Scenarios of Power: From Peter the Great to the Death of Nicholas I v. 1: Myth and Ceremony in the Russian Monarchy
The Russian imperial court, with its extravagant ceremonies and celebrations, was perhaps the most impressive theater in the world. The show, however ... Show synopsis The Russian imperial court, with its extravagant ceremonies and celebrations, was perhaps the most impressive theater in the world. The show, however, was no mere diversion, as Richard Wortman demonstrates in this first scholarly study of the principal myths, symbols, and rituals of Russian monarchy. Focusing on the period from the reign of Peter the Great to the death of Nicholas I, Wortman shows how the presentations and representations of the Russian ruler played a central role in the exercise of monarchical power. These presentations--from ceremonies and staged events to architectural and literary monuments--sustained an image of a supreme and transcendent ruler that helps us to understand the character and persistence of absolute monarchy in Russia.Wortman draws on the insights of social science and literary scholarship to reveal the underlying myth of foreign conquest that animated the ceremonies of the Russian court. Marshaling a variety of sources, among them poetry, engravings, and newspaper accounts, he traces the evolution of this myth through the scenarios that expressed it in the cultural idiom of each reign. He shows us how monarchical presentations served to consolidate the loyalty of the ruling elite and to establish the distance of the elite from the rest of the population.
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