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Sunday, 7 February 2016
On This Day - Empress Anna Ioannovna Was Born
Topic: Anna Ioannovna, Empress

Portrait of Empress Anna Ioannovna (1730).
Artist: Louis Caravaque. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 7 February (O.S. 28 January) 1693, in Moscow was born the Russian Empress (1730-1740) Anna Ioannovna - a daughter of Tsar Ioann Alexeevich and Praskovia Feodorovna Saltykova, niece of Peter I.

Until the age of 15, Anna lived with her mother in the village of Izmailovo. She studied history, geography, reading, calligraphy, foreign languages, and dance.

In 1710, Peter I, wishing to strengthen the influence of Russia in the Baltic States, so he married Anna to the young Duke of Courland, Frederick William, a nephew of the King of Prussia. However, shortly after the wedding, the Duke died. At the insistence of Peter I, Anna stayed to live in Courland, in Mitau, under the control of the Russian representative P. M. Bestuzhev-Rumin.

After the sudden death of Emperor Peter II in January 1730, the members of the Supreme Privy Council invited the Duchess-Dowager of Courland to ascend the throne. At the same time, Golitsyn initiated a reform of the political system in Russia through the virtual elimination of the autocracy and the introduction of a limited monarchy. To this end, the members of the Council proposed the future Empress to sign special "Conditions" under which she was deprived of the possibility to make independent political decisions: make peace and declare war, appoint to public office, or change the tax system.

However, the lack of unity among the supporters of the Supreme Privy Council, who tried to limit the power of the empress, allowed Anna Ivanovna supported by the nobility and guardsmen to regain all the prerogatives and publicly break the "Conditions". The Manifesto of 15 March (O.S. 4 March) 1730 was abolished by the Supreme Privy Council and a year later it was replaced by the Cabinet of Ministers, which included A. I. Osterman, G. I. Golovkin, A. M. Cherkassky.

During the decade of the reign of Anna Ioannovna, Russian foreign policy largely continued the course charted by Peter I. The Peace Treaty of Belgrade of 1739 gave Russia the opportunity to end the war with Turkey of 1735-1739 and annex the steppe between the Bug and the Donets, the right to send its goods to the Black Sea; Azov was recognized a neutral city.

The mainstay of Anna Ioannovna, who paid little attention to public affairs, were aristocratic Baltic Germans, who took dominant position in the government headed by her favourite E. J. von Biron. In 1730, was established the Secret Investigation Office (central body of political investigation), which replaced the Preobrazhensky Office abolished under Peter II. In a short term the Office gained extraordinary strength as the Empress was in constant fear of conspiracies. During the reign of Anna Ivonnovna the decree on primogeniture was repealed, the Land Noble Cadet Corps was established, new Guards regiments were formed - the Life Guards Izmaylovsky Regiment (Infantry) and the Life-Guards Mounted Regiment (cavalry), the service for nobility was limited to 25 years.

In an effort to continue the dynasty, Anna Ioannovna appointed heir to the throne her infant nephew, Ioann Antonovich.

On 28 October (O.S. 17 October) 1740, the Empress died and was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Shortly after her death a palace coup brought to power Elizabeth, daughter of Peter I.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 07 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:08 PM EST
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The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs
Topic: Books


includes 146 pages, with 66 black and white photographs and illustrations

Foreword by Hugh Bett of Maggs Bros. Ltd., London

Use the order button at the bottom of this page to order your copy from the Royal Russia Bookshop

Gilberts Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - is pleased to present our latest title - The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs is the first book written about the virtually unknown tutor to the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, between the years 1905-1914.

In December 1914 the eldest daughter of the last Tsar sent her former tutor a photographic portrait of herself. The soulful picture, signed ‘Olga 1914’, was the last communication the devoted tutor received from any of his former pupils. In July 1918 the family of Nicholas II were brutally murdered by a Bolshevik firing squad in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

After his return to England in 1914, John Epps took particular pains to preserve his Imperial mementoes. Over nine years — between 1905 and 1914 — he collected every letter, card and drawing he received from the ill-fated children. About 30 of his papers were discovered more than a decade ago at Maggs Bros. Ltd., an antiquarian book dealer in London, England. They had lain untouched at the bottom of a tin document drawer for nearly 70 years.

