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All his brief reign, Paul I laid a special weight on the ceremonies. No doubt, his coronation, being a sacrament that must reveal the divine nature of the monarch’s power, acquired a special sacral and symbolic meaning and became a point of the highest expression of Emperor’s religious and philosophical views. A solemn entrance of the Emperor to Moscow on 28 March 1797, Palm Sunday’s eve, was not accidental. Paul assimilated this event to the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem. 

During the ceremony, Paul rode a horse as a general and a father; he wore a uniform, held a hat in his hand, and nodded to the viewers. Senior sons Alexander and Konstantine followed him. When the procession reached the Resurrection Gates, where the prelacy greeted the monarch, Paul I stopped, dismounted a horse and entered the chapel by the Gates. There he prayed by the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Iviron. Later this ritual became traditional for all Russian emperors when they entered Moscow. 

Upon the highest order, the day of holy coronation was scheduled for Easter Sunday, 5 April 1797. There is no doubt that the decision to time the coronation festivities to the most important church holiday had a symbolic meaning and was connected to the role which Paul assigned to himself as the head of the Orthodox church. 

On 3 April, the Passion Friday, the coronation repetition was held for the first time, with Paul and his son Konstantine participating.

The Metropolitan of Novgorod Gavriil laid 'an imperial dalmatic’ upon the Emperor during the coronation. It was also included in the regalia set. Several memoirists attributed it to the church attire. However, the same authors supposed that the dalmatic had resembled the vestments of the Eastern sovereigns, Byzantine emperors, and ancient tsars, who had put it over the caftans during the enthronement ceremony. Paul I did not take off the dalmatic during the whole day of coronation and left to his apartments wearing it. He wore it over the uniform, the choice of which as a coronation costume was obviously a conscious decision guided by the logiс of power. There is a good reason that each and every Russian emperor and many west European monarchs followed his example.

During the coronation, the imperial mantle was laid on Paul I, and then Metropolitan Gavriil handed him the Great Imperial Crown of Catherine II that had been slightly changed by J. Duval, ‘personal jeweller’ of the Emperor. The same master was entrusted with the task to add a sapphire and a diamond to the orb of Catherine II. During the coronation, Paul I also accepted the ‘Eagle’ sceptre, crowned with a diamond. It had been created for Catherine II in early 1770. Since 1798, these crown, sceptre and orb had become the hereditary regalia. For the first time, the ritual of laying the regalia over the Empress was introduced during this ceremony. Maria Fyodorovna was crowned together with her husband: she knelt down before Paul I, who took off the crown from his head and held it for some minutes over her head, then he laid on her the Minor Imperial Crown, created for the coronation by jeweller J. Duval. The mantle similar to the Emperor’s one was laid on Empress together with the minor brilliant chain of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, which had become a part of the regalia set since then.

The ceremonies, which took place in Assumption Cathedral, were traditionally followed by the gun-firing on the Ivanovskaya Square. This time, Tsar Cannon shot, and its sound was so strong that ‘many windows in the city went to pieces’. After the Eucharist, Paul I read the Decree of the succession to the throne - the principle state Russian order, the draft of which had been composed by the Grand Prince Pavel Petrovitch already in 1788. The reading became the climax of the ceremony. This Decree abolished the order of Peter I, namely the testamentary succession, and introduced the succession by the eldership through parental lineage from father to the senior son. Thus, the system of power transition became clearly governed. After Emperor read the Act, he entered the altar and put the document into the silver reliquary.

When the coronation was over, the Muscovites were offered refreshments: the tables had been served from the Nikolskie Gates of the Kremlin to the Red Gates of the Bely Gorod.

In the course of festivities, Emperor appeared before the nationals in the ‘imperial vestments’ several times. Unpleased by the soon ending of the coronation, he designed the ceremony of taking off the tsars’ regalia from their highnesses one at a time before bringing them back to the ‘treasury’. The contemporaries found such a ceremony, never held before, absurd. However, it used to be traditional in a number of European courts, particularly in the English one.

Парные портреты императора Павла I и императрицы Марии Федоровны


End of the 18th – early 19th c. Unknown artist.

Oil on canvas.

French artist Jean-Louis Voille used to work in Russia at the edge of 1780-90ies upon the orders of the heir to the throne Pavel Petrovich and members of the close aristocratic families.The type, designed by the artist at that time, underlies the portraits of Paul I and Maria Fyodorovna.Jean-Louis Voille created in his art pieces and these portraits in particular the feeling of intimacy, unknown to the representational ceremonial portrait of the Catherine II’s epoch. The artist manages to enhance a peculiar attractiveness even to Paul I, ugly from his childhood. The absence of lush attributes, natural composition, and refined pictorial manner distinguish the portraits of the couple. Their features of emotional ease reflect the aesthetics of the ‘minor court’ lifestyle, alien to the gloss of Saint Petersburg court. The portraits of Paul I and Maria Fyodorovna give an impression of a seamless whole, thus creating a harmonic matrimonial duet consonant to the ideals of the sentimentalism which inspired Jean-Louis Voille. The portraits, distinguished by the professional standard of work and connected by the unity of the artistic concept, were copied as the companion ones.

