Sunday, 17 July 2016

Lady’s Maid – ‘Kamer-Jungfera’

A new division for the protection of “the Imperial Winter Palace and the suburban palaces”’ was formed on March 22nd, 1880.

Colonel M. Fyodorov, who led the division in the Winter Palace, hired freelance photographers to produce identity cards for all court employees and household. The palace guards’ priority was to examine servants and temporary workers, limiting their entrance to the main gate of the palace and the Black [Kitchen] courtyard.

There are rare references of servants in diaries and memoirs; they pass like ghosts. Queen Marie of Romania wrote in 1929 “… There are many names and descriptions of servants and quite simple persons, I do not wish these suppressed, my life would not be real nor complete were I only to speak of the great ones of the world …”
Archive holdings with yellowing letters, ledgers and lists, are a primary source of information on the servants. I discovered a number of the photo identity cards held in the Hermitage.

A card with the photo of the young Madelaine Zanotti, Alexandra’s maid, includes her title and name. Another is of a young maid without caption but shows her brooch. I am searching for photos of the various badges awarded to the different ranks of maids to help identify her.
Why are there few novels with the main character a palace servant, trusted with intimate secrets, surrounded by gossip? Nicholas II’s valet, Radtsig, anyone?


  1. Should read Lady's Maid-"Kamer-Jungfera"

  2. Thank you very much. I am often confused with spelling from Russian to English as court titles retained their German names.