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The coronation of Emperor Nicholas I and his spouse Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna took place on 22 August 1826 in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. Difficult and tragic history of his enthronement happened in the atmosphere of dynastic crisis and anti-government riot, which was later called the Dekabrist revolt.

Earlier on 19 December 1825, the nationals swore allegianсe to the new Emperor – Nicholas I in the Assumption Cathedral, at the same time, crowds of people gathered in the Kremlin Square. During the ceremony, Philaret, Archbishop of Moscow, went out of the altar holding a silver reliquary on his head. It contained a decree of the succession to the throne, established by Paul I, and read by him on the day of his coronation. Besides, the reliquary kept the testament of Emperor Alexander I and the abdication of the All-Russian throne by Tsesarevich Grand Prince Konstantin Pavlovich. The reverend Philaret put the reliquary on the prepared altar stand with awe, then took a package with the testament out of it and, showing the integrity of the seal to everyone, delivered a beautiful and moving speech; then, he unpacked and read the testament and the abdication. Before proceeding to the oath, Philaret crossed everybody and said loudly: ‘I permit and bless’. This unexpected dictum of the archbishop made a wonderful effect, particularly when it spread among the people. After that, the oath began, and everything finished with a long-life prayer.

On 25 July 1826, a solemn entrance of the sovereign to Moscow took place. This is how D.N. Bludov, Secretary of State by Nickolas I, described it: ‘Yesterday we saw our monarch, who had managed to elevate so many hopes for such a short time, entering the ancient capital of our Fatherland to take on the crown and sceptre of ancestors and thus confirm his union with the people’. That day, the Emperor and the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, who rode in the carriage with the heir, were greeted by the members of the coronation committee with bread and salt at the Red Porch. According to the contemporaries, this ritual demonstrated ‘people’s virtues and gratefulness to the tsar, who does not stand aside and venerates his ancestors’ traditions’. On the eve of the coronation, another ceremony was held with incredible concourse - the transfer of the imperial regalia. The procession of nine carriages moved from the Armoury Chamber, which is by the Troitskie Gates of the Kremlin, along the Kremlin wall, past the Manezh through the Iverskie Gates to Red Square, and then through the Spasskie Gates to the building of the Nikolaevsky Palace. 

During the coronation, the Emperor wished Philaret, Archbishop of Moscow, to be a preacher. After his speech about the disasters of recent months, Philaret announced that Nicholas had delayed his enthronement only for the sake of safekeeping of his tsardom. Grand Prince Konstantin, who arrived from Warsaw and whose secret abdication of the throne became ‘the reason for many misunderstandings’, took part in the ceremony as an assistant by the sovereign. He wore a uniform of adjutant general and received the epee from His Majesty when he approached for the Holy Sacrament.

When the ceremony in the Assumption Cathedral was over, Nicholas I ascended the upper step of the Red Porch, turned his face to the people that crowded the Kremlin, and bowed his head three times to greet his loyalists. None of the previous emperors had done it before. ‘The exaltation of the people had no limits: loud shouts filled the air, the hats flew upwards; strangers hugged and many cried from too much happiness’. All the successors of Nicholas I repeated the triple bow to the people, and, by the end of the 19th century, it was said to be an ancient Russian tradition, expression of the Russian national soul, which existed from the Muscovy epoch and demonstrated the link between the tsar and the nation’. At that time, it was equated to the tradition of Greek emperors, who used to appear on the elevation in front of the people after the coronation. According to modern researchers, this act resembled the triple bow of the emperor before Tsar Gates in the Assumption Cathedral. 

The festivities, which followed the coronation, had both national and imperial elements. On 1 September, at the court masquerade in the Bolshoi Theatre (reconstructed after the fire of 1812) the majority of ladies came ‘dressed in Russian sarafans, with Russian fillets and kokoshniks on the heads, bathing in pearls and brilliants… their national attire took them back to the times, when Russians did not feel shame for their gorgeous clothing… much more beautiful than foreign dresses’. In the Bolshoi Theatre, there was performed a ceremonial play which later became traditional for the coronation events. The celebrations finished with fireworks. One of its scenes showed the triumphal gates with an inscription: ‘To Nicholas I, Conciliator of Fatherland’.


Berlin, Royal Lithographers Institute, first half of the 1830s
Paper; lithography.
The portrait gallery of Emperor Nicholas I is quite broad and presents many pictorial and graphic art pieces, preserved in different collections. One of the famous artists, who imprinted the Russian Emperor and his family members, was the German portraitpainter and author of the military panoramas Franz Krüger. He used to work in Saint-Petersburg from 1832 till 1851 upon the orders ofNicholas I and local nobility. This lithography, made after Krüger’s portrait, the Emperor is depicted in general’s uniform, with the ribbon and star of the Order of St Andrew the First-Called, star of the Order of St Vladimir of the first rank, united with English Order of the Garter, as well as the medal ‘For Turkish war’ and the Holland badge ofs Order of the Lion. The ribbon of the Order of St Vladimir, which remains almost unseen, ends up with the badge of that Order. On the right, one can see a hilt of officer’s epee that was in service in 1798.

Мундир из коронационного костюма императора Николая I


Russia, 1826. 

Cloth, woollen fabric, linen; weaving, needlework.

At his coronation on 22 August 1826, Nicholas I appeared in general’s uniform with gilded needlework in the shape of the garland of oak branches. Such uniform was introduced in the Russian army in January 1808. On the uniform, there are gilded, made of white cloth epaulettes and stars of the Orders of St Andrew the First-Called and St Vladimir. The uniform is made of the dark-green cloth with red collar, coattail linings, welts, and ‘French’ style cuffs.


Шляпа из коронационного костюма Николая I


Felt, plumes, leather; weaving.






Шарф с темляком и перчатки из коронационного костюма Николая I


Silver threads, braid, cord; weaving, knitting.






Коронационное платье императрицы Александры Федоровны


Russia, 1826. 

Brocade, silk, taffeta, lace, silk ribbons, silver threads; weaving, embroidery. 

At the coronation, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna was wearing a silver brocade dress, decorated with chiselled embroidery made with silver threads. Its lower part is a dress with a shortened bodice and flared skirt in strict accordance with the European fashion of the 1820-ies. Short sleeves with puffs that imitate cut for stripes two-layer sleeves of the 16th century reflect the romantic nostalgia, typical for the European costume of early 19th century. The front part of the bodice is decorated with waisted drapery, under which there is a hook to fasten the cross of the Order of St Andrew the First-Called. As a result, the brilliant chain of the fastened cross formed two sagging garlands. The upper unshrouded part of the coronation dress is a kind of a vest with a train, the edge of which is covered with fabric same as the hem of the dress. The sleeves-ribbons are sewn angle-wise into the shoulder seams which means that this is an updated ‘Russian’ court dress. The low neck is covered with blonde lace, and the loops of white taffeta are sewn to the shoulders. Probably, they were used to fasten the coronation mantle.

Плафон от подвесного коронационного балдахина


Russia, 1724 (?); renovations of the 18th – late 19th cc.

Velvet, taffeta, galloon, gilt braid and cord, brocade, silk; weaving, needlework, applique work, braiding.

Traditionally in Russia, several canopies were used for the coronation festivities -  one was assigned for the throne place in the Assumption Cathedral. It was an enormous rectangular construction on the chains, which were hung under the cathedral’s dome with the help of big iron hooks. The canopy consisted of an oak frame, covered with plafond of crimson velvet with embroidered coat of arms of the Russian Empire in the centre. Along the edge, eight hanging inner and outer pands of crimson velvet were attached to the carcass. Each pand was covered by the gilded fringe with festoons and tassels. Besides, eight large gilded tassels were hung on the cords at the corners and in the centre of each pand. For the first time, a similar canopy appeared during the coronation of Empress Catherine I in 1724. It was created by French ‘bed master’ Ivan Rochebot, who also embroidered the coat of arms on the plafond after the drawing of artist Ivan Adolsky. The velvet for this canopy was bought in Venice, and the gilded galloon of several types – in France. The archive documents give grounds to state that the same canopy, though with significant renovations, was being used up to the coronation of Emperor Nicholas I inclusive.

Жетон в память коронации императора Николая I


Saint-Petersburg mint, 1826. 

Silver; chasing.

On the obverse, there is a monogram ofEmperor Nicholas I under the imperial crown. On the reverse, there is an inscription in three rows under the imperial crown: CROWNED/IN MOSCOW/1826. The counter came from the Archives in 1883.


Медаль в память коронации императора Николая I


Saint-Petersburg mint, 1826. Medallists V.E. Alexeev (the obverse side), М. Sizorsky(after an original by F. Lyalin; the reverse side).

Gold; chasing.

A portrait of the Emperor is placed on the obverse and made in antique manner. Along the circle, there is an inscription: ‘D.G. (dei gratia) NICHOLAS I EMPEROR AND SOVEREIGN OF ALL RUSSIA’. The signature is at the edge: ‘V.ALEXEEV.R.’(V.Alexeev cut). On the reverse, there are the columns under the eye of /Omniscience and 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/ 1826’ is at the edge. On the right above the edge, there is a signature: ‘K.M. SIZORSK.’(M. Sizorsky copied).

Предметы из Кремлевского сервиза


Saint-Petersburg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, 1837—1839, additions — middle of the 19th — early 20th cc.; large flat plate The Kornilov Brothers factory, middle of the 19thc

Porcelain; overglaze painting, gilding, matting.

The Kremlin service was made upon the order of Emperor Nicholas I for the Grand Kremlin Palace. The Palace was built in Russian-Byzantine style, so the porcelain service, assigned for it, must have followed the same artistic key. F.G. Solntsev, academician, outstanding graphic artist and researcher of the Old Russian art, brilliant connoisseur of the Armoury Chamber art pieces, and author of unique edition ‘Antiquities of the Russian State’(1849-1853), became the author of future artistic choice. As the base for the Kremlin service ornaments, Solntsev naturally chose eminent objects, such as the plate of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich of 1667, and the basin from the handwashing set of Tsarina Natalia Kirillovna (Naryshkina) made of gold and decorated with enamel and precious stones. The design of the first art piece found its reflection in the dessert part of the set, while the second one served as an example for the dinner part. The combination of both motifs decorates corpus-based items. Totally gilded, glistening with bright painting, the service looked particulary stunning. A group of ‘white’ soup plates and stands for them contrast sharply with the ‘gold’ part of the service. Their ornament belongs to F.G. Solntsev himself. It is wonderful wickerwork - one of the oldest decorative ornaments of the Rus. Wickerwork’s frieze has the contour of the Monomakh’s cap and the imperial crown. The Kremlin service was assigned for the solemn dinners in the Grand Kremlin Palace. The ceremonial dinner after the coronation was the most pompous of such events. Since the service was used quite often, there appeared a necessity to replenish it. At the current moment, the service contains items not only from the original set but also those, created during the entire 19thand even early 20th centuries.