Learn more about Monomakh's Cap
Monomakh's Cap (Шапка Мономаха in Russian) is one of the symbols of Russian autocracy, currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury. It was the crown of all Muscovite grand princes and tsars from Dmitri Donskoi to Peter the Great.
Monomakh's Cap is an early 14th-century golden filigree pointed headgear with sable trimming, decorated with precious stones. Its obvious Central Asian origin led some modern scholars to view the crown as a gift from Uzbeg Khan of the Golden Horde to his brother-in-law, Ivan Kalita of Moscow during the period of the Tatar yoke in Russia.<ref name=Vernadsky>Vernadsky, George. (1949). History of Russia. New Haven: Yale University Press.</ref>. Boris Uspensky, in particular, argues that the Tatar headgear was originally used in coronation ceremonies to signify the Muscovite ruler's subordination to the khan.<ref>Uspensky, Boris. Assorted Works, vol. 1. Moscow, 1996. Pages 89-90, 107-111.</ref>. At some point in the 15th or 16th century the crown was surmounted by a cross.
After Russia overcame the period of feudal fragmentation and Ivan III of Moscow and Vladimir asserted his position as successor to the Roman emperors, there arose a legend that the cap had been presented by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX to his grandson Vladimir Monomakh, the founder of Vladimir and patrilineal ancestor of Ivan III. The legend served as one of the grounds for the "Moscow as the Third Rome" political theory. Accordingly, the crown became known as "Monomakh's Cap", the term first recorded in a Russian document from 1518.
After Ivan the Terrible had himself crowned the first Russian tsar with this headgear, the Polish king asked him to explain the meaning of his new title. To that Ivan replied that whoever is crowned with Monomakh's Cap is traditionally called a tsar, because it was a gift from a tsar (i.e., Constantine IX) who had sent the Metropolitan of Ephesus to Kiev to crown Vladimir Monomakh with this cap.<ref>Solovyov, Sergey. History of Russia From the Most Ancient Times, in 15 volumes. Moscow, 1959-66. Vol. 3, page 516.</ref> Ivan's reply seems to have been a deliberate spoof, because at the time of Constantine IX death, Vladimir Monomakh was only two years old and he was not the Kievan sovereign yet.