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Saturday, 23 July 2016
Exhibition Dedicated to Emperor Nicholas I Opens at Borodino Museum
Topic: Nicholas I

Emperor Nicholas I, by the famous Austrian sculptor N.-M. Shroedel
This article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

The Borodino Filed Museum-Reserve, situated near Moscow has opened a new exhibition dedicated to the Emperor Nicholas I. The 6th July (O.S. 25th June) marks the 220th anniversary of his birth in 1796, and 177 years ago he founded the museum at Borodino.

Nicholas I ascended the throne in 1825, in 1837, he purchased the village of Borodino, and gave it to his son, the heir to the Russian throne Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich (future Emperor Alexander II). In 1839 a grand celebration was held marking the anniversary of Borodino. On the very day of the battle on August 26th, the main monument of the Borodino field was consecrated. Several days later grand maneuvers were held involving 120,000 troops, who re-enacted famous battle scenes. For seventeen days, the palace and park ensemble at Borodino became the seat of the Emperor.

In those memorable days the emperor issued a decree for the establishment of a museum dedicated to the great battle in a small house situated at the foot of the Rajewski battery. Its first exhibits were: battlefield maps of Military Topographic Office and the numerous testimonies of the Borodino battle - core canisters, fragments of grenades, horseshoes, and various weapons.

The current exhibition, opened at the Borodino Field Museum-Preserve as a tribute to the Emperor Nicholas I, whose writings were preserved and perpetuated the memory of the glory of 1812 and the Battle of Borodino. Among the exhibits are portraits of the Emperor Nicholas I, painted by Russian and Western European artists; watercolours and lithographs with views of the Borodino estate and scenes of the 1839 celebration, the anniversary of Borodino. A few exhibits from the collection of rare books tell about the deeds of the Russian Emperor to perpetuate the memory of that ever-memorable year of Russia.

The main artefact of the exhibition is a sculptural portrait of Emperor Nicholas I, by the famous Austrian sculptor N.-M. Shroedel, who worked in Russia from 1849. It refers to the first sample of the domestic industry and bronze casting "cabinet-interior bronze". The work was acquired by the funds of the Borodino Museum in December 2015 and is being exhibited for the first time.

The exhibition will run until the end of 2016.

The Borodino Field Museum
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia / Presidential Library. 23 July, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:03 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 July 2016 8:16 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Monument to Emperor Nicholas I Unveiled in Saratov
Topic: Nicholas I

A new monument to Emperor Nicholas I was unveiled on 15 December near School No–95, in the Russian city of Saratov. Formerly known as the Mariinsky Institute for Noble Maidens, the school building was built in the nineteenth century by order of Nicholas I for Saratov’s nobility.

According to the news agency "Area 64", the event was attended by Chairman of the Committee of Public Relations and National Policy Boris Shinchuk, deputy city council, Alexander Degtyarev, representatives of public organizations and residents of the area.

Boris Shinchuk noted that the opening of the monument will allow young people to learn history. "Emperor Nicholas I cared deeply about the development of Russia, he paid much attention to education. During his reign, the number of students in schools increased to 111,000 in Russia, the opening of the Women's Institutes, including the one in the building which now houses this school. Today, I want to note that it is my sincere hope, that the opening of this monument will inspire the youth and residents of Saratov to take a greater interest in the history of the Fatherland ", - he concluded.

At the end of the solemn ceremony, those present laid flowers at the foot of the monument to Emperor Nicholas I, who ruled Russia from 1825-1855.

The bust of the Emperor Nicholas I, was installed as part of the nationwide Lane of Russian Glory project.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 December, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:18 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 December 2015 8:25 AM EST
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Saturday, 25 July 2015
Monument to Emperor Nicholas I Unveiled in Stavropol
Topic: Nicholas I

Monument to Emperor Nicholas I at the Kazan Cathedral in Stavropol
A new monument to Emperor Nicholas I was unveiled on July 24th on the grounds of the Kazan Cathedral in the Russian city of Stavropol. The installation of the monument marks the 190th anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1825.

Emperor Nicholas I visited Stavropol in 1837, while enroute from Tiflis (now Tbilisi) to St. Petersburg. During his visit he established the Caucasus and Black Sea diocese. In addition, the emperor approved the draft of the Kazan Cathedral, which was constructed between 1843 -1847. 

The bronze monument of Nicholas I is mounted on a pedestal with the engraving: “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality”, also known as Official Nationality, the dominant ideological doctrine of the emperor who ruled Russia from 1825 - 1855. 

The ceremony was inaugurated under the triple volley of small arms, and then Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk performed the rite of consecration of the monument. Others in attendance included members of the clergy of the diocese, representatives of the Duma and the Government of Stavropol Territory, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, the armed forces and the Cossacks. 

