3. The Russian Nobility
In 1859 Ferdinand Schneider from Berlin published the second print (Nouvelle édition) of Prince Pierre Dolgorouky's Notice sur les principales familles de la Russie. The fact that the German publisher published this book in French, says a lot about the readers he had in mind. The following information partly comes from Prince Dolgorouky's book, which however is very incomplete, not just because he valued the privacy of the families he was befriended with (like the Anichkovs, the Davidoffs and the Viatzemsky's), but also because he was wild for revenge, like with the lineage of Meshchersky.
Notice sur les principales familles de la Russie is unjustifiedly called - and used as - a standard book. When the name of a lineage isn't mentioned in Prince Dolgorouky's book, then this does by no means mean that this lineage isn't aristocratic, whatever some `experts' in France and the United States allege.
On January 12, 1682, in the first years of his administration, Peter the Great enacted a law, according to which all Russian aristocrats were declared equal to each other. Officially there were no more differences, but the nobility itself used another interpretation of Peter's own Armorial of the Nobility of the Heraldic Chamber of the Senate in St. Petersburg, which consisted of five volumes: the Book of Princes of the Empire, the Book of Counts of the Empire, the Book of Barons of the Emperor, the First Book of Aristocrats without a hereditary title (before Peter the Great's reforms) and the Second Book of Aristocrats without a hereditary title (after Peter the Great's reforms). The oldest Russian aristocratic lineages descend from the Viking chieftain Rurik and the Lithuanian Grand Monarch Gedimin. The House of Rurik has ruled over Russia from 862 to 1598. After the settlement of the Norwegian and Lithuanian aristocrats, the Moscovian nobility witnessed prosperity. Before the reforms of Peter the Great all Ryurikides were called monarch (knazh), or grand monarch (velikii knazh). `Simple' boyars, like the Romanoffs, didn't have a title at all. Peter however returned from England and Germany with the titles of `prince', `count' and `baron', which Russia didn't know until then. In future the title of `grand monarch' was reserved for the members of the Imperial Family, the Romanoffs that is, while the original grand monarchs, the Troubetzkoy's, the Obolensky's and other descendants from Rurik, were allowed to call themselves `prince'. Even though the following titles are used in numerous translations, and even though I use these titles in my own books, Russia has never ever had any dukes or grand dukes. The right translations are `monarch' and `grand monarch'.
In 1722 Peter published his chin, the `table of ranks', according to which the lowest officer's rank entitled someone to hereditary nobility. The ladder of the table of ranks consisted of 14 steps (chin), which had to be climbed one by one. The lowest civil servant, the man with only one chin, the 14th that is, was called chinovnik (14th). From the eightst chin, when one had climbed to the rank of Member of the City Council or Major in the Army, one was considered a real nobleman, because at that stage one had to be addressed as `Your Highness'. To reach the first chin one had to be at least a field marshall or a chancellor. From the times of the table of ranks the Russians made a distinction between the `old' hereditary nobility and the `new' nobility, which was appointed. .
The prefixes `Van', `Von' or `De' (Baron Van Solovyov, Fuerstin Von Vasilchikov, Comte De Maslov) are linguisticly not correct, because these prefixes are already incorporated in the endings `in', `eff, `off' and `sky' (Gagarin, Tatistcheff, Romanoff, Obolensky).
The hierarchy of the nobility
The top of the hierarchy is occupied by the male descendants of Rurik, and within that group the hierarchy is determined by the seniority of the lineage. Books can be written about each aristocratic lineage, but I restrict to a short description of some lineages that are mentioned in this book.
The lineage of Bariatinsky descends from Michael Vsevolodovich (1195-1246), Grand Duke of Chernigov and monarch of Kiev, descendant of Rurik in the 12th degree. Michael was canonized for his valour in the battle against the Mongols, and burned alive by the hordes of the regional Mongol Khan Batu, because he didn't want to give up Christianity. In the 17th century the Bariatinsky's were mainly military men and diplomats. In the 18th century Prince Ivan Bariatinsky was Governor of Russia Minor and he had two sons: Feodor and Ivan. Prince Feodor was one of the murderers of Tsar Peter III (see: Orlov), and Prince Ivan married the Princess of Holstein-Beck, a cousin of Peter III. He became Ambassador of Russia at the court of Louis XVI. Prince Ivan Sergeevich Bariatinsky (1740-1811) was plenipotentiary Minister of Russia in France, from 1773 to 1783. Field Marshall Prince Alexander Ivanovich Bariatinsky (1814-1879) was Viceroy of the Caucasus, and freed the Caucasus from enemy montagnards. In March 1872 Tsar Alexander II appointed him chairman of a commission which had to improve the efficiency of the War Ministry. When Nicholas II, who still was Tsarevich in those days, in October 1890 left for a voyage around the world, he was accompanied by his brother George and the Princes Bariatinsky and Obolensky. Each one of the Princes shot a tiger in India, which annoyed Nicholas because he didn't manage to shoot anything at all.
The lineage of Obolensky also descends from Grand Duke Michael Vsevolodovich of Chernigov. The name `Obolensky' originates from the town of Obolensk, in the present district of Kaluga, about 120 miles south-west of Moscow, where in the 13th century Constantin Yuryevich Obolensky inherited land from his father. Some of the French Obolenskys Ä the ones that still wish to be addressed as Syatelstvo (Your Serene Highness) Ä gather yearly during the last weekend of February.
