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Offline Michael HR

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Corps Des Pages
« on: August 08, 2008, 10:15:40 AM »
Does anyone know who the gentlemen are in the background of this rather impressive line up? I thought some may be members of the Romonov family but am not sure.



I wonder if anyone knows more about the corps des pages in Russia?

From the little I know it was a military academy for nobles but that is all I have for now.

Michael HR
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2008, 04:07:36 PM »
Hi Michael,

None of these gentlemen are Romanovs : they are all Court Pages in attendance to the Grand Duchesses (and some Foreign Princesses) present at Nicholas II’s Coronation.

More later.
Daniel Briere

Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2008, 11:44:22 PM »
Your photo was taken in Moscow during the Coronation festivities in 1896 and shows some of the Grand Duchesses present along with two foreign princesses who attended the Coronation (the Duchess of Connaught & Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden). It seems a series of photos was taken after the Ladies Congratulory Ceremony on May 17th (O.S.) as former Kamer-Page Englehardt recalled in his memoirs : « Afterwards, several grand duchesses went into the winter garden with their pages for photographs. Every grand duchess was photographed separately with their own personal page standing behind their chair. Then a general group was formed with the grand duchesses seated and the pages standing behind them. The photographer raised his hand for everyone to become quiet for a few seconds. Just when he was ready for the shot, the well-known bass voice of Grand Duke Vladimir Aleksandrovich called out. The duke suddenly appeared from behind some bushes and said : « Well, I didn’t expect it – les grandes duchesses avec leurs pages, les pages aux pieds de leurs grandes duchesses. » (my translation : « the Grand-Duchesses with their Pages, the Pages at the feet of their Grand-Duchesses »). He laughed and continued on, not listening to the rebuke of his wife. » (Memoirs of the Pages to the Tsars, translated by Dr. Thomas E. Berry, Gilbert Royal Books, 2001).

« His Imperial Majesty’s Corps of Pages » was the elite cadet and military school where, except by special imperial permission, admision was reserved to sons or grand-sons of general officers. For the 1st seven years, the curriculum was identical to Cadet Schools. They also did guard duty at the Winter Palace from time to time or escort duty at some Court Processions like imperial funerals. Two « special classes » were added in the late 19th century to teach military science and law. The students of the special classes with high marks were promoted to the rank of « kamer page » (Page of the Imperial Chamber). During their last year, the ones with the highest marks served as personal attendants to the Emperor, the Empresses and Grand Duchesses at various Court functions (balls and various ceremonies). This was a coveted honor as it put those Kamer Pages in close personal contact with members of the Imperial Family and usually helped their career.

After their graduation and promotion to the rank of sub-lieutenant, most pages chose a military career. The ones with the highest marks could pick the Guards’ regiment of their choice. The others were assigned to other Army units.

For more information see :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_Corps

And this interesting virtual exhibition prepared for the Corps’ bicentennial :
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/eresources/exhibitions/pages/

The Corps des Pages was located in the Voronzov Palace in St. Petersburg. Since 1955 it is occupied by the St. Petersburg Suvorov Military School. Nowadays, the Corps’ former chapel has reopened and the School’s museum presents some exhibits from the history of the Corps des Pages :
http://spb-svu.nm.ru/museum.html
http://spb-svu.nm.ru/museum-2.html#MMM2
Daniel Briere

Offline Michael HR

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2008, 03:39:28 AM »
Thank you so much for the information and links. The article was very intresting and I am very grateful to you.

Do we know if the individual photos of the Grand Duchesses with their pages remain? I would love to see them if possible.

Once again thank you.

