Author Topic: Court Presentations 1900-1914  (Read 9047 times)

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Offline bulletproofjewels

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Court Presentations 1900-1914
« on: October 17, 2014, 04:05:26 AM »
Hi, I am looking for some (hopefully detailed) information on court presentations during the reign of Nicholas II.
I have had great difficulty finding ANYTHING about debutantes in Imperial Russia, especially in the later years of the dynasty.

I would like to know
- what happened in the ceremony : was it just Alix the debutantes were presented to, or was Nicholas / MF etc there also?
- Regulations on dress, train length, etc.
- Approximately what date the ceremony would take place
- Etiquette and protocol: in UK peeresses would kiss the hand of the monarch- did this also happen in Russia?

Any information would be helpful, thanks!

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2014, 06:45:07 AM »
Were there such presentations in Russia at all?

I don't know. But bear in mind that Alexandra hated large social events, and there were no court balls after 1904.

Ann

Offline Превед

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2014, 08:35:25 AM »
No, there doesn't seem to have been any such official events. See:
http://books.google.no/books?id=tWbFAQAAQBAJ&pg=PT165&dq=debutantes+russian+court+balls&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ThlBVI7VHumGywOzoYGIBQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=debutantes%20russian%20court%20balls&f=false
http://www.edwardianpromenade.com/society/the-edwardian-debutante/

The lack of such a tradition is perhaps symptomatic for a nobility where marriage (to heiresses or heirs) didn't play such a big part as in Western Europe. (In France only young ladies with a dowry were débutantes, the others were just ignored further, i.e. were not let out of the convent schools were they had been brought up.) In Russia state service and imperial favour historically counted for more than good marriages.

- Etiquette and protocol: in UK peeresses would kiss the hand of the monarch- did this also happen in Russia?

In Russia there were no peeresses. Being a princess, countess or baroness gave you no special privileges beyond being noble. Ladies who received special treatment from Their Majesties (and perhaps were allowed to present their daughters?) were the придворные дамы, Ladies of the Court. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady-in-waiting_of_the_Imperial_Court_of_Russia
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 08:44:11 AM by Превед »
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2014, 09:04:14 AM »
I'm surprised Russia didn't have such presentations. It's an excuse to have big balls and lavish ceremony. It sounds like something Maria Feodorovna would have LOVED and excelled in. It would have been an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the monarchy and aristocrats, something that the Romanovs depended on.

I remember reading in "The Lonely Empress" it was tradition in Austria that all young ladies be presented to the Empress when they were ready to make their debut. It was a problem because Elisabeth was never present at court and tradition stated that a lady could NOT make her debut unless she was presented to the Empress.

I guess in Russia once a girl came out it was up to her parents to connect her to society and that's it. I recall reading in "The Last Grand Duchess" Olga's coming out being delayed because of the death of her brother but no real ceremony to make the occasion.


Offline Превед

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2014, 09:23:41 AM »
It's an excuse to have big balls and lavish ceremony.
There was an endless round of balls and festivities in the "season" / carnival, from New Year to Easter. No lack of that. Young girls making their debut in society appeared at these and the Empress took a special interest in them, it is noted, but there was no official ball or reception specifically for them.

Quote
It sounds like something Maria Feodorovna would have LOVED and excelled in.

She threw several lavish, intimate balls for "close friends" during the season.

Quote
It would have been an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the monarchy and aristocrats, something that the Romanovs depended on.

With the Russian aristocracy being a service aristocracy, I think you'll find that the IF took more interest in the male debutants (Corps des Pages) than the female ones.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 09:25:20 AM by Превед »
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2014, 09:31:47 AM »
The persistent belief that all monarchies must have had a court presentation ceremony like the British one, where does it stem from? Perhaps not just from the model function of the British monarchy in the modern world, but perhaps also from fairytales and mediævalesque legends concerning bridal shows (royal couples finding a bride for their heir) and the legend of ius prima noctis (a lecherous monarch taking his pick of the flower of the country's youth)?
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2014, 09:44:59 AM »
Yes its true they had endless balls and festivities, probably more so then any other court maybe.

