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Monomakh’s Cap – Controversy and Pride

Established in the year 1808, as nominated by Alexander I, the Kremlin Armory is the oldest museum in Moscow, Russia. It was originally constructed in 1508 to house the arsenal of the royal family, but later became a treasure trove of jewelry, art and historical artifacts. Even though the Kremlin Armory, at the Moscow Kremlin, was assigned as a museum in 1806, the public only had the opportunity to view the many breathtaking pieces, of the history of Russia seven years later. One of its most prized possessions is the Monomakh’s Cap, also referred to as the Golden Cap.

The Monomakh’s Cap is a crown that was worn by the Russian Kings, but it is also a cultural example of the relationship between the Kazans and Russia. Both the Monomakh’s Cap and the Kazan Cap were given to the Russian Kings by the Khan and are magnificent exemplars of the detailed applied art that was practiced by the Tatars. Elaborate designs with gold, precious stones and gems created the breathtaking historical artifacts that can be seen today.

Some believe that the Monomakh’s Cap was presented as a gift from Uzbeg Khan to Ivan Kalita, and others argue that the crown was used symbolically in Tatar coronation ceremonies to show subordination to the Tatar ruler. Its exact origin or use is still debated, but there are a few facts that are undisputed and documented. The Monomakh’s Cap was used by Ivan the Terrible to crown himself as the first Tsar of Russia. Ivan the Terrible made up his own tall tale about the Monomakh’s Cap when asked about the meaning of his title, Tsar, by the Polish king. Ivan explained that anyone crowned with the cap is given the Tsar title, as it was a gift from Tsar Constantine IX to Vladimir Monomakh. Historians believe that the story was a deliberate ridicule on Ivan’s behalf.

The cap itself is a gold skullcap that has been dated back to the fourteenth century and is brilliantly decorated with gold and pearl surmounted cross and sable edging. Precious stones and pearls were also used to adorn the cap. Princesses, Tsars, Peter the Great and many of the leaders and royals of Russia wore the Monomakh’s Cap, which is a magnificent piece of jewelry and a significant part of Russian history.


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