Room 36. Russia in the Epoch of Emperor Nicholas I. The Autocracy and Society

The exposition of this room is devoted to the epoch of Nicholas I whose rule was for a long time perceived in the light of the tragic events which marked the beginning and end of his reign — the Decembrist uprising and the defeat in the Crimean war. Meanwhile, fearing the development of the revolutionary sentiments in Russia and the spontaneity of public initiatives, he directed his efforts to the preservation and improvement of the intricate state system, still hoping to “adapt” it in the new conditions to ensuring the stability and flourishing of Russia.

In a changed political situation, when practically all possibilities of the open discussion of the shortcomings of the autocracy had been exhausted, Russian society had to live through the period of tense ideological quests. A more thorough perception of the general and specific development ways of Russia in comparison with the rest of the world came to replace numerous programs of the transformation of the country, which were oft en detached from the real situation. At the end of the 1830s several ideological trends took shape: westernized, Slavophile, and radical. The historical and long-term view on the problems facing Russia became ever more frequently the subject of lively discussions in literature, society salon talks and friendly arguments.

In essence, ideological life was concentrated in private drawing rooms of the nobility, free from state interference. They were, as the “westerner” B. Chicherin put it “the lungs which helped breathe at the time”. In the centre of the room (case 19) the interior of one of the most famous Moscow drawing rooms was recreated (it was nicknamed “talking room”), which the poet, philosopher and one of the founders of the Slavophile trend, A. Khomyakov, arranged in his house in Arbat district of Moscow. Khomyakov’s house was the centre of attraction for the thinking elite of Moscow. In this cosy room representatives of the two main ideological trends in Russia at the time — the Slavophiles and westerners — held lively discussions and heated arguments about the original way for Russia and its connections with the West. The host was the soul of these meetings, “gold placer”, as he was oft en called by his contemporaries for the wealth of his knowledge, apt remarks and great power of observation.

N. Gogol was a frequent guest at the Khomyakov family home. He would say “I love them; my soul is at rest at their place”. Case 18 contains items devoted to the great writer: his frock coat, the pen with which he made the last corrections to his “Dead Souls”, a small box which he brought from Jerusalem in 1848, where he had made a pilgrimage “for spiritual food”.

There are some personal belongings in the exposition of those meeting in the “talking room”: a candle-stick and marble paperweight of the doctor and translator N. Ketcher (Turgenev’s present), a thermometer of A. Herzen, sheets with folk songs of Novgorod gubernia collected by A. Pushkin and given over to the historian P. Kireyevsky. A bamboo walking stick and a glass goblet belonged to the famous actor M. Shchepkin. On a little table close to the sofa is a subscription list of those who donated money for buying out the actor from serfdom.

case 1
The material of case 1 is devoted to the first period of the rule of Nicholas I, when ways and means were determined for tackling the foremost tasks facing Russia. The solemn coronation ceremony at the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin on August 22, 1826, was depicted by the print in the first part of the exposition. The manifesto proclaimed by the new emperor expressed readiness to improve state management, rectify and eliminate abuse of power and implement just transformations, provided they were initiated by the legitimate power “on the unshakeable foundations of the country’s tranquility”. Another important document of the time was the manifesto on the order of succession to the throne, averting the danger of a new dynasty crisis. Among the rare exhibits are the Gospel presented on the occasion of the coronation by the Preobrazhensky Regiment of the Guards, which the emperor placed in the Spaso-Preorbrazhensky Church of the regiment, and his gratitude for the regiment’s loyalty which was the first to take the oath of allegiance and defend Nicholas I on the morning of December 14, 1825.

In the centre of the case is the emperor’s great coat, which showed his modest everyday life, full of work, just as the print depicting the interior of his study in the Winter Palace. Nicholas I was often called “a man in uniform” who wanted to put it on the whole of Russia. However, for the emperor the uniform was a symbol of service to the Motherland from the very young years. The uniform, law and order, and the festive side of the life of the Russian Empire later became a kind of an artistic image embodying and expressing the rule of Nicholas I, which was shown on canvases by court artists A. Ladurner and A. Schwabe in the exposition.

