Could anyone explain what it really means in War and Peace? Is it a position in the govenment?

Part III, ch 1

With Pierre at hand in Moscow, Prince Vasily secured him an appointment as gentleman of the bedchamber, a position which put him on the same footing as a state councillor,1 and he insisted that the young man travel with him to Petersburg and stay at his house. Quite inadvertently, it seemed, though with absolute certainty that he was doing the right thing, Prince Vasily did everything to ensure that Pierre would marry his daughter.

  • Камер-юнкер, however the English page is not specific about Russia
    – Andra
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 20:08
  • Here's a historical context for the position: dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enc_rus_mod_of_life_xix/48/… - No idea if Google Translate can adequately handle that article, since I read it in original Russian, sorry
    – DVK
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 4:21
  • Both "gentleman of the bedchamber"/«камер-юнкер» and "state councillor"/«статский советник» are not positions but ranks in court and in government bureaucracy respectively. Russian Empire had ranking system for everything: for military, fleet, civilian servants, church clergy etc. It was called the Table of Ranks, it was in use from 1722 till 1917, only adding/removing ranks, and shifting up and down. At the time Tolstoy wrote court rank of "chamber-junker" was already removed, that's why he mentions civilian rank contemporary reader would know.
    – user28434
    Commented Jan 30 at 23:49

1 Answer 1


Original text is:

Пьер был у него под рукою в Москве, и князь Василий устроил для него назначение в камер-юнкеры, что тогда равнялось чину статского советника, и настоял на том, чтобы молодой человек с ним вместе ехал в Петербург и остановился в его доме. Как будто рассеянно и вместе с тем с несомненною уверенностью, что так должно быть, князь Василий делал все, что было нужно для того, чтобы женить Пьера на своей дочери. (src)

The title of "Камер-юнкер" at the time was a position in the court (not sure if you'd consider that "government" or not), somewhat similar to Western one of "Valet de chambre"; the position is below that of Chamberlain (Камергер). The linguistic origin of the term is probably Germanic "Kammerjunker" - which Google apparently thinks is a name of Danish dessert :P

However, please note that a page discussing the position very explicitly mentions that since start of 19th century, it was more honorary than actual service-oriented (e.g. did not imply specific court duties), as the original one was; that page explicitly lists War and Peace as example of this. The source is "Что непонятно у классиков, или Энциклопедия русского быта XIX века. Ю. А. Федосюк. 1989" - Encyclopedia of Russian Domestic Life by Fedosyuk, 1989.

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