. In 1702, those territories were liberated by Russian troops. After the expulsion of the Swedish, the manor, which had been transferred into the possession of the Governor-General of the liberated territory, Alexander Menshikov, became known as the Sarskoye Selo.

In 1710, Peter I decided to give the lands to his future wife Catherine. The fact was mentioned in a letter of Alexander Menshikov to Koporie commandant, Larion Dumashev, of June 24 (July 5), 1710: "His Majesty is pleased to give Catherine Sarskaya and Slavyanskaya manors in Koporie country along with the associated villages, including the peasants and all the lands. As you receive the letter, give those manors with all the associated villages to her, and remove the manors from the accountant books; and send a report on the amount of yards, and fields, and woods, and hay meadows, and any land in the manors."

In 1717, a building for the summer residence of Empress Catherine I - the future Catherine Palace was laid in Tsarskoye Selo. Peter the Great often visited his wife’s country house. Visits of the emperor and other nobles to Tsarskoye Selo are described by A. I. Uspensky in his "Historical panorama of St. Petersburg and its environs. Tsarskoye Selo," available on the Presidential Library website:"August 7, 1724, according to furir books, His Imperial Majesty and the Empress came with a visit to Tsarskoye Selo; August 8, all the ministers and members of the aristocracy came there; August 9, on Sunday, was the consecration of the church took place in Tsarskoye Selo; after the liturgy 13 guns fired three times; ate all the ministers and Synod members (Archbishops George Dashkov of Yaroslavl, Theophanes Prokopovich of Pskov and Alexei Titov of Vyatka) ate in chambers in the village and stayed until midnight."

In 1728, the estate of the Empress passed to the crown princess Elizabeth, who unfolded there a serious construction. From 1741, Tsarskoye Selo had been the official residence of the Russian monarchs. In the second half of the 18th century, not only the palace with its front yard was constructed, but also the park, hydraulic works and houses. This was described in detail in the "Historical panorama of St. Petersburg and its environs. Tsarskoye Selo": "In 1728, Tsarskoye Selo became a patrimony of Princess Elizabeth Petrovna. Having ascended the throne, Elizabeth did not forget Tsarskoye Selo, and gradually, within a few years, turned the modest Peter Palace into a fantastically luxurious place to rival Versailles."

In 1808, by decree of the Emperor Alexander I, a single town called Tsarskoye Selo was formed. Its reconstruction plan was developed by architect V. I. Geste. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the population of Tsarskoye Selo reached 14, 000 inhabitants. Even then, it was a comfortable town with good rail links, water supply, sewerage, telegraph, telephone and radio station.

The website of the first national electronic library of the country provides access to historical documents relating to the history of Tsarskoye Selo. Among them: "The plans of parts of Tsarskoye Selo of the St. Petersburg Province: 1838-1839" provided by the Russian State Historical Archives. In addition to the plans and schemes of Tsarskoye Selo, there is also the "project of square and the road near the house occupied by a branch of the Sofia military hospital."

Tsarskoye Selo is also famous for its educational institutions. For example, in 1811, there was opened the Imperial Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum – a higher educational institution for children of nobles in the Russian Empire, which functioned until 1843. The Lyceum became widely known in the Russian history primarily as a school, which educated Alexander Pushkin.

The Presidential Library disposes of a unique document - "Resolution on the Lyceum" of 1810, written personally by Emperor Alexander I to «Mr. Minister of Education." It describes in detail the organization of the future educational institution, the requirements for teachers and students, the lists of disciplines needed to be studied, etc. It says that the Lyceum was intended for nobles aged 10-12, "having doubtless certificates of their great morality and being totally healthy." The time for studying was set from August 1 to July 1 of the following year.

