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Alexander I, the eldest son of Emperor Paul I, ascended the Russian throne on 12 March 1801 after the tragic death of his father, in which he had been complicit by tacit consent. 

According to the contemporaries of these events, the exaggerated predilection of Emperor Paul I to the receptions had deplorable consequences on his son’s rule… Same as others, Alexander I was shocked by the lack of measure in this regard… When he ascended the throne, he went to the opposite extreme and, as far as it was possible, started destroying all the receptions and congratulations, thus provoking society’s displeasure. The festivities in September 1801, timed to the coronation of Emperor Alexander I and Empress Elizaveta Alexeevna, were shorter and more modest than the former ones. However, a much wider audience had observed these events: 

on the occasion of the coronation, all courtiers and all landlords of the Moscow province, citizens of Saint-Petersburg and noblemen from the distant provinces were arriving in Moscow in August. There had never been before such an abundance of people, and, from 1 September, Moscow became joyful and crowded. On 8 September, a solemn entry of the sovereign to Moscow took place with incredible concourse. Early in the morning, nine cannon shots and the toll in the Kremlin announced the beginning of the procession. The train of luxury noblemen carriages was followed by the horse guardsmen squad, cavalry and Leib hussars with trumpets and kettledrums. Then, the launched rockets roared by the Tverskaya Zastava (gates), heralding the cortege of the imperial family. The great princesses and junior great princes travelled in the court carriages; Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna and Elizaveta Alexeevna sat in two gilded carriages with window glasses open and ‘bowed to the spectators on both sides‘. The Emperor ‘handsome as a young Greek god’ rode a horse surrounded by the numerous and glittering retinue. The sovereign rode almost all the time with a bare head, while each of many Moscow churches greeted him with icons and gonfalons, and he had to stop and pray. The cortege passed to the Kremlin and then to the Slobodsky Palace, where the ruler stayed. Two days later he accepted the prelacy and the nobility, and after the dinner, he walked along the palace garden, where people had gathered to see the adored monarch. The Emperor was extremely popular, as well as his spouse Elizaveta Alexeevna. 

When the preparations for the coronation were over, the sovereign moved to the Grand Kremlin Palace. On Sunday 15 September just beyond 5 a.m, the imperial regalia were solemnly delivered on the cushions from the Armoury Chamber to the audience hall under the supervision of the horse guardsmen and put on the table under the canopy by the throne. The nobility and foreign ministers started gathering at the Assumption Cathedral, the entry to which was allowed only by tickets. At the dawn, in response to the canons’ signal the troops were formed in less than no time. The 'Ivan the Great' Belfry was occupied with the rows of scaffolding in a form of an amphitheatre that could be entered by free tickets. Thus, the back of the amphitheatre cracked from people heaviness; many of them, fastened with the waist belts, hung on the roofs. 

For the first time in Russia, the Dowager Empress participated in the coronation. She arrived at the cathedral under the canopy wearing the crown and the mantle. When the coronation was over, Metropolitan Plato delivered a speech that surprised everyone with its courage. He outlined the significance and the gravity of the tsars’ burden. After that, the ceremonial procession left the Assumption Cathedral. ‘That day was gloomy, but when the coronation rite was over the sun shone… When the Emperor in crown stepped from the doors, the sunlight suddenly glittered at the crown and all the magnificent procession. At the same time, loud ‘hurrah’, the thunder of guns and toll of thousand bells burst out; everything was deafening and blinding at that quarter of an hour, everything was joyful, touching and admirable.’ ‘The water that had filled the air reflected splendid illumination that was switched on at night through the length and breadth of Moscow’. The squares of the Kremlin, where crowds of people walked, looked like the lighted rooms. The 'Ivan the Great' Belfry sparkled with lights ‘from the very base to the top of the cross, while a crown of colourful lamps lightened its dome’. 

For the first time, the celebration for the people was organized in the suburbs – on the Sokolnicheskoe pole (field). On the occasion of the coronation, sensational balls were held in the Moscow Nobility Association and the Slobodsky Palace – more than 15 thousand people gathered there for the masquerade. However, by common consent, the celebration at the Count Sheremetev’s country house had become the most gorgeous. The invitation tickets allowed entry there only to the most eminent persons. According to witnesses, the Emperor was greeted with rapturous joy everywhere. Despite this, he was worn out by tiresome rituals and etiquette and hurried to leave Moscow. 

The manifesto due to the coronation granted common people a number of boons, including a wide amnesty and generous charity. Commemorating the coronation, there was stroke a medal with the image of the column with the imperial crown above it and an inscription ‘Law’ on one side.


