Monomakh's Cap (Russian: шапка Мономаха, shapka Monomakha), also called the Golden Cap (Shapka Zolotaya), is one of the symbols of Russian autocracy, and is the oldest of the crowns currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury. It was the crown of all Muscovite Grand Princes and Tsars from Dmitri Donskoi to Peter the Great.
Monomakh's Cap is an early 14th-century gold filigree skullcap composed of eight sectors, elaborately ornamented with a scrolled overlay with sable trimming, decorated with precious stones and pearls. The cap is surmounted by a simple gold cross with pearls at each of the extremities.
Its obvious Central Asian origin has led some[who?] modern scholars to view the crown as a gift from Uzbeg Khan of the Golden Horde to his brother-in-law, Ivan Kalita of Moscow during the period of the Tatar yoke in Russia. Boris Uspensky, in particular, argues that the Tatar headgear was originally used in coronation ceremonies to signify the Muscovite ruler's subordination to the khan. At some point in the 15th or 16th century the crown was surmounted by a cross.
After Russia overcame the period of feudal fragmentation and Ivan III of Moscow and Vladimir asserted his position as successor to the Roman emperors, there arose a legend that the cap had been presented by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus to his grandson Vladimir Monomakh, the founder of the city of Vladimir and patrilineal ancestor of Ivan III. The legend served as one of the grounds for the "Moscow as the Third Rome" political theory. Accordingly, the crown became known as "Monomakh's Cap", the term first recorded in a Russian document from 1518.
After Ivan the Terrible had himself crowned the first Russian Tsar with this headgear, the Polish king asked him to explain the meaning of his new title. To that Ivan replied that whoever is crowned with Monomakh's Cap is traditionally called a tsar, because it was a gift from a tsar (i.e., Constantine IX) who had sent the Metropolitan of Ephesus to Kiev to crown Vladimir Monomakh with this cap. Ivan's reply seems to have been a deliberate spoof, because at the time of Constantine IX Monomachus' death, Vladimir Monomakh was only two years old and he was not the Kievan sovereign yet.
- ^ Vernadsky, George. (1949). History of Russia. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- ^ Uspensky, Boris. Assorted Works, vol. 1. Moscow, 1996. Pages 89-90, 107-111.
- ^ Solovyov, Sergey. History of Russia From the Most Ancient Times, in 15 volumes. Moscow, 1959-66. Vol. 3, page 516.
- Russian Imperial Crown
- Crown of Kazan Khanate
- Muscovy Crown
- Macro Photography The Crown of Monomakh
- Crown of Monomakh pictures and description
- The Crown of Monomakh Moscow Kremlin Virtual Tour
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