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Messages - Mike

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The Composite Regiment (Leib-Gvardii Svodno-Kazachiy polk) was made up of four sotnia's (squadrons), drafted from certain Cossack voiskos (regions):
1 - the Urals region; 2 -  the Orenburg region; 3 - the Siberian, Astrakhan and Semirechie regions; 4 - the Transbaikal, Amur and Ussuri regions.
The 1st Urals sotnia was called "His Majesty's Own" and often served as Nicolas II's personal convoy.

The last six voiskos were smaller that the first two and accordingly sent fewer cossacks to the regiment. The two largest Cossack regions - Don and Kuban - formed their own Guards regiments, incl. the Atamansky.

The Russian Ark by renown Russian director Alexander Sokurov was produced in 2002, but I've seen it just a few days ago. The whole film is staged in the Hermitage and shows its great halls and arts treasures in their full grandeur. There is no story as such, just a series of scenes: a great court ball, a reception of Persian prince by Nicolas I, a family tea-party of Nicolas II, and more. The costumes are splendid, although not always historically precise (e.g., the dancing officers wear their parade uniforms - instead of special ball uniforms, other cavaliers brandish long trousers  - instead of culottes, and so forth). Minor faults actually.
Even on me, intimately acquainted with the Hermitage and other parts of the Winter Palace complex, this Russian-German co-production has made a formidable impression.

Imperial Transportation / Re: Polar Star
« on: May 31, 2004, 09:13:01 AM »
Here Alexander III, Maria Feodorovna and GD Xenia are pictured aboard the Polar Star in Finnish fiords:

Their World and Culture / Re: men's/women's clothing?
« on: May 31, 2004, 08:55:44 AM »
Lisa, the most famous example is Nadezhda Durova, who was a cavalry officer during the Napoleonic wars. Her memoirs were translated into English - see e.g. here.

Their World and Culture / Re: The Anti-Semitism of the Romanovs
« on: May 31, 2004, 08:17:14 AM »
About the "Karim Jews" of Crimea and the Tzars' attitude towards them:

We're talking about Karaites, who actually are not Jews. Right, their religion is closely related to Judaism, and they use Hebrew script for the religious purposes. But they always went to great efforts to dissociate themselves from Rabbinic (i.e. "regular") Jews. The Tzarist authorities (and later the Nazis) never regarded them Jews, and they were in no way persecuted. Just to the contrary, all Russian Tzars starting from Nicolas I treated the Karaites favorably, granted them privileges and visited their kenassas (places of worship) in Eupatoria, Bakhchisaray etc.

Thus the Romanov's benign attitude towards Karaites had nothing to do with their anti-Semitism - which was real, strong and easily explainable by their upbringing, their religious beliefs, and by a general acceptance of such views by their aristocratic peers at that time.

Imperial Transportation / Re: Imperial Train
« on: May 31, 2004, 06:03:22 AM »
Here is a photo of Nicolas and family aboard the imperial train, just before departure from Odessa, ca 1910. Note unusually wide windows.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Food, Wine and Meals
« on: May 31, 2004, 05:38:45 AM »
About Nicolas' drinking vodka: see e.g. General Mosolov's memoirs (he was chief of office ["direktor kantsellyarii"] at the Ministry of Imperial Court till 1916).

Nicolas definitely was not a heavy drinker, unlike his father. However, it was customary to drink one or two small (30-50 ml) glasses of vodka while standing at the zakuski table just before breakfast and dinner. Please note that breakfast was served at noon or even 12:30, so it hardly would be considered "morning drinking".  As to gulping, every true Russian (and even not so true - like me :D) gulps vodka rather than sips it.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Food, Wine and Meals
« on: May 30, 2004, 12:21:40 PM »
Numerous recollections exist (in Russian) about eating and drinking habits of the last two tzars. Briefly, both of them (especially Alexander III) preferred simple food in private, but were confined to gourmet - mostly French - cuisine by strict ceremonial rules of the court dining. While Russian "national" meals were also served on a daily basis, an European influence was quite apparent in their recipes. The only places where more traditional, peasant-style meals were allowed, were imperial hunting reserves - Belovezh, Spala, etc.

Nicolas II was careful not to express his gasronomic preferences, except probably to his immediate family, because any such statement would have been interpreted as an "august will" and could affect public tastes, market prices etc.

As to the drinking, Nicolas always gulped two small glasses of vodka (sometimes flavored) just before breakfast and dinner, and savored a large glass of Madeira wine during the meal. His dad Alexander III preferred cognac - at any time.

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