The monument to Emperor Nicholas I was made by the Russian sculptor Alexander Apollonov. The installation of the monument is a joint project of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, and Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk. It is the second monument to Nicholas I to be erected in Russia during the past month, the first at the Saint Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery, near Moscow on July 1st. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:14 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 July 2015 8:24 AM EDT
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Saturday, 4 July 2015
New Monument to Nicholas I Unveiled Near Moscow
Topic: Nicholas I

A new monument to Emperor Nicholas I has been unveiled at the Saint Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery, situated on the outskirts of Avdotyino, a village on the Vorya River, 42 kilometres northeast of Moscow.

The unveiling and consecration of the monument took place on July 2nd, marking the 160th anniversary of the death of one of Russia’s most popular sovereigns. The event was attended by members of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), led by Sergei Stepashin, who has served as Chairman of IOPS since 2007. Their attendance is significant, recalling that it was Nicholas I who approved the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission to Jerusalem in 1847.

Emperor Nicholas I ruled Russia from 1825 to 1855. His biographer Nicholas Riasanovsky notes that Nicholas displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier – a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. His reign had an ideology called "Official Nationality" that was proclaimed officially in 1833, a policy based on orthodoxy in religion, autocracy in government, and Russian nationalism.

The monument is situated on the "Romanov Walk of Fame" - a path within the grounds of the historic monastery that also contains similar monuments to members of the Russian Imperial family who contributed to the history of Russia and Saint Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery: Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich (2011), Emperors Alexander I and Alexander III (2012), Emperor Alexander II (2013) and Nicholas II (2014). There are plans to inaugurate similar memorials to Emperor Paul I, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.

The monument to Emperor Nicholas I was made by the Russian sculptor Mikhail Leonidovich Serdyukov. The installation of the monument is a joint project of the Saint Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery and the Revival of Cultural Heritage Charity Fund, with the support of the Moscow Regional Branch of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. 

This project is aimed primarily at the patriotic education of our compatriots, the popularization of the great history of Russia, its heroes, generals, priests and rulers, who gave all their strength for the prosperity of the country.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:49 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 July 2015 7:52 AM EDT
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Thursday, 2 July 2015
The Presidential Library Collection Reveals Achievements of Emperor Nicholas I
Topic: Nicholas I

Monument to Emperor Nicholas I, St. Issac's Square in St. Petersburg
In honour of the 219th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas I, celebrated on July 6, 2015, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg presented on its website the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, and other unique materials about the Russian autocrat who ruled from 1825-1855, with whose name the location of the first electronic national library of the country is now associated with. 

The Code of Laws is a massive work in 15 volumes undertaken to restore order in the country and the state administration. Upon his accession to the throne in 1825 Nicholas I began to address a serious problem of law and order. He ordered Mikhail Speransky to prepare a new code of laws and order of the Russian empire. After four years of tireless work it was published, comprising some 30 thousand acts under the name Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire. These documents are now available at the Presidential Library website.     

Many rarities, digitized by the library and placed in the collections, tell us about the nature of the emperor. December 14, 1825, Nicholas I accedes to the throne. "Gifted by major intelligence Tsar did not bother to challenge the first steps immediately felt under him a firm and reliable basis", - says the essay "The Emperor Nicholas", published in 1894. The first test of the newly made monarch awaited him on the day of his accession to the throne - the revolt of the Decembrists, which was intended to prevent the troops and the Senate to take the oath to the new emperor, and to prevent the accession of Nicholas I to the throne. The unrest was quickly suppressed, and if many of the court at first were seemed that the new emperor was not ready to state affairs, after the first decisions of Nicholas I people spoke as a strong ruler. The Presidential Library collection has accumulated a large number of electronic copies of documents, handwritten by Nicholas I. Among them there is the study of Emperor Nicholas I, General Yermolov, Project of the charter of Emperor Nicholas I, Emperor of Japan to send to Japan Vice Admiral E. V. Putyatin and the desire to establish trade relations and others.    

As contemporaries unanimously claim, "from the first minute the decisions of the supreme authority the Emperor Nicholas I started addressing public affairs with the greatest energy, patience and precision". It is written in the publication "The word in memory of Emperor Nicholas I" in 1896. Tsar often told others that duty forbids him to treat slightly even to an unimportant matter; that placing the crown, he made a vow to dedicate every minute of his life to the state and welfare of citizens.  

Nicholas I highly valued literature, painting, poetry, created by talented people. "Do you know" – the Tsar once said - "I just talked with the smartest man in Russia". And to the question: "Who was that man?" he replied: "Pushkin". Nicholas I "carefully read Pushkin’s works, not only as a "censor", but as a friendly expert, often making notes in the margins of manuscripts and corrections on the content and style, with which Pushkin sometimes quite sincerely agreed", - said in the book of Eugene Petukhov "On the relations of Emperor Nicholas I and A. S. Pushkin" 1897.   

