Institute of Noble Maidens: history of foundation, rules, entertaining facts

In Russia in the past, the formation of the weaker sex was assigned a secondary role. There was an opinion that it is more important for a woman to shine with external beauty than with developed intellect. With this gender discrimination in 1764, Catherine II finished. The ruler, inspired by the advanced ideas of the Enlightenment in European countries, established a female higher education institution, thus laying the foundation for the education of women in Russia. How did the institution of noble maidens work? The answer to this question to date is of interest to many. The nuances of training in this school will be covered in this article.

Idea of ​​creation

The initiator of the foundation of the first institute for women in the Russian Empire was the personal secretary of the Empress, Ivan Betsky.With a European education, this public figure strongly supported the desire of Catherine II to inculcate in the Russian people the foundations of Western life. He believed that men and women should be brought up in the same conditions.

Catherine the Great

The Institute of Noble Maidens, located in the Smolny Monastery, was a closed-type educational institution for young ladies belonging to the nobility. The closed nature of the institute was the main idea on which Betsky relied, and was supposed to contribute to the education of the "new breed" of the fair sex.

The educator, while working on the project of the institute, painted in his imagination rainbow pictures. Young charmer are brought up in an isolated environment, over the long years of study at the Smolny Institute (as noble maidens were brought up within its walls, it will be described below). They turn into adult well-behaved women. Then, raising their children, they pass on all their experience and knowledge to them. Thus, after a while, the whole society becomes respectable and highly educated. Catherine II fully supported the intentions of I. Betsky.

Entry conditions

The institution of higher education, the Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens, could be received by girls from noble and not very rich families. Russian noblewomen and aristocrats from other countries were trained there. Girls were accepted from the age of six, and they left the walls of the institute as eighteen-year-old adult ladies.

how noble girls were raised

During the training, the girls were not allowed to leave the institute either of their own free will or at the request of relatives. The guardians of the girls made out the corresponding receipts in which they gave official consent to the education of children for twelve years without providing meetings with them.

It was difficult to enter the institutions of noble maidens (and they later began to open in other cities of the Russian Empire): for this, girls had to demonstrate their religious foundations and knowledge of Russian and French. But the most important criterion for admission was considered a noble origin.

Training program

In this privileged institute, young ladies were taught a large number of scientific disciplines: arithmetic, literacy, history, geography, cooking, drawing, vocal singing and other subjects.However, knowledge of certain disciplines college women received quite superficial. For example, in cooking classes, young ladies cooked meatballs made in advance of cooked minced meat.

during class

The main bias in the noble maiden training program was on rules of etiquette and religious studies. It was believed that the young ladies should certainly competently maintain a conversation on a religious topic and restrained and elegantly behave in society.

Institutional form

Pupils of the Smolny Institute were supposed to dress very modestly. They smoothly combed back braids and wore a uniform. The color of the clothes of the girls made it easy to determine their age category. Young schoolgirls had to wear a coffee-colored uniform, from 9 to 12 years old - blue, from 12 to 15 years old - blue, and the senior pupils went in white clothes. Smolyanka was not allowed to wear jewelry. The institute was ruled by a simple and monotonous atmosphere, special attention was paid to discipline and order in its arches.

Set of rules

The rules of the institute of noble maidens, fixed in its statute, described in detail how teachers should behave in relation to their wards and how the girls were supposed to communicate with each other.

About twenty unmarried teachers worked at the institute and almost all of them were over forty years old. It was impossible to punish bodily within its walls, but teachers often raised their voices against institutes who broke the rules. Male teachers in this school were taken only family, old age or very unattractive appearance, often with physical flaws, so that they could not enter into the temptation of good young ladies.

rules of the institution of noble maidens

Stripties were divided into parfetok, showing exemplary behavior, and mono-shoes, capable of showing a playful and obstinate disposition. If Smolyanka committed a misdemeanor, she was not particularly ceremonious. The girl could be punished in various ways: transfer to a certain table where you had to stand, leave to stand in the middle of the dining room without lunch, pin a torn stocking to the uniform or replace her apron.


The air temperature at the institute of noble maidens ranged from 12-16 degrees. Therefore, in winter, covered with only thin blankets, the girls always suffered from the cold. They were extremely rarely allowed to hide themselves with additional bedspreads.

how the institute of noble maidens worked

Stemski slept on hard mattresses, got up at six in the morning. Welcome daily morning swim at the waist in cold water. Warm up and sleep inmates pupils could only be in the hospital. It was warm, it was better fed, and a large number of institutes endowed with talent to skillfully depict an imaginary swoon to find themselves in the infirmary pretended to be sick.

Nutrition at the institute

Institutok fed not calorie, the menu did not differ diversity. For breakfast, they were given porridge or macaroni, a sandwich with butter and cheese, and tea. The dinner included the first course, meat from it and a pie, the dinner consisted of tea with a roll. On Wednesday and Friday, the institute maintained fasting and the diet of the pupils was very poor. In the morning they were given a few potatoes, seasoned with vegetable oil, and thin porridge, for lunch - a small piece of boiled fish and fast cake. Over time, schoolgirls were given the opportunity for a fee to have a more nutritious breakfast in the rooms of classy ladies, separate from other girls.

The fate of graduates

The first issue of the Smolny Institute of noble maidens became the most famous.Catherine II personally identified some young ladies to the court. Over time, this tradition continued, the best graduates of noble birth became maid of honor. They rotated in the company of the most enviable suitors and could find a "brilliant party" for themselves. Former schoolgirls, who did not have such a noble pedigree, got a job as governess and teacher.

Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens

The fair sex, graduated from the institutions of noble maidens, played an important role in the education of Russian society. Among them were many talented teachers, magnificent mothers, sympathetic sisters of mercy.

The Institute has been operating in St. Petersburg for over 150 years.

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