Another educational institution opened in 1902. Two years earlier, Nicholas II issued a decree, «On the opening in Tsarskoye Selo of a real school board and the construction of the house for it." The decree is held by the Presidential Library and it explains the reason for choosing the place for the educational institution: "Climatically, Tsarskoye Selo has a healthy, clean air, dry mountainous terrain and beautiful water for the younger generation. Being very close to St. Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo has all the amenities of intellectual life of the capital (libraries, museums, scientific and educational societies, theaters, etc.), but at the same time allows, thanks to its small size, have the best behavioral surveillance and way of life of students, even outside the walls of the educational institution."

By the early 20th century, Tsarskoye Selo was one of the most developed towns of the Russian Empire. After the revolution, the palaces and mansions of Tsarskoye Selo housed child care institutions, and the town became known as Detskoye Selo. In 1937, the town was renamed to Pushkin to commemorate the centenary of the death of the great Russian poet.

The Presidential Library website also makes available rare photos of Tsarskoye Selo. Among them: "Dacha of Alexander III», «A lane to the zoo," "Big whim", "Chinese Village", "Aleksander gate of Catherine park in Tsarskoye Selo."

The Presidential Library’s collections are constantly enriched with new interesting materials about the history of Tsarskoye Selo - Pushkin. Anyone can access them either on the website of the Presidential library or in electronic reading rooms. The first national electronic library of the country is designed to preserve and make available the most important documents on the history, theory and practice of the Russian state using modern technology. To date, the Presidential Library holdings include more than 320,000 electronic materials, over 110, 000 of them are freely available on the website. 
 
© Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library. 04 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:14 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 4 July 2014 6:27 AM EDT
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Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library Collections Reveal the Personality of Nicholas I
Topic: Nicholas I


Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855)
 
To mark the 218th birthday anniversary of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I, celebrated June 25 (July 6), 2014, the Presidential Library in St. Petersburg published on its website a collection of unique materials, historical documents, rare books and publications related to the life and work of Nicholas Romanov, one of the most difficult and multifaceted emperors in historians’ evaluation. Materials contain vivid memories of his contemporaries, fascinating life stories and own thoughts of the Russian emperor.

Nicholas was born June 25 (July 6,) 1796. He was the third son of the future Emperor Paul I and Maria Feodorovna. Eugene Karnovich, author of the 1897 “Emperor Nicholas I” quotes a letter of Catherine II, written to one of her entourage after the birth of the boy, "I became a grandmother of the third grandson, who has an extraordinary power, and will, it seems to me, also reign, although he has two older brothers." And, as you know, Catherine the Great's premonition came true: December 14 (26), 1825 her grandson ascended the throne as Emperor Nicholas I. However, the Grand Duke did not even suppose that once he will bear a high title of the monarch of the Russian Empire. After all, according to the Act of Succession adopted by Emperor Paul I in April 1797, available on the website of the Presidential Library, Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich could not count on the Russian throne. The document said: "In compliance with the natural law, after my death I name the heir my older son Alexander, and after him all his male generation. Upon the extinction of his generation, inheritance passes to the generation to my second son, and the procedure is the same as with the generation of my older son, and so on as if I had no more sons." It left a definite mark on the upbringing and education of Nicholas. From the early age he was most interested in building and engineering, a passion to which he retained for life.

On the children's adolescence period and the future of the Russian emperor in detail in the M. Lalaev’s historical essay of 1896, "Emperor Nicholas I, builder of the Russian school": "In adolescence, Nicholas Pavlovich, already fluent in Russian, French and German, studied Russian history, geography, and statistics, more readily studied mathematics, military science and mechanical drawing. Empress-mother was particularly interested that education of all her sons influenced them in moral sense. When fourteen-year-old Nicholas was advised to read "History of Russia", composed by Frenchman Leveque, Maria Feodorovna requested Glinka "to erase all that is useless or harmful to the Grand Duke in this book, and submit it to the empress herself for viewing."