Case 1 contains the service record of Nicholas I, which showed his career movement from division commander to “unobserved heights”. The emperor wrote: “I begin my reign with bad omens and terrible responsibilities…”

Another set of materials in case 1 is devoted to the body of “tactical guidance” and “control over observance of the laws and the state of minds” organized in 1826. This body was known as the 3rd department of the tsar’s own chancellery. Among the exhibits is the very rare “blue” uniform of a private of the Corps of gendarmes which was added to the “higher police”. Beside it, on the wall is the instruction for the selection of personnel from among “honest and clever persons” wishing “to perform their duties” proceeding from two rules: “the actions of the higher police should be secret, but its existence open”; “it does not judge and decide somebody’s fate, it only uncovers and exposes the guilty”. There are personal belongings and letters of the head of the two bodies, Count A. Benkendorf, and also some exhibits showing certain functions of the 3rd department. An analysis of the information received and the overall picture of the situation in the country were combined and outlined in annual political reports which determined the strategy and tactics of the authorities. For example, the report for 1830 mentioned the conditions obstructing the implementation of the first transformations: “the coincidence of sad events: epidemic, poor harvest, revolutions…, in general, a bad mood…”

case 2
The notes written by Count S. Uvarov concerning the materials of the “Committee of December 6” (case 2) gave an idea about the essence of the draft of transformations. The committee set up on the instruction of the emperor in 1826 for analyzing the situation and deciding “what was good” and “what should be changed” drafted a project of “improvements” of management and the rights of the classes and sections of the population. The question of “slavery”, although it was dealt with in the project, was postponed in a crisis situation (just as the entire project) until its examination by special secret committees. “I don’t want to die before I complete two undertakings: the publication of a code of laws and the abolition of serfdom,” Nicholas I declared.

The publication of the “Complete Code of Laws of the Russian Empire” became a vivid confirmation of the emperor’s intentions. The systematization of the Russian legislation for almost 300 years, which was crowned by the publication of 54 volumes of the collection of laws not only was the legal basis of the protection of the autocracy, but also contributed to the development of legal consciousness and thought in the country. The work of M. Speransky who compiled it was lavishly awarded by the emperor. He received the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, which is among the exhibits. The exposition also has a reproduction of one of relieves of the monument to Nicholas I, on which the ceremony of awarding Speransky is depicted. “The emperor…having embraced him, took the star of the order off his chest and laid it on Speransky as a token of his gratitude…”

case 3
The materials of case 3 recreate the image of the “high official table”. There are exquisite stationery with the state symbols, presents of high officials and orders — from the lowest — St. Stanislav to the higher — St. Vladimir, the coveted award for each high official. “The list of ranks in the civil service” reflected the structure of the bureaucratic hierarchy on which the entire state system was based, and which created an impression of unity and stability. However, as follows from a memorandum submitted to the emperor, the system of management required radical reforms.

Nicholas I did not dare “touch old institutions, being aware of the past experience and the views of the opponents…” He chose the policy of the maximal centralization of power, the formation of “secret committees”, strict regimentation, control over the responsibility of the civil service, which resulted in an abundance of instructions and rules and which were impossible to fulfill, servility, and, in the words of Nicholas I himself, “Russia is ruled by the bosses, big and small…”

case 4
The reasons for “bureaucratic egoism” lay, in the view of the emperor, in the legacy of the past political “fermentation”, and he tried to oppose it by putting forward “the aims for Motherland” under the ideological slogan “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Popular Spirit”. These traditional values seemed to be able to give a new impetus to Russian life, having laid down new foundations for state education and enlightenment (case 4). This ideological triad metaphorically expressed the idea of a national temple, whose image could be materialized in the whole of Russia. The triumphal symbols of Alexander I began to give place in the country’s capital to cathedrals which were erected on the basis of the forgotten traditions of ancient Russian architecture.

The minister of people’s education, Count S. Uvarov, was the principal supporter of the new ideological premises and the champion of the development of the Russian system of education, science and culture, without “the errors and delusions of European civilization”. Indicative in this respect was the present made to him by the Academy of Sciences on the anniversary of his work at this post: a galvanoplastic sterling silver plate with the names of the members of the Academy, to illustrate one of the scientific achievements of the member of the academy B. Yakobi (case 4).

