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Friday, July 13, 2012

September Auction: Imperial Russian Garde du Corps Officer’s Helmet

Imperial Russian Garde du Corps Officer’s Helmet
The Garde du Corps or Russian Imperial Guards was the personal guard of the Imperial Russian monarchy.  The type of helmet seen here was worn by an officer of the Garde du Corps between 1846 and 1914.  The lobstertail style helmet based on the Prussian pattern retains the parade top of the Romanov double headed eagle and the helmet plate is that of St. Andrew.  Beginning in 1613 the House of Romanov was the second imperial dynasty that ruled Russia and would be that last Russian dynasty as the crown was abolished in the 1917 Revolution.  Established in the 1680s by Tsar Peter I in order to seize power from Sophia Alexeyevna, the Guard was comprised of two regiments: Preobrazhensky and
Semonovsky.  After Peter I died the Guard played an important role in peacefully establishing Catherine I to the throne and would later participate in Catherine II’s seizure of the throne that resulted in the murder of her husband, Peter II.  As the personnel guard of the monarchy, the Russian Garde du Corps found itself in the middle of numerous domestic political crises throughout its existence.  Playing important roles in the Battle of Borodino and on the Austerlitz battlefield, the Guard found fame during the Napoleonic Wars. However, the Guard would become infamous for its reactions to the Revolution of 1905.  On January 22, 1905 the Guard shot into an estimated crowd of 80,000 peaceful demonstrators gathered in front of the Winter Palace.  At least 96 civilians were killed. The guard fired the first shots of the revolution and the day is known as “Bloody Sunday”.  Interestingly, the Guard would also fire the last shots of the Revolution of 1905.  In December the Guard was sent to suppress rebellious workers of the Red Presnia district and this was accomplished by killing several hundred rioters. 

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