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Monday, 7 July 2014
The Great Eastern Journey of Tsar Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II

Tsesarevich Nicholas (standing to the right of the sphinx) in Egypt
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 5th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Joe Crescente, owns the copyright of the version presented below.

Nicholas II, the future Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias was the first and only Tsar to visit Siberia and the Far East. Taking the journey several years before ascending the throne, Nicholas II covered approximately 51,000 km, including about 15,000 km of railway and 22,000 km by sea over about 290 days. After Peter the Great’s incognito fact-finding Grand Embassy tour of Europe in 1697-1698, a long educational trip became an important part of training Tsars-to-be for the challenges that lay ahead.

One major impetus for this trip was Alexander III’s (Nicholas’s father) decision to establish the Trans-Siberian Railway. He wanted a member of the royal family to be present for the opening ceremony in Vladivostok. This, of course, conflicts with some sources that suggest that Nicholas was considering traveling East to China and then through America and other claims that Nicholas’s father wanted to separate him from his lover, a ballerina at the Mariinsky Theater. What is indisputable is that the Romanovs wanted to use this trip as a spiritual mission to spread the Orthodox faith among new peoples and territories around the world.

The trip was planned by the general staff and the Holy Synod, the supreme governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church. The heir apparent embarked with an entourage on October 23, 1890 (old calendar) from Gatchina. His main companion was Prince Esper Ukhtomsky, a friend of the heir to the throne and official historian of the journey, but was also joined by his sickly younger brother, Grand Duke George. It was hoped that George’s health would benefit from the sun and sea air.

The delegation went first by train to Vienna and then Trieste where they boarded the warship, The Memory of Azov. The next stop was the Greek port city of Piraeus where Nicholas met his uncle, King George I of Greece. The King’s son, Prince George of Greece and Denmark, joined the delegation here. They went next to Egypt, with Nicholas and much of the crew touring the Nile and the pyramids, while the ship passed through the Suez Canal.

From there they sailed to India arriving in Bombay on December 11. It was here that Nicholas’s younger brother turned back as he had become ill. While in India Nicholas visited many of India’s main sites including the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple. He met with rajas, went hunting, but was largely unsuccessful (whereas two princes that accompanied him bagged a tiger each), and bought numerous artworks, many of which can be found today in Russian museums. It was said that the future Tsar did not enjoy India as the heat was intense and he couldn’t stand the sight of British redcoats, reminders of Russia’s strained relations with Britain. The Indian portion of the journey culminated with a visit to the island of Ceylon, where one of the highlights was a show featuring 30 to 40 elephants and “devil dancers”.

Tsesarevich Nicholas (standing lower right) hunting in India
From there, the journey continued on to Singapore, where according to local accounts Nicholas’s visit created quite a stir. Then it was on to today’s Indonesia and Thailand, where Nicholas spent a week as a guest of King Rama V. Afterwards he made a port of call in China.

It was in Japan that perhaps the most notable event of the journey took place. Nicholas greatly enjoyed his first days on the island, buying handicrafts and even getting a large tattoo of a dragon on his right arm.

He was warmly received, as the Japanese were interested in bettering relations with Russia. However, on April 29, in Otsu, he was attacked by Tsuda Sanzo, a policeman assigned to protect him. Sanzo took a stab at Nicholas’s face, leaving him with a 9 cm scar on the right side of his forehead. The second thrust was blocked by his cousin’s cane. His life was never in danger.

Prince George of Greece and Tsesarevich Nicholas in Japan
Theories vary although xenophobia is largely considered Sanzo’s motivation. The Emperor rushed to meet the future Tsar. Japan was no match militarily for Russia at the time and feared provoking the government into war. Three Japanese princes accompanied Nicholas as escorts as he left.

The entourage arrived at Vladivostok on May 11 and after commencing with the official ceremony, they left the Memory of Azov behind and traveled overland and by riverboat through all of Russia. They first went north stopping at Khabarovsk and then on to Blagoveshchensk, where an enormous arc dedicated to the visit still remains (commemoration arcs still stand in many of these cities). Next on the itinerary were the Eastern Siberian cities of Nerchinsk, Chita and Irkutsk.

