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Article

Hierarchical Representations of Russia’s Imperial Territories Reflected in the Funeral Ceremonies of Alexander I (1826)

The article analyses representations of territories of Russian Empire in the funeral ceremonies of Alexander I. The emperor died at the end of 1825 in a small town far from the imperial capital where he was to be buried. The journey of the funeral cortege to St. Petersburg took several months. The cortege passed through several provinces of southern and central Russia and a number of large cities. A month after Alexander I was finally buried in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, the capital of the Kingdom of Poland as part of the Russian Empire since 1815, saw a special event - the symbolic funeral of the monarch.

Memorial events in provincial Russia, its capital, and in the recently acceded Kingdom of Poland, which still preserved its peculiar political character, was part of a single process. At the same time, similar events, such as funeral processions commemorating Alexander I had something special about them. Those on solemn processions carried banners with their provincial arms and the royal crowns of the Russian empire. They walked in a specific order which superimposed the political imagery of a territory onto the symbolism of local and imperial social hierarchy. By following the emperor’s coffin, the locals set up a narrative of themselves and their place in the empire.

I argues that numerous surviving accounts of these ceremonies allow us to see several interpretations of the hierarchy of Russian lands. It gives us as possibility to compare the standpoints of the central and regional authorities, and to see when and how much they were similar or different.