120 years ago, 30 May 1896, in Moscow during the festival on the occasion of the accession of Nicholas II on the Khodynka field there was a crush, called Khodynsk catastrophe. The exact number of victims is unknown. According to one version, 1389 people died on the field, about 1500 were injured. Public opinion blamed the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, who was the organizer of the event, he received the nickname "Prince Khodynsky." “Punished” only a few minor officials, including the Moscow Chief of Police A. Vlasovsky with an assistant — they were dismissed.
Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III, was born on May 6 1868 in Petersburg. He received a home education: he was given lectures at the gymnasium course, then the law faculty and the Academy of the General Staff. Nicholas was fluent in three languages - English, German and French. The political views of the future emperor were influenced by the traditionalist, the chief prosecutor of the Senate, K. Pobedonostsev. But in the future his policy will be controversial - from conservatism to liberal modernization. From the 13 years, Nikolai kept a diary and carefully filled it up to the very death, not having missed almost a single day in the records.
For more than a year (with interruptions) the prince was in military practice in the army. Later, he served to the rank of colonel. Nikolai remained in this military rank until the end of his life - after the death of his father, no one could assign him a general's rank. To supplement education, Alexander sent an heir to a world tour: Greece, Egypt, India, China, Japan and other countries. In Japan, he was assassinated, almost killed.
However, the education and training of the heir were still far from completion, there was no experience in management when Alexander III died. It was believed that the prince still had a lot of time under the “wing” of the king, since Alexander was in his prime and had good health. Therefore, the untimely death of the 49-year-old sovereign shook the whole country and his son, becoming for him a complete surprise. On the day of the death of his parent, Nikolai wrote in his diary: “October 20. Thursday. My God, my God, what a day. The Lord recalled to our beloved, dear, beloved Pope. My head is spinning, I don’t want to believe - a terrible reality seems so implausible ... Lord, help us on these difficult days! Poor dear Mom! ... I felt like I was killed ... " Thus, 20 in October 1894. Nikolai Alexandrovich actually became the new king of the Romanov dynasty. However, the coronation celebrations on the occasion of long mourning were postponed, they took place only a year and a half later, in the spring of 1896.
Preparation of celebrations and their beginning
The decision on his own coronation was taken by Nicholas 8 March 1895 of the year. The main celebrations decided to hold the tradition in Moscow from 6 to 26 in May 1896. Since the time of the accession of the Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich, the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin has remained a permanent place of this holy ritual, even after the transfer of the capital to St. Petersburg. Moscow Governor-General, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the minister of the imperial court, Count I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov, were responsible for the celebrations. The Chief Marshal was Count K. I. Palen, the supreme master of ceremonies, Prince A. S. Dolgorukov. A coronation unit was formed as part of the 82 battalions, 36 squadrons, 9 hundreds and 26 batteries - under the command of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, during which a special headquarters was formed headed by Lieutenant General N. I. Bobrikov.
These May weeks became the central event of not only Russian, but also European life. The most eminent guests arrived in the ancient capital of Russia: the entire European elite, from the titled nobility to official and other representatives of the countries. The number of representatives of the East grew, there were representatives from the Eastern Patriarchies. For the first time, representatives of the Vatican and the Anglican Church were present at the celebrations. In Paris, Berlin and Sophia, friendly greetings and toasts were heard in honor of Russia and its young emperor. In Berlin, they even organized a brilliant military parade, accompanied by the Russian anthem, and Emperor Wilhelm, who had the gift of a speaker, delivered a sensational speech.
Every day, trains brought thousands of people from all over the vast empire. Delegations came from Central Asia, from the Caucasus, the Far East, from Cossack troops, etc. There were a lot of representatives from the northern capital. A separate “detachment” consisted of journalists, reporters, photographers, even artists, as well as representatives of various “liberal professions” who gathered not only from all over Russia, but from the whole world. The upcoming celebrations required the efforts of many representatives of various professions: carpenters, excavators, painters, plasterers, electricians, engineers, janitors, firefighters and police, etc., worked tirelessly. Moscow restaurants, taverns and theaters these days were filled to capacity. Tverskoy Boulevard was so crowded that, according to eyewitnesses, “one had to wait hours to go from one side to the other. Hundreds of magnificent carriages, carriages, landau, and other chains dragged along the boulevards. ” The main street of Moscow was transformed - Tverskaya, prepared for the majestic procession of the imperial motorcade. She was decorated with all sorts of decorative structures. Along the way, masts, arches, obelisks, columns, pavilions were erected. Everywhere flags were hoisted, houses were decorated with beautiful fabrics and carpets, enveloped in garlands of greenery and flowers, in which hundreds and thousands of light bulbs were installed. On the Red Square, stands were built for guests.
The work on the Khodynsky field, where 18 (30) was celebrated in May, was marked by a public holiday with the distribution of royal souvenirs and food. The celebration was to follow the same scenario as the coronation of Alexander III in 1883. Then about 200 thousand people came to the holiday, fed them all and presented them with gifts. Khodynskoe field was large (about 1 square kilometer), but there was a ravine next to it, and on the field itself there were many ravines and pits, which hastily covered with boards and sprinkled with sand. Having previously served as a training ground for the troops of the Moscow garrison, the Khodynskoye field has not yet been used for folk festivals. Along its perimeter were temporary "theaters", variety shows, booths, and shops. They dug into the ground smooth poles for the dodgers, they hung up prizes: from beautiful boots to Tula samovars. Among the buildings were 20 wooden barracks filled with barrels of alcohol for the free distribution of vodka and beer and 150 stalls for the distribution of royal gifts. Gift bags for those times (and even now) were rich: commemorative faience cups with a portrait of the king, a bun, gingerbread, sausage, a bag of sweets, a bright calico with a portrait of the imperial couple. In addition, it was planned to scatter small coins with a commemorative inscription in a crowd.
Sovereign Nikolai with his wife and retinue left the capital even on May 5 and May 6 arrived at the Smolensk railway station in Moscow. According to the old tradition, for three days, before entering Moscow, the sovereign spent in the Petrovsky Palace in Petrovsky Park. 7 May in Petrovsky Palace was a solemn reception of the emir of Bukhara and Khiva Khan. 8 May, the widow Empress Maria Feodorovna arrived at Smolensky Railway Station, whom the royal couple met when there was a huge crowd of people. In the evening of the same day, a serenade was performed at the Petrovsky Palace, performed by 1200 people, among whom were the choirs of the Imperial Russian Opera, a student of the conservatory, members of the Russian choral society, etc.
Emperor Nicholas (on a white horse), accompanied by a retinue, marches in front of the stands from the Triumphal Gate on Tverskaya Street on the day of the ceremonial entry into Moscow
9 (21) May held a solemn royal entry to the Kremlin. From Petrovsky Park past the Triumphal Gate, the Passionate Monastery, along the whole of Tverskaya Street, the royal train was to follow the Kremlin. These few kilometers in the morning were filled with people. Petrovsky Park acquired the appearance of a huge camp, where groups of people who had come from all over Moscow from overnight came to sleep under each tree. By 12 hours all the lanes leading to Tverskaya, were tightened by ropes and dammed people. The troops were standing in rows along the street. It was a brilliant spectacle: the mass of the people, the troops, the beautiful crews, the generals, the foreign nobility and the envoys, all in full uniforms or suits, many beautiful ladies of high society in elegant clothes.
In 12 hours, nine gun volleys announced the start of the ceremony. Grand Prince Vladimir Alexandrovich and his retinue left the Kremlin to meet the tsar. At half-past two, the cannon and the bell-ringing of all Moscow churches were informed that the ceremonial entry had begun. And only about five o'clock the head platoon of horse gendarmes appeared, and behind them the convoy of His Majesty, etc. We drove in the gilded carriages of senators, followed by "various people", passed fast walkers, arapes, cavalier guardians, representatives of the peoples of Central Asia on beautiful riding horses. Again the horse guards and only then on the white Arabian horse the king. He drove slowly, bowed to the people, was agitated and pale. When the king proceeded through the Spassky Gate to the Kremlin, the people began to disperse. In 9 hours lit the illumination. For that time it was a fairy tale, the people enthusiastically walked among the city shining with millions of lights.
Illumination in the Kremlin on the occasion of the holiday
Day of the Sacred Wedding and Anointing of the Kingdom
14 (26) May was the day of the sacred coronation. From early morning all the central streets of Moscow were filled with people. Around 9 hour. 30 min. the march began, the horse-guards, courtiers, state dignitaries, representatives of townships, cities, zemstvos, nobility, merchants, professors of Moscow University descended. Finally, with the deafening cries of “Hurray” of the hundred-thousandth masses and the sounds of “God Save the Tsar” performed by the court orchestra, the king and queen appeared. They followed to the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
In an instant, there was silence. In the 10 clock began the sacred rite, the solemn rite of the wedding and anointing of the kingdom, which was performed by the first member of the Holy Synod of the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg Palladium with the participation of the Metropolitan of Kiev Ioanniky and the Metropolitan of Moscow Sergius. Also at the ceremony was attended by many Russian and Greek bishops. In a loud, clear voice, the Tsar pronounced the symbol of faith, after which he laid upon himself a large, and on the Tsarina, Alexandra Feodorovna, a small crown. Then the full imperial title was read, a salute boomed and congratulations began. The king, who had knelt and uttered a corresponding prayer, was anointed and communed.
The ceremony of Nicholas II in the main details repeated the established tradition, although each king could make some change. Thus, Alexander I and Nikolay I did not wear the “dalmatic” - the ancient clothing of the Byzantine basileus. And Nicholas II did not appear in the uniform of a colonel, but in a majestic ermine mantle. Nikolai appeared at the beginning of his reign and manifested itself in the renewal of the old Moscow customs. In particular, in St. Petersburg and abroad began to build churches in the Moscow style, after more than half a century of recess, the royal family pompously celebrated Easter holidays in Moscow, etc.
The sacred rite, in fact, was conducted by all the people. “Everything that happened in the Assumption Cathedral,” the chronicle reported, “exactly the rumors of the heart, spread throughout this vast crowd and, like a beating pulse, were reflected in its most remote ranks. Here the Sovereign on his knees prays, uttering the saints, the great, filled with such a deep meaning of the word established prayer. Everyone stands in the cathedral, one Sovereign on his knees. There is also a crowd in the squares, but how everything is quiet at once, what a reverent silence is all around, what a prayerful expression of faces! But the Emperor stood up. The metropolitan falls to his knees, behind him all the clergy, the whole church, and behind the church all the people covering the Kremlin squares and even standing behind the Kremlin. Now those wanderers with knapsacks down and all on their knees. Only one King stands before his throne, in all the greatness of his dignity, among a people praying fervently for him. ”
Finally, the people greeted with enthusiastic shouts of “Hurray!” The king, who went to the Kremlin Palace and bowed to all those present from the Red Porch. The holiday on this day ended with a traditional dinner in the Palace of Facets, the walls of which, under Alexander III, were painted anew and cleaned up the look that was under Moscow Russia. Unfortunately, in three days the celebrations that began so magnificently ended in tragedy.
Imperial couple at the foot of the Red Porch of the Faceted Chamber on the day of the coronation
Solemn procession to the Assumption Cathedral
The emperor emerges from the south gate of the Assumption Cathedral on the Cathedral Square after the completion of the coronation ceremony
The solemn procession of Nicholas (under a canopy) after the completion of the coronation ceremony
The beginning of folk festivals was scheduled for 10 in the morning on May 18 (30). The program of the festival included: distribution to all comers of royal gifts prepared in the amount of 400 thousand; 11-12 watches were supposed to begin musical and theatrical performances (scenes from “Ruslan and Lyudmila”, “The Horse-Gorbunka”, “Ermak Timofeyevich” and circus programs of trained animals were to be shown on the stage); At 14 hours, a “highest exit” was expected on the imperial pavilion’s balcony.
Both the supposed gifts, and spectacles unprecedented for ordinary people, as well as the desire to see the “living king” with my own eyes and at least once in my life took part in such a wonderful action, made huge masses of people head for Khodinka. So, the workshop Vasily Krasnov expressed the common motive of people: “It was just silly to wait for the morning to go by ten o'clock when the distribution of gifts and mugs“ for memory ”was appointed. So many people that nothing will be left when I come tomorrow. And will I live to another coronation? ... It seemed shameful to remain without a “memory” of such a celebration for me, a native Muscovite: what kind of bags are I in the field? The circles, they say, are very beautiful and "eternal" ... ".
In addition, due to the carelessness of the authorities, the place for the festivities was chosen extremely poorly. Khodynsky field, dotted with deep moats, pits, trenches, entirely parapet and abandoned wells, was convenient for military exercises, and not for a holiday with thousands of crowds. And before the holiday did not take emergency measures to improve the field, limiting the cosmetic arrangement. The weather was excellent and the “prudent” Moscow people decided to spend the night on the Khodynka field in order to be the first to go on a holiday. The night was moonless, and people all arrived, and, not seeing the road, even then they began to fall into the pits and ravines. There was a terrible crush.
A well-known reporter, correspondent of the Russkiye Vedomosti newspaper, V. A. Gilyarovsky, who was the only journalist to spend the night on the field, recalled: “Above a million crowd, steam began to rise, looking like a swamp mist ... The crush was terrible. With many she did badly, some fainted without being able to get out or even fall: deprived of feelings, with eyes closed, compressed, as in a vice, they swayed along with the mass. A tall, fine-looking old man, who was standing next to me, had not breathed for a long time: he choked in silence, died without a sound, and his cold corpse shook with us. Next to me someone vomited. He could not even lower his head ... ".
By the morning at least half a million people had accumulated between the city border and the canteens. A thin chain of several hundred Cossacks and policemen sent “to maintain order,” felt that she could not cope with the situation. The rumor that the bartenders were handing out gifts to “their own” finally got the situation out of control. People rushed to the barracks. Someone died in a crush, others fell into the pits under collapsed decking, still others suffered fights for gifts, etc. According to official statistics, 2690 people were injured in this “unfortunate incident”, of whom 1389 died. The true number of people who suffered various injuries, bruises, injuries is not known. Already in the morning, all the fire brigades of Moscow were engaged in the liquidation of the horrible incident, the wagon train behind the wagon train transporting the dead and wounded. The sight of the victims was terrified by the policemen, firefighters and doctors who had come across.
