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.
Statue of Russian Tsar Sparks Controversy in Kazakhstan Topic: Nicholas II
A row has erupted in northern Kazakhstan over the erection of a monument to Russian Tsar Nicholas II, who is reviled by many Kazakhs for his association with the bloody suppression of an uprising in 1916.
The bust to Tsar Nicholas II, who was murdered by the Bolsheviks following the 1917 Russian Revolution, was put up by local businessman Pyotr Vanger outside a church in the village of Arkhangelskoye, just south of the border with Russia.
On August 10, the statue was moved inside the village’s Russian Orthodox church following an outcry on social media about a monument revering somebody perceived as a Russian despot appearing in public.
“The monument has been taken inside, into the church,” Tengri News quoted local authorities as saying. “The decision to take it inside was made by the entrepreneur himself, to avoid questions.”
The statue has so far avoided the fate of a monument to Soviet leader Josef Stalin in southern Kazakhstan which was torn down earlier this year after generating a similar controversy.
That statue was removed from its pedestal in May, after villagers had re-erected it following its toppling in a hurricane last summer.
Village authorities ruled that they had acted without planning permission. But the case had wider political connotations as many were enraged at the reverential treatment of a Soviet leader whose policies caused the death of millions of people in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in the Soviet Union.
Statues to Russian and Soviet despots are sensitive for Astana, which is eager to promote its own sovereignty without antagonizing its powerful neighbor and close ally Russia.
The specter of the conflict in Ukraine hangs heavy over these seemingly petty local polemics. Since the strife erupted in Ukraine, the Kremlin has aggressively asserted its right to intervene in foreign countries to protect the rights of Russian speakers abroad — creating a headache for former Soviet states inhabited by large numbers of ethnic Russians, like Kazakhstan.
Around 21 percent of Kazakhstan’s population are ethnic Russians. The bulk of that population lives along the 7,000-kilometer border with Russia. President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration has made a point of propounding inclusive ethnic policies. Nazarbayev has repeatedly been at pains to stress he will tolerate no ethnic or linguistic discrimination.
North Kazakhstan Region, where the row over the Nicholas II bust broke out, borders Russia and is one of only two regions in Kazakhstan where ethnic Russians outnumber Kazakhs.
Controversies periodically erupt over moves to rename the provincial capital Petropavlovsk, which was named in honor of two Christian saints by Russian settlers who founded a fort there in the 18th century.
The name has negative connotations of colonial rule for some Kazakhs, but periodic attempts to give the city a Kazakh name — which have been floated for at least seven years – have been stiffly resisted by the city’s majority Russian inhabitants.
Supporters of a name change say the city – called Petropavl in Kazakh – should be given the name that nomadic Kazakhs who roamed the region before the Russian settlers arrived used for the area: Kyzylzhar, or “red cliff.”
Emperor Nicholas II Fell Victim to Industry of Lies Topic: Nicholas II
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 22nd, 2015 edition of Pravda.ru. The author of this interview Igor Bukker owns the copyright of the work presented below.
The Russian royal family and four of their servants was brutally murdered in July of 1918 in the basement of the Ipatiev house in the city of Yekaterinburg. Pravda.Ru talked about the terrible page in Russian history with Pyotr Multatuli, a historian, author of books about Nicholas II and also a great-grandson of Ivan Kharitonov, a senior cook of the imperial kitchen, who was executed with the royal family.
"Are you a monarchist and an Orthodox Christian? Do you approach the story about the death of the Russian royal family from this point of view?"
"I am an Orthodox Christian, and, of course, I am a monarchist. In political terms, I do not belong to any monarchist party, but I certainly believe that the Russian monarchy was the best form for the Russian government."
"Do you assess the murder of the royal family as a conspiracy?"
"Yes, it was the result of a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor. But I also approach it as the spiritual impoverishment of the Russian society during those years, when Russia moved away from orthodoxy, faith and dedication. This is one of the reasons why the czar was toppled and then savagely murdered.
"The aim of the ruling circles of Great Britain and certain circles in the United States was to overthrow and kill of the Russian royal family. The Provisional Government was clearly instructed not to let the royal family out of Russia - they did not want the Russian royal family to move to England."
"Was it a betrayal of both a relative and an ally?"
"Of course, it was a betrayal. They betrayed Nicholas II in March 1917 and then betrayed him and the royal family again when they were sent to Tobolsk and then to Yekaterinburg. They knew everything. Representatives of Britain and French consuls were with the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg. Their telegrams prove that they were controlling the situation."