The lives of the four daughters of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna have been carefully preserved through the post-Revolution memoirs of Pierre Gilliard, Sydney Gibbs, Margaretta Eagar and Anna Vyrubova. These names recorded for posterity tell the story of their lives and their influence on the Imperial children. Of John Epps, however, there was no mention. He had been totally lost to history. Until now. 

Janet Epps - an Australian descendant of the tutor - and Dr. Gabriella Lang tell the story of John Epps, who arrived in Russia in 1880 to take up a post in an English school. From 1900, he was employed as a teacher at the Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo.

It was not until 1905, however, that he was offered the position of tutor to the four daughters of Russia's last tsar. On Monday April 25th, 1905, John Epps arrived at the Alexander Palace where he was met by Princess Sonia Orbeliani - the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting who took him to schoolroom, where he encountered “a tall, slender woman.” He describes this meeting: “Have I the honour of speaking to the Tsarina?” he asked hesitantly. “Yes, you do,” she replied. His new August employer smiled and did her best to make him at ease.

Many of John Epps’ observations of the grand duchesses are now preserved in the pages of this charming book. To John Epps, they had not been historical figures but real people with whom he had a relationship and these historical documents were tangible proof of that.

The highlight of the book are the reproductions of the letters, cards and drawings created by the grand duchesses for their beloved tutor, and published for the first time in The Forgotten Tutor. These childish drawings and sketches - so lovingly prepared and just as lovingly collected and carefully preserved - coupled with Epps' impressions of life in the Alexander Palace, tell of a different age, a magical world that ended so brutally. The stage is now set for John Epps' story to be told, for acknowledgement of his contribution to the rich tapestry of the Romanov saga and - most importantly - to finally bring these poignant personal mementoes of the last tsar and his family into the public arena.
The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs is the 25th title published by Gilbert's Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - since 1994.

For more information on the discovery of John Epps papers, please refer to the following news articles published in the Australian press in 2004:

Romanov Children's Ephemera Found in Trunk in London (ABC - The World Today, 14 October, 2004)

A Rare Glimpse into History (The Sunday Age, 14 October, 2004)



© Gilbert's Books. 20 December, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:12 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 7 February 2016 5:22 AM EST
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Saturday, 6 February 2016
Further Recommendations Regarding Ekaterinburg Remains Made by ROC
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Archpriest Oleg Mitrov, member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints
The Russian Orthodox Church believes that it is necessary to continue the search for the remains of Nicholas II's children. Presumably, only a small part of the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have been found, therefore, the search must be continued, said a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. The investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should also include an examination of the remains found by Nikolai Sokolov in the 1920s and later transferred to St. Job’s Church in Brussels. 

The search for the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria should continue in and around the Koptyaki Road area near Ekaterinburg, said Archpriest Oleg Mitrov at a recent conference. Mitrov, who is a member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints, is also currently engaged in the study of the issues surrounding the murders of Russia’s last royal family.

In July 1991, the remains of nine people were found along the Old Koptyaki Road near Ekaterinburg. They belonged to members of the Russian royal family - 50-year-old Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra, their daughters - 22-year-old Olga, 21-year-old Tatiana, 17-year-old Anastasia, as well as four retainers - 53-year-old Eugene Botkin, 40-year-old Anna Demidova, 62-year-old Alexei Trupp and 48-year-old Ivan Kharitonov. In July 2007 during further archaeological excavations to the south of the original burial site the remains of two other people were found. Experts believe that they are the remains of 13-year-old Tsesarevich Alexei and 19-year-old Grand Duchess Maria.

In July 2007, Nikolai Nevolin, head of forensics for the Sverdlovsk region, told reporters that the remains consisted of 44 bone fragments, from a few millimetres to a few centimetres long. Also found were seven teeth, three bullets and a fragment of a piece of clothing. Archpriest Mitrov believes that there may be more than one grave containing further remains of Alexei and Maria.

According to Archpriest Oleg Mitrov the remains found were marked with "signs of exposure to high temperatures and sulphuric acid". He went on to add that according to expert data, the remains "revealed a sharp discrepancy between the calculated and the actual weight of ash (remains)".

"This indicates that only one of possibly several burial sites of the remains of two people was found during the search operations. It would seem that this conclusion requires the investigation to continue the search, the search for other graves, but it is a task which was ignored. We need to continue to search for other places in which the remains of Tsesarevich Alexis and Grand Duchess Maria were disposed of"- the priest said, noting "the colossal importance of this issue." 

