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Empress Alexandra

Alexandra (Alix) was born on June 6, 1872 in Darmstadt, Germany. Her parents were Louis IV, grand duke of Hesse-Darmstadt and Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. She had reddish-blonde hair and blue eyes and as a child, she had the nickname "Sunny" because of her sunny disposition but she become more somber after her mother died of diphtheria in 1878.

She first met her future husband at her sister's wedding in 1884 when she was twelve. They spent a lot of time together exchanging flowers and talking. It would be another 5 years before they would meet again. When Alexandra was seventeen, she went to St. Petersburg to visit her sister Ella and brother-in-law, Serge. Nicholas and Alexandra saw each other often and by the time she had to go back home, they had fallen in love with each other. Nicholas proposed to Alexandra at the wedding of her brother, Ernie. She refused at first but she finally accepted.

Nicholas and Alexandra were married on November 26, 1894. While they were preparing for the wedding, they were also in mourning for Nicholas' father, Tsar Alexander. Alexandra wrote of her wedding, " Our marriage seemed to me a mere continuation of the masses for the dead, with this difference, that now I wore a white dress instead of black." After their wedding, they decided to make the Alexander Palace their home.

In 1895, Alexandra became pregnant with her first child. On November 16, 1895, she gave birth to a girl, whom they named Olga. She later gave birth to 3 more daughters, Tatiana (1897), Maria (1899), and Anastasia (1901).

Even though she loved her daughters very much, she wanted to give birth to a son to inherit the Russian throne. On August 12, 1904, the heir to the throne was born. He was named Alexei and he seemed very healthy and happy. The family later found out that Alexei had hemophilia, a blood disorder that causes the blood to not clot. An attack can cause intense pain and can lead to death because of internal bleeding. The disease was transmitted through the mother and Alexandra was heartbroken at the news.

She became very religious and prayed constantly for a miracle to heal Alexei. She sought out healers and mystics to see if they could provide a cure for her son but their attempts failed. When a Siberian monk named Rasputin managed to heal Alexei of his hemophilic attacks, Alexandra thought she had found her savior. The presence of the monk in the family's inner circle made Alexandra unpopular with the Russian people because they believed that she was involved in improper activity with Rasputin, which were all untrue.

When World War I broke out, Alexandra became even more unpopular because she was born German and the Russian people thought she was spying for Germany. Towards the end of the war in 1917, Russia was in the middle of a revolution and Alexandra and her family were imprisoned in their home. In July 1918, she and her family were shot to death by their Bolshevik guards. She was 46 years old at the time of her death.

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