Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Order of St Andrew the First Called

In addition to the Order of the Thistle the late seventeenth century witnessed the establishment of the premier Order of the Russian monarchy when in 1698, in emulation of other European monarchs, the Emperor Peter I established the Order of St Andrew the First Called. The Order of St Andrew was Russia’s oldest and most exalted chivalric order, and awarded for the highest civilian or military achievements. This remained the senior Russian Order down to 1917, and was revived in 1998 by President Yeltsin. There is an article about it here. Its annual celebration was held on 30 November, the feast day of St Andrew.

The following paragraphs are adapted and edited from an article based on a catalogue description by Valentina N. Nikitina, in The St Petersburg Times from 1999.

The Order of St. Andrew the First Called (Andrei Pervozvannyi) was named in honor of the Apostle who, from the time of the Kiev princes, had been the patron saint of the Russian lands. The highest Russian order of St. Andrew was awarded rarely. It was conferred principally on members of the royal family, heads of foreign states and "exceptional servants" of the state: dignitaries, diplomats or successful military commanders such as Count Alexander Suvorov and Prince Mikhail Kutuzov. A British recipient was the first Duke of Wellington.The heir to the Russian throne and other male members of the Romanov dynasty were awarded the Order at his christening, and female members recieved the Order on their coming of age.

The order had one class. Its symbol was a saltire, or X-shaped cross, with the letters SAPR (St. Andrew Patron of Russia) on the ends of the arms and an enamel image of the crucified saint. The cross is attached to the breast of a black two-headed eagle wearing three crowns with ribbons. The cross was worn on a broad blue riband stretching from the right shoulder to the waist.

The star is silver with eight points interspersed with rays. In the centre of the star is a two-headed eagle holding a blue cross of St. Andrew in its beak and claws, and surrounded by the motto of the order: "For faith and faithfulness."

On the feast day of the Order, and on other particularly solemn occasions, the Knights of the Order wore a gold collar instead of the riband. The collar is composed of three alternating links decorated with brightly colored enamels. These three links bear the state emblem of the two-headed eagle, rosettes with the cross of St. Andrew and a cartouche bearing the monogram of Peter the Great.

The order was redesigned for Emperor Nicholas I (1825-55) during the 1850s, and the new design was ratified and adopted by the Chapter of Orders from December 1856.

The example here originally was issued from the Chapter of Imperial Orders with a decree that it was the property of the Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich (eldest son of Emperor Aleaxander II, and elder brother of the fuure Emperor Aleaxander III), who died in 1865 at the age of 22. It carries the hallmark of Master Alexander Kordes and of the most famous St. Petersburg firm of medalists, Keibel. This firm produced insignia of all the Orders throughout the 19th century for the Chapter of Orders and the Cabinet of His Imperial Highness.

Collar, badge and star of the Order by Keibel, St Petersburg, 1850s-60s
Badge Height: 8.9 centimeters; Width: 6.4 centimeters
Star Diameter: 9.2 cm.
Collar Length: 107.5 cm.
Photo from Kremin Museum and the St Petersburg Times 1999


The Star of the Order set with diamonds and pearls.
This appears to pre-date the 1850s redesign

The Officers of the Order had their own ceremonial uniforms. That of the Herald was on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum's exhibition of Imperial Russian costumes in 2009, when I was fortunate enough to see it. This elaborate costume, like that of all the Orders’ heralds, was worn for ceremonies and at court.

Dress of the Herald of the Order of St Andrew, 1797. Museum no. TK-1658, TK2561/1-2, © The Moscow Kremlin Museums

Dress of the Herald of the Order of St Andrew
Russia (St Petersburg)

Gloves: kidskin trimmed with silver braid and fringe, by Johann Conrad Weber
Museum no. TK-1658, TK2561/1-2
© The Moscow Kremlin Museums

Boots worn by the Herald of the Order of St Andrew, Johann Daniel Ermscher, 1797. Museum no. TK-1693/1-2, © The Moscow Kremlin Museums

Boots worn by the Herald of the Order of St Andrew
Johann Daniel Ermscher
Silk velvet trimmed with silver braid, fringe and embroidery
Museum no. TK-1693/1-2
© The Moscow Kremlin Museums

The boots of the Herald of the Order of St Andrew are made from black velvet and embellished with silver braid and rosettes. Their shape and the lacing and crossed braid down the centre front are deliberately historical in style. Similar boots were worn by coronation heralds in the late 18th century. Made in red velvet with red leather heels, they were embroidered with lions’ heads. The lacing up the front and the decorative components were probably modelled on boots worn during the Roman Empire. In both cases, such ornament and style emphasised the importance of the ceremonial role of the herald as the representative and messenger of the Tsar.

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