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03 November 2016 – 05 December 2016

The State Historical Museum, Moscow

Organized by:
the State Historical Museum, Moscow Kremlin Museums

The Moscow Kremlin Museums participate in the “Exhibit of the Month” series of exhibitions of the State Historical Museum and present an item of historical importance from the Stables Treasury – a saddle with stirrups, which belonged to Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Pozharsky, a national hero of the war with polish invaders in 1612.  

Saddles made by Russian masters didn’t hinder rider’s movements, allowing easy usage of the arms and enabled riders to fire back while riding. This saddle is remarkable for its simple form and modesty of decorative finish. Its design is unlike other extant saddles of the late 16th – early 17th century, but its shape corresponds to graphics, i.e. engravings from the “Commentaries about Muscovy”, a Latin book of Baron Sigismund von Herberstein (Basel, 1556). The saddle is covered with cherry-red velvet fixed with silver bends which accent its beautiful silhouette. This unique artefact came to the Armoury Chamber from the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity at Sergiev-Posad on the 26th of March 1830. The saddle was restored by changing the velvet and braid in 1957.

According to the legend, Prince Dmitry Pozharsky took out this saddle and the stirrups in military campaigns. Pozharsky already occupied remarkable posts during the reign of Boris Godunov, starting with palace servant, later he was appointed as stolnik (the next court rank) by the tsar. From the very childhood, he was instilled such wonderful qualities as honour, duty, merit and loyalty, which he retained through all his life. After the death of Boris Godunov, the throne was occupied by the impostor False Dmitry the First, who was killed in 1606. Vasily Shuisky became the tsar and Pozharsky sworn elegance to him.

In 1608, the prince took the lead of the struggle of the Russian people against the new impostor, Dmitry the Second, and vast hordes of the Lithuanians and the Poles, who stood behind the impostor, committing plunder, ravaging Russian territory. The tsar appointed Pozharsky the head of the Zaraysk town in 1609 for his loyalty. After Prince Vasily Shuisky had been removed from power, Pozharsky didn’t back up a decision of the Seven Boyars to appeal for the Polish Prince Wladyslaw to ascend to the throne.

Dmitry Pozharsky participated in the First Patriotic Movement in 1611, which couldn’t force the Polish army to retreat, because of internal differences. Taking the command of the Second Patriotic Movement, which gathered people of all ranks, Pozharsky liberated Moscow from Polish-Lithuanian invaders on 22 October 1612 (1 November, acc to the Julian calendar). Display of this saddle within the “Exhibit of the Month” exhibition project of the State Historical Museum is dedicated to this particular event.