From 1505 to 1689, Russia's tsars chose their wives through an elaborate ritual: the bride-show. The realm's most beautiful young maidens-provided they hailed from the aristocracy-gathered in Moscow, where the tsar's trusted boyars reviewed their medical histories, evaluated their spiritual qualities, noted their physical appearances, and confirmed their virtue. Those who passed muster were presented to the tsar, who inspected the candidates one by one-usually without speaking to any of them-and chose one to be immediately escorted to the Kremlin to prepare for her wedding and new life as the tsar's consort.
Alongside accounts of sordid boyar plots against brides, the multiple marriages of Ivan the Terrible, and the fascinating spectacle of the bride-show ritual, A Bride for the Tsar offers an analysis of the show's role in the complex politics of royal marriage in early modern Russia. Russell E. Martin argues that the nature of the rituals surrounding the selection of a bride for the tsar tells us much about the extent of his power, revealing it to be limited and collaborative, not autocratic. Extracting the bride-show from relative obscurity, Martin persuasively establishes it as an essential element of the tsarist political system.
The author displays a thorough mastery of the historiography, deep familiarity with the evidence, and a unique perspective through which to view early modern Russian politics. A Bride for the Tsar is splendidly written, and uses the fairytale images of modern opera to focus attention upon interesting and important historical processes. --Daniel H. Kaiser, Joseph F. Rosenfield Professor of Social Studies at Grinnell College"
|Charts and Tables||p. vii|
|Note on Dates, Names, and Transliteration||p. xiii|
|"It Would Be Best to Marry the Daughter of One of His Subjects" The Origins of the Bride-Show in Muscovy||p. 21|
|"Without Any Regard for Noble Ancestry" Picking a Bride for the Tsar||p. 57|
|"If You Marry a Second Time, You Will Have an Evil Child Born to You" Bride-Shows and Muscovite Political Culture||p. 101|
|"To Assuage the Melancholy"-The Many Wives of Ivan IV||p. 130|
|"Scheming to Be Rid of the Chosen Tsarevna" Conflict and Conspiracy in the Romanov Bride-Shows||p. 167|
|"Worthy because the Tsar Adores You" The Last Bride-Shows and the Return of Foreign-Born Brides||p. 203|
|Excerpts from the Chronograph of the Marriages of Tsar Ivan Vasil'evich||p. 247|
|Candidates at the Bride-Shows for Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, 1670-1671||p. 250|
|Gifts Given to Candidates in the Bride-Show for Fedor Alekseevich, 1680||p. 254|
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Number Of Pages: 396
Published: 26th June 2012
Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2 x 3.3
Weight (kg): 0.73