Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Alexandra Feodorovna => Topic started by: jACOB STEWART on April 14, 2004, 09:54:19 AM

Title: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: jACOB STEWART on April 14, 2004, 09:54:19 AM
I believe that if Nicholas had never married Alexandra then the Russian revolution would never have happened.
The Russian court needed an empress whom would be good at socialising and someone whom everyone liked, like Nicholas's mother Marie. However what they got was an almost recluse of an empress that during the world war bullied her husband in firing ministers and doing what she thought was best. If it was not for her facination with the pathetic Rasputin then the Russian people would not have had a hatred for the Imperial family.
Also if Nicholas had not married Alexandra then there wouuld have been no heir with hamophilia and no reclusive royal family. Thanks to Alexandra's possessiveness and stupidity she marked an end to 300 years of Romanov rule and gave communism the chance it needed to establich its self.
The spread of communism throughoput Eastern europe and be blamed on her and the hardship suffered  by people under communist rule in Europe.

Nicholas should have taken the advice of this mother and married the Daughter the the pretender of the French throne. Then the history of Europe would have been totally different and with Nicholas making his own decisions in world war one, Russia may have won instead of surrendering to the German and losing most of its European empire.

Aleexandra Feodarovna- a stupid and evil women!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David Newell on April 14, 2004, 10:41:31 AM
I have never read such a one sided view of history as this. To blame Af for communisim, a little harsh I think. She was however not evil, she may have been difficult at times, shown some devastatingly bad judgement. It is I am afraid NichoalsII who was just simply not up to the job. Because of the very nature of Autocracy, poor Nicholas could never see the bigger picture, even a simple change of name or divorce had to signed by him to be law. He was bogged down all the time with a huge amount of admin that could have been done by ministers and the civil service. He was not well educated and trapped by the Imperial system. The revolution had already begun in his father's reign. Nicholas II was just not equiped for the immense task ahead. He was a great family man and a very good army officer. But poor old russia was an 18 century power in a rapidly changing 20th century world. He would have been a very good constituational monarch.

But I must say calling AF evil is not fair she was not. Her war work saw her at her finest, I have just re-read her letters for the early war years, her devotion to the wounded was wonderfull. She had many faults and these did contribute to her unpopularity, but she had many good qualities and these outshine the bad ones.

David Newell, London
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Antonio_P.Caballer on April 14, 2004, 10:51:51 AM
I think the russian people problems at the beginning of this century had nothing to do with the empress´ realations with the court. People in the country didn´t care if she held three balls in the Winter palace or none at all. Russian peasants had better things to take care of.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louise on April 14, 2004, 10:55:32 AM
I think you just blasphemed the Empress. Evil? Stupid?

That is a very harsh statement. You have to take into account Alix's entire life to understand her sorrow, and personality.

The loss of her mother at a very young age; being raised by her grandmother who instilled in Alix the political belief that women were intelligent beings and could rule. In the same breath, Alix being raised by Queen Victoria in a moribound atmosphere I'm sure forged in Alix the sadness that prevailed.

Please dont forget that Alix had a month to establish a court in Russia, while Dowager Maria had over 15 years to do so.

The birth of daughters, when a son was expected, the ill health of Alix and finally the birth of Alexei only increased her journey to reclusivness.

To blame Alix for the fall of the monarchy and the rise of communism is a far stretch by any imagination.

I could add more, but I am sure that your post will garner more replies.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RobMoshein on April 14, 2004, 11:01:49 AM
I must agree with David.
There is SO much more to the causes of the Revolution. I personally doubt that Alexandra's contribution to the fall of the throne was anything more than tangential.  Support for the monarchy had been eroding for years. Remember Alexander II being blown up? Despite the growth of a middle class, Russia was still a peasant nation. 95% of the nation's wealth was held by less than 5% of the population. Russia's economic development was 50 years behind England or the US. Nicholas' letters commenting on his visit to Cowes in 1909 where he saw the then new super beheamoth battleships of Britain are telling. He was awed by their size and power, and was bitterly upset that Russia despite her size and wealth could not begin to produce anything near to them. Russia's domestic production of automobiles by 1914 was miniscule, Germany, France, Britain and the US were light years ahead.  The rail system was not designed to move good around Russia, just to move them centrally to Moscow or Petersburg.  The strains of the War simply exacerbated the huge social stresses already brewing in the population.  Perhaps Nicholas might have had more support from the Aristocracy if Alix were loved, but the people at large simply lost their faith in the Tsarist regime. A Constitutional Monarchy set up in fact in 1905 instead of the empty promises not kept is the only thing I feel might have prevented the Revolution. Alix is just another tragic player, who felt she was doing the best she could, and who genuinely believed in God, the Monarchy and genuinely believed she was supporting the Russian people.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Valmont on April 14, 2004, 11:17:11 AM
I think our friend Jacob needs to read a lot more to fully understand the roles AF and N played as the last Romanov rullers.
It is too easy to fall into prejudices if you are not aware of the facts and the motivations each of them had.

Arturo Vega-Llausás
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Olga on April 14, 2004, 11:34:31 AM


"if Nicholas had never married Alexandra then the Russian revolution would never have happened."  the beginnings of the revolution started during the reign of Alexander Pavlovich (1801-1825), when he and his army went to Paris after the defeat of Napoleon. some of the officers came back influenced by the ideas of democracy etc, and so the seeds of the revolutionary movement were sown. most of the groundwork for the revolution was done before the reign of Nikolai Alexandrovich, so no matter who he married the revolution would have occurred anyway.

Russia did not need another social butterfly like Maria Fyodorovna, she needed an Empress that the people could connect to and look to for guidance. the social and financial extravagance of Maria Fyodorovna I'm sure did not endear her to many ordinary Russians.

Alexandra Fyodorovna's 'fascination' with Rasputin is understandable and justified, even if it wasn't back then. she did not 'bully' Nikolai Alexandrovich into making decisions concerning government, she made them herself.  even when she expressed opinions about matters that the Tsar had control over, it was not often that he heeded her advice.

the reclusivness of the imperial family was apparent even before the birth of Alexei Nikolaevich so you cannot blame Alexandra Fyodorovna for that. and even if Nikolai Alexandrovich had married Helene of France, how do you that she would not have produced many more daughters and no sons at all?

blame for the end of the Romanov dynasty ultimately falls into the hands of Nikolai Alexandrovich, a Tsar totally unsuited to ruling Russia, given his upbringing, personality and various beliefs.

Russia would have never won the war. full stop. i think this one needs no explaining.

and even if Russia had won the war and the revolution never happened, how do you know that everything would have been peachy from then on. it's just like saying that if Hitler had been killed in world war one then the fascism of Italy and Germany would have never happened. far worse dictators and tyrants could have emerged (although it is hard to imagine)

and finally, have you ever read up on communism for yourself? read the works of Marx, Lenin, Engels, etc and assembled your thoughts instead of re-iterating the capitalist American propaganda that is constantly shoved down our throats? >:( >:( >:(    
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 14, 2004, 11:37:31 AM
Waaayyy too much blame being placed on the shoulders of one individual, Jacob Stewart.

Russia was a powerkeg--literally and figuratively--long before Alexandra came on board. Furthermore, if she had been a Messalina-type, I might buy into your theory to some degree, but Alexandra was a well-meaning, charitable, industrious person.  Her physical health was never outstanding and her emotional health, it is true, was tragically compromised by the knowledge that she had given Russia a hemophilliac tsarevich.  She did her very best to ameliorate the situation, and although she certainly had personality flaws, I wonder how many among us are without similar or at least comparable flaws?  

We know quite a lot about Alexandra because she was in a high-profile situation.  Many other princesses, and princes, and for that matter statesmen and other politicos, were not in the public eye nearly as much--then or now--and yet how many of them would hold up to our scrutiny? More importantly, how would any of us hold up in such a situation?  

Admittedly you have introduced an opinion at this forum comparable to waving the proverbial red flag in front of a bull.  Many of us admire Alexandra; most of us are at least sympathetic to her foibles and regret her condemnation and downfall.  Considering your vociferous and one-sided attack against this woman, I have to ask if you are the type of person who enjoys yelling "Fire!" in a crowded building?!    ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on April 14, 2004, 11:55:37 AM
Janet:

I second what you posted.  Also, all of Alexandra's enemies agreed that she wasn't involved in politics up until Nicholas left for the front.  

I think it was wishful thinking on the part of Russian monarchists of the time that Alexandra that was making all the decisions and not Nicholas.  That allows them to take the responsibility off of the shoulders of the Tsar and place them on his wife.  I thinks that's unfair.  Nicholas made all of his decisions himself.  He resisted advice or being pushed, he seldom, if ever, responds to Alexandra's recommendations in her lettters.  The fact that there opinions usually matched should come as no surprize....

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David Newell on April 14, 2004, 11:57:22 AM
Well I knew I would not be alone in questioning this chaps views. AF was a many faceted women and I have to say my old blood boiled a little. To call her evil was just not bloody fair!!! (please excuse the Anglo Saxon language. I am also glad that I am not alone in my reply. I tried to give clear reasons to someone I am sure needs to read a lot more on this vast subject. I tried to defend AF with out being a apologist. That I do not need to do for her.

David Newell, London
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David Newell on April 14, 2004, 11:58:49 AM
I might be a little more convincing if I could type !!! :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Almedingen on April 14, 2004, 12:15:41 PM
I've always thought that the Russian monarchy's troubles started with the assassination of Alexander II, which in turn made Alexander III rule they way he did which in turn affected Nicholas II.  

Does anyone else think this or am I wrong?  I've always wanted to know more about Alexander III.  I can't imagine having to see your father dying after an assassination attempt and then knowing that you're  the next emperor.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 14, 2004, 12:31:00 PM
I think you have something there, Almedingen, although I also would fault Catherine the Great turning reactionary in her later years.  

Plus the vastness of the empire itself, and a whole lot of other sociological and geopolitical issues.

Dominos, anyone?!   :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Jackswife on April 14, 2004, 12:47:27 PM
 I absolutely believe Alexander II's execution had a deep impact on Alexander III (and by extension, Nicholas II.) AIII IMHO completely embraced the historic idea of absolute autocracy, and his inflexibility and abhorrence of any further reforms, set Russia on its inevitable path. Alexandra was most definitely not a socialite a la Minnie, and while this may have been off-putting to the party-loving fashionistas of the court, it was not a cause of the Revolution per se. As we have seen so much with   the Romanovs, they were complex humans (as we all are!) and were products of their times, upbringings, education, and experiences.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Jake on April 14, 2004, 12:53:55 PM
If only Alexander II had not been blown up then there would probably be a Russian monarchy today. E=When he dies he had the plans for a Russian democracy in his pocket that he was going to sign after his ride out in the carriage. if only the bombs had missed him then the course of history would have been so much different.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on April 14, 2004, 12:58:37 PM
"If only Alexander II had not been blown up then..."
all of these "if only's"....reminds me of my grandfather's saying "If only my grandmother had had testicles then she would have been my grandfather..." But ya ARE in that wheelchair Blanche...but ya ARE...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David_Newell on April 14, 2004, 01:00:06 PM
Oh Mr Admin , too, too funny for words, poor old Blanche

David Newell, london
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: jake on April 14, 2004, 01:02:53 PM
I think that jacob has a strong point. If it was not for Alexandra taking the advice of rasputin and firing several successful politicians and making a hash of ruling 200 million people while Nicholas was away at the front then the history may prtobably have been different.

I know that Alexandra was a very sensitive person and she showed great love for her children and bravery and heroicism during the war tending to the wounded, but if only she had not have been so stupid taking rasputin advice and being so vulnerble. She should have just asked rasputin to mind his own business in affairs of state and sticked only to helping Alexis then history wouldf have been differnet.

And jacobs point about the court entertaining I see where he was coming from. If she had been more sociable and then maybe the ladies of court would have like her better and people like Grand duchess vladimir would not have thopught so lowly of her then perhaps the family ties would have been stronger and lassted the whole duration of the war.

Dont be so harsh on jacob he says many true things.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on April 14, 2004, 01:07:12 PM
To all.
"Jacob" and "Jake" are the same person, pretending to be different people. I have terminated his access to the forum. My apologies to all.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David_Newell on April 14, 2004, 01:10:31 PM
Thank you, but in a way it does us all good to have to explain our beliefs and why we stand by them. I can give very good reasons why I would not have AF called evil, but again thanks for sending him to the valley of smotes, little pisher, oops here I go again being all anglo saxon !!!

David.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on April 14, 2004, 01:15:05 PM
David,
I received several requests from members upset at the original post. However, the essential point was/is a valid issue to discuss. Many people blame Alexandra for much of the Revolution, without looking at the historical accuracy of their position. I only terminated the "little pisher" (was called that alot as a kid by my grandpa, no idea WHY...LOL) because he was behaving in false manner by pretending to be different people. I have every poster's IP address logged and so could easily see it was the same guy.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sushismom on April 14, 2004, 01:16:02 PM
The original post had me rolling on the floor. I can't believe someone would place the entire blame for the Russian Revolution on one person. Thanks for ridding us of this person - although I could stand a good laugh now and then.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David_Newell on April 14, 2004, 01:20:41 PM
Little pisher its a lovely pfrase I picked up while I lived in NYC tears ago, New Yorkers they have such an expressive vocabulary

David
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_A. on April 14, 2004, 02:00:01 PM

One should reject the first entry on this "topic"!!!

How can one dare to speak in this way about the Tsarina!

The russian upper class was underserving to have an Empress like Alix of Hesse!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Joanna Mayer on April 14, 2004, 02:01:17 PM
Regarding the potential of Alix to destroy the Autocratic system... Well this is interesting.

While I must agree that A.F. was -- if not actually evil -- then decidedly emotionally unstable, I feel that the autocratic system in Russia was already rotting away from within.
Alix was no saint and no sinner either - she was just a rather egocentric and unstable individual - just like most of us! But she had one differance...she was telling the weak willed tsar exactly what to do - and he was listening.
Had this poor couple lived in any other place or time they would have hopefully been very happy. They did love each other. Sadly love and responsibility for a hugh nation do not often go hand in hand.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: NAAOTMA on April 14, 2004, 02:34:18 PM
Thank you Forum Administrator for terminating "Jacob" from this site. I could not believe his post when I read it this morning. At the time there were zero replies...I was formulating a response in my mind all through my morning chores...and then logged back on...and saw the flurry of responses. I third Janet's response, though that no longer seems necessary-but did want to add my two kopecks worth!  Melissa K.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 14, 2004, 03:05:58 PM
My one concern . . . did our friend Jake/Jacob know the rules going in? (i.e., the Nonduplicitous Clause?!)  ;)

I think most of us are okay with challenges to previously held opinions, as long as those challenges are backed up with factual statements and some civility!

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on April 14, 2004, 03:52:45 PM
JAkob/jake has indeed shown he has little knowledge of history.

My theory is actually that even a more able tsar would probably not have made much of a difference. I think the Revolution was inevitable once Russia had entered the war.

In addition, I believe the Bolshevik revolution could take place in Russia - and not anywhere else - precisely because Russian culture has always been a culture  tending towards the reliance on a paradigm of unity rather than one of difference as the Western one. Like orthodoxy communism stands for this unity paradigm. The bourgeois Provisional Government was bound to fall because there was no bourgeoisie to sustain it.
In the west democracy had always been a movement of the middle classes, as early as the middle ages.
Even today one can notice the difficulty Russia has with implementing a democracy of the Western type .
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Jane on April 14, 2004, 03:57:17 PM
Quote
"If only Alexander II had not been blwn up then..."
all of these "if only's"....reminds me of my grandfather's saying "If only my grandmother had had testicles then she would have been my grandfather..." But ya ARE in that wheelchair Blanche...but ya ARE...



Hoo hoo hahh haa!  I love ya, FA!!!

Jane

P.S. Nothing like being off-line for nearly a week.  So much to catch up on!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louise on April 14, 2004, 04:08:04 PM
Ummm, just a question. Could Jake be the shorten name for Jacob and he started out with Jacob and as he felt he was becoming more comfortable with the board-ha ha ha--he switched to "Jake."

I do agree that his posts were inflammatory and posted to get a rise out of us.

Louise
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 14, 2004, 04:40:03 PM
Yes, I agree . . . next time someone says "If . . . " I'm going to quote from FA!   ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: nerdycool on April 14, 2004, 05:18:04 PM
Quote
If it was not for her facination with the pathetic Rasputin then the Russian people would not have had a hatred for the Imperial family.


My overall impression was that the Russian people didn't like her from day #1...... Nothing was going to change that, and especially when Russia got involved in the war (which by the way, was pretty much impossible for Russia to avoid given the web of alliances strung across Europe at that time), it added more fuel to the fire.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louise on April 14, 2004, 07:51:58 PM
This could be a whole new post. Alix's popularity in Russia. Why was she so unpopular?

Did it stem from the visit St. Petersburg and society began gossiping then. Did the Dowager Empress have anything to do with the snipping? It is known that Minnie was not enamored with Germans, and was not enamored with Alix. Would or could have Minnie have liked any woman that married her darling Nicky? Was Alix set up for failure right at the very beginning. I'm not absolving her of her faults, but trying to understand how hard it was for Alix to succeed.

Louise
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Namarolf on April 14, 2004, 08:41:23 PM
Contrary to some previous opinions, I think Alexander III, despite being harsh and despotic, was a competent ruler, who granted Russia peace. I think his premature death was one of the causes of Nicholas II and Alexandra's problems.  Getting to the "ifs... "" region, may be if he would have lived  20 years more, Nicholas would have had the time to get much more experience in life and ruling, just the same way Edward VII was in 1901 a much more competent ruler  than what he would have been in 1867. Also, Alexandra would had time to be much more "Russian" familiar with Russia and the Russians -and may be Alexander III would have been her defender, the same way many kings in other European courts protected her foreign daughters-in-law against their not very welcoming relatives.
Compared to some of the previous Russian rulers and their consorts, I think both Nicholas and Alexandra were far from being a nightmare. And if  Alexandra was "Russia's worst  nightmare", I wonder what should we call the regime who built the gulag system... a fairy tale dream, may be? Too bad we can't make a poll among the millions and millions of people who suffered and died thanks to such a dream.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on April 14, 2004, 08:51:13 PM
In my opinion Alexander III's decision to realign Russia with France and England was a the fateful step that led to the all the problems that followed.  Had Russia continued it's alliance with Germany and Austria there would have been no WWI and no resulting fall of the dynasty.  His marriage to a Danish princess produced personal hostility in the Imperial family towards Germany after the war between Prussia and Denmark.  Had Alexander III married a German princess things would have turned out completely differently.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Greg_King on April 14, 2004, 09:35:16 PM
Quote
In my opinion Alexander III's decision to realign Russia with France and England was a the fateful step that led to the all the problems that followed.  Had Russia continued it's alliance with Germany and Austria there would have been no WWI and no resulting fall of the dynasty.  His marriage to a Danish princess produced personal hostility in the Imperial family towards Germany after the war between Prussia and Denmark.  Had Alexander III married a German princess things would have turned out completely differently.

Amen!  I despair of the anti-Kaiser/anti-German feelings that run through the Imperial Family from the 1880s on.  Wilhelm may have been a pain, but he was honorable and he deeply loved both N and A-one of the most touching things I've read is an interview with him in the 1930s in which, when he was told what N and A had said about him, he broke down and cried, saying he didn't understand it and still prayed for them every night.  Wilhelm, for all of his peculiarities, just wanted to be loved and accepted by his royal relatives who, led by Marie Feodorovna and Queen Alexandra, conspired against him.  Had Nicholas not been so infused with this feeling by his mother, things might have turned out differently.

Greg King
Bob

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Greg_King on April 14, 2004, 09:36:30 PM
Woops!  That somehow came out looking like a whole quote from Bob!

GK
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: jackie3 on April 14, 2004, 11:33:23 PM
It is ironic though that in a consitutional monarchy opposed by N&A (but that would have saved the throne for "Baby") many of Alexandra's "faults" would have looked like virtures. Had the Russian people had the Duma to blame everything on and the Imperial family staying above the fray then Alexandra's family values, strong religious beliefs, devotion to her husband and children, etc. would have made her a role model. Certainly the reason many find common cause with her today is because she seems so "normal" in comparison with the extravagance and spoiled lifestyles of other royals. Her middle-class values would have fit in an era where those that practice it like the just departed Queen/Princess Juliana of the Netherlands are hailed by their people.

Oh and Greg I am astonished that Wilhelm felt as such about N&A considering it was Germany who sent Lenin into Russia and thus with the rise of the Bolshies led to the family's death. In school and textbooks I've always read it was the Kaiser and his govt.'s Prussian Militarism which were the major cause of the war and thus led to the downfall of the German, Austrian, Russian empires, the rise of Communism and so forth. But I realize thats better discussed on the Hohenzollern board.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Todd on April 15, 2004, 01:17:36 AM
Jacob,

I feel it would be edifying for you to read some first-hand accounts of people who were extremely close to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Grand-Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Tsar Nicholas II’s sister, writes:

"She [Empress Alexandra] is the most maligned Romanov of us all. She has gone down in history so calumnied that I cannot bear reading any more of the lies and insinuations people have written about her. Nobody even in our own family tried to understand her except myself and my sister Xenia and Great Aunt Olga*. Even as a girl in my teens, I remember things which set my teeth on edge. She could do nothing right so far as my mother's court was concerned. Once I knew she had a dreadful headache; she looked pale when she appeared at dinner, and I heard them say that she was in a bad humor because my mother happened to talk to Nicky about some ministerial appointments. Even in that first year - I remember so well - if Alicky smiled, they called it mockery. If she looked grave, they said she was angry..."

Vorres, Ian, The Last Grand Duchess, New York: Scribner’s, 1965, p. 62

Vladimir Nikolaevich Voyeikov, the last commandant of the Imperial Palace, provides us with the following description of the Empress:

"...Her image is before me, as if she were still alive...her majestic Royal countenance, her large blue-grey eyes which always reflected some sort of profound sadness. At large social gatherings, the Empress's natural shyness gave her a rather painful and cold air, as if she were foreign to everything taking place around her. This was one of the reasons why those who really didn't know the Empress at all thought her to be proud and inaccessible. They just could not understand that she felt at home only in those situations where she could bring consolation and ease the suffering of others. Worldly, vain and frivolous conversations were a heavy burden to her."

Voyeikov, V.I., S Tsaryem i bez Tsarya, Moscow, 1994, p. 208

I believe it would be very helpful for you to do some real research on this remarkable woman. In fact, I know a woman who had many ideas similar to your own concerning Empress Alexandra. She went to Moscow for the purpose of finding documentation to support her ideas, but was so moved by the information she found that she ended up writing a wonderful book on the life of Empress Alexandra called: A Gathered Radiance: The Life of Alexandra Romanov, Russia's Last Empress, Valaam Society of America, 1992.

Todd
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Todd on April 15, 2004, 01:45:46 AM
Jacob,

Your judgment on Rasputin is rather harsh. Would it be possible for you to share what sources you used to arrive at such a judgment?

In 1960, Tsar Nicholas II’s sister, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, stated:

“Rasputin has become the central figure of a story the world has long since accepted as true. Anything I might have to say about him would either fall on deaf ears, or else be dismissed as a fable. Anything written about the man is so colored and twisted that it is virtually impossible for the public to sift fact from fiction.”

Vorres, Ian, The Last Grand Duchess, New York, 1965, p.129

Many of the stories about Rasputin are as unreliable as they are scandalous. Even credible and impartial writers have fallen prey to sensationalism and unknowingly used one rumor to refute another. The reason for this is two-fold: reliable documentation was not readily available either in Russia or the West during the
Soviet years, and, to be blunt, scandal sells. Today, however, historical records on Rasputin are accessible to the general public. Hopefully, they will impel those who care for historical truth to take a new and unbiased look at the man.

Your judgment on Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is extremely harsh as well. Yet what are your sources for this information? I feel it would be edifying for you to read some first-hand accounts of people who were extremely close to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.  

Grand-Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Tsar Nicholas II’s sister, writes:  

"She [Empress Alexandra] is the most maligned Romanov of us all. She has gone down in history so calumnied that I cannot bear reading any more of the lies and insinuations people have written about her. Nobody even in our own family tried to understand her except myself and my sister Xenia and Great Aunt Olga*. Even as a girl in my teens, I remember things which set my teeth on edge. She could do nothing right so far as my mother's court was concerned. Once I knew she had a dreadful headache; she looked pale when she appeared at dinner, and I heard them say that she was in a bad humor because my mother happened to talk to Nicky about some ministerial appointments. Even in that first year - I remember so well - if Alicky smiled, they called it mockery. If she looked grave, they said she was angry..."

Vorres, Ian, The Last Grand Duchess, New York: Scribner’s, 1965, p. 62

Vladimir Nikolaevich Voyeikov, the last commandant of the Imperial Palace, provides us with the following description of the Empress:

"...Her image is before me, as if she were still alive...her majestic Royal countenance, her large blue-grey eyes which always reflected some sort of profound sadness. At large social gatherings, the Empress's natural shyness gave her a rather painful and cold air, as if she were foreign to everything taking place around her. This was one of the reasons why those who really didn't know the Empress at all thought her to be proud and inaccessible. They just could not understand that she felt at home only in those situations where she could bring consolation and ease the suffering of others. Worldly, vain and frivolous conversations were a heavy burden to her."

Voyeikov, V.I., S Tsaryem i bez Tsarya, Moscow, 1994, p. 208

I believe it would be very helpful for you to do some real research on this remarkable woman. In fact, I know a woman who had many ideas similar to your own concerning Empress Alexandra. She went to Moscow for the purpose of finding documentation to support her ideas, but was so moved by the information she found that she ended up writing a wonderful book on the life of Empress Alexandra called: A Gathered Radiance: The Life of Alexandra Romanov, Russia's Last Empress, Valaam Society of America, 1992.

Todd
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on April 15, 2004, 02:33:38 PM
It's the typical view of the allies in 1919 that WWI was caused by Kaiser Wilhelm, single-handedly, probably  ;D, while in reality all those nations were equally to blame. The entire system of alliances ultimately forced them to give assistance to their respective ally.
But perhaps this indeed belongs in the Hohenzollern thread.

PS: I don't believe a constitutional monarchy would have worked in Russia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on April 15, 2004, 02:37:34 PM
PPS: Or perhaps that's a bit extreme. Let's say I am not at all sure that a constitutional monarchy as in Britain would have been a solution to the Russian empire.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: David_Newell on April 15, 2004, 04:24:36 PM
I thought this might amuse you all, my niece who is 10 said to her parents a while ago when they were dicussing my interst with AF, " ah, but Uncle David is devoted to her memory" I could have wept when I was told this. Out of the mouths of babes eh!! I just thought it was alovely thing to say and boy I wished that I had said it.

David Newell, London
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet_Ashton on April 15, 2004, 05:10:26 PM
Quote
In my opinion Alexander III's decision to realign Russia with France and England was a the fateful step that led to the all the problems that followed.  Had Russia continued it's alliance with Germany and Austria there would have been no WWI and no resulting fall of the dynasty.  His marriage to a Danish princess produced personal hostility in the Imperial family towards Germany after the war between Prussia and Denmark.  Had Alexander III married a German princess things would have turned out completely differently.

Bob



I don't know....I agree that the Triple Entente versus Triple Alliance was the problem in 1914, but I don't think A III DID actively align Russia with Britain, and I don't really agree that Minnie was an influence (notwithstanding Sandro's accounts of dinner table conversations!).
I think the decisive factor in the disintegration of the Dreikaiserbund was Austrian-Russian tension in the Balkans, which led to Russian refusal to join the other two Emperors in full Alliance (two years before Alexander III came to the throne) and eventually to the collapse of the whole bund. I think it was respective nationalisms that were the real problem, rather than personal relations in royal houses. How would Alexander having a German wife have changed his attitude to the Balkans, given the cast of his own views?
To me, it was French nationalist revanchisme against Germany which made it so keen to see an alliance with Russia - or anyone! - after all, and pan-Slav myths about the Balkans which fuelled the Austrian-Russian situation. Perhaps if Germany and Austria had been less unted....

I don't think that either Alexander or Nicholas were especially Francophile by nature; both were pretty anti-British, and yet Nicholas ended of necessity in a triple entente with both those nations - something his father certainly couldn't have predicted when he went into the French alliance in 1893? (given the state of Anglo-French relations as well as Anglo-Russian at that time). When Boulanger and others were brokering the Russo-French alliance, Britain rather than anyone else was seen as the great rival, so I don't think Alexander III can fairly be blamed for lining up with Britain against Germany.

Nicholas at least at one point in his reign made definite overtures towards Germany (I'm thinking of course of Bjorko) and the whole thing fell apart because he omitted to involve his government and had failed to examine the conditions of the French alliance. But I don't think personal hostility was in it. How could he have junked the French alliance at that point?

Perhaps my thinking on this is because even where autocracies are concerned, I am fairly sceptical about the "great men" theory of history. But I'm open to persuasion!

Janet
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on November 20, 2004, 12:34:51 AM
In Radinsky's book on Rasputin, he speaks of four "love and kisses"  telegrams, two in 1914 and two in 1916, addressed to Rasputin from "Darling" and post dated from Tsarskoe Selo.  In the 1914 telegrams "Darling" tells Rasputin that she has faith her strength will increase through his prayers and signs it love and kisses.  In the other 1914 telegram she says that she has sacrificed her husband and her heart to Rasputin and signs it love and kisses.  

Radzinsky denies that the Czarina was the author of the two telegrams in 1914, but he does credit Alexandra as the author of the two telegrams in 1916.  He then says that Vyrubova's testimony that Alexandra never wrote a letter to Rasputin after the Ilidor debacle to therefore be another one of her clever lies.  

Radzinsky also states the the four telegrams were stitched together in preparation apparently for publication by the Extraordinary Commission, but that they never were.  

In the two telegrams in 1916, sent from Tsarskoe Selo to Pokrovskoe, there is one dated April 9 in which she asks Rasputin to pray for herself and Nicholas on that bright day and ends the telegram with love and kisses.  In the other telegram on Dec. 2 she says that he has not written her and she misses him terribly and to come soon and pray for Nicholas and ends with kisses.    

I decided to look up the entry for Dec. 2, 1916 in "Life Long Passion," and I found an entry from Nicholas' diary for Dec. 2, 1916 Tsarskoe Selo.

"In the morning before my walk I recieved Voeikov.  From 11 to one received Trepov, Bark, Polovstov, and Shakhovsky.  Walked next to Alix's chair-a-banc.  Read.  We spent the evening at Ania's talking to Grigory."

Other than Radzinsky's slip up here, which is totally understandable given the rapid fire series of events in 1916, Alexandra seems to be the victim of so much malice and disinformation.  

Then there is the discussion about Lilie Dehn and Kerensky that I quote from.  

"I found this in her book here online. To me, it is very interesting and tells a lot, because it proves that Kerensky knew that the rumors about Alexandra were not true but he used them to his advantage.  

KERENSKY (with sinister emphasis): "Listen, Madame Dehn, you know too much. You have been constantly with the Empress since the beginning of the Revolution. You can, if you choose, throw quite another light on certain happenings which we have represented in a different aspect. You're DANGEROUS."'  

I don't know, maybe I am way off here, but something is out of balance.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sunny on November 20, 2004, 04:48:20 AM
Dear griffh and Helen,  whenever I have read what is clearly slander regarding Alexandra or Nicholas, I marvel at the long life of Bolshevik "public relations".
It took on a life of it's own, and decades later is still repeated as gospel on the subject. Like so many other things, the truth of the matter is beneath the surface of the world's chatter.

For those with a sincere interest in the IF, a little research will tell the true tale, while those with an "agenda" continue to parrot what serves their purpose.

Regards,

Sunny
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on November 20, 2004, 09:17:52 AM
The part about "love and kisses" is true, but totally misinterpreted.
Rasputin gave all of his close friends the traditional Russian "2 kisses" one on each side of the cheek. Thats what Alexandra was referring to... Vyroubova writes about how startled she was the very first time she met him and he kissed her twice like that...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on November 20, 2004, 10:01:03 AM
    We are failing to remember just what a "neo victorian" Alix really was! She often wrote of her deep love and passion for people that by 21st century standards she only knew as friends - yet we cannot conclude that she was some sort of sex crazy maniac because of it.
   People of a certain generation and a certain class tended to write in a very flowery language to one another in those days! It meant nothing more than a rather colourfull expression of affection. On a similar note consider the common use of the "F" word in so much of modern conversation today... it's a sad correlation, but accurate  :(.
   I am also in complete agreement regarding Rasputin's old fashioned "typically Russian" greeting. We may just be reading too much into a lot of this.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on November 20, 2004, 10:07:17 AM
Quote
   
    People of a certain generation and a certain class tended to write in a very flowery language to one another in those days! It meant nothing more than a rather colourfull expression of affection. On a similar note consider the common use of the "F" word in so much of modern conversation today... it's a sad correlation, but accurate  :(.
    


What a witty and insightful remark, Rskkiya!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on November 20, 2004, 12:11:17 PM
I have great sympathy for Alexandra in many issues.
My problem lies with the apologists who constantly want
to sanctify Alexandra and her motives & her actions.  

Alexandra was educated and guided by QV, coming from
this sort of constitutional monarchy, I find it difficult to
understand her turn to the right.  To encourage Nicholas
to be Peter The Great, Ivan The Terrible..etc.  Instead of
understanding the real problems facing them.

She isolated herself from the court & from the people,
she did little to endear herself to either faction, which
she should have been smart enough to see that as an
empress consort much more was expected from her as
the leader of Russian Society.  

However no one deserves the brutal execution that she
& her family received, and as we saw in France, when an
opressed people rise up, the extreme can often overtake the moderate, and revenge becomes the modus operandi.  Nicholas's regime was opressive &
the imperial couple often fought reform & progress.

I am not trying to be cold, or ignoring the situations she
found herself in, and the cards that were dealt her in
life.  She should have KNOWN BETTER than to let that
vile Rasputin into her life & once the scandal arose she
alone was the one responsible for it continuing.  

Alexandra was not an admirable woman, unlike her
Aunt Victoria, her Grandmother, Queen Victoria, or her
mother, Grand Duchess Alice, or her mother in law
Marie Feodorvna, IMO.  She chose a course that was
to put her on path with disaster, the sad thing is that
unlike Marie Antoinette, she had people advising her
that she needed to step away from politics & power &
Rasputin.  She unfortunately made her choices and
unfortunately they weren't right.  

I think Radzinsky is incorrect on some of what he writes
on in this book on Rasputin.  Alexandra was misguided,
and unfortunately the choices of her & her husband
brought down the empire, for that history has the right
to judge their actions.  They were not perfect people &
we need to get past the extreme on either side of
iconization or slander.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Johnny on November 21, 2004, 08:44:58 AM
Quote
In the two telegrams in 1916, sent from Tsarskoe Selo to Pokrovskoe, there is one dated April 9 in which she asks Rasputin to pray for herself and Nicholas on that bright day and ends the telegram with love and kisses.  In the other telegram on Dec. 2 she says that he has not written her and she misses him terribly and to come soon and pray for Nicholas and ends with kisses.    

I decided to look up the entry for Dec. 2, 1916 in "Life Long Passion," and I found an entry from Nicholas' diary for Dec. 2, 1916 Tsarskoe Selo.

"In the morning before my walk I recieved Voeikov.  From 11 to one received Trepov, Bark, Polovstov, and Shakhovsky.  Walked next to Alix's chair-a-banc.  Read.  We spent the evening at Ania's talking to Grigory."

Other than Radzinsky's slip up here, which is totally understandable given the rapid fire series of events in 1916, Alexandra seems to be the victim of so much malice and disinformation.  

Could it be that Radzinsky is actually right? It might be that one of the sources [possibly Nicholas' diary is still using the old Russian calendar. If that's the case then the two calendars are off by a couple of weeks.  So your Dec2 and Radzinsky's Dec 2 can be 11 days apart. That can mean that soon after Alix complained to Rasputin about not coming to visit her he did come and both Nicholas and Alexandra met with him. I am not suggesting that is the case, but it is a possibility.
Recently I had a similar problem with one of Nicholas' letters which I couldn't find in the book of his letters because of the same reason.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on November 21, 2004, 10:53:53 AM
Spiridovitch, in his Rasputin bio says that on Nov. 26 (old style) Rasputin was in Petersburg, and Trepov, acting on behalf of Gen Mossolov, tried to persuade Rasputin to accept a large lump sum of money and a large monthly pension in exchange for no longer meddling in political affairs and to permanently return to Siberia,  and that Nicholas and Alexandra went to Vyroubova's house on evening of Dec. 3 (old style) to meet and pray with Rasputin prior to Nicholas leaving the next day for GHQ. So, we know where Rasputin was during that period.

Clearly, Radzinsky was WRONG as Rasputin was no where near Pokrovskoe at that time.  Also, OS dates are 13 days BEHIND new dates, so Dec 2 OS is Dec. 15 NS, and we KNOW Rasputin was in Petersburg then.

added: I went back and read all of November 1916. This was the month of the Protopoov affair. Rasputin was in Petersburg the entire time. Alexandra saw him regularly all month.
Radzinsky was totally wrong.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on November 21, 2004, 12:03:04 PM
Quote
I have great sympathy for Alexandra in many issues.
My problem lies with the apologists who constantly want
to sanctify Alexandra and her motives & her actions.
  



Hello
   I do agree with much that you have commented on- and while I have my doubts about Alix as an entirely 'perfect person",  the Russian Orthodox Church has (for good or ill) declaired the entire family to be saints or "Passion bearers'.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on November 21, 2004, 02:08:53 PM
Of course it is quite normal to put "Tseluyu" (I kiss you) at the end of a letter. If people read anything into it, it says more about the reader than the writer IMO.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on November 21, 2004, 02:24:17 PM
Read above,
The discussion is moot, as these telegrams are fakes and NOT sent by Alexandra.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on November 21, 2004, 11:28:38 PM
I am so grateful that our administrator's research that backed up my very limited research.  As a new comer I often feel a bit green.    

I think that my point in wanting to dialog on this topic is that, without wanting to make a saint out of Alexandra, in the past, it has been easier for historians to pull down Alexandra than it has been for them to really deal with the complexity of the period.  And while there are hopeful signs, such as the Greg's wonderful biography, and more recently Carol N.'s book which is really one of the first sympathic portraits of Alexandra, it does not seem as though anyone has been able to approach the subject with the kind of comprehensive compassion, humor and honesty that Pope-Hennesy was able to do when he wrote Queen Mary's life.  

Queen Mary's strengths and weaknesses are so similar to Alexandra's, the extreme shyness, the distain of pomp, the strong loyalty to the monarchy, the philanthropic impulse to help those who are suffering, the frugalness and at the same time a love of beauty, a regalness without being ultra-fashionable, and most of all the ablilty to be a true friend and to deeply value friendship.  

Of course Alexandra had great personal beauty which made her into something of an icon.  (As late as 1909, when Balanchine was a little cupid in the Imperial Ballet, Alexandra asked to have him come up and sit in her lap during the performance and he said that she had the glamour of Grace Kelly).  

Pope-Hennesy was able to give such a comprehensive picture of Queen Mary that dealt with the complexities of her role as Queen in such a balanced way, that one could understand who she really was without having to resort to flattery or distain.      

I know that it is much more difficult to write about Czarist Russia because one has to deal with belief in many things that the twentieth century found fradulent, like the possibiliy of spiritual healing.  Belief or disbelief in spiritual healing, alone, has an enormous impact on the way one looks at Rasputin and Alexandra.  

And, as someone brought up in this discussion, there is eighty years of anti-Czarist Soviet propaganda to contend with, which cast everyone but the Communists in the role of degenerate, cruel, depraved, and frivilous, villians of the people.

But, take something like the German spy mania that swept the civilized world during WWI.  It caused Americans of German decent to be axe-murdered in the mid-west, it banished German culture, the classical masters of German music, art, pets, foods, and even Christmas trees all to vanish from Allied countries during the war.    

The fact that Alexandra's brother-in-law, Louis Mountbatten lost his position in the British Navy and his title to the anti-german war mainia in England during the WWI, or the fact that Alexandra's cousin Sophie of Greece and her family almost lost their lives to arsons who burned down one of their palaces because of war histeria, has never been mentioned to give context to what Alexandra was facing at the same time in Russia.  

The anti-german hostility against Alexandra seems to be explained, instead, as something she brought on herself through unwise inquiries about the condition of German prisioners of war or Rasputins dubious connection with possible German agents.  In fact, Alexandra did not have to do anything, exept breath, in order to the victim of war histeria, any more than Sophie of Greece or Louis Mountbatten.  

At least the German haters in Greece got some satisfaction in burning down a palace and almost killing the Greek King and Queen, and the German-haters in England found some satisfaction in destroying Louis Mountbatten's honor and life ambition and lowering his rank, but the German haters in Russia could not dislodge Alexandra.  It would take a palace revolution to do that.            
 
   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on November 22, 2004, 03:49:16 PM
Many times I have read now that people disagree with  the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize the Romanovs because they weren't so very perfect at all. I think one should always take into consideration that churches, be they Orthodox or Catholic do not canonize people because they were "perfect people" in the modern colloquial sense of the word "saint", but because they died for their faith and lived an exemplary religious life from the point of view of those respective churches.

Just mentioning this here because I think one should always be clear what one actually means when using certain terms to avoid misunderstandings.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on November 22, 2004, 05:33:28 PM
Quote
I think one should always take into consideration that churches, be they Orthodox or Catholic do not canonize people because they were "perfect people" in the modern colloquial sense of the word "saint", but because they died for their faith and lived an exemplary religious life from the point of view of those respective churches.

Just mentioning this here because I think one should always be clear what one actually means when using certain terms to avoid misunderstandings.


Well put Silja...
  But as someone struggling with converting to Orthodoxy, my problem lies in the fact that they did NOT "die for their faith" - They died for politically expeciency!
   No revolutionary - as far as I know- ever said to them "Abandon Orthodoxy and we'll let you go!" so they weren't really Christian martyrs as I understand the concept ...
(I am honestly not meaning to be difficult about this and  if any Orthodox believer can clarify this for me I would be very greatful! )

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Robert_Hall on November 22, 2004, 05:46:23 PM
Perhaps someone better at it than I can explain the difference betwen "passion bearers" and martyrs.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on November 23, 2004, 02:01:03 PM
I am grateful for the caution about using the word saint.  That is very helpful.  I used the word in a secular way, meaning that I did not want to gloss over anything.  

The question about cannonization is really interesting.  I believe that individuals are cannonized because they have refused to abandon their faith in God even when all human effort to save them has failed.  A perfect example is Saint Dymphna.    

Saint Dymphna was fourteen when her mother died. When her father Damon went insane because of his distress over the loss of his wife, his evil advisers told him to marry his own daughter. Dymphna fled from her castle in Ireland together with St. Gerebran, her confessor and two other friends.

Damon found them in a forest near Gheel, Belgium. He gave orders that the priest's head be cut off. Then Damon tried to persuade his daughter to return to Ireland with him. When she refused, he drew his sword and struck off her head. She was then only fifteen years of age. Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom in defense of her purity about the year 620.  

Dymphna was cannonized, not for her adherence to a religious doctrine, but for her love for God that was even more sacred to her than the sanctity of human life.  

I believe this is why Nicholas and Alexandra were cannonized.  Certainly the Empress trust in God was more sacred to her than the sancitity of human life.  

Thank you again for that helpful point about using the word saint.  I forget the broad perspective of individuals who read this website and your guideness is really helpful.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: pushkina on November 24, 2004, 12:40:33 AM
i've always wondered about the scurrilous pamphlets which circulated in petersburg before the revolution.  i'm assuming that they were like the ones in paris re: marie antoinette before the revolution there.

has anyone ever seen any of these pamphlets about AF and rasputin? are there collections of them anywhere?  i know that they were privately printed, semi- (or more)pornographic libels against the empress and the crown.  

anyone?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Olga on November 24, 2004, 01:59:54 AM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v453/Praskovia/Romanov/RUStsarina2.jpg)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: pushkina on November 26, 2004, 07:18:03 AM
great olga, but that one i've seen.

were there others?  did no scholar collect them?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on November 28, 2004, 10:12:27 PM
In the Orthodox church we have many saints who may not have been 'nice' people - and who died for political reasons - for example we can mention St. John Chrysostom who said bad things about the Empress and suffered for it.

Saint Vladimir - Saints Boris and Gleb - well we can even mention St. Constantine - the 13th Apostle - should any of these have been made saints?

There were many people who hated St. Elizabeth when she was alive - just as there were others who disliked Mother Theresa...

I know there are people who have a hard time accepting Alix as a saint - you can imagine how members of the Romanov family feel about that!  I've heard it first hand.  Of course, none of them are Orthodox believers either.

I know I have felt Alix's presence in my life since I was a child and I am always grateful for her interest in me and the help she always seems to be to willing to give.  As far as I am concerend she has always been a saint for me and I am eternally in her debt.

I have never felt the same way about Demetrius, George, or any other saint in the Church from way back in time.

Bishop Vasili (Rodzianko) spent many hours explaining the meaning of the Imperial Family's martyrdom and the reason the suffered and died.  It was very hard for me to understand the explanation.  I still don't think I do completely.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on November 30, 2004, 08:45:53 PM
Quote
Bishop Vasili (Rodzianko) spent many hours explaining the meaning of the Imperial Family's martyrdom and the reason the suffered and died.  It was very hard for me to understand the explanation.  I still don't think I do completely.

Bob


Bob?
Could you direct me to either the good Bishop's writings or to a website where this paradox might be explained in detail ?

I'm most curious...  
rskkiya
(a real sinner)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on December 01, 2004, 09:52:47 AM
Bob said that Bishop Vasily's lectures were broadcast mostly on the radio in Russian and published in Russian language journals. He does not know specifically of English language versions available, but his friend Maria Tolstoya is a relative of Bishop Vasily, and Bob will be speaking with her soon and will ask her about this for you.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on December 02, 2004, 06:45:59 PM
Also, I wanted to say that one churchman (Russian bishop maybe) who knew Alix personally had nothing but good to say about her, except for one thing - he criticized her love of dresses and jewelry.  Alexandra knew she had this 'vice'.  Maybe it came from not having very many dresses in comparison to her sisters and other members of Victoria's family when she was growing up.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ferngully on December 25, 2004, 10:07:40 AM
all the european royal families are intermarried, so really nicholas was not completely russian as his mother was danish and his father had other cultural heritage. alix was not given a chance by the rest of the family which was their fault. both of them were not cut out to rule as they were family people so i think that it was doomed from early on and they should have had some sense to listen to the people. alix and nicolas were the last straw i think (for the people)
selina            xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on December 25, 2004, 12:00:03 PM
Alexandra is not to blame. It already started with Tsar Paul. If he had not make that stupid family law, that female descendants can't take over the throne then there was Alexandra not so anxious to get a son! Etc, etc...

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: jtareb on January 06, 2005, 11:21:34 PM
To blame Alexandra for the revolution and beyond is revisionist history at its worst. The depth and complexity of Russia's problems leading up to the revolution have been the subject of numerous books. One keeps crying out for a statesman like Lincoln or Washington to lead Russia out of the wilderness but that never happened.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hissunnywife on January 29, 2005, 08:25:43 AM
Quote
I wouldn't be surprised if your work on the AP and this web site serves a spiritual purpose you may not even be aware of. Your work may help Alix - and other people - just as much as she helps you.
 


Totally agree with the above opinon and feel that Bob is used by God from his early childhood to do this.

Whether Alix and Nicky and children were Saints...Sainthood is a status of a spiritualy very evolved human being, which refers to the level of purification of the mind, intellect and ego which are layers around the soul. The lesser the layer the closer one is to God. Hence, it should not and cannot rest on the opinion of any church to declare Sainthood. Only a Saint can recognize another Saint.

A and N and children were obviously human beings above the average spiritual level of the times. They lived a life in tune with God and died in the same way. Am absolutely sure that God still guides them. Let us not forget that behind all apparitions, and all visions, there is only One God. He appears to us in the forms we beleive in. If for some people A and N and children are people which can help them go closer to God, then this is perfectly OK. It does not even matter how we call them.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Dashkova on January 29, 2005, 08:51:57 AM
Quote
I am grateful for the caution about using the word saint.  That is very helpful.  I used the word in a secular way, meaning that I did not want to gloss over anything.  

The question about cannonization is really interesting.  I believe that individuals are cannonized because they have refused to abandon their faith in God even when all human effort to save them has failed.  A perfect example is Saint Dymphna.    

Saint Dymphna was fourteen when her mother died. When her father Damon went insane because of his distress over the loss of his wife, his evil advisers told him to marry his own daughter. Dymphna fled from her castle in Ireland together with St. Gerebran, her confessor and two other friends.

Damon found them in a forest near Gheel, Belgium. He gave orders that the priest's head be cut off. Then Damon tried to persuade his daughter to return to Ireland with him. When she refused, he drew his sword and struck off her head. She was then only fifteen years of age. Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom in defense of her purity about the year 620.  

Dymphna was cannonized, not for her adherence to a religious doctrine, but for her love for God that was even more sacred to her than the sanctity of human life.


What an interesting story!  I can't help but question, though, how much did her decision have to do with god being "more sacred to her than the sanctity of human life" and the more obvious suggestion (how *truly* can it be anything else...) that she wanted to escape from a father who was a sick pervert.  I really do not see what "love for god" has to do with her actions.  Maybe she *did* love god, but it wasn't that love that made her flee.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: JM on January 29, 2005, 09:44:23 AM
Quote

What an interesting story!  I can't help but question, though, how much did her decision have to do with god being "more sacred to her than the sanctity of human life" and the more obvious suggestion (how *truly* can it be anything else...) that she wanted to escape from a father who was a sick pervert.  I really do not see what "love for god" has to do with her actions.  Maybe she *did* love god, but it wasn't that love that made her flee.  

I wonder the same thing. This story reminds me of a "novel" that I read when I was in elementary school titled Catherine Called Birdy, or something like that. Anyway, it was sort of in diary format and Catherince would recite which Saint's name day it was that day, sort of half mockingly too. But yes, some of them were actually quite amusing. I doubt their scholastic quality somewhat but here are are a few:

11th day of February, Feast of Saint Gobnet, virgin and beekeeper

13th day of February, Feast of Saint Modomnoc, who first brought bees to Ireland

16th day of February, Feast of Saint Juliana, who argued with the Devil

18th day of February, Feast of Saint Eudelme of Little Sodbury, about whom nothing is known except that she was a saint and I do not know how we even know that

. . . and today:

29th day of January, Feast of Saint Julian the Hospitaler, who accidentally killed his mother and father and in his grief and remorse built a hospital for the poor. Patron of inkeepers, boatmen and travellers

I have no idea why I posted all this. lol
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: pushkina on January 29, 2005, 07:00:20 PM
the saint Daphna story reminds me of st. maria goretti, who, at the age of 12 when one of her father's farmhands tried to force himself on her with a kitchen knife, allowed him  to stab her 44 times (leading to her death) rather than give in.  before she died she forgave him. as this happened in 1911 (i think), the civil authorities of course imprisoned him for life for murder. somehow, out of this rather mundane crime of passion, sainthood followed for her.

as cynical 1970s teenagers, we elected her to be our class patron saint, of course with none of us having the intention of protecting our virtue so far.

but her story has always made me wonder about what turns a victim of a spectacular crime into a martyr.  yes, i know that it is the subsequent certification of miracles in her name, but still...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 05, 2005, 11:42:01 AM
I think the point that I was trying to make about Alexandra by using the story of St. Dyphmphna was that Alexandra, regardless of her human failings, was a woman of faith.  And for that reason I can understand why she was cannonized.  Let me explain what I mean by faith.  

I had really never understood what a person of faith was until I saw the story of this man in NJ who had murdered his entire family, including his mother.  He had tried to live beyond his means, bought a big house and had his mother move in. Then, even though he was employed her started going through all of his mother's savings to stay afloat.  Then he was fired from his job so he pretended to go to work everyday for months until the final day when there was absolutely no money left and he would have to admitt everything to his family.  

Instead of admitting anything, he snuck back home early and he killed his mother, then waited for his wife to return home from shopping and killed her and the killed each of his children as they returned from school.  

He had led an outwardly "religious" life and had been very active in his local church.  At his first trial his minister took the stand and said that this man was a "man of faith" and that because of this he could not have committed such a hideous crime.  

Well somehow or other the man managed to escape during the trial and was finally found a decade later in Florida and was arrested and brought to trail again.  

This time the same minister took the stand and said, "Eleven years ago I said that this man was a "man of faith," but I was mistaken.  This man was not a man of faith.  When people with faith find themselves under unbearalble pressure and backed into a corner with no possible escape they turn to God in their desperation and ask for guidance.  People without faith become God.  

In her letters from captivity Alexandra never abandons her faith in God.  All through those frieghtening and depressing 16 months of arrest and captivity, inspite of witnessing the denigration of her husband and son and humiliation of her daughters, the destruction of her country and all that she believed in, Alexandra remains unmoved in her belief that God is still governing.  If she questions anything, it is her understanding of God.  

It is not that I think Alexandra fits very comfortably into the High Church Orthodox traditions of saintliness, but I think the Orthodoxy Church on a grassroot level supported her belief that God has the power to heal save mankind.  

Orthodox Church may have chosen to cannonize Alexandra because the could see through all of her human flaws, to her genuine piety in the face of unbearable personal agony and disgrace.  

The other thing I feel, and these are only intuitive feelings, is that perhaps the cannonization of the Imperial family is more about forgiveness that it is about saintliness.  I feel that the cannonization has initiated a healing process for the Russian people and has helped to destroy the guilt that had separated them from their own brilliant and glorious national heritage.  

 

 




Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 05, 2005, 02:34:41 PM
Quote
the saint dymphna story reminds me of st. maria goretti, who, at the age of 12 when one of her fahter's farmhands tried to force himself on her with a kitchen knife, allowed him  to stab her 44 times (leading to her death) rather than give in.  before she died she forgave him. as this happened in 1911 (i think), the civil authorities of course imprisoned him for life for murder. soemhow, out of this rather mundane crime of passion, sainthood followed for her.

but her story has always made me wonder about what turns a vicitm of a spectacular crime into a martyr.  yes, i know that it is the subsequent certification of miracles in her name, but still...


St. Maria Goretti wasn't canonized because she resisted the would-be rapist; it was because of the life she had lived until then (even though she WAS only young & perhaps hadn't had time to do anything really bad) but also because of the manner in which she forgave him and spent her last hours praying for him.
I believe that her mother should have been canonized because she also forgave him (forgave the man who had murdered her daughter!) & as a result of their forgiveness, the murderer repented & actually sat next to the mother at Maria's canonization ceremony :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Olga on February 05, 2005, 11:12:56 PM
Quote
Orthodox Church may have chosen to cannonize Alexandra because the could see through all of her human flaws, to her genuine piety in the face of unbearable personal agony and disgrace.


Agony and disgrace? She didn't suffer that much.  ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: matushka on February 06, 2005, 02:13:33 AM
To know why the Orthodox Church canonize someone, one must see wich liturgical tittle was given to the new saint: for the imperial family, the tittle of "strastoterpsy", those who accepted their sufferings as christian. Before the canonization; the Russian orthodox Church had examined the question a long time, all the problem: the problem of Raspoutine; the problem of the abdication (the Tsar was blessed by Church as a tsar - pomazanny - he did not have to abdicate, to let the duty that God gave him); the problem of Nicolas Alexandrovitch' Church politic and politic in general; the religious character of the Impress. Despite all this problems, the Church decided to canonize them for their attitude in captivity and death. Not for their personnal holyness (in contrary of Elizaveta Feodorovna, who has an other liturgical tittle).
That is first. Second, the russian imperial family is as the head of all the New Martyrs: they symbolize all the other; symbolize that all christian from tsar to muzhik, from bishop to simple monk pay.
Third; russian people feel sometimes gulty for sins their ancesters; the canonization is something as a reparation.
And last, there may be (that is my supposition) some "church political" reason to canonization: the Russian Church must find unity with the Russian Church abroad (that will be soon, as we hope): this Church had canonized the imperial family in the 80th.
I would to add that the Imperial family is venerate as a family; of course, there are some icons of Nicolas; of Tatiana and others; but must of all, icons show them together. That is important. And for a lot of russian orthodox families, they are today a model of christian loving and loving God family.
I apologise for my terrible english, I hope that it is understandable und interesting for someone.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: matushka on February 06, 2005, 02:34:49 AM
Rskkiya, you are totally right; they are NOT martyr in the real meaning of that word, that is the reason why they are called passion bearears. As Bob, I felt the protection of Imperial family in my all life.
Someone tell only a saint can recognize an other saint. In the Church point of vew, it is not totally true; of course, the Church (orthodox, but also catholic, of course!!) is made of sinners. But mysticaly the Church is saint, as we tell in the Credo: I believe in the holy... Church. She is saint as the Spouse of Christ, as the Communion of all them who receive the body of Christ and for this reason are saints, as liturgy tell us. So in this point of vew, you are right: a saint - the Holy Church - recongnize other saints!!
About Alexandra: I venerate her so much, but know her mistake. And I can not understand something: in Russian, before the Revolution, there were so many REAL startsy and saints; for example the holy starsty of Optino and many other. They also made miracles, they also read in souls. Elisabeth Feodorovna was in contact with them. Alexandra Feodorovna all the time choose some people like Raspoutine, Philippe, Mitia. The Tsarevitch'illness does not all explain. She liked discuss with such "bad" bishops lile Pitirim, Varnava and other; saints bishops she dislike. So tragical...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Olga on February 06, 2005, 05:25:26 AM
Don't worry, Matushka, your English is very good. Vash pyervi yazyk - russki?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: matushka on February 06, 2005, 06:31:22 AM
moi pervy iazyk - frantsuzski. russkim vladeiu ne ploho.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 06, 2005, 08:59:02 AM
Quote
Have you ANY idea what torment it is for a mother to see one of her children almost dying from pain due to internal bleedings and not being able to do anything to alleviate his pain?


Yes, this is very true. But was this the reason why she got canonized? I don't think so... The canonization had to do with the way she died, not the way she lived.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 06, 2005, 09:01:01 AM
Quote
Alexandra Feodorovna all the time choose some people like Raspoutine, Philippe, Mitia. The Tsarevitch'illness does not all explain. She liked discuss with such "bad" bishops lile Pitirim, Varnava and other; saints bishops she dislike. So tragical...


AF seems to have had a very bad sense of judgment... about people and about events  :(.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on February 06, 2005, 10:19:22 AM
In the issue of AF suffering over the bleeding of her child.  Even though I am not an AF fan, I feel that she did suffer, ANY MOTHER would have suffered to see their child bleed uncontrollably and suffer.  I am sure there is a sense of guilt on her part in that suffering since she knew the gene came from her.  

I think she was tormented with guilt, over the suffering of her child.  I often wonder why she didn't try to have another child after Alexis, she was still young enough, and the chance that he wouldn't have the gene would be there.  However, that is just speculation on my part.

Her judgement was often clouded in her choice of  people and events.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 06, 2005, 11:31:29 AM
Quote

 I often wonder why she didn't try to have another child after Alexis, she was still young enough, and the chance that he wouldn't have the gene would be there.  However, that is just speculation on my part.

 


Perhaps she realized that Alexei would take up so much of her time; and she probably didn't know enough to realize that the gene wouldn't be there. Also she had suffered so much with sciatica etc. etc. during her pregnancies that perhaps she just couldn't face going through it again.

I agree with everyone about her unfortunate inability to choose advisors who might have helped her. (Why didn't she listen to Ella!!)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 06, 2005, 12:58:37 PM
Hi Matushka

Thank you so much for your clear explaination of the type of sainthood conferred on the Imperial family.  I believe Bob had referred to the distinction of the different kinds of sainthood but I had not quite understood it until you explained it.  

Hi Darth Olga,

The agony and disgrace I was referring to was not only  about her ordeal with Alexis, it was more in the nature of the destruction of Russia which she lived long enough to witness and the denigration of husband and son's place in history, not to mention her daughter's future.  

Olga was old enough to have already been married.  She could have already been the Crown Princess of Romania if the Crown Prince Carol had appealed to her in the summer of 1914.  Her cousin Irenia, who was Olga's same age, was already married to Felix Y. and Olga was only two years younger than Zita of Bourbon Parma who became the new Empress of Austria in 1916.  Then of course there was the future of equisite Tatiana and her younger daughters.

Besides this I am sure that she felt that the revolution would bring the possible loss of Russia's intellectual and moral life and the loss of Russia's prestige among the Allied nations.  Russia made such sacrifices during the war and the revolution destroyed country's ability to share in the Allied victory.  

For instance just think of the bitter irony of Alexandra must have felt when when she learned in Feb. 1918 that Lenin had betrayed the Allies by making a separate peace with Germany by sighing the Treaty of Brest, the very thing that Alexandra had been unjustly accused of trying to secretly accomplish in between 1915-1916; an accusation some members of the Imperial family, the Duma and even the British believed was true.    

The agony and disgrace I am speaking of is about someone who felt it was their God-given duty to be the mother of a nation and someone who would live long enough to see every hope and every desire for the good of her country shattered and degraded.                                                                                          
I suppose I started thinking about all of this because of that last day, July 3 (16), 1918 when Tatiana read to Alexandra from the Prophet Obadiah: "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle (the imperial symbol was a double headed eagle), and though thou set thy next among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord" (1:4).        

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on February 06, 2005, 03:10:37 PM
With respect, there are those who think of her as a mortal, who made bad decisions on issues, and mad bad decisions regarding those who surrounded her, regardless of her beauty, or her post execution martyrdom.  It's not slander or attack, it's just personal opinion from lots of fact & years of reading.

I agree Bluetoria, she should have listened to Ella.

The course of history would be much different today if all of the "what-if's" had happened.  It is sad she did not have wiser friends or counsel.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 06, 2005, 09:13:17 PM
Michael,  I certainly respect your point of view and agree with you that Alexandra was as mortal as you or I and that she had mortal faults.  I am not trying to defend her so much as question the arguements of her detractors and I really appreciate the opportunity of this forum because by interacting with other who hold differing views, it helps me to define more clearly what I am trying to get at.  

To me the Romanoff family was a family in crisis long before Alexandra appeared.  To paraphrase a russian historian, the Romanoff family had been unanchored by severe dissagreements over progressive reforms that were demanded of them; blinded by a past they needed to believe was perfect, holding deep grudges, and immobilized by uncertainty; a family confronted by problems its laws and traditions could not comprehend; a family where pride and appearances overruled its compassion and loyalty.    

I have to ask myself, what if Alexandra had met all the demands that the Romanoff family placed on her, would that have saved the dynasty, what if she had even been incarsarated in a monestary or even assassinated, would that have saved a dynasty paralyzed by anguished indecision and colossal misunderstanding?    

To me, the Romanoffs were holding a gun to their own head, while threatening Alexandra that if she made another move they would fire.  She ignored their threat and they fired.        




Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 06, 2005, 09:20:11 PM
Griffh, you are certainly correct in that the family was divided.  I think that Alexandra's reticence to have a court life and withdrawal of her family to the Alexander Palace certainly exacerbated a fragile situation.  

There are certainly instances where we could look back and say "should have, could have" in regards to historical figures.  But we have not had to deal with the pressures they faced daily.  

Many times people may seem hard on Alexandra because what we do know about her is in light of EVERYTHING that was going on at the time.  But her day to day decisions appear to have been with the goal of keeping her family strong and preserving the autocracy for her son....

Denise

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 07, 2005, 08:36:56 AM
Quote
.  

But her day to day decisions appear to have been with the goal of keeping her family strong and preserving the autocracy for her son....

Denise



I often wonder if she would have been quite so determined to preserve the autocracy at all costs if Alexei had not been a haemophiliac. While, of course, she saw it as Nicky's God-given duty to uphold the traditions etc. & adhere to the promises he made at his coronation, it seems to me that, on a more human level, Alix's 'shame' that she had passed on the disease to her son, & her hours of agnoy watching him suffer, may have made her want to give him something else. She could not give him health...so she was determined to give him his 'inheritance.'  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 07, 2005, 09:12:20 AM
Quote

I often wonder if she would have been quite so determined to preserve the autocracy at all costs if Alexei had not been a haemophiliac. While, of course, she saw it as Nicky's God-given duty to uphold the traditions etc. & adhere to the promises he made at his coronation, it seems to me that, on a more human level, Alix's 'shame' that she had passed on the disease to her son, & her hours of agnoy watching him suffer, may have made her want to give him something else. She could not give him health...so she was determined to give him his 'inheritance.'  


On the same note, perhaps she felt the autocracy must be preserved for Alexei because then he MUST live to uphold it.  In other words did Alexandra think (superstitiously) that if the autocracy were gone then Alexei would not have a reason to hang on to life.  

I am phrasing this badly, but I guess I am wondering that if Alexandra felt she could keep the political system strong, by default Alexei must stay strong to fulfill his destiny as heir.

Denise
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 07, 2005, 09:16:51 AM
Quote

On the same note, perhaps she felt the autocracy must be preserved for Alexei because then he MUST live to uphold it.  In other words did Alexandra think (superstitiously) that if the autocracy were gone then Alexei would not have a reason to hang on to life.  

Denise


That's a really interesting idea. For someone as complex as Alix, too, it sounds very likely, doesn't it? (And perhaps it helped her to deny to herself the fact that his life was so precarious.)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 07, 2005, 09:32:55 AM
That is what I though.  It would be her way of compensating for passing on the disease.  And as she and Nicky were so desperate for an heir, the political system must stay strong to justify the need for an heir.  

It is simplistic to say that Alexei's illness was the downfall of the Romanovs, but so many things happened because of it--the reclusiveness and secrecy of Nicky & Alix, the introduction of Rasputin, the rumors that Rasputin was dictating policy and advisors after Nicky went to the front.....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 07, 2005, 09:38:28 AM
Yes, I agree with you, completely, Denise.

It seems to that Alix was 'fated' almost. Even from the Khodynka field, the failure to produce an heir...then the one she did produce had hemophilia...Poor woman - anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And yes, she has to take some responsibility for what happened - but oh, what she must have gone through! (At least, unlike many princesses, she had a husband who truly loved her.)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 07, 2005, 09:47:38 AM
I have always thought that despite the tragedy that befell them, the Romanovs were indeed fortunate to be such a tight and loving family.  Imagine how hellish captivity would have been for them if they hadn't had that bond.  Unlike most political marriages, Nicky and Alix appeared to stay in love till the end...

And yes, her personal torment must have been great.  Didn't they call her a "casket bride" and said at the time the marriage was ill fated?  PLus Nicky was born on the feast day of St Job... They both seemed to believe that bad luck was their God given destiny.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on February 07, 2005, 12:34:09 PM
Even sadder is the fact that they are considered some type of martyr, while that is where I totally disagree, to let their children go into captivty, and perish with them, is what angers me.  Why not try to arrange for the children to be with their Aunts or Grandmother or to Denmark.

Those children should have been given a chance to live life, instead of having it taken away.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on February 07, 2005, 12:50:21 PM
Quote
Even sadder is the fact that they are considered some type of martyr, while that is where I totally disagree, to let their children go into captivty, and perish with them, is what angers me.  Why not try to arrange for the children to be with their Aunts or Grandmother or to Denmark.

.


Well, they had certainly not expected it would come to this. Moreover, I doubt the children would have agreed to leave the country. Remember the English Royal family during WW2 and Queen Elizabeth's comment as to why they didn't send the children to Canada? General sense: "The children cannot leave without me, I cannot leave without the King, and the King will never leave of course".
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 07, 2005, 12:52:03 PM
From what I understand, Michael, they did not want to go.  The first time the family was separated was when Nicky & Alix took Marie and went on ahead. They truly were an unsually close family, as Olga and Tatiana were young ladies and by rights should have been married....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 07, 2005, 07:19:59 PM
Denise, Michael, Bluetoria, and Silja what tender concerns and what a great discussion you are sharing with each other.  

Michael I know what you mean about the tragedy of Alexandra's daughter's lives being sacrificed.  Like Denice says, I believe they were devoted to each other and their parents.  I think the girls were so used to nursing not only their little brother but even their mother before the war and then serving as nurses in their Mother's hospitals must have created for lives of service that translated into captivity.

The other thing that is so hard to remember is how young the entire family was.  When she was arrested Alexandra looked as though she could have been almost 60 but she was only 42.  

I thought I might tell a little story that was related to me about how closely united the girls were.  Years ago I would go to the NYC public library and look through the picture file on the Romanoff family.  In those days there were many clippings of pictures from magazines, newpapers and books, but there were also real photographs that had often been printed as post cards.  Among them was a postcard with a picture of the Grand Duchess George and her two daughters, Nina and Xenia.  

I knew that that Nina had married Prince Paul Chavchavadaze and that she was living on the Cape in South Wellfleet, MA., and everytime I looked at the picture of her and her sister and mother I felt it was only right that she should have it.  So one terribly exciting Saturday when no one was looking I put the photograph in my sweater and walked out of the Library.  

I was sure that someone was going to search me but they didn't.  When I got home I wrote Nina a letter and enclosed the photo.  I explained that I had come across this photo of her and her mother and sister and wanted to send it to her as I felt that it rightly belonged to her.  I am not sure I told her exactly how I had happened to come across the photo and I really never expected to hear from her, but within a week I recieved the most charming letter all written on the loveliest blue stationary telling me how grateful she was for the photograph.  It seems that no one had managed during the Revolution to save any pictures of her mother taken in their palace in St. Petersburg and that this this photo of herself and her mother and sister was taken in their favorite drawing room sitting in their favorite chairs in their palace in St. Petersburg.  She explained that her mother was wearing black because she was in mourning for the King of Greece who had just been assassinated.  Nina explained that her mother was Greek by birth.

Nina wanted to know where on earth I had gotten the photo and said that she would be forever grateful for it.  Again I am not really sure if I told her that I stole it, but the upshot of this rather long story is that she and I began corresponding and I had millions of questions and because I wanted only to know about the details of family life without any reference to politics or the Revolution, Nina answered all my questions.

She said that her mother and father were very "non political" and therefore had remained friends of Nicky and Alix.  And that when Olga came of age GD George and family were invited to the informal dinner dances that were held for Olga and Tatiana at Livadia just before the War broke out.  Nina described the dances as the most delightful, light hearted, enjoyable occassions imaginable, held in the beautiful almost brand new palace italianate palace, and that the french doors were left open to the rose garden so that the scent of the roses mingled with the dance music which mingled with the pretty pastel gowns and that is was all just incredibly enjoyable and that Alix was as light hearted as her daughters.  

Nina said that Olga and Tatiana were so close that they decieded to come out together, even though Tatiana was not offically the right age, being a year younger.  However Alexandra agreed and let her two older daughters come out in society together and that these informal parties were held for both of them.  

I think that the Empress Dowager gave Olga and Tatiana a very large coming out party in St. Petersburg and I believe it was at that party that teenage Marie, who was struggling then with being over weight slipped and fell down while dancing, but I am not sure.  

I felt the closeness and family loyalty of the girls from Nina's delightful memories of their coming out parties and I thought I might take this opportunity to share it.  



Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 07, 2005, 07:32:37 PM
What an absolutely beautiful story.  Thanks for sharing.  It is so nice to hear personal stories untouched by politics.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 08, 2005, 09:24:11 AM
Oh wow, Griffh! That's lovely!  :) :)
(The only removeable things I ever find in library books are other people's supermarket receipts!)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: chintz22 on February 08, 2005, 03:48:44 PM
Hi All,

What a great story!  I loved those old photo and clipping files--do libraries still have them?  I used to haunt the one at the Minneapolis Public Library.  I wonder if it would be possible for you to write an article for the AP website about your correspondence--I'm sure we would all love more details!

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on February 10, 2005, 01:44:50 AM
Yes Griffh thanks so much sharing that wonderful story. Isn't it amazing what a simple gesture of a personal photograph can do in opening up an entire new world for you.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on February 10, 2005, 01:49:31 AM
Weren't Nina & Xenia and their mother out of Russia during the war, it was too late for them to get to Russia. I can't remember the story, but didn't that twist of fate probably save their lives.  I wonder if they got out of Russia with any of their jewelry?  Just curious.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 11, 2005, 09:24:19 PM
Thank you for the kind remarks about my story.  The sad thing is that I lent my letter archive, photo archive and several rare books to a publisher in NYC who had published Russian memoires for three decades.  

I thought that they could be trusted.  The son of the publisher had known Felix Yusupov, or rather, had met the Prince on the Rivera where they had become aquainted and I suppose that fact rather turned my impressionable young head.  Somehow I imagined that in dealing with the publishers that I was dealing with gentlemen, even if they were gentlemen of the world.  

At the time they were caught up in an unreasonalbe frenzy trying to prove that Eugenia Smith was the real Anastasia.  I had actually taken the intitative to call on them and prove to them that the had erred.  At my second meeting with them I said that I could disprove Eugenia Smith's claims because of my photo archive of the Romanoffs which was quite extensive by then as I was in the midst of making a photo geneology chart of the family back to Alexander II.  Now with DNA and all that has transpired in connection with Anastasia claimants my efforts seem laughable, sort of like paste and glue takes on microbiology.  

Well be that as it may, the publishers asked me to bring my archive and then never returned anything and no matter how hard I tried I could not get anything returned.  I suppose they justified their action at the time because they believed they were on a holy crusade.  

The sad thing was that when they refused to return my letter archive as well, l lost my correspondence with Nina.  I also lost, among the books they refuse to return, the memoirs of Countess Brassov's daughter, Natalia, entitled "Imperial Stepdaughter."  

Years after the publishers humiliated themselves when the Eugenia Smith hoax fell apart, suddenly one of the photos from "Imperial Stepdaughter" which clearly showed Nicky's sister Olga snuggling up to her husband's Aide de Camp on a hill side long before she was supposed to have started her affair with Col. Kulikovsky was published stating that the photo proved that Olga had not told the truth in her memoir.  

Perhaps it was just a coincidence but I had pointed out that picture in Imperial Stepdaughter specifically to the publisher and had made the very same remark.  Again, it is probably just a coincidence and anyway it is so good to forgive and forget and keep moving forward.  

All my books except Imperial Stepdaughter have reappeared from the most unexpected sources.  And besides I think it is wonderful that I have had these experiences and can now share them.  

Besides all I have to do is close my eyes to see Nina's  beautiful blue stationary and re-read that lovely description of Olga and Tatiana and the music and rose garden.  That is something the publishers will never be a able to rob me of.

And yes the Grand Duchess George and her two daughters spent the war in London and were spared the hardships of the Revolution.  Countess von Stokel (I might have mispelled her name) was one of the Grand Duchess' ladies and writes a delightful memoir that shares many details of the Grand Duchess George in her book, "All Is Not Vanity." (Again I might have the title a bit off)  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on February 12, 2005, 06:17:10 AM
Griffh

Unfortunately you have learned the hard way.   There are a lot of unscrulpulous people out there.   NEVER send originals of anything to anybody - in fact beward of what you send at all.   You must check out their credentials first.   I can understand why you thought a publisher would be trustworthy.   To give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they misplaced them.

I speak as one who has had their fingers burned and you would be shocked if you knew the extent to which this goes on.  

As you say, no-one can take your memories.   These are the dearest things we possess.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 12, 2005, 09:22:38 AM
Thank you for your comforting remarks and very good advise Tsaria.  That is very helpful and makes me feel stronger and wiser to have read what you have said.  But you know the bright side is that I would have given everything I had to be apart of a this discussion board because I have known so few individuals who I could discuss these ideas with.

Kamlowsky the way the books came back to me was very much the way they all came originally to me.  I started collecting when I was twelve and books cost $.50 and the expensive ones cost $1.75.  

In NYC there were the most enormous used book stores on lower Park Ave near Astor Place.  I mean these book stores were two and three stories high.  Every Saturday I would gather up all my spare change and look and look through the stacks and try to listen with my heart instead of look with my eyes and I would be directed to certain books.  Often they would be in the wrong section, or sometimes the owner of the book store would see how intensely I was looking and would take me to a special section devoted to women, or Russia or something where there would be an incredible stash of memoires.  

The way "Imperial Stepdaughter" came to me was really amazing.  I was walking down the street in NYC and in front of a book store there were stands of books that had been salvaged from a fire.  The covers were in pretty bad shape but the contents were ok.  

The books looked so dismal that I did not want to stop and look through them so I kept on walking.  Just as I was passing infront of the third stand, I swear to you that a voice told me to stop and reach in the pile of books and I did and pulled out "Imperial Stepdaughter"  I tell you that was such an exciting moment, it was as if the book had called out to me.  I held it so closely to my shirt that my shirt was covered with ashes, but suprisingly when I got home and carefully cleaned the outside of  the book most of the ashes just washed off and the actual binding was in good shape.  That is why I so loved that book.  I felt as though I had saved it from the Revolution.  The other thing about Imperial Stepdaughter that made is so rare to me is that is was published in 1941, a decade after most of the Russian Court memories had been published.

It took a few years for those books to reappear in my life but they all managed to with the exception of Imperial Stepdaughter.  I will just tell about how Anna Viroubova's memories reappeared in my library as her book was one of the one's I lost to the publisher.  

Several years after the loss, I had kind of forgotten or actually had given up the idea that I would ever be able to find Anna's book again and then I was invited by a prominent NYC judge to attend a showing of Prince Alexander Tarsaidze's collection of movies at the Union Club.  He had collected all the available movies taken of the Imperial family.  The movies included newsreal cuts and home movies.  Until then I had never seen the Empress or her family in motion and I suppose I made a bit of a scandal as I kept gasping in amazement because I was so overcome by seeing them move.  

Well afterwards there was a small reception and the Judge took me over to a book case and showed me the collection of memories that the Union Club has and among them was Anna's book.  It just tore my heart to see it.  The judge told me how rare the book was and that it was a first edition, just as mine had been.  I did not tell him that once I owned that book.

Well about a year later I drove out to Jersey to a flea market and as I was walking up and down the dusty lanes of vendors I saw a man with books and magazines.  Something came to me to ask him if he had Queen Marie of Romania's second book "Ordeal of My Life."  He shouted back to his wife to ask her if they had that book on Marie.  She handed him a book and he handed it to me and said, "Is this the book you are looking for?"  I looked down and saw I was holding Anna Viroubova's book.  Its terra cotta binding with that sort of wonderful Byzantine-deco jade green design just overwhelmed me with joy.  I held it so closely to my body that finally the man asked me whether I wanted to hold it or buy it.  I very reluctantly gave it back to him so he could see how much I had to pay.  He opened the book and looked up and said that I would have to pay him $2.00.  I really don't know how I kept from passing out right there and then, but somehow I managed to find my wallet and pay him.  He kept reassuring me that it was a fair price for an old book.  I had temporarily lost my power of speech and just kept nodding my head in agreement.  

So this is the way most all my books came back to me and then I found abebooks.com.  However I still listen with my heart and maybe someday it will lead me to Imperial Stepdaughter.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 12, 2005, 10:03:59 PM
Thank you Tsaria for such a kind offer to inform me if you find a source for Imperial Stepdaughter.  That really touched me.  And yes my life has been very up and down but I think that things are beginning to level off.  I don't know if age does that or if wisdom does that, but again I was really deeply touched by your kind offer.  

And thank you Kamlowsky for your blessing.  It is so intereting to have been on this self appointed mission all of these years with no real goal insight except a thirst for knowledge about such an incredible time in history in such a wonderful country whose history, good, bad or indifferent I so love.  It has been a wonderful journey.  I am so grateful to Bob that our of his generosity he has created a wonderful place for all of us to gather and share ideas and really become a resource for each other.  

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sunny on February 15, 2005, 06:52:44 AM
Dear Griffh,

I recently purchased a reprint of Imperial Step-Daughter, from Royalty Digest. Don't know if you are only looking for an original. Have added the address, in case you might be interested.

minet.royalty@btinternet.com

Sunny
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on February 15, 2005, 05:52:39 PM
Oh! Sunny! how totally cool.  Do you have Royalty Digest's website address?   That is totally amazing.  Every since I shared that story I keep wondering if her name was actually Natalia or was Nadeja, or was it something entirely different.  Well anyway I will be shortly finding the answer out.   What a wonderful fourm this is.  I just can't get over it.  

Currently I am reading the installments of Aline, the novel about Alexandra that appeared in Harpers Magazine in 1894 just before she was married to Nicholas.  Richard Harding Davis, the reigning
American journalist and writer, wrote the novel after seeing a society photograph of her and instantly falling in love.  His close friend, the world famous illustrator, Charles Dana Gibson illustrated the book.  

It is slowly dawning on me as I read the three installments how perfectly Alix fit into the smart young Gibson Girl ideal of the time.  It also occured to me that no one, not even the ravishingly beautiful Ella, had ever been the heroine in a novel that swept America and Europe.  Even Queen Victoria read Aline.  

So when Alexandra rushed to the Crimea in second class accomodations and was not given much attention, it hardly matter as she was already an international sensation.  

I surmise that the great acclaim of Aline must have caused a sort of Princess Di turmoil for Alix.  I am sure that such public acclaim must have really cause Minnie to protect her turff with a vengence.  She was not going to let this 22 year old girl upstage her during one of the greatest personal losses of her life.  I am sure that the backlash from Aline must have been one of the reasons that Alix was pushed into the background to such a great extent.  

I am sure very few people will agree with my conjectures.  Well on the brighter side, thank you again Sunny for your help.  I just cant't wait to get my hands on that book, it will be like talking to a an old friend that I have not seen for years and years.  My books truely are my friends as I am sure they are for all of us.  thanks again griff
   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sunny on February 15, 2005, 06:31:23 PM
Dear Griffh,

You will find the book on this page:

http://www.picrare.com/Royalty_Digest/RDBookForSale/RDReprints.htm

Helen, who answers emails at Royalty Digest, is very helpful

Thomas Jefferson got it right when he said: "I cannot live without books".   ;)

Sunny
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: samcr on February 21, 2005, 05:15:46 AM
I think both Nicolas and Alexandra were russia's worst night mare , he was weak and didnt have the foggiest what he was meant to be doing, As for Alexadera she was about as helpful as a stuffed fish! she was total rapped up in her own little world,
also why have they made them saints???
what good did any of them do in this world, its not as if they gave anything to the russian people!! ok so the children died young, lots of people died in russian in that period of history !!!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 21, 2005, 08:50:55 AM
Quote
I think both Nicolas and Alexandra were russia's worst night mare , he was weak and didnt have the foggiest what he was meant to be doing, As for Alexadera she was about as helpful as a stuffed fish! she was total rapped up in her own little world,
also why have they made them saints???
what good did any of them do in this world, its not as if they gave anything to the russian people!! ok so the children died young, lots of people died in russian in that period of history !!!


Alexandra could not win. If she did nothing she was accused of being 'wrapped up in her own little world.' If she involved herself, she was accused of interfering. She was much more than 'stuffed fish' - she was, if nothing else, a totally devoted wife & mother.
Nicholas may not have been capable of running the country, but I doubt any one else could have done either at such a time. What were his options? To become a total despot? (Although it was against his nature)
To grant a constitutional monarchy - which went against all he had been brought up to believe about the divine vocation of the Tsar.
They both may have made MANY mistakes but they were hardly Ivan the Terrible...no, they were not Russia's worst nightmare: World War I was, the indiscriminate killing in the revolution was, the appalling atrocities of Stalin were, the Communist suppression of the people was...IMO

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: samcr on February 21, 2005, 10:09:06 AM
they really didnt help matter's did they , Im sorry but
they could of done so much more , than what they did, he wouldn't listen to anyone apart from his wife!
so Im sorry he may not of been like Ivan the terrible but he did destroy Russian in his way!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Denise on February 21, 2005, 10:57:45 AM
Quote
they really didnt help matter's did they , Im sorry but
they could of done so much more , than what they did, he wouldn't listen to anyone apart from his wife!
so Im sorry he may not of been like Ivan the terrible but he did destroy Russian in his way!


I think you need to read a bit more about the political climate at the time.  The Romanov dynasty was already on shaky ground when Nicholas became tsar.  Check out some of the threads on this forum under Imperial Russian history and the Russian Revolution.  

There was a lot more going on than Nicholas listening only to his wife!!


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on February 21, 2005, 02:47:50 PM
Quote
why have they made them saints???
what good did any of them do in this world, its not as if they gave anything to the russian people!!


Which is totally immaterial as to whether or not they qualify for sainthood in the Orthodox religious sense.
I can only repeat that the religious idea of sainthood has little to do with our "worldly" idea of an "ideal" human being".
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on February 21, 2005, 02:50:21 PM
Quote
he wouldn't listen to anyone apart from his wife!


A generalization which is false.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: samcr on February 22, 2005, 03:27:58 AM
Im not going to go into what Iv read etc, thats such a bore, but thats my view on Nicholas and Alexander ,
I do realise it just wasn't them, who was in the down fall of Russia, but I do think they were the icing on the cake! so yes old Alexandra was a nightmare!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 22, 2005, 11:40:03 AM
Quote
so yes old Alexandra was a nightmare!



I prefer to think that Alexandra lived THROUGH a nightmare. Her whole life was so terribly sad, from the early death of her mother, brother & sister; her anxious personality; her long deliberations of her conversion; the tragedy of Khodinka; her failure for so long to bear a son, and then the son whom she loved being so ill; right through to the Rveolution.
I just think her life was terribly tragic and whether or not she was responsible for some of the misfortunes, she certainly (personally) inflicted no more suffering on others than she herself endured.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Val289 on February 22, 2005, 11:48:21 AM
Quote


I prefer to think that Alexandra lived THROUGH a nightmare. Her whole life was so terribly sad, from the early death of her mother, brother & sister; her anxious personality; her long deliberations of her conversion; the tragedy of Khodinka; her failure for so long to bear a son, and then the son whom she loved being so ill; right through to the Revolution.
I just think her life was terribly tragic and whether or not she was responsible for some of the misfortunes, she certainly (personally) inflicted no more suffering on others than she herself endured.


bluetoria - So very eloquently stated (as usual!).   I couldn't agree more with what you've just said :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on February 22, 2005, 12:15:02 PM
I do not think that Alexandra lived through a nightmare till the born of Alexey.
She was very happy first 10 years of the marriage.(Khodynka was owful but it is passed through).
I suppose that almost nobody of Romanovs or Imperial Persons were so profondly loved as she was.
Her first years in the Russia were like a dream, but last years were like a hell.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on February 22, 2005, 04:40:16 PM
Quote
Her first years in the Russia were like a dream, but last years were like a hell.


Hi, Hikaru,
I don't think her first years in Russia were quite such a dream really. She was so unfamiliar with the ways of the Court & was often mocked by St. Petersburg society. She was also desperate to have a son...which time & again didn't happen, leading her to seek M. Philippe's help (which shows some kind of desperation).
She was always pushing Nicholas to 'be strong' & he wasn't. Apart from the idyll of her marriage, I think she was always very unhappy.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: pinklady on February 26, 2005, 10:01:32 PM
Quote: "After all, the nursery was the centre of all Russia's troubles."
Sir Bernard Pares.

The Russian Empire had been shaky for years however Alexei having hemophilia cast a miserable shadow over poor Alexandra and her family and the Imperial Reign in general. Don't forget they became isolated to keep Alexei's illness secret.
Alexandra was a good person, a loving wife and mother, who tried her best. To call her evil is to not understand her and her times.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: leanora on February 27, 2005, 07:39:57 AM
I think sincerely that if can the revolution must be put on somebody's shoulders, it's on the Alexander III's ... A very narrow-minded ,stubborn, low-spirited tsar, he is responsibl of the break between the russia's people and the monarchy.... he refused to evolute, refused to grant Russia with a constitution (which his father thought essential to preserve the monarchy), and most grave, he educated his son with these limited views.. Pobedonotsev and Alexander III threw the monarchy in the abyss....Nicholas, educated with these views, and with no other model than his father's rule had no other choices than ruling as an autocrat... He completed the monarchy's fall

Alexandra shared her husband's views but,in my opinion, she was a minor element as she had no political ambitions until 1915 when her husband asked her to replace him in the government....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on February 27, 2005, 09:29:13 AM
It is obvious that Nikolay inherited unstable country,
but he had the time to fix situtation .
Russo-Japanese war was catalyzer  of the revolution situation.
The Nikola's behaviour and decisions before and during the war were awful . ( Of course, it was not only his fault , but the fault of the Family i.e. uncles and cousens around him) , but the responsibility  must be put on him shoulders.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: aisha05 on April 29, 2005, 05:11:41 PM
I agree with samcr.  I have always been fascinated by the last Romanovs so in college I took a class on early 20th-C. Russia.  In studying the political climate at the time it is apparent that Alexandra did a lot of harm.  Many see her as a saint but when one studies this period it becomes apparent that her actions caused a lot of suffering later on.  She controlled Nicky, even family and friends won't deny that, and through him she stopped government reforms that were badly needed.  If some of the reforms that she stopped Nicky from passing had been allowed to pass then some pressure would have been taken off of the monarchy and helped to alleviate the situation.  
She was a great wife and mother but a terrible Empress.  NO one can deny that.  She would not listen to advice and always believed herself to be in the right.  Towards the end, before the abdication, she and Ella weren't speaking to each other because she would not listen to Ella and allow the reforms which Ella realized were needed.  If a man always believes himself to be right and won't listen to anybody's advice, then to put it kindly, he is described as stubborn.  I just don't understand why so many people wish to minimize Alexandra's actions.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 01, 2005, 08:27:44 AM
Quote
In studying the political climate at the time it is apparent that Alexandra did a lot of harm. She controlled Nicky, even family and friends won't deny that, and through him she stopped government reforms that were badly needed.  If some of the reforms that she stopped Nicky from passing had been allowed to pass then some pressure would have been taken off of the monarchy and helped to alleviate the situation.


Aisha, I don't think it's true that Alexandra "controlled Nicky." To give the most obvious example, if she had really had so much political influence over Nicholas, then Russia would never have entered World War I, because Rasputin advised Alexandra against it.

Scholarly studies have been done of Alexandra's actual influence over imperial policy-making and it seems to have been virtually non-existent. This doesn't mean she didn't try to influence policy - she wrote letter after letter to Nicholas urging him to do this and that - but her husband consistently ignored her advice and went his own way. (Of course, it just so happens that they both had a reactionary political outlook, so they would never have been that far apart in their general views anyway. Alexandra couldn't stop reforms that Nicholas had no intention of making in the first place!)

I have no doubt that Alexandra ruled the roost in the imperial household itself, where matters touching upon the family were concerned, and that this and the overall forcefulness of her character gave the rest of the (extended) family, as well as outsiders, the mistaken impression that she ruled her husband in all things.

But IMO there was also a tendency in the extended Romanov family and in the country at large to blame Alexandra for the worst problems, rather than putting the blame where it belonged, squarely on Nicholas's shoulders (or in some cases, on their own!). This is understandable if not excusable: as far as the Romanovs were concerned, Alexandra was not a blood relative. As far as the Russian people were concerned, she was a foreigner. Remember Marie Antoinette (the hated "Austrian woman") and how she was vilified by the French people, far more so than Louis XVI.

There's also an observable, sexist tendency among people in general to take out their hatred of a political leader on his wife - look at the venomous press both Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev had to endure back in the 1980s.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 01, 2005, 02:16:50 PM
Nicholas failed on two fronts:  the making and execution of sound government policy and the maintenance of inherent support for the monarchy as an institution.  I agree with Elisabeth that Alexandra's influence on policy has been vastly overstated, during her life and since.  (I do not feel, however, that it was non-existent.  It is telling that Sandro, in his last-ditch attempt to awaken Nicholas and Alexandra to the impending crisis, addressed himself to Alexandra while Nicholas sat quietly by.)

When it comes to the second front, however, I feel Alexandra's influence loomed large and destructive.  Before his marriage, Nicholas socialized frequently and easily with family, friends, fellow officers, and members of the nobility.  While not a representative spectrum of Russian society, they nevertheless represented a range of viewpoints that included at least some understanding of issues and forces in Russia that could undo the monarchy.

His marriage to Alexandra launched him onto a trajectory of increasing isolation, as one issue after another became an excuse for her to envelope him in a cocoon into which fewer and fewer influences could penetrate:  frictions with her mother-in-law; prudish disapproval of St. Petersburg society; unease with the ceremonial of monarchy (perhaps rising even to outright panic attacks); religious mysticism; constant real or perceived illness (over 200 medical consultations in even one of the early years of the reign while she was still a young woman).  At one point, the Imperial Family went over a year without a single public appearance.

Nicholas did not understand a core reaity of power -- that the upper classes (civil and military) would stay loyal to an institution that gave them a sense of access, even if they did not like its policies, but they would become disinterested in an institution that barred them from access.  Although Nicholas failed in this understanding, his natural impulses would not have gotten him into trouble on this front.  Alexandra's injection into the equation changed everything.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 11:44:22 AM
Quote
Nicholas failed on two fronts:  the making and execution of sound government policy and the maintenance of inherent support for the monarchy as an institution.  I agree with Elisabeth that Alexandra's influence on policy has been vastly overstated, during her life and since.  (I do not feel, however, that it was non-existent.  It is telling that Sandro, in his last-ditch attempt to awaken Nicholas and Alexandra to the impending crisis, addressed himself to Alexandra while Nicholas sat quietly by.)


I'm in complete agreement, with the proviso that I think Sandro addressed his pleas to Alexandra in the mistaken belief - shared by the rest of the Romanov family - that she could influence Nicholas to change public policy. It was a self-defeating move that must have massively irritated Nicholas, who, IMO, was extremely sensitive to the accusation that he was hen-pecked.

Quote
When it comes to the second front, however, I feel Alexandra's influence loomed large and destructive.  Before his marriage, Nicholas socialized frequently and easily with family, friends, fellow officers, and members of the nobility (...) His marriage to Alexandra launched him onto a trajectory of increasing isolation, as one issue after another became an excuse for her to envelope him in a cocoon into which fewer and fewer influences could penetrate (....) Nicholas did not understand a core reaity of power -- that the upper classes (civil and military) would stay loyal to an institution that gave them a sense of access, even if they did not like its policies, but they would become disinterested in an institution that barred them from access.  Although Nicholas failed in this understanding, his natural impulses would not have gotten him into trouble on this front.  Alexandra's injection into the equation changed everything.


Very well put. I would not underestimate the damage that Alexandra's "cocooning" did to the Romanovs, nor, for that matter, the damage that Rasputin did to the prestige of the dynasty in the country at large. Sometimes the public and the private really do overlap and are of equal concern.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on May 02, 2005, 07:00:34 PM
Quote
To all.
"Jacob" and "Jake" are the same person, pretending to be different people. I have terminated his access to the forum. My apologies to all.

Thank you.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 03, 2005, 09:58:03 AM
Quote
Nicholas failed on two fronts:  the making and execution of sound government policy and the maintenance of inherent support for the monarchy as an institution.


How was he supposed to achieve this 'maintenance of inherent support for the monarchy'? It is not possible to create something inherent in human beings.

Quote
It is telling that Sandro, in his last-ditch attempt to awaken Nicholas and Alexandra to the impending crisis, addressed himself to Alexandra while Nicholas sat quietly by.)

.


Nicholas did sit quietly & since Alix responded & spoke it was natural that  Sandro should address himself to her. In what way is this 'telling'?


Quote

His marriage to Alexandra launched him onto a trajectory of increasing isolation, as one issue after another became an excuse for her to envelope him in a cocoon into which fewer and fewer influences could penetrate:  frictions with her mother-in-law; prudish disapproval of St. Petersburg society; unease with the ceremonial of monarchy (perhaps rising even to outright panic attacks); religious mysticism; constant real or perceived illness (over 200 medical consultations in even one of the early years of the reign while she was still a young woman).  At one point, the Imperial Family went over a year without a single public appearance.



Alexandra's 'prudish disapproval' was founded on the belief that the wealthy & privileged should do something to help those less fortunate. She tried again & again to involve the aristocracy in worthy projects but they refusedto participate. Had they done so, they may well have presented a better image to the people & in some way reduced the demand for revolution.
Alexandra's religious beliefs did not infringe on politics.
SOME of Alexandra's illnesses may have been psychosomatic in origin but this rather dismissive approach does not take into account the enormous pressure she was under following Alexei's diagnosis.

Quote

 Before his marriage, Nicholas socialized frequently and easily with family, friends, fellow officers, and members of the nobility.  

.


I know many, many men who no longer socialize as freely & frequently with their friends, fellow officers etc. once they are married. It is partly to do with other responsibilities (eg becoming Tsar) and partly to do with growing up.
Nicholas' day was filled from dawn to dusk once he became Tsar. He no longer had the time to do these things.  

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 03, 2005, 10:28:20 AM
Quote
How was he supposed to achieve this 'maintenance of inherent support for the monarchy'? It is not possible to create something inherent in human beings.


I think Tsarfan meant that the isolation of the imperial family (and their dependence on Rasputin) alienated most of the Russian aristocracy and gentry, the traditional bulwarks of tsarist rule. Access to the tsar was one of the privileges of noble status and for various reasons the nobles during Nicholas' reign came to believe that they were being denied access in favor of characters like Rasputin.

Quote
Nicholas did sit quietly & since Alix responded & spoke it was natural that  Sandro should address himself to her. In what way is this 'telling'?


I don't know, from reading their letters it seems pretty clear that the extended Romanov family thought Alix was the real power behind the throne and always got her way. I think this is why Sandro addressed her rather than Nicholas - not that Sandro comes off looking good in this exchange (especially when you compare what he claims he said that day to the demands he actually made, among them anti-Semitic legislation - this was Sandro's idea of "reform"!).

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I know many, many men who no longer socialize as freely & frequently with their friends, fellow officers etc. once they are married. It is partly to do with other responsibilities (eg becoming Tsar) and partly to do with growing up.
Nicholas' day was filled from dawn to dusk once he became Tsar. He no longer had the time to do these things.


This may have been mentioned already, but for several years Nicholas and Alexandra curtailed public appearances and suspended giving balls during the winter season because of realistic fears of terrorism. As I recall their retreat to Tsarskoe Selo was initially a direct consequence of the Revolution of 1905.

But the Romanovs themselves all commented that the imperial couple's isolation even extended to not seeing their own relatives on a regular basis. So in the end I think their isolation reflected Alix's preference for a quiet family life.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 03, 2005, 10:38:52 AM
Elizabeth, I love the quotation beneath your posts!

While I accept much of what you and Tsarfan have written, it seems that when blame is laid at the feet of Nicholas or Alexandra we are overlooking the responsibilities of the extended family & the aristocracy.

I believe that part of their isolation was due to the fact that in the early days when Alix tried to engage the aristocracy in meaningful & philanthropic activities (at which she might have shone!) she was repeatedly mocked & rebuffed. She could not 'shine' in a ballroom; it was not in her nature but she was not given the opportunity to 'play to her strengths.'
This, doubtless, increased her neuroses & drove her into isolation.

Then the criticism & fear that she had failed to produce and heir; then the heir whom she did produce suffering so terribly.

I feel that again & again in these debates (& I am not blaming, accusing or criticising ANYONE at all for this  :) I am merely thinking) humanity & human understanding is thrown out & these very real people are made into some kind of failed 'supermen.'

In doing this, we are doing exactly what the revolutionaries did (imo). They were disappointed that their Tsar did not live up to their own expectations. It is a kind of psychological projection - 'we cannot be a perfect as we wish to be - the Tsar represents us; he must be perfect.'

When the Tsar - or the ideal - is not perfect, because he is still just a man like the rest of mankind, we wish to destroy him.

Also, as has been said many times, it is easier with hindsight to see where he went wrong. But what do we learn from his errors?  :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 03, 2005, 10:55:42 AM
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How was he supposed to achieve this 'maintenance of inherent support for the monarchy'? It is not possible to create something inherent in human beings.


"Inherent" does not necessarily mean a genetically inherited trait.  Classes or groups can have inherent traits based on alignment of interests.  For example "in the nature of something, such as shortcomings inherent in our approach" (from WorldNet dictionary published by the Princeton University Press).  Disagree with my point if you will, but try using an argument stronger than parsing a word down to its most literal meaning.

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Nicholas did sit quietly & since Alix responded & spoke it was natural that  Sandro should address himself to her. In what way is this 'telling'?


When discussing critical matters of state policy, it would seem most logical to address that discussion to the ruler if he were sitting right in front of you.  I think the fact that Sandro instead addressed his comments to Alexandra is "telling" in the sense that it signifies something about the dynamic that was atypical.

Oops . . . did I use "atypical" correctly?

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Alexandra's 'prudish disapproval' was founded on the belief that the wealthy & privileged should do something to help those less fortunate.


And Alexandra's insistence that toilet fixtures in her private bathroom be kept covered with white cloths when not in use . . . was that based on her belief that the wealthy and privileged should not expose the poor to a commode?  The woman was a prude.

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Alexandra's religious beliefs did not infringe on politics.


Who said anything about religious beliefs?  Prudery is quite distinct from religion.

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SOME of Alexandra's illnesses may have been psychosomatic in origin but this rather dismissive approach does not take into account the enormous pressure she was under following Alexei's diagnosis.


True about Alexei, but she was seeing doctors almost daily in the 1890's -- years before his birth.

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I know many, many men who no longer socialize as freely & frequently with their friends, fellow officers etc. once they are married. It is partly to do with other responsibilities (eg becoming Tsar) and partly to do with growing up.


So how does becoming tsar explain more than a year without a single official public appearance?  Was he too busy being tsar to be tsar?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 03, 2005, 11:25:07 AM
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Elizabeth, I love the quotation beneath your posts!


Thank you! :) Solzhenitsyn is one of my favorite authors. I'm always recommending his books to people!

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I feel that again & again in these debates (& I am not blaming, accusing or criticising ANYONE at all for this  :) I am merely thinking) humanity & human understanding is thrown out & these very real people are made into some kind of failed 'supermen.'


You are voicing something that has long been of concern to me, too! Speaking for myself, I admit to feeling very ambivalently about Nicholas and Alexandra. It's impossible to study this period of Russian history without wanting to tear one's hair out in frustration at Nicholas' obstinacy, lack of foresight, narrow-mindedness, etc. If I were a professional historian I would have trouble finding excuses for him, and perhaps, too, I wouldn't see any necessity for finding such excuses, because judging historical figures would be part of my job. But as a human being of course it is impossible not to feel some sympathy for a man who struggled conscientiously against overwhelming odds to do his best, and who in his last moments knew that not only he but all his dearly beloved family, his wife and children, were going to be murdered. It's impossible not to see him in many ways as he saw himself: a victim. The wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time.

How is it possible to achieve a balanced view? I am still struggling with this question, as probably witnessed by my posts, which no doubt oscillate between expressions of sympathy and outright condemnation.

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In doing this, we are doing exactly what the revolutionaries did (imo). They were disappointed that their Tsar did not live up to their own expectations. It is a kind of psychological projection - 'we cannot be a perfect as we wish to be - the Tsar represents us; he must be perfect.'

When the Tsar - or the ideal - is not perfect, because he is still just a man like the rest of mankind, we wish to destroy him.


I agree with all of what you say here. It is one of the most enduring problems of human nature. On the one hand, as you say, people seem to have a (possibly irrational) desire to look up to and admire strong authority figures; on the other hand, we enjoy nothing more than gleefully tearing them down to size (we can't just blame the media for this tendency - we're all subject to it).

But then, too, sometimes authority figures make the mistake of believing that they are in some way above the rest of humanity - and I think this was the fallacy of the entire myth surrounding the figure of the tsar, that he was somehow God's representative on earth. To be in that position if one is less than superhuman is almost an invitation to destruction.

Again that hopeless dichotomy!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 03, 2005, 11:38:02 AM
I'm sorry, Tsarfan, I did not intend my point to sound confrontational (these things may come over as such when written down) nor was I picking at the particular words you chose. My question was quite genuine so I would be grateful if you would refrain from patronising me in your response, as I felt you did by telling me to 'try to use an argument...."

However we wish to use the word 'inherent', I still ask how could Nicholas have achieved this?  He could not control the minds of his people particularly when vast numbers of the aristocracy were not in the least concerned about how the poor lived, & were so engrossed in their own luxurious lifestyles that they did not even notice what was happening 'beneath them.'

I cannot agree that Alix was a prude because she kept her bathroom fixtures covered. I think this was common practice at the time; even in hospitals & the homes of people who need to use them, commodes are often covered or disguised as chairs.  

Alix may well have inherited porphyria & is likely to have suffered the effects of her own blood disorder as a haemophilia carrier (which I think was discussed elsewhere) & sciatica. Her sufferings were certainly real. Combined with this were her frequent pregnancies during which her sufferings multiplied.
(Queen Victoria also saw her doctor everyday if only to tell him that she was well!)

I cannot answer your last point. I don't know.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 03, 2005, 11:47:39 AM
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It's impossible to study this period of Russian history without wanting to tear one's hair out in frustration at Nicholas' obstinacy, lack of foresight, narrow-mindedness, etc. If I were a professional historian I would have trouble finding excuses for him, and perhaps, too, I wouldn't see any necessity for finding such excuses, because judging historical figures would be part of my job. But as a human being of course it is impossible not to feel some sympathy for a man who struggled conscientiously against overwhelming odds to do his best, and who in his last moments knew that not only he but all his dearly beloved family, his wife and children, were going to be murdered. It's impossible not to see him in many ways as he saw himself: a victim. The wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time.

How is it possible to achieve a balanced view? I am still struggling with this question, as probably witnessed by my posts, which no doubt oscillate between expressions of sympathy and outright condemnation.
 


I know! I agree! I empathise!  ;)
(I can only imagine how Ella must have felt, viewing this not only as an 'outsider' who was devoted to Russia, but also as one of the family!)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 03, 2005, 11:49:18 AM
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In doing this, we are doing exactly what the revolutionaries did (imo). They were disappointed that their Tsar did not live up to their own expectations. It is a kind of psychological projection - 'we cannot be a perfect as we wish to be - the Tsar represents us; he must be perfect.'


Sorry I was so testy in my earlier post, Bluetoria.  I just felt my obvious meanings were being deliberately distorted.

Believe it or not, I, too, have the same ambivalent feelings about Nicholas and Alexandra that Elisabeth does.  I do recognize that they were human beings held to a superhuman standard.  And I so wish they had been able to hang onto their thrones and deliver the brilliant spectacle of the Romanov dynasty into a century that instead dominated us with the horrifying spectacles of Bolshevism, Stalinism, and fascism.

However, one has to remember that, unlike the rest of us mortals, Nicholas had the fates of multitudes in his hands . . . and he and Alexandra vigourously resisted every opportunity to share that burden with others.  If you were a Jew, wouldn't you be justly disappointed in anti-semitic policies?  If you were a peasant or industrial worker, wouldn't you be justly disappointed that you lived in grinding poverty and/or worked in unsafe conditions?  If you were called for military service, wouldn't you be justly disappointed if you were not given weapons and good commanders?  If you were a minister, wouldn't you be justly disappointed if you couldn't get a decision that stuck?

When you claim the sole right to control the fates of others, unhindered by their own views of their welfare, you'd damned well better live up to their expectations or be willing to risk the consequences.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 03, 2005, 11:56:10 AM
Yes, Tsarfan. I agree with all you have written. If I were any of the oppressed people you mentioned, I would feel as you described.

There is no way to excuse many of the failings of the regime or of the Tsar himself.
It is because I believe he was a genuinely 'good man' that I feel the need to defend him.
It is the same in all walks of life, though. I know many 'good' people who are not good at their jobs. And we are left torn between appreciating humanity & expecting people to be able to fulfil the role in which they are placed or place themselves.

I'm sorry that I responded as I did to your previous post.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 03, 2005, 12:21:11 PM
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I'm sorry that I responded as I did to your previous post.  


And I'm sorry that I over-reacted.

Please, I really welcome having my arguments contested.  As I said on another board, I use these discussions to acquire information I did not have and to hone my own views in the process.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on May 03, 2005, 05:47:52 PM
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  The woman was a prude.




Ha! This is a generalization which I, too, would reject. Alexandra definitely had prudish traits, but she wasn't a prude. An important difference!



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So how does becoming tsar explain more than a year without a single official public appearance?  Was he too busy being tsar to be tsar?


Yes, good comment  ;D.  However much I sympathize with Alexandra (and Nicholas), their private tragedy about Alexei,  and Alix's desire to withdraw from a court which she felt rejected her, she simply wouldn't understand how important  the imperial family's public life was for the survival of the monarchical system.
YOu may be the most well meaning and good person - unless you are good at public relations, nobody will learn of it. Alexandra, and consequently NIcholas, too often chose to see themselves as private persons even though they weren't.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 03, 2005, 07:55:00 PM
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Ha! This is a generalization which I, too, would reject. Alexandra definitely had prudish traits, but she wasn't a prude. An important difference!


