August 6, 2014

“History of the Caliphs” by al-Sūyūtī and “Primary Indicators of Well-Regulated States” by al-Hasan al-ʻAbbāsī

This volume contains two works, Tarikh al-Khulafa’ (History of the caliphs) by al-Sūyūtī (1445−1505) and Athar al-Uwal fi Tartib al-Duwal (Primary indicators of well-regulated states) by al-Hasan ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-‘Abbāsī (died circa 1310). Al-Sūyūtī is renowned for his writings in the Islamic sciences, although not necessarily for this historical work. History of the Caliphs remains in print as a standard summation of the Sunni view of the rule of succession after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. The work reveals a gift for selection and synthesis rather than original interpretation, a characteristic of much of al-Sūyūtī’s writing. The author of the associated work, al-Hasan al-ʻAbbāsī, is said to have been related to the Abbasid caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, but this may be apocryphal. The work should be considered a “mirror for princes” rather than an historical work. It provides advice on behavior for rulers, including admonitions on the treatment of subjects (e.g., tradesmen and farmers) and choice of counsellors, as well as such details as dress, menus, and etiquette at meals. Principles of behavior are rooted in the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet, with frequent examples drawn from the lives of the prophets and rulers of old such as Moses and King David. History of the Caliphs is the main work in the volume. Primary Indicators is printed on its margins. Including a second work on the margin of a main text was common practice in the manuscript era, and often carried over into early printed books. Although it is no longer common, books are still produced with works on the margins to this day.

August 8, 2014

Design of the Monument to Alexander I, by Sculptor Martos, 1828

The monument to Tsar Alexander I (1777−1825) was unveiled on October 23 (October 11, Old Style), 1831, to commemorate Alexander’s visit to and death from illness in Taganrog, a village in southern Russian located on the north shore of the Sea of Azov. The tsar’s widow, Elizaveta Alekseevna, chose the site for the monument. Most of the money for its construction was donated by the imperial house of Romanov; the rest was raised by the residents of Taganrog. The bronze figure of the emperor at full height is draped with a cloak, covering a general's uniform. He holds the hilt of his sword in his left hand, and a scroll containing a code of laws of the Russian Empire in his right. The eagle at his feet symbolizes Russia’s victory over Napoleon, achieved under his leadership. The monument was destroyed in the 1920s and the sculpture was melted down. For the celebration of the tercentenary of Taganrog, the monument was reconstructed and officially unveiled on September 12, 1998, on the same spot where it had been unveiled in 1831, the former Bank Square (present-day Alexander Square). This ink drawing is the original design of the monument by the sculptor, Ivan Petrovich Martos (1754−1835). The document is preserved in the Russian State Historical Archive.

Design of the Medal and Token Commemorating the Construction of the Monument to Nicholas I in Kiev, Kiev Province, 1895

This ink and watercolor document contains designs for the medal and the token issued to commemorate the construction of the monument to Tsar Nicholas I (1796−1855, reigned 1825−55) in Kiev. The designs are by the academician in architecture Vladimir Nikolaev (1847−1911), who also designed the pedestal for the monument. Nikolaev was the municipal and eparchial (diocesan) architect of Kiev at the time and designed many churches and mansions in the city. The statue of Nicholas was by the sculptor Matvei Afanas’evich Chizhov (1838−1916). The monument was erected in University Square and was officially unveiled in August 1896 during a visit to Kiev by Tsar Nicholas II, great-grandson of Nicholas I. The name of Nicholas I traditionally is associated with the opening of the university and the Institute for Noble Girls in Kiev. The monument was demolished in 1920. This document is preserved in the Russian State Historical Archive.

Emperor Alexander II with the Children: Sergei and Maria

This photograph, taken in 1860 or 1861, shows Tsar Alexander II (1818−81, ruled 1855−81), with two of his eight children: Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (born 1853) and Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (born 1857). Alexander is seated in a chair, three-quarters to his left, wearing a military uniform. The grand duchess is leaning on her father’s right knee, facing forward; the grand duke is sitting on his father’s left leg.  Alexander was most respected for his emancipation of the serfs in 1861, and his domestic reforms included reorganizing the judicial system, introducing limited local self-government, and support of universities. He was assassinated by revolutionaries in Saint Petersburg in 1881. Maria married Prince Alfred, duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who also later became duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She died in Zurich in 1920. Sergei, who was an influential figure during the reigns of his brother Tsar Alexander III and his nephew Tsar Nicholas II, was governor-general of Moscow for 14 years before his death at the hands of an assassin in Moscow in 1905. The photograph is preserved in the Russian State Archive of Film and Photo Documents.

Family of Emperor Alexander III

This photograph of the family of Tsar Alexander III (1845−94) was taken about a year before his death from nephritis. Also shown in the photo are Empress Maria Fedorovna (1866−1928), Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich (1868−1918), Grand Duke George Alexandrovich (1871−99), Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (1875−1960), Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882−1918), and Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich (1878−1918). Empress Maria Fedorovna, also called Princess Dagmar, fled Russia in 1919 with other members of the Romanov family aboard the British battleship HMS Marlborough. She settled and died in her native Denmark. Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich (standing behind the empress to the left) succeeded his father as Tsar Nicholas II and was the last emperor of Russia. He was forced to abdicate in 1917 and was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Grand Duke George Alexandrovich (next to Nicholas Alexandrovich) died of tuberculosis while serving as a young officer in the Russian navy. Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the elder daughter, married a cousin, and she and her husband were among the Romanovs aboard the Marlborough in 1919. She spent most of the rest of her life in Britain. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna escaped from Russia in 1920 with her second husband, Nikolai Kulikovsky, and their sons. The family lived in Denmark until 1948, and then immigrated to Canada. Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich served with distinction in World War I. He was murdered by revolutionaries in June 1918. The photograph is preserved in the Russian State Archive of Film and Photo Documents.

Results of the Revolutionary Movement in Russia during a Period of 40 Years (1862-1902)

This book, published in Geneva in 1903, is number 24 in a series of 43 titles produced in 1902−4 by the social democratic organization Zhizn’ (Life) as “The Library of the Russian Proletariat.” The book is a compilation of documents, including programs, manifestoes, and articles, related to the Russian revolutionary movement in 1862−1902. Among the documents in the book are the declaration Molodaia Rossiia (Young Russia) published in 1862; articles from Zemlia i Volia (Land and liberty), the organ of the Narodnik (Populist) society that was published in 1878−79; and articles from Narodnoe delo (The people’s cause), a revolutionary journal published in 1868−70. Included are essays by such important revolutionary thinkers as Mikhail A. Bakunin (1814−76) and Petr A. Kropotkin (1842−1921). The book also contains the text of a letter from Narodnaia Volia (The people’s will) to Tsar Alexander III. This organization was responsible for assassinating Alexander’s father, Tsar Alexander II, in Saint Petersburg on March 1, 1881. The letter, dated March 10, 1881, was an ultimatum from the Narodnaia Volia executive committee to Alexander III. The members asked the tsar to engage in an open discussion of the political future of Russia and introduce comprehensive reforms in the country, in exchange for which they agreed to suspend their militant activity and devote themselves to the welfare of the people. The volume also includes a draft of the program of the Russian Social Democrats, a manifesto of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), and decisions of the latter’s first congress, held in March 1898. The RSDLP later split into Menshevik (minority) and Bolshevik (majority) factions; the latter eventually became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The book is preserved in the State Public Historical Library of Russia.