Author Topic: Lectrice  (Read 7155 times)

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Offline Sarai

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Lectrice
« on: August 09, 2004, 12:23:29 PM »
I am interested in learning more about what the position of lectrice or reader at the Imperial court entailed. Catherine Schneider - who was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 - was the lectrice for Alix (and I believe also previously for Ella). I believe that in the case of Mlle. Schneider she also taught Alix Russian and did odd jobs for her, as they had developed a good friendship, but generally were these ladies employed solely for the purpose of reading aloud? I understand that reading aloud to each other was a favorite pasttime back then, but I know that the Imperial Family read books themselves and didn't always need someone reading to them. I guess it just seems rather odd and almost frivolous to my modern sensibilities to hire someone just for the purpose of reading aloud, even taking into account the fact that royalty and nobility had servants for just about everything. I would understand it better if perhaps these readers were employed to also, as in the case of Alix, teach their masters a foreign language and thus by reading aloud in that other language their pupils would learn to comprehend it better.

Offline Forum Admin

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2004, 12:33:29 PM »
Lectrice is the feminine form, and can also mean "professor" or educator.  As for Mlle Schneider, she had to be given some "official Court title and function" by Alexandra in order to keep her at Court.  Since she had taught Alexandra Russian, they gave her the offical title of Lectrice, but really she had no specific duties or function.  

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2004, 06:46:32 PM »
My ancestor, Charlotte Schilling von Canstatt, performed a similar function for her friend, who eventually became Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of Tsar Paul. Charlotte was originally hired by Duke Eugene of Wurttemberg as a companion for his daughter Sophia, or so goes the family story. There was little employment for young gentlewomen outside of working as a companion for a royal or noble house, so there was a benefit on both sides. When Sophia was chosen as a bride for Catherine the Great's son, she asked her friend to  accompany her to Russia. I'm sure this was a similar situation with Ella leaving Germany for Russia. A companion with a knack for languages was not a luxury for a young woman leaving her home and family for greater responsibilities in a foreign land - she was often a source of support and encouragement. In Charlotte's case, her service at the court of Catherine the Great allowed her to make a better marriage than her former circumstances would have allowed.

Offline Joanna

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2004, 08:05:55 PM »
OH MY this is enchanting Lisa! Did Charlotte keep a diary? Have you read references of Charlotte in the letters of Empress Marie? Do you know where she resided when at Pavlovsk and the various other palaces? Oh this is intriguing!

Joanna


Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2004, 09:47:30 PM »
Joanna: There is supposed to be an article about Charlotte SVC in the SVC newsletter, I will see if I can get a link. I don't know answers to any of your questions. I know she died many years before Maria Feodorovna, who grieved the loss of her friend and companion.

Offline Mike

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2004, 02:07:07 AM »
Quote
My ancestor, Charlotte Schilling von Canstatt

So you're related to Baron Paul Schilling von Canstatt, who invented the Russian electromagnetic telegraph and was a friend of Pushkin?

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2004, 11:50:25 AM »
Yes, that's our family. I can remember telling someone about the invention and no one believing the Tsar would not allow patents in Russia. This allowed Morse to financially benefit from Paul's work.

We have a family union in which I am a full member. My grandmother was a Schilling von Canstatt.

Offline Mike

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2004, 12:38:43 PM »
This is the Adamini House at 7, Marsovo Pole in SPb, where Baron Paul Schilling von Canstatt lived and died in 1837 - according to a pre-revolutionary memorial plaque on the facade. We lived 200 meters from there until I was 16.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 12:41:04 AM by Svetabel »

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2004, 10:32:04 PM »
Mike - thank you so much! I had no idea that anyone other than our family remembered Paul and his work, so it's touching that he is remembered in Russia.

Offline Mike

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Re: Lectrice
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2004, 04:49:28 AM »
I wouldn't say he is a household name in modern Russia, but he is by no means forgotten. Besides the memorial plaque, there is an exhibit on him and his invention at the Central Museum of Post and Communications in Petersburg. He continues to be mentioned in books and in the media (including the web) in several contexts:
- His telegraph invention;
- His Mongolian and Chinese studies;
- His role in developing the first Russian codes for diplomatic correspondence;
- His friendship with Pushkin, who held Paul Schilling in high respect, almost joined his Asian expedition and even portrayed him in a friendly grotesque manner:
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 12:40:42 AM by Svetabel »