Great advances were made during his reign in Russianu universities, science, and art. During this period in St. Petersburg there were established the Military Academy, the School of Engineering, the School of Law, the Institute of Technology, two cadet corps, the Women's Institute in Kazan and the first teachers' seminary in the Baltic region. Also in Kiev it was opened the University of St. Vladimir.

The Emperor connected Petersburg with Moscow with the first major railroad. Under Nicholas I, the architecture was enriched by such buildings as the St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Verebinsky Bridge, the Nicholas Bridge and the Alexander Column. In 1835, during his reign, the construction was completed on the building of the Holy Governing Synod. Before completing works the emperor visited the architectural complex and by his recommendations there were made some refinements in the engineering project. When the synod was opened and the meeting began, the Emperor arrived at one of them, and did not take the throne, but one of the chairs and had a long talk with the clergy. The reconstruction of the building of the Synod, which lasted from 2007 to 2009, the Hall of Presence, where it occurred, has been restored, and now they provide official events of the Presidential Library. 
© Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 July 2015 10:00 AM EDT
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Friday, 4 July 2014
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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Thursday, 30 August 2012
Forensic Experts Disprove Nicholas I Suicide Theory
Topic: Nicholas I


A group of St. Petersburg historians and forensic experts have carried out research to prove or refute a popularly held theory that Emperor Nicholas I had committed suicide in 1855.

The Russian monarchs’ last moments of life were always safely guarded against the crowd’s excessive curiosity. The death of a Russian emperor sometimes became a state secret, and both contemporaries and historians were tempted to penetrate into it. The same kind of mystery surrounds the last days of Nicholas I.

Legends of the emperor’s unnatural death sprang up straight after his demise on the February 18th, 1855. His galloping disease and sudden death looked especially suspicious due to Nicholas I’ reputation of a man of iron constitution and robust health. The emperor’s will containing a ban on the postmortem examination of his body added to the mystery.

A lot of works have been written about the circumstances of Nicholas I’s death but none of them has shed light on this issue. As a rule, two main versions are considered. The first, official version is that the emperor died of a cold which caused paralysis of the lungs. The second, public version is that the emperor could not survive the disgrace of the Crimean War and committed suicide by drinking poison. Historians who studied this subject tended to support the suicide version, though they avoided making any final conclusions.

According to the evidence of people who were close to Nicholas I, it is true that the war seriously affected his emotional condition. Nevertheless, we should not ignore the important circumstance that the czar was very religious, which absolutely ruled out any suicidal ideas. However, it was impossible to prove this without historical documents.

A thick folder collected dust on the shelves of the State History Archive for many years. No one could even imagine that it contained the secret of Nicholas I’s death. Only an experienced doctor could read that pile of medical documents illegibly written in a mixture of Old German and Latin.

The diagnosis and the medical report got into the hands of well-known St. Petersburg forensic expert Yuri Molin. His professional eye noticed a lot of curious details in them. First of all, the emperor had been ill for a long time and did not die suddenly, as the newspapers reported. Secondly, there were no traces of violence on his body. Thirdly, the emperor’s body was embalmed twice.

“We can state with due responsibility that the emperor died of influenze which had not been properly treated and was complicated by double pneumonia,” Yuri Molin said.

Today’s doctors did not even have to exhume the body to identify the cause of death.

“A forensic expert can find a lot of interesting details in the report of the examination of the body. During the examination, no signs of poisoning, funny smells or traces of injections were found,” Yuri Molin said.

The rumour about poisoning sprang up because death spots appeared on the emperor’s body. They were actually caused by the embalmers’ negligence, rather than poisoning. The embalming was carried out at room temperature and without extracting the viscera. It was urgent to correct the medical error. A brigade of doctors went to the Fortress of Sts. Peter and Paul incognito for several nights. The experts removed the effects of putrefaction and lightened the skin giving it a natural tinge.

Forensic experts do not believe that Nicholas I had robust health. Just the opposite, he was afflicted with a number of diseases that affected his heart, kidneys and liver. He also suffered from gout, the Romanovs’ hereditary pathology. Pneumonia progressed against this background. However, to finally restore the historical truth it is necessary to exhume the body.

In his time, historian and literary critic Natan Eidelman said that the cause of Nicholas I’s death was directly linked with the political and ideological struggle of that period and reflected the mentality of certain social groups. The version of unnatural death was in the interests of political opponents of the imperial family. With time, the rumours became part of history, so medical investigation could finally remove the stigma of suicide from the emperor.

© Voice of Russia and Paul Gilbert. 30 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2012 8:27 AM EDT
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