"What do you think about the fact that all were opposed to the royal family? Nicholas II wrote in his memoirs that the only person that he could trust was his wife."
"Many people in the emperor's inner circle got involved in the political game, in which they were completely helpless. They were playing and thinking that they could make a Constitution, that they would play some role and preserve their preferences. Of course, they were in collusion with the State Duma, but not as direct conspirators, but as the people who were deprived of a moral compass."
"But executing the whole family is cruel. There had been revolutions before the Russian one, when royal figures would be executed. For example, the wife of Louis XVI was executed. In Russia, was a despicable murder - they killed even those, who chose to stay with the royal family. By the way, your relative, senior cook of the imperial kitchen Ivan Kharitonov - was it his conscious choice to stay with the czar?"
"Yes, of course, it was an absolutely conscious choice. It is generally believed that everyone in the Russian society betrayed the Russian czar - this is a lie. This is an attempt to distort history. Many people were dying for the czar. Basically, the whole story is about the betrayal by the elite. There was no inflation in Russia. Before February 1917, there were no food cards in Russia. In Germany and France, people were starving at that time. All these social and economic reasons are given to justify the murder of the royal family.
"There are external forces that participated in the overthrow of the Russian emperor, but the main forces were internal ones. First of all, it was the Russian bourgeoisie - they were unhappy that the government stated controlling their excess profits. There was also the cadet opposition that was craving power. Those forces came into alliance with Western powers and masterminded the February Revolution."
"But the Emperor had his errors. What about the bloody events on January 9?"
"The events on January 9 were nothing but a typical orange revolution, speaking the modern language. The Russian Empire before 1904-1905 was a terribly bureaucratic state. The czar was misinformed. Here was told that there would be a strike of about 120,000 workers. However, as many as 300,000 people took to the streets. It was the crowd that opened fire on the troops first. On the Vasilyevsky Island, there were four-meter barricades of barbed wire erected - it was a very well-prepared rebellion. Roughly speaking, it was a typical Maidan."
"Many discuss such an aspect as the weakness of the czar."
"The czar had a very clear, rigid will. He would not listen to anyone's pieces of advice. He was capable of controlling the influence from the outside. He was just a man who would listening to all very attentively. He would double-check other people's opinions before making his own decisions. There was no external influence. In general, one may say that there was a whole industry of lies created around the name of Nicholas II,
"The forces that came to power as a result of the coup had to justify their legitimacy. They were state criminals, who lived in enemy states during the time of the coup.
"Lenin, for example was residing in Austro-Hungary and then in Switzerland. No wonder Stalin forbade any mentioning of the hideous crime in Yekaterinburg, because he was well aware that it was working against his regime.
"Stalin, too, was building his empire, but it was the empire that did not have anything in common with the Russian Empire. Stalin's empire did not pursue interests of the Russian people. What was the nature of the Russian monarchy? There was God, the czar as the father of the people, and the people were his children, whom he loved, but whom he could also punish."
Crimean Prosecutor Poklonskaya Reflects on Nicholas II and Monarchy Topic: Nicholas II
In her interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda Russian newspaper the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya answered the question, why she particularly venerated the Holy Russian Emperor and Passion-Bearer Nicholas II Alexandrovich. She also was asked whether she believed that monarchy would return in the future.
“Indeed it was a flagrant crime when Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich was dethroned and then all his family was brutally murdered,” said the Crimea’s Prosecutor General. “And what is better and what will be next: a monarchy or a republic—is not my business”.
“One nun had a vision: she was told to go down to the church vault in Kolomenskoye and find a “black board”. She was to wash it “so that it could become red,” and then she would see an image of the Mother of God on it. And indeed, the “Reigning” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was found in the church vault. That find bore deep significance. Following the murder of the royal family the Mother of God took up governing Russia. In red clothing and with Christ Child in Her arms, She is protecting and guiding our Russia. And may God help Russia to prosper,” said N. Poklonskaya, answering the question.
The “Reigning” Icon of the Mother of God appeared on March 2/15, 1917, in Kolomenskoye village near Moscow (now a famous museum-reserve in Moscow situated in the district with the same name). The Holy Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin) of Moscow (1865-1925) was involved in composing of the service and akathist to this icon.
For more information on the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God, please refer to the following article:
It Was Not the Revolution That Destroyed Emperor Nicholas II Topic: Nicholas II
Emperor Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 10th, 2015 edition of Pravda. The author Inna Novikova owns the copyright of the work presented below. Minor editing by Paul Gilbert.
NOTE: I would like to point out to readers that Pravda (Truth in English) is a Russian political newspaper associated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The newspaper began publication in 1912 and emerged as a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union after the October Revolution. The newspaper was an organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU between 1912 and 1991. Given the Communist Party’s track record on “the truth” gives cause for speculation on anything published in Pravda - PG.
The great Russian Empire found itself in the vortex of the revolutionary abyss in only eight months. Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova discussed the topic of the fall of the Russian Empire with Associate Professor at History Department of Moscow State University Fyodor Gaida.
IN - Today, there are many people who believe that the tsarist regime fell only because German Emperor Wilhelm II sent Lenin to Russia with a suitcase full of money in a sealed train car. What led Russia to Emperor's abdication, and subsequently to the October Revolution?
FG - There is no documentary evidence to prove that Lenin was working to perform someone's assignment. Having a picture of Vladimir Lenin in mind, one may say that he was acting solely on the basis of his own plans. As for the money, he would take it from anyone. Lenin was an unprincipled man who professed the principle "money does not smell." Another thing is that at that moment in history the interests of Germany and Lenin coincided.
The German authorities thought that such a left radical as Lenin would help break imperial Russia, but would not be able to create anything himself. Germany was playing to weaken Russia to the maximum. Germany needed Lenin and all his slogans to weaken Russia, rather than to overthrow autocracy. Germany was always afraid of Russia. The Germans knew that Russian industry was capable of making a very serious breakthrough. Germany was very nervous.
Actually, Germany went to war in 1914 after it had finished the rearmament program. France was supposed to finish it in 1915, and Russia - in 1917. Time was not working for the Germans. Lenin was the person whose interests coincided with interests of Germany. Afterwards, Lenin continued to adhere to "pro-German" foreign policy. When the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, the Second Reich got a second wind. Until 1918, German troops attempted to advance on the Western Front, but in August 1918, the Germans gave up. Interestingly, Lenin's attempted assassination was organized in August 1918 too.
The events that happened in Russia in 1917 were two phases of one and the same process.
With the beginning of the February Revolution, Russia started to fall apart. There was no real government in the country at that time. The government that the country had was nothing but a circus.
IN - So the Germans were attracted to Lenin's call about the right of nations to self-determination. What attracted them to that slogan?"
FG - For Europe, with its multinational imperial organization, the practical version of this slogan would mean a new political map of the world and a severe crisis. Suddenly, a man appears on the horizon of political power, who raises its banner of the right of nations to self-determination, land and peace decrees, proclaiming a radical program in essence. The Germans realized that they had to support most radical forces in Russia.
IN - Historians talk a lot about the mistakes that Nicholas II made, about his weaknesses and shortsightedness. Did he have an opportunity to influence the situation?
FG - Let's face it - Nicholas II was neither an outstanding statesman nor a military leader. He was not the wisest of the wise. He was a typical man of his time. He, unlike modern politicians, never gave unrealistic promises. After the defeat in the Russian-Japanese war, Nicholas II became a cautious figure in politics. Russia's foreign policy after 1905 was relatively peaceful. Russia was fighting for zones of influence, realizing that one should not go too far. Just look at the Russian policies in Asia from 1905 to 1912. Russia had seriously expanded its area of influence, without quarrelling with anyone.
After 1905, other prominent figures in Russian politics began to consider themselves wiser than Nicholas II. By February 1917, the political class and generals saw the emperor as the main obstacle on the way of the development of the country.
As a result of this confrontation, the emperor abdicated from power.
The next moment everyone realized that the whole country was based on the emperor. It was the emperor who was the symbol of Russia's unity. As soon as Nicholas II abdicated, all of his opponents vanished. They were removed from the political scene.
Tsar Nicholas II's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Topic: Nicholas II
The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in 1917 brought an end to three centuries of the Romanov Dynasty's rule. After that seminal event, the Bolshevik revolution ensured that Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov would become the first post-imperial prime minister of Russia. In spite of all this commotion, the last Tsar's most prized limousine stood the test of time and here is that very car.
