I am pleased to announce that the next issue of SOVEREIGN, our popular new periodical dedicated to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II is now at the printers. I expect to receive stock at the end of April, at which time copies will be available from the Royal Russia Bookshop - Paul Gilbert
Our second issue will feature 145 pages with 130 black-and-white photographs, and 7 full-length articles, including 4 first English translations of articles written by Russian experts. This issue is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Emperor Nicholas II at Moscow in 1896 + 48 photographs from this historic event.
This issue includes 3 NEW previously unpublished works by the following Western experts:
Nikolai II and the Supreme Commander: Fighting on Two Fronts
by Margarita Nelipa
Despite its magnitude, historians rarely evaluated the one imperial decision that shaped the course of World War One. When Russia entered the War in 1914, it fought: For Faith, Tsar and the Fatherland. On that day there appeared to be national harmony. The ordinary soldier went to battle as a patriot, loyal to the sovereign. By mid-August 1915, fatalities were immense, soldiers had either retreated en masse or gave themselves up as prisoners in large numbers, disillusioned with a war that made no sense for them. Owing to those catastrophic events, the sovereign felt duty-bound to defend his homeland and reign. To do so, he decided to firstly dismiss Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich as the Supreme Commander of the military forces and secondly, to accept direct responsibility to bring Russia back into a favorable military footing by stepping into that role himself. However, many members of the Council of Ministers, as shown by never-before-revealed Council transcripts, acted against the emperor’s decision, dismayed by his lack of consultation. The decision polarized members of the imperial family who also supported the Grand Duke’s wartime role. Nikolai II’s new role also caused the first shift against the sovereign among several Generals. Why that common dissension came about among the elite of the nation, is explained with the use of seldom accessed Russian language material. Notwithstanding the grievances, Nikolai II remained steadfast in his decision to take command of the armed forces. In the end, despite achieving some success on the battlefield, the Emperor lost the war on the home front.
"Dearest Grandmama" The Relationship Between Nicholas II and Queen Victoria
by Coryne Hall
Royal historian and author Coryne Hall offers the first of a 4 part series on Emperor Nicholas II's relationship with British monarchs.
Between 1894 and 1901 Emperor Nicholas II and Queen Victoria ruled two of the world's mightiest empires. They were also related, as Nicholas had married the Queen's granddaughter, Princess Alix of Hesse. So how did their personal relationship develope? Part I examines this interesting relationship between the two monarchs.
The Cult of Nicholas II
by Matthew Dal Santo
Russians' attitudes towards "Bloody Nicholas" have come a long way in the past one hundred years. The author explores the growing and more sympathetic modern-day "cult" of Nicholas II in contemporary Russian and Western society.
This issue also includes 4 first English translation articles by the following Russian experts:
Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky. Witness to the Coronation of Russia's Last Emperor
by Zenaida I. Peregudova and I.M. Pushkareva
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova and Neil P. Mayhew
Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky is remembered as a prominent statesman and military leader of the Russian Empire. He was a very remarkable person in that he was so unlike other members of Nicholas II's governmental pantheon. The authors have written a biography of the man who served as adjutant of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and held posts of the Governor of Moscow Guberniya, the Governor-General of Moscow, the Assistant Minister of the Interior and Commander Special Corps of the Gendarmes. The first English translation of this article appears in this issue of Sovereign.
The 1896 Coronation Celebrations in Moscow
by Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova and Neil P. Mayhew
This excerpt from Vladimir Dzhunkovsky's memoirs tells about one of the most picturesque and memorable events in the history of Moscow: his personal eyewitness account of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II May 1896. He goes on to describe the events of the Khodynka tragedy, offering one of the most accurate accounts to date. The first English translation of excerpts from Dzunkovsky's memoirs appear in this issue of Sovereign.
The Unknown Emperor. An Interview with Archpriest Valentin Asmus
by Semyon Sokolov and Ludmila Bonyushkina
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova and Neil P. Mayhew
The day after the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000, two Russian journalists managed to gain access to one of the most recognized experts in the history of the Russian monarchy: the Moscow Spiritual Academy lecturer Archpriest Valentin Asmus. Father Valentin speaks in length about the character of St. Tsar Nicholas II, and believes that the conventional views of the life and personality of Nicholas II often couldn't be further from the truth. The first English translation of this interview appears in this issue of Sovereign.
