The Coronation uniform of Alexander I, 1801

Alexander I came to the throne in 1801 after the assassination of his father, Paul I. He had been given a liberal education at the court of his grandmother Catherine the Great and once he became emperor he modernised many aspects of Russian society.

Like his father, Alexander was fascinated by military uniform. He designed new ones for Russian regiments and wore the uniform of the Preobrazhensky Regiment for his coronation.

A courtier noted that ‘the Emperor’s court came to resemble soldiers’ barracks. The emperor’s office was full of orderlies, messengers and lance-corporals modelling the uniforms of various troops, and the emperor would spend hours with them, making chalk marks on their tunics and undergarments amidst samples of moustache brushes, boot brushes, button-polishing boards and other similar sundries.’

Coat - Russia, 1801. Cloth, poplin, linen, weaving, embroidery. The chest bears the star of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, embroidered in silk and gold. The ink inscription on the inner side of the left sleeve tells that the coat has been sewn by Alexander Golitsyn in 1801.

Painting - Russia, the second quarter of the XIXth century. Unknown painter. Canvas, oils.

Boots - Russia, the early XIXth century. Leather; silver-plated spurs. The boots of black leather were a part of the Alexander I’s coronation costume. They served as a symbol of the Tsar’s role as a powerful military commander. The leather fitted closely at the back of the ankle to hold a metal spur which was used for controlling the horse when riding.

Waistcoat - Russia, 1801. Cloth, linen, non precious metal, weaving. The short single-breasted waistcoat has a low stand-up collar and two set-in pockets with flaps. Fastened with buttons. The same pieces are on the pocket flaps.

Hat - Russia, 1801. Felt, lace, plume, weaving. The hat of the coronation costume is executed of black felt with plumes of black ostrich feathers. It is edged with plume of white feathers which was the only sign of the generalship in those times.

Sources ↳ The Moscow Kremlin | V&A

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