The officers in Tsarist Russia have always been a special “caste”, different from both soldiers and civilians. Detachment from society was due, in particular, to the fact that the officers did not have the right to join political parties, but had to be guided throughout life by only the principles of duty and honor. Where the officers of the late XIX - early XX century spent time when they could get married and how they defended their honor, Ekaterina Astafieva will tell.
Do not smoke
In 1904, Captain Valentin Kulchitsky compiled a peculiar set of rules “Tips for a Young Officer”. On the basis of his notes, the Code of Honor of the Russian Officer was created, which spelled out the basic rules of life, both personal and public. For example, the officers were advised to "behave simply, with dignity, without fatovstva", but at the same time not forget about the difference between "full dignity politeness" and "cult."
One of the points of the code said: "Do not kutis - hardness cannot be proved, but you will compromise yourself." True, Lev Tolstoy in “War and Peace” very colorfully depicted the revels of the color of the nation and, for example, Semenov's officer Dolokhov, in a dispute drinking a bottle of rum, sitting on the window of the third floor with his legs down. In general, a real officer should be able to do everything in moderation: if you really drink it, then don’t get drunk, if you play cards, you’ll never get into debt.
Bashilov Pari Dolokhova, 1866
Money down the drain
Nevertheless, they often got into debt: this is not surprising, since the officer’s salary was generally low. Paying card debt was considered a matter of honor (remember, in the same novel of Tolstoy, Nikolai Rostov wanted to commit suicide because of a debt that he was unable to pay). An officer had to buy his uniform at his own expense, and prices, to put it mildly, bit: an average uniform cost about 45 rubles, a frock coat - 32, a cap - 7, boots - 10, a belt - 2.6 rubles. Among the mandatory costs were also membership in the officer meeting, officer library, loan capital. It was particularly costly to serve in the Guards infantry, because the regiments were often located in the capital. The biggest spenders served in the Guards cavalry. They lived in a big way, regularly arranging chic dinners, the participation in which the officer could not refuse. The cavalrymen considered it beneath their dignity to sit in the theater not in the first row of the stalls or in the box, from state-owned horses that were relied upon to everyone, they refused and bought their own, the most expensive ones.
Lieutenant Life Guard Hussars with a lady
Life as prescribed
There were official prescriptions, how not to drop their dignity. For example, the officer could not afford to visit hotels and restaurants of the lower ranks, taverns, tea and beer houses, as well as 3rd class buffets at railway stations. The officer could not carry bags and packages himself, but was obliged to pay for the delivery of goods to the house. It was considered important not to skimp on the tip, although not all salaries allowed us to waste money.
About the decency of marriage
In matters of marriage officers were also limited. In 1866, the rules were approved by which the officer had no right to marry before the age of 23. Up to 28 the officer had to ask for permission to marry the authorities, while providing property security. The bride had to be chosen according to the notions of propriety. The future wife should have been distinguished by “good morality and good manners”, and the social status of the girl was also taken into account. Officers were forbidden to marry female artists and divorced who took the blame upon themselves for divorce. For marriage without permission could easily dismiss.
Thursdays and Tuesdays
Entertainment officers did not have to choose. Mandatory attendance of the officers' meeting was interspersed with home evenings in officer families. It was considered to be a good tone to host "Thursdays" or "Tuesdays", to which colleagues and their relatives were invited. Those who served in the capital were more fortunate, because it was possible to go out at regularly arranged balls and dinner parties. In rural areas, some landowners who want to prove that their society is no worse than in cities, also liked to invite officers to the evenings. The lack of theaters in the outback was compensated by home concerts and amateur performances. The “Code of Honor of the Russian Officer” noted, however, that it was not customary for the military to dance at public masquerades.
Non-commissioned officers of the Russian army before being sent to World War I, 1914
To the barrier!
Honor officer did not give him any privileges, rather the opposite - made him even more vulnerable. Considerable courage demanded a willingness to risk life in order not to be dishonored. It was considered a sign of bad taste to demonstrate offense, but not to do anything to clarify the relationship with the offender. The price of words was raised by the threat of a deadly duel - public insult inevitably entailed a duel. Duels in Russia struggled with all their might, but no imperial edicts could forbid officers to demand satisfaction from their offenders. The officer who carried the insult and did not cause the enemy to fight was considered disgraced forever. It is interesting that in 1894 special rules were issued, in some way legalizing duels.
According to the greatest decree, all cases of officer quarrels were sent to the court of the officers society, which could already decide the need for a duel. Real breaching was common in the first half of the nineteenth century. Ryleev, for example, was ready to challenge a duel over and without, and the sun of Russian poetry, Pushkin, before the infamous duel, came out at least 30 times to the barrier, so, however, without injuring anyone.
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin was an avid duelist