Костюм коронационного герольда (кафтан, шляпа и сапоги)


Russia, 1797(?).

Velvet, taffeta, gilded galloon, fringe, braid and cord, ribbon, silk threads, plumes, cotton wool, cord, leather, glazet; weaving, braiding, needlework

The costume was made for one of two heralds, bearing the coats of arms, that had appeared in Russia in the first quarter of the 18th century due to the creation of a centralized heraldic service by the Emperor. When the knightly tournaments were abolished, the heralds took on a number of diplomatic duties by the European courts. Besides, they were the acknowledged experts in the decoration of the court festivities including the coronation ones, being their masters. A dalmatic was one of the elements of their sumptuous vestments in the ceremonies. Its chest and back were decorated with the coats of arms of the ruling nobleman, whom the herald represented. Starting from 1724, two heralds, bearing the coat of arms, participated in the coronation ceremonies in Russia. Riding along Moscow with the ceremonial squad in tow, they read out loud the Manifesto about the coronation, headed the coronation procession, and stood in the guard of honour by the imperial throne. The colour decision of the heralds’ costumes had a special symbology and changed during the time.

There is a reason to think that this herald’s costume was made for the coronation of Emperor Paul I. Of special interest are the velvet boots on the red leather heels with lacing, rosettes, and imitation of binding braid made of the gilded galloon. The colour and the design of the boots let suggesting that they were stylized to the footwear of the patricians of the late Roman Empire – to the boots-‘calceus’ that were fastened with leather straps on the calves and decorated with the patch images of lion heads on the upper part of the bootleg.  In the Middle Ages, similar images of winged lions were placed on the poleyns of knights’ suits of armour, and in the 17th-18th cc – on the bootlegs of the participants of the knight’s carousels, theatrical festivities imitating the knightly tournaments.

Предметы парадной упряжи (оголовь, мундштук, вожжи)


1795. Headstall. Saint-Petersburg. 

Leather, silk, bronze; needlework, painting,weaving, casting, gilding. Curb bit. London, «Hatchett Son & Co». Iron; forging.

All best carriages and harnesses from the Court Stable Department were taken from Saint Petersburg to Moscow for the coronation events. There are all grounds to think that this ceremonial set of six items, defined by its decorative beauty and technical excellence, was used in the coronation procession of Paul I that entered Moscow in 1797. The presence of decorative gilt-bronze onlays with images of the two-headed eagles under the crowns on the headstalls and breast-bands proves such an assumption. Rings with an imperial crown on each of them are fastened to the saddle harnesses. The headstall was designed to ride a horse in a team. It is made of red leather and covered by green morocco with floral ornament. The curb bit was used to control a horse. All the curb bits of this set had the trademark of Charles Hatchett – son of John Hatchett, the famous London carriage-maker, who improved the construction of carriages and harnesses in the 1770-1790s thanks to his inventions.

Форма офицера лейб-гвардии Преображенского полка, принадлежавшая императору Павлу I (мундир, камзол, штаны, перчатки, сапоги).


Saint-Petersburg, 1796.

Cloth, velvet, camlet, cottonfabric, linen, taffeta ribbon, leather, elk skin, braid, galloon, plumes, lace, foil, gold threads, gold, silver, copper, steel, bone; stamping, gilding, plaiting, enamel, weaving, needlework, casting, carving.

This set was passed to the Armoury Chamber on 2 May 1797 the day before Emperor Paul I left Moscow after the coronation. This costume is thought to be the one, in which Emperor Paul was crowned. However, there are ink inscriptions on the boots and uniform lining saying that they had been made one year earlier and Grand Prince used to wear them nine months before the coronation. The uniform (combat caftan) is made of green cloth with a collar covered with crimson velvet and a lining of the green woollen fabric – ‘camlet’.  It has an all-purpose clasp that could be used depending on the time of the year. On the chest, there are silver stars of the Orders of St. Andrew the First-Called and St. Alexander Nevsky with golden patches and enamel. The set includes a waistcoat (vest) of white cloth, long pants and gloves of white elk skin, hessian boots with belts to fasten the steel spurs, and a black felt hat.

Цепь ордена Святого Андрея Первозванного


Russia, end of the 18th c. 

Gold; enamel, stamp, engraving, mounting.

A golden chain with multicoloured enamel on its front consists of twenty-three elements: nine of them with the image of the State Coat of Arms and seven rosettes with blue Andrew’s cross and four Latin letters at the cross endings: S.A.P.R. (Sanctus Andreas Patronus Russiae — St Andrew, patron of Russia). This chain belonged to Empress Maria Fyodorovna and came to the Armoury from the Chapter of the Russian orders in 1917. According to the Imperial Regulations for the Russian Order of Knights declared by Paul I during the coronation, the highest dynastic order of the Russian Empire must have been laid upon the empresses during the coronation. Thus, Empress Maria Fyodorovna was awarded the Order of St Andrew the First-Called on the coronation day of 5 April 1797.

Учреждение об императорской фамилии


Saint-Petersburg, 1797. 

