Topic: 400th Anniversary
The coronation of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich in 1613
In 2013, 400 years will turn since the first representative of the Romanov dynasty of Russian emperors, Mikhail, ascended the Russian throne on June 11, 1613.
The election of Mikhail Romanov as Russia’s tsar (he was elected from several other candidates by a group of Russian noblemen) put an end to a period of political instability in Russia. Within the following 3 centuries, the Romanov dynasty did much to make Russia the world’s largest country, strong, united and influential in the world politics.
In 1598, the Rurik dynasty, that had ruled Russia for more than 700 years, interrupted. The next 15 years came into history as a period of political instability. Within this rather short period, many rulers have changed on the Russian throne. Finally, in 1613, Mikhail Romanov ascended it.
In fact, few people had expected Mikhail to become the tsar. The main pretenders for the Russian throne were representatives of two noble families, the Godunovs and the Shuyskys. Neither of them looked upon Mikhail Romanov, a 16-year-old son of the head of the Russian Church Patriarch Philaret, as upon a serious rival. However, at a council of noblemen, the majority voted for him.
Russian historian Evgeny Pchyolov says:
“It is, to a large extent, representatives of the Romanov dynasty that made the Russian Empire one of the word’s largest and strongest countries – Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander I, Nicholas I and others. The time when the Romanov dynasty ruled Russia was the golden age for the Russian civilization.”
Many representatives of the Romanov dynasty were married to members of other European royal families, which also strengthened the position of Russia in the world.
Historian Faina Grimberg narrates:
“Initially, representatives of the Romanov dynasty tried to conclude marriages with members of Scandinavian royal families. Since the time of Emperor Peter the Great, a grandson of Mikhail Romanov and an energetic pro-western reformer, who ruled Russia from 1682 to 1725, marriages between Romanovs and members of European royal families became a common thing. Mainly, these were marriages with representatives of noble families of German origin – in particular, with dukes and duchesses of the German region of Hessen-Darmstadt. In the late 19th century, the last Russian Emperor Nickolas II married a granddaughter of the British Queen Victoria, and Nicholas’s uncle, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich, married Victoria’s other granddaughter. This strengthened ties between Russia and Great Britain.”
But probably the most close kinship ties the Romanovs had with the German Holstein-Gottorp dynasty. A daughter of Peter the Great, Anna, was married to Duke Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp. Their son, Peter III, ruled Russia for less than a year in 1762. He was the husband of Russian Empress Catherine the Great (ruled 1762-1796) and the father of Emperor Paul I (ruled 1796-1801). In Europe, the Romanov dynasty was even often referred to as the Romanov- Holstein-Gottorp dynasty.
Other members of the Russian royal family were married to representatives of ducal families of the German territories of Wurttemberg and Baden. Russian Emperor Nicholas I (ruled 1825-1855) was married to Princess Charlotte Hohenzollern of Prussia. The Romanovs were also related to the Nassau ducal family of the Netherlands, the Hanover royal family of Britain, and the Danish and Greek royal families.
Of course, it was not only ties of kinship, but also the farsighted foreign policy of the Romanov emperors, that made Russia be respected by the entire Europe. Historian Evgeny Pchyolov says:
“After the 1917 revolution, the Communist regime tried to distance Russia from the “bourgeois” Western Europe. In the Soviet time, Russia maintained more ties with Eastern Europe, Asia and other regions than with Western Europe. Now, Russia’s authorities are realizing that their country should be a full-fledged member of the European family of countries. Here, the experience of Russian emperors, who always tried to maintain close ties with European countries, may be very helpful for us.”
Meanwhile, for many Westerners, the Romanov dynasty is associated with the well-known jeweler Karl Faberge, who lived in Russia and is reknown for the magnificent Easter eggs he crafted for for the last two Russian Emperors: Alexander III and Nicholas II.
© The Voice of Russia. 31 December, 2013