History tells us that Nicholas II of Russia lost too many battles and made some uninspired decisions during his reign, but we'll let historians decide what is good and what is wrong. This being autoevolution, we decided to showcase one of the Tsar's most prized vehicles.
Nicholas was a big fan of Delaunay-Belleville and Mercedes cars. He had so many cars that in 1910 there were 21 drivers (one for each car) and a budget of 126,000 rubles ($1,260,000 adjusted for inflation) to maintain his garage for the year.
Probably the most beloved luxobarge the Tsar ever owned, this 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is now for sale. A classic car dealership from Mettmann, Germany, wants €6.5 million to part ways with it. That's a truckload of money, the equivalent of $7.22 million or £4.72 million at current exchange rates.
A lot of money is being asked for a purple-painted Rolls-Royce, which was owned by the Tsar for a rather brief period of time before being deposed of it and subsequently murdered in the cellar of a house along with his family. In a way, this Rolls-Royce is a classic car that's been made even more valuable by its famous first owner, not because of the pristine condition of the vehicle.
To make a long story short, after the 1917 revolution the Silver Ghost in the adjacent gallery made its way into the collection of an eccentric American that used the car as an exhibit for Las Vegas' Imperial Casino. Before World War II broke out, John Ringling acquired the car and put it in a nuclear bomb-proof bunker in the basement of a mansion in Germany. Ironic stuff, huh?
The most famous of seven brothers and mastermind behind the Ringling Brothers Circus, John Ringling and his successors took care of Tsar Nicholas II's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, now in the inventory of Fantastische Fahrzeuge - Michael Fröhlich with 74,881 kilometers (46,528 miles) on the odometer.
The 7,428 cc six-cylinder engine churns out approximately 50 horsepower. It may not be as imposing as Lenin's Kegresse track-converted Silver Ghost, but this purple blast from the past is a collector's dream.
Monument to Nicholas II Unveiled at Livadia on May 19 Topic: Nicholas II
On May 19 a bust to the Holy Russian Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled at the Livadia Palace of the Crimea, reports the KP.RU website. Now this marble monument decorates the entrance to this famous palace which was a favourite summer residence of the imperial Romanov Family until the Revolution of 1917.
It was not a coincidence that the event took place on May 19* since it was the Holy Emperor’s birthday on that day, said workers of the Livadia Palace.
It was the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea (now in the Russian Federation) Natalia Poklonskaya who proposed installation of a bust of the Russian tsar on the territory of the palace. She also was present at the ceremony. Earlier she said that Crimean residents should be aware of historical lessons and remember that Tsar Nicholas II had sacrificed himself and his family to Russia. It is necessary for young people to love, appreciate and defend their native land.
Along with Natalia Poklonskaya, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (which actually gave the bust to the palace), the Restoration of Cultural Heritage charitable foundation, the St. Nicholas – Berlyukov Monastery (situated in the Avdotyino village near Moscow), and the Crimea’s Council of Ministers took part in the unveiling and creation of the bust.
* There appears to be some confusion in the Russian media lately with regard to the correct date of the last tsar’s date of birth. Nicholas II was born on 6 May, 1868 according to the Julian calendar, which was used in Russia until 1918. Nicholas II was born on 18 May, 1868 according to the Gregorian calendar, which was used in the West and in Russia on 14 February 1918. The Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar during the 19th century. Most modern-day Russian and Western historians, as well as various Russian Orthodox web sites acknowledge that Nicholas II was indeed born on 18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 - Paul Gilbert.
Monument to Emperor Nicholas II to be Unveiled Today at Livadia Topic: Nicholas II
The unveiling and consecration of a new monument to Emperor Nicholas II will take place at 1:00 pm today in front of the Livadia Palace, which is situated near Yalta in the Crimea. Russia’s newest monument to the last Russian emperor is the joint efforts of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), the Revival of Cultural Heritage Foundation, Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery and the Council of Ministers of Crimea.
It seems only fitting that a monument should be established in his memory at Livadia Palace, a favourite retreat of Tsar Nicholas II, and his family in the Crimea. The imperial family spent the autumns of 1911 and 1913 and the springs of 1912 and 1914 in the palace, but did not return after the outbreak of the First World War. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate in March 1917. He asked the Provisional Government to allow him and his family to continue to live in Livadia as private individuals, but this was refused. The family were instead, exiled to Tobolsk, and later Ekaterinburg, where they were all murdered in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918.
For more information on the new monument to Nicholas II at Livadia, please refer to the following articles: