Catalogue


The court of the last tsar : pomp, power, and pageantry in the reign of Nicholas II /
Greg King.
imprint
Hoboken, N.J. : J. Wiley, c2006.
description
xiii, 559 p. : ill., facsims., geneal. tables, maps, plans, ports. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0471727636 (cloth), 9780471727637 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Hoboken, N.J. : J. Wiley, c2006.
isbn
0471727636 (cloth)
9780471727637 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
5856788
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 531-538) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
It was the most magnificent court in Europe--a world of fairy-tale opulence, ornate architecture, sophisticated fashion, extravagant luxury, and immense power. In the last Russian imperial court, a potent underlying mythology drove its participants to enact the pageantry of medieval, Orthodox Russia--infused with the sensibilities of Versailles--against a backdrop of fading Edwardian splendor, providing a spectacle of archaic ceremonies carefully orchestrated as a lavish stage upon which Nicholas II played out his tumultuous reign. While a massive body of literature has been devoted to the last of the Romanovs, The Court of the Last Tsar is the first book to examine the people, mysteries, traditions, scandals, rivalries, rituals, and riches that were part of everyday life in the last two decades of the Romanov dynasty. It is as difficult for the twenty-first-century mind to imagine the pomp and splendor that accompanied the tsar and his family everywhere they went as it was for the simple Russian peasant toiling a thousand miles from St. Petersburg. This stunningly illustrated volume removes the mystery with twenty-four pages of breathtaking color photos; more than eighty black-and-white photos; floor plans of the tsar's Winter Palace, the Alexander Palace, and the Grand Kremlin Palace; a map of St. Petersburg; and plans of the imperial parks at Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof. This eye-popping tour of hedonistic imperial Russia on the edge of oblivion draws on hundreds of previously unpublished primary sources, including memoirs, personal letters, diary entries, and official documents collected during author Greg King's fifteen years of research in Russia and elsewhere in Europe.It invites you to experience dozens of extravagant ceremonies and entertainments attended only by members of the court; exposes the numerous sexual intrigues of the imperial family, including rape, incest, and brazen affairs; and introduces many of the more than fifteen thousand individuals who made the imperial court a society unto itself. Chief among these, of course, was Tsar Nicholas II. He ruled an empire that stretched over one-sixth of the earth's land surface but lacked, according to one courtier, both his father's inspiring presence and his mother's vibrant charm. His wife, Alexandra, was a strong and passionate woman who "never developed the social skills necessary to her rank." Their wedding and the tsar's coronation are two of the most spectacular ceremonies described in this lavish volume. Vetted with care by the last remaining members of the Russian imperial court, The Court of the Last Tsar brings the people, places, and events of this doomed but unforgettable wonderland to vivid and sparkling life.
Flap Copy
It was the most magnificent court in Europe-a world of fairy-tale opulence, ornate architecture, sophisticated fashion, extravagant luxury, and immense power. In the last Russian imperial court, a potent underlying mythology drove its participants to enact the pageantry of medieval, Orthodox Russia-infused with the sensibilities of Versailles-against a backdrop of fading Edwardian splendor, providing a spectacle of archaic ceremonies carefully orchestrated as a lavish stage upon which Nicholas II played out his tumultuous reign. While a massive body of literature has been devoted to the last of the Romanovs, The Court of the Last Tsar is the first book to examine the people, mysteries, traditions, scandals, rivalries, rituals, and riches that were part of everyday life in the last two decades of the Romanov dynasty. It is as difficult for the twenty-first-century mind to imagine the pomp and splendor that accompanied the tsar and his family everywhere they went as it was for the simple Russian peasant toiling a thousand miles from St. Petersburg. This stunningly illustrated volume removes the mystery with twenty-four pages of breathtaking color photos; more than eighty black-and-white photos; floor plans of the tsar's Winter Palace, the Alexander Palace, and the Grand Kremlin Palace; a map of St. Petersburg; and plans of the imperial parks at Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof. This eye-popping tour of hedonistic imperial Russia on the edge of oblivion draws on hundreds of previously unpublished primary sources, including memoirs, personal letters, diary entries, and official documents collected during author Greg King's fifteen years of research in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. It invites you to experience dozens of extravagant ceremonies and entertainments attended only by members of the court; exposes the numerous sexual intrigues of the imperial family, including