Orlenko S.P., Novoselov V.R. (2024). O ceremonial’nom oruzhii palomnicheskih pohodov russkih gosudarej poslednej chetverti XVII stoletija [On ceremonial arms of Russian sovereigns’ pilgrimages in the last quarter of the 17th century]. Istoricheskoe oruzhievedenie [Weapons History Journal], № 13, pp. 43 — 81.

Orlenko S.P., Novoselov V.R.

Abstract: The article studies the changes in the set of ceremonial arms used at the royal court in the second half of the 17th century. The Smolensk campaign of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (1654-1656) was the starting point of active changes in the court ceremonial. The subsequent period brings tumultuous changes in ceremonial practice of the Russian court: at this time, the most spectacular and exotic elements of arms and equipment are borrowed from both the West and the East. Two-handed swords showed up in the hands of Tsar’s ceremonial guards, winged horsemen met foreign legations, hundreds of colored kuyaks, round shields, “snake spears”, Kalmyk caps, etc. were used in large-scale events.

Tendency to innovation in this area proved to be steady. In the reign of Tsar Feodor Alexeevich, the son of Alexei Mikhailovich, we can see diversification of ceremonial arms and formation of new arms sets associated with particular ceremonial actions.

In 1679, five ceremonial koncerzs and backswords were created in Moscow Armoury Chamber which is linked with the ceremony of the Tsar’s pilgrimage to the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. Backswords and koncerzs used to be a part of horsemen’s equipment.

Koncerz served as second blow arms intended to be used after losing the spear (among other second blow arms are sabres, backswords, chekans, etc.). We encounter similar sets of arms used by Turkish sipahi, Polish and Hungarian hussars in the 16th-17th centuries. However, there is nothing to indicate that a koncerz and a backsword formed a pair and were intended for equestrian escort in the ceremony of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra pilgrimage. Most likely, koncerz and backswords were used by pedestrian escort, as it was done, for example, during the military review at Devichye Pole in 1664, when Alexei Mikhailovich was accompanied by ten pedestrian falconers holding drawn swords with blades facing upwards.

The author studied collections of the Moscow Kremlin Museums and the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps and identified four koncerzs and one backsword blade produced for Tsars’ Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra pilgrimages and used for these purposes during the reigns of Feodor Alexeevich, Ivan Alexeevich and Peter Alexeevich.

The study made it possible to attribute these items and to establish the exact place and time of their manufacture, the craftsmen involved, and their ceremonial purpose. The article is consequent in the series of publications dedicated to the study of Russian ceremonial equipment in the 17th-18th centuries.

Keywords:  Russian arms, ceremonial arms, koncerz.

Category: Articles

Received: October 27, 2023 Accepted: November 20, 2023 Published: February 15, 2024

License: Copyright © 2024 Authors, The Center of Support and Development of Actual Research in the Field of Historical Weaponry (АНО «Центр поддержки и развития актуальных исследований в области Исторического оружиеведения»). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright © 2024 Moscow Kremlin Museums, the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps.