The Court of the Last Tsar : Pomp, Power and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas ll

Written by Greg King
Review by Vicki Kondelik


The vanished world of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, comes vividly to life in Greg King’s splendid new book. After an introductory chapter on the city of St. Petersburg, King writes of the lives of the Romanovs and their extended family. This information can be found elsewhere, but after these few chapters comes the heart of the book: King writes in exquisite detail of the life of the imperial court, the aristocracy, the military, and the Russian Orthodox Church. He goes on to describe the palaces, including the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, in such detail that I felt I had been on a tour. In the next sections, he discusses such subjects as jewelry and art objects, imperial transportation, and ceremonies, including the wedding of Nicholas and Alexandra, and Nicholas’s coronation. The book ends with a section on imperial balls, state visits, the palace at Livadia in the Crimea, and the last season in St. Petersburg. Appendices include an organizational chart of the imperial court, floor plans of several of the palaces, and maps of the imperial parks. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in imperial Russia.