Michael
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2008, 11:41:56 PM »
The only other photo of grand duchesses with their kamer-pages I’ve seen is in Jeffrey Finestone's « The Last Courts of Europe; a Royal Family Album, 1860-1914 ». It was certainly taken during the same photo shoot and looks like a botched one as Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna’s face is blurred (maybe that’s when she was distracted by her husband’s remarks!) and her daughter GD Elena Vladimirovna is partially hidden by the Duchess of Connaught’s feathers. Your photo is better! Unfortunately although the grand duchesses and foreign princesses are identified in the book, no kamer-page is. The only one I can identify is Serge Nikolaevich Crichton, the one on the far right, between GD Elizaveta Mavrikevna and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

I have seen a few photos of kamer-pages reportedly taken during the 1896 Coronation but they were standing alone. My guess is the indvidual photos taken of each grand duchess with her kamer-page weren’t meant to be published and probably only a few copies were made for each grand duchess and page as a Coronation memento. Probably the Corps des Pages got a series too. Some must have survived in Russia (Russian Archives & Suvorov Military School Library in St. Petersburg) and outside Russia in former kamer-pages’ papers and in some collections assembled abroad after the Revolution, such as the Union of Pages’, the émigré alumni organization founded in Paris in 1920 (with branches in many countries – more than 1000 former pages lived outside Russia then). Columbia University’s Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture seems to have acquired a good part of the Union’s archives :
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/archival/collections/ldpd_4078122/index.html

Author Marvin Lyons also seemed to have a huge collection of documents related to the Corps des Pages (and Imperial Russia) as ten years ago he was working on a monumental « Bibliographical Dictionary of the Russian Imperial Corps des Pages », due to be published for the Corps’ bicentennial in 2002. His « Vorontsov Palace and Corps of Pages Memorial Trust » had a website years ago but I can’t find anything now. To my knowledge his dictionary has unfortunately never been published. I’ve had no contact with him for years and by now he must very old…if still alive.

Daniel Briere

Offline Michael HR

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2008, 03:37:03 AM »
It is ironic as the one Page I was intrested in was the one on the far right, Serge Nikolaevich Crichton, as I was sure I had seen him somewhere before in photos but could not think where, when or why. I do not recognize the name though. Do you know anything about him as his surname is nor Russian but seems more English but this would not explain what he was in the Corps or at the Coronation of the Tsar.

I am so very grateful to you for your help and the detailed information that you have given. I am very impressed.

Michael


« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 04:02:11 AM by Michael HR »
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Michael HR

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2008, 05:09:44 AM »
I think I might try and write an essay on this Page. He sort of stares out of history to you in this photo. It would be intresting to see his life before 1896 and what life he had after 1896, life under Nicholas II and then the revolution. I wonder if he survived 1917/18 and what became of him.

I tried the link but cannot access the documents sadly. I may have to travel to the USA to see them unless there is a way for this to be done on line. It seems John Kendrick, of the Canadian Alexis fame, knew the author you mentioned and I might contact him to see if he knows what happened to the archives that were being used to write the book that was not published.

I did a google search but nothing came up for the Page. I am dying to know how you knew who he was?

Regards,

Michael
« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 05:11:31 AM by Michael HR »
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Michael HR

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2008, 05:31:03 AM »

intresting articule on the Corps.  http://www2.prestel.co.uk/church/oosj/cpages.htm 
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2008, 12:11:06 AM »
Yes the history of the Knights of Malta in Russia and their connection with the Corps des Pages is interesting. It explains why their graduation badge is a Maltese Cross. BTW the Catholic Chapel of the Knights of Malta in the Voronztov Palace has recently been restored and seems to serve as a concert hall. See the 2nd chapel with the link I have already posted:
http://spb-svu.nm.ru/museum-2.html#MMM2

I found Serge Crichton’s photo (in his kamer-page’s uniform) in one of the 6 volumes of the late Jacques Ferrand’s  “Noblesse russe: portraits” (Russian Nobility: portraits) published in the 1980s. In each of them there is a section with photos of pupils from the Corps des pages. Here is what the caption says:
“Serge Nicolaevich CRICHTON (1876-1927/28). Graduated from the Corps des Pages in 1896, later officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General of Kiev, Volhynia and Podolia.”