And your right about the Corps des Pages and their service to the crown. There was a book published called "Memoirs of the Pages to the Tsars" that that features 28 memoirs that detail their training and day to day lives of the Imperial Family. I believe it was first published in the 70s and Gilbert's Books reprinted it again a few years ago. I believe Eurohistory sells it if anyone is interested.

In regards to your post of the British Monarchy, I guess its because they are the biggest and most famous therefore everybody thinks of them first and applies their rules to everyone else by default. I know when I went to school the only monarchs we were taught about were either Roman or British. They only talk about the Kaiser when it comes to WWI and the Tsar when its the Revolution and they were only passingly mentioned, otherwise nothing else.

Offline Превед

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2014, 10:15:26 AM »
In regards to your post of the British Monarchy, I guess its because they are the biggest and most famous therefore everybody thinks of them first and applies their rules to everyone else by default. I know when I went to school the only monarchs we were taught about were either Roman or British. They only talk about the Kaiser when it comes to WWI and the Tsar when its the Revolution and they were only passingly mentioned, otherwise nothing else.

My childhood impression of how a proper "court presentation" and debutantes' ball should look like comes from the fairytale Cinderella, as filmatized by the Czechoslovakian and German Socialist People's Republics! :-) See YouTube: Tři oříšky pro Popelku, from minute 51:00.
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2014, 11:11:09 PM »
I don't think the Emperor and Empress held specific debutantes' balls in this period (except for their own daughter Olga's ball in Livadia when she turned 16). But their were balls held by other Grand Duchesses, notably Maria Pavlovna, and of course, the dowager Empress Marie herself, at which girls did 'come out' into society.
Rodney G.

Offline Превед

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2014, 11:31:14 AM »
I think we all have been mistaken:
In "The Court of the Last Tsar. Pomp, Power and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas II" Greg King describes the presentation of debutantes (pages 309-310). It was a regular ceremony taking place at the Winter Palace each January with both the Emperor and Empress present. For the first few years of her reign, Alexandra Fyodorovna continued the tradition. But because of her ill health and dislike of such great court ceremonies, she abandoned the traditonal form and started inviting two to three young women at a time (with their mothers / chaperones) to small receptions held several times a week at one of the imperial palaces. But, as Baroness Buxhoeveden, who herself was presented at one such reception, recalled, it did not help that much against the Empress's severe anxiety. Buxhoeveden's mother had to, against all court etiquette, start the conservation, because the empress was silent for such a long time after they sat down. But she eventually livened up and Buxhoeveden thought she made a warm impression, whereas the daughter of the French ambassador recalled her presentation as one of awkward horror because of the Empress appearing so ill at ease.

Greg King further relates (page 460) that there were specific imperial bals blancs for debutantes, who appeared in white gowns and were watched by chaperones. The only dances at such a ball were cotillons, quadrilles and waltzes, all lively dances were banned. There was no orchestra, just simple piano accompagnement. During the cotillon, carts of lavish flowers from the Riviera were wheeled into the room. No enlisted man or students of the elite schools were invited to the balls, with the exception of the senior class of the Corps des Pages. At midnight, the young dancers sat down at round tables to dine on smoked salmon and sturgeon, caviar and all kinds of fruit.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2014, 11:41:22 AM by Превед »
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline bulletproofjewels

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Re: Court Presentations 1900-1914
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2014, 02:03:25 AM »
Thank you for your replies, it seems rather odd at first to think the most extravagant empire in Europe would have no such 'presentation' ritual. Perhaps, as many of you have stated, this was due to Alix's discomfort with the court. I have to agree with Rodney and Maria , it definitely sounds like something MF would have loved. Such a shame we could not have seen this continue for many more years.

Thank you especially to Превед for your information! I have been dying to get my hands on "The Court of the Last Tsar".

This research is for my own writing, so unfortunately, a little creative licence may be required. Thanks again.