The Ceremony of Receiving Ambassadresses at the Russian Court of the Eighteenth Century




European diplomacy, diplomatic ceremonial, Russian court, women in diplomacy, history of 18th-century Russia


During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the European system of international relations underwent significant changes, marked by the institutional development of diplomatic services and the establishment of more coherent diplomatic ceremonials. Resident embassies became common, introducing the presence of female relatives of diplomats who actively participated in the life of the diplomatic corps. The growing presence of ambassadresses played a transformative role in early modern diplomatic culture, contributing to the development of gendered diplomatic ceremonials. Drawing on relevant approaches to the study of the ‘new diplomatic history’ and using archival material from the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire, this article examines the diplomatic ceremonial of ambassadorial spouses at the eighteenth-century Russian court. It examines the presentation of ambassadors’ wives at court, the implementation of protocol, and issues of etiquette that became sources of contention between ‘ambassadresses’ and the St Petersburg court, as well as methods of conflict resolution. The study of the reception ceremony for ‘foreign ladies’ reveals that, although it was governed by legal norms, it depended heavily on the Russian monarch’s personal attitude towards the ambassador and ambassadress, as well as the country they represented.

Author Biography

Arina Novikova

Research Assistant, HSE University.

20, Myasnitskaya Str., 101000, Moscow, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-9614-3836


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How to Cite

Novikova, A. (2024). The Ceremony of Receiving Ambassadresses at the Russian Court of the Eighteenth Century. Quaestio Rossica, 12(2), 557–570.



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