Paper, ink, sealing wax, cardboard, glazet, silk, velvet; manuscript, weaving, gilded threads embroidery, gilding.

The statute of the Imperial Family is a legal act defining the rights and duties of the members of the imperial house. Composed by Emperor Paul I and signed by him on his coronation day, the document rationalized the composition and the hierarchy of the imperial family members, and regulated their relations, including the articles regarding coats of arms, titles, estates, marriages, inheritances, set the amounts of upkeep. In fact, this act gave to the imperial family the status of one of the state power institutions. Together with the Decree of the succession to the throne, it must have guaranteed the consistency of the power and its succession, security of the imperial family itself, maintenance of the appropriate and enshrined in the law status of all its members. This very paper established the Department of principalities, which was governed by the Emperor himself and contributed to the above mentioned purposes.

Императорское установление для орденов кавалерских российских


Saint-Petersburg, 1797. 

Parchment, paper, cardboard, glazet, silk, velvet, cord, gold threads, wax, silver; manuscript, painting with colour wash, weaving, needlework, casting, stamp, gilding.

The document, signed by Paul I and countersigned by State Chancellor of the Russian Empire I.A. Osterman, Count A.A. Bezborodko, has a wax seal in a gilded silver case with cord and tassels and dates back to 5 April 1797 – the day of Paul I coronation and the Holy Easter.  It consists of thirty one articles, which describe the Russian orders of all classes included into the Regulations, as well as the drawings of the order signs, seals, vestments of the cavaliers and officials of the order. The text and images are made on the chalk overlay parchment and are framed by the pictorial ornament with Paul I’s monogram in the upper part. According to the Regulations, Paul I created and headed a unified Russian Cavalier Order (and became it leader). He divided it into four classes arranged in grades: the first one -  the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, the second one only for female – the Order of St. Catherine, the third one – the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, and the fourth one – the Order of St. Anne. From this time on, the person awarded with the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called had automatically become the cavalier of the junior Russian orders – of St. Alexander Nevsky and of St. Anne of the first class. These badges were given together with the badge of Order of St. Andrew the First-Called. The right to be awarded spread then to the clergy, which in such a case became not cavaliers but the implicated to the order. The remarkable fact is that the Orders of St. George and St. Vladimir, established by Catherine II, were not included into the Regulations for the Russian orders of knights, and only ten days later Paul I issued an Edict of His Imperial Majesty on leaving the Order of St. George on the former basis. Along with that, the Order of St. Anne, European by its origin, was officially added to the Regulations.

Кукла в платье ордена Святой Екатерины


Western Europe (?), 1798. 

Wood, paint, glazet, velvet, lace, taffeta, muslin, plumes, gold threads, spangles, braid, cord, tassels, cannetille, decorative pierced metal plates, foil; weaving, needlework, applique work.

A wooden doll in the dress with wide hoops made of silver glazet served an example in the creation of the ceremonial dresses for the dames of the Great Cross of St. Catherine Order. According to the Regulations for the Russian orders of knights, declared by Emperor Paul I right at the coronation in the Assumption Cathedral, the Order of St Catherine was assigned to the second class of all Russian orders of knights. The vestments of the Order necessary for the official ceremonies were notably modified; in particular, there appeared two variants of their décor for the dames of the Great and Minor Crosses. On 18 June 1797, the Office of the Russian Imperial Order adopted a resolution to create a dress for the Order of St. Catherine the Greatmartyr. Due to this fact, the chief master of ceremonies requested the French hatter D.L. Moreau to order the sample dolls in the dresses and headdresses which belonged to the Order of St. Catherine for the dames of the Great and Minor Crosses. In November 1798, the newly established Orders’ Office received two dolls, which served the sample of the order garments, and placed them in the special cases. In 1917, they were transferred to the Armoury Chamber.

Медаль в память коронации императора Павла I


Saint-Petersburg Mint, 1797. Medallist V. Baranov (after an original by C. Leberecht).

Gold; chasing. 

The portrait of Emperor Paul I is placed on the obverse. He wears a wig, a uniform, a badge of the Order of St. Anne on the neck and the ribbon of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called over his right shoulder. A wide Greek cross against the smooth background is on the reverse. In the end of the 18th century, Carl Leberecht became the main medallist of Saint-Petersburg mint. Accomplishing the most difficult tasks, he sought the ultimate laconism of the composition. The coronation medal of Paul I demonstrates such an approach towards the art of the medal: the reverse proves that the medallist withdrew from the traditional decision – the medal has neither allegoric figures, nor inscriptions that would express the basic ideas and declarations of the new rule, even the coronation date is absent. There is a feeling that as a counter to the medals of the former epochs and of his mother Catherine II in particular, through the image of the Greek cross Paul I declares in a stingy and ascetic manner the ascention of the new ruler – the head of the Church, the monarch with a high religious mission..

Жетон в память коронации императора Павла I


Saint-Petersburg mint, 1797. 

Silver; chasing.

The monogram of Emperor Paul I is placed on the obverse side under the imperial crown.  On the reverse side, there is awide Greek cross against the smooth background, same as on the medal commemorating the coronation of Emperor  Paul I. This counter came from the Archives in 1883.