rape, incest, and brazen affairs; and introduces many of the more than fifteen thousand individuals who made the imperial court a society unto itself. Chief among these, of course, was Tsar Nicholas II. He ruled an empire that stretched over one-sixth of the earth's land surface but lacked, according to one courtier, both his father's inspiring presence and his mother's vibrant charm. His wife, Alexandra, was a strong and passionate woman who "never developed the social skills necessary to her rank." Their wedding and the tsar's coronation are two of the most spectacular ceremonies described in this lavish volume. Vetted with care by the last remaining members of the Russian imperial court, The Court of the Last Tsar brings the people, places, and events of this doomed but unforgettable wonderland to vivid and sparkling life.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-04-01:
Well-known for several popular histories of late Romanov Russia, including his book coauthored with Penny Wilson (The Fate of the Romanovs, CH, Apr'04, 41-4830), independent biographer King presents a description of court life at St. Petersburg from the 1894 accession of Nicholas II to 1914. Beginning with the second sentence of the introductory author's note, where King confuses the derivation of the word "tsar" with its archaic meaning, specialists will find numerous details begging for correction. The author must have relied on seriously outdated secondary sources, because inconsistencies and archaisms in transliteration are common, especially in passages lacking documentation. The general impression of court life rings true, however, and six useful appendixes and an extensive, albeit incomplete bibliography serve to guide readers through the imperial palaces and hierarchies. King's color plates are excellent, and there are many black-and-white photographs. A wealth of anecdotes and an easily accessible style, almost breezy in places, will make this a good choice for general readers and may even inspire them to turn to more substantial fare, such as volume two of Richard S. Wortman's Scenarios of Power (CH, Dec'00, 38-2310). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General collections and lower-level undergraduates. E. A. Cole Grand Valley State University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2006-02-15:
Since the fall of the USSR, many writers have covered the Russian Revolution and the Romanovs. None, however, has so completely approached the era from a cultural standpoint as King (The Fate of the Romanovs). He delves deep to display and study the people, places, and pageantry of the Russian court and to illuminate this "insular universe" whose very nature in turn explains many of the issues that brought about the Russian Revolution. In pointing out that after the revolution, Olga, sister of Nicholas II (who ruled from 1894 to 1917), bemoaned the "decay that hung over the dynasty as it entered the twentieth century," King does not connect the dots to the personalities involved in Russia's revolutionary activity, but he need not. His revelations of the pleasures and possessions of the imperial court draw a clear picture of the rot from within. This volume, filled with many color and black-and-white illustrations (not seen), fills the gaps created by purely political and historical treatments of the era. Orlando Figes's Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia comes the closest to the domain of King's book, which is much more thorough and strays less into the distant past. A great companion to Russian Revolution and Nicholas and Alexandra collections in all libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2005-11-28:
This high-end coffee-table book offers a comprehensive look at the lifestyles of the late-czarist rich and famous. King (The Fate of the Romanovs) includes chapters on major czarist institutions like the Russian Orthodox Church, but this is not his main interest; instead, he focuses on imperial ceremonies, palaces and the fashions of Nicholas's court, as well as sexual scandals involving members of the Romanov family. King has a vast knowledge of the subject, and those who are fascinated by the life of the royals and aristocratic intrigue will find much to delight in; for instance, his description of czarist royal jewelry and the magnificence of Russian balls, even as the regime was soon to crumble, adds to our understanding of how myopic the regime was. The photographs, both color and b&w, add to the book's appeal. King has made valuable use of memoirs from the era, but sometimes he uses them uncritically. But for those who are intrigued by the Russian high court, there is no better escort. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"...so completely approached the ear from a cultural standpoint...great companion to Russian Revolution and Nicholas and Alexandra collections in all libraries." (Library Journal, February 15, 2006) "...for those who are intrigued by the Russian high court, there is no better escort." (Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2005) "...fascinating, exotic, indispensable." ( The Sunday Telegraph, December 2006) "Greg King's The Court of the Last Tsar is a major contribution to the study of late Imperial Russia. The author's use of archives, memoirs, published sources and secondary studies is thorough and imaginative. His discussion of palaces and places, people and court life is impressive. Tragedy hovers in the background of King's narrative, of course, for we know the fate which awaits the characters in this drama. The author engages his readers on many levels and in various ways; but one will not find a trace of sentimentality or idealization in these pages. Greg King is emerging as one of the leading authorities in the liveliest field of Russian studies at the present time." -Joseph T. Fuhrmann, author of Rasputin, A Life (1990) and the editor of The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra (1999) "The lives of Nicholas & Alexandra have been well documented over the years and it seems impossible to believe that there is anything about them we don't already know, but The Court of the Last Tsar does the impossible. It shows us not only Nicholas & Alexandra, but also the people and the surroundings which made up the daily lives of the last Tsar and Tsarina from 1894 to the eve of World War I - and all this in one book. By focusing on personages, palaces, possessions, pageantry and pleasures he has given us a wealth of information. Everything from their servants to the gold-braided court personnel, their magnificent palaces and yachts to humble picnics on the Finnish coast, from the pageantry of coronations and funerals to the informal life at their Crimean palace of Livadia, is covered in this wonderful book - not forgetting the jewels, the court gowns and the Faberge eggs. Greg King has truly written a tour de force.The book is extremely well researched (even including floor plans of the palaces and a list of the members of Nicholas' court) and has over 100 illustrations. It is, quite simply, marvellous." -Coryne Hall, author of Little Mother of Russia, Once a Grand Duchess, and Imperial Dancer "Greg King's The Court of the Last Tsar is a mammoth, monumental achievement. There is no other book that captures the essence, nay, the entire scope, of life at the court of Nicholas II. An inveterate who's who - from relatives and courtiers to residences and jewels - of a Byzantine court life, now lost in the midst of time. King make uses of historical sources, far and wide, and delivers a thoroughly enjoyable, and encyclopaedic masterpiece. This book will be a major source for historians and biographers for years to come." -Marlene A Eilers, author of Queen Victoria's Descendants and publisher of Royal Book News "Any book by Greg King is a book to be kept and savored. In The Court of the Last Tsar he has not only given us a fresh, clear-eyed and often startling new look at the life of the last Romanovs, but has also lived up to the promise of his title. He has shown us how the whole enterprise worked, from the highest figure -- Tsar Nicholas II -- to the lowest cook and chambermaid in the imperial domain. King has filled in all the gaps that the rest of us could only guess about. This book is a great work of scholarship -- not only that, a wonderful read." -Peter Kurth, author of Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra
"Greg King's The Court of the Last Tsar is a major contribution to the study of late Imperial Russia. The author's use of archives, memoirs, published sources and secondary studies is thorough and imaginative. His discussion of palaces and places, people and court life is impressive. Tragedy hovers in the background of King's narrative, of course, for we know the fate which awaits the characters in this drama. The author engages his readers on many levels and in various ways; but one will not find a trace of sentimentality or idealization in these pages. Greg King is emerging as one of the leading authorities in the liveliest field of Russian studies at the present time." -Joseph T. Fuhrmann, author of Rasputin, A Life (1990) and the editor of The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra (1999) "The lives of Nicholas & Alexandra have been well documented over the years and it seems impossible to believe that there is anything about them we don't already know, but The Court of the Last Tsar does the impossible. It shows us not only Nicholas & Alexandra, but also the people and the surroundings which made up the daily lives of the last Tsar and Tsarina from 1894 to the eve of World War I - and all this in one book. By focusing on personages, palaces, possessions, pageantry and pleasures he has given us a wealth of information. Everything from their servants to the gold-braided court personnel, their magnificent palaces and yachts to humble picnics on the Finnish coast, from the pageantry of coronations and funerals to the informal life at their Crimean palace of Livadia, is covered in this wonderful book - not forgetting the jewels, the court gowns and the Faberge eggs. Greg King has truly written a tour de force.The book is extremely well researched (even including floor plans of the palaces and a list of the members of Nicholas' court) and has over 100 illustrations. It is, quite simply, marvellous." -Coryne Hall, author of Little Mother of Russia, Once a Grand Duchess, and Imperial Dancer "Greg King's The Court of the Last Tsar is a mammoth, monumental achievement. There is no other book that