Archpriest Oleg Mitrov has also suggested that the investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should include an examination of the remains found at St. Job’s Church in Brussels. The remains had been handed over by investigator Nikolai Sokolov, who led the murder case of the family of Nicholas II in the years 1919-1924, to Prince Shirinsky-Shikhmatov in 1920. Two decades later, they were solemnly handed over to ROCOR head Metropolitan Serafim and in 1950 were transferred to St. Job's Church in Brussels.

"It is hoped that, in addition to the repetition of genetic examinations, which are unlikely to give any new findings, the examination will end the investigation in other important areas (...) will be able to obtain and analyze samples of skeletal remains, Sokolov sent to Europe, and will also continue to search for other places of burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria"- the priest said during an interview with Interfax-Religion in Moscow. 

In July 2015, in an interview with Interfax-Religion, the director of the State Archive of the Russian Federation Sergey Mironenko also expressed hope that the Russian Church Abroad would allow the study of fragments of the Brussels remains to be analysed and compared with the relics of the Ekaterinburg remains.
For more information on the remains found by Sokolov and later transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church in Brussels, please refer to the following articles: 

New Romanov Evidence Can be Studied Without Reopening Investigation

ROCOR Refuses Research on Royal Remains

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 06 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:43 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 6 February 2016 4:27 PM EST
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Friday, 5 February 2016
Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II Adorns Serbian City Street
Topic: Nicholas II

For more than a century, the people of Serbia have held the name of the Emperor Nicholas II with special reverence, believing him to be their patron and protector. Serbs of different generations remember all too well that one of the most difficult periods of their nations’ history was during World War I, when the Russian emperor came to their aid, and defended the fraternal people against Austro-Hungarian aggression, risking his own power, and the future of his empire.

The personal participation of Emperor Nicholas II saved the lives of many Serbian soldiers and affected the final outcome of the war in which Serbs were the victors. Their grateful descendants have not forget his sacrifice.

One manifestation of Serbia’s love and memory was the action of a group of young Serbian artists from the city of Novi Sad. For three days, from 1 to 4 February, a group of enthusiasts produced a large portrait of Emperor Nicholas II in the “popular wall painting style” in the Serbian city. The portrait reflects an original of the emperor painted in 1915 by the famous Russian painter Boris Mikhaylovich Kustodiev (1878-1927).

Beneath the portrait is placed the text of a telegram from Nicholas II to King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic of Serbia: "All my efforts will be made to comply with the dignity of Serbia ... In no case will Russia remain indifferent to the fate of Serbia".

The street portrait was initiated by the Serbian League Coalition "Rodoljub" as a symbol of brotherly love and union between the Serbian and Russian peoples.

Please take a moment to review these other articles on Emperor Nicholas II and Serbia:

Restoration of Tsar Nicholas II Fresco in Serbian Monastery Church

Monument To Russian Emperor Nicholas II Unveiled In Belgrade + VIDEO

Bust of Tsar Nicholas II Unveiled in Serbian Capital

Nicholas II Depicted in Serbian Graffiti 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:35 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2016 11:01 AM EST
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Topic: Royal Russia


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2016 1:51 PM EST
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Thursday, 4 February 2016
The Presidential Library Will Digitize Tsar's Marches
Topic: Imperial Russia

Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

The Russian Institute of Art History has provided scores of the marches approved by Nicholas II to the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg for digitization. This unique material from the special collection of the Institute will join the digital collection of the Presidential Library, will be made fully available on the website and in electronic reading rooms in Russia and abroad.

Military or parade march as a genre has its roots in the age of Peter I. The regular march music appeared with the development of the regular army: in 1711, a decree was issued on the staff of regimental bands. The Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment, founded in 1691 by Peter the Great, was the first to have a march raising the spirits for parades, see to the war and support the soldiers' spirits during the long tedious marches. When the legs of soldiers failed, they were supported by music. Before the appearance of march this function was performed by a marching song. By 1716, the Preobrazhensky Regiment orchestra included 40 musicians, and from 1722 all the regiments were obliged to have orchestras - wind or mixed type.

File from the manuscripts room, Russian Institute of Art History, which includes the marches, is an unpublished album of notes containing 252 sheets of musical notations of marches with the author's marks and blots. The best works of this genre were selected for the regiments personally by Emperor Nicholas II and were supposed to raise the morale of the Russian army.

Muses, alas, fell into silence when guns spoke and the revolutionary broke out. As a result, the album was not published. And only now, owing to the innovative technologies of the Presidential Library, it got a chance to be published in electronic form.

Among the scores, which are being digitized, there are such marches as, "Martial Spirit" by Fr. Von Blon, "A Dashing Unit" by Yu. Lengardt, the famous march of 1914 by I. Walch "Marching into Paris," which glorifies the victory over Napoleon. Most of the scores were written for brass bands of mixed composition.

Basically, the Russian Institute of Art History delivered to the Presidential Library military marches, which, according to the Emperor Nicholas II, who select them, “would give moral support the soldiers going up the line.”

The extensive collection of scores, which are currently digitized by the Presidential Library, will also feature "Montenegrin" march by L. Minkus from the ballet "Roxanne" and Cesare Pugni's march from the ballet "The Little Humpbacked Horse."

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:42 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 4 February 2016 9:46 AM EST
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On This Day: Peter I Approved the Table of Ranks
Topic: Peter the Great

A manuscript copy of the 1722 Table of Ranks
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 4 February (O.S. 24 January), 1722 Emperor Peter I approved a law on the order of the state service in the Russian Empire – ‘The table of ranks’.

The law was based on the similar acts of the West Europe countries but with regard to the ranks system of the Russian Empire. The ‘Table of ranks’ included a table listing all the ranks along with the explanation for the use.

All the ranks were divided into three categories: military ranks (of the army, artillery and engineering, guards, navy), civil ranks and court ranks. Each category was in its turn divided into 14 classes or ranks. Each category had its characteristics, its names of ranks, its rules of obtaining the next rank, its decorations.

The first class was the highest one, the fourteenth – the last one. Besides, the military ranks were declared being higher that the respective civil or court ranks. Officials of different classes had a different form of address by title: Your Excellence (for the highest and senators) and Your Honour (for the rest). By the end of the 18th century the number of titles reached five and for each representative there was a special address.

Though the state service focused mainly on the nobles, the ‘Table’ of Peter enabled the talented people from the third estate to show their worth: “In order to inspire the desire to serve so that those who serve well were honored instead of impudent ones and spongers”. The order of precedence abolished in 1682 was now replaced with the principle of a good military service. Every person who received the 8th class rank, became a gentleman by birth. The ranks from the 14th to the 9th classes enabled their owners to become nobles. All the nobles were allotted with lands and peasants which stimulated the fervor for the service among the non-noble officials whose number in the officialdom was constantly increasing.

In spite of the series of changes and the repeated discussion of the issue on the ranks’ abolishment or the promotion in rank system reorganization, the Peter’s ‘Table of ranks’ existed for almost two hundred years and was abolished only on 29 December (O.S. 16 December), 1917.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:32 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 4 February 2016 9:35 AM EST
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Wednesday, 3 February 2016
Moscow Patriarchate to Canonize Dr. Eugene Botkin
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Dr. Eugene Botkin with Emperor Nicholas II
The family-physician of the last Russian emperor and his family Dr. Eugene Botkin is to be canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. The announcement was made today at a press conference in Moscow by the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.

"The Council of Bishops has decided to celebrate among the saints Dr. Eugene Botkin" - the Metropolitan said.

Eugene Botkin, son of the famous doctor Sergei Botkin, who had been a court physician under Emperors Alexander II and Alexander III, served as court physician for Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and, while in exile with the family, sometimes treated the haemophilia-related complications of the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich.

Botkin accompanied the emperor and his family into exile to Tobolsk and later Ekaterinburg. The faithful doctor, aged 53 years, was shot along with the Russian royal family and three other retainers in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918 in Ekaterinburg. 

In 1981, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) canonized the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, five children, and four faithful retainers - including Botkin - as new martyrs.