Major-General Prince Vasili Petrovich Obolensky (1780-1834) is the progenitor of the Olkhi-branch. He was the Military Governor of Moscow and married Countess Catharina Mussin-Pushkin (1786-1875), daughter of Alexis Ivanovich Mussin-Pushkin, Supreme Procurator of the Holy Synod and Chairman of the Academy of Fine Arts. Prince Alexis Dmitrievich Obolensky (1855-1933) succeeded Pobyedonostsev as Supreme Procurator of the Holy Synod in 1906. He also was Senator and Marshall of Nobility of the district of Kozelsk. On July 16, 1893 he married Princess Elisaveta Saltikov (1868-1957), daughter of Prince Nicholas Ivanovich Saltikov, the Oberhofzeremoniemeister of the Imperial Court, and Princess Anna Sergeevna Dolgorouk- ov. I myself am a descendant of the first line of the Gluchovo-branch.
The lineage of Dolgorouky also descends from Grand Duke Michael Vsevolodovich of Chernigov. The name, which means `Long Arm', was the knickname of their progenitor Yuri (about 1090-1157), the Grand Duke who was granted the principality of Suzdal and conquered Kiev in 1154. The lineage of Dolgorouky has always been involved in state matters, particularly during the administration of Catharina the Great. Princess Maria Dolgoroukaya married Tsar Michael Romanoff in September 1624. In 1721 and 1722 Prince Vasili Lukich Dolgorouky (1672-1739) was the Ambassador of Russia in Paris.
Prince Peter Petrovich Dolgorouky (1777-1806) was aide-de-camp to Alexander I and was sent to Berlin in 1805 to persuade Frederick Wilhelm to join the Third Coalition.
After the death of his first official wife Maria Feodorovna, Alexander II married his former mistress Princess Catharina Alexeevna Dolgoroukaya.
Prince Vasili Dolgoroukov, the son in law of Count Paul Benckendorff, belonged to the personal staff of Nicholas II, and volunteered to join the Imperial family in their place of bannishment Tobolsk, in Siberia. He was killed by the bolsheviki, together with General Tatistcheff. The Dolgoroukovs are an impoverished yet no less aristocratic branch of the lineage of Dolgorouky. The Dolgorouky's of the Crimea adopted the name of Dolgorouky-Crimasky.
The lineage of Troubetzkoy descends from Olgerd (1345-1377), Grand Duke of Lithuania, son of Gedimin, and Olgerd's son Jagailo (1348-1434), Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. When Jagailo was baptized Roman-Catholic in 1386, to be able to marry Jadviga, daughter and heiress of the King of Hungary and Poland, he adopted the name of Vladislav. Thus the lineage of Troubetzkoy belongs to the dynasty of Jagellons. The name originates from the city of Troubchevsk in the district of Chernigov, about 90 miles north of Kiev. The Obolensky's and the Troubetzkoys have always been part of the high society of St. Peters- burg. In 1606 Prince Dmitri Troubetzkoy was one of the boyars who supported the second false Dmitri, because he had no confidence in the administration of Vasili Shushki. In 1611 Dmitri Troubetzkoy became the commander of the Moscovian Cossacks and in October 1612 he and his troops defeated the Polish army, as a result of which Moscow returned into Russian hands.
Prince Serge Troubetzkoy (1790-1860) took part in the rise of the Decembrists, an was deported to Siberia. Prince Paul Petrovich Troubetzkoy (1866-1938) was a famous sculptor, and was called the Russian Rodin. Some of his works Ä like Après le bal (1897), Tolstoï à cheval (1899), Auguste Rodin (1906) and Comte Robert de Montesquieu (1907) Ä are exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Prince Nicholas Troubetzkoy (1890-1938), was a linguist and the founder of phonology. He was also an important member of the Prague Circle.
Alexandra `Sacha' Troubetzkoy is (was?) a well known paintress, who married many times and lived in Paris. In 1984 she moved to New York, where she married Donald C. Malcolm.
The lineage of Yussupov descends from Yussuf, Khan of the Islamic Nogai-Tatars. In the 17th century the Yussupovs converted to Christianity, and on January 19, 1799 Catharina the Great put the lineage of Yussupov down in the golden book of Russian nobility.
The Yussupovs owned large estates, and at the end of the 19th century they were considered the richest family of Russia, and perhaps of entire Europe. They have always been involved with art. The first theatre in Russia was built by the Yussupovs. In Moscow they owned the former palace of Ivan the Terrible, which was connected to the Kremlin by a subterranean corridor. Prince Nicholas Yussupov was a great artist, who during the administration of Alexander I worked together with people like the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi (1744-1817), in St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo. Prince Felix Yussupov (St. Petersburg 1887 Ä Paris 1967) killed Rasputin.
The lineage of Orlov closes the hierarchic ranks of the Russian nobility. Peter the Great took pleasure in attending the executions personally, and he even assisted the executioners. At one of these occasions a young man by the name of Ivan was asked to put down his head on the chopping-block. On the way Ivan picked up the chopped-off head of one of his comrades, and said to Peter the Great, `If you're keen on heads, why don't you take this one? It's much more handsome than mine.' Peter was baffled with so much guts and made Ivan a soldier in his army. Ivan soon proved to be a real brave bantam, and was made an officer, as a result of which he was raised to the peerage. Ivan's only son Grigori, Governor of Novgorod, became five sons: Ivan, Grigori, Alexis, Feodor and Vladimir. Grigori Grigorievich (1734- 1783), a blue eyed giant, was the lover of Catharina the Great and gave her a son, Alexis, who was born in April 1762 and would become the progenitor of the aristocratic lineage of Bobrinsky. Together with his brothers, all of them officers, Grigori decided to kill Tsar Peter III, so Catharina II could seize to power. On July 18, 1762 Tsar Peter III was strangled by Alexis Orlov (1737-1807), in presence of his brothers and Feodor Bariatinsky. After Catharina was through with Grigori Orlov, it was the turn of another giant: Grigori Potemkin. He wasn't a very attractive man after Alexis Orlov had cut out one of his eyes during a duel. Subsequently Alexis became Catharina's lover. Alexis Grigorievich Orlov became Admiral of the Russian fleet and defeated the Turks at Chesme. In 1775 he withdrew to his estate. He left one daughter: Anna Orlov-Chesmensky.
