Rider, unicorn and Sophia Paleolog: how the Russian coat of arms has changed over the centuries

Development of new coat of arms and seal drawings, II. It was carried out from the beginning of Alexander’s reign, even before his coronation. Later, II. Alexander became famous, first of all, for the most important and large-scale state reforms, including the abolition of serfdom, for which he received the title “Saviour”, but it began with the reform of state symbols.

II. The name of Alexander is also associated with military, financial, zemstvo and judicial reforms, educational reforms and a significant victory in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878, which liberated the Balkan peoples. Some inconsistencies in reformist policy and gendarmerie pressures that led to the radicalization of the revolutionary movement and the emergence of terrorist organizations such as Narodnaya Volya, a series of assassination attempts against high-ranking officials and ultimately the death of the emperor. An act of terrorism has preserved one more neutral and possibly unfair nickname for this monarch – “The Executioner” in history.

The most important in a series of imperial acts on the approval of new symbols was the decision taken on April 11, 1857 according to the old style – on April 23, according to the new one. Later, along with the description, drawings of three variants of state emblems were approved and made public at once – large, medium and small. Since then, they have existed almost unchanged for almost six decades – until the February Revolution of 1917, which deprived the eagles of crowns and royal garb. Later, after the October Revolution, the eagles were replaced by a hammer and sickle framed with golden ears against the background of the rising sun, and in the early nineties a red ribbon historically returned, which again replaced the crowned eagles. Symbol of Russia by decree of President Yeltsin.

Sketches of small coats of arms were made by Alexander Fadeev, artist of the Heraldry Department of the Heraldry Department, later they were replaced by drawings of the future academician of painting and imperial artist Adolphe Charlemagne, the author of the most famous game deck. Cards in Russia – the so-called satin deck. Heraldry was carried out under the leadership of Baron Boris Tick, whose goal was to bring Russian state symbols closer to the generally accepted rules in European monarchical heraldry. In particular, it was then that it was finally decided to turn the rider on the chest of the heraldic eagle in the opposite direction – to the left, since according to European tradition, this side of the coat of arms is considered this side of the coat of arms. be right about the bearer of the shield – after all, it was heraldic shields that were the basis of Western state emblems.

In Russia, there was initially no tradition of using hereditary coats of arms, and there was no developed heraldry as a discipline devoted to the development of strict rules for their compilation. On the banners of the Russians often embroidered or painted images of Christ, the Virgin, saints or the Orthodox cross were placed, other drawings can be found there, all this was not specially arranged and such symbols were not inherited, anyone could draw. what they like

Only primitive seals could serve as an analogue of the heraldic images of Western Europe, where certain symbols and images later began to pass into state emblems.

Ancient Russian princes preferred to place their patron saints or themselves in their images on seals. All this was accompanied by inscriptions explaining exactly who the seal belonged to. Beginning with the grandchildren of the great princes of Kiev, Udaly Mstislav and the Great Nest Vsevolod, the so-called rider, a warrior on horseback, began to appear on seals more and more often, originally meant the prince himself, but later rethought. Image of St. George the Victorious striking the dragon-serpent with various weapons. On the seal of Ivan III’s brother-in-law, Prince Mikhail Borisovich of Tver, an almost classical image appeared for the first time in which a rider hits a snake with a spear. As the Moscow prince finally united all Russian lands under his rule, the cavalryman who killed the dragon with a spear became one of the most important symbols of first Moscow, and then the Russian state – the victory of good over evil.

In parallel, two more important images appeared and were actively used – the double-headed eagle and the unicorn. Introducing the double-headed eagle, following the example of the West German emperors, historians argue that it was III. The double-headed eagle depicted on the coat of arms of the Palaiologan dynasty passed, as it were, to the Russian rulers “by inheritance”, but in Western European tradition, the double-headed eagle was perceived not as the personal seal of the emperors, but as a single symbol of imperial power, at which time the tsars of Moscow enjoyed comparable status began to demand and therefore received the appropriate symbols.

In Western Europe, the double-headed eagle began to appear in coats of arms from the end of the 12th century and was adopted as a state symbol during the reign of Emperor Sigismund in the 1430s. Some historians find the roots of the double-headed eagle image in the Hittite kingdom; it appeared there on cylinder seals of the 13th century BC. to. and on the walls of monumental buildings.

Europeans adopted this image during the Crusades and encountered it in the interpretation of the medieval Islamic world. Over time, the double-headed eagle begins to “coexist” with the ancient single-headed “Roman eagle” and eventually replaces it.

In modern times, the heads of eagles began to be crowned with crowns, and regalia of imperial power were placed on their talons. The seal of Ivan III with a double-headed eagle is in the charter of 1497, and the Moscow rider who struck a dragon with a spear on it first turned out to be associated with a double-headed eagle with a crown on each. with heads and still empty claws. However, III. In the seal of Ivan, both of these images were on an equal footing, located opposite each other, on different sides, and only in the next century priority will gradually pass to the eagles on his chest. the rider will “move”.

III. Ivan’s grandson, Ivan IV the Terrible, used various seals, among which a unicorn appeared instead of a rider.

Over time, all these images began to somehow merge and merge – in one chronicle a new state seal was “made” on February 3, 1561 – “a double-headed eagle and a horseman in the middle, a double-headed eagle on the other, and an inrog in the middle. One can only speculate why the first Russian tsar suddenly needed the “inrog”, if it was not previously found on princely seals. Presumably, the unicorn, according to Ivan the Terrible, was supposed to signal a change in the status of the king from the status of the grand duke. The unicorn appears in a number of biblical stories: thus, kings David and Solomon were commissioned from an oil-filled horn – hence, IV, who was crowned king. The ancient kings – the unicorn, could be a way of emphasizing the new, highest status of Russian sovereignty.

The symbolism of the two-headed eagle has also been interpreted very differently at different times. This is the dual union of spiritual and secular authorities – the power of the tsar and patriarch over Russian lands, and the “middle” position of the Russian state, one facing the West and the other East .

Crowns were combined at different times in a variety of ways – instead of two crowns one appeared, then two crowns returned, but an Orthodox cross was placed on top of them, as, for example, during the reign of Fyodor Ioannovich. Under the three crowns, the eagle was first placed on the seal of False Dmitry in 1604. At the same time, the rider on the chest of the eagle first turned to the left, according to the heraldic traditions of Western Europe, but then the rider was turned again – in World War II. It remained that way until the reform of Alexander. In the 17th century, a globe and a scepter appeared in the claws of an eagle.

On December 14, 1667, in the personal decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich “On the Title and State Seal of the Tsar”, the meaning of the state emblem was first officially defined and clarified: the Autocrat’s Belarus, His Royal Highness The three greats, Kazan, Astrakhan, in which the three guards are depicted. Siberia, the Russian Kingdom symbolizing the glorious Kingdoms… The image of his heir in Persians; In pasnoktyah they reveal a scepter and an apple and the most merciful Sovereign, His Royal Highness Autocrat and Owner.

Peter I also actively tried to change the colors of the eagle – from gold to black – by placing shields with the coat of arms of the great principalities on their wings, but did not try to change the Russian symbol. state, unlike other reformist decisions. It did not define any firm laws where the state emblem should be depicted.

In 1800, Emperor Paul I decided to make major changes below and correct the appearance of the double-headed eagle, as well as placing a white eight-pointed Maltese cross on the bird’s chest, signifying the emperor’s acceptance of the title of Grand Master. Jerusalem Order of John, but Paul did not have time to make the final decisions, and his son Alexander I, who came to power as a result of a coup, returned everything to its “as it is” form. Before 1796” he changed only some minor things, like Nicholas I, who later replaced him.

II. Alexander finally approached “dynastic reform” on a grand scale and even benefited from some of Paul I’s advances. Even under Nicholas I, the Stamp Department was formed under the leadership of Baron Tick, who developed an entire Russian system. The state emblems are perhaps the most complex of all European monarchical heraldry. As a result, the efforts of this department created not only large, medium and small state emblems, but also seals and emblems of all members of the imperial house, as well as the family emblem of the Romanovs.

165 years ago, Emperor II. Alexander approved the state emblem of the Russian Empire – the double-headed eagle. Prior to this, over the centuries, the design of the coat of arms has changed drastically many times, although the eagle has been prominent as a state symbol since the 15th century. In May 1857, the Senate issued a decree describing the peculiarities of the use of this symbolism until 1917, when it was replaced by a hammer and sickle framed by an ear wreath. In 1993, by decree of President Yeltsin, the double-headed eagle, the drawing of which was also made on the basis of the coat of arms of the Russian Empire, was returned as a symbol of the Russian Federation.



Source: Gazeta

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