“The upsurge of national spirit without any trace of modern political ideas” was accompanied by class an administrative restrictions. Nevertheless, the state system of specialized educational institutions was set up in the country; the number of higher and general educational establishments was on the increase, just as the number of district schools and courses to “practical knowledge”, which helped train production personnel. The government encouraged achievements in the sphere of education and science. Case 4 shows some award medals made of precious metals, among them the medal “To the Successful” at imperial universities, and also such a medal of Moscow University.

case 5
The materials of case 5 are about the socio-economic policy of the Russian government and the matter of state importance, that is, the liberation of peasants from serfdom. Numerous banknotes show the anti-crisis measures to stabilize the country’s financial system undertaken by the minister of finance E. Kankrin. The renewal of alcohol lease, the expansion of credit systems, the introduction of high customs tariff s on foreign goods, the implementation of a financial reform which brought the “paper money” to a firm silver equivalent — all these measures resulted in the drawing up of a state budget without deficit. A rare exhibit in the exposition is a machine for printing counterfeit money. Counterfeiting was a matter requiring constant attention on the part of the law-enforcement agencies, but E. Kankrin himself was guilty of illegal minting the Netherland ducats, with government permission, to be used in international financial transactions. Another rare item is money made of pure platinum, the technology of which was first created in Russia.

Financial stabilization ensured the development of industry and trade. A set of award medals and decrees shows the incentives used by the authorities to boost economic initiatives and the activity of agrarian and industrial associations. Persons who distinguished themselves in the implementation of the reform of managing the state-owned peasants, which was aimed at improving their economies and against their ruin, were awarded medals “for achievements in agriculture” and “for enthusiasm in civil service” (case 5). The minister of state-owned property P. Kiselyov was in charge of the implementation of the reform. Nicholas I called him “the head of the headquarters in the peasant sphere”, and he worked out measures of state control over the rights of the serfs and the gradual progress of “the process against slavery”. The land problem prevented the liberation of the peasants, because land was the inalienable property of the nobility. Notes and memoranda of landlords on the subject contained in case 5 show that the views on the need for the abolition of serfdom differed as before, and did not coincide with the view of the emperor.

“There should be continuity in measures aimed at transformations. With God’s help I shall persevere… and I prepare my son to serve Russia with the same thoughts and feelings as mine,” the emperor wrote. Several exhibits in case 5 are connected with the upbringing of the heir. The beautiful icon “Saviour Not-Made by Hand” (1848) and the engraving “News from the Crimea” (1855) on which both the Father and the Son are depicted waiting for news about the defence of Sevastopol, were connected with the “gloomy seven years” in the country’s history. However, it was precisely at that time that Nicholas I prepared his heir for tackling the problem of serfdom. “It would be better if it came from the top rather than from the bottom”.

case 6
The need for the modernization of the country was felt not only in the ruling circles, but also among the peasants themselves, which was reflected in folk art (case 6). In the conditions of economic development the requirements and outlook of folk artists also changed. Architectural decorations of houses and household utensils were many and varied, and they also differed in making and style. Along with traditional subjects in popular iconography, new images on topics of the day appeared, even portraits of members of the imperial family. The greater opportunities and mastery of folk artists and more varied demand for their work led to the development of old and the emergence of new peasant artistic centres. This called for greater personal and economic freedom for creative improvement and realization of their works.

case 7
The traditions of ancient Russian art oft en became the source of inspiration for professional artists. Among the symbols of the revival of national style in architecture were the Cathedral of Christ the Savour and the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow designed by the outstanding Russian architect K. Ton (case 7).

For keeping the most important state documents Emperor Nicholas I ordered to make special caskets which should have been placed in a special section of the Armoury. One of such caskets, keeping the deed on the endorsement of Ivan the Terrible as the tsar of Russia, is presented in case 7. These caskets were made on the sketches of the artist F. Solntsev, of serf origin, who was a great connoisseur of ancient Russian art. The palace dinner set ordered for the wedding of the Grand Prince Konstantin Nikolayevich in 1848 was also made on F. Solntsev’s design. This was one of the first works of Russian decorative applied art in Russian style. In it the artist used motives of ancient Russian enamel work. The luxurious folio “Antiquities of the Russian State” published on the order of the emperor, F. Solntsev painstakingly recreated monuments of ancient Russian art: symbols of state power, arms, costumes, tableware, etc.

