Westminster History Prof Examines Russian Royal Weddings

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – A new book by Dr. Russell E. Martin, professor of history at Westminster College, explores how royal weddings in early modern Russia were choreographed to broadcast powerful images of monarchy and dynasty.

“The Tsar’s Happy Occasion: Ritual and Dynasty in the Weddings of Russia’s Rulers, 1495-1745” shows how the vast, ornate affairs of royal weddings reflected and shaped court politics during a time of dramatic cultural and dynastic change.

Using an array of archival sources, Martin shows how the rites of passage in these ceremonies functioned as dazzling displays of monarchical power unlike any other ritual at the Muscovite court. And as dynasties came and went and the political culture evolved, wedding rituals become important symbolic expressions of dynastic continuity and legitimacy. Martin also relates how Peter the Great remade wedding rituals to symbolize and empower his efforts to westernize Russia. After Peter, the two branches of the Romanov dynasty used weddings to solidify their rival claims to the throne.

The book, to be released in April by Cornell University Press, follows Martin’s 2012 book “A Bride for the Tsar: Bride-Shows and Marriage Politics in Early Modern Russia,” which won the 2014 W. Bruce Lincoln Book Award.

Martin, who has been with Westminster since 1996, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Over the years, Martin has appeared on an A&E Biography in a broadcast on Ivan the Terrible as an expert on the controversial ruler. He has lectured internationally, including in Germany, the U.K., Canada and Russia.  He is the author of more than 70 articles and has co-authored, edited or translated nine other books.

Martin continues to translate the official webpage of Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, the Head of the Russian Imperial House (www.imperialhouse.ru) and is an adviser to her Chancellery in Moscow on Foreign Media and Communications. Martin was awarded the Russian Imperial Order of St. Anna twice, (third and second classes), and the Imperial Order of St. Vladimir (fourth class) by the Grand Duchess for his work on behalf of the House of Romanov.

For more information about “The Tsar’s Happy Occasion,” visit https://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/9781501754845/the-tsars-happy-occasion/#bookTabs=1).

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