Vladimir Orlov, who died in 1832, only had one son: the later Senator Grigori, who died in 1826. Ivan Orlov has no legitimate descendants.
Feodor Orlov had many illegitimate children, and Catharina II allowed all of them to use the name of Orlov. One of them, General Alexis Orlov, was a highly valued and internationally well known statesman. Feodor Grigorievich Orlov is considered the progenitor of all the later aristocratic Orlovs.
Even though the following lineages directly legitimately descend from the House of Rurik, they have lost their hereditary titles. At one time their ancestors, who belonged to the Moscovian grand monarchs, grand dukes if you wish, had objections of principle to the hereditary title of `Prince', because they found that they were entitled to call themselves grand monarchs, as a result of which their descendants lost their rights on a title. It concerns the lineages of Erapkin, Ryevsky, Tolbuzin, Liapunov and Tatistcheff. The lineage of Tatistcheff descends from the part of the House of Rurik which ruled over Smolensk. After the Tatistcheffs had rejected the title of `prince', two offsprings of this lineage accepted the hereditary title of `count': General Nicholas Tatistcheff, the progenitor of all present Tatistcheffs who may use the title of `count', and General Alexander Tatistcheff, who died in 1833 without leaving any children. Dmitri Tatistcheff, former Ambassador of Russia in Vienna and former Member of the Council of State, has refused the title of `count', which Prince Dolgorouky found `remarkable'.
General Ilya Leonidovich Tatistcheff was aide-de-camp to Nicholas II and let himself being bannished to Siberia with his Tsar. He was murdered by the bolsheviki, together with Prince Dolgorouky.
Peter A. Tatistcheff is the owner of the prestigious Tatistcheff Gallery Inc. in New York and the Tatistcheff & Company Inc. in New York and Los Angeles. His wife Florence is a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch and chairman of the annual Petroushka Ball.
The Counts of Peter the Great
Peter the Great's table of ranks made all officers members of the nobility. The titles of `Prince', `Count' and `Baron' became hereditary. Although the list looks endless, we should not come to the conclusion that the Romanoffs mucked things up by raising every ordinary mortal to the peerage. The list, which is uncompletely due to Prince Dolgorouky's partiality for and against some lineages, consists of about 70 persons who were granted the hereditary title of `Count', in a period of 137 years. That's an average of one Count per two years, which is less than expected for such a large country. The lineage of Apraxin: Martha Apraxin married Tsar Feodor Alexeevich Romanoff, who ruled from 1676 to 1682. He was Peter the Great's halfbrother. Martha had three brothers: Peter, Feodor and André. Peter Apraxin was a Senator, Feodor Apraxin was an Admiral and André, the progenitor of the present Apraxins, was a member of Peter the Great's staff.
During the Seven Years War (1756-1763) Field Marshall Count S.F. Apraxin (1702-1760) defeated the Prussian troops of Frederick II on August 19, 1757 near Grossjaegerndorf.
In 1861, the year in which serfdom was abolished, Alexander II sent troops to Kazan, to suppress the rebellious farmers. Alexander didn't care much for a second Pugachov affair. The commander of these troops was Count A.S. Apraxin; 102 farmers were killed. The private secretary of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was one Count Apraxin.
Baroness Ada de Manteufel, née Countess Apraxin (1849-1914) is burried in the Cimetière de Caucade in Nice, France. She was the founder of an institution for the deaf in Nice. After the October Revolution most Apraxins escaped to Belgium, and from there they emigrated to the United States, during and after the forties.
Livonia (later Latvia) was the genesis of the state of Prussia, founded by the Knights of the German Order to protect Poland against the Lithuanians. A very illustrious German/Livonian/Estonian family are the Buxhoevedens. The lineage of Buxhoeveden originates from Bexhövede, a village at the mouth of the river Weser, in Northern Germany. Their progenitor was John de Beckeshovede (1186-1242), a Knight of the Cross, who came to the Baltic to christianize the heathens. Major-general Frederick Buxhoeveden, who conquered Finland as the commander of the Russian army in the war against Sweden (1808-1809), was first raised to the Prussian peerage on December 18, 1795 by King Frederick Wilhelm, and on April 5, 1797 he was granted the title of `Count' by Tsar Paul I. Baroness Sophia Karlovna Buxhoeveden was Lady in Waiting to Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna, and volunteered to be bannished to Tobolsk, Siberia, with the Imperial Family. After the assassination of the Imperial Family she and her relatives could escape abroad with the help of the German Emperor, where Sophia wrote a book: The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, New York and London 1928. Count Alexander Buxhoeveden (1783-1837) was the primogenitor of all the present day Counts and Countesses Buxhoeveden. (All other Buxhoevedens are Barons and Baronesses.) His great-grandson Count Alexander Buxhoeveden (1882-1948) was born in St. Petersburg and lived in his estate Alexandrovka, near Tambov. He was a journalist, architect, member of the Imperial Duma and Knight of the Russian Order of St. George. He, his wife Olga Olensky, and their three children escaped through Finland to Paris. Although the separation between the Buxhoevedens became a fact when only a small part of this lineage was registered in the Book of Russian Counts, while all the others remained Prussian Barons, many Buxhoevedens, Counts or Barons, Roman-Catholics or Russian-Orthodox, kept visiting Arensburg Castle, not far from Hannover, Germany, near the river Weser, where their ancestors used to live. Many Buxhoevedens were born there, got married there, and even died there.
The lineage of Benckendorff originates from Estonia, and was raised to the peerage in the 17th century. General Alexander Benckendorff (1783-1844) was Minister of Police under Tsar Nicholas I, and was granted the title of `Count' on November 8, 1832. Most ministers thought that Count Benckendorff was absolutely unfit to be Minister of Police, who also was responsible for the secret police, because he was much too amiable. Moreover he was rather absent-minded; sometimes he even forgot his own name! Nevertheless Nicholas was extremely satisfied. In 1837 he said, `During the eleven years in which he holds this office, he never involved me in any incidents, and he has reconciled me with a lot of people.' Until the end of 1807, when he still was aide-de-camp to Ambassador Peter Tolstoy, he lived in Paris with his mistress Mademoiselle George (1787-1867). She came with him to Russia, where they were welcomed by the Imperial Family, but in 1813 she returned to Paris. Mademoiselle George is burried in the Parisian cemetery of Père Lachaise (9th division). Count Alexander's cousin, Constantin Benckendorff, was allowed to call himself `count' since December 15, 1832.
Count Paul Benckendorff, initially the Russian Ambassador in London, became Officer of Nicholas II's Imperial Household. The old Benckendorff was a very dedicated member of the Court, who after the death of the Imperial Family conducted a thorough investigation on all rumours about the murder and the disappearance of his son in law, Prince Dolgorouky. When he was convinced that they were all dead, he tried to escape Russia, but at the Estonian border he was stopped because something was wrong with his visa, and in 1921 he died in a miserable village on the border, without having reached his motherland.
The title of `Baron' was mainly granted to rich bankers and industrialists of foreign origin. Because many Russian aristocrats were bursting for new money, the new `aristocracy' was hauled in quickly.
Other important aristocratic families
Prince Pierre Dolgorouky felt that he had to the protect the families he was befriended with against publicity. I'm not thankful for that, because this makes his book very uncompletely, while most facts cannot be retrieved anymore. Dolgorouky's intentions weren't all honourable. He wrote his book when serfdom in Russia still existed and the Decembrists, who were sent to Siberian hard labour camps, only just were released. Many descendants of aristocratic families made out a case for the abolishment of serfdom, and had to pay for that with thirty years of their lives. Others, like Pierre Dolgorouky, preferred to hold on to the old system, and still regarded the Decembrists enemies of the state. As a result of this dozens of old and new aristocratic Russian families are not mentioned in his book.
The world famous Anichkov palace is one of the oldest buildings in the Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, and was named after Michael Anichkov, who in 1715 built the first wooden bridge across the Fontanka and was the commander of Peter the Great's Military Engineers. Tsaritsa Elizabeth had the palace built between 1744 and 1750, Catharina the Great gave it as a present to her lover Grigori Potemkin, but he sold it to the merchant Nikita Shemiakin, because he had gambling debts. Catharina repurchased the palace and gave it once more to Potemkin, who sold it to the Crown in 1785. From that moment on the palace was used by the Romanoffs. Maria Feodorovna, the widow of Alexander III and the mother of Tsar Nicholas II, lived there until 1917. The lineage of Anichkov was raised to the peerage in the beginning of the 18th century, but has always stayed in the background. The Anichkovs were very influential and were mainly involved with the fine arts. Some years ago Joury Anichkof, an expert on 18th-century French art, died. He was a very amiable, courteous gentleman, who has worked for Wildenstein & Co. art gallery in New York's East 64th Street.
The old aristocratic lineage of Davidoff originates from the surroundings of Kiev. General Denis Vladimirovich Davidoff (1781-1839) was a military and a poet, and was a member of the literary club `Arzamas', just like Prince Peter Viatzemsky, Prince Michael Orlov, Ivan Turgenyev and Vasili Zhukovsky. Denis Davidoff was commander of the partizans who defeated Napoleon. Katia Raevsky was a beautiful woman, and Lady in Waiting and friend of Catharina the Great. She was a cousin of Catharina's lover Grigori Potemkin and married to Colonel Nicholas Semyenovich Raevsky. The couple became a son, the later General Nicholas Nikolaevich Raevsky, a protégé of Catharina the Great. After the Colonel fell in the battle against the Turks, Catharina introduced Katia to the very rich Lev Denisovich Davidoff, who married the young widow. He adored his young bride and showed it by his love and affection, and the luxury he overwhelmed her with. Towards the end of the 18th century Lev Denisovich Davidoff died of a heart attack. In his will he stated that he bequathed the enormous estate of Boltishka to his stepson, Nicholas Raevsky.
On November 24, 1820 the wealthy dowager Davidoff celebrated her 70st birthday on Kamenka, the impressive estate of the Davidoffs on the river Tasmin, in the Ukrain. Alexander Lvovich Davidoff, the eldest of her two sons, entertained the many children, cousins and friends of the family. They planned to stay only a couple of days, but often this came down to months, even years. Kamenka was a second home for all of them. Alexander was 43 and served with the Russian army in France, where he in 1815 married Aglée de Gramont, an aristocratic widow who was used to the atmosphere of the Boulevard St.-Germain and couldn't get used to Russia. Alexander's brother, Vasili (Vasha) Lvovich Davidoff (1792-1854), was a Decembrist from the very beginning. He married Alexandra Ivanovna Potapova (1802-1894), and they became thirteen children. The Davidoffs lived at Kamenka, the large family estate, and were befriended with people like Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837). Vasili Lvovich was arrested in December 1825, for his share in the Decembrists' rise. His children Vasili, Alexandra, Ivan, Lev, Sophia, Vera and Alexis were born in captivity. When Tsar Alexander II was crowned in the summer of 1856, he announced a general pardon for the Decembrists, after which the Davidoffs could return to the Ukrain, to take to heart the management of Kamenka. Vasili Lvovich stayed behind in Siberia; he died in 1854. While he still was Tsarevich, Alexander III, offered the bannished aristocratic Decembrists to let their children go to high school at his expenses: the boys went to the Imperial Gymnasium in Tsarskoe Selo and the girls to the Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg. Davidoff was one of the few who accepted this offer. The lineage of Meshchersky also originates from the Ukrain. In the armorial of nobility the lineage was mentioned since 1198, but in his book Prince Pierre Dolgorouky `forgot' to mention the Meshchersky's. According to Ekaterina Meshcherskaya (born in 1904) this was Dolgorouky's way to revenge the fact that her aunt, Elena Meshcherskaya, had turned down his proposal of marriage.
The Meshcherskys were very rich and owned vast estates, like Petrovskoe and Pokrovskoe, as well as the famous Vesholi-Podol palace in Poltava, and all the land that was part of this estate. But in the beginning of the 19th century there were only very few Meshchersky's left, and there was a chance that the lineage would become extinct. Prince Alexander Vasilievich Meshchersky was his whole life in the military service of the Tsar. He was born in the days of Alexander I, served in the guards regiment of Nicholas I, and as a staff officer under Alexander II and Alexander III. He married Countess Elisaveta Sergeevna Stroganova, and the couple had one child: Natalia (Lily) Meshcherskaya. She later married Duke Fabrizio Sasso-Ruffo. Because Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna personally wanted to celebrate the marriage, the ceremony was held in the Izak Cathedral in Moscow, and the Meshchersky's stayed in the house of Alexander's eldest brother Boris. Lily and Duke Fabrizio went to live in Italy and became three daughters: Elena (Elsa), Maria and Olga. After Princess Elisaveta, Lily's mother, had passed away, Prince Alexander Meshchersky threw himself on his state affairs. And then he met a little singer, just out of the cradle: Ekaterina (Katia) Podborskaya, daughter of the district physician Prokofi Semyonovich Podborsky and Jadviga (Nadezhda) Vodzinskaya, both descending from an impoverished Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic lineage. In spite of the age gap of 48 years they got married.
Alexander and Katia had two children: Viacheslav (Slavochka) and Ekaterina (Kitty). Viacheslav was born in 1898 and Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich Romanoff, the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II, was his godfather. In April 1904 Ekaterina saw the light of day; her godmother was Countess Miloradovich. When Alexander Vasilievich Meshchersky died on December 22, 1903 he was burried traditionally in Lotoshino, the entailed estate of the Meshchersky's which belonged to Alexander's eldest brother Boris. Ekaterina Alexandrovna has never known her father.
In 1920 Prince Viacheslav Alexandrovich and the children of Alexander's brothers Boris and Ivan escaped to Paris and the United States. Princess Ekaterina and her mother thought that the bolshevist clouds would blow over and stayed in Russia.
The lineage of Poustochkine descends from an old aristocratic family from Novgorod. In the 16th century the state of Novgorod was annexed by the Moscovian Empire. In the armorial of the Russian nobility of the Heraldic Chamber of the Senate in St. Petersburg the name of Poustochkine shows up frequently in the 15th and 16th century. In 1683 Tsar Peter the Great granted estates to Josif Poustochkine, and on May 25, 1805 the lineage of Poustochkine was registered in the `First Book of Aristocrats without a hereditary title (before Peter the Great's reforms). In the 16th and 17th century many Poustochkines served of the Moscovian Tsars, usually as vozhevod (governor) of provinces like Rostov and Kargopol, or in the Imperial Court itself. The family history shows numerous Poustochkines who were Marshalls of Nobility, Generals and Admirals. Josif Poustochkine was the progenitor of the present Poustochkines. Ivan Petrovich Poustochkine (1796-1846) connected the family by means of marriage with the lineage of Volkov, and this union produced Paul Ivanovich Poustochkine (1826-1863). His son, Constantin Pavlovich Poustochkine, worked as a diplomat for Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II. For four years he was the Russian Consul in Amsterdam, and he was the last Russian Consul-General in Genoa. His son Pavel (Paul) Constantinovich Poustochkine was born in 1886 in Napels. From 1888 to 1892 he lived with his parents in Amsterdam, and from 1892 to 1898 they lived in Austria. When Paul Poustochkine had reached the respectable age of twelve, he was sent to the Imperial Lyceum Alexandrov in St. Petersburg, a boarding school for aristocratic young gentlemen. In 1906, when Paul Poustochkine was twenty, he entered the world of diplomatic service; he joined Sazonov's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In January 1913 - he was twenty-seven then - he was appointed Secretary of the Russian Legation in The Netherlands, and when he accepted his office in March that year, he didn't realize that he would never return to his motherland. Paul Poustochkine was to be the last representative of Imperial Russia in Holland.