The turning to national Russian sources became part of the manifestation of general European interest in history, culture and the continuity of the world cultural process, and at the same time the inimitable specific features of individual epochs of its development.

case 8
The materials of case 8 express, in part, the interest of the emperor’s family in the images of the “knight epoch”. Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna exerted considerable influence on the interest in medieval art in its neo-Gothic interpretation. There are engravings depicting the emperor in the knight’s armour, and the empress in the image of a medieval lady. On display are exquisite items from the imperial “Gothinc set”, and the set for the “Cottage” country-house with the empress’s “white rose” emblem. Apart from it, there are precious small items of bronze and glass, as well as precious metals and stones, connected with the imperial family.

A separate exposition in the room 36 is devoted to the history of the Russian army and navy and the main diplomatic and military events of the second quarter of the 19th century. As before, the Russian army was mainly composed of recruits and the term of service was 25 years. Corporal punishment still existed and soldiers’ training was mainly concentrated on military bearing and gun handling. The spectacular uniform, which was fit for parades, showed a number of essential drawbacks in field conditions. The same could be said about arms. The Russian army and navy increasingly lagged behind their European counterparts.

The models of sailboats, including the model of the famous boat “Veliky Prince Konstantin”, one of the last wooden battle sailboats of Russian make showed the end of the epoch of such vessels (central case).
The Oriental question was in the centre of Russia’s foreign policy. It was an international problem connected with the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the struggle for the re-division of its possessions in the Middle East.

“My brother bequeathed me very important matters, and the most important one is the Oriental matter”, Nicholas I would repeat.

The geographical position of Turkey allowed it to control the outlets from the Black Sea, which placed Russia, as a Black Sea power, in a subordinate position. This was why the struggle for influence in Constantinople and the establishment of a favourable regime of the Black Sea straits were of primary importance.

cases 9, 10
The Caucasus played a special role in the system of international relations in the 19th century, for it was considered “the gates” from Asia to Europe from time immemorial (cases 9 and 10). The interests of three empires bordering on one another crossed there: Russia, Turkey and Persia. Russia upheld its interests and rights to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, as well as part of Circassian and Daghestani lands in two wars with Turkey and two wars with Persia. However, it was only a prologue to the Caucasian war which lasted for many decades.

The commander of the Separate Georgian (later Caucasian) Corps General A. Ermolov resorted to harsh measures in his policy and operations to conquer the Caucasian region. He would say: “The Caucasus is an enormous fortress defended by a garrison of half a million. It is either to be stormed or encircled by trenches and besieged. A storm will cost a great deal. Then, let’s besiege it.” A considerable role in the plan of conquering the Caucasus was given to laying out roads and cutting glades, building fortifications, and colonizing the region by the Cossacks.

Forty years later the governor of the Caucasus, Prince A. Baryatinsky, successfully used this scheme. He renounced the use of punitive expeditions and returned to the construction of fortresses and roads, and the resettlement of Cossacks for developing the captured territories. In three years’ time these operations resulted in the final conquest of Chechnya, Daghestan, and the North-Eastern Caucasus in 1859.

The struggle of the people of Chechnya and Daghestan against Russia was headed by Imam Shamil for 25 years. Fighting the superior forces of Russia, Shamil used the guerilla tactics: he lured the enemy to the mountains, blocked the roads and paths by big boulders and tree-trunks and showered its troops with bullets from dug-outs. Suffering big losses and many setbacks, the Russian troops finally learned to fight in the mountains. By 1858 they encircled the last residence of Shamil in Vedeno, and on August 25, 1859, he was forced to surrender.

case 9
The letters exchanged between Baryatinsky and Shamil during a long period are of great interest (case 9). There are Shamil’s personal belongings: his seal, inkpot, and awards and decorations instituted by the Imam. These silver signs with Arab inscriptions and nielloed ornament were proudly worn by his murids. The commander of the Caucasian army General P. Grabbe noted with surprise: “These mountain-dwellers, who are not used to submission to any authorities, now blindly obey the bosses and commanders appointed by Shamil and consider it an honour to wear the decorations and awards invented by him.” Inscriptions on them were quite individual. For example: “This is the sign of courageous Lion-Muslim”, or “I captured this warrior and killed him in fighting. I am indomitable and fearless in fury”.