In 1817, Nicholas married the Prussian Princess Frederica Louise Charlotte Wilhelmina, betrothed in Orthodoxy Alexandra Feodorovna. Princely family led a lifestyle that was consistent with the status of Nicholas as an ordinary member of the imperial family. N. Ermilov’s work of 1900, "Features of life of Emperor Nicholas: told by his contemporaries" describes the family idyll that reigned in the union of the Grand Duke Nicholas and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna: "Not going to become the Russian emperor and being the Grand Duke, Nicholas Pavlovich lived in Anichkov Palace in an extremely simple manner, isolated in the circle of his beloved family, as an ordinary mortal. He rarely appeared at court. All the time he devoted to his family, studied music, drawing, read selected works of British and French authors, liked to collect and tidy collections of engravings, cartoons and maps." As he confessed himself: «The source of my happiness: my wife and children."

The unexpected death of Alexander I revealed the complexity of the dynastic situation. The emperor died November 19 (December 1), 1825 in Taganrog, and when the news reached the capital, troops were sworn in the new Russian Emperor Constantine I. But Constantine did not want to recognize himself emperor. Then Nicholas, knowing about a military coup in the army, was able to take the initiative in his own hands and decided to declare himself emperor on the basis of the documents signed by Alexander I back in 1823.

December 14 (26), the day of the second oath to Emperor Nicholas I on the Senate Square in St. Petersburg, the famous Decembrist uprising occurred. "What a beginning of the reign! said Emperor to the Empress who met him at the palace of. Sad and painful silence was the eloquent answer." These lines are taken from A. Magama’s work of 1859 "Emperor Nicholas I and his reign", also held by the Presidential Library.  

In December 1826, the emperor created a Secret committee to elaborate important state reforms on the basis of the projects that had remained in the office of the late Emperor Alexander Pavlovich. Later, His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancellery was transformed into a government agency, charged with all state matters.

In addition, the Presidential Library website provides access to historical documents such as the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, which was first published in 1832 by order of Nicholas I. It consists of 15 volumes of the current legislative acts of the Russian Empire grouped in thematic order. The first national electronic library of the country also makes available for a wide audience the Charter on censorship of 1829. This was the second censorship statute issued to mitigate the previous one. In 1826, the first censorship statute was published, which forbade to print almost everything that had any political overtones.

During the reign of Nicholas I, the first private Russian public museum – Rumyantsev Museum was founded, the Imperial Military Academy opened, the first railroad – from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo – was built; later appeared Nicholas’ railway, which linked Moscow and St. Petersburg; Russian Geographic Society was created in St. Petersburg, the first official yacht club appeared in Russia. Also under Nicholas I appeared the first official anthem of the Russian Empire ("God Save the Tsar"), author of the text of which was the poet Vasily Zhukovsky.

During thirty years of ruling Russia (1825-1855) Nicholas I greatly expanded its territory by annexing large areas in the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Far East.

Despite the rigidity in the public administration, Nicholas I was extremely kind, gentle and sympathetic person. N. Ermilov’s work of 1900, "Features of life of Emperor Nicholas: told by his contemporaries" describes a large number of stories from the life of Nicholas I, which reveal the personality of the emperor quite positively. Among them there is the story of Nicholas’ valet: "Sometimes I fall asleep, and then wake up suddently and think whether it is time to help the Emperor to undress? I look into his bedroom, and see that he has already undressed himself and gone to bed. And sometimes, half asleep, I hear a rustle... the emperor, seeing that I fell asleep, passed me by on his toes."

The reign of Nicholas I ended with the major foreign policy failure. The Crimean War (1853-1856) undermined the psychological well-being and health of the Emperor, and an occasional cold during the winter of 1855 became fatal for him.

Materials about Nicholas I make part of the collection of the first national electronic library in the country, "The House of Romanov. 400th anniversary of the Zemsky Sobor of 1613." The total collection contains about 900 items. 
 
© Boris Yeltson Presidential Library. 04 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:03 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 4 July 2014 6:11 AM EDT
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