You're right.  Maybe "prude" is too narrow a term to carry the point I was trying to make.  I was thinking of one of Alexandra's earliest court balls in St. Petersburg, at which she sent an attendant to inform Princess Cantacuzene that her dress was cut too low by saying "we don't wear our dresses that way in Hesse".  The Princess sent the attendant back with the retort that "we do wear our dresses this way in St. Petersburg".  The interchange became apocryphal for the way Alexandra interfaced with the court time and again.

It was eerily similar to Marie Antoinette's arrival at Versailles.  She chose an exaggeratedly simple mode of dress in order to draw a deliberate contrast to the overdressed etiquette of Louis XV's court -- and thereby to apprise everyone of her superior sensibilities.  In no time flat, the battle lines were drawn in people's minds between her "Austrian" ways and those of her new home.  Likewise, Alexandra began to draw a line between her "German" ways and the court of a very different country almost from her arrival.

Marie Feodorovna undoubtedly came up short in the ideal mother-in-law department.  But she did nevertheless have technical right on her side in insisting on her precedence at official functions and in the use of the state jewels.  By choosing to take public umbrage at these things, Alexandra put Nicholas in the difficult position of having to choose between supporting his wife or supporting the court and its traditions.

The choices he made in the early days of his reign over inconsequential things such as dress lines, jewels, and who walked into the room first were the genesis of what became an entrenched certainty (regardless of the truth of it) in family and court circles that Alexandra called the cadence to which Nicholas marched in things big and small.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 03, 2005, 09:36:11 PM
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Scholarly studies have been done of Alexandra's actual influence over imperial policy-making and it seems to have been virtually non-existent.


Hi Elizabeth!  Wasn't Alexandra held responsible for Kokovtsov's dismissal in February 1914?  He definitely blamed her in his memoirs.  And Witte (Russia's Bismarck), also, in a pathetic attempt to curry favor with Alexandra abased himself by visiting Rasputin.  So, he too, must have believed that Alexandra had a great deal of influence or he wouldn't have bothered.  Kokovtsov writes (in so many words) that the Dowager Empress told him Nicholas admitted to her that he dismissed Kokovtsov to get Alexandra off his back.  If one has power of ministerial appointments, wouldn't that be an example of policy-making influence?



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There's also an observable, sexist tendency among people in general to take out their hatred of a political leader on his wife - look at the venomous press both Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev had to endure back in the 1980s.


As an aside, I'm not sure this is truly the case. How often was Barbara Bush attacked?  And I haven't seen Laura Bush attacked too much either.  Perhaps they are only attacked when they are thought to be playing an active role.  Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton were viciously attacked.  Oh, and I'm sure Alexander III had his enemies but I don't think Marie Fedorovna was really attacked very much.  Also, I think the attacks on Alexandra were truly directed at her, rather than at Nicholas through her.  

In reading the primary sources, I'm afraid it's hard to find anybody (aside from Nicholas, Vyrubova, Dehn, Buxhoeveden) who had a kind word to say about Alexandra Feodrovna.  Doesn't that say something about the kind of person she must truly have been?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 03, 2005, 10:05:21 PM
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In reading the primary sources, I'm afraid it's hard to find anybody (aside from Nicholas, Vyrubova, Dehn, Buxhoeveden) who had a kind word to say about Alexandra Feodrovna.  Doesn't that say something about the kind of person she must truly have been?


In her authorized biography, Olga Alexandrovna did speak sympathetically of Alexandra, although that's admittedly not a primary source.  But your point that her detractors far outnumbered her advocates is true.

And, as one cohort of guards after another warmed to the rest of the imperial family at Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg, none ever developed a liking or sympathy for Alexandra.  I know she was known as "the German woman".  But Nicholas was reviled as "Bloody Nicholas," yet they got past that as they grew to know him.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet_W. on May 03, 2005, 10:49:25 PM
Some people have the ability to charm the masses. Alexandra did not have that talent, and she freely acknowledged it. Instead, she was at her best when engaging in one-on-one conversation away from formal events and in close, personal relationships. She was easily overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who populate large gatherings, for which I don't blame her one bit; I am exactly the same way.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 03, 2005, 11:44:03 PM
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In her authorized biography, Olga Alexandrovna did speak sympathetically of Alexandra, although that's admittedly not a primary source.  But your point that her detractors far outnumbered her advocates is true.


Even her supporters cut her down in a back-handed kind of way.  For example, Victoria Battenberg (Alix's & Ella's sister) compared them in a letter to a friend at the time of their deaths;

If ever anyone has met death without fear she will have & her deep & pure faith will have upheld & supported & comforted her in all she has gone through so that the misery poor Alicky will have suffered will not have touched Ella's soul...

Am I reading this wrong or is this basically a slap in the face to Alix?

I picked out this particular example because it wasn't written for public consumption (in a book) -- so there's probably no agenda here.  One can argue that many who left accounts of Alexandra blamed her for stuff in order to get themselves off the hook (she was dead, afterall), or because everyone else was blaming her so why not jump on the bandwagon.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 04, 2005, 12:01:35 AM
There's another thing that has always struck me about Alix.  I'm not sure I've ever seen it brought up before (perhaps for good reason??).  There's one thing that appeals to everyone and that's physical beauty.  And having physical beauty brings with it a lot of power.  I've know many people in my time who got away with a lot because their physical attractiveness made up for other shortcomings (lack of intelligence, morality, etc).  Good looks often allow one to overlook some pretty bad qualities.  But Alix seems to have been singularly unable to have traded on her undeniable physical beauty.  I guess it just makes me think that, for most people, she must have just been horribly unpleasant to be around.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 04, 2005, 02:04:06 AM
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In reading the primary sources, I'm afraid it's hard to find anybody (aside from Nicholas, Vyrubova, Dehn, Buxhoeveden) who had a kind word to say about Alexandra Feodrovna.  Doesn't that say something about the kind of person she must truly have been?


These people - Nicholas, Anna Vyrubova, Baroness Buxhoevden & Lillie Dehn - who wrote favourably of Alix, were the ones who really knew her. If her inner circle was rather small, the others who wrote more harshly of her did not know her well.
I don't believe that Victoria Battenberg's comment was in anyway a slur on her sister. Victoria was devastated by Alix's death & would not be so callous as to write such a thing at the time. I think she was simply praising Ella's deep faith, & adding that for most other people - including Alix - such terrible circumstances would have been harder to deal with.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 04, 2005, 04:39:24 AM
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By the way, could anybody give me the specific date on which Victoria wrote this comment?


Hi Helen  :)
It was 10th November 1918 in a letter to her friend & lady-in-waiting Nona Kerr.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 04, 2005, 06:54:59 AM
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These people - Nicholas, Anna Vyrubova, Baroness Buxhoevden & Lillie Dehn - who wrote favourably of Alix, were the ones who really knew her. If her inner circle was rather small, the others who wrote more harshly of her did not know her well. 


Certainly the four people you mention were favorably disposed toward Alexandra.  But what I find remarkable is the nature of her small circle of friends . . . and the fact that it was so small.  Vyrubova was generally regarded as a rather silly woman prone to hysterics.  During the family's captivity, Buxhoevden retained funds she had been asked to deliver for the benefit of the family.

Most empresses had drawn their inner circle from among the upper ranks of the nobility and from their extended family -- people who were less inclined to be so overwhelmed by the attention of an empress that they would show unstinting admiration or submission, feigned or real.  This was the type of person who was notably absent from Alexandra's circle.

I admit I am hard on Alexandra . . . and I guess I should come out of the closet and confess why.  I believe there are certain traits that tend to cluster to form "personality types".  The casting of one's own views and biases as the embodiment of God's will, an implacable determination to bring others into line, pronounced kindness and solicitation for those of like mind and harsh rejection of those who hold their own, a hostility to facts that run counter to one's beliefs or biases, the elevation of piety over true compassion -- all these are traits I have seen cluster to form the religious fundamentalism in which I grew up in the deep south.  I simply see too many of these strains in Alexandra's character.  Had she been born in Alabama or Tennessee, she would have fit right in -- prim, proper, kind to those who saw things her way and hateful to those who didn't.

There . . . it's all on the table.  It'll take a lot more than the likes of Anna Vyrubova to convince me she was a likeable person.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: pinklady on May 04, 2005, 07:31:06 AM
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If ever anyone has met death without fear she will have & her deep & pure faith will have upheld & supported & comforted her in all she has gone through so that the misery poor Alicky will have suffered will not have touched Ella's soul...


Maybe the sisters meant that poor Alix had the worry of her children and husband as well as herself, whereas Ella was on her own so to speak.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 04, 2005, 07:47:33 AM
Yes, Pinklady, perhaps she did.

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Most empresses had drawn their inner circle from among the upper ranks of the nobility and from their extended family -- people who were less inclined to be so overwhelmed by the attention of an empress that they would show unstinting admiration or submission, feigned or real.  This was the type of person who was notably absent from Alexandra's circle.


Yes, I agree. Alexandra herself said, 'I must have a person to myself' which is probably why she enjoyed & endured the fawning adulation of Anna Vyrubova.
At the same time, I think it was difficult for Alexandra to make friends among the higher echelons in Russia because her character was not suited to the Russian artistocratic culture which was largely decadent & frivolous in her opinion. Had she been in Germany or Britain, for example, I wonder if things might have been different.

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I admit I am hard on Alexandra . . . and I guess I should come out of the closet and confess why.  I believe there are certain traits that tend to cluster to form "personality types".  The casting of one's own views and biases as the embodiment of God's will, an implacable determination to bring others into line, pronounced kindness and solicitation for those of like mind and harsh rejection of those who hold their own, a hostility to facts that run counter to one's beliefs or biases, the elevation of piety over true compassion -- all these are traits I have seen cluster to form the religious fundamentalism in which I grew up in the deep south.  I simply see too many of these strains in Alexandra's character.  Had she been born in Alabama or Tennessee, she would have fit right in -- prim, proper, kind to those who saw things her way and hateful to those who didn't.

There . . . it's all on the table.


I appreciate all you are saying here but I am not sure that Alexandra was quite such a religious fundamentalist as she might first appear. I think, above all, it was her desperation to save her son which drove her to seek refuge in religion - or rather in the somewhat distorted religion of Rasputin.
She was not so closed-minded as to impose her religious views on everyone. She herself had high moral views - yet she did not bat an eye-lid when she heard of Nicholas' affair with the ballerina Matilda K. (whose name I can never spell!). She knew about her brother's alleged homosexuality (even before her marriage she said she knew more about these things than most girls of her age) but did not condemn him. She, unlike many others at court, actually liked Serge, whose reputation as a homosexual was well known.
She also was aware of Rasputin's promiscuity & simply put it down to his background. (Or perhaps closed her eyes to it).
There are no cases I can think of in which she condemned anyone except when they seemed to threaten the life of her son (by wanting to remove Rasputin), or to undermine the position of the Tsar (which, I'll grant, she saw as his God-given right).
As for her likeable qualities - I believe that many of them were concealed by her shyness. During the war, when she worked tirelessly as a nurse, she went to great lengths to write to the mothers of wounded soldiers & she undertook the most menial tasks in the hospitals.
I think she was misguided & that stress eventually drove her into paranoia - but I do not consider her a bigot, or judgemental by nature.
Again & again I just think she & Nicholas were both in the wrong place at the wrong time. If only they had been able to swap countries! Had they been constitutional monarchs somewhere else, I believe they would have been very popular.
Hmmm...

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 04, 2005, 09:55:05 AM
I'm not as against Alix as some might think.  For example, The Fate of the Romanovs, a book which is often quoted on this forum, is pretty much the only source I ever read which attacked her abilities as a mother.  And I thought the authors over-reached in their assessment.  Even those who really hated her such as Witte (and he had good reason to loathe her!) took the time in their memoirs to say what a good wife and mother she was.  

I thought Victoria Battenberg's letter was saying that Alix suffered misery in her captivity because she lacked the "deep & pure faith" that Ells possessed.  I always took that as a criticism, considering what Alix thought of herself.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: etonexile on May 04, 2005, 10:28:42 AM
With the tide and times in Russia after the tremendous losses of WWI...I can hardly imagine what NA and AF could have done to stop the tsunami of revolution...this is why Lenin came back to Russia...he knew the time was PERFECT for revolution....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 04, 2005, 12:49:24 PM
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Again & again I just think she & Nicholas were both in the wrong place at the wrong time. If only they had been able to swap countries! Had they been constitutional monarchs somewhere else, I believe they would have been very popular.


You're quite likely right about this.  I might even have liked them, because I am so irrationally attracted to monarchy and am willing to cut a lot of royals slack in the hopes they can keep the institution going.

I am by no means a populist when it comes to monarchy.  I think Princess Diana did incalculable damage to the British monarchy by "letting too much light in on the magic", as the Queen Mum might have put it.  To survive, monarchs must somehow present themselves as above and beyond the concerns of mere mortals while nevertheless working for the welfare of those mortals.

People have an ambivalent reaction to power.  They want their leaders to understand them without being one of them.  Jimmy Carter wore sweaters to work, traded in the Cadillac limos for Chevrolets, and tried to make the President a modern "Everyman."  His policies (and his post-presidential life) were marked by a pronounced humaneness.  Ronald Reagan never took his suit jacket off in the Oval Office, brought back the Cadillacs, and upgraded the china.  His policies (and his post-presidential life) were more cynical and biased toward the privileged.  But which one redrew the political map of America to bring the working classes across long-standing party divides where they sit to this day?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 04, 2005, 01:15:45 PM
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People have an ambivalent reaction to power.  They want their leaders to understand them without being one of them.  Jimmy Carter wore sweaters to work, traded in the Cadillac limos for Chevrolets, and tried to make the President a modern "Everyman."  His policies (and his post-presidential life) were marked by a pronounced humaneness.  Ronald Reagan never took his suit jacket off in the Oval Office, brought back the Cadillacs, and upgraded the china.  His policies (and his post-presidential life) were more cynical and biased toward the privileged.  But which one redrew the political map of America to bring the working classes across long-standing party divides where they sit to this day?


Oh, this is so true.  What an insiteful comment.  I really get tired of the phony practice of referring to high officials as "Jimmy" or "Bill" or "Dick".  How interesting that Ronald never became "Ronnie".  I frankly do not care to see the President (or the Queen) in a jogging outfit, stopping at McDonald's for a Big Mac.  Yuck!  

This is sort of in the same vein as the criticism Alexandra faced regarding Rasputin which was, how could such an August personage stoop to mixing with such a character on such a personal level.  The same goes for the criticism Queen Victoria received for allowing John Brown to get too close.  It was all about maintaining distance.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on May 04, 2005, 04:12:15 PM
I wonder how much Princess Victoria would have known about how the Empress was during captivity - did she have any communication with her at all? Th memoirs of her close associates would suggest that once she got over the shock of abdication and arrest her (Alexandra's) faith grew much stronger and serene, and actually helped and comforted her family.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 04, 2005, 04:22:27 PM
I am quite convinced that Victoria was not in any way being critical of Alexandra. She was only speaking of Ella's faith &, having known her sisters so well, was probably assuming on the basis of previous experience, that Ella was of a calmer nature & more able to deal with such a terrible crisis. (After all, Victoria was one of the first people in the family to see Ella after the murder of Serge.)
I don't think it was a criticism, more a 'sisterly' observation, which under the circumstances was perfectly natural. :) (And, of course, poor Victoria herself had just heard the terrible news of what had happened to so many members of her family.  :()
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: etonexile on May 04, 2005, 05:59:50 PM
Ronald Reagan was known affectionately(and else wise) as "Ronnie"...

Queen Victoria was known as "Drina" by those who knew her intimately from childhood...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ferngully on May 05, 2005, 09:17:13 AM
The woman was a prude-tsarfan
something which stood out
her grandmother was queen victoria! ;)
selina             xxxxxxxxx
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: elisa_1872 on May 05, 2005, 01:11:55 PM
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I wonder how much Princess Victoria would have known about how the Empress was during captivity - did she have any communication with her at all? Th memoirs of her close associates would suggest that once she got over the shock of abdication and arrest her (Alexandra's) faith grew much stronger and serene, and actually helped and comforted her family.



During the war years very few letters seem to have got through of Alexandra and Victoria's correspondence. The last letter that i have ever seen quoted from Alexandra to her sister is dated December 2nd 1916. If only the correspondence between them could be located! There were only fragments of news (It was only in 1915 that Victoria received some news about her brother Ernst Ludwig). Dorothy Seymour, a lady in waiting to Princess Christian, visited Russia just before the revolution, and visited Tsarskoe Selo in February 1917, seeing Alexandra whilst she was there.  When Dorothy returned to England, she went to Kent House to tell Victoria the little news she could about her sister. In April this lady in waiting wrote in her diary "It's awful for her never getting a word of news". She appears to have heard rumours about the Imperial Family's confinement, according to Richard Hough. In Alix' last diary, amongst the notes she made of her letter-writings, she does not mention in writing that she wrote a letter to Victoria, although she chronicles Victoria's birthday whilst still at Tobolsk.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on May 05, 2005, 04:59:49 PM
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The woman was a prude-tsarfan
something which stood out
her grandmother was queen victoria! ;)
selina             xxxxxxxxx


Contrary to what many believe Queen Victoria wasn't a prude either.  Like  Alexandra, Victoria could be prudish at times, but she was for instance very much into sex. And in her youth she found it perfectly natural that men at her uncles' court had mistresses. It is Albert rather than Victoria who could be considered to embody the allegedly prudish Victorian Age.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 05, 2005, 05:27:29 PM
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It is Albert rather than Victoria who could be considered to embody the allegedly prudish Victorian Age.


But this begs the question - what is meant by prudish?
It implies being judgemental. Neither QV nor Prince Albert were that (considering, for example, his response to Isabella of Spain).
Perhaps the term is just used to describe people who abide by a strict morality on themselves, which is not a bad thing.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 06, 2005, 09:58:55 AM
The dictionary says that a "prude" is a person who is excessively or priggishly attentive to propriety or decorum; esp: a woman who show or afffects exteme modesty.

Also, Queen Victoria was obviously very judgemental (taking into account, for example, the Lady Flora Hastings affair) but became less so as she grew older, and wiser.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 06, 2005, 10:20:12 AM
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Also, Queen Victoria was obviously very judgemental (taking into account, for example, the Lady Flora Hastings affair) but became less so as she grew older, and wiser.


Yes, I had forgotten this. But I guess she was very young at the time & she learned her lesson through this unfortunate episode.
In later life, as you say, she was anything but priggish. Moreover I think she had a wonderful sense of humour.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 06, 2005, 11:27:08 AM
One of my favorite Victoria anecdotes comes from a state dinner at which she was seated next to an admiral whose hearing was failing.  She asked him how his wife was doing.  Mistaking the question for an inquiry about his flagship, he answered, "she's fine, except that we've had to roll her over to scrape the barnacles off her bottom."  Victoria reportedly doubled over in laughter.

On the other hand, England passed laws on the heels of the Oscar Widle scandal late in her reign outlawing male homosexuality.  England's law was unique in encompassing only male behavior because Victoria insisted that female homosexuals not be referred to in the law.  Her reason:  "Such creatures do not exist."

I once read a PhD dissertation in which it was argued that our sense of sexual morality underwent a tectonic shift in the Victorian era.  In much literature from pre-Victorian times there are constant references to people "making love", which we today interpret as a quaint reference to courtship.  This dissertation argued that these were quite literally references to having sex and were understood as such by readers at the time of authorship.  

Before the medical and public sanitation advances of the Victorian era, childhood mortality rates were frightfully high and people relied on high fertility to sustain family lines.  Among the landed classes, where divorce was largely taboo, it was critical not to enter into an infertile marrage, at least for those on whom the burden to carry the line rested.  Therefore, some couples chose to engage in sex and not finalize their formal engagement until the woman conceived.  (This dissertation claimed that the lengths of time between marriages and the arrivals of firstborn among the upper classes supported this conclusion.)

The dissertation went on to argue that much of our modern perception of "Victorian prudishness" and the popular view of her as a prude is really a collective cultural memory of something having shifted in the sexual arena during Victoria's reign.

This is a fairly extreme claim, but it does carry some logic.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 06, 2005, 12:07:56 PM
That's fascinating Tsarfan - & great stories, too!. I think, too, that perhaps QV (& the Victorian age) is seen as prudish in part because of the contrast with the previous reigns. Her court was so different to that of George IV or William IV that it must have seemed very straight-laced in comparison.

The fact that she & Albert remained faithful to one another & had a (generally) harmonious domestic life was probably something quite different to what people had expected.

Also, I wonder what effect the rise of Temperance Societies, the Salvation Army & Evangelical preachers had upon the age. Partly I think this was a backlash to the rising problem of prostitution, drunkenness etc. that came with the sudden burgeoning of cities in the industrial revolution. Having so many people crammed together in slums would have highlighted the 'immorality' of the age in a way that might not have happened previously when towns were smaller & Britain had a largely agrarian population. And as a result these Evangelic/Temperance Movements came into being.
Many philanthropists - like Rowntree & Owen - were Quakers, who again imposed a strict morality on the people whom they helped; this again may have given rise to the popular notion that the Victorian era was more prudish.

I do not really know that any age is any better or any worse (more decadent or more prudish) than any other. People were & are always the same imo. But there do seem to be cycles of licentiousness followed by a stricter 'morality'...as in France before & after the Revolution...  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 06, 2005, 02:12:14 PM
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Partly I think this was a backlash to the rising problem of prostitution, drunkenness etc. that came with the sudden burgeoning of cities in the industrial revolution. Having so many people crammed together in slums would have highlighted the 'immorality' of the age in a way that might not have happened previously when towns were smaller & Britain had a largely agrarian population.  


I hadn't thought of that.  Makes lots of sense, though.

This whole discussion about prudishness started with my reference to Alexandra's "prudish disapproval of St. Petersburg society."  In making that comment, I was thinking about the episode at a court ball in which she admonished Princess Cantacuzene for showing a bit too much bust.  Those who came to Cantacuzene's defense (and they were the great majority of court ladies) saw nothing out of line in her dress.  Prude seems to me a relative term that has meaning only in the context of what is generally accepted.  By that standard, Alexandra was prudish.

However, as I've watched this discussion progress, I've come around to the view that "prudish" is too narrow a term to lay on her.  While that strain was there, she really did seem to have a more substantive conviction that high society was frivolous and cut loose from its moorings of social responsibility.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 07, 2005, 12:04:12 PM
What a great discussion this is. I have learned so much about Victoria and her times, it's amazing.

But going back to the debate about Alexandra's political influence:

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Hi Elizabeth!  Wasn't Alexandra held responsible for Kokovtsov's dismissal in February 1914?  He definitely blamed her in his memoirs.  And Witte (Russia's Bismarck), also, in a pathetic attempt to curry favor with Alexandra abased himself by visiting Rasputin.  So, he too, must have believed that Alexandra had a great deal of influence or he wouldn't have bothered.  Kokovtsov writes (in so many words) that the Dowager Empress told him Nicholas admitted to her that he dismissed Kokovtsov to get Alexandra off his back.  If one has power of ministerial appointments, wouldn't that be an example of policy-making influence?


I think perception is different from reality. People believed Alexandra had more political influence than she actually did because Rasputin was allowed to stay at court long after the most damaging allegations had been made against him. No one could understand why Nicholas didn't send Rasputin away permanently, since the "starets" was casting such a shadow on the reputation of the imperial family. But then, no one outside of the immediate family circle knew that the tsarevich had hemophilia, did they? Instead they assumed that Rasputin had some weird, inexplicable, perhaps sexual hold upon Alexandra, that he told her what to do and who to appoint, and that she in turn passed his orders on to Nicholas. Of course, it was also made clear to critics of Rasputin that they were unwelcome at court. All this would have combined to make people believe that the real ruler of Russia was a sinister, dissolute peasant.

I haven't made a study of this issue myself, merely heard historians comment upon it. Possibly the insistence that Alexandra's influence was negligible is in reaction to the popular perception that she had too much influence. Perhaps historians have gone from one extreme to the other and the truth itself lies somewhere in between. Certainly Alexandra acted as Nicholas' regent once he left for the front (although it's not clear to me if this was an actual official position, or just an arrangement they had?). So she would necessarily have exerted more influence during this brief period. Still, it's demonstrably true that she had no impact whatsoever on the way the war was conducted - which is deeply ironic, given that she was popularly believed to be a German spy.

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As an aside, I'm not sure this is truly the case. How often was Barbara Bush attacked?  And I haven't seen Laura Bush attacked too much either.  Perhaps they are only attacked when they are thought to be playing an active role.  Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton were viciously attacked.  Oh, and I'm sure Alexander III had his enemies but I don't think Marie Fedorovna was really attacked very much.  Also, I think the attacks on Alexandra were truly directed at her, rather than at Nicholas through her.  


You've got me there. Perhaps it's only when the spouse is considered to be politically active that she starts to take the heat - although this wasn't the case with Nancy Reagan (who was perceived by her enemies to be an inconsequential airhead). Then again, I don't think George Bush Senior was as hated as Reagan was by those on the left.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 08, 2005, 07:09:20 AM
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 Certainly Alexandra acted as Nicholas' regent once he left for the front (although it's not clear to me if this was an actual official position, or just an arrangement they had?). So she would necessarily have exerted more influence during this brief period. Still, it's demonstrably true that she had no impact whatsoever on the way the war was conducted - which is deeply ironic, given that she was popularly believed to be a German spy.



Her influence was, I think, not as great as people sometimes suggest, because Nicholas was not quite the 'underdog' in the marriage as he is sometimes presented.
This letter from Mogilev in 1916 shows, I think, that he was quite capable of forming his own opinions & was not as swayed by Rasputin via Alix as one might believe:

"Tenderest thanks for your dear long letter in which you give over some messages from Our Friend. That Protopopov is, I think, a good man but he is much in affairs with fabrics etc. Rodzianko proposed him a long time ago as Minister of Commerce instead of Shakhovsky. I must think this question over, as it takes me quite unexpectedly. Our Friend's ideas about men are sometimes queer, as you know - so one must be careful especially in the nominations of high people."
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 09, 2005, 11:22:00 AM
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Our Friend's ideas about men are sometimes queer, as you know - so one must be careful especially in the nominations of high people."


The mere fact that a Siberian peasant was even allowed to address the monarchs on the question of senior government appointments is astonishing.  (Remember that about this time the Tsar frostily told Grand Duchess Ella to depart the Alexander Palace and return to Moscow "by the next train" for daring to opine about the succession of questionable ministers.)

And this letter seems to confirm the frequent claims that Alexandra allowed herself to be a conduit to the Tsar of Rasputin's attempts to influence policy.  Just because in one letter Nicholas seemed to hold the line with Alexandra doesn't mean he ultimately did so.  There are too many other references to his buckling under her continued pressure.  (For instance, when the Tsar finally screwed up the courage to oust Sturmer in favor of Trepov, who was more acceptable to the Duma, Alexandra went to Moghilev in a rage.  As a result, Sturmer was left with a role in government in contravention of a committment Nicholas had made to Trepov.)  And there is ultimately the fact that a string of ministers who were not openly hostile to Rasputin were put in the places of those who were in the last months of the monarchy.

I remain appalled at just how severely negative Nicholas' image of himself could be.  I was watching "The Last of the Czars" over the weekend, where letters from Nicholas were quoted in which he labelled himself "weak-willed" in one and a "dwarf" in another (in referring to the difficulty he felt in giving orders to his taller relations).

Alexandra never contested such points when Nicholas raised them.  Instead, she promised to shore him up with her will.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 09, 2005, 12:36:16 PM
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Who witnessed this rage? Do we have objective proof of it? Or is this just your personal interpretation? I assume you weren't there yourself.


I was no more there than was anyone else on these boards who has opinions on these topics and who comments on sources from the period.  My source for this item was the memoires of Maurice Paeologue, the French Ambassador who kept himself informed on a daily basis of things in the government that might affect Russia's willingness or ability to continue her involvement in the war.  He referred to Alexandra as "enraged".  His report was probably secondary and, as with all direct and indirect reports from the period, is fraught with risks of subjectivity.  However, since none of us were there, we all form our opinions in the face of these limitations . . . you included.

quote author=Helen link=board=alix;num=1102892038;start=100#111 date=05/09/05 at 12:02:45]
She may not have contested these points in her letters, but you don't know anything about what she contested in person when she and Nicholas were together and he expressed such opinions about himself, either during the war or in the years before the war. As you have not witnessed any of their personal, intimate conversations, please don't insinuate she didn't contest such points. [/quote]

I didn't "insinuate."  I stated.  Check a dictionary if you're confused.

It's true I did not witness their personal conversations.  However, they did correspond by letter extensively during his absences.  I find it unlikely that she would have taken a tack in face-to-face conversations fundamentally different from that taken in their private written communications.

You might disagree with my views, which is fine.  That's what these boards are about.  But please do not put me to an impossible standard of proof to which no one else on these boards is held -- or can be.  

If you require a physical presence at the original events before forming a view based on what evidence is accessible, you have no more right to your views than do I.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 09, 2005, 01:21:58 PM
At this juncture I have had resort to Dominic Lieven's excellent biography of the last tsar, Nicholas II: Twilight of the Empire.

Lieven believes that Alexandra's political influence was on one occasion at least extraordinary (this was the occasion to which Tsarfan refers) but otherwise limited - i.e., virtually negligible, not that she didn't try.

In other words, "Alexandra’s intervention to save Protopopov [as Minister of Internal Affairs, which cost Nicholas Trepov, who resigned as Prime Minister in protest] was the most spectacular example of the influence she wielded over her husband during the war." (p. 226) On the other hand, it also seems to have been a relatively rare example of Alexandra’s influence.

Lieven notes that the tsar invited his wife to take "a more active role" in government when he moved to Stavka in the summer of 1915. He wrote to her on September 7: "Will you not come to the assistance of your hubby now that he is absent? I know of no more pleasant feeling than to be proud of you, as I have been all these past months, when you urged me on with untiring importunity, exhorting me to be firm and to stick to my own opinions." (N.B. - "importunity" is a very revealing word in this context!)

Lieven further records that the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna’s influence on "key appointments in the first decade of her son’s reign had been considerable." Alexandra came to replace the Dowager Empress during the Stavka period – to a very limited extent. Indeed: "Where key political appointments are concerned, it is very doubtful whether the absence of Rasputin would have made any significant difference. Given the course which Nicholas was steering, suitable candidates for key government offices were few and far between and it is easy to point to influences other than Rasputin’s advice which resulted in the appointment of individuals to top positions. Even in 1915-16 what really mattered about Rasputin was not his actual political influence but the fatal impact he had on the monarchy’s prestige." (p. 228).

So as usual the "truth" lies somewhere between two extremes.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 09, 2005, 02:52:53 PM
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But does that make it any less annoying when people more or less assume that certain things were the case when they do not have full proof of those things . . . ?


Even in the presence of "full proof" (whatever that is), historians often differ in their interpretations of events.  And most of us on this board -- myself included -- are not professional historians.  We're hobbyists who take a lay interest in revisiting long-dead periods, debating each other, and picking up new information and perspective in the process.

I find it annoying when people in other threads go on about the "sainted Alexandra" and fawn endlessly over the inconsequential relics of her life.  But I don't send them instructions about what they may or may not post or tell them they should keep silent until they have full proof.

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. . . even if they know that they base their opinions on biased information?


People do occasionally cite primary source material on this board.  However, the great majority of citations are to material that is inherently biased:  letters from highly-partisan observers, official reports that often were informed by the author's personal agenda, contemporaries expressing their opinions of events around them from a highly personal viewpoint . . . and books by historians putting their own interpretations on masses of evidence that seldom drive incontestably to one conclusion or another.

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But does that make it any less annoying when people more or less assume that certain things were the case when they do not have full proof of those things?

When one reads other letters that Alix wrote over the years, one also knows that these wartime letters give a distorted picture of the person that she was.


Speaking of "full proof", what proof do you have that the Alexandra of the early letters is the real Alexandra, and the wartime letters give us a "distorted" picture?  Many people feel that times of stress produce the truest display of one's character.  Or is this just another way of saying you like Alexandra and will choose the evidence that most suits your bias?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 09, 2005, 04:28:12 PM
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To me, that's a good reason not to exclude any possibilities just because one cannot find written proof of these possibilities. Of course, in this particular case, we have no proof that she did discuss such issues with her husband either. We simply don't know whether they were discussed or not.


And we never will know.  Is that any reason we cannot try to extrapolate from what we do know?

Almost all judicial courts, when faced with the absence of direct evidence, allow the admission of indirect evidence by which patterns can be demonstrated and from which reasonable conclusions may be drawn.

By this standard, I think Nicholas' and Alexandra's correspondence qualifies for admission in the absence of direct evidence of their conversations.  When they were apart from each other, they communicated by letter and telegraph, sometimes as many as five times a day.  It was, in essence, a continuation of their daily conservations by the only means available when they were apart from one another.  I find it hard to believe that Alexandra presented a personality or viewpoints in this correspondence that was utterly unlike that she presented in verbal communication.

While such letters would not be proof positive of what did or did not transpire in conversation, virtually any court would admit them as evidence before a jury who could then make their own determination.  And a jury would be upheld in finding it unreasonable to assume that Alexandra would have asked for things or attempted to exercise influence only in letters, but never in conversation.

Why must this board be held to a higher evidentiary standard than a court would require in a criminal proceeding?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 09, 2005, 04:48:07 PM
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However, I think it is very well possible to discuss things of which we do not have 'full proof' in a way that shows that one is aware of the fact that we are dealing with incomplete and biased information and that there may be explanations that we just do not know of because they have never been put to writing. I really don't see that asking for a careful formulation is the same as instructing people to keep silent.


This board has hundreds of posts based on information and sources that are biased.  We all know it and so take it for granted that we don't pause to point it out with every post.

One of the beauties of these discussions is that the biases do get flushed into the open when others contest the conclusions.  That's the energy that propels these discussions.

I still remain confused why you think I, however, should refrain from taking positions until I first specifically acknowledge that the view I'm about to state derives from a biased source.  Why can't we take it as a given and get on with things?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on May 09, 2005, 11:00:15 PM
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At this juncture I have had resort to Dominic Lieven's excellent biography of the last tsar, Nicholas II: Twilight of the Empire.

Lieven believes that Alexandra's political influence was on one occasion at least extraordinary (this was the occasion to which Tsarfan refers) but otherwise limited - i.e., virtually negligible, not that she didn't try.

In other words, "Alexandra’s intervention to save Protopopov [as Minister of Internal Affairs, which cost Nicholas Trepov, who resigned as Prime Minister in protest] was the most spectacular example of the influence she wielded over her husband during the war." (p. 226) On the other hand, it also seems to have been a relatively rare example of Alexandra’s influence.

Lieven notes that the tsar invited his wife to take "a more active role" in government when he moved to Stavka in the summer of 1915. He wrote to her on September 7: "Will you not come to the assistance of your hubby now that he is absent? I know of no more pleasant feeling than to be proud of you, as I have been all these past months, when you urged me on with untiring importunity, exhorting me to be firm and to stick to my own opinions." (N.B. - "importunity" is a very revealing word in this context!)

Lieven further records that the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna’s influence on "key appointments in the first decade of her son’s reign had been considerable." Alexandra came to replace the Dowager Empress during the Stavka period – to a very limited extent. Indeed: "Where key political appointments are concerned, it is very doubtful whether the absence of Rasputin would have made any significant difference. Given the course which Nicholas was steering, suitable candidates for key government offices were few and far between and it is easy to point to influences other than Rasputin’s advice which resulted in the appointment of individuals to top positions. Even in 1915-16 what really mattered about Rasputin was not his actual political influence but the fatal impact he had on the monarchy’s prestige." (p. 228).

So as usual the "truth" lies somewhere between two extremes.
 


Alexandra did have extrodinary influence in government and appointments during WW I.  

Alexandra fell under the influence of the starets, and it seems to have went downhill from that point.  They became even more isolated than before.  Because of this influence the monarch came under such ridicule and
rumor that the continual access of Rasputin to the palace and Alexandra, unpopular since her arrival in Russia, became easy to blame.

I used to like Alexandra, but the more I read about her, the less I liked her.  I think Nicholas's choice of her as a bride was unfortunate, nothing in her attitude or in her upbringing could prepare for the role of a consort of a Russian Tsar.  

You cannot blame her for the fall of the Russian Empire, while she played a part in it yes, she wasn't the main cause of the Revolution.  The war, a failing economic system, the dissatisfaction of the people, and above all Nicholas's inability to realize that by giving the people a parlimentary form of govt., and rights could have saved his family, if you continually oppress people they will one day as history has shown rise up, and in many cases show no mercy.  

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 10, 2005, 06:30:42 AM
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Tsarfan, as you may know, judicial systems in which a jury of untrained people tries to assess if someone is guilty based on the evidence that is presented to them are just one form of a judicial system.


I am familiar with non-jury systems, including continental systems which, instead of the English adversarial system, use the judge as questioner and fact finder.  However, all these systems entertain indirect evidence when direct evidence fails.  The fact finder attaches whatever weight to the indirect evidence is deemed appropriate, given the admitted limitations of such evidence.

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My initial remark referred specifically to your statement that Alix never ever protested when Nicholas called himself a dwarf.


Actually, my statement was a bit more general than that.  I referenced a couple of self-deprecating quotes from his letters and said Alexandra never contested "such things".  I have read quite a bit of their correspondence.  Nicholas sometimes asked for her help and sometimes rejected her advice.  He occasionally referred to his weaknesses.  When he did so, her answer was typically an exhortation to assert himself and to remind him that he was Tsar and everyone else was his subject.  I am aware of no occasion when she challenged the original proposition that he was weak.

Given the intimate details and politically-sensitive topics of their letters, they seemed secure of their privacy and entirely candid with each other in their written correspondence.  There is even one letter in which Alexandra reported the wounds of a soldier she treated and referred to his intact genitalia.  (Would the Empress confess in writing to seeing another man's penis if she did not view that correspondence as a private, secure, no-holds-barred mode of communication?)  Nicholas had no compunction about confessing his own weaknesses in his letters.  Many of their letters are written continuations of conversations that had begun when they were with each other.  They are peppered with cryptic references to things said in person.  I continue to find it untenable that their correspondence was not reflective of the full range of their discussions when they were face-to-face.  I simply do not feel she would have contested self-deprecating remarks in conversation yet invariably let them stand unchallenged in their private correspondence.

Outside the realm of letters, she was overheard during their captivity referring to Nicholas' doing "something stupid" (the abdication), and on occasion she told their jailers that she did not allow Nicholas to be seen alone.  In the famous confrontation about state policy with Sandro just before the revolution, it was a debate between Sandro and Alexandra even though Nicholas was present.  This does not sound to me like a woman who viewed her husband with any great confidence or who sought to reinforce it.

Is it possible that Alexandra took a different tack with Nicholas in conversation than in letters?  Certainly.  Is it likely?  I don't think so.

We all state as fact those things which, after considering the evidence available to us, we conclude are true.  It doesn't mean we are infallible in reaching those conclusions.  But it doesn't mean we are proceeding in bad faith if we don't preface every conclusion with an acknowledgement of all other possible conclusions or a full rehearsal of the limitations of our evidence.  It would be unacceptable to omit such acknowledgements in a doctoral dissertation.  For this board, though, I think we can lighten up a bit.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 10, 2005, 10:39:12 AM
To view this from a slightly different angle, how well, I wonder would Nicholas have coped without Alexandra?
In this, I mean taking into account his obvious devotion to her & his faith in her.

It seems likely to me that had he married someone else (of his own choice) he would still have relied upon his wife because that was his nature  :-/. I cannot imagine him, for example, marrying someone as docile as the Kaiser's wife - he was the sort of man, I think, who needed a 'strong' woman behind him.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 10, 2005, 11:24:25 AM
I think you're right about Nicholas' needing a strong woman behind him, and I think on a subconscious level he applied that yardstick to the contenders.  As Elisabeth pointed out in an earlier post, before Alexandra began to counsel him later in his reign, Nicholas sought his mother's advice on appointments and other matters of state.

The problem is that Alexandra did not have the judgment or command of statecraft to play that role wisely.  She saw issues from an intensely personal viewpoint and drew no distinction between the good of her family and the good of the state.  This trait opened the door to Rasputin who, no matter what the reality of his involvement in matters of state and no matter what the pitiability of Alexandra's desperation in turning to him, became the darkest cloud over the reputation of the imperial house.

And she had a curious mix of determination and gullibility.  For instance, when Grand Duchess Ella tried to inform her of the open ridicule and disdain to which the monarchy was being subjected in Moscow, Alexandra assured her she had it wrong.  Alexandra's evidence was a stream of telegrams expressing widespread support for the monarchy that, in fact, were being authored by the Interior Ministry at Protopopov's direction.  They had suddenly popped up out of nowhere and weren't even clever forgeries, with headers that repeated the same congratulatory formula with little variation.

It would have been best if Nicholas had the independent capacity to rule wisely.  Failing that, the people around him became critical.  All of Russia was unlucky in his mate.

I just noticed something interesting . . . there are almost twice as many threads on this board about Alexandra as about Nicholas, and the ones on Alexandra have been viewed almost twice as often.  Not since Marie Antoinette had the royal consort been as much front and center in debates among contemporaries about the crown as was Alexandra.  And a hundred years later it's still much more about her than about Nicholas.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on May 10, 2005, 11:45:13 AM
Yes, I agree.
The sad part is that I believe Alexandra sincerely felt that what she was doing was for the good of Russia. To return to the title of this thread, I do not believe at all that Alexandra was at all 'Russia's worst nightmare' but I believe that towards the end of the reign - especially in Nicholas' absence at Stavka - that she was misguided &, by then, so convinced that all the world was against her, that she was incapable of listening to reason - even from someone as close to her as Ella.

It is pure speculation to think how someone might have handled the situation differently but, going through the 'ifs':
If she had dispensed with Rasputin....
If she had not called for changes of Ministers on Rasputin's advice, or had urged Nicholas to appoint strong & respected ministers...
If she had not been so adamant that Nicholas should 'be strong' & oppose a Duma...
could the revolution have been avoided?? I'm not sure that it could.

I have often thought that if Russia had not suffered such terrible losses in the war, there may not have been such demand for revolution...and yet, thinking of yesterday's memorial for the MILLIONS of Russians who were killed (or died of starvation) in WWII, I don't believe that there were calls at that time for the removal of Stalin.... :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 10, 2005, 12:05:00 PM
Quote
I have often thought that if Russia had not suffered such terrible losses in the war, there may not have been such demand for revolution...and yet, thinking of yesterday's memorial for the MILLIONS of Russians who were killed (or died of starvation) in WWII, I don't believe that there were calls at that time for the removal of Stalin.... :-/


Some of the millions who died of starvation in the immediate aftermath of the war might have been saved if Stalin had accepted the Marshall Plan instead of refusing it not only on behalf of the Soviet Union, but also that of the newly Soviet-occupied countries of eastern Europe. The number of Soviet citizens killed in WWII is actually still a matter of much debate because many deaths during and immediately after this period could be ascribed to Stalin's policies alone.

For that matter, the only reason there weren't calls for Stalin's removal was that all his political opponents were either in concentration camps or murdered. And in the category of "political opponents" I include everyone from former Socialist Revolutionaries to Cadets to poets to young high school students sentenced to the Gulag as "enemies of the people" for criticizing Stalin (I know one of those students, now an old man). There's not much room for protest in a totalitarian state.

Whereas there was perhaps too much room for irresponsible criticism and attacks on the government in a state which had the beginnings of a constitutional monarchy, was on the path to reform, and was rapidly modernizing in all areas. I think we see revolutions in countries where things have been very bad but are slowly getting better, and the spirit of reform is in the air, like Nicolaevan Russia, rather than in states like the Soviet Union where no matter how bad the daily circumstances of most people's lives, the totalitarian government makes any form of resistance all but impossible (not that very brave people still don't try).

But I am in agreement with you that World War I made the Russian revolution inevitable. And I really don't think that if Nicholas had had a different spouse it would have made a smidgeon of difference to the final outcome. Alexandra might be said to have damaged the reputation of the Romanov dynasty, but she was not responsible either for the revolution or for the form it eventually took.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 10, 2005, 01:09:50 PM
Quote
But I am in agreement with you that World War I made the Russian revolution inevitable. And I really don't think that if Nicholas had had a different spouse it would have made a smidgeon of difference to the final outcome.


I don't know that I'll ever be able to settle this question in my own mind, but I sure enjoy all the discussion about it.

Part of me wants to think the Revolution was inevitable, because then I don't have to deal with all the "what if's".  All modern monarchies are but receding shadows of what was the world's longest-lived form of political organization and which attained heights of intoxicating splendor we'll probably not see again in human history.

But part of me wants to say "it's not over until it's over."  If Russia had lost a well-prosecuted war, led by a monarchy that people were inclined to prefer over uncertainty, the Romanovs might have squeezed through the cusp and come out on the other side, shaken but able to build a Russia for the modern age.

On balance, I still think it was the erosion of support for the monarchy across many segments of society over the decades before the war -- and starting to build toward a crescendo in 1905 -- that undid the Romanovs.  Had that erosion been slowed, and had the crescendo been dampened, then maybe . . . just maybe.

If I'm right about this squeezing through the cusp thing (and I'm by no means certain I am), then taking just a few irritants out of the mix might have changed outcomes.

The revolution of 1917 was not monolithic.  The Duma deputation showed up on the train expecting Nicholas to hand the crown over to his son.  They were surprised at but willing to accede to Michael's elevation instead.  What if Kerensky and others had been informed of Nicholas' reasons for turning the crown over to Michael?  Might not the Duma have coalesced more firmly around him?  Might not Kerensky, the military, and the St. Petersburg garrison have been willing to show more grit in committing to defending Michael's person?

If any of these arguments are plausible as late as February of 1917, then one month or one year earlier, the cusp would have been even wider.  Nicholas and Alexandra might not have had room to sqeeze through, but other Romanovs might have.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 10, 2005, 02:21:57 PM
Quote
The revolution of 1917 was not monolithic.  The Duma deputation showed up on the train expecting Nicholas to hand the crown over to his son.  They were surprised at but willing to accede to Michael's elevation instead.  What if Kerensky and others had been informed of Nicholas' reasons for turning the crown over to Michael?  Might not the Duma have coalesced more firmly around him?  Might not Kerensky, the military, and the St. Petersburg garrison have been willing to show more grit in committing to defending Michael's person?

If any of these arguments are plausible as late as February of 1917, then one month or one year earlier, the cusp would have been even wider.  Nicholas and Alexandra might not have had room to sqeeze through, but other Romanovs might have.


Wonderful observations as usual, Tsarfan. I, too, enjoy speculating about what might have been. I have to wonder about the calibre of the men in the Duma, however. Were they really capable of pulling Russia through such tremendous crises as the first world war and the March Revolution? Kerensky & Co., when compared to Lenin and his cohorts, seem rather pale and lacking in both the will and moral fibre to carry the day. And as it turned out, of course, they didn't... Wasn't part of the problem after March 1917 that Russia simply didn't have a strong enough leader in the democratic ranks to oppose someone of such single-minded purpose and determination as Lenin?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 10, 2005, 02:41:58 PM
Quote
I have to wonder about the calibre of the men in the Duma, however. Were they really capable of pulling Russia through such tremendous crises as the first world war and the March Revolution? Kerensky & Co., when compared to Lenin and his cohorts, seem rather pale and lacking in both the will and moral fibre to carry the day.



So true.  It takes many strands to make a rope.  I think the rope was formed by so many things:  the immaturity of democratic institutions that might have supported a constitutional monarchy; Rasputin's impact on the imperial family's reputation; the early toppling of strong ministers and the latter day appointment of weak ones; the isolated family enclave at Tsarskoye Selo; Nicholas' confusion of intransigence with will; Alexandra's confusion of her family's interests with that of the state; ad nauseum . . . .

To me, these things made the rope strong enough to serve as a noose, and World War I tied the knot.  The question is whether, absent a strong enough rope, a noose could have been formed.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 11, 2005, 02:12:06 PM
Helen,

I have been perplexed why you have focused on me among all the posters on this board as the one who has done most to bring the academic standards of these discussions to such a low point.

I think I found my answer in a message you posted on April 12:

"With regard to the supranatural [sic], it's clear that many people who do not believe in clairvoyance and other paranormal phenomena usually are more inclined to think that people who do attach some value to the words of a paranormally gifted person have an unhealthy attitude or are dependent on the wrong people.  But many people who laugh about paranormal phenomena do not have any personal experience with such phenomena.  Once they do have such experience, their attitudes usually change completely."

Well . . . at last I know why you are so sure about what went on in the private conversations between Nicholas and Alexandra.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 11, 2005, 03:58:12 PM
Welcome back!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on May 18, 2005, 09:36:08 AM
Quote

I don't know that I'll ever be able to settle this question in my own mind, but I sure enjoy all the discussion about it.

Part of me wants to think the Revolution was inevitable, because then I don't have to deal with all the "what if's".  All modern monarchies are but receding shadows of what was the world's longest-lived form of political organization and which attained heights of intoxicating splendor we'll probably not see again in human history.

But part of me wants to say "it's not over until it's over."  If Russia had lost a well-prosecuted war, led by a monarchy that people were inclined to prefer over uncertainty, the Romanovs might have squeezed through the cusp and come out on the other side, shaken but able to build a Russia for the modern age.

On balance, I still think it was the erosion of support for the monarchy across many segments of society over the decades before the war -- and starting to build toward a crescendo in 1905 -- that undid the Romanovs.  Had that erosion been slowed, and had the crescendo been dampened, then maybe . . . just maybe.

If I'm right about this squeezing through the cusp thing (and I'm by no means certain I am), then taking just a few irritants out of the mix might have changed outcomes.

The revolution of 1917 was not monolithic.  The Duma deputation showed up on the train expecting Nicholas to hand the crown over to his son.  They were surprised at but willing to accede to Michael's elevation instead.  What if Kerensky and others had been informed of Nicholas' reasons for turning the crown over to Michael?  Might not the Duma have coalesced more firmly around him?  Might not Kerensky, the military, and the St. Petersburg garrison have been willing to show more grit in committing to defending Michael's person?

If any of these arguments are plausible as late as February of 1917, then one month or one year earlier, the cusp would have been even wider.  Nicholas and Alexandra might not have had room to sqeeze through, but other Romanovs might have.



Well I do think that had Nicholas been less under the influence of AF, he would have lasted a few more years at any rate.  Had they been less interested in preserving autocracy and more in dynasty, they may  have had a better chance of survival.

I think had Nicholas granted a more constitutional monarchial system of govt., and became less responsible personally for the govt., he would have had less blame.   I feel AF should have been put in Livadia or in a convalescent home until she could regain some control over her emotional state.  I think she was at fault a great amount of the time, in regards to Nicholas's mistake, imagine, goading that man on to be Ivan The Terrible or Peter The Great, when he had not the capability or wish to be either.  While Nicholas bears ultimate responsibility for the decisions he made, she is right up there with him.  IMO they may have avoided their utlimate fate had she not been the influence she was.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 19, 2005, 03:27:12 PM
Quote
I feel AF should have been put in Livadia or in a convalescent home until she could regain some control over her emotional state.


Interesting comment . . . and you're not alone.  Dr. Botkin once told his daugther that, as a medical practitioner, he could no longer certify the Empress as "entirely normal".  And there were members of the extended Romanov family who felt that Alexandra should be removed from the scene.  Many of the Romanovs were far more wired into the reality of public sentiment than were Nicholas and Alexandra and had a less clouded view of what was happening to the reputation of the imperial family.

For all the admiring reports of a Lili Dehn or an Anna Vyrubova, the bottom line is that the bulk of the Romanov family thought her behavior so far out of bounds that -- at a time when the reputation of the dynasty was already in a tailspin -- they were willing to take the extraordinary step of public repudiation of the Tsar's consort.  To me, this telegraphs across the years as the truest signal of just how big a problem those on the scene saw Alexandra to be.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 25, 2005, 01:32:59 PM
Hmmmmm...
   Well, it's altogether too easy to judge Alix as "unstable" based on a few letters and personal opinions about her mental state...Just is its far too easy to try to defend her with the same poor evidence.
    I do think that Alix's religious mania and her concern for threats {both real and imagined} to her son and her friend (Rasputin) made its very dificult to reason with her. In a highly paranoid state telling someone that noone is out to get them will only reinforce this delusion. Had she been sent to rest in Livadia -not in an asylum - but at the palace, perhaps its possible that she would have been less meddlingly involved in politics... but at that point it was a bit too late to stop the disollution.

    Personal insularity & intense religious faith are all well and good -- but, like anything else, such behaviour can be taken TOO FAR !

No Alix fan
rskkiya

PS Helen, I am confused and very sorry, but I must disagree with you - I don't think that 'tsarfan' has done anything except raise the general tone of this topic! Bravo!

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on May 25, 2005, 01:47:12 PM
Let us not forget that Alexandra was in Russia for 23 years and opinion of her changed over time, especially at the end.  She was not actively involved in politics until Nicholas went to the front and he asked her to step in because he felt he couldn't trust anyone else (that's a sad commentary on how isolated Nicholas must have felt).  Prior to that she was entirely focused on her husband and family.  That's how she wanted it and that's how Nicholas wanted it.

The Rasputin scandal did spiral completely out of control until the war as well.  The war changed everything.  Someone wrote that had you ended the story of Nicholas and Alexandra in 1913 they would have been seen entirely differently in the eyes of history.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on May 25, 2005, 03:00:04 PM
'threats (both real and imaginery)'...    Well, Rasputin was murdered and Alexei was at death's door on more than one occasion - hardly imagined.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 25, 2005, 04:27:41 PM
Tsaria
    I was refering to the "brooding spiritual threats" that Alix seems to have perceived. Only Rasputin could help "Baby" - was this not her perception?
  "Without me" Rasputin was supposedly to have said "you will all fall..." Hmmm.  Did he actually make that remark? Who knows? But Alix seemed to have felt that his (Rasputin's) life was constantly under menace...
    Was this perpetual fear for and and attachment to Rasputin rational? hmmm.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 25, 2005, 06:37:44 PM
Quote
"Without me" Rasputin was supposedly to have said "you will all fall..." Hmmm.  Did he actually make that remark? Who knows? But Alix seemed to have felt that his (Rasputin's) life was constantly under menace...
     Was this perpetual fear for and and attachment to Rasputin rational? hmmm.