The Investigation into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage
by Archpriest Oleg Mitrov
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova
The questions raised by the murders of the Russian Royal family, including the discovery of their remains in the vicinity of Yekaterinburg, as well as the recognition or non-recognition of their authenticity, have been unsettling our society for the last 25 years. Recently, many people have been looking to the Russian Orthodox Church for its verdict on the matter. But expressing an objective view requires the Church to conduct a thorough examination of the historical records as well as the investigation materials and the results of scientific enquiries.
In this first English language translation, Mitrov addresses the ROC's questions and concerns regarding the Ekaterinburg remains. Among them are the previous forensic studies of the remains carried out in the 1990s, Sergeev and later Sokolov's investigation in the 1920s, disturbing issues regarding the excavations conducted in 1979, 1991 and 2007, and much more.
Archpriest Oleg Mitrov is a member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints, and is also currently engaged in the study of the issues surrounding the murders of Russia’s last royal family.
Note: This article was originally published in Royal Russia No. 9. An illustrated edition of this articles is presented in this issue of Sovereign for the benefit of those readers who do not subscribe to both periodicals.
This issue also includes 2 collections of historic photographs on the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II:
Sovereign Photo Collection No. 3 - Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, May 1896
Sovereign Photo Collection No. 4 - Private World of Emperor Nicholas II, Livadia and Crimea
Sovereign No. 2 will be available from the Royal Russia Bookshop at the end of April 2016
For information on Sovereign No. 1 (includes link to VIDEO), please refer to the following link:
The Ural director Andrei Krupin is preparing a unique exhibition project entitled Living Pictures: Nicholas II. According to Krupin, this is the first innovative artistic multimedia exhibition about Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The exhibition will mark the 100th anniversary of the murder of Nicholas II and his family in July 2018. It will initially be held in Russia’s three main cities: Ekaterinburg, Moscow and St. Petersburg. It will then tour the country with additional showings in Sochi, Perm, Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Crimea (Livadia) and Vladivostok.
Click on the link below to read the full article and watch a short VIDEO:
The Lost Imperial Train Museum at Peterhof Topic: Nicholas II
The Imperial Train Museum at Peterhof in 1929
In 1929, a unique museum was opened in the Alexandria Park at Peterhof. It consisted of two wagon cars of the former Imperial train of Emperor Nicholas II, It was in one of the wagons, on 15th March (O.S. 2 March ) 1917, that the last Russian Emperor signed his abdication.
After the abdication of Nicholas II in March 1917, his train was used by the Ministers of the Provisional Government. After the Bolsheviks came to power the wagons of the Imperial train formed the famous train used by Leon Trotsky. The fate of the Imperial train is a sad one, most of them were lost during the Civil War - November 1917 to October 1922. During the Second World War, the last two wagons of the Imperial train were badly damaged in 1941 at Peterhof.
The bombed and burned out shell of the last wagons of the Imperial train at Peterhof in 1941
Photos taken 1930-31. From the collection of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve.
For more information on the Imperial trains, please refer to the following articles:
On This Day: Last Russian Emperor Nicholas II Abdicated the Crown Topic: Nicholas II
The abdication of Emperor Nicholas II created headlines around the world
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov ascended the throne after his father’s death on 2 November (O.S. 20 October 20), 1894.
The reign of Nicholas II (1894-1917) passed through a turbulent era of political unrest and increasing revolutionary activity. In the beginning of 1905 a revolution broke out in Russia forcing the emperor to make some reforms. On 30 October (O.S. 17 October), 1905 the tsar signed a manifesto ‘On improvement of state order’ granting to people the freedoms of speech, of the press, of a person, of conscience, of assembly, of unions.
On 6 May (O.S. 23 April), 1906 the Emperor approved the new version of the “Fundamental laws of the Russian Empire”, which, on the threshold of the State Duma convocation, were the fundamental legislative act, regulating the division of powers between the imperial authority and Parliament (State Council and State Duma), established under the Manifesto of 17 October, 1905.
In 1914 Russia entered World War I. Failures on the fronts, economic dislocation caused by war, heavy casualties, enormous losses of military equipment, the raise of anti-war moods and the general discontent of autocracy led to mass protest actions against the government and the dynasty.
On 8 March (O.S. 23 February), 1917 the female workers of Petrograd went on a protest march demanding bread and cessation of hostilities. A few days later the mass strikes on the factories of the capital grew into the general political strike and then into a spontaneous armed revolt.
On 10 March (O.S. 25 February), 1917 Nicholas II sent a telegram to General S. S. Khabalov demanding to suppress the disturbances with military forces, and on 12 March (O.S. 27 February) sent to Petrograd General N. I. Ivanov in order to suppress the revolt.
On 14 March (O.S. 1 March) after the unsuccessful attempt to travel to Tsarskoye Selo the emperor arrived at the Northern front staff in Pskov.
In the morning of 15 March (O.S. 2 March) General N. V. Ruzsky reported to Nicholas II that the mission of N. I. Ivanov failed. At the same time the president of the State Duma M. V. Rodzyanko announced via telegraph that the only possible way to retain the dynasty was to pass the throne over to the heir Alexei under the regency of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, the younger brother of Nicholas II. All the commanders of fronts with the exception of the commander of the Black Sea front, Admiral A. V. Kolchak expressed their approval of Nicholas II’s abdication. Having learned the opinion of the Commanders in Chief, on 15 March (O.S. 2 March) around 3 p.m. Nicholas II made a decision to abdicate the crown in favour of his son under the regency of his brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich.
However having spoken to S. P. Feodorov, the doctor in charge of the heir, who confirmed that Alexei was incurable, the emperor concerned about the health of his son, changed his decision. In the evening of 15 March (O.S. 2 March) when the representatives of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma A. I. Guchkov and V. V. Shul’gin came from Petrograd, Nicholas II announced that ‘… for the sake of Russia I was ready to abdicate the crown in favor of my son but … came to the conclusion that in view of his illness I should abdicate for myself and for him too’.
The Manifesto on abdication given over to A. I. Guchkov said: ‘… Hereby we entrust Our Brother (Mikhail Alexandrovich) with governing the state affairs with the absolute and close unity with the representatives of the folk in the legislative institutions on the principles which he would establish taking the sacred oath’.
The following day, on 16 March (O.S. 3 March), 1917 Mikhail Alexandrovich deferred his acceptance of the throne pursuant to a a vote by the Duma.
"I have decided to accept the supreme power, only if that be the desire of our great people, expressed at a general election for their representatives to the Constituent Assembly, which should determine the form of government and lay down the fundamental laws of the Russian Empire.” - Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich
Further Reading: The Tragedy of Nikolai II's Abdication
A military uprising occurred ninety-eight years ago in Petrograd and Pskov, which historians nowadays refer to as the February Revolution. Notwithstanding the War in Europe, factory workers and students began their rebellion through strike action on the streets of Petrograd in February 1917. Despite popular belief, the revolution was not caused by the lack of bread. Margarita Nelipa asserts that had it not been for the agitation by the State Duma, the lack of support by the imperial family and above all, the mutinous intervention by various military regiments in Petrograd and surrounding regions, the revolution would not have happened. Nelipa stresses that the emperor’s downfall came about following the strategic part played by the commanders-in-the-field, in recommending that Nikolai II stand down as their Supreme-Commander, as well as declaring their loss of confidence in him. She presents a concise day-to-day course of events that spells out how the military’s campaign helped bring about a change in the government. Given this scenario, Nelipa explains why the sovereign was unresponsive to the escalating rebellion and how the maneuverings by the president of the State Duma and several key ministers took advantage of the workers’ frustrations in order to firstly remove the emperor and lastly, abolish the monarchy. These days, questions arise as to whether Nikolai II’s abdication was lawful and what issues compelled the sovereign to sign away his and his heir’s monarchic rights. The last part of her discussion addresses the juridical aspects of that abdication. (38 pages, illustrated). Available from the Royal Russia Bookshop.
Exhibition Dedicated to Nicholas II and His Family Opens in Kaluga Topic: Nicholas II
A new exhibition, The Imperial Family. The Way of Love, dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II and his family opened today in the Taneyev Concert Hall in the Russian city of Kaluga. The exhibit was organised by the Mogilev Diocese of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.
The exhibition features photographs of the Imperial family, reproductions of paintings by Pavel Ryzhenko (1970-2014), diary records, eyewitness accounts, biographies of representatives of the royal family, and other documents. The exhibits tell the story of the life and reign of Russia’s last emperor, and his service to the Fatherland.
The exhibition, The Imperial Family. The Way of Love, runs until 10 April 2016 in the Taneyev Concert Hall in Kaluga, Belarus.
Story of Last Tsar's Love Affair to be Screened in Cannes Topic: Nicholas II
The elaborate coronation screne from the Russian-made film Mathilde
A Russian TV series devoted to the tragic love affair between Tsar Nicholas II and ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska has been chosen to compete at an international TV contest in Cannes.
The four-part television version of Mathilde, a period drama by Russian film director Alexei Uchitel, has been selected as one of the 12 programs to compete at the international TV series competition MIPDrama Screenings.
The competition will be held for the first time at MIPTV, the world's largest TV market, in Cannes in April. The television version of the film will be exclusively screened in Cannes on April 3.
The script is based on the story of the tragic love of Nicholas Romanov, the son and heir to Russian tsar Alexander III, and the ballet dancer Mathilde Kschessinska.
The role of Nicholas II is played by German actor Lars Eidinger. The film also features leading Russian actors Danila Kozlovsky, Yevgeny Mironov and Grigory Dobrygin, as well as Lithuanian actress Ingeborga Dapkunaite.
"I do not remember [any] TV series from Russia participating in such international competition in the last 10 years," said Uchitel.
"This is a unique chance for the film about the life of the last Russian emperor to hit television screens around the world. And if the committee that selected the projects for the final pitching chose us, it means that our story has a certain dramaturgical line that makes the picture interesting not only for viewers in Russia. Plus, there are unique facts there, which have never been previously covered anywhere."
The full-length film version of Mathilde is scheduled to come out in fall 2016.
More than 60 TV shows from 28 countries applied to the MIPDrama Screenings competition.
For more information on this film, please refer to the following article:
Moscow Kremlin Receives Royal Victorian Chain of Nicholas II from British Royal Collection Topic: Nicholas II
Visitors can view Emperor Nicholas II's Royal Victorian Chain
among exhibits of the Armoury Chamber in the Moscow Kremlin
Note: this article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
This is especially symbolic coming on the eve of 100 years since the events of 1917 resulted in the tragic death of Emperor Nicolas II, Russia’s deputy culture minister says
The Royal Victorian Chain awarded by King Edward VII to Russia’s last Emperor, Nicholas II in 1904, has been presented on long-term lease to Moscow Kremlin Museums from the art collection of the British Royal Family — a gesture of friendship, Russia’s deputy culture minister told a handover ceremony on Thursday.
"We are witnessing an historic moment — acquisition of a priceless relic, a symbol of friendship and cooperation between Russia and Great Britain," Vladimir Aristarkhov said. "This is especially symbolic coming on the eve of 100 years since the events of 1917 resulted in the tragic death of Emperor Nicolas II," he said.
The Order was instituted by Britain's King Edward VII in 1902 to award foreign monarchs, members of royal families and occasionally high-ranking individuals.
Moscow Kremlin Museums Director Yelena Gagarina said the chain was presented to Russia at the request of Queen Elizabeth II for unlimited lease not calling for a reciprocal gesture. If requested, however, the Russian side would return it for exhibitions or other events.
Until recently, the chain had been in the private collection of Russian Academician Andrei Khazin, having been sold in 1922 after relics from the Moscow Armoury Chamber were conveyed to Gokhran, administrators of the state fund of precious metals and precious stones.
The chain saw new light of day during preparations for the 2015 "European Orders of Knighthood" exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin and became British Crown property again under rules governing the Order on the death of the person holding the decoration.
Visitors can view the chain among exhibits of the Armoury Chamber.
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:
The Enduring Mystique Around the Romanovs, Russia's Last Royals Topic: Nicholas II
Emperor Nicholas II and his family
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the October 2nd, 2015 edition of The Conversation. Katy Turton owns the copyright of the work presented below. Please note that articles published on this blog are for information purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Royal Russia. This article has been edited and annotated by Paul Gilbert.
The 1918 execution of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra at the hands of Bolsheviks in Ekaterinberg has coloured popular understanding and many histories of the Romanov family’s life. Now another chapter has been opened in Romanov mythology with news that Russian investigators are exhuming their bodies to work out whether new remains found in 2007 are those of two of their children, Alexei and Maria.
Tsar Nicholas was a young man unsuited to autocratic rule, but utterly determined to uphold his father’s strict authoritarian regime regardless of the need to reform a modernising Russia. The Tsarina was a devoted wife, tormented by the ill-health of her haemophiliac son, embroiled in a *scandalous relationship with advisor Grigori Rasputin and keen to make every effort to support her weak husband in his aim of preserving the autocracy. *the alleged "scandalous relationship" with Rasputin is nonsense, history has proven it as such - Ed.
Their lives seem dominated by ominous portents and ill-judged decisions, relentlessly propelling them towards their inevitable fate after the 1917 revolution. In 1896, the Tsar’s coronation was overshadowed by the Khodynka field tragedy when *thousands were killed and injured – the royal couple made matters worse by attending a lavish ball later that evening. In 1905, Nicholas granted but then limited democratic reforms. And during World War I, he became commander-in-chief while Alexandra took charge on the home front, advised by Rasputin. *the official estimate was 1,200 killed, not "thousands" as alleged by the author-ED
Amid all this, the Romanovs had a romantic family life. Nicholas was a devoted and loving husband and father, Alexandra a supportive wife and dedicated mother. Numerous photographs of them with their beautiful daughters and beloved son Alexei highlight the universal aspects of their family life, despite the fabulous wealth and luxury that they enjoyed. The contrast between these perfect images and the chaotic, brutal nature of their execution and the disposal of their bodies ensured that their deaths came to symbolise the violent conflict of the Russian Civil War, and eclipsed the millions of other deaths caused by it.
A tainted history
One of the reasons for the enduring mystique surrounding the Romanovs is the range of powerful narratives about their lives created by governments, political factions, the press and the public. In the revolutionary period, there was a perceived gender imbalance at the heart of the autocracy with Alexandra (and Rasputin) being thought to wield female, mystical, foreign and corrupt influence over her husband – the rational, male, Russian leader. This was used by many to explain the rottenness at the heart of the existing order.
In the aftermath of Nicholas’s abdication in 1917 and the Romanov family’s imprisonment in the Urals, King George V decided that Britain could not risk offering sanctuary to the Romanov family. He worried that their reputation as a symbol of monarchical oppression would destabilise Britain and radicalise his own people against the royal family and the state.
Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks feared that while the Romanovs lived, their White Russian enemies' efforts to destroy the new Soviet state in the civil war would be intensified. Yet the execution and secret burial of the Tsar and his family by Urals Bolsheviks did not fully erase them as a focal point of opposition to the Bolsheviks. The very absence of visible remains ensured that individuals claiming to be Alexis and his sister Anastasia appeared in both the Soviet Union and America, enabling Russians and Westerners alike to dream that the family’s executioners had failed. The Bolsheviks did not make this mistake again, displaying both Lenin and Stalin’s bodies for all to see.
Questions over their remains
These fantasies were reinforced when the first set of Romanov remains were exhumed, identified and found not to include the bones of Alexei and one (unidentified) Romanov daughter.
With the fall of the Soviet regime, questions arose about the appropriate way to deal with the Romanov remains. In 1998, Boris Yeltsin attended their controversial burial in the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg, despite the Russian Orthodox Church expressing concern whether the remains had been accurately identified.
Yet it, in turn, made the contentious decision in 2000 to canonise the family. The Romanovs’ worthiness was justified on the grounds of their Christian humility in the face of their execution, yet others questioned whether it was appropriate in view of the negative and violent aspects of their regime.
The Church is now determined to ensure that the most recently discovered Romanov remains – found in 2007 – are those of Tsesarevich Alexei and, it seems most likely, his sister Maria. It has argued that it is vital for people praying to saints to know that their relics are genuine. It is significant that the state is cooperating in full with these demands, at the same time as some moves have been made to invite the surviving members of the Romanov family to return to Russia.
This is happening as the Orthodox Church consolidates its renewed importance in Russian society and the president, Vladimir Putin, forcefully asserts Russia’s significance on the global stage. Once again, powerful groups are seeking to control the enduring symbolic power of the last Tsar of Russia.