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Block I Illinois Library Illinois Open Publishing Network


Vol. 8 (2020)

From Catherine II’s Coup to Alexander Pushkin’s "The Captain’s Daughter": A Reflection on Sartorial and Spiritual Searching in Russian Culture



This article examines the origins of different attributions of the uniform that Catherine II wore on the day of the coup in 1762 that brought her to the throne. It traces the importance of this episode in eighteenth-century culture and in Catherine’s self-representation by looking at memoirs, as well as by exploring the history of the Preobrazhenskii and Semenovskii regiments, in terms of the guards’ uniforms and their cultural meanings, and by studying royal ceremonies and the iconography of eighteenth-century portraits. The article then uses the lens of Pushkin’s novel The Captain’s Daughter (1836) to rethink this episode in the context of early nineteenth-century history, Pushkin’s personal biography and his thoughts on Russian history and culture.