captures the essence, nay, the entire scope, of life at the court of Nicholas II. An inveterate who's who - from relatives and courtiers to residences and jewels - of a Byzantine court life, now lost in the midst of time. King make uses of historical sources, far and wide, and delivers a thoroughly enjoyable, and encyclopaedic masterpiece. This book will be a major source for historians and biographers for years to come." -Marlene A Eilers, author of Queen Victoria's Descendants and publisher of Royal Book News "Any book by Greg King is a book to be kept and savored. In The Court of the Last Tsar he has not only given us a fresh, clear-eyed and often startling new look at the life of the last Romanovs, but has also lived up to the promise of his title. He has shown us how the whole enterprise worked, from the highest figure -- Tsar Nicholas II -- to the lowest cook and chambermaid in the imperial domain. King has filled in all the gaps that the rest of us could only guess about. This book is a great work of scholarship -- not only that, a wonderful read." -Peter Kurth, author of Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra
.,."so completely approached the ear from a cultural standpoint...great companion to Russian Revolution and Nicholas and Alexandra collections in all libraries." (Library Journal, February 15, 2006) .,."for those who are intrigued by the Russian high court, there is no better escort." (Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2005) .,."fascinating, exotic, indispensable." ( The Sunday Telegraph, December 2006)
"...so completely approached the ear from a cultural standpoint...great companion to Russian Revolution and Nicholas and Alexandra collections in all libraries." (Library Journal, February 15, 2006) "...for those who are intrigued by the Russian high court, there is no better escort." (Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2005) "...fascinating, exotic, indispensable." ( The Sunday Telegraph, December 2006)
"Greg King's The Court of the Last Tsar is a major contribution to the study of late Imperial Russia. The author's use of archives, memoirs, published sources and secondary studies is thorough and imaginative. His discussion of palaces and places, people and court life is impressive. Tragedy hovers in the background of King's narrative, of course, for we know the fate which awaits the characters in this drama. The author engages his readers on many levels and in various ways; but one will not find a trace of sentimentality or idealization in these pages. Greg King is emerging as one of the leading authorities in the liveliest field of Russian studies at the present time." -Joseph T. Fuhrmann, author of Rasputin, A Life (1990) and the editor of The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra (1999)"The lives of Nicholas & Alexandra have been well documented over the years and it seems impossible to believe that there is anything about them we don't already know, but The Court of the Last Tsar does the impossible. It shows us not only Nicholas & Alexandra, but also the people and the surroundings which made up the daily lives of the last Tsar and Tsarina from 1894 to the eve of World War I - and all this in one book. By focusing on personages, palaces, possessions, pageantry and pleasures he has given us a wealth of information. Everything from their servants to the gold-braided court personnel, their magnificent palaces and yachts to humble picnics on the Finnish coast, from the pageantry of coronations and funerals to the informal life at their Crimean palace of Livadia, is covered in this wonderful book - not forgetting the jewels, the court gowns and the Faberge eggs. Greg King has truly written a tour de force.The book is extremely well researched (even including floor plans of the palaces and a list of the members of Nicholas' court) and has over 100 illustrations. It is, quite simply, marvellous." -Coryne Hall, author of Little Mother of Russia, Once a Grand Duchess, and Imperial Dancer"Greg King's The Court of the Last Tsar is a mammoth, monumental achievement. There is no other book that captures the essence, nay, the entire scope, of life at the court of Nicholas II. An inveterate who's who - from relatives and courtiers to residences and jewels - of a Byzantine court life, now lost in the midst of time. King make uses of historical sources, far and wide, and delivers a thoroughly enjoyable, and encyclopaedic masterpiece. This book will be a major source for historians and biographers for years to come." -Marlene A Eilers, author of Queen Victoria's Descendants and publisher of Royal Book News"Any book by Greg King is a book to be kept and savored. In The Court of the Last Tsar he has not only given us a fresh, clear-eyed and often startling new look at the life of the last Romanovs, but has also lived up to the promise of his title. He has shown us how the whole enterprise worked, from the highest figure -- Tsar Nicholas II -- to the lowest cook and chambermaid in the imperial domain. King has filled in all the gaps that the rest of us could only guess about. This book is a great work of scholarship -- not only that, a wonderful read." -Peter Kurth, author of Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, November 2005
Booklist, December 2005