In 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, including his wife and five children as passion bearers.
For more information on the canonization of Dr. Botkin, please refer to the following article: 

Nicholas II's Doctor, Servants May be Canonized

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 03 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:18 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 February 2016 1:31 PM EST
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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Congratulations to Elena Kalnitskaya, General Director of the Peterhof
Topic: Peterhof

Elena Yakovlevna Kalnitskaya, General Director of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve
Today marks Elena Yakovlevna Kalnitskaya’s seventh anniversary as General Director of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve.
During this short period, Elena Kalnitskaya has initiated the creation and/or completion of more than a dozen museums within the Peterhof Museum Preserve, such as the Imperial Yachts Museum, the Gothic Chapel and the Farm Palace. She has also been responsible for the restoration of the Alexandria Park, the Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum and many other monuments of architecture and landscape art. Further, she has been instrumental in the planning of future restoration projects of such architectural monuments as Ropsha Palace and the Lower Dacha, the former residence of Emperor Nicholas II which was severely damaged during World War II and later demolished in the 1960s.

Last month she was recognized as one of the top ten most influential cultural figures of St. Petersburg in 2015 by  City 812 Magazine.

Preserving the traditional museum approach to cultural heritage, Elena Kalnitskaya has always supported the latest trends in the development of the vast Peterhof museum complex. The author of numerous books on the Romanov dynasty and the history of Peterhof, she is recognized by her peers as a charismatic leader who over the past seven years continues to attract new specialists, exhibits, bringing new opportunities to Peterhof. 

On behalf of Royal Russia I would like to take this opportunity to extend congratulations and thanks to Elena Kalnitskaya for her tireless dedication and endless enthusiasm to preserve Russia’s imperial history, she is indeed an inspiration to all of us!

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:55 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 February 2016 2:02 PM EST
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Investigation Into Royal Family Murders to Continue as Long as Necessary - Patriarch Kirill
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

The controversial issue of the “Ekaterinburg remains” will be discussed today during the bishops’ council of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the opening ceremony of the ecclesiastical court. The bishops’ council will last until 3 February 2016.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said the inquiry into the killing of the family of Nicholas II will be completed once the truth is found.

"I have received the highest-level reassurances that there will be no hurry and no tying down of the end of the inquiry to any particular date. The inquiry will last as long as is necessary in order establish the truth," the patriarch said at the current Bishops' Council in Moscow on Tuesday.

Unlike the situation in the 1990s, the state has given representatives of the Church - archbishops, clerics and invited scientists - "the possibility to participate directly in the inquiry," the patriarch said.

"Expert examination is three-level: historical, anthropological and genetic. An important step of the examination was the taking of samples for genetic tests of the remains ascribed to the saint martyrs, the Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, as well as the remains of the Emperor Alexander III in the immediate presence of representatives of the Church," the patriarch said.

He pointed out that earlier, in response to his request to re-open the inquiry into "the Ekaterinburg remains" and the exhumation of the remains of Alexander III, "the Russian president gave consent to a full-scale and comprehensive investigation of this topic."

"The Russian Federation Investigative Committee set up a new investigative group whose work is under permanent control of the Investigative Committee chairman, Alexander Bastrykin," the patriarch said.

According to earlier reports, the Investigative Committee had resumed the investigation into the criminal case involving the death of the family of Russia's last emperor. The Investigative Committee said additional tests are being performed to confirm the authenticity of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria.

Samples of the remains of Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and samples of the clothes of Russian Emperor Alexander II were taken from St. Petersburg to Moscow in September 2015.

The Russian Orthodox Church and some of the Romanov's ancestors believe the authenticity of the tsar’s family remains has not yet been proven. They are hoping that a new investigation will help resolve this issue.

The Investigative Committee completed the investigation into the criminal case involving the death of the family of Nicholas II in January 2011 and recognized the remains found near Ekaterinburg as authentic.

A grave with nine bodies was found on Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road near Ekaterinburg in July 1991. The remains were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their daughters Olga, 22, Tatiana, 21, and Anastasia, 17, and their servants Dr. Eugene Botkin, 53, Anna Demidova, 40, Alexei Trupp, 62, and Ivan Kharitonov, 48.

Members of the imperial family were buried at a sepulcher of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998. In 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the new Russian martyrs and confessors Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children.

The remains of two more people were discovered during archaeological excavation works 70 kilometers south of the first grave on 26 July 2007. The remains have still not been buried, but numerous expert analyses indicate that the remains are most likely those of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Grand Duchess Maria.

© Interfax / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:52 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 February 2016 9:56 AM EST
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