The Fate of the Romanovs. The Survivors Topic: Romanov
The fate of Russia's last Imperial Family is well known throughout the world. But what ever became of the other members of the Imperial House of Russia after the Empire was swallowed up by the Bolshevik Revolution?
When Emperor Nicholas II abdicated the Russian Throne in March of 1917 there were fifty-three Romanovs living in Russia. One of these, the Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich died of pneumonia at Tashkent on 26 January 1918. He was buried in St George's Cathedral Tashkent (later demolished by the Soviet regime). Of the remaining fifty-two, seventeen were murdered by the Bolsheviks! The remaining thirty-five members of the family all escaped by various methods narrowly managing to escape the same fate as their relatives.
In addition to the thirty-five full-fledged members of the family, there were also a number of quasi-Romanovs resulting from morganatic marriages of various male members of the family. Of these, only Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley and the Prince Artemi Nicholaievich were murdered.
At the time of the Revolution the Romanov family was divided into four large branches--the Alexandrovichi, including the Vladimirovich and Pavlovich sub-branches; the Constantinovichi; the Nicholaievichi; and the Mikhailovichi. Each was descended from the four sons of Emperor Nicholas I.
This comprehensive examination of The Survivors by Professor Kent Sole, Department of Politcial Science at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia, begins with those members of the family that did not survive the Revolution.
NOTE: this page has been moved to our new directory. It has been given a fresh new look, minor corrections have been made, and updated with new photographs.
In recent weeks, new monuments to the Russian emperors Alexander II and Nicholas II were unveiled in Russia.
While more and more monuments to Lenin and other prominent Bolsheviks and Soviets disappear from the Russian landscape, cities and towns across Russia are planning to restore busts and statues lost or damaged during the Revolution, while others plan to erect new monuments to Russia's emperors and empresses.
A memorial bust to Emperor Nicholas II (left) unveiled in the city of Kaluga, on 31 July, 2016.
The monument marks the historic visit of Nicholas II to Kaluga in 1904, after his arrival from Ferzikovo, where he blessed the troops heading to the front of the Russo-Japanese war..
A memorial bust to Emperor Alexander II (upper right) was unveiled in Mikhailovsk, located in the Stavropol region of the Caucasus, on 26 July, 2016..
After the murder of Tsar Liberator in 1881, local Cossacks erected a memorial bust in Mikhailovsk. After the Revolution, the bust was destroyed by the Bolsheviks. The new bronze bust was created by Stavropol sculptor Nikolai Sanzharov..
A memorial bust to Saint Tsar Nicholas II (lower left) was unveiled and consecrated at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity of Volgodonsk on 17 July, 2016.
The monument was created and established through the efforts of sculptor Victor Grishchenko and Nikolai Ivanovich Krivoshlykov.
The Age of Prosperity Inspired by Romanov Dynasty - Filmmakers Topic: Romanov
The history of the House of Romanov, the royal dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years, is set to be made into a blockbuster television series. “The Age of Prosperity” will be Russia's answer to the award-winning American drama “Game of Thrones.”
Each season of “The Age of Prosperity” is set to consist of 12 episodes. The Moscow-based Russian Film Group plans to run the first of the 12 seasons in early 2018.
“The Age of Prosperity project can be called an analogue to 'Game of Thrones'. We have studied the business model of the [US] TV series and talked to its creators. Like in the American series, we will also be working with several directors and cinematography directors, each of whom will be in charge of their 'own' family, their 'own' characters,” Aleksey Petrukhin, head of the Russian Film Group, told Rossiya Segodnya news agency.
The first episode will be set in the so-called Time of Troubles – 15 dramatic years in Russian history from 1598–1613. The country was plagued by a famine which killed one-third of the population between 1601–03, and also had to contend with the Polish–Russian War.
"The Age of Prosperity" will end with the slaughter of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife and five children, including his only son and heir, Alexey – all killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, following the 1917 Revolution. Their bodies were thrown down a mine shaft and then quickly buried somewhere near Ekaterinburg in the Urals.