Library Journal, February 2006
Reference & Research Book News, August 2006
Choice, April 2007
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
Praise for The Court of the Last Tsar "Any book by Greg King is a book to be kept and savored. He has not only given us a fresh, clear-eyed, and often startling new look at the life of the last Romanovs, but also lived up to the promise of his title. He has shown us how the whole enterprise worked, from Tsar Nicholas to his lowest cook and chambermaid. This book is a great work of scholarship-and a wonderful read." -Peter Kurth, author of Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra and Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson "A mammoth, monumental achievement. No other book captures the essence and the entire scope of life at the court of Nicholas II. It's a thoroughly enjoyable and encyclopedic masterpiece that will be a major source for historians and biographers for years to come." -Marlene A. Eilers, author of Queen Victoria's Descendants and publisher of Royal Book News "Greg King has truly written a tour de force. The book is extremely well researched, has over 100 illustrations and is, quite simply, marvelous." -Coryne Hall, author of Little Mother of Russia, Once a Grand Duchess, and Imperial Dancer "Greg King is emerging as one of the leading authorities in today's liveliest field of Russian studies, and this is a major contribution to the study of late Imperial Russia." -Joseph T. Fuhrmann, author of Rasputin and the editor of The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra
Bowker Data Service Summary
An in-depth look at the ceremonies, intrigues and luxurious daily life of the Romanov court. Drawing on fifteen years of research and previously unpublished documents the author brings to life the details of the Romanov lifestyle from table settings and servant life to salacious sexual scandals.
Long Description
The first in-depth look at the ceremonies, scandals, and luxurious daily life of the Romanov court In this sumptuous book, historian Gregory King at last recaptures the glittering lost world of Nicholas and Alexandra. Drawing on 15 years of research and hundreds of previously unpublished documents, he brings the Romanov court to life as never before- the extravagant Imperial ceremonies and entertainments, the salacious sexual intrigues and scandals, and the fascinating day-to-day details, from table settings to servant life. With 24 pages of color illustrations and 80 rare black-and-white photographs, this is the ultimate gift for anyone fascinated by the last days of Imperial Russia. Greg King (Everett, WA) is the author of three acclaimed works on the late Romanov dynasty, including The Fate of the Romanovs (0-471-20768-3). He has appeared in documentaries for the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, A& E, the BBC, and CBC.
Main Description
Praise for The Court of the Last Tsar "Any book by Greg King is a book to be kept and savored. He has not only given us a fresh, clear-eyed, and often startling new look at the life of the last Romanovs, but also lived up to the promise of his title. He has shown us how the whole enterprise worked, from Tsar Nicholas to his lowest cook and chambermaid. This book is a great work of scholarship--and a wonderful read." --Peter Kurth, author of Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra and Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson "A mammoth, monumental achievement. No other book captures the essence and the entire scope of life at the court of Nicholas II. It's a thoroughly enjoyable and encyclopedic masterpiece that will be a major source for historians and biographers for years to come." --Marlene A. Eilers, author of Queen Victoria's Descendants and publisher of Royal Book News "Greg King has truly written a tour de force. The book is extremely well researched, has over 100 illustrations and is, quite simply, marvelous." --Coryne Hall, author of Little Mother of Russia, Once a Grand Duchess, and Imperial Dancer "Greg King is emerging as one of the leading authorities in today's liveliest field of Russian studies, and this is a major contribution to the study of late Imperial Russia." --Joseph T. Fuhrmann, author of Rasputin and the editor of The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra
Table of Contents
Author's Note
Introduction
Prologue: St. Petersburg
Personages
The Last Tsar
The Imperial Family
A Rival Court
The Romanovs
The Russian Court
Below Stairs at the Palace
The Military
The Aristocracy
The Russian Orthodox Church
Palaces
The Winter Palace
Tsarskoye Selo
Peterhof
The Moscow Palaces
Possessions
Imperial Riches
Fashion at the Russian Court
Jewelry, Regalia, and Objets d'art
Imperial Transportation
Country Estates
Pageantry
Imperial Ceremonies
An Imperial Funeral
An Imperial Wedding
The Coronation
The Tercentenary
Pleasures
Imperial Balls
State Visits
The Crimea
The Last Season
Epilogue: July 20, 1914: The Beginning of the End
Acknowledgments
Family Tree of Nicholas I
Organizational Chart of the Russian Imperial Court
The Imperial Court in 1914
Palace Floor Plans
Maps of the Imperial Estates
Map of St. Petersburg
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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