Northern Illinois University Press

The Winter Palace And The People

Staging and Consuming Russia’s Monarchy, 1754–1917

Susan P. McCaffray

“This is an ambitious and well-researched study that uses the Winter Palace as cynosure to describe and analyze the interaction between rulers and the people of the capital. In this manner, it combines political, architectural, and social history to reveal the role of the palace as an instrument of monarchical rule.” —Richard Wortman, Columbia University

St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace was once the supreme architectural symbol of Russia’s autocratic government. Over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it became the architectural symbol of St. Petersburg itself. The story of the palace illuminates the changing relationship between monarchs and their capital city during the last century and a half of Russian monarchy. In The Winter Palace and the People, Susan McCaffray examines interactions among those who helped to stage the ceremonial drama of monarchy, those who consumed the spectacle, and the monarchs themselves.

In the face of a changing social landscape in their rapidly growing nineteenth-century capital, Russian monarchs reoriented their display of imperial and national representation away from courtiers and toward the urban public. When attacked at mid-century, monarchs retreated from the palace. As they receded, the public claimed the square and the artistic treasures in the Imperial Hermitage before claiming the palace itself. By 1917, the Winter Palace had come to be the essential stage for representing not just monarchy, but the civic life of the empire-nation. What was cataclysmic for the monarchy presented to those who staffed the palace and Hermitage not a disaster, but a new mission, as a public space created jointly by monarch and city passed from the one to the other. This insightful study will appeal to scholars of Russia and general readers interested in Russian history.

ISBN 978-0-87580-792-8
eISBN 978-1-60909-247-4
September 2018, $39.00 s
Paper, 6x9, 284, pages, 16 illius.

Susan P. McCaffray is professor of history at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is the author of The Politics of Industrialization in Tsarist Russia (NIU Press, 1996), editor of the memoirs of Alexander Fenin, Coal and Politics in Late Imperial Russia (NIU Press, 1990), and coeditor of Russia in the European Context, 1789–1914.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-792-8
paper $39.00