case 10
Along with such memorable items, the exposition devoted to the Caucasus includes clothes (felt cloak, Circassian coat and hood), as well as arms (case 10). The felt cloak protected the horseman from cold and heat, rain, snow and wind. It also helped keep arms and ammunition dry, which was important for firelocks and pistols, and served as a mat and blanket at halt. The men’s attire of mountain-dwellers was very convenient, which was confirmed by the fact that the Terek Cossacks fully accepted and widely used it. Later, in the 1840s this costume was officially recommended as the uniform of the Cossack military units in the Caucasus, which can be seen from comparing the Circassian coat of a mountain-dweller and that of an artillery officer of the Black Sea Cossack squadron of the Guards in 1842 (central case).

Arms played a great role in the everyday life of mountain-dwellers: they were part of their national dress. The well-known Adyge scholar of the 19th century, Khan-Girei, noted that “a Circassian eats, drinks, speaks and entertains himself always with a dagger at his belt, he sleeps, having it under the pillow, in short, he is armed all the time.” Case 10 shows Circassian, Daghestani and Chechen arms of the 19th century: guns, blunderbusses and pistols, powder-flusks, sabres and daggers, which were not only effective as a weapon, but also artistically made.

Award medals minted in Russia on the occasion of military victories in the Caucasus include: “For Capturing Ahulgo 1839”, “For Conquering Chechnya and Daghestan 1857–1859”, “For Conquering Western Caucasus 1859–1864” (case 9). There is a map of the Caucasian region published in 1870 (case 10). It showed the territories of the Caucasus which became part of the Russian Empire.

cases 11–13
Cases 11–13 are devoted to the history of the Crimean war. In October 1853, at the height of the exacerbation of the Oriental question, another Russo-Turkish war began. Six months later England and France, and then Sardinia, joined Turkey. In case 13 there is a cartoon of the two well-known political figures of the time that exerted a profound influence on the destinies of Europe: Lord Palmerston and Emperor Napoleon III.

On September 1, 1854, a big force of the allies (89 warships and 300 transport ships carrying troops and arms and ammunition) landed in the Crimea. Sevastopol was under a grave threat. Well-fortified from the sea, it was not protected from the land. Hasty fortification work began. The entire life and work were put under the control of Vice-Admiral V. Kornilov. The military engineer E. Totleben supervised the construction of defence installations in the southern part of the fortress — the legendary bastions which rebuffed all attacks of the enemy for eleven months.

To bar the entry of the enemy into the Sevastopol harbour five old battleships and two frigates of the Black Sea squadron were sunk on September 11, 1854. Having received an order from the commander-in-chief of the Russian land and naval forces in the Crimea, Prince A. Menshikov, Vice-Admiral V. Kornilov, the head of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, gathered the high commanding officers and suggested that they take their warships out into the sea and attack the enemy. However, Kornilov’s “courageous” proposal was rejected by most officers present. Menshikov repeated his order and then “the ships and frigates chosen for sinking took their position at the entrance to the harbour, crossing the fairway. At the dawn of September 11 (23), they were sunk”. The ship “Tri Svyatitelya” (“Three Saints”) was sinking very slowly. This moment was depicted on the canvas by the artist N. Krasovsky.

Among the most precious relics connected with the defense of Sevastopol are the notebook of Admiral P. Nakhimov and the great coat of Vice-Admiral V. Kornilov (case 12). He wore this great coat on October 5, 1854, the day of the first bombardment of the city, when he was mortally wounded on Malakhov Hill.

Nakhimov’s notebook is wonderfully modest, simple and small. Its pages are full of pencil notes. Short, sometimes illegible, half-erased sentences and words show the wide range of cares and duties of the admiral during the preparation for defense. He complained about the absence of chronometers and rigging, and emphasized the need for training artillery- men on board ships, as well as improving food rations for the men.

Mention should be made of the icon “Our Lady of Smolensk” in a gilded setting. As it is said on its frame, it was made in 1854 on the order of “Smolensk noble ladies and merchant wives”. The Bishop of Smolensk blessed with it the heir to the Russian throne, Prince Alexander Nikolayevich (the future Emperor Alexander II), “in blissful hope to crush the enemies of Faith, Tsar and Motherland” (case 12).