Портрет императора Александра I


Saint-Petersburg, 1802—1804; frame — bronze workshop of P-L. Agie (?) D.I. Evreinov. 

Copper, bronze; enamel, casting, gilding. 

A unique portrait of Emperor Alexander I was created by one of the best Russian miniature painters of late 18th – early 19th cc. It gives an impression of such a bright and significant phenomenon in culture of the imperial Russia as a coronation portrait – the most solemn form of the ceremonial portrait, which represented the monarch in the full coronation attire with all symbols of his power. Following the traditions of the 18th century, the portrait shows not only the grand image of the crowned monarch surrounded by symbols of his power, but also the capacious program of the future rule. The sculpture of Empress Catherine II, who saw in Alexander the heir and the successor of her affairs and undertakings, clearly points at it. In 1801, after the coronation, the beloved wreath-bearing grandson of Catherine the Great declared his intension to follow her political doctrine.

Мундир из коронационного костюма императора Александра I


Russia, 1801. 

Cloth, poplin, linen, foil, gold threads; weaving, needlework.

On the coronation day, 15 September 1801, Emperor Alexander I followed the example of his father and wore the officer’s uniform of the Life Guard of the Preobrazhensky regiment. However, this uniform of a trendy tail-coat type differed greatly from the previous one.

A short uniform of the green cloth with long coattails has an upstanding collar of the red cloth, decorated with eight-shaped gilded needlework, which is formed by the weaving of oak and laurel branches. A star of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called is sewn on the uniform. The set also includes the white leather waistcoat, white suede pantaloons, lacquered boots with belts and spurs, and a black felt hat with a plume of ostrich feathers.

Панталоны и сапоги из коронационного костюма императора Александра I


Russia, 1801.

Suede, leather, steel.





Шляпа из коронационного костюма Александра I


Russia, 1801.

Felt, lace, feathers; weaving





Медаль в память коронации императора Александра I


Saint-Petersburg Mint, 1801. Medallist S. Ivanov (after an original by C. Leberecht; the obverse). 

Silver; chasing.

On the obverse there is a portrait of Emperor made in antique manner. The reverse side shows the column under the imperial crown with an inscription: LAW. In the upper part along the circle there is an inscription: PLEDGE OF BLISS FOR ALL AND EACH; and ‘CROWNED IN MOSCOW/SENT 15/1801’ is at the edge. The portrait of the Emperor on the coronation medal created by the principle medallist of Saint-Petersburg mint C. Leberecht became an example for all medals up to 1825. Alexander I's enthronement after the violent death of his father Paul I was marked by the Manifesto, which declared the hereditary principles of rule, legally established by his father, as well as the ideas of nationals’ prosperity that his grandmother Catherine II had already been fulfilling. All these postulates found the reflection in the legends on the reverse side of the coronation medal.

Жетон в память коронации императора Александра I


Saint-Petersburg Mint, 1801. 

Silver; chasing.

The monogram of Emperor Alexander I beneath the imperial crown is on the obverse; below are the branches of palm and laurel.  The reverse side has an inscription under the imperial crown in four lines: CROWNED/IN MOSCOW/IN SEPTEMBER/1801. This counter came from the Archives in 1883.


Камергерский ключ


Saint-Petersburg, 1801—1825s.

Copper; casting, gilding.

The finial of the gilded key is made in the form of а two-headed eagle with three crowns, the orb and the scepter. On the obverse of eagle’s body, there is a monogram of Emperor Alexander I placed in the oval medallion, and on the reverse there is a long loop to hang the key. Its stem is weaved with the laureate garland. The key is a distinctive insignia of a chamberlain, who used to be the superior at the court. It symbolized the right to enter the Imperial Apartments and was worn on a blue ribbon by the left hip.


Настольник под регалии


Western Europe, 1797 ?). 

Velvet, satin, linen, gilt andsilk threads, galloon, giltfringe; weaving, needlework, braiding.

In the first half of the 18th century, the set of fabric finery, passed to the Armoury Chamber at the end of coronation ceremonies, included special cloths that were traditionally used to cover the regalia tables starting from 1724. Such tables were installed in the throne-room Andreevsky hall, the Assumption Cathedral and the Faceted Chamber, and in some cases – in the Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals, where, after the church rite, the crowned bowed before ancestors’ tombs and touched the holly relics. Traditionally such cloths consisted of two parts: the lower one was made of crimson velvet and was covered with gilded galloon and fringe along the edge, and the upper one, which made of patterened brocade. In 1801, such a cloth was used at the coronation of Alexander I. In 1883, during the coronation of Emperor Alexander III, this very ‘ancient’ cloth covered the dinner table in the Faceted Chamber (a white tablecloth was put over it).