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.