Skip to main content

History Professor Appointed to Grand Duchess' Chancellery; Gave Lecture on Royal Succession

Posted on Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dr. Russell Martin, Westminster College professor of history, was appointed to Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna's Chancellery as advisor for the foreign press and communications and as consultant on the official English-language webpage of the Russian Imperial House.

Martin, who has been the lead translator for the webpage since 2005, will now consult more closely with the grand duchess' Chancellery staff on all official communications in the English-language media.

The grand duchess is the heiress to the vacant Russian throne.  Previously, Martin was awarded the Russian Imperial Order of St. Anna, second class, by the grand duchess for his work on behalf of the House of Romanov.

"I am deeply honored by the confidence the grand duchess has shown in me," Martin said.  "The work I will do will promote the numerous and substantial cultural, historical, and philanthropic activities of the Russian Imperial House in Russia and elsewhere and help to further develop the Imperial House's webpage, a resource I have used in various ways, including in my classes at Westminster."

Martin's work for the grand duchess was influential in shaping "Succeeding Catherine: The Great Empress's Projects for a New Russian Law of Succession," an invited lecture he gave Feb. 8 at the University of Pittsburgh's University Center for International Studies.

The lecture was a study of the early origins of dynastic law in Russia and presented a piece of the book Martin is writing on the law of succession under the Romanovs, who ruled Russia from 1613-1917.

Empress Catherine the Great wrote the early draft laws that were never promulgated but very much influenced the law that was eventually promulgated by Catherine's son, Emperor Paul I.  Because the projects were never issued, they have not been studied much by historians and are not part of most biographies of Catherine, according to Martin.  Martin's work brings to light the understudied documents and shows the earliest thoughts of the Russian government and the Imperial court on succession to the throne well before the law was written.

"The implications of this work reach even into the present," Martin said.  "There are Romanovs today - descendants of those who fled or otherwise survived the revolution - whose position in the Romanov family and their claims and rights to the vacant throne are still governed by the law that was inspired in part by Catherine's legal projects.  Thus, the topic has both historical and modern significance."

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

Martin appeared on A&E Biography in a broadcast on Ivan the Terrible as an expert on the controversial ruler.  He is the co-founder of the Muscovite Biographical Database, a Russian-American computerized register based in Moscow of early modern Russian notables.  The Neville Island, Pa., native is not only fluent in Russian, but also reads Old Church Slavonic/Russian, French, German, Latin, and Polish.

Contact Martin at (724) 946-6254 or email for additional information.

Dr. Russell Martin and the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna