From the outside, the life of nobles and aristocrats can seem like a continuous holiday and incessant entertainment. This is not true at all. Yes, public appearances, balls, salon conversations and personal correspondence-all this was, but the life of the nobles was more like a strict ritual, for the high-quality performance of which required upbringing from childhood. Very tough upbringing!
Nobles and aristocrats were brought up in the family circle – but how these families were not similar to what we consider families today!
Respect for elders is a mandatory and non-negotiable feature of noble education. Many noble families followed the tradition of separate residence of children and parents. The children's rooms were located in another wing of the house, which was taken into account initially when planning it, and at the maximum distance from the father's office, " because nothing can be done behind the screams and noise."
Writer Vladimir Sollogub recalled:
"Our life was separate from the life of our parents. We were taken to greet and say good-bye, thank you for dinner, and we kissed our parents 'hands, were respectful, and never dared to say" you " to either father or mother."
Upsetting your parents was considered a serious offense. "You are not worthy of my friendship," said Nikolai Bestuzhev's father, who was dissatisfied with his behavior.
"Boys were introduced to the dogma of unquestioning obedience in view of the public service that was ahead of them, girls-in view of the inevitable power of their husband," recalls the writer and feminist Maria Tsebrikova.
Politeness and courtesy were taught to children from childhood: without knowledge of etiquette, it was impossible to do when entering into conversation with other people. In communication, you should look the other person in the eye, respect other people's opinions and not hurt the self-esteem of others. These virtues were often neglected by some members of the Russian aristocracy. Proof of this is the myriad duels that captured the Empire in the XVIII century.
What is now called "control of emotions" and is studied at special trainings, in the noble education was a natural norm, which everyone was taught from childhood. Leo Tolstoy called the" varnish of the highest tone " the memorization of etiquette norms, the famous restraint and calmness, the ability to carefully hide their true thoughts and feelings. The writer described Nikolenka's father in "childhood":
"... He was so well able to hide from others and remove from himself the dark side of life known to everyone, filled with small vexations and sorrows, that it was impossible not to envy him."
Dancing is one of the mandatory elements of education. If you didn't know how to dance, you couldn't get to the ball. And the ball in the life of the nobles was not an idle pastime, but an important element of socialization.
The dances of that time were complex and required special choreographic training. Training started at the age of 5-6. In addition to memorizing the steps, they also taught the ability to behave: bow gracefully, move easily, and give a hand to a lady.
Girls were required to monitor their posture. Anna Kern recalled how her governess made her lie on the hard floor every day.
Knowledge of the economy, as a skill, was instilled exclusively to small noblewomen. Princess Meshcherskaya wrote to her daughter:
"You should avoid debt. It is better to deny yourself not only a whim, but even the necessary, than to enter into debt. I feed myself with the hope – " continued the Princess,"that by meekness, obedience, and zeal of character, the family peace will not be disturbed."
Young noblewomen were expected to behave modestly and not draw undue attention to their education, even if it was brilliant. Here are the thoughts of a contemporary on this issue:
"A woman can still be smart, although her share is unenviable. Everyone will say that she is a clever woman, praise her intelligence, but in society she will always sit alone or among old women."
About the sexual side of marriage, chaste noblewomen knew almost nothing – this topic was taboo. Young nobles behaved much more frivolously, getting their first sexual experience with servants and married women. Often young men were brought to brothels by their fathers and older brothers.
In the pre-Petrine era, playing musical instruments was considered indecent for nobles, but in the XVIII-XIX centuries, the rules changed. From now on, music playing was a mandatory part of the child's day schedule. It was believed that music evokes noble feelings.
Children were taught to write letters and keep a diary as they learned to read and write. Without the ability to correctly formulate and beautifully Express their thoughts on paper, a nobleman could not feel at home in high society.
The main attitude in the upbringing of boys from noble families is to focus not on success, but on the ideal. The virtues revered in society, such as courage, honesty, and education, were declared mandatory qualities.
Not everyone knows this, but the nobility in Russia almost always formed the Fronde of the Royal family and those who were particularly close to the Tsar. However, the opposition of the nobility was caused only by the fact that the Tsar and the nobility had disagreements on the issue of serving Russia. And the fact that there is nothing higher than serving the Motherland – the nobles had no doubt.
In the noble houses and manors, peculiar museums were organized in memory of an ancestor and his military achievements. The house carefully stored awards received in various military campaigns, and weapons. This contributed to the Patriotic education of young nobles.
Bravery and endurance were considered the absolute dignity of a nobleman. To do this, boys were taught to swim from a young age, to wield weapons, and to endure the cold. The school for raising an aristocrat is a difficult school, but those who passed it were proud of the results.