Non-Russians at Royal Coronations: The Ethnic Politics of the Empire in Ceremonies
Keywords:Russian Empire; rituals; coronation; ethnic policy; ethnic elites; representation
This article considers the participation of representatives of the non-Slavic population of the Russian Empire in the coronation ceremony of the monarch. The author of the article refers both to published and archival sources from the funds of the Russian State Historical Archive and the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts. On the basis of these documents, it is demonstrated how “alien” deputations were compiled for participation in the “sacred coronation” ceremony; how officials in the centre and periphery selected deputies who they thought were worthy; in which capacity they attended the ceremony; and what value it had for the internal policy of the state. The cooperation with the elites of the peoples that made up the Russian Empire was one of the leading principles of ethnic politics. An important means of involving ethnic elites (as well as the non-Slavic population in general) in the life of the state and implementing government policies was to form a cult of the Russian monarch. The convocation of multiethnic masses in the Kremlin and other Moscow celebrations not only marked the national diversity of Russia but was also meant to demonstrate the unity of all its inhabitants around the new autocrat. The research methodology is based on the analysis of the symbolic capital of supreme power. The article reveals how it was maintained and supported in the eyes of different ethnic subjects. Participation in a series of coronation rituals was also important for the non-Russian subjects themselves. It was an opportunity to represent one’s people. Gradually, an algorithm was developed for the selection of people invited to the celebration. Representatives of the ethnic elite, aristocracy, and highest clergy were seen as the most desirable, although by the end of the nineteenth century, it was considered reasonable to invite commoners. The participation of representatives of the country’s peoples in the ceremony of enthronement was an important element of imperial ethnic policy.
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