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For the Faith and Loyalty.
To Commemorate the 300-Anniversary of the Russian Imperial Guards
December 12, 2000 - February 25, 2001

On December 13, 2000 a large exhibition For the Faith and Loyalty. Three centuries of the Russian Guards is opening in the Nicholas Hall of the State Hermitage Museum. The day is chosen deliberately because the 13th of December is the day of St. Andrew the First Called who was saint patron of the Russian Guards. The St. Andrew’s star with the order device For the Faith and Loyalty served as a symbol of the Russian Guards since the early 19th century.

The Russian Imperial Guards were founded by Peter the Great and for the first time received their baptism of fire in the hearth of the Northern War with Sweden.For the first three decades of their existence the Guards consisted of only two infantry regiments - the former poteshny regiments (toy regiments of boy-soldiers under Peter the Great). These two regiments, Preobrazhensky and Semionovsky, preserved the name of the Peter’s Brigade forever. To the order of Empress Anna Ioannovna they were joined by Izmailovsky regiment and also by newly established Mounted Guards. Though the guards regiments took part in the battles of the 18th century more than once they never lost its function of the household troops till the end of the century. They also played the key role in the coups d’etat in 1725, 1730, 1741, 1762 and 1801. However in the stormy years of Napoleonic wars the Imperial Guards restored their dignity as the elite of the Russian armed forces. In the reign of Alexander I the Guards consisted of an infantry, mounted, artillery, engineering corps and a naval unit. The Russian Guards lived through an intricate evolution: in 1761 the ill-famed Life-guards Preobrazhensky Company, that brought to power Elisabeth, was disbanded; in 1820 the Guards were involved in the well-known Semionovsky affai; on December 14, 1825 the guardsmen participated in the events of the Revolt on both sides - of the government and of the rebels. Still in the memories of the descendants the image of a guardsman is in the first place associated with the honour, valour and ability to stand firm that were shown by the guards regiments on the battlefields of different wars - from the Northern to the World War I.
The exhibition will feature uniforms and arms, standards and regiments regalia, paintings, drawings and applied art articles, numismatic items and documents reflecting the brilliant and still dramatic history of the Russian Imperial Guards.

The exhibition was prepared by the State Hermitage Museum in collaboration with the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, the Central Naval Museum, The State Museum in Memory of Alexander Suvorov, the State Museums-Reserve Tsarskoe Selo, Peterho, Pavlovsk.


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