August 22, 1855, was the last day of the defence of Sevastopol. Having become convinced of the futility to continue the defence, General M. Gorchakov, who replaced Prince A. Menshikov as the commander-in-chief, ordered to retreat from the city. It continued through the night. The Russian troops moved to the northern side of Sevastopol along a floating bridge in the sinister light of the burning fires (“Fire in Sevastopol. Russian troops’ cross to Northern side”. Lithograph by E. Gerard and F. Benois — above case 11).

The downfall of Sevastopol decided the outcome of the Crimean war. Its results were summed up at the Paris Congress. Under the treaty of peace, Russia returned Kars to Turkey in exchange for Sevastopol and other towns in the Crimea, and ceded the estuary of the Danube and part of Southern Bessarabia to the Moldavan Princedom. But the heaviest loss for Russia was the ban on keeping its fleet in the Black Sea. This situation was rectified only fifteen years later.

Among the relics of the Crimean war on display there are Russian orders and medals, as well as those of Britain, Sardinia and Turkey (case 11). The medals “For Defence of Sevastopol” began to be minted during the war. It should be noted that the medal “For Defence” was instituted in Russia for the first time; before there were only medals “For Victory” or “For Capture”. Generals, officers and soldiers of the Sevastopol garrison who stayed there from September 13, 1854 until August 28, 1855, and all citizens who took part in its defence were awarded a silver medal on the St. George ribbon.

The war demonstrated the courage of Russian officers and men. But their heroism could not compensate the drawbacks of the state system: the absence of railways, rifled guns, steam vessels, etc. The war laid bare the noticeable economic and technical and military lag of the country, and put forward the question of reforms.

case 14
The materials of case 14 tell about Russia’s participation in the European developments connected with the revolutionary upheavals of 1848–1849. In the spring of 1849, answering the request of the Austrian emperor for help, Nicholas I sent the Russian army under the command of General-Field-marshal I. Paskevich-Erivansky to Hungary. In August 1849 the Hungarian rebels surrendered. The case contains memorial and award medals “For pacification of Hungary and Transylvania”, a silver St. George’s pipe “For pacification of Hungary in 1849”, as well as the certificate to the Prince of Warsaw, Count of Erivan, General-Field-marshal I. Paskevich, confirming his “honorary citizenship of the free royal city of Budapest” presented to him for the Hungarian campaign on December 31, 1849.

case 15
The materials of case 15 are devoted to the history of the Russo-Persian relations. The canvas “Solemn reception at Fet- Ali-shah” by an unknown Persian artist is of great interest. The reception ceremony at the court of the Persian shah was distinguished by many strange rules, among them the need for all guests, including those from foreign countries, to take off their shoes and boots and put on red stockings.

In 1818, during the famous mission to Persia headed by the general A. Ermolov, a hero of the war of 1812 and the commander- in-chief of the army in the Caucasus, the ceremony had to be changed, because the general refused to take off his boots and put on red stockings, and the Persians had to concede. It was decided that the servant would only dust the general’s boots one hundred steps before the shah’s tent. Having gained this concession, the Russian envoy was able to emphasize a special attitude of the ruler of Persia to Russia as a great power.

The main task of Ermolov’s mission was a peaceful solution to the territorial disputes concerning the Transcaucasus, which had to be resolved by military means eight years later. In the Russo-Persian war of 1826– 1828 Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani units took part on the Russian side. The capture of Erivan and the surrender of Tabriz, the centre of Azerbaijan and residence of the heir to the Persian throne, were a sure sign of the complete defeat of Persia. The entry to Tabriz of the Russian commander-in-chief Count I. Paskevich turned into a triumphal march. He was welcomed by the Christian and Muslim clergy, the elders and the city residents. The road was strewn with flowers and sprinkled with the hot blood of bulls, according to an Oriental custom. Th is event was depicted on the canvas by the artist V. Moshkov, “Ceremonial March in Tabriz by Paskevich-Erivansky in 1827” (above case 15).

