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History professor participates in recent Russian royal wedding

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Posted on Friday, October 29, 2021

Earlier this month, a Westminster College history professor took part in Russia’s first royal wedding since the days of the imperial monarchy.

Dr. Russell E. Martin, professor of history, attended the wedding of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and Italian Victoria Romanovna Bettarini. Held Oct. 1 in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia, the wedding marked the first of its kind in more than century after the execution of Czar Nicholas II and his family. The grand duke, who is the heir of the current Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, is the first cousin three times removed of Nicholas II.

Martin, who for more than 20 years has been an adviser to the Russian Imperial House, composed the wedding program, and during the ceremony, he delivered a simultaneous translation of the sermon into English.  Additionally, his daughter served as a bridesmaid.  The wedding was attended by royalty from around the world, as well as government officials from Russia and other nations. The three-day affair also included a black-tie reception, a white-tie gala and a wedding luncheon.  

Earlier this year, Martin published the book “The Tsar’s Happy Occasion: Ritual and Dynasty in the Weddings of Russia’s Rulers. 1495-1745,” which explores how the lavish royal weddings in early modern Russia were choreographed to broadcast powerful images of monarchy and dynSince 2006, Martin has been the lead translator of the official webpage of the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, the Head of the Russian Imperial House and is an adviser to her Chancellery in Moscow on Foreign Media and Communications. Martin was awarded the Russian Imperial Order of St. Anna twice, (third and second classes), and the Imperial Order of St. Vladimir (fourth class) by the Grand Duchess for his work on behalf of the House of Romanov.

Over the years, Martin has appeared on A&E "Biography" in a broadcast on Ivan the Terrible as an expert on the controversial ruler. He has lectured internationally, including in Germany, the U.K., Canada and Russia.  He is the author of more than 70 articles and has co-authored, edited or translated 11 other books.

At Westminster, Martin teaches courses in Russian history, early modern European history, medieval European history, as well as courses on the history of Eastern Orthodoxy.  

Martin, who has been with Westminster since 1996, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Top photo, Dr. Russell Martin is seen translating the sermon into English; middle left, Martin with the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia; middle right, Martin with his wife, Sarah; bottom, a saber arch is formed to salute the newlyweds, who are flanked by wedding party members, including Martin's daughter, who served as a bridesmaid