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Anniversary of Emperor Paul the First in Gatchina

Anniversary of Emperor Paul the First in Gatchina

Sunday, September 29th was the 265th anniversary since the birth of the Emperor.


On Sunday, the 265th anniversary of Paul the First was celebrated in Gatchina, a vicinity near St. Petersburg that was the Emperor’s residence. 

To mark the day, a black and golden flag was raised on the clock tower of the palace. This tradition dates back to the 18th century, when this flag would be raised when Paul the First came to Gatchina.

Paul the First is known for his reform of the Russian Army, and on his birthday a military drill was performed on the parade ground. Some of the elements of the exercises that were invented by the Emperor himself are still used in the modern army.

Reenactors even used old firearms, flintlocks charged with gunpowder, which sometimes failed to shoot. This time, only half of the rifles did shoot.

Mikhail Dyatlov, chairman of the local military history club, explains that this is a normal situation for old rifles. Even in military ceremonies it was considered acceptable if some 20-25 flintlocks out of 100 failed.

In the 18th century, the Guards regiments established by Paul the First would march on this parade ground. 

The Emperor was well loved in the army. He reduced the service term for soldiers from lifetime down to 25 years and introduced awards for lower ranks. He also changed the uniform introducing coats as an obligatory item of the uniform.

Paul the First made army commanders responsible for the life of those under their command, reminds Vasily Zhukov, a guide of the Gatchina Palace. This made the Russian Army stronger.

Paul the First considered himself a disciple of Peter the Great and followed him in both his reforms and private life. Even in the luxurious palace, he slept on a camp bed and demanded that the temperature in his room should not be above 17.5 Centigrade. 

In mid-October, an exhibition dedicated to the 220th anniversary of Alexander Suvorov's march across the Alps and the relations between the Generalissimo and Paul the First is to open in the Gatchina Palace, where visitors will be able to learn many other new facts about the Emperor. 

Photo: St. Petersburg TV channel