The history of the lineage of Viatzemsky goes back to the 9th century. The Viatzemsky's also descend from Rurik. In exchange for privileges and wealth the tsars demanded that the nobility would serve them, both in political matters and military, and of this task the Viatzemsky's acquited themselves well during many centuries. They also had - in the opinion of conservative aristocrats like Dolgorouky that is - an irritating characteristic: they were favouring reforms. It doesn't come as a surprise that the Viatzemskys belonged to the Decembrists. The poet Vasili Andreevich Zhukovsky (1783-1852), was a friend of Pushkin, but contrary to Pushkin Zhukovsky was a fierce supporter of Tsar Nicholas I, and during a gathering of the Literary Society of Moscow he cursed the Decembrists. `Riffraff they were!' shouted Zhukovsky. This caused great indignation. Pushkin, literature critic Prince Peter Viatzemsky (1792-1878) and many others didn't agree with him. The Prince got up to speak and defended the Decembrists. Further more he indicated that the the Russian people's faculty of memory and particularly that of Zhukovsky was very limited, if they already had forgotten the reasons why the rise of the Decembrists found place. His son, Prince Leonid Petrovich Viatzemsky, was aide de camp to Tsar Alexander III and Tsar Nicholas II, and member of the State Council. Subsequently he became Governor of the province of Astracan and ataman (commandant) of the Astracan-Cossacks. His last office was Director-General of the vast Imperial Domains, in Russia, the Caucasus and Turkestan. He was married to Countess Maria Levashov, daughter of Count Vladimir Levashov and Countess Olga Panin, and they had four children: Boris, Dmitri, Lydia (Dilka) and Adishka. During World War I Princess Maria Vladimirovna Viatzemsky and Princess Sandra Obolensky headed the Empress Mother Hospital in St. Petersburg. During the summer the four children and their parents lived in Lotarevo, Prince Viatzemsky's estate. In autumn they left for the Crimea, while in winter they lived in St. Petersburg, in the official residence of the Prince in the Liteynaya Street. The English nannies and governesses formed the largest part of the English church community in St. Petersburg. They were a close-knit and influential group, and had close connections with `their' Russian families. They often raised two generations in a row, and there were close friendships between their own children and those of `their' Russian families, which often resulted in marriages.
Daughter Lydia (Dilka) Viatzemsky often spent her summers in Levashovo, the beautiful estate of her grandmother, Olga Levashov, née Panin. Levashovo was about 10 miles from St. Petersburg and was the haunt of diplomats, statesmen and artists. Lydia was spoiled by her grandmother, because she was her only granddaughter. She has even known her great-grandmother. Her great-grandfather, Count Viktor Nikolaevich Panin (1801-1874), had been a private student of Goethe and was Minister of Justice under Alexander II. Lydia's great-grandmother died in 1899. Her summer residence, the estate of Marfino, 8 miles north of Moscow, was later used by the Soviets as a special prison for scientists (sharashka), who didn't want to dance to the piping of Stalin. `Mavrino' has an important role in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book In the First Circle (1968), which later was turned into a film.
In 1909 Princess Lydia Viatzemsky married Prince Ilarion Vasilchikov, a friend of her brother Boris. Prince Ilarion (Lari) Sergeevich Vasilchikov was a member of the fourth Duma and a pupil of Minister Stolypin. The Vasilchikov family descends from the of lineage of Tolstoy, and has produced many statesmen and generals. Maria Vasilchikova was lady in waiting to Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna.
Some months after the marriage Prince Vasilchikov was appointed Marshall of Nobility of the province of Kovno. The most important task of a Marshall of Nobility was the presidency of the zemstvo, the regional administration. Further more he was an important link between the local population and the government in St. Petersburg. The District Marshalls of Nobility were appointed by the nobility itself, and the Provincial Marshalls of Nobility were appointed by the Tsar. On August 28, 1910 their first child was born: Irina. On March 5, 1912 came the next one: Alexander. Tatiana saw the light of day in the winter of 1914, and towards the end of 1916 came Missie, the last one.
In 1917 the Vasilchikovs escaped to the Crimea, but the horror of the Red Terror didn't pass them by.
Rituals and customs
The Corps des Pages in St. Petersburg (founded in 1802) was a military institution where aristocratic young gentlemen from their 12th year of age were trained to be officers in the Imperial elite troops. A boy was only admitted when his father or grandfather was (or had been) a General or a Field Marshall and orginated from an aristocratic family which was beyond reproach. The parade uniform of the corps was made of black and red cloth, with white and golden braiding, gloves and a helmet with plumes. All students were holder of the Maltese Cross. The officers weren't allowed to wear civilian clothes, unless they were abroad. A Lieutenant was addressed as `Your Honourable', a Captain as `Your High Honourable', a Lieutenant-Colonel as `Your Highness', a Major-General as `Your Excellency' and a General or a Field Marshall was to be called `Your High Excellency'.
Peter the Great was influenced by the German etiquette, which was showed by the titles of his courtiers. The Russian language knew words like Oberhofmarschall, Oberhofmeister, Jaegermeister, Kammerherr, Kammerjunker and Hofrat.
The most prestigious and aristocratical club of St. Petersburg was the Imperial Yacht Club, and its members consisted of Grand Dukes and some high foreign diplomats. In 1915 the club had only 150 members, which some of them, regarding the exclusivity of the club, found too much. In the English Club, which was founded in 1770, (mainly aristocratic) politicians spoke about their work, over a game of chess, a glass of wine and a snack. The New Yacht Club was founded by Grand Duke Vladimir Romanoff, a cousin of the Tsar, and was a haunt for young noblemen. Women were seldom admitted. Opera and balletgoing was almost obligatory for the young nobility. In the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg mainly Russian performances were given, while the performances in the Michael Theater were mostly in French. The Alexander Theater was usually visited by the lower nobility, students, civil servants and artists. Especially the Petersburg nobility often spoke French amongst each other. Almost everyone visited Paris frequently.