For almost a century, no one knew where exactly the royal family was buried. However, in 1991 the remains of Nicholas II, his wife and three of their daughters were discovered in a mass grave near Ekaterinburg. Two years later, in 1993, investigators opened a case into the murder of the Romanov family to identify the suspected remains of the Tsar’s family and their retinue. The case was closed in 1998 “owing to the deaths of the perpetrators of the crime.” It was re-opened in 2007 when new evidence appeared – the remains of Nicholas II’s last two children were discovered – his daughter Maria and his only son Aleksey, who suffered from hemophilia.
The remains of the last Russian emperor and his wife were exhumed in September last year.
A Time of Gifts: How the Russian Tsars Celebrated Christmas Topic: Romanov
Painting by Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the December 24th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. Alexander Feldberg owns the copyright of the work presented below.
Note: as Orthodox Christians, members of the Russian Imperial family would mark Christmas on or near January 7 in the Gregorian calendar. This date works to be December 25 in the Julian calendar, which pre-dates the Gregorian calendar - Paul Gilbert
As Christmas approaches, RBTH recalls how the Romanov imperial family began the tradition of celebrating the holiday in Russia, and what they gave to each other, their servants, and the poor and needy.
The tradition of celebrating Christmas at home – with a Christmas tree and gifts – was started at the Russian court in the first half of the 19th century during the reign of Nicholas I by his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, née Princess Charlotte, whom such family holidays reminded of her native Prussia.
The Christmas party would be held on Christmas Eve on Dec. 24, immediately after the Christmas service, at the Concert Hall or the Rotunda of the Winter Palace. Each member of the family had their own decorated Christmas tree, near which stood a table covered with a white tablecloth, on which gifts lay.
“We were always collected in the chamber of Her Majesty,” wrote Baroness Marie Fredericks, a maid of honor of the imperial court.
“There, behind the closed doors, <...> all the children, including the Tsar's, were fighting and pushing each other to first get into the coveted hall. The Empress went ahead to inspect all the tables again, and our hearts were beating with joy, curiosity and expectations.
“Suddenly the bell rang, the doors opened, and we ran with noise and clamor into the hall lit by thousands of candles. The Empress herself took each to the designated table and handed out gifts.”
Christmas parties continued to be held after the death of Nicholas I, only the venue for these events changed: Under Alexander II, it was most often the Golden Room of the Winter Palace, while his son, Alexander III, preferred the Gatchina Palace, where the Christmas trees were placed in the Yellow and Crimson drawing rooms, and during the reign of Nicholas II, the family celebrated Christmas in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo.
Only one thing did not change – the children waiting tensely for a miracle behind the closed doors, as described in the memoirs of Alexandra III's daughter, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna.
“We dined in the room next to the banquet hall,” she wrote. “The doors of the hall were closed, Cossack guards stood on duty in front of them. <...> We all <...> were waiting for only one thing – when the useless dessert is carried away, and the parents stand up from the table and go to the banquet hall.
“But the children and all the rest had to wait until the Emperor rang the bell. Then, forgetting all etiquette and decorum, all would rush to the doors of the banquet hall. The doors swung open wide, and we found ourselves in a magical kingdom.”
Indeed, the hall looked like a magical forest – there were six trees for family members and many more – for relatives and court staff. All of them were decorated with burning candles, gilded and silvered fruit and toys.
Gifts for palace Christmas events were supplied by St. Petersburg confectioners. Their “gift sets” would be unlikely to impress today's school students: In 1880, each included two small bags of sweets (“French Surprise” and candies), two tangerines and two apples. Grand Dukes received an additional box of prunes, and Emperor Alexander II – a box of apricots.
But of course, the main gifts were those that members of the imperial family gave each other. The royal parents tried to encourage the talents of their children; the youngest in the family of Nicholas I, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich, once received for Christmas a cello – an instrument on which he wanted to learn to play – and his sister Olga was given a “wonderful Wirth piano” in 1843.
Children bought gifts to their parents with their own pocket money, or made something with their own hands.
“The gift that I always gave to Papa was the product of my own hands – it was soft red shoes embroidered with white crosses. I was so pleased to see him wearing them!” Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recalled of her presents to Alexander III.
The most extravagant gift was probably the Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver, with a holster and a hundred of rounds of ammunition, which Alexander III received from Empress Maria Feodorovna.
It was, however, an uneasy time – December 1881, less than nine months since the assassination of Alexander II in the heart of St. Petersburg. Perhaps that is why the empress gave good English knives to her sons, Nicholas and George.
But the most original gift the family presented to Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna on Christmas Day in 1843.
Upon entering the Concert Hall of the Winter Palace, she found her fiancé, Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel, to whom she had been engaged for six months, tied to a Christmas tree. The prince had arrived in St. Petersburg the day before (the wedding was scheduled for January), but his arrival was kept secret.
Charitable Christmas events
Nor did the Romanovs forget about their staff; Nicholas I hosted a Christmas lottery for ladies, tutors, nurses, servants and other inhabitants of the palace – each pulled out a card from the deck, and then the Emperor would announce, in turn, the names of the cards, whose owners then received a present from the hands of the Empress – a vase, a lamp or a porcelain set.
In 1866, the imperial family held a Christmas event for 100 poor children at the Anichkov Palace for the first time. Each was given a coat, shoes, warm clothes, underwear or a dress, and, after the meal, Tsarevich Alexander (the future Alexander III) ordered the Christmas tree to be knocked down so that the children themselves could choose a toy as a souvenir.
From then onward, palace Christmas parties for poor children became an annual event, and the “representational duties” of the imperial family during the holidays only grew. For instance, in 1907, Emperor Nicholas II visited six Christmas events in Tsarskoye Selo alone – at hospitals, a school for nurses and the guards barracks.
That is how Alexander Spiridovich, chief of the imperial palace guard, remembered one of these events in his book Last Years of the Imperial Court in Tsarskoye Selo.
“In the center of the arena, there was a platform with a giant Christmas tree, up to the ceiling, decorated with thousands of light bulbs," he wrote.
“<...> At two o'clock sharp, the Emperor came with all his children and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. <...> The military, in turns, came to the table with presents and pulled out random pieces of paper with numbers written on them. The Grand Princesses, Tsarevich and the officers found gifts with the same numbers and brought them to Olga Alexandrovna, who passed them to the winners. <…>
“The distribution of gifts entertained the Tsarevich a lot. He was especially happy when someone won an alarm clock. Officers wound up the alarm clocks, and they rang to the great joy of the Tsarevich.”
The Real Romanovs: Russias Absolute Dynasty - New BBC Documentary Topic: Romanov
The first and last Romanov emperors: Peter I and Nicholas II
Speaking today at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, talks about her first year at the helm of BBC Two and announces a wide range of new titles, which demonstrate her ambition for the channel, including a three part documentary which takes a "deeper look at the Romanov dynasty".
Lucy Worsley travels to Russia to tell the extraordinary story of the dynasty that ruled the country for more than three centuries. It’s an epic tale that includes giant figures such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, the devastating struggle against Napoleon in 1812, and the shocking murders of Nicholas II and his family in 1918 which brought the dynasty to a brutal end.
The Romanovs were the most powerful European monarchs since the Middle Ages, wielding unmatched authority into the 20th century. Lucy will see how they embraced and sponsored the arts on an astonishing scale, commissioning artworks and building spectacular palaces that still dazzle today. Yet many ordinary Russians were little better than slaves, and the failure of the Romanovs to address their condition would ultimately lead to revolution.
In this new three-part series, Lucy will apply her characteristic insight, attention to detail and wit to the Romanov dynasty. Her understanding of royal tradition and culture, and her gift for bringing historical characters vividly to life, will create a fresh and compelling account of this unique royal family.
The Executive Producer of the three part documentary, The Real Romanovs: Russia’s Absolute Dynastyis Michael Poole.
On This Day: Anniversary of Mikhail Fyodorovich's Crowning. The Beginning of the Romanov Dynasty Topic: Romanov
The crowning of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich marked the foundation of the Romanov dynasty in Russia
On July 21 (O.S. July 11), 1613 in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, the coronation of Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov took place. It marked the foundation of the new ruling dynasty.
After the liberation of Moscow from the Poles by Minin and Pozharsky, in January 1613, the Zemsky Sobor opened to consider the issue of the election of a new tsar. The 1613 Sobor was one of the most comprehensive "council of the whole earth," both in number and in the social position of the participants. Among the candidates to the throne were: the Swedish Prince Carl-Philip and the Polish king Vladislav. However, the people, exhausted by troubles of foreign invasions and internal unrest, did not want to see a foreign king on the throne.
Preference was given to a Russian, Orthodox Tsar. Those who participated in political intrigues during the Time of Troubles also had little chance of being elected. After much debate, on the initiative of "free Cossacks" and ordinary Zemstvo people, the candidacy of Mikhail Romanov received the approval. Father of the future tsar, Boyar Fyodor Nikititch (later - Patriarch Filaret of Moscow), was a cousin of the last ruler of the Rurik dynasty, Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich, and his mother, Xenia Ivanovna Shestova originated from the Kostroma nobility.
February 21 (March 3), 1613 in Moscow a new tsar was officially elected. May 2 (12), Mikhail Fyodotovich triumphantly entered the capital.
In the evening, the eve of July 11, at the Assumption and other cathedrals, in the monasteries and parish churches of Moscow, the all-night vigil was held. At dawn, on the day of coronation, the large Assumption bell started ringing; it continued until the coming of the king in the temple. "Religious rite was served by Metropolitan Ephraim of Kazan, Prince Fedor Mstislavsky was holding the crown, Prince Dmitry Troubetzkoy held the scepter, Ivan Romanov - the royal hat, Vasily Morozov – the power, and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky with Treasurer Trohaniontov were following the clothes." Before the coronation, two stewards - Ivan Cherkassky, a relative of the tsar, and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky - were erected in lordly dignity. Kozma Minin was named a Duma nobleman. The coronation ceremony lasted three days.
In the early years of his governing, the young tsar was solving the majority of state and foreign policy matters together with his father, who, in 1619, became the Russian patriarch. After the death of Filaret, Mikhail's mainstay was the heads of major offices - Prince Ivan Cherkassky and Boyar F. I. Sheremetev.
In the reign of Mikhail Fedorovich the economy had gradually recovered. There was concluded the Treaty of Stolbovo with Sweden in 1617, and the Truce of Deulino with Poland in 1618. In March 1634, another peace treaty with Poland – the Treaty of Polyanovka - was concluded. There was intensive construction of the defense line against the Crimean Tatars, further colonization of Siberia was taking place.
In 1627, the tsar issued a decree authorizing the nobles hand down their estates, provided servicing the tsar. 5-year-old search for runaway serfs was established, which in 1641 was extended to 10 years. In addition, in the reign of Mikhail Fyodorovich, an attempt to create regular military units was made. At the end of the reign of the tsar, cavalry dragoon regiments appeared for the protection of the external borders.
Imperial Photographic Treasures from the State Hermitage Museum Topic: Romanov
A single photograph may capture a moment; a collection can provide a window to the past.
Last year, photograph conservators from the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia visited Harvard and shared some photographic treasures held by the Hermitage, many never before seen in the West.
These include recently rediscovered personal photographs of Russia’s doomed royal family and nobility—hidden following the Revolution or “lost” to storage and transfers over the decades. Called the Imperial Collection, the photos and other materials provide invaluable information about Russian life in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Hermitage embarked on an intense effort to preserve and catalogue the 500,000+ items.
“We know that the importance of photographic collections will only improve with time,” said Natalia Avetyan, a curator of photographs from the State Hermitage Museum.
