Tsar Nicholas II Coronation in 1896
The strongest at that time monarchy as a magnet drew numerous foreign delegations.
Celebratory coronation procession took place on Myasnitskaya Street with elite troops, the nobility, and foreign ambassadors. The coronation was held in the Kremlin without any accidents.
In addition to the celebrationsfor the privileged classes and foreign delegations, the next day was supposed to be the celebration for common people. For that purpose, on Khodynka field amazing for that time gift sets were laid out: big soika loaf, sausage, a beautifully colored jar with gold enamel and monograms, Vyazemskij gingerbread, sweets and nuts; at it was all wrapped in a beautiful shawl with a view of the Kremlin. In addition, on the field 20 mobile pubs were organized that served free beer and wine.
Khodynka Field Tragedy
In honor of the coronation nation-wide three-day celebrations were declared.
The news of an organized free feast and royal gifts in honor of the coronation of Nicholas II quickly spread around Moscow and the surrounding areas. Not spoiled by holidays people flocked to Khodynka field. Plus, they had a chance to see the Russian tsar live – who would refuse.
In the minds of the organizers, the festivities looked probably more like a festive fair- many people, but they are walking around, quietly, having fun.
In reality though, by early morning anywhere from 500 000 to 1 000 000 people came to Khodynka field.
Assigned 1800 police officers did not even try to do anything; they just watched the crowd from the side.
People got in line the night before. Even at night the crowd was so dense that even people who lost consciousness or died from being crammed remained in the crowd, supported on all sides. Children were pushed upward, and they walked over the heads, as on a pavement, to a safe place. And people kept arriving and arriving.
“over the masses there was a thick steam, as a fog, which prevented seeing faces even close up.”
When, when? When will they start giving out gifts? And then, early in the morning, the crowd hears: “It started!” The crowd swayed as a single organism. And turned mad.
“By the first tents someoneshouted “They started”, and a huge crowd surged to the left … Scary, heart-rending screams and cries cut through the air… Pressing from behind crowd pushed thousands of people into the pit, and people who stood in the pits were trampled.”
People could not see where they were going, and there was no choice: the crowd was so dense. In the pits, in the ravine, several thousand people got hurt – trampled underfoot. 10 minutes – and that was it, the crowd subsided, leaving Khodynka field covered with immobile or still moving bodies.
Officially – 1389 dead, unofficially – 4-5 thousand. And thousands of people were injured.
The real figure is closer to 2000: that evening on the Vagankovsky cemetery 1800 graves were dug. Some people were taken there directly from Khodynka field for burial in their parishes.
“Who began his reign with Khodynka,
would finish it by standing on a scaffold.”
K. Balmont (1907)
People blamed the Moscow authorities for the tragedy. But no one from the Moscow authorities was punished for it, only some low ranking officials got fired. But the organizer, his Highness Prince Sergei Alexandrovich, was simply transferred to another high position.
Nicholas II himself didn’t visit Khodynka field after the tragedy, and didn’t’ hold a memorial service, which was expected of him. He did not even express his words of sympathy. He did not stop the celebrations in honor of the coronation. And soon he simply left Moscow. Nomourning, novisits to monasteries. People never forgave Nicholas II for that.
Later, Nicholas would allocate 1,000 rubles for victims’ families (a huge amount for money for those days), but given the fact that all only 90 thousand rubles were given out (Nicholas did not expect that there would be that many victims), in reality the families got a lot less than they were promised. Also the family of Nicholas visited some victims in the hospital and gave them the jars from the celebrations and the wine that was left over. That’s it.
Such disregard for the victims of the Khodynka field tragedy by the Russian Emperor caused major discontent. Horrifying rumors were being spread in Moscow. Many believed that Khodynka field tragedy was a sign that would lead to the bloody events during the reign of Nicholas II. It is possible that it was after that tragedy when Nicholas II was nicknamed as “Bloody”.
Later some rumors began to emerge that the blood shed at the beginning of the reign of Nicholas II would get back to him.
Indeed, years later, in 1918, almost the entire family of Nicholas II and his entourage were executed, and shot and his Highness Prince Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated in 1905.