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A Bride for the Tsar : Bride-shows and Marriage Politics in Early Modern Russia - Russell E. Martin

A Bride for the Tsar

Bride-shows and Marriage Politics in Early Modern Russia

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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" Martin has tracked down all possible sources regarding weddings in the ruling family from about 1500 to the early eighteenth century, and with such rich and detailed information, he is able to paint a dramatic picture of the individuals and families who battled over the tsar s weddings. One of the great contributions of this book is that it looks at Muscovite wedding rituals in a broader context Byzantine, medieval Europe, even ancient China and reveals that bride-shows were used in many pre-modern monarchical settings, to suit a range of political needs. --Nancy S. Kollmann, William H. Bonsall Professor in History at Stanford University" "In this meticulously researched and nicely written study, Martin (Westminster College) examines a little-known ritual in early modern culture. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." CHOICE Russell Martin s new book is a beautifully written and thoroughly researched examination of the monarchical politics of marriage in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Russia. The Journal of Modern History "Although Martin intends his book for specialists in premodern Russian history, it is accessible to readers whose knowledge does not exceed that of an undergraduate textbook. Moreover, he tells the story engagingly. Consequently, readers might not realize the complexity involved in reconstructing even the bare factual narrative, or the difficulty in gleaning usable information from laconic sources consisting of little more than names and dates. Three appendixes contain examples of such sources, in the original Old Russian. Readers who consult these sources cannot help but admire the careful research and imagination Martin brought to fruition with this monograph." Slavic Review "A monarcy is not just a form of government but also a family, and Russell Martin's pioneering study of marriage politics in early modern Russia reflects precisely that understanding." Canadian-American Slavic Studies "A Bride for the Tsar with its detailed descriptions, its use of previously unexamined sources, its beautiful illustrations and informative charts, and its well-thought-through argument about how politics functioned in Muscovy should be on the reading list of every scholar interested in the early modern period." Russian History" "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 "Martin has tracked down all possible sources regarding weddings in the ruling family from about 1500 to the early eighteenth century, and with such rich and detailed information, he is able to paint a dramatic picture of the individuals and families who battled over the tsar's weddings. One of the great contributions of this book is that it looks at Muscovite wedding rituals in a broader context--Byzantine, medieval Europe, even ancient China--and reveals that bride-shows were used in many pre-modern monarchical settings, to suit a range of political needs." --Nancy S. Kollmann, William H. Bonsall Professor in History at Stanford University "In this meticulously researched and nicely written study, Martin (Westminster College) examines a little-known ritual in early modern culture. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." - CHOICE REVIEW "Although Martin intends his book for specialists in premodern Russian history, it is accessible to readers whose knowledge does not exceed that of an undergraduate textbook. Moreover, he tells the story engagingly. Consequently, readers might not realize the complexity involved in reconstructing even the bare factual narrative, or the difficulty in gleaning usable information from laconic sources consisting of little more than names and dates. Three appendixes contain examples of such sources, in the original Old Russian. Readers who consult these sources cannot help but admire the careful research and imagination Martin brought to fruition with this monograph." -- Eve Levin, " Slavic Review"

Charts and Tablesp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Note on Dates, Names, and Transliterationp. xiii
Introductionp. 3
"It Would Be Best to Marry the Daughter of One of His Subjects" The Origins of the Bride-Show in Muscovyp. 21
"Without Any Regard for Noble Ancestry" Picking a Bride for the Tsarp. 57
"If You Marry a Second Time, You Will Have an Evil Child Born to You" Bride-Shows and Muscovite Political Culturep. 101
"To Assuage the Melancholy"-The Many Wives of Ivan IVp. 130
"Scheming to Be Rid of the Chosen Tsarevna" Conflict and Conspiracy in the Romanov Bride-Showsp. 167
"Worthy because the Tsar Adores You" The Last Bride-Shows and the Return of Foreign-Born Bridesp. 203
Epiloguep. 237
Appendices
Excerpts from the Chronograph of the Marriages of Tsar Ivan Vasil'evichp. 247
Candidates at the Bride-Shows for Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, 1670-1671p. 250
Gifts Given to Candidates in the Bride-Show for Fedor Alekseevich, 1680p. 254
Genealogiesp. 256
Abbreviationsp. 259
Notesp. 263
Bibliographyp. 331
Indexp. 367
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780875804484
ISBN-10: 0875804489
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 396
Published: 26th June 2012
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.73