Writing for the Tsars


Writing for the Tsars

Here is a photo of an ancient letter from the Tsar of Russia to the English Monarch stored in the National Archives. It is a work of art with beautiful golden script and side decorations. It was written in an old form of Russian cyrillic, which very few could write properly.

I wonder what it was like to be a scribe for the Tsars. If you made a minor typo (including getting the Tsar’s lengthy title wrong) then what might happen to you? Would you just disappear to be replaced by one of your apprentices?

This makes me think about what happens in autocratic regimes of the modern day. Occasional disappearances of staff provide job opportunities for the younger generations, some of whom may be relatives of ‘Our Leader’.

Perhaps this is the solution to some of the current problems in the UK Civil Service? They have suspended officials in the Department for Transport due to the West Coast re-franchise mess up. Let’s just put them on a train to Siberia so that they and their colleagues can reflect on their sins.

The same could apply to those who write artificial speeches or press statements for Ministers. Not being honest enough? Throw them in the Tower until they mend their ways.

There is a lot of beauty and history in the world but sometimes you need to delve beneath it to get a fuller picture.

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