Tsesarevich Nicholas visiting the Trans-Baikal region of the Russian Empire on his return home to St. Petersburg
He next arrived in Tomsk. This visit is clouded in secrecy, as even Ukhtomsky, the chronicler, is uncharacteristically silent on what Nicholas did in the evening. Rumor has it that he secretly visited the cell of Theodore the Elder, a mystic that mysteriously arrived in Tomsk in 1837. Some believe that Tsar Aleksandr I faked his own death in 1825 to escape his fate, before reappearing years later as Theodore.

From Tomsk, the journey continued to Surgut, Tobolsk, Tara, Omsk and Orenburg, before returning to St. Petersburg by train.

In many ways this trip was more important for what it brought the Russian interior. For example, the future Tsar spent one night in Tomsk and yet it received funds for Tomsk Polytechnic University and the opening of a spiritual academy in the coming years. A monastic workshop there received orders from the Imperial Court for the next 20 years. It seemed that whatever the Tsar touched was gold, at least on this trip. 
© Joe Crescente / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 07 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:08 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014 8:22 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 2 July 2014
National History Museum of Romania Hosts Exhibit Dedicated to 1914 Visit of Nicholas II to Constanta
Now Playing: Language: Romanian. Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds
Topic: Nicholas II
Archival film footage of the arrival of Emperor Nicholas II and his family at Constanta, Romania on June 14th [O.S. June 1st] 1914
On June 5th, a unique exhibition opened at the National History Museum of Romania in Bucharest. The exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of Emperor Nicholas II’s historic visit to Romania in June 1914, two months before the outbreak of the First World War. This was the only official visit by a Russian sovereign to Romania. The commemoration of this event is the subject of the exhibition Russian-Romanian Historical Consonances: Centenary Visit by Emperor Nicholas II to Constanta (1 / June 14, 1914).

The exhibition is the first cultural event conducted by the National History Museum of Romania in partnership with Russian institutions. It brings together a unique set of photographs and documents from the collections of several Russian partner institutions: State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF), State Central Archives in St. Petersburg, Russian State Archive documentaries and Photo (RGAKFD), and the National Museum of History, the NAR and Diplomatic Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Nearly 100 photographs, documents and other items on display at the National Museum of Romania in Bucharest

Nearly 100 photos, historic documents and other valuable items were put on display for the first time marking the historic event between the two monarchs. In addition to photographs that mark Nicholas II’s visit to Constanta in 1914, were photographs of the visit by King Carol (Charles) I and Prince Ferdinand to Russia in July 1898, and that of Prince Ferdinand (future King Ferdinand I) and Princess Maria (future Queen Marie), and their son, Carol (future King Carol II) in March 1914 to St. Petersburg. The National Museum of History also put on display the Order of St. Andrew, awarded to King Carol I and medals issued to commemorate the visit of Tsar Nicholas II in 1914.

Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their children arrived at Constanta, situated on the Black Sea coast onboard the Imperial yacht Standart. The short video above documents their arrival at the Black Sea port on 14th June [O.S. 1st June] 1914.

Nicholas II had a close relationship with King Carol I (1839-1914) of Romania, especially after Crown Prince Ferdinand’s marriage to Maria who was a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II. The meeting between the two sovereigns included political discussions which were aimed at maintaining peace in the Balkans and respect to the Treaty of Bucharest signed in 1913. 

Members of the Russian Imperial and Romanian royal families pose for a photograph at Constanta, June 1914
It was also during this visit that Ferdinand and Maria tried to make a match for their son, Prince Carol, with the Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna, eldest daughter of Nicholas II. This proposed match was strongly supported by the Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov, but nothing came of it. Olga struggled to make small talk with the Romanian crown prince. Carol's mother, was unimpressed with Olga as well, finding her manners too brusque and her broad, high cheek-boned face "not pretty." Olga later told Pierre Gilliard that she wanted to marry a Russian and remain in her own country. She said her parents would not force her to marry anyone she could not like. 

The exhibition ran from June 5th - 29th, 2014 at the National History Museum of Romania in Bucharest. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue in three languages: Romanian, Russian and English, richly illustrated with photographs and other documents from the exhibit. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:11 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 July 2014 2:52 PM EDT
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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Monument to Nicholas II Unveiled in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Topic: Nicholas II
A new monument to the Holy Russian Tsar and Passion-Bearer Nicolas II has been unveiled in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reports, citing the SRBIN INFO agency. 

Photo © Russian Academy of Arts
The monument was unveiled on June 21, 2014, in Banja Luka on the initiative of the Serbian Republic’s (Bosnia and Herzegovina) president, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, and the Russian Military Historical Society. The Serbian Republic’s president Milorad Dodik and assistant to the Russian president Igor Shchegolev were to be present at the opening ceremony.

The artist of the monument is the sculptor from Russia Zurab Tsereteli. 

The monument was unveiled after a joint liturgy of Serbian and Russian clergy in the local cathedral. After the consecration ceremony performances of the “Kazachsky Krug” Cossacks’ group, the choir of the Ipatiev Monastery at Kostroma (the Ipatiev Monastery is historically connected with the first Tsar of the Romanov Dynasty) as well as a round table of Serbian and Russian historians took place. 

Photo © Russian Academy of Arts
The opening of the monument is timed to coincide with the centenary since the beginning of the World War I. When in July 1914 Austria-Hungary with the support of Germany started a war against Serbia, the Serbian successor to the Throne Prince Alexander Karadordevic appealed to the Russian Emperor Nicolas II, who assured him that “Russia will not remain indifferent to the destiny of Serbia”. Soon after that Russia launched a war against Germany in order to defend their brothers, the Serbian people. 

In the words of Holy Hierarch Nikolaj (Velimirovic): “Our debt to Russia is great. A person could owe a debt to another person, a nation – to another nation. But the debt the Serbian people owe to Russia for its actions in 1914 is so great that it won’t be repaid in generations and centuries. This is a debt of love, when one dies saving one’s neighbor. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends, said Christ. The Russian Tsar and Russian people, who went to war in order to defend Serbia, entered it unprepared, knowing full well that they are facing death. But the love the Russians have for their brothers did not retreat in the face of danger and was not afraid of death”. 
© & Royal Russia. 26 June, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:55 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 26 June 2014 7:59 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 10 June 2014
All Family Members of Nicholas II Were Murdered - Investigator
Topic: Nicholas II

Investigators have no doubt that the remains found on the Koptyakovskaya road in Yekaterinburg are those of the late family members of Nicholas II, Vladimir Solovyov, a senior investigator with the Main Department of Criminalistics of the Russian Investigative Committee, who has investigated the Romanov family death since 1993, told reporters.

"The first publications on the remains made me doubt. But it was interesting, I had a chance to work in the archive and conduct forensic evaluations and I gradually came to the conclusion that yes, those are the remains of the tsar's family," Solovyov said at the opening of an exhibit devoted to the investigation into the death of the family of Emperor Nicholas II in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

Solovyov said new serious identification methods appeared in forensic science in the past few years that have helped prove that the remains are those of the tsar's family.

"Among the items displayed at the exhibit is a shirt of Nicholas II which was stained with his blood when he was wounded by a Japanese police officer. That blood has been preserved and it was possible to conduct a full-fledged investigation. We compared the blood of Nicholas II with the remains of Nicholas II," the investigator said.

"The possibility that it is not Nicholas is one divided by ten to the seventeenth power. This figure exceeds the number of all people who have ever lived on earth by billions of times. There is no doubt that those are the remains of the tsar's family," Solovyov said.

Solovyov also said many imposters claimed to be surviving members of the tsar's family through decades.

"Publications are now appearing in the press stating that Grand Duchess Anastasia survived and her grandson now lives in Yekaterinburg. There were very much such false Anastasias. After 2007, when the remains of Tsearevich Alexey and Grand Duchess Maria were found, no one can say, even theoretically, that anyone [of the family of Nicholas II] survived," he said.

"We can now say with all confidence and without any doubt that these are members of the tsar's family. It's a pity that their remains have still not been buried," Solovyov said.

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

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

The Investigative Committee said in January 2011 that it had completed an investigation into the death of Nicholas II, his family members and entourage and closed the criminal case.

The Russian Orthodox Church has still not recognized the remains interred in Peter and Paul Cathedral as those of Nicholas II and his family members and entourage, claiming that it was not convinced by the proof of their authenticity that was presented.
Read a fascinating interview with Vladimir Solovyov and his investigation into the murders of Nicholas II and his family in the latest issue of our official magazine, Royal Russia: 

Hostages to Political Games: Did Lenin Order the Execution of the Royal Family 

© Interfax. 06 June, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:44 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 June 2014 5:55 AM EDT
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Monday, 9 June 2014
Nicholas II's Coronation Celebrations Took a Tragic Turn
Topic: Nicholas II

Coronation of Nicholas II. Artist: Laurits Tuxen. State Hermitage Museum
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the May 28th, 2014 edition of the Deseret News. The author Cody K. Carlson owns the copyright presented below.

Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, held his coronation on May 26, 1896. A few days later, a terrible tragedy would bode ill for his reign.

Following Russia's defeat in the Crimean War (1853-1856), Czar (or Tsar, a corruption of Caesar, meaning emperor) Alexander II believed that the victory of Britain and France owed much to Russia's political, social and industrial backwardness. In order to modernize his realm, Alexander II began a series of reforms, including the emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861, two years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States.

In 1881, assassins succeeded in murdering Alexander II, and his son, Alexander III, soon became czar. Unlike his father, the younger Alexander objected to any loss of czarist power. Though he could not reverse the freeing of the serfs, he did much to roll back the policies of liberalization that his father had begun. In 1894, not yet 50 years old, Alexander III fell ill with kidney disease and died. His son, the 26-year-old Nicholas, became the new czar.

Affectionately called "Nicky" by his family, the new czar did not feel up to the challenge of his new responsibilities, crying to a cousin, “What is going to happen to me and to all of Russia? I am not prepared to be a tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling. I have no idea of even how to talk to the ministers.”

Nicholas ruled for a year and a half as an uncrowned monarch, awaiting the most opportune time politically and logistically for the grand ceremonies that would mark his coronation. Finally, on May 26, 1896, he received the crown and his official name as Czar Nicholas II.

In her book “King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War,” historian Catrine Clay quotes from Nicholas' diary: “A great, solemn day for Alix (his wife), Mama and myself. We were on our feet from 8 o'clock in the morning; though our procession did not move off till 9:30. Luckily the weather was heavenly. The Grand Staircase presented a glittering sight. Everything took place in the Uspensky Cathedral, and although it seems like a dream, I will remember it all my life!”

Clay wrote: “The priests went out onto the steps of the cathedral and to greet their Majesties, blessing them with holy water. Entering the cathedral, their Majesties bowed to the icons. At the alter the Tsar recited the Credo in a clear voice, then donned his purple mantle, raised the crown onto his own head, and took the orb and scepter, at which everyone sank to their knees.”

In a display calculated to both celebrate the coronation and showcase Russia's steps toward modernization, that night the Kremlin walls shined with electric lights. By any standard, the coronation had been a smashing success, and the young czar appeared pleased. Though Russia always had its share of revolutionaries and malcontents, for many Russians it appeared that the new czar's future reign looked bright.

On May 30, four days after the coronation, a tragedy occurred that foreshadowed later disastrous events in Nicholas' reign. The tragedy began with a show of generosity, as the new czar directed that a banquet be served to the Russian people just outside of Moscow, at Khodynka Field. A military training ground, Khodynka was chosen for its logistical advantages. Many thousands of Russian workers and peasants were expected to attend, and Khodynka was thought to be large enough to accommodate them all.

In addition to the free food, consisting of beer, pretzels and sausage, the organizers planned to distribute souvenir gifts to the crowd, including tankards carrying the date of the coronation upon them. Before sunrise an estimated half million Russians showed up for their food and gifts, far more than the organizers had planned for. As more and more people arrived, rumors began to spread that there was not enough to go around.

In his book “A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924,” historian Orlando Figes wrote: “The crowd surged forward. People tripped and stumbled into the military ditches, where they were suffocated and crushed to death. Within minutes 1,400 people had been killed and 600 wounded. Yet the tsar was persuaded to continue with the celebrations.”

Nicholas attended a ball that evening at the French embassy, and the week's festivities continued as planned. To most Russians, the czar's apparent lack of concern and sympathy was outrageous, and it significantly damaged his reputation with his subjects. It was a breach that never fully healed.

Sensing his people's outrage, Nicholas commissioned an investigation into the episode. The investigation singled out Grand Duke Sergius, Moscow's governor-general and the czar's brother-in-law, as the chief culprit in failing to adequately prepare for the crowds. When Nicholas considered punishing the duke, other nobles stepped forward to protest the punishment.

Figes wrote: “(The nobles) said it would undermine the principles of autocracy to admit in public the fault of a member of the imperial family. The affair was closed. But it was seen as a bad omen for the new reign and deepened the growing divide between the court and society. Nicholas, who increasingly believed himself to be ill-fated, would later look back at this incident as the start of all his troubles.”

As he predicted at the death of his father, Nicholas was not up to the role that fate had cast him. Lacking political subtlety and underestimating the forces of democracy, liberalism, nationalism and revolutionary socialism, Nicholas doggedly insisted upon retaining all of the traditional powers of his station, determined to hand them over to his son and heir intact when the time came. To this end, he repeatedly stifled attempts to create a Russian parliament until it was too late. By the time Russia did create a parliament, the Duma, in 1906, Nicholas had so estranged himself from the people that revolution was inevitable.

After the popular revolution of February 1917, in the midst of World War I, Nicholas was compelled to abdicate and the liberal-led provisional government announced its intention to create a republic. Workers councils, the Soviets, began to appear at the same time, calling for a more radical form of government. In October, Vladimir Lenin led a Bolshevik coup, dubbed it a revolution, and soon controlled the government. Nicholas and his family were soon arrested.

In July 1918, 22 years after his coronation, the Bolsheviks murdered Nicholas along with his wife and children. The Romanov line, which had produced Russia's czars since 1613, came to an end. 
© Cody K. Carlson / The Deseret News. 28 May, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:25 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 9 June 2014 5:34 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Serbia to Erect Monument to Tsar Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II

A monument to Tsar Nicholas II will be erected in the Serbian capital of Belgrade later this year. The monument will be established in the park leading to the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (Russian House) on Milan Street, near the National Parliament, said Goran Vesic, a spokesman for the mayor’s office during in an interview with Studio B.

The monument - a gift of the Russian Federation shall be established under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic. The initiative to install the monument to the Russian tsar was expressed last year, the year marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The proposal was supported by public and governmental organizations in Serbia and Russia. 

“This is a great event for Belgrade” - said Vesic - "Serbia and Belgrade are indebted to Nicholas Romanov." Serbia holds strong links to Nicholas II, who came to the nations aid during World War I. After the 1917 Revolution and World War I, Serbia became home to many Russian immigrants.  “After the Revolution, Belgrade opened its doors to many Russian refugees,” - Vesic continued - "the rich went to Paris, and the middle class came to Belgrade. Many beautiful buildings in Belgrade were created by Russian architects. We owe so much to this man who did so much for us” - Vesic stressed.

During 2013, charity events were organized for the purpose of collecting the necessary funds for the construction and erection of the monument. The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), who have maintained strong historical ties with both Serbia and the last Russian monarch played a key role. Tsar Nicholas II was elected an honorary member of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in May 1884, while still Tsesarevich. The original document certifying his election is stored in Serbian State Archives (SARF) in Belgrade. After ascending the throne, he took a great interest in the activities and projects of the IOPS, which included his financial support.

The monument is expected to be unveiled on August 1st, the day marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 April 2014 5:13 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Tsar Nicholas II at Krasnoye Selo - VIDEO
Now Playing: Duration: 5 minutes, 5 seconds. Language: NA
Topic: Nicholas II
The following video offers some wonderful film footage of Tsar Nicholas II inspecting the troops during the summer military encampment at Krasnoye Selo. He is accompanied by his son and heir, Tsesarevich Alexei Nicholayevich. Also present are the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich (Junior) who served as commander-in-chief of the St. Petersburg Military District from 1905 to the outbreak of World War I (he then served as commander in chief of the Russian armies on the main front in the first year of the war, and was later a successful commander in the Caucasus); and the elderly Count Vladimir Fredericks, a Finno-Russian statesman who served as Imperial Household Minister between 1897 and 1917 under the last tsar. The date is uncertain, but most likely the late 1900s.

From 1765, by order of Empress Catherine II, Krasnoye Selo (Red Village) was used for large scale military manoeuvres, inspections and exercises, which were attended by the Empress  herself. However, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Krasnoye Selo reached its zenith, becoming the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. It was in Krasnoye Selo that, on July 25, 1914, the council of ministers was held at which Tsar Nicholas II decided to intervene in the Austro-Serbian conflict, thereby bringing about the First World War.

During the 19th century, Krasnoye Selo developed as a recreational suburb of St. Petersburg with numerous summer dachas and villas, including the summer residences of members of the Russian Imperial family. These included Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaievich, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, and Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, all of which were featured in our 2014 calendar, Romanov Legacy: The Palaces and Residences of the Russian Imperial Family.

This historical film is courtesy of the Deutsches Filminstitut in Wiesbaden, Germany. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 March, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:50 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2014 6:17 AM EDT
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Thursday, 20 February 2014
Documents on the 1891 Assassination Attempt on Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich Published in Japan
Topic: Nicholas II

The Museum of History in the Japanese city of Otsu have for the first time, published the materials covering the investigation and trial in the 1891 assassination attempt on the heir to the Russian throne, Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich - the future Emperor Nicholas II, during his visit to Japan as part of his eastern journey.

The materials include 984 pages covering the trial of Tsuda Sanzo, as well as other artefacts related to the incident, including photographs and written testimonies. 

The assassination attempt occurred on 11 May [O.S. 29 April] 1891, while Nicholas was returning to Kyoto after a day trip to Lake Biwa in Otsu. Tsuda Sanzo, one of his escort policemen swung at the Tsesarevich's face with a saber. The quick action of Nicholas's cousin, Prince George of Greece and Denmark, who parried the second blow with his cane, saved his life. Tsuda then attempted to flee, but two rickshaw drivers in Nicholas's entourage chased him down and pulled him to the ground. Nicholas was left with a 9 centimetre long scar on the right side of his forehead, but his wound was not life-threatening.

The assailant was arrested and imprisoned. The incident sparked a wave of remorse across Japan. Emperor Meiji publicly expressed sorrow at Japan's lack of hospitality towards a state guest, which led to an outpouring of public support and messages of condolences for the Tsesarevich. The Japanese emperor even traveled by train to Kyoto where he met with the Tsesarevich. The Tsesarevich received gifts, and more than 20 thousand telegrams of condolences and apologies from Japanese citizens.

The documents show that Tsuda remained silent throughout the trial. On the question of the motive behind the attack, he indicated only that the distinguished guest had showed a lack of respect to a monument erected in honour of the heroes of one of the samurai rebellion. Tsuda was sentenced to life imprisonment near Kushiro, Hokkaido , and died of an illness in September of the same year. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 February, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:05 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 February 2014 1:21 PM EST
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Saturday, 8 February 2014
Monument to Nicholas II to be Erected in Thailand
Topic: Nicholas II

King Chulalongkorn with Tsar Nicholas II in Saint Petersburg, during the King's first Grand Tour in 1897
The Foundation Committee of the Orthodox Church in Thailand will install a monument in Bangkok to Tsar Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Siam. The project is in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 2013, for which Thailand was invited to participate. The Orthodox Church in Thailand invited the famous sculptor, Sergei Isakov - Academician of the Russian Academy Arts, Honored Artist of Russia to participate in the work on the Russian part of the sculpture. Isakov has experience of capturing the image of St. Tsar Nicholas II martyr in numerous sculptural compositions. 

Sergei Mikhailovich Isakov arrived in Thailand on December 16, 2013 with the assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in Thailand to begin work on the monument. Work is being carried out on the territory of the new St. Nicholas Church in Bangkok.

Assistance in the construction of the monument to Tsar Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was provided by the Nicholas Foundation (Russia) and the Foundation of the Orthodox Church in Thailand. The prototype of the monument is based on the famous picture showing two monarchs during a visit by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to St. Petersburg in 1897.
Russian-Siamese Royal Relations, Late 19th Century

Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, King Chulalongkorn, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Tsar Nicholas II with members of the Siamese royal entourage in Saint Petersburg, during the King's 1897 visit
In the late 1870-s King Chulalongkorn on numerous occasions expressed his wish to establish permanent diplomatic relations with Russia. Russian naval officers whose ships periodically came to Bangkok carried to the Russian Emperor the first Royal letters with clear intention of the Siamese government to develop bilateral trade, diplomatic and cultural cooperation with Russia. A real breakthrough in the bilateral relations was made later by the visit of the Heir to the Imperial throne Tsesarevich Nicholas, the son of the then reigning Emperor Alexander III, to Siam in 1891. It was a part of the Eastern Voyage of the Tsesarevich who was familiarizing himself with Asia and Asian affairs on recommendation of his farther Alexander III. Notwithstanding its unofficial status, the visit gave a great impulse to the advancement of relations between the two countries and in fact marked the beginning of close and long-lasting personal friendship between Tsar Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn, and in a broader sense between two our countries and peoples.

The Russian Crown Prince and his entourage were welcomed in Siam with all due honours and utmost warmth. King Chulalongkorn personally took care of the visiting Russian Crown Prince and awarded him with the Order of Chakri. The King hosted festivities in honour of the Tsesarevich both in Bangkok and at the Bang Pa In Palace and saw him off on the last day.

Several months later a captain of a Russian naval ship delivered a letter of gratitude from Alexander III to King Chulalongkorn together with the Order of St. Andrew bestowed by the Emperor upon the Siamese Monarch - the first in the number of Russian decorations received by members of the Thai Royal family.

The visit of Prince Damrong, brother of King Chulalongkorn and Director-General of the National Department of Education of Siam, to Russia became the next step in the development of relations between the two countries. Prince Damrong was an active participant of the process of establishment and development of the Russia-Siam relations. He came to Russia in November 1891 and was received by Alexander III in Livadia - a gorgeous Royal summer residence on the banks of the Black Sea. The Prince delivered a letter and the Order of Chakri which had been sent to the Russian Emperor by the King of Siam. In his letter King Chulalongkorn re-confirmed the intention to further develop friendly relations with Russia.

Starting from 1891, official visits and personal contacts including the exchange of correspondence between the Russian Imperial Family and the Siamese Royal Family became frequent and regular and played an important role in the development of relations between the two countries. In 1893 Russia started to provide her support to Siam to resolve the conflict with her neighbours of that time. In 1896 the Russian Imperial Government invited a Royal Siamese representative to participate in the festivities on the occasion of the coronation of Nicholas II as the Emperor of Russia.

A year later King Chulalongkorn himself paid a visit to Russia. Friendly and sincere support provided to him by the Russian Side played a very important role in the success of this trip. The highest honours, utmost hospitality and respect which had been extended to King Chulalongkorn in Russia once and for all confirmed the status of the Siamese Monarch as a sovereign equal to European Kings.

When King Chulalongkorn arrived in St. Petersburg on June 19, 1897 by the special Emperor's train, he was welcomed by the members of the Imperial Family and a military escort of the Imperial Guards. On arrival the King of Siam proceeded to the Peterhof Palace, the Imperial summer residence, where Emperor Nicholas II welcomed him. During following ten days the King of Siam visited St. Petersburg, Moscow and the main Russian naval base in Kronstadt. 
King Chulalongkorn's visit prompted sincere and wide interest in Siam and Siamese affairs among Russian public. Newspapers extensively covered the visit, issuing publications about Siam and the Siamese King. For example, Vedomosti of St. Petersburg, a leading Russian newspaper wrote in an editorial: "In his person we are greeting not only one of the greatest men of our time, […] but also a true friend of Russia. The power of this friendship lies in mutual respect, in the senses of straightforwardness and simplicity common to both peoples. (…) Our friendship towards Siam is honest and non-hypocritical, which His Majesty the King of Siam can confidently rely upon".

During the negotiations in St. Petersburg Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn agreed, as it is known, to establish diplomatic relations between Russia and Siam and to prepare the Treaty on Friendship and Maritime Navigation, which was signed in 1899. The monarchs agreed also that Prince Chakrabongse, the second son of King Chulalongkorn, would come to Russia for his studying and military training. It is also worth to note that Prince Chakrabongse's studies in Russia had paved the way to other children from the Siamese noble families to Russian universities and in the first decade of the XXth century a good few of them were getting their education in Russia.

Following the decision of the two sovereigns, the exchange of diplomatic representatives took place in 1897 and 1898. Phraya Suriya Nuvat, the Siamese Minister who was representing King Chulalongkorn in Europe with residence in Paris, received an additional appointment to the Russian Imperial Court. He had accompanied the King on his Russian trip and had been introduced to Nicholas II.

In 1898 Alexander Olarovski, the Russian Consul-General in New York, was transferred to Siam and appointed as the Russian Charge d'Affaires and the Consul General. Before his departure from America, Olarovski received a ten-page instructive letter from the Russian Foreign ministry. The major part of it contained clear directions concerning the Russian policy towards Siam. The essence of that policy was expressed in the following lines of the letter: "Your conduct in its entirety should bear the imprint of favourable attention which our august Monarch is willing to extend to the person of the Siamese King, as well as to the fortunes of his people; it should respond to the sincerity and warmth which are put by Siam at the base of our relations".

The text of the letter had been personally approved by the Russian Emperor, and diplomatic representatives of Russia in Bangkok consistently followed it.

The establishment of diplomatic relations and the signing of several treaties that followed, as well as the development of regular dynastic and personal contacts, helped to promote deeper mutual knowledge between the two peoples.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Thailand. 08 February, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:24 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 9 February 2014 9:05 AM EST
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Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Portrait of Lenin Reveals Hidden Portrait of Tsar Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II

NOTE: This article was updated with a VIDEO (in Russian) on Friday, February 28th, 2014 - PG
A unique discovery was made last summer at the 206th School in St. Petersburg. A portrait of Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin which had hung in the school for decades was being prepared for restoration when restorers noted some damage in the bottom corner revealing a small painted fragment of someone’s boots. Experts from the State Russian Museum were called in and upon closer examination discovered a painted over portrait of Tsar Nicholas II underneath. 

The portrait was then transferred to the St. Petersburg Art and Industry Academy (founded in 1876 as the School of Technical Drawing of Baron Alexander von Stieglitz) where it was carefully examined further by staff. The portrait of Lenin by Vladislav Izmailovich depicts the Bolshevik leader with the Peter and Paul Fortress, the burial place of the Russian tsars in the background. Academy staff used varnish to remove the water-soluble layer of paint on Lenin’s portrait revealing the original portrait of the tsar, painted by the Russian artist Ilya Galkin Savich (1860-1915). 

Savich's works are little known outside of Russia, but his portraits and other paintings are in the collections of the State Russian Museum. Towards the end of the 19th century, among his admirers were members of the Imperial family. His other portraits of members of the Imperial family include Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

Vyacheslav Mashkov, the Head of the Department of Painting and Restoration at the Academy, noted: "It's amazing how well preserved the portrait is. It is in great condition!"

The formal unframed portrait of Nicholas II is now on display in the Great Hall of the Art and Industry Academy in St. Petersburg. Several reference sites are visible, however, staff are confident that a full restoration is possible. The full restoration of the portrait will be carried out with the assistance of experts from the State Hermitage and State Russian Museums in St. Petersburg.
To watch a video (in Russian) of the discovery of the hidden portrait, please click on the following link; 

Portrait of Lenin Reveals Hidden Portrait of Tsar Nicholas II

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 February, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:42 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 28 February 2014 2:57 PM EST
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