There was always a reception to go to, and every hostess made sure that important guests were invited. A reception or a party with less than a hundred guests was a rare phenomenon. Before World War I Countess Maria Kleinmichel, the sister of General Count Keller, was considered the best hostess of St. Petersburg. Lots of foreign diplomats, artists, beautiful women and ministers visited her salon. When the war broke out and all `Germans' were considered possible enemies, the salon of Countess Elizabeth (Betzy) Shuvalov, née Bariatinsky, became the center of the Petersburg society. In St. Petersburg everyone could find a salon where one could feel himself at home. Every Sunday evening there was a religious salon at the house of Dowager Countess Ignatieff. Her Monday evenings were much gayer, just like the balls of Madam Serebriakov, where always something special happened. The difference between the Moscovian and the Petersburg nobility was remarkable. The Moscovians called the Petersburgers `Germans' (everything that was not Russian, had to be `German'), and they thought that the Petersburgers squandered the Russian culture. The Petersburgers called the Moscovians `narrow minded' and `old fashioned'. The differences showed in many ways; St. Petersburg had a certain Italian and Parisian elegance, while in Moscow one could clearly sense xenophobia.
At least a week before the ball the windows were cleaned, chandeliers and mirrors were polished, the vast parquet was waxed, the blue velvet liveries of the lackeys were pressed and the Smyrnas were beaten. On the day of the ball the chief of the local police appeared, to attend the organization of the ball. The ladies were helped into their ball dresses and the hairdressers came to style their hair - à la grecque. The gentlemen squeezed into their formal dress and arranged their medals and other decorations. The lackeys stood in the reception hall and along the staircase, with perfectly polished candlehol- ders in their hands and powdered wigs on their heads. The Lord Chamberlain announced the guests, `His Serene Highness Prince Jean (not Ivan!) Golitsyn and Her Serene Highness Princess Natalie (not Natalia!) Dobrinskoy.' People were introduced to each other, girls were accompanied by their chaperones. The ballroom was entered; the orchestra stroke up with Glinka's Ivan Susanin. The master of the house opened the dance with a lady of his choice, and was followed by his eldest son or daughter. As soon as everyone had made an appearance, the elderly withdrew from the dance floor, to converse. During the first quadrille a row of gentlemen sat down on chairs, opposite a row of ladies. When there were grand dukes or grand duchesses present, the chaperones of the dancing young ladies were not allowed to sit down, unless it was announced that the etiquette of court didn't have to be observed this time. The dancing master said, `Avancez!' The gentlemen arose and walked towards to the young ladies at the opposite. `Balancez!' `Chassez à droite!' `Chassez à gauche!' Between the dances the young ladies discussed the outlooks and manners of the gentlemen. In French, of course. The quadrilles were followed by the mazurka, and after that came a cotillion, because not everyone fancied another quadrille, and if there was much to drink, the young gentlemen sometimes challenged each other to a duel. Usually these arguments were intervened conciliatingly by the older ones, but when this didn't work out, one of the gentlemen asked the Tsar to permit the duel, after which the seconds of both parties contacted each other to discuss the details. This way Pushkin came to meet a nasty end; he was mortally wounded in a duel with Baron Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès, an officer in the Russian army. Quel dommage...
The Russians and France
Already in the 19th century many Russians often visited France, for exactly the same reasons as modern tourists visit Paris today. The Russian with culture and amusement on his mind, got his full share in Versailles, the Gothic cathedrals, the French countryside, the cosmopolitan life-styles and the racket which bears the name of Paris.
Besides that, one came from Russia to consult the famous Paris medical specialists, for a treatment against T.B., under the sun of the Cote d'Azur, or for a cure in one of the many health-resorts.
Many Russians found the freedom of speech, which after the period of the French Enlightenment was common, very attractive. France was a sanctuary for many political refugees, who this way avoided conviction, or bannishment to Siberia. Many Russians studied in the Sorbonne, or did practice in the studio's of Parisian painters and sculptors. Others followed their professions in Paris: diplomats, journalists, businessmen, musicians, singers and balletdancers on tour. Many Russians settled down permanently in France.
And last but not least: the unconstrained manners and customs. When a homosexual or heterosexual grand duke or a famous writer or composer had overstepped the mark once too often, in Moscow or St. Petersburg, he was discretely told that a visit to Paris, where one could find quiet and distraction, might be wise. Lesser gods were bannished to Siberia, under article 995 of the penal code, and weren't allowed to return to European Russia.
The Russian history of Paris
On the address 16 Rue du Helder, on November 11, 1833 the `Society for the Improvement of the French Racing-Stud' was founded, by twelve persons, including Count Anatoli Demidov. He was also a member of the famous Jockey Club.
Because in Italy cholera was about, the writer Nicholas Gogol could not return to Italy, and that's why he stayed - from November 1836 to March 1837 - on the address 12 Place de la Bourse, in Paris, where he worked on his picaresque novel Dead Souls.
In 1845, after his brother had passed away, the Decembrist Nicholas Ivanovich Turgenyev, cousin of Ivan Turgenyev, settled down in Paris, on the address 97 Rue de Lille. There Nicholas entertained his Russian friends. From February 19, 1861, the day serfdom was abolished, he yearly celebrated this fact with a banquet, and his cousin Ivan was always invited. After Nicholas' death his family continued the banquet tradition. On March 26, 1868 his cousin Ivan dined with him, together with Prince Avgust Golitsyn, Prince Nicholas Troubetzkoy, Father-Jesuit Ivan Gagarin and Count Muraviev-Amursky, Governor- General of Eastern Siberia. Nicholas didn't like the tablemanners of the Jesuit at all, but Prince Troubetzkoy found them rather amusing.
March 31, 1856: In the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 37 Quai d'Orsay, the Treaty of Paris is being signed. The plenipotentiaries of Russia are Count Alexis Feodorovich Orlov and Baron Philippe Brunov. Madame Jules Baroche, who witnessed the reception of the Russian gentlemen in the Tuileries, wrote in her book Second Empire Ä Notes and Souvenirs, `In spite of the fact that he is seventy years of age, Count Orlov is still a striking attractive man. He is well built, has aristocratic traits, and reacts very pleasant to the coquetry of the ladies present. Baron de Brunov is what they call a representative of the old Russia. With him I searched in vain for the enigmatical acuteness which is supposed to be natural to diplomats.'
