Epic Heroes and Epic Fables. Festivities during the crowing of Emperor Alexander III

Limanova S.A.


The article is devoted to the coronation celebrations of Emperor Alexander III in May 1883. The coronation cycle lasted three weeks and included a variety of ceremonies (church, military) that have a special sacred meaning. Festivities on the Khodynka field on May 21, 1883 are analyzed as one of the most popular coronation celebrations. This traditional public festival, organized by M.V. Lentovsky and F.O. Shekhtel in the form of fair festivities, was a success. Its central platform and connecting link was the arrangement of the allegorical procession Vesna Krasna. Its story of a spring rejuvenation with the involvement of quaintly costumed epic heroes made it possible to create the necessary atmosphere of celebration and fun. By dividing the space of the festivities into separate stages and playgrounds inside the large Khodynka field, the organizers managed to spread the people out. The participants of the festival received refreshments and memorable gifts, and most importantly, they were able to see the newly-crowned monarch. The goal of demonstrating the unity of the emperor and the people was achieved. The «popular picture» of the holiday was disseminated through the press throughout the empire. Other interpretations of the celebration took place in the radical press, but they did not affect the festivities themselves. The coronation of 1883 was the first after the abolition of serfdom (1861), and therefore the peasants became its new legitimate participants, as evidenced by the lunch organized in the courtyard of the Petrovsky Palace for the volosts’ heads. Emperor Alexander III honored the dinner with his presence and delivered speeches appropriate to the occasion, supported by those present. The Festivities on May 21, 1883 showed that the successful organization of this kind of entertainment requires clear advance planning, combination with the general concept of the celebration, and ensuring the safety of the people. The variability of the festivities largely depended both on the specific «state order» and on the creative potential of their direct organizers.


Coronation; Alexander III; 1883; Russian Empire; Festivities; representation of power; organization of celebrations; procession; Khodynka Field.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2023.04.01

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