Educating Russia's Future Rulers: The Tutors Who Taught the Tsars Topic: Romanov
Konstantin Pobedonostsev – a censor and one of the most influential people in the Russian Empire for decades
– was tutor to Alexander II’s eldest son, Alexander III and his brother Vladimir, and Nicholas II.
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the February 24th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author, Olga Dudnikova, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
One of the lesser-known legacies of Catherine the Great’s reign as Empress of the Russian Empire was her introduction of ‘professionalized’ education for the monarchy. Based on domestic tuition by highly-qualified tutors who were specialists in their fields, Catherine’s system was to provide Russia’s tsars with tailor-made teaching in key areas such as finance, law and military affairs throughout the 19th century.
The Napoleonic Wars, the Decembrist Uprising, the Crimean War, the abolition of serfdom, and maintaining control over the Far East were just a few of the challenges and major events that the Russian Empire was compelled to navigate in the 19th century. Each event required a competent and professional reaction by the tsar – a reaction that to a large degree depended on the ruler’s education.
Even Catherine the Great, who reigned for almost the entire second half of the 18th century, surmised the importance of ‘professionalizing’ the monarchy. She laid the foundations of domestic education for her heirs and the great princes of the 19th century.
From the era of Catherine the Great onward, training for Russia’s monarchs resembled school and university education, but it entailed fewer basic disciplines and more special courses, particularly in finance, government, and law, as well as military affairs – precisely what Catherine’s ‘professionalization’ required.
No expense was spared on teachers and tutors, but they were not bound by rigid conditions and could conduct their work as they saw fit. When she hired Swiss general Frederique Lagarde – a person who sympathized with the ideas behind the French Revolution and instilled the views of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the future Tsar Alexander I – Catherine the Great said: “Be a Jacobin or a republican, whatever you want. I see that you are an honest person, and that is enough for me. Stay with my grandchildren, enjoy my full confidence, and continue to care for them with the diligence that is characteristic of you.”
Who taught the tsars?
In the 19th century, the body of educators, which consisted of senior officers and officials as well as the best teachers of the time, was divided into military and civilian roughly equally.
Alexander II’s physics and chemistry teacher was chairman of St. Petersburg’s Pharmaceutical Society Alexander Kemmerer, a pharmacist who in 1825 took the reins at the Glavnaya Gornaya Pharmacy, which he created.
Nikolai Beketov, one of the founders of physical chemistry and chemical dynamics, taught chemistry to Nicholas II, while Login Kraft, a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, taught math to Nicholas II’s son and daughters.
One of the first Russian fencing coaches, Ivan Siverbrik, who organized a fencing school in Russia, taught Alexander II and Nicholas I the art of swordsmanship. Siverbrik and his son wrote a book on fencing with swords and broadswords.
Some tutors taught multiple generations of tsars at once. Konstantin Pobedonostsev – a censor and one of the most influential people in the Russian Empire for decades – was tutor to Alexander II’s eldest son, Alexander III and his brother Vladimir, and Nicholas II.
Military affairs was a subject of particular importance for all tsars, and it was taught in a unique and particular way to each future tsar.
For example, Nicholas I’s military affairs course was limited exclusively to special classes on engineering and cartography. Engineer-general Karl Opperman used one of the most productive modern forms of education in his work with Nicholas I: He gave the future tsar topics for independent elaboration on a project basis, and then the two sat down together and analyzed the results.
Alexander I only studied fortification, artillery, and military strategy. His teacher was Antoine-Henri Jomini, a general for two opposing states: Napoleon’s France and Alexander I’s Russia. He was chief of staff for Marshal Ney, who participated in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812; founder of the Russian Academy of the General Staff; a French and Russian writer, and even the military governor of Smolensk in 1812.
Home schooling for future tsars throughout the entire 19th century was, almost without exception, set apart by the high professional level of the tutors, as well as its diverse and often innovative university forms (including special courses and project-based work), which not only outpaced traditional higher state education, but also paved the way forward.
Olga Dudnikova, PhD is an associate professor at Smolensk State University who specializes in the history of education.
From Russia with Royals - Royal Marine Helped Tsar's Family Escape During First World War Topic: Romanov
The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich, Jr., departing Yalta on board the HMS Marlborough. 8 April, 1919
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the August 7th, 2014 edition of the TheBedford Times and Citizen. Corrections to the text have been made by Paul Gilbert. The author Richard Johnson, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
A Royal Marine, who lived in Felmersham and Clapham after the First World War, was among the crew who helped the Russian Royal family make their escape to England. Richard Johnson, from Bedford, reveals the story of his great-grandfather’s part of the dramatic journey
George Gravestock, who was a publican in Felmersham and Sharnbrook, rarely spoke about his brush with Russian royalty after the First World War, recalls his daughter Christine Morrissey (née Gravestock).
Eager to leave home and serve his country, George told the enlistment officer that he was over 18 years old when he joined the Royal Marines in April 1915.
In reality, George was only 27 days past his 16th birthday. Still a boy, George’s medical records show that he grew 4 inches taller over the course of the war.
Serving in Belgium, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, his most exciting episode was his time on the HMS Marlborough in April 1919. Less than a year after the execution of his cousin Tsar Nicholas II, King George V agreed to grant refuge to the surviving Russian royal family. The ship was tasked with the evacuation of 17 Russian royals – including the late Tsar’s mother, sister, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandchildren – from Yalta in Crimea to the British naval base in Malta.
During the rescue operation, George patrolled the grounds of the Dulber royal palace at Koreiz on the Black Sea.
George Gravestock, photographed in 1919
Thinking of his girlfriend Ethel at home, he cut a rose from the royal gardens, which he would later send to her.
On the journey to Malta, the crew of the Marlborough did their best to lift the spirits of the Russian royals, including the Dowager Empress Marie, who was the sister of the Queen Mother, Alexandra. At Easter, the Marines painted Easter eggs for the Romanov children and played with the royal dogs.
After arriving in Malta, George had a handsome photograph taken of himself at the Grand Studio in Valletta.
And several months later, he sent it to England, inscribed ‘To my Dearest Ethel, with fondest love from George, August 5 1919’.
After the war, George returned to England and married Ethel. After some years working in the police force, George ran the Sun Inn in Felmersham and later moved to the Half Moon in Sharnbrook, where he was the publican from 1939 until 1959.
He finally settled in Clapham, where his daughter Christine and grandson Peter still live.
Although rarely discussing the war, George never forgot those left behind. Christine said: “Every year on Remembrance Sunday he would remember his friends and comrades who lost their lives. He would always do that - right up to the time he died.”
* The story is recorded in Frances Welch’s book The Russian Court at Sea. Richard Johnson is currently studying for a PhD at Oxford.
14 Romanov Statues Planned for St. Petersburg Park Topic: Romanov
Zurab Tsereteli is preparing a special gift for Russia’s northern capital. Fourteen bronze sculptures by the famed Russian sculptor depicting the sovereigns of the Romanov dynasty, will be erected in the 300th Anniversary Park in St. Petersburg.
Russian Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medina presented drafts of the monuments at the International Cultural Forum, which was recently held in St. Petersburg. Tsereteli’s idea is to create a Walk of Fame, or “Romanov Alley” began some 35 years ago.
The 14 monuments will begin with Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (ruled 1613-1645), and end with Tsar Nicholas II (ruled 1894-1917). Each monument will be cast in bronze, and stand from three to six meters in height.
The 300th Anniversary Park is located in north-western St. Petersburg. It was founded in 1995, and by 2003 it offered a beautiful landscaped green space, which included fountains and hundreds of trees.
Zurab Tsereteli has created numerous statues dedicated to the Romanov dynasty. One of the most controversial is a monument to Peter the Great in Moscow. His museum in Moscow is home to other Romanov monuments, including the thought provoking Night at the Ipatiev House.