I also found 7 other photos of members of the Crichton family. You are right about his family surname, it’s neither Russian nor …English but of Scottish origin (pretty close!). Actually he probably didn’t have much Russian blood, if any, but that wasn’t uncommon in the Russian nobility at the time. As how and why he ended up as kamer-page at the last Coronation, I’ll explain in my next post along with some interesting information about his family I’ve dug up from various French, British, Polish  and Russian sources.
Daniel Briere

Offline Michael HR

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2008, 05:09:32 AM »
Dear Daniel,

My God what information and to say I am impressed is just an understatement. I did a search for him on the net but nothing came back. However, much earlier there was a Crichton who was one of the Tsar's physicians' and that might be how the family came to be in Russia and seamed to have stayed and become part of the country. There was a famous Crichton in England who was also a renowned physician prior to this time period. In Scotland they are nobility even today. What a background.

I see from his dates that he might have died in the civil war figting I assume for the whites. 52 years is not that old even in those times. How very sad. One hopes he was liad to rest with proper rights etc.

I will see if I can find the book you mention and have a feeling it will mean lots of visits to little book stores as Amazon etc do not have this any longer. I will be on a mission to lay my hands on this now! Also I may write to the Corps Des Pages in exile in France and see if they have any information on him in their records. I will also research the on line possibility with the records you mentioned in you earlier post and see if I can gain access.

It all started with a friend looking at the photo and he said I bet you cannot find out who he was? I had thought I recognized him but was not sure. Well I think I am going to enjoy finding out as much as I can.

Once again many thanks for your postings.

Micheal

 
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2008, 11:04:28 PM »
Book : If you mean Jacques Ferrand’s books…good luck! They were self-published and it seems they have long been out-of-print. Read this thread :
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=9778.0

I usually got them through Gagliani’s Bookstore in Paris. OMG! I’ve just seen vol. 4 offered on the web for the outrageous sum of $950! Check your messages.

The Crichton photos are in vol. 3 (1987) and vol 4 (1988) and are credited to Mr. Pierre A. Crichton. Judging by his name I assume he might be in France somewhere.

As for Serge Crichton’s Scottish ancestry you are on the right track. Actually there were two physicians to the Tsar named Crichton, related to each other : Sir Alexander Crichton (1763-1856) who was Physician in ordinary (Leib-medik) to Alexander I and his mother Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. Here you’ll see a photo of the house he bought in St. Petersburg on the very fashionable Angliiskaya Naberezhnaya (English Embankment) No. 48 .  It seems he lived there until 1815 :
http://www.spbvedomosti.ru/article.htm?id=10252121@SV_Articles

He went back to England in 1820 though.

The other one was his nephew Sir Archibald William Crichton (1791-1864/65) who went to Russia in 1810 to join his uncle and stayed there to become Leib-medik to Alexander I and Nicholas I. Here is more information about both of them :
http://www.electricscotland.com/history/nation/crichton.htm

Sir Archibald William was Serge Crichton’s grand-father. The Russians called him Vasily Petrovich Kreiton (foreigners with first names and patronimics who had no Russian equivalent were usually given Russian names). In 1851 he wrote a fascinating addenda to his father Patrick Crichton’s family chronicle in which he tells of his life in and service in Russia. You should find it on this site : http://www.clan-crichton.com/The%20Crichtons.htm You have to click on “Patrick Crichton’s chronicle” to download it. Sir Archibald’s text begins on page 51 of the PDF document (page 44 of the original text). See also, Edward Owen Crichton’s note about Sir Archibald's wife and children (page 57). The Nicholas he mentions was Serge’s father. His two eldest sons William (called Vasily in Russian as his grand-father was) and Alexander would be Serge’s older brothers. Getting close! More about them in my next post.

This Col. Patrick Crichton seems to be Sir Archibald’s father (Serge’s great-grand-father):
http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital_dev/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=546489&imageID=1218715&total=10&num=0&word=Crichton&s=1&notword=

There was another Crichton who’s name was to become famous in Finland and Russia: Sir Alexander’s grand-nephew, William. Another fascinating story:
http://www.crichton.se/william.html
To this, I should add that in the early 1860s, William opened another shipyard in Okhta (St. Petersburg) known as « Crichton & Co. » His shipyards built a number of ships for the Russian Imperial Navy.

Quite a family!

A note about the family name in Russian: on Russian search engines I found the Crichton and Creighton family names spelt “Krikton”,“Krixton” (Krikhton) and Крейтон (Kreiton), which complicates research,  but “our” Crichtons’ name was definitely spelt Крейтон (Kreiton). At that time, transliteration into Russian obviously wasn't an exact science!


Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2008, 09:16:03 AM »
As a side note, we have a small original plate from the Corps des Pages service. If anyone is interested, let me know and I will scan and post an image of it for you. You seem more interested in the members, so wasn't sure if you wanted me to disrupt the discussion with the pic.

Rob


Offline Michael HR

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 09:22:27 AM »
That would be great thank you. Collecting information and images galore at the movement. So much to learn is an understatement.

Michael
Remembering the Imperial Corps Des Pages - The Spirit of Imperial Russia


Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2008, 10:32:28 PM »
Before I carry on with the Crichton family chronicle, here is an interesting excerpt from Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm’s magnificient book about The Russian Imperial Award System, 1894-1917 (Journal of the Finnish Antiquarian Society 113, Helsinki 2005). In her chapter regarding the Imperial Awards presented during the 1896 Coronation she wrote :

"Gifts to the Pages of the Emperor, Empresses, and Grand Duchesses :

Students of the Corps of Pages were appointed pages of the chamber (kamer-pazhi) to the ladies of the imperial family and the ladies of foreign royal families. The duties of a page were to carry the long train of the lady to whom he was assigned and to assist her in any possible way during the coronation ceremonies and at subsequent events. Previously, the pages of the chamber used to serve « their ladies » when they dined. That ended after some nervous boy inadvertently poured soup down the neck of Empress Maria Feodorovna.(*1) The gifts the ladies presented to the pages varied : jewelled cufflinks, rings, monogrammed watches with chains, signed photographs are just some examples.

The emperor also had a page attached to his person. The emperor, empresses and grand duchesses presented their pages with cigarettes cases in gold. Thus on 6th August 1896, on the memorial day of the Preobrazhenskii Regiment at Krasnoe Selo, the page of the chamber of the emperor, Sergeant-Major (feldfebel) Alexander Nikolaevich Mandryka [Mandryk], received his memento from the coronation. It was a samorodok gold case with the double-headed eagle decorated with diamonds and filled with cigarettes. On the same day and at the same occasion, those of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Count Aleksei Alekseevich Ignatiev and Count Petr Nikolaevich Apraksin, each received an enamelled cigarette case ornamented with the double-headed eagle. (*2) The senior pages of the chamber Boris Aleksandrovich Engelhardt and Aleksandr Valerianovich Derozhinskii, who both were attached to the dowager empress at the coronation, also received gold cigarette cases decorated with jewelled double-headed eagles."

In her footnotes she adds the following :
* 1 : "The custom was to present gifts to the pages to commemorate the event at which they were on duty. A list of gifts to the pages of the chamber is recorded in the diary of Major-General S.N. Pototskii, himself a graduate from the Corps of Pages in 1896. It was originally « published » in the Opoveshchenie of the Union of Pages in March 1960. (Communication of Marvin Lyons)."
* 2 : "Communication of Olga N. Mandryka, grand-daughter of A. N. Mandryka [Mandryk]. See also Berry 2001." [Memoirs of the Pages to the Tsars,  translated and edited by Thomas E. Berry, Gilbert’s Royal Books, Missisauga, Ontario, 2001].

Dr. Berry published what seems to be - unfortunately - only an extract of Serge N. Pototsky’s memoirs: he reminisces about the Moscow Governor-General’s Ball (Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich) during the Coronation celebrations in May 1896 : he mentions being summoned by Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna who presented him with a little box that contained a golden cross. Nothing more about gifts, so the original edition of the Opoveshchenie (Information) of the Union of Pages will have to be checked out to find out what Serge Crichton received and from whom.

