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24 May 2017 – 4 September 2017

The State Historical Museum, Moscow

Organized by: 
The State Historical Museum 
The Moscow Kremlin Museums

The Moscow Kremlin Museums participate in the exhibition at the State Historical Museum, dedicated to the 140th Anniversary of the Russian-Turkish War for the liberation of Bulgaria, and give on loan a unique exhibit – cavalry sabre and scabbard. It belonged to Russian General Field Marshal – Iosif Vladimirovich Romeyko-Gourko, prominent hero of that war.

I.V. Gourko was educated in the Imperial Corps of Pages, entered the Imperial Guard Hussar Regiment as a cornet in 1846 and did military service there till 1855.  With the beginning of the Crimean War, he voluntary transferred from the Guard to the line regiment, but didn’t have a chance to take part in active military operations. When the war ended, I.V. Gourko returned to the Hussar Regiment in the rank of the cavalry captain and became a squadron commander. He brilliantly proved himself on this position and was noticed by Emperor Alexander II, thus he was made an aide-de-camp. In 1861, he was promoted to colonel, and a year later he was included into the emperor’s suite. I.V. Gurko was made commander of the Hussar Regiment of Mariupol in 1866, awarded the title of major general in 1867, and in 1869 he was charged with Imperial Guard Cavalry Grenadier Regiment.

From the very beginning of the Russian-Turkish War, I.V. Gourko had declared himself as a talented general. Being a commander of the avant-garde division of the Russian Army, the major general took the city of Tarnovo and the vital Balkan Mountain passes, including Kazanlak and Shipka. I.V. Gourko was promoted to adjutant general and awarded the Order of St George, 3rd Class, for his victories. Being in command of all the Guards, I.V. Gourko secured a glorious victory near Gorni-Dubnik and Telish, which led to the end of the siege of Plevna. Thus, he was awarded the gold sabre incrusted with diamonds in October 1877. After the liberation of Sofia and the victory in the Battle of Philippopolis in January of 1878, I.V. Gourko was promoted to cavalry general and awarded with the Order of St George, 2nd Class.

The exclusive sabre on display is the Gold arms, which the officers of the Imperial Guard Hussar Regiment presented to their favourite commander I.V. Gourko in 1878. It was made with Iranian damask steel blade marked with the stamp of one of the most famous blademasters – Asadullah from Isfahan. Though, the execution manner of the mark leaves room for a suggestion that it is an imitation of the renowned armourer, whose blades were imitated by Iranian makers in the 17th-18th centuries. The gold hilt and scabbard were made by the Firm H.SCHAAF – a private St. Petersburg firm specializing in officer cold arms. Both sides of the hilt bear the inscription “Damask steel sword of cast-iron will. To Adjutant General I.V. Gourko from the homeland regiment. Officers of the Imperial Guard Hussar Regiment.”