A difficult question arose before Nicholas: to stop celebrations according to the set scenario or stop the fun and turn a sad, commemorative celebration into a celebration on the occasion of the tragedy. “The crowd that spent the night on the Khodynka field was waiting for the start of the distribution of lunch and mugs,” Nikolai noted in his diary, “I pushed to the buildings, and then there was a crush, and, terribly, about a thousand and three hundred were trampled. I found out about it at ten and a half hours ... The disgusting impression left by this news. " However, the “disgusting impression” did not make Nikolay stop the holiday, which was attended by many guests from all over the world, and large sums were spent.
Pretended nothing special happened. The bodies cleaned up, everything was disguised and smoothed out. The holiday over the corpses, according to Gilyarovsky, went on as usual. A lot of musicians performed a concert conducted by famous conductor Safonov. In 14 hour. 5 min. the imperial couple appeared on the balcony of the royal pavilion. On the roof of a specially constructed building, an imperial standard soared, a salute burst out. In front of the balcony were foot and equestrian troops. Then, in the Petrovsky Palace, before which deputations from peasants and Warsaw nobles were adopted, a dinner was held for the Moscow nobility and volost elders. Nikolai spoke high words about the welfare of the people. In the evening, the emperor and the empress went to a pre-planned ball at the French ambassador, Count Montebello, who with his wife enjoyed a great location near the high society. Many expected that dinner would take place without the imperial couple, and Nikolay was advised not to come here. However, Nicholas did not agree, saying that, although the catastrophe is the greatest misfortune, it should not darken the holiday. At the same time, part of the guests, who did not get into the embassy, admired the grand performance at the Bolshoi Theater.
A day later, an equally magnificent and grand ball was held, which was given by the uncle of the young tsar, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, the elder sister of the Empress Elizaveta Fyodorovna. The continuous holidays in Moscow ended on May 26 with the publication of the Highest Manifesto of Nicholas II, which contained assurances that the king was inseparable from the people and his readiness to serve for the good of the beloved Fatherland.
Nevertheless, in Russia and abroad, despite the beauty and luxury of the celebrations, some unpleasant aftertaste remained. Neither the king nor his relatives observed even the appearance of decency. For example, the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, the tsar's uncle, arranged on the day of the funeral of the Khodynka victims at the Vagankovo cemetery in his shooting gallery near him, “shooting pigeons” for the distinguished guests. On this occasion, Pierre Alheim noted: “... at the time when all the people wept, a motley motorcade of old Europe passed by. Europe is perfumed, decaying, obsolete Europe ... and soon shots crack. "
The imperial family made donations in favor of the victims in the amount of 90 thousand rubles (despite the fact that they spent about 100 million rubles on the coronation), port wines and wine were sent to hospitals for the wounded (apparently from remnants of feasts), the sovereign visited hospitals and attended memorial service, but the autocracy's reputation was undermined. Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was nicknamed "Prince Khodynsky" (he died from a revolutionary bomb in 1905 year), and Nikolai - "Bloody" (he and his family were executed in 1918 year).
The Khodyn catastrophe has acquired a symbolic meaning, it has become a kind of warning for Nikolai. From that moment on, a chain of catastrophes began that had the Khodynka bloody tinge, which eventually led to the geopolitical catastrophe of 1917, when the empire collapsed, the autocracy and the Russian civilization were on the verge of death. Nicholas II could not begin the process of modernization of the empire, its fundamental reform "from above". The coronation showed a deep division of society into a pro-Western “elite”, for which the affairs and relations with Europe were closer than the people's sufferings and problems, and the common people. Taking into account the remaining contradictions and problems, this led to the 1917 disaster, when the degraded elite died or fled (an insignificant part of the military, managerial and scientific and technical personnel took part in the creation of the Soviet project), and the people under the leadership of the Bolsheviks created saved civilization and Russian superethnos from occupation and death.
During the Khodynsk catastrophe, the inability of Nikolai Aleksandrovich, who in general was not a stupid person, was clearly manifested in a sensitive and sensitive reaction to the changing situation and to correct his own actions and the actions of the authorities in the right direction. All this eventually led the empire to disaster, as it was impossible to live as before. The 1896 coronation celebrations that began for health and ended in repose symbolically stretched out for Russia for two decades. Nikolai ascended the throne to a young and full of energy man, in a relatively quiet time, met with the hopes and sympathies of broad sections of the population. And he ended the reign with a virtually destroyed empire, an army bleeding and with a people turned away from the king.