In 1856 archfather Joseph Vasiliev initiated the construction of the Russian-Orthodox Cathedral St. Alexander Nevsky, at the address 12 Rue Daru, Paris. On September 11, 1861 the Cathedral was consecrated by Bishop Léonce de Revel, substitute Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, in presence of the Russian ambassador Paul Kisselev. The Cathedral is built in Russian-Byzantine style, with a roof of five domes on a octagonal basis, inspired by the Moscovian and Novgorodian architecture of the 17th century. The icons and fresco's were made by Evgrafi Sorokin, a pupil of the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.
On March 18, 1857 Lev Tolstoy wrote in his diary, `Got up at one o'clock. Dressed, went to the stock market and bought several securities. The stock market... amazing.' Russia called on the capital of the Paris stock market, so that the Russian industry could be developed. In 1876 the `Company for the Production of Gas for the Benefit of the Illumination of St. Petersburg' was founded, in 1886 followed by the `Company Caspian Sea Ä Black Sea for the Exploitation of the Baku Oilfields'.
In November 1861, in the Hall of Justice on the Ile de la Cité in Paris, a dispute was settled between Prince Semyon Vorontsov and Prince Peter Dolgoroukov. Prince Vorontsov accused Prince Dolgoroukov of trying to wheedle 50,000 roubles out of Vorontsov's father Michael, in 1856, for a so called genealogical investigation on his family, which he successively had published. Dolgoroukov lost the process. Moreover the Senate in St. Petersburg took away his title and bannished him permanently, after he published his libel The truth about Russia in Paris.
At the house of Baron Horatio Gunzburg, banker in St. Petersburg, in Paris residing on the address 7 Rue de Tilsitt, in December 1877 the money was gathered to found the `Society for Assistance to Russian Artists in Paris'. The society, which usually was called `the Russian Club', settled down opposite Gunzburg's house, on number 18. Chairman was the Russian Ambassador, Nicholas Orlov, the painter Alexis Bogolyukov was vice-chairman, the secretaryship was in the hands of Ivan Turgenyev, and Gunzburg himself Ä naturally Ä looked at the pennies. On the list of members were names like the painters Grigori Lehmann, Ivan Pochitonov, Ivan Pranishnikov and Paul Zhukovsky (son of the poet); the sculptors Antokolsky and Bernstamm and the Military Attaché Lev Fredericks.
On February 14, 1881, during a soirée of the club, an incident found place. Turgenyev had been so clumsy to give three tickets of admission to the revolutionary Lavrov, who showed up with a couple of friends. This visit caused a scandal. Bogolyukov later wrote, `I arrived at 10 p.m. and I senced that the atmosphere was rather tensed. Successively I perceived some guests who I didn't know. They looked dirty and slipshod, and one of those chaps even had long hair. ``Who is that?'' I asked. ``That's Lavrov, the leader of the nihilists and the regicides!''' Baron Fredericks left and cancelled his membership. Turgenyev had to apologize.
On July 20, 1882 Alexandra Smirnov died in her house, 10 Rue de Portalis. She was born in 1809, in Odessa, as a daughter of an emigrated French officer, Joseph Rosseti, who had worked for Richelieu. Alexandra was bridesmaid of the Tsaritsa's Maria Feodorovna and Maria Alexandrovna. She was married to Nicholas Smirnov, the civil Governor of St. Petersburg, and in her youth she was befriended with the great Russian writers of her era: Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Gogol and Lermontov. After Smirnov died she left for Paris.
As she herself had passed away, a memorial service was held in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, after which her mortal remains were transferred to the cemetery of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow.
On April 14, 1874 Ivan Turgenyev dined with Alphonse Daudet, Gustave Flaubert, Edmond de Goncourt and Emile Zola, in Café Riche, 26 Boulevard des Italiens. This was the first of many `Dinner parties of the Five', or `Dinner parties of the Hissed', which would continue until Flaubert's death in 1880. In 1875 Turgenyev founded the Russian Library of Paris, and in November 1879 he was invited for lunch with the Russian successor to the throne, Tsarevich Alexander Alexandrovich Romanoff, and his spouse Maria Feodorovna, by the Ambassador of Russia in France, Prince Nicholas Orlov, in the embassy in the Grand H“tel d'Estrées (79 Rue de Grenelle). On November 22 he wrote to his friend Yakov Polonsky, who lived in Russia, `At Orlov's I was acquainted with the Tsarevich, and to my greatest joy I've observed that he is a sincere, honest and good man. His wife is also very nice.' On March 21, 1881 Turgenyev assisted in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with a memorial service for Alexander II, who was murdered in St. Petersburg because he fought terrorism the hard way. Two years later, on September 7, 1883, Ivan Turgenyev himself lied in state in the Cathedral. A memorial service was held, in which a group of Russian new realists (nihilists), headed by Peter Lavrov, formed his guard of honour. From 1900 - the library possessed 3,500 books then - until December 1919, the Russian Library accommodated on the premises 328 Rue St.-Jacques, Paris, after which the 17,000 books were moved to 9 Rue du Val-de-Grƒce, where the library was resided until 1937. In the mean time the library possessed about 100,000 books, and that's why they had to move again, this time to 13 Rue de la Bûcherie, the old premises of the medical faculty. In September 1940 the Germans confiscated all books. In 1959 the Russians founded a new Russian Library in Paris, which was called the `Turgenyev Library'. At present the library is resided on the address 11 Rue de Valence, Paris.