The signing of the Turkmanchai peace treaty which marked the end of the war and preparation for paying contribution were shown on lithographs made on the basis of V. Moshkov’s drawings. Case 15 contains the sign and star of the Order of “Lion and the Sun”, the highest award of Persia. General A. Ermolov received this award upon completion of his mission in 1818, and ten years later, after the end of the Russo-Persian war, it was presented to the state councillor A. Griboyedov, the head of the diplomatic chancellory of Paskevich. Griboyedov took an active part in the working out of the conditions of the Turkmanchai peace. According to it, the Erivan and Nakhichevan khanates were annexed by Russia. The war of 1826– 1828 was the last armed conflict in the history of the Russo- Persian relations.

cases 16, 17
Another major problem in the relations with Turkey was the Balkan question (cases 16 and 17). Russia’s foreign political interests prompted its policy of support of the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire in Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, which fought for their independence and which inevitably led to a confrontation and wars with Turkey.

Europe closely followed the train of revolutionary events in Greece from 1821. In 1827 Russia, England and France joined efforts in supporting the Greek liberation movement against Turkish despotism. On October 8 (20), 1827, the allied squadrons entered the Navarin Harbour and dealt a crushing blow at the Turkish-Egyptian navy. The Navarin battle made the Russo-Turkish war of 1828 inevitable.

There is the star and sign of the Order of the Saviour in case 16. It was instituted by the National Assembly of Greece in 1828. Among the first persons who received this award were Russian, English and French officers and admirals, who participated in the Navarin battle. The Order of the Saviour, First degree, was presented to the commander of the Russian naval squadron, Rear-Admiral L. Geiden. The President of Greece I. Kapodistrias wrote in this connection: “Greece should express its gratitude, through its government, to you dear Admiral, for what you and all the officers under your command did for the revival of our country… On the memorable day of October 20, the conquerors were crowned with the laurels of victory, and your warship, although damaged and full of dead sailors, demonstrated that during the battle the danger was equal to your courage…”

The keys to the Turkish fortress of Sylistria and the town of Adrianople, as well as the sabre with the inscription “Town Arzerum, June 27, 1829. From Commander-in-Chief Count Paskevich Erivansky” are unique mementoes of the Russo-Turkish war of 1828–1829 (case 16).

The memorable glass presented on behalf of the Serbian Prince Milos Obrenovic to the Russian Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire A. Butenev (case 16) was a testimony to the extremely important stage of the Russo-Turkish relations — the signing of the Unkiar-Iskelessi treaty of 1833. That treaty ensured an advantageous regime of the Black Sea straits for Russia and is justly regarded a peak of the diplomatic successes of Russia in the Oriental question. One of the aspects of the treaty was the question of Serbia’s autonomy. The glass bears the state emblem of resurrected Serbia. The inscription in diamond said: “Grateful Serbia and Prince Milos. To Appolinary Petrovich Butenev. 1834”.

case 20
The material of case 20 is devoted to Moscow University. The water-colour by the artist G. Baranovsky depicts the new building of the university and St. Tatiana’s Church on Mokhovaya Street. In 1833–1837 the architect E. Tyurin rebuilt the estate premises of the late 18th century for a new section and university church. By its 100th anniversary the university graduates from Vladimir gubernia presented a silver cross to St. Tatiana’s Church, on the back side of which the names of the 26 persons who donated, it were engraved.

Many public figures of that epoch were connected with Moscow University, in one way or another. Among its students and teachers were A. Khomyakov, K. Aksakov, T. Granovsky, K. Kavelin, B. Chicherin, I. Turgenev, and others. Many of its graduates went down into Russian history. M. Lermontov studied at the boarding school attached to the university and later at its philology department. There is a copybook with the autographs and drawings of the poet (case 20), which were previously part of the well-known collection of manuscripts and books of the historian and bibliophile A. Chertkov (on the wall of the room there is a portrait of A. Chertkov made by the artist S. Zoryanko). Chertkov donated his collection to Moscow, and in 1880 it was placed in the History Museum.

Current exhibitions

“Portrait of a museum on the background of the history of photography 1876-2015 gg. 145th Anniversary of the museum…”

8 Feb., 2017 — 10 Apr., 2017

“Handsome man. Russian elegant in the second half of the XVIII – beginning of the XX century”.

15 Mar., 2017 — 28 Jul., 2017

Аrs botanica. Floral motifs in the art of the first half of the XIX century.

14 Dec., 2016 — 3 Apr., 2017

Exhibitions in 2017

1 Jan. — 31 Dec., 2017