Although in 1896, for most of the 35 kamer-pages, Court service ended with the Coronation celebrations, in his memoirs, Alexander Mandryk (Kamer-page to Nicholas II) writes that on August 6th (the Preobrazhensky Guards’ regimental holiday) he, along with Empress Alexandra’s kamer-pages, were called for service at the palace. « There the Emperor and Empress, before leaving for the parade, came to us with a gift in honor or our service at the coronation. We each received a cigarette case. Mine, from the tsar, was gold, decorated with a diamond eagle and filled with cigarettes. Ignatiev and Apraksin received from the Empress enamel cases decorated with eagles. » On the same evening they left for maneuvers at Krasnoe Selo where the Guards held its annual summer camp (in which the senior classes of the Corps des Pages participated along with some cadets from other schools). At the end of the camp, those kamer-pages who were still present were promoted to the rank of officer. Mandryk received his promotion « from the hands of the Tsar himself while the other Kamer-pages were given their papers from the ladies whom they had served. »

In his memoirs, Boris Engelhardt writes about the same 1896 camp at Krasnoe Selo but doesn’t say from whom he received his commission nor his gift. Most probably Empress Maria Feodorovna didn’t attend the event and he received his gift at another time. He also tells of a later gift he received when he last met her, in 1904, when on sick leave from the Far-East (he had been wounded during the war against Japan). She had invited him at her Gatchina Palace: there she presented him a small medal engraved with a wish for his safe return to the Front. In exile he wrote : « I still have the little medal she gave me and it is the only thing I have from that far away time. I served during her son’s coronation and received a splendid gold cigarette case with a diamond eagle on its cover, but I left it in the bank in St. Petersburg during the revolution and the new powers undoubtedly confiscated it. »

Who knows what happened to those imperial gifts? Some might still be in former pages' family collections. Some of those who got confiscated by the Bolsheviks might be in Russian museums today but most of them were probably sold to rich Westerners by the Soviets in the 1930s.



Daniel Briere

Offline Daniel Briere

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Re: Corps Des Pages
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2008, 12:28:40 AM »
P.S. : Last name of Nicholas II's kamer-page for 1895-96 wasn't spelt Mandryk but Mandryka (Мандрыка) as Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm correctly wrote. I should have checked my Russian sources before posting...Alexander Nikolaevich Mandryka (1876-1928) was the best and brightest student of the 1896 class, which earned him the coveted honor of being Sergeant-Major of the Chamber-Pages and personal page of Nicholas II for 1895-96. Being an orphan with no financial means, a military career in one of the chic and very expensive Guards' regiments seemed a goal impossible to achieve. But after having attended the Emperor at one of the Coronation dinners Nicholas II asked him which regiment he was planning to join. Mandryka replied that he wished to serve in the Guards' Imperial Family Rifle Battalion in Tsarskoe Selo.The Emperor approved his choice then asked him about his means of support, to which Mandryka replied he had none. The Tsar looked kindly to him and told him that this matter could be corrected and that he would think about it. As soon as he joined the Battalion he received a stipend from Nicholas II' s private purse. Due to his exceptional qualities he was soon name regimental adjudant and after an imperial visit to the regiment, he was appointed as Aide-de-Camp to the Emperor.

Apparently he was quite intimate with the Imperial Family for a while but after having conducted an investigation regarding Rasputin, at the Emperor's request, he fell out of grace because his findings displeased the Empress. Nevertheless Nicholas II didn't abandon his former kamer-page. When Mandryka requested a transfer to another service, he was appointed vice-governor of a Volga province and later governor of Tiflis where he remained until the Revolution. Having managed to escape a Bolshevik prison in the Volga region through a ruse, he made it from the Volga to the Don region on foot. On his way he saw a train that seemed familiar: getting closer he recognize the tsar's private cars. They were used by Trotsky on his Red Army inspection tours! He managed to join the Whites where he enrolled in their Volunteer Army. His Corps des Pages' friend, former kamer-page Engelhardt, persuaded him to work for the Department of Propaganda which he headed. Both made it into exile.

Years later they quite unexpectedly met for a last time in Paris: one evening a chauffeur with a long white beard approached Englehardt who had parked his taxi at a stand near the Opera: "You don't recognize me, do you, Boris?" asked the white bearded fellow with sad eyes who was extending his hand to him. It was Mandryka! To survive in exile, both had to resort driving cars for rich people, which wasn't uncommon at the time - even some former princes did. According to Engelhardt, Mandryka never recovered from being separated from his family and died in Paris soon after.

Sic transit gloria mundi
...

Daniel Briere