May 18, 2007

The Khodynka Tragedy

May 18, 1896 was the date of the Khodynka Tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 1,389 people.

As part of the coronation ceremonies for Nicholas II of Russia, a banquet for the common people was scheduled to be held in one area of Moscow, called Khodynka Field. There were rumors of rich gifts to be offered from the new tsar, and there was a great deal of excited anticipation among the populace.

On the morning of the coronation, thousands of people were already at Khodynka Field when a rumor spread that there would not be enough gifts for everyone. In the stampede that followed, 1,389 people were crushed to death, and another 1,300 were seriously injured.

Nicholas and Alexandra spent the day visiting the wounded, but the coronation ball that was scheduled for that evening went ahead as planned -- a move that did not do much to bolster the couple's already weakening popularity.

The "rich gifts" which everyone was to receive at the banquet? It turned out the planned gifts consisted of a bread roll, a piece of sausage, gingerbread, and a mug.

Photographs of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, from Illustrierte Zeitung, 1901. Photographer A. Bajetti, Public Domain.

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