I would say Alexandra's fear for Rasputin's safety was rational because in the end he was murdered, wasn't he? But the letter you cite was definitely a forgery, as the FA Rob Moshein has pointed out numerous times on other threads. No Romanov ever saw it. It was a complete invention.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 08:23:31 AM
Quote

I would say Alexandra's fear for Rasputin's safety was rational because in the end he was murdered, wasn't he? But the letter you cite was definitely a forgery, as the FA Rob Moshein has pointed out numerous times on other threads. No Romanov ever saw it. It was a complete invention.

    Thanks for the clarification, but I was not referring to the infamous 'prophetic letter' which - I agree was a fake...
     I was under the impression (no doubt an incorrect one) that Rasputin had implied or openly stated numerous times that HE didn't need THEM (Romanovs) but THEY needed him.

rskkiya

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on May 26, 2005, 08:58:08 AM
rsskiya,
The comment that the IF "needed Rasputin" was strictly because only Rasputin was able to help Alexei, when the best doctors in Europe could do nothing.

Just imagine if YOUR child was ill, near death, the doctors prepare you for the worst, saying they can do no more, and a man of G-d tells you that he prayed on your behalf and the child will recover...and then DOES...and then, he can do the same thing several more times. What would YOU feel??

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 09:23:40 AM
Quote
Just imagine if YOUR child was ill, near death, the doctors prepare you for the worst, saying they can do no more, and a man of G-d tells you that he prayed on your behalf and the child will recover...and then DOES...and then, he can do the same thing several more times. What would YOU feel??


I would think God was being very inefficient.  If He wanted my son to rule, it would have seemed much more to the point not to have given him hoemophilia in the first place.

People who ascribe everything to God's intervention always have strong feelings but tend to go very light on the thinking piece of it.

My favorite example is the people who are always interviewed on television after natural disasters.  They go on and on about how God spared them.  I guess the message is that, unlike the dozens of others who got smashed to bits, God singled them out as deserving of special favor.  I've often wondered how the families of other victims feel to hear their loves ones were not deserving of this particular demonstration of God's favor.

Alexei was never going to rule, and everyone else who knew of his condition knew it.  Even Nicholas revealed he knew it when he signed away Alexei's inheritance on the train.  Alexandra would have done better to have felt a bit less and thought a good deal more.  Her whole family might have lived longer.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Arleen on May 26, 2005, 10:14:45 AM
I think that it all boils down to all of us believing whatever we WANT to and that nothing much that happens to us can change that.

The religious believe everything is God's will....the unreligious believe in fate.  In the end we more or less just have to accept what ever life deals us, no matter the spin we put on the reasons why.

Personally I have always thought Nicholas II was much more a realist than anyone knew.  He was just running the whole show all by himself and he was so basically alone with it.  He knew his son would never rule and he knew what Alexandra was doing to the country, he was trapped and he was alone.  I greatly pitty him, he was a wonderful loving human being.

..Arleen
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 10:16:19 AM
Quote
rsskiya,
The comment that the IF "needed Rasputin" was strictly because only Rasputin was able to help Alexei, when the best doctors in Europe could do nothing.

Just imagine if YOUR child was ill, near death, the doctors prepare you for the worst, saying they can do no more, and a man of G-d tells you that he prayed on your behalf and the child will recover...and then DOES...and then, he can do the same thing several more times. What would YOU feel??


FA

    I don't tend to beleive in "men of G-d', and I still am not certain just what Rasputin did that was so essential ... Nevertheless, my 21st century views are NOT important -- Alix believed him  -- and  sadly I think that proves the point.
    I don't think that she was *Russia's worst nightmare* but sadly her emotional state, her behaviour and her personal attachment to 'questionable people' were no great boon to a troubled country.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 10:23:16 AM
Quote
I think that it all boils down to all of us believing whatever we WANT to and that nothing much that happens to us can change that.
     The religious believe everything is God's will....the unreligious believe in fate.  In the end we more or less just have to accept what ever life deals us, no matter the spin we put on the reasons why.
     Personally I have always thought Nicholas II was much more a realist than anyone knew.  He was just running the whole show all by himself and he was so basically alone with it.  He knew his son would never rule and he knew what Alexandra was doing to the country, he was trapped and he was alone.  I greatly pitty him, he was a wonderful loving human being.

..Arleen


HMMMM.

(I'm not religious but I don't beleive in FATE...)

 Your description of Nicholas is a very elegent expression of a man dreadfully aware of his own incompetency!
  Perhaps some might see this as a virtue on his part {honesty? self awareness?}  but I don't.

Rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 10:56:55 AM
Quote
Personally I have always thought Nicholas II was much more a realist than anyone knew.  He was just running the whole show all by himself and he was so basically alone with it.


Very interesting point . . . and I think you're right that Nicholas might have been more realistic than we generally think.

However, I think being alone with his responsibilities was his choice.  He had strong ministers in both Witte and Stolypin.  Instead of giving them the support they deserved in carrying out government reform programs, he hobbled them with his own biases and let his wife's hostility to them extend its shadow over their efforts.

Nicholas himself paved the path that led to Alexandra's being the only advisor and, eventually, viceroy to whom he could turn in the critical war years.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on May 26, 2005, 12:25:08 PM
Every month Nicholas received reports from the the Okhrana on plots to kill him, his wife, their children, servants, ministers, friends - anybody and everybody around them.  These even included reports on members of his own family who were conspiring to get rid of him or his wife - his own brother included.

I don't know how much Nicholas shared with Alix from these reports but if he did can you imagine what it would be like to be under such pressure?  Can yoiu imagine knowing that your friends and children were being threatened - that each time your husband left he might not return?

Alix once said that if Nicholas or the children were a few minutes late returning home her blood pressure soared.  She was always waiting for the unthinkable to happen. We should never forget how many people around them were killed - the houses that were blown up - remember what happened to Stolypin and his poor daughter. I don't now how anyone could handle this pressure.

In public she kept her cool as best she could.  With all this and a sick boy I am not surprized she didn't smile much.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Mgmstl on May 26, 2005, 12:44:23 PM
Quote

I would say Alexandra's fear for Rasputin's safety was rational because in the end he was murdered, wasn't he? But the letter you cite was definitely a forgery, as the FA Rob Moshein has pointed out numerous times on other threads. No Romanov ever saw it. It was a complete invention.


I tend to think that AF RATIONALIZED her need for Rasputin, not that the need or the fear was rational.  On the whole her fanaticism regarding religion and "men of god" bordered on the extreme, and Rasputin IMO was a charlatan of the first order, he used a form of hypnosis to alleviate the swelling, if he was a truly a holy man capable of performing miracles than the boy's hemophelia would have been cured.  I think her hysteraia and this constant need for a "man of god" (which I find laughable) lies within her deep seeded maternal guilt for passing along the gene to Alexis.
I just believe there is no such thing as a "man of god" and I have no belief in religion, and think it is a farce.
Nor do I believe in fate.  So in this case I agree with Rskkiya.  

My problem with AF lies with her belief in her infallability as "Matushka", that someone raised with the influence of QV, and her own mother, PA, who regarded royalty and it's status as somewhat of a joke, that she could turn this far away from her upbringing and embrace this wandering hedge priest as a man of god, is as pathetic as people who see the vision of Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich.  I think she may not have been Russia's worst nightmare, but she was the of the Romanov dynasty as a whole, and Nicholas's.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 26, 2005, 01:10:36 PM
Quote
Every month Nicholas received reports from the the Okhrana on plots to kill him, his wife, their children, servants, ministers, friends - anybody and everybody around them.  These even included reports on members of his own family who were conspiring to get rid of him or his wife - his own brother included.

I don't know how much Nicholas shared with Alix from these reports but if he did can you imagine what it would be like to be under such pressure?  Can yoiu imagine knowing that your friends and children were being threatened - that each time your husband left he might not return?

Alix once said that if Nicholas or the children were a few minutes late returning home her blood pressure soared.  She was always waiting for the unthinkable to happen. We should never forget how many people around them were killed - the houses that were blown up - remember what happened to Stolypin and his poor daughter. I don't now how anyone could handle this pressure.

In public she kept her cool as best she could.  With all this and a sick boy I am not surprized she didn't smile much.

Bob


Bob raises some very valid points. In our focus on the imperial couple, we tend to forget how pervasive, even omnipresent, revolutionary terrorism was in the last decade of imperial rule. For example, in the bombing of Stolypin's house alone, 32 people were killed - and that's not even to mention the wounded, who included Stolypin's son and daugher, the latter crippled for life by the attack. According to the historian Nicholas Riasanovsky, 1,400 people in 1906 and a further 3,000 in 1907 died because of acts of terrorism. These included not only government officials but also innocent bystanders. The Socialist Revolutionary party and its offshoot, the Maximalists, were primarily to blame. But the Bolsheviks were shortly themselves to take up bank robberies as a means of financing their own revolutionary cause.

The Russian intelligentsia that produced these terrorists has a lot to answer for. We mustn't forget their huge contribution to the climate of lawlessness and "everything is permitted" that took root in imperial Russia even before the outbreak of the first world war. They spread a doctrine of means justifying the ends that exerted tremendous appeal even among the Russian middle class of the time. In  my opinion, the revolutionary terrorists were far more to blame than Alexandra for the horrific misfortunes that were shortly to befall the Russian people.    
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 01:42:48 PM
Quote
The Russian intelligentsia that produced these terrorists has a lot to answer for.    


But doesn't this beg the larger question of why the intelligentsia felt driven to these extremes?  I do not accept that being educated and intelligent automatically makes one a terrorist or even inclines one to terrorism.  In fact, I think it's quite the opposite.  However, I feel that being aware of social and political injustice in a society that provides no institutional means of surfacing and redressing that injustice can, in the right mix of circumstances, produce terrorism.

One should balance any tally of the death toll from terrorism against the death tolls from pogroms, political exile, etc.

The larger point is that in the latter half of the 19th-century in Russia, violence on both sides was evolving into a form of political discourse because the avenues for real political discourse were blocked from above in a society that was making rapid advances in industrialization, education, and culture.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 03:43:11 PM
    Under any highly repressive and monolithic system such as Autocracy, virtually any act that did not appear to be  "rosy cheeked happy peasants praying to the Little Father " might well be seen as a terrorist activity ...

   So while I will not down play posible threats made to the Imperial family - and Alix' fear of such threats  -- it's really very irrational to try to blame all this on the "WICKED" Intellegentsia!!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on May 26, 2005, 04:03:44 PM
Just let me say at the outset, Tsarfan - I so relish a good argument with you! And this one is a doozy.

Quote
But doesn't this beg the larger question of why the intelligentsia felt driven to these extremes?
 

This gets us into a debate about which came first, the chicken or the egg. Just to be difficult, I would submit that the Narodnaia Volia, in assassinating Alexander II in 1881, bears the larger responsibility for the total polarization of politics in imperial Russia that occurred after this date. With this one blow they completely alienated an autocracy that was not as yet deaf to all pleas for reform. Arguably Russian society never fully recovered from this act of terrorism.

Quote
I do not accept that being educated and intelligent automatically makes one a terrorist or even inclines one to terrorism.


Was I saying that? No, I was referring to a very specific group, the late nineteenth, early twentieth-century Russian intelligentsia, which did, even by its own admission (see Landmarks, "Vekhi" in Russian, 1909), desperately seek solutions to entrenched social and political problems by resorting to utopian fantasies of some kind of socialist heaven on earth, to be achieved by whatever "scientific" means possible, at whatever cost in individual human suffering.

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 However, I feel that being aware of social and political injustice in a society that provides no institutional means of surfacing and redressing that injustice can, in the right mix of circumstances, produce terrorism.


I agree, with the proviso that terrorism seems to arise mainly among the middle classes, not among the truly oppressed poor themselves. It is the educated middle and upper classes that give us figures like Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, and even Osama bin Laden. To be overly simplistic, it is upper education and increasing opportunities – against a backdrop of very gradual, incremental reform in the political sphere – that seem to serve as the breeding ground for violent utopianism.

Quote
One should balance any tally of the death toll from terrorism against the death tolls from pogroms, political exile, etc.


I would agree - it is tasteless to compare tragedies  - except that in this instance I was speaking specifically of Alexandra as being more innocent than revolutionary terrorists. Surely most people can agree with that humble proposition? She didn't kill anyone personally, did she?

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The larger point is that in the latter half of the 19th-century in Russia, violence on both sides was evolving into a form of political discourse because the avenues for real political discourse were blocked from above in a society that was making rapid advances in industrialization, education, and culture.  


This is very true. Yet the avenues became unblocked in 1905. And the revolutionaries nevertheless held fast to the ideology of total destruction – as opposed to reformation – of the existing system. In doing so they merely reinforced the tsar’s opinion that no compromise was possible with such adversaries. In this he may very well have been right, as events later demonstrated. Imagine what short work Peter the Great or Napoleon would have made of the Maximalist Socialist Revolutionaries and Bolsheviks…(but I’m saying this last part solely for the sake of argument, Tsarfan!).
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on May 26, 2005, 04:20:32 PM
Lord, make me a channel of Your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light and
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Lord, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, but to console
to be understood as to understand
to love as to be loved

For it is in giving that I receive;
It is in pardoning that I am pardoned;
And in dying that I am born to eternal life.
Amen

I don't know why, but reading Tsarfan and Rsskiya's posts brought this to mind.  

I have to thank them both, for, to my regret, I have not thought about it for a long time.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 04:55:46 PM
Thanks for the poem, Tsaria.  It's the same advice I get at home.  Seriously.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on May 26, 2005, 05:12:09 PM
Again, thank you Tsarfan.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 05:23:25 PM
Quote
Lord, make me a channel of Your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light and
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Lord, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, but to console
to be understood as to understand
to love as to be loved

For it is in giving that I receive;
It is in pardoning that I am pardoned;
And in dying that I am born to eternal life.
Amen

I don't know why, but reading Tsarfan and Rsskiya's posts brought this to mind.  

I have to thank them both, for, to my regret, I have not thought about it for a long time.

tsaria


   Is this poem/prayer something that Alix wrote?

   It's nice - I suppose - but is this relevent?


   (Please remember tsaria, I am a heretic!)  ;) ;)



rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 26, 2005, 05:33:56 PM
Quote
I would submit that the Narodnaia Volia, in assassinating Alexander II in 1881, bears the larger responsibility for the total polarization of politics in imperial Russia that occurred after this date. With this one blow they completely alienated an autocracy that was not as yet deaf to all pleas for reform. Arguably Russian society never fully recovered from this act of terrorism.


I agree with you here, Elisabeth.  Actually, I think it was her intent to alienate the autocracy.  The revolutionaries wanted to control the revolution, and the last thing they needed was a quasi-revolution from the top for which the Tsar would garner the credit and which would reduce the perception of need for more radical reform.


Quote
I was referring to a very specific group, the late nineteenth, early twentieth-century Russian intelligentsia.


We may be talking past each other here.  I view the Russian intelligentsia as a broader group than just the radical element that you seem to be discussing.  I think when applied to that element, your points are quite valid.


Quote
It is the educated middle and upper classes that give us figures like Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, and even Osama bin Laden. To be overly simplistic, it is upper education and increasing opportunities – against a backdrop of very gradual, incremental reform in the political sphere – that seem to serve as the breeding ground for violent utopianism.


This one makes me a little nervous.  It's too close to the arguments I grew up with in the American south about all the dangers of too much book-learning and independent thinking.

The terrorism the south experienced during the civil rights movement (church bombings, fatal ambushes of marchers, cross-burnings) tended to come from the backward elements of that society, not its educated middle classes.

To designate one or another class as a natural nursery for terrorism is, I think, going a bit far.  I think it's highly dependent on circumstances.


Quote
Yet the avenues became unblocked in 1905. And the revolutionaries nevertheless held fast to the ideology of total destruction – as opposed to reformation – of the existing system. In doing so they merely reinforced the tsar’s opinion that no compromise was possible with such adversaries.


First, you have to remember that the October Manifesto was accompanied by a nation-wide outbreak of pogroms that most revolutionaries rightly suspected had the hand of government behind them.  This did not auger well for Nicholas' commitment to reform.  Also, 1905 created something more akin to an advisory body than to a truly independent legislature.  And, finally, it wasn't long before Nicholas was rewriting the election laws to constrict voting eligibility.  Even a moderate revolutionary (if that's not an oxymoron) had reason to remain cynical.

There, now . . . that wasn't so bad, was it?  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on May 26, 2005, 05:38:29 PM
'Alexandra - Russia's worst nightmare?'

The whole point is that it is up to you to see the relevance - or otherwise - Rsskiya.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 26, 2005, 07:14:22 PM
Quote
'Alexandra - Russia's worst nightmare?'

The whole point is that it is up to you to see the relevance - or otherwise - Rsskiya.

tsaria

Sorry but  I still don't understand the significance of your earlier posting (a poem/prayer) to this topic...

{I do wish that you would accept my "private messages" so that I  could explain my questions to you directly - are you getting my  pm communications?}

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on May 26, 2005, 07:34:10 PM
Richard Pipes in his "Origins of the Russian Revolution" points out that all elements of Russian society were at war with one another at the time of the Revolution.  It was a 'take no prisoners' situation and no one had been compromising for a decade.  Nicholas and his government can be blamed for not fully implementing the reforms of 1905 as promised.  Who knows what the rsult of following through would have been.

However, it was obvious that the first Duma was incapable of doing anything productive and immediately went to war with the government.  No one gave "Russia" a chance.

This all had nothing to do with Alexandra.

However Alexandra became a symbol and a focus for the anger and frustration of people.  Like Marie Antoinette she was cynically lied about and used by the gutter press, politicians and even members of the Romanov family who were too cowardly to attack Nicholas directly.

The Rasputin 'thing' has been completely blown up out of all proportion.  he was not the terrible, all powerful shadow behind the throne that he was made out to be.  He also became a symbol for many people.  Nicholas always followed his own direction, never taking advice from anyone, even his wife.  He would listen to her and he trusted her, but the responsibility for Russia was his and his alone.  To think that Rasputin had any effect on his decisions is totally out of character for him.  He thought Rasputin was a voice of the 'narod' - the people - in a general way and took his opinions into account for that reason.

Alexandra's political views were identical to her husbands.  When she came to Russia she had no political outlook except serving him.  her job was chief Haus Frau.  She felt that was the duty of a wife and the wife of an emperor.  She always followed his lead and I can't imagine her ever contradicting his will.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 27, 2005, 08:18:27 AM
Bob has made several good points...

    While I am persuaded that Autocracy is a system bound to fail- we cannot really try to claim that Alexandra was somehow single handedly responsible for destroying The Tsarist Russian Government! Had Nicholas been a strong willed individual - had he been surrounded with intelligent and competent ministers... Had various labour crises and ecological tragedies not been allowed to get so horribly out of hand...Things might have been different ...

    But Nicholas was a very insecure man (a reason why -perversely - I think that he is so popular here)... He was not well served with decent ministers ... He admitted to not wishing to be Tsar...His wife - whom he loved - tried to help him. Sadly she was probably the worst person to offer advice nevertheless he did appear to need her for emotional support - its only too tragic that she herself was a poor foundation for such "emotional strength'.

  Was Alexandra really Russia's worst nightmare? NO -- but she was certainly no help and perhaps a greater burden than  many people at the "Alexander Palace" might wish to admit.

rskkiya


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on May 27, 2005, 09:07:32 AM
Quote

First, you have to remember that the October Manifesto was accompanied by a nation-wide outbreak of pogroms that most revolutionaries rightly suspected had the hand of government behind them.  
 


This statement keeps popping up again and again. The reality is that it is wholly incorrect.  Modern research into records of the time (long locked up until the fall of the USSR) now shows that in fact the Imperial Government disapproved of the pogroms and issued commands to suppress them.  These orders from Petersburg were ignored on the local level and the pogroms were infact instigated wholly by local officials and local police in conjunction with local populace.  The outbreak of the pogroms was a reaction by LOCAL anti-semitic elements against what they perceived as Jewish revolutionary actions.

I don't have the book in front of me, but I went into this at length in the "Nicholas and the Jews" thread last year.

Rob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on May 27, 2005, 09:10:40 AM
Nicholas has often been called weak or weak-willed.  I am never sure what this means.  He was short, quiet and had a naturally retreating personality.  He kept his own thoughts and opinions to himself which made it difficult for his ministers to ascertain what he really wanted them to do.  Nicholas's politeness often created misunderstandings - ministers thought he supported them or their projects when he didn't.  This made the Tsar seem vacillating.

That said....  I think both Nicholas and Alexandra got 'pegged' as being this or that and it stuck.  So few people actually knew them and they had few energetic or sincere advocates in the media or society that could help steer their public image.

If you look at Russian society of the time who was liked?  Anyone and everyone was atacked and gossiped about.  Outsiders from abroad said that Russia of the time was a place where the most vicious rumors and gossip were spread.  It was a cruel environment and very bad at the court.  Alexandra started getting it as soon as she arrived for petty, untrue things.  Today no one talked about it but at the time the Dowager Empress was gossiped about as well and terrible tales were passed around about her.  No one was immune to this.

Bob



Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 27, 2005, 10:01:15 AM
Quote
This statement keeps popping up again and again. The reality is that it is wholly incorrect.  Modern research into records of the time (long locked up until the fall of the USSR) now shows that in fact the Imperial Government disapproved of the pogroms and issued commands to suppress them.  These orders from Petersburg were ignored on the local level and the pogroms were infact instigated wholly by local officials and local police in conjunction with local populace.  The outbreak of the pogroms was a reaction by LOCAL anti-semitic elements against what they perceived as Jewish revolutionary actions.


I think it is important to draw a distinction here between Nicholas and the government.  Witte certainly wanted the pogroms suppressed and, while I haven't seen the actual documents, my guess is that St. Petersburg's "on the record" position emanated from him.

However, Nicholas wrote a letter to his mother in October in which he expressed his agreement with the notion that the Jews were causing all the trouble and his understanding of peoples' motives in attacking the Jews physically.  That doesn't sound to me like a man committed to stopping the pogroms.

Nicholas was quite capable of operating on different tracks simultaneously, and not everything flowed through Witte.  While Witte was trying to suppress pogroms, Nicholas and others in the extended Romanov clan were supporters of the Union of the Russian People, knowing it pulled the strings on the finances and actions of the Black Hundreds.  There is some evidence that money was flowing from the Interior Ministry to the Black Hundreds.

Russia, where the concept of agent provocateur was being tested by elements of the security police, knew something about the concept of "credible deniability" in its handling of many issues.  Knowing what Nicholas was saying and doing privately regarding the Jews, I for one am not overly impressed by "official" government documents that point in a different direction.

By the way, in an autocracy, weren't "local officials" and "local police" part of the Imperial Government?  Can anyone point me to any records of central government investigation and prosecution of these local officials who violated St. Petersburg orders?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on May 27, 2005, 01:50:46 PM
Quote
Richard Pipes in his "Origins of the Russian Revolution" points out that all elements of Russian society were at war with one another at the time of the Revolution.  It was a 'take no prisoners' situation and no one had been compromising for a decade.  Nicholas and his government can be blamed for not fully implementing the reforms of 1905 as promised.  Who knows what the rsult of following through would have been.

Bob


This is so true.  It really was a "take no prisoners attitude".  Didn't the revolutionaries call themselves Nihilists?  How do you work with people like that?

Pipes also says that Nicholas predicted the fall of the Provisional governement for the same reason.  The moderates who were in charge would just wind up getting stabbed in the back by the Bolsheviks, which is exactly what happened.  

Pipes wrote another short book called The Three Why's of the Russian Revolution.  Excellent, concise reading!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on May 28, 2005, 09:12:20 AM
Tsarfan.
You mis-interpet Nicholas' letter. You must understand that in Imperial Russia, Jews were considered a "nationality/race" like Poles, Lativians, Tatars...etc.  Because many of the revolutionary movement were Jews, it was often referred to as  "jewish" movement.  Second, simply because Nicholas could say that he "understood the motiviation" for pogroms no where implies he AGREED with their motivation. Nicholas, as Tsar, felt he had to understand both sides of the issues in Russia, so that he could come to a decision based on what was best.

Nicholas would have considered ANY such public disorder as abhorrent.  Any riot or pogrom against any subjects would have been surpressed, period.  It is inconceivable that he would have permitted any such public disorder to occur, and in fact, all first hand accounts support the fact that he would not tolerate any such occurances.

We have never seen a single document where Nicholas EVER ordered, supported, authorised or approved of a single pogrom. However, there are MANY direct commands from him that Pogroms against Jews be suppressed, prevented and discouraged.  I think that should speak loudly for itself.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on May 28, 2005, 09:44:57 AM
Indeed, Nicholas II was very concerned about Constantine Constantinovich's (KR) play 'King of Judea'.   Although he wrote a letter of appreciation to his cousin, his fear was that with its anti-semitic undertones, it could flame the fires of   racial prejudices.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 28, 2005, 11:15:26 AM
I just found a website with an extensive history of the pogroms from 1903-1906.  It reports that Witte conducted an investigation into the October 1905 pogroms that resulted in the recall of several governors . . . and that found the Interior Ministry to have been involved in orchestrating the pogroms.  One interesting tidbit was that Plehve was funding a reactionary newspaper that wrote a stream of particularly incendiary articles about Jews and ritual murder shortly before the outbreak of the pogroms.  After the pogroms, Nicholas thanked the editor of the paper for his contributions to journalism.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on May 28, 2005, 12:27:01 PM
First, one small problem.  Nicholas could not possibly have thanked Plehve for "his work" after the 1905 pogroms, since Plehve was assassinated in 1904   Read on...
Fontanka 16 Ruud & Stepanov, 1999:
"In the fall of 1905 anti-Semitic pogrom were entwined with assaults on members of other minority groups and it is possible to establish the national groups of the people who suffered death or physical harm from the pogroms.  Of these, 58.4% of the dead and 42.6% of the injured were Jews.  The rest were Russians, Ukranians, Belorussians, Armenians and others.  Those who seemed to be enemies of the autocratic order were also deemed vulnerable by the pogromists. ..."
After Bloody Sunday, Trepov was named by Nicholas to be assistant Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Corps of Gendarmes with total authority over the police.
pg. 240 "Trepov relinquished his post right after the pogroms of the October days.   ... In the eyes of the revolutionaries, on the other hand, Trepov was responsible for the organization of the pogroms during the October Days. ... No existing evidence, however, supports the allegations that Trepov sought to discredit the program of civic freedom granted under the October Manifesto, or that he played some kind of hidden role and secretly organized the pogroms.
...
There is no proof of any kind that a plan existed to use pogroms to rally support against revolutionaries and in favour of the tsar, indeed there are many instances of Okhrana and Gendarme officers acting in timely fashion against mob violence.
...
Trepov relinquished his post right after the pogroms of the October days."
pg 241:
"Over several days, while overseer of the police, Trepov had no communication at all with a majority of Russian cities [after publication of the Manifesto].  The Gendarme administrations and the city Okhrana detachments were unable to control the local populations.  ... One of the consequences of the social storm of 1905 was a widespread breakdown of police authority partly because the central authorities had no contact by telegraph with local administrators and police.
...
pg. 242 "Not only individuals among the police joined the pogromists.  There were cases of wholesale defections from police departments.

pg. 245 "No high imperial police offical played a major role in the October pogroms, but evidence shows that individual units of the low ranks participated in some of the pogroms and even incited them.  The main actors of the pogroms were local citizens, peasants and soldiers whose rifles decided the course of events on the streets.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on May 28, 2005, 12:44:48 PM
Now then, Plevhe was involved in the Kishnev pogrom of 1903.  April 6, 1903, the first day of Orthodox Easter, rumors spread in Kishnev that a ritual killing took place in nearby town of Dubossary by Jews during passover, and that in Kishnev itself a jewish doctor had tried to get blood for a passover ritual from a young servant girl.  The pogrom broke out just before noon that day.

Fontanka 16, pg. 233:
"By mid afternoon the governor R.S. von Raaben, issued orders to the police and military and by evening they had largely suppressed the pogrom.
     Groups opposed to the government laid the blame for the Kishnev pogrom on the authorities and in particular on the minister of the interior.

pg 234 "...Documents show that Plevhe, having received news of the pogrom from the local authorities, undertook all measures possible under the law to restore order.  He also reported to the Tsar about his supplementary measures: "Despite the summoning of the military and the arrest of more than 60 rioters, disorders continued.  The governor requested authority to impose measures of strengthened security.  I approved the request by telegram." [document in GARF 601/1/1046 sheet 2]
    Following the pacification of the outbreak, Plehve secured the Tsar's agreement to dismiss von Raaben because of his poor handling of the disturbances.  He sent his director of police, A.A. Lopukhin to Kishnev to investigate the conduct of the local authorities at the time of the pogroms.  Lopukhin did not discover any trances of premeditated preparation of the pogrom, but he concluded that the events could not have taken place without the participation of the lower police ranks.  The Gendarme officers seemed duplicitous. ... the minister [Plehve] frankly condemned the police in a report to Nicholas II."
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on May 28, 2005, 03:06:15 PM
Quote
First, one small problem.  Nicholas could not possibly have thanked Plehve for "his work" after the 1905 pogroms, since Plehve was assassinated in 1904  


I didn't say Nicholas thanked Plehve.  I said he thanked the editor of the paper (Bessarabets).  However, I did get the date mixed up.  This event followed the 1903 Kishinev pogrom.

There are a lot of biased sites on the internet analyzing the pogroms of Nicholas' reign.  One of the most balanced views is on http://www.sog.uni-hd.de/lehrstuhl/POGROME.html.  This article takes the view that the central government, including the tsar, took a strong official position against pogroms.  In particular, Witte desperately wanted them repressed since the continuing disorders were undermining the tsar's confidence in his ability to restore order.  (It also leans toward your interpretation of Nicholas' October 1905 letter, ForumAdmin.)

However, this article also analyzes the very complex and convoluted activities of the Interior Ministry as they bore on the "Jewish question".  It's far too lengthy to rehash here, but the essence of what Plehve and his successors were up to is summarized in this quote from Prince Sergei Urusov, the Governor of Bessarabia:

"The prevailing motive on the part of the looters was not hatred, nor was it revenge.  It was simply the carrying out of actions which, for some, accorded with the government's aims and objectives, and for others were permitted and which finally, as popular wisdom had it, were really in fulfilment of an order from the Tsar.

"For this reason, I do not consider that central government can be absolved from moral responsibility for the murder and robbery in Kishinev."

The article then goes on to explain that "reports from local authorities were coming in before and after the event.  In a circular to the governors of the Western Provinces, Plehve himself stated that the false rumours about 'ritual murder' had played a significant part in the emergence of the 'anti-Jewish disturbances'.  It cannot have escaped him that these rumours had been propagated by newspapers, at least one of which he was subsidizing (my italics), and which he could have suspended at the stroke of a pen.  He had not hesitated to do so in the case of opposition newspapers' reports of the pogrom (my italics)."

In conclusions from his investigations of the 1905 pogroms and later in his memoires Witte, too, made it clear that the Interior Ministry was up to its elbows in various backroom operations that fuelled and funded the anti-semitic violence in Russia.

I think it virtually certain that Nicholas did not himself secretly order any pogroms.  But his Interior Ministry was another matter entirely.  I think it highly likely that the Ministry was playing a double game of official public condemnation and secret support and instigation.

The article also extensively recounts the subsequent prosecutions and sentences of participants in many of the pogroms, which do not cast the Ministry of Justice in a very favorable light.  Sentences for pogromists were remarkably light, many officials were removed for their misdeeds only to pop up in official posts elsewhere, and Jews were even prosecuted for supposedly having done things to make good people so angry at them that they brought disorder upon themselves and the realm.

Like it or not, Nicholas chose the heads of his Ministries in full knowledge of what kind of men they were and the methods they were willing to employ.  He was certainly warned about what he was getting in Plehve.  When you assert the right to be an autocrat, you shoulder the responsibility for the actions of those who are responsible only to you.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 28, 2005, 05:09:50 PM
Quote

Like it or not, Nicholas chose the heads of his Ministries in full knowledge of what kind of men they were and the methods they were willing to employ.  He was certainly warned about what he was getting in Plehve.  When you assert the right to be an autocrat, you shoulder the responsibility for the actions of those who are responsible only to you.


I really am surprised that this is still being 'debated' here!  
   Tsarfan is completely correct in his arguement that an Autocrat was responsible for the actions undertaken by his government. Nicholas could have chosen to outlaw all pogroms BUT he did not! Alix could have asked him to stop it BUT she did not!
    Anti semitism may once have been considered a virtue by some people - but today such thinking is generally frowned upon. Those who try to 'whitewash' or justify such past behaviour - simply because they wish to hold a historical figure up to some romantic or holy light - are equally to be held in contempt as those they defend.

rskkiya

PS Are we not a wee bit off topic?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on May 30, 2005, 10:48:48 AM
Rskkiya:

Do you know what Alexandra had to say about the Jews or pogroms?  Is there anything recorded?

Don't forget that it was Alexandra (and Rasputin) who was blamed by the Romanov family for Nicholas's decision to extend full civilt rights to the jews and end the restrictions regarding the pale of settlement in 1916.

I believe Rasputin was, in large part, killed for this as the 'last straw'.  Alexandra was next.  As Alexander Mikhailovich put it - the "nation would not tolerate it".  Nicholas was overthrown in Februart 1917 just before this legislation was to be introduced to the Duma.  This was no coincidence.  The family and the Army were absolutely opposed to it.

The facts don't agree with a simplistic view of the events of the Russian revolution and commonly held misconceptions regarding some of its characters - it's nothing to do with a whitewash.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 30, 2005, 11:12:00 AM
Quote
Rskkiya:

Do you know what Alexandra had to say about the Jews or pogroms?  Is there anything recorded?

I believe Rasputin was, in large part, killed for this as the 'last straw'.  Alexandra was next.  As Alexander Mikhailovich put it - the "nation would not tolerate it".  Nicholas was overthrown in Februart 1917 just before this legislation was to be introduced to the Duma.  This was no coincidence.  The family and the Army were absolutely opposed to it.


Bob


Bob
    Having read her correspondence (as I am sure you have) I'm rather under the impression that her perspective on the Jewish question was a bit like a lot of upper class European Christians at that time - somewhat anti semetic. I mentioned that because as far as I know, she seemed to have done little to encourage Nicholas to limit pogroms.

    Regarding your second point I was under the impression that Felix killed Rasputin because he was deluded into thinking that it would save Russia NOT because he didnt want Nicholas to grant liberties to jews living in the Pale.  :-/ :-/ :-/

     Sorry but I really don't follow the logic of your arguement, re: Nicholas and Duma legislation. As far as I understand it Nicholas was trying to  get the duma closed and Alix was encouraging him in this! Besides if this was in fact his intention why not simply declare an "ukaze"! (sp)

rskkiya

{are we "Off Topic"?}
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: BobAtchison on May 30, 2005, 04:14:51 PM
Rasputin had been advocating Jewish interests to Nicholas to Alexandra for some ime prior to his death.  This may have been because of his own personal or religious convictions in this effort, but it was reported that he accepted money from the Jewish community in return.

In late September 1917 Protopopov told the Progressive Front that the Tsar's government would, at the next Duma opening, be announcing full civil rights for the Jews.  The Progressive Front was favorably impressed and said that the Government's efforts in this regard was one of the few good things it was doing.

When word got out about this the family and reactionary right wing elements of the Duma and Army moved into high gear to stop it.  Rasputin was said to have been behind this - and the Empress right behind him.

This was not the only reason why Rasputin was murdered, but it was one of the top reasons and a much larger one than anyone thought.

After the revolution, when the Romanovs and Whites were abroad they didn't mention this as being a reason for the murder.  Also they completely removed it from their memoirs. Fortunately, in recent years the opening of the GARF archives have allowed us to see the truth.

Bob
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on May 31, 2005, 03:48:27 PM
Bob
Please understand, I'm not saying that you're wrong but this information seems very out of character for Nicholas where did you find this? Can you name your source? Is it from an 'eye witness', a book, an essay a manuscript?

rskkiya

If this is getting off topic please pm me if you would prefere.
;D
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 03, 2005, 05:12:21 PM
Bob
Please site your source.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 08, 2005, 12:04:54 PM
Quote

Certainly. And certainly from a Western point of view. But from what I remember from my seminars on Russian culture, such a participation of a tiny aristocratic or bureaucratic elite was against this traditional centuries-old (here we are again) Russian idea of rule. It was on the contrary believed that it was precisely the tsar's duty (!) to protect the people from all kinds of oligarchical interference in government matters. The tsar was considered, and even expected to remain totally independent, so that he could give fair judgement in all things. Naturally this is an ideal which can never work in reality. But Nicholas II believed in this ideal, and so did large sections of the Russian population, even as late as the time when Nicholas II ascended the throne. It was this tradition of tsardom which made Nicholas so reluctant to not only give "his rights away", but also to neglect his duty as an independent ruler.


This is precisely the paradox, and in a way, this situation shows that this idealistic view of Russian tsarist rule was just that, an ideal that could certainly not work any more in 20th century Russia. The tragedy perhaps was/ and still is that the Western form of Government couldn't work then either simply because the people were neither able nor ready to create a democratic system. The Russian Revolution (October Rev.) just exchanged a tsar for a red tsar.

In Europe it was usually the people themselves, or in the beginning, the aristocratic elite, which gradually but continually took the power from their princes/rulers, often by force. It was rarely the princes themselves who granted them any rights of their own accord.
So, if in Russia the people didn't have the same rights as in the West, it was because the people wouldn't claim them - and again: wouldn't claim them as a result of a different cultural heritage.



When I read this post on the Russia vs. the West thread I immediately thought of Alexandra and how often she was criticized for not espousing more democratic views -- having been the daughter of the liberal-minded Princess Alice and having presumably been imbued with democratic values.  I think this post elegantly says why democracy could not easily have been imposed on Russia.  And I think Alexandra understood that.  Perhaps she wasn't so dumb afterall?  Most of the points in Silja's post (above) can be found in Alexandra's letters to Nicholas and her diaries...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 08, 2005, 02:08:03 PM
Well, as Church Lady used to say: "how conveeeenient."

Let's see . . .

- The peasants loved their tsar (Rasputin said so).

- The people supported the monarchy right through 1916 (the forged telegrams from the Interior Ministry proved it).

- Russia could not handle representative institutions (all the educated classes were violent socialists).

- Neither Ella nor the rest of the Romanovs knew what they were talking about (and Countess Brassova wanted to be Empress).

- Only the Jews wanted a revolution (and there were enough of them in St. Petersburg to pull off general strikes).

- The generals were cowardly dogs (who should have just ordered their mutinous, deserting troops to behave).

- God was omnipotent, and He wanted Nicholas to rule as autocrat (as Nicholas never tired of explaining).

So, tell me again . . . how did this revolution happen?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 08, 2005, 06:22:34 PM
Tsarfan,
BRILLIANT!
Maybe you ought to consider changing your "moniker"?

love
rskkiya
{last of the reds left standing!}
;) ;D ;) ;D  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 08, 2005, 06:25:36 PM
Not quite yet, Rsskiya.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 08, 2005, 06:33:01 PM
My apologies for my thoughtless comment, Comrade Hall! ;)
LOL :D

love
a red menace
rskkiya


PS: Bob, please would you site your source?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 08, 2005, 08:56:36 PM
Quote
BRILLIANT!


love
rskkiya
{last of the reds left standing!}
 ;) ;D ;) ;D  


Yeah, you and Kim Jong-Il.

;) ;D ;) ;D  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 09, 2005, 12:30:04 AM
Quote
Well, as Church Lady used to say: "how conveeeenient."

Let's see . . .

- The peasants loved their tsar (Rasputin said so).

- The people supported the monarchy right through 1916 (the forged telegrams from the Interior Ministry proved it).

- Russia could not handle representative institutions (all the educated classes were violent socialists).

- Neither Ella nor the rest of the Romanovs knew what they were talking about (and Countess Brassova wanted to be Empress).

- Only the Jews wanted a revolution (and there were enough of them in St. Petersburg to pull off general strikes).

- The generals were cowardly dogs (who should have just ordered their mutinous, deserting troops to behave).

- God was omnipotent, and He wanted Nicholas to rule as autocrat (as Nicholas never tired of explaining).

So, tell me again . . . how did this revolution happen?


I didn't say that Alexandra was innocent of bad judgement or naivetee, Tsarfan.  I merely said that perhaps she was capable of insightful and intelligent thoughts and decisions -- as represented in some of her letters and diaries which survive.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 09, 2005, 06:10:53 AM
I actually agree with your point that she was capable of rational thought and some insight.  The problem is that every issue she examined that bore on the question of government led her unfailingly to a position that the only workable form of government was one with her husband as the lone, absolute power.  Given what she knew of his limitations, that was an extraordinary conclusion for someone raised in the heritage of German liberalism and English constitutionalism.  If she really was rational, I can only conclude her motives in reaching this particular conclusion were self-serving.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on June 11, 2005, 04:42:44 PM
Quote

When I read this post on the Russia vs. the West thread I immediately thought of Alexandra and how often she was criticized for not espousing more democratic views -- having been the daughter of the liberal-minded Princess Alice and having presumably been imbued with democratic values.  I think this post elegantly says why democracy could not easily have been imposed on Russia.  And I think Alexandra understood that.  Perhaps she wasn't so dumb afterall?  Most of the points in Silja's post (above) can be found in Alexandra's letters to Nicholas and her diaries...


This didn't directly occur to me, except for the notorious extreme comment that  Russia liked to feel the whip  ;D (don't recall the exact quotation).  You may be right.  Might be interesting to re-read the letters on this premiss and sort out her direct comments about Russian culture.

I totally agree that Alexandra wasn't so dumb after all. However, she was obviously quite happy with the apparent status quo, even idealizing it instead of accepting the fact that things could nevertheless not remain exactly as they had been for centuries.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 11, 2005, 05:35:57 PM
Quote

This didn't directly occur to me, except for the notorious extreme comment that  Russia liked to feel the whip  ;D (don't recall the exact quotation).  You may be right.  Might be interesting to re-read the letters on this premiss and sort out her direct comments about Russian culture.

I totally agree that Alexandra wasn't so dumb after all. However, she was obviously quite happy with the apparent status quo, even idealizing it instead of accepting the fact that things could nevertheless not remain exactly as they had been for centuries.


Silja is on to something...
    While I will agree that Alix was not "dumb" I do think that she was a bit parvenue and quite indifferent to the actual experiences of the "average Ivan" and this was not good.
    She also seemed to lack emotional intelegence (sp) {an overt sence of empathy or emotional connection with others} and was so seemingly  unaware of this, that she was often thought to be cold and critical.
    Her private letters suggest that she thought  she was very compassionate  ... but the more I read her letters, the less I think her a "compassionate but tragically shy soul", and the more I find her deeply mentally troubled.

I really don't think her a Nightmare but her skill at judging the state of the vast multitudes is almost comical in retrospect.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Fawzia on June 11, 2005, 06:33:12 PM
I think she was a nightmare.     :-X
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: etonexile on June 11, 2005, 07:54:12 PM
Poor woman....she was thrust by circumstance into a position for which she really was not qualified....and she didn't fair that well...such is history and human fate.....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 12, 2005, 12:16:14 AM
She was emotionally ill and frequently wrong imho.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 12, 2005, 07:55:11 AM
I think it was her misfortune that she was in such a position. On a personal level she was very compassionate & she tried so hard from the beginning of the reign to put all shehad learned from her mother & grandmother into practice. Her misfortune was her inability to understand the culture of Russia. In this she was a little like Ella whom Maria Pavlovna described as, 'foreign' and always something of an outsider (not in so many words). The more Alix tried to understand, the less, imo, she succeeded. Her intentions were certainly good.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 12, 2005, 10:06:13 AM
Bluetoria
    Good point, alas her fear and refusal to attend public events was not likely to make her appear as a popular or even well known figure - such as Minnie.
    She seemed to put a foot wrong at every turn, and rather than learn from her mistakes she became more remote and insular.  At first I was willing to try to give her the benefit of the doubt, but now I don't have any sympathy for her - sadly I find her to be an anti semetic and hindbound soul obsessed with imagined courtly slights, pulp romance novels and mysticism.
    Bluetoria will- in her goodness- think far kinder thoughts of her, because that is Bluetoria's nature.  ;)

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Fawzia on June 12, 2005, 06:54:43 PM
She thrusted herself.   It's just that I don't think she knew how bad she was!    :-X
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 13, 2005, 06:41:14 AM
Alix was, imo, not so totally isolated, rather she was misunderstood & tarnished by an unfortunate reputation acquired because she, unlike her predecessor, could not shine at parties or social gatherings.

"It was generally believed that the Empress was difficult to approach but this was never true of sincere & disinterested souls. Suffering made a strong appeal to the Empress, & whenever she knew of anyone sad or in trouble, her heart was instantly touched. Few people even in Russia knew how much the Empress did for the poor, the sick the helpless." (Anna Vyrubova)

"The Empress sat till late in her small dressing room, discussing war charities with Grand Duchess Elizabeth."

Alix herself wrote:
"Looking after the wounded is my consolation...To lessen their suffering even in a small way, helps the aching heart."

"Glad for dear Ella's sake that we have been here to cheer her up.."

Nor was she so short sighted as to fail to understand the effects of the war, nor the feelings of other people:

"This miserable war, when will ever end. William I feel sure must at times pass through hideous moments of despair when he grasps that he...is dragging his country to ruin. All those little states, for years they will continue to suffer its after-effects."
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 13, 2005, 06:45:34 AM
....Also it is necessary to remember that she was physically ill - a fact that many people of the time failed to consider - but continued her hospital work in spite of her own suffering.

"The heart trouble...became really serous. She had constant pain & feelings of suffocation, while almost chronic facial neuralgia had taken the place of the sciatica from which she used to suffer so badly. On account of her heart trouble she had to submit reluctantly to being carried upstairs in the hospitals she visited, though she loathed making a spectacle of herself."
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 13, 2005, 06:47:56 AM
Quote
"William I feel sure must at times pass through hideous moments of despair when he grasps that he...is dragging his country to ruin. All those little states, for years they will continue to suffer its after-effects."


William was dragging his country to ruin?  My goodness, she was insightful.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 13, 2005, 06:49:14 AM
Okay...I had to laugh!!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 13, 2005, 06:24:51 PM
Quote
Okay...I had to laugh!!

Me too. That was good.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 14, 2005, 06:24:15 AM
This, by Lili Dehn, I think, is yet another example of Alix's good intentions being misconstrued by the people. It may show her lack of understanding of the culture (a trait which perhaps Ella shared) but also her good intentions:

"...perhaps the Empress erred in her conception of the mentality of the Russian people. As an impartial critic, I fear this was the case. When she wore the Red Cross, the sign of Universal Brotherhood of Pity, the average soldier saw in the Red Cross the emblem of her lost dignity as Empress of Russia. He was shocked & embarrassed when she attended to his wounds & performed almost menial duties. His idea of an Empress was never as a woman but only as an imposing & resplendent Sovereign."

I think this is really, really sad for Alix. She had been brought up with her mother's (& Prince Albert's) firm conviction that with power came responsibility, & the responsibility to serve. Alice had set an example (shocking the Hessians at first) of going to the homes of the poor & carrying out menial tasks in the hospitals, & in this way she eventually won the hearts & respect of the people. When Alix emulated her, she was treated only with disdain. She was so often so misunderstood. It seems such a terrible pity.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 14, 2005, 06:52:59 AM
Quote
"...perhaps the Empress erred in her conception of the mentality of the Russian people.

His idea of an Empress was never as a woman but only as an imposing & resplendent Sovereign."

She was so often so misunderstood. It seems such a terrible pity.


I think your quote from Lili Dehn very well encapsulates the core issue in Alexandra's difficulties in Russia.

She had lots of advice from early well-wishers about how to understand her new country and how to adapt herself to it.  But she chose to "be herself" and expect Russia to adapt to her.  By elevating individualism above the institutional demands of the monarchy, she helped destroy it.

Alexandra's expectation that the Russians learn to understand her is reminiscent of a Bertolt Brecht line in which he satirized the East German government by commenting that the the people had failed in their duty to earn the confidence of their government.

Think about Catherine the Great and all the difficulties of her early years in Russia.  She ultimately prevailed, in part, by studiously becoming "more Russian than the Russians".  Alexandra, who was hamstrung in overturning minor points of court etiquette deriving from Catherine's era, would have done better to have followed the substance of Catherine's playbook rather than the shallow forms.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 14, 2005, 09:36:08 AM
Yes, but at the same time, I believe Alexandra's intentions were not to mould the people to fit her view, but rather to improve their lives. The attempts she made to involve the aristocracy in meaningful & useful work might well have succeeded in altering the view of the rich & powerful, had she been given the opportunity to carry out these kind of simple reforms.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 15, 2005, 04:43:11 AM
Thought this was interesting.

Queen Marie of România

THE VANISHED TSARINA

BY MARIE, QUEEN OF ROUMANIA

From La Revue des Deux Mondes

Many times, in the course of the years before the war, I found myself with the Tsar Nicholas and his wife. With the Tsarina, although she was my own cousin, I established no kind of intimacy whatever, for her ways were strangely cold, while the affectionate regard the Tsar and I had for each other remained unchanged by time. The feeling that the royal pair had not come up to the expectations entertained of them was thus borne in upon me more by the talk of my family and by the voice of all classes in society than by my own personal observations. Every time I heard these rumors, I derived from them a profound chagrin.

Nicholas had in him more than one good and really noble impulse, a real urge toward greater ideas and modern conceptions, yet it seemed ever that some occult force thwarted his will.

For a long time we waited, hope remained in our hearts, then, little by little, murmurs began to reach the court; there was criticism of the court way of life. Under other reigns, the sovereigns had always played a larger part in the public fêtes. They had been the soul of public ceremonies; no fête, no popular manifestation was complete without them, the splendor which surrounded them seemed a social necessity, the rallying point for the great and the small.

Little by little the new sovereigns retired from public life. The health of the Tsarina was bad; jealously attached to her husband, she scarcely could endure his going anywhere without her, and this tended to withdraw the Emperor himself from ceremonies in which his wife could not take part. She bore four daughters before having the joy of giving the Empire an heir to the throne. This series of deceptions, acting upon her intense and morbid ambition, lessened her little faith in life, and when the much desired son was born at length, he was of delicate health; a secret and curious weakness menaced the security of his existence. This was too much for a woman naturally given to melancholy, and always on the defensive against the world and those who followed the ways of the world.

Without a doubt, the Tsarina is largely responsible for her husband's conduct; she discouraged him instead of encouraging him; she used her influence to block rather than to hasten plans which should have been carried through; instead of inspiring him, she filled him with her own distruct. But in all justice, let us remember that her intentions were good and can in no way be indicted as guilty; she believed firmly that she was in the right, never doubted of the excellence of her judgment, ever sure that all she did was done in the best interests of her husband, his country, and his people. He was the feebler of the two, her will was the stronger, thus she led him unhesitatingly toward what she imagined to be a light; a light, alas, which turned out to be but a shadow.

The Tsarina is one of those personalities which from time to time have appeared in history. Their power is inexplicable; we are forever asking ourselves whence comes their force. Perhaps Alexandra really loved her husband, she certainly adored her son, but her attitude to the world was perpetually distrustful, strangely empty of tenderness, and, in a way, hostile. Placed above everything, dominating her husband, she held in her hands a terrible power; had tenderness dwelt in her heart, she might have accomplished miracles, but inspired with her universal distrust, she held both great and small at a distance, as if they intended to steal something which was hers. Placed by fortune on a pinnacle of power infinitely above all others, she imagined that she had been thus placed only in order to show others their errors, and finally, when she perceived that her ways had not won hearts to her, she became bitter because of her disappointment.

She belonged to that category of women who consider themselves eternally misunderstood, and isolate themselves in the certainty that common folk are unable to share their mind or arrive at their ideal. An unhappy attitude this, and one sure to bring misfortune; the misunderstood woman never adapts herself to circumstances; she prefers to dwell apart, locked in her grief as within a sacred privilege.

The Tsarina was one of these beings, and with the passing of the years, her morbid character being so accentuated there were some who doubted of her reason. Those who saw her intimately bore witness to the fact that on a majority of subjects she reasoned with an entire lucidity of intelligence, but the unshakable faith she had in her mission of bringing light to others caused her to pay no heed whatsoever to any advice; she pledged her faith to her own erroneous judgment, and thus became the prey of those impostors who spy upon souls walled within solitude and obscurity.

What force it was which gave her such a hold upon her husband has never been explained. Did he really love her? Was it simply his feebler will bowing before the will of the Empress? Did she hold him through the mystical side of his nature? No one has ever known. One thing, however, is certain; her influence was dominant in act, and instead of diminishing with use, it became stronger and deadlier, until the unfortunate monarch, who was by instinct and personality attracted toward the light, fell into darkness so black that he was never again able to escape toward the light.

Poor distraught soul, she did not suspect that she had discovered the darkness; such is the secret tragedy of hearts which no longer have faith in mankind or in life, and who know not how to love. She knew not how to love; therein lay, in my opinion, the cause of her defeat.

And that defeat was destined to bring in its train the downfall of her husband, whom, nevertheless, she expected to save, the death of her son whom she adored, and the crumbling of the vast Empire which she desired to hold intact for that son, and which she hoped to retain for him impregnable and unimpaired. For Alexandra dreamed of the succession of her heir to an absolutely undiminished autocratic sway over the greates Empire in Europe, and she strove to maintain it for him in all its fullness.

The Living Age, 4 October 1919, pp. 16-18

Page 1 Page 6
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 15, 2005, 06:37:57 AM
Quote
Thought this was interesting.


More than interesting . . . it's fascinating.

Dr. Botkin was among those who "doubted her reason," telling his daughter in a letter that he could no longer certify the Empress as "entirely normal."

I am not a psychiatrist and certainly am not qualifed to be an armchair diagnostician . . . but I have had prolonged exposure to a person with borderline personality disorder, and the Alexandra portrayed by Queen Marie has many traits in common with that person.

A borderline personality has a determined ability to pull everyone else into the service of his or her emotional needs.  The price of proximity to the borderline personality is to submit to its will.  (This sounds very much like what Alexandra herself said about what it took to be her friend.  It's certainly the way Anny Vyrubova played her cards in the relationship.)

Also, borderline personalities can strongly believe in things and say things that seem patently false to all other observers.  Yet the borderline personalities are not lying in the conventional sense.  Instead, they interpret the world in ways that assuage their emotional needs . . . and they deeply believe in those conclusions.

Finally, borderline personalities have stunted abilities to perceive and respond to the emotional needs of others.  They often respond by feigning the responses they observe in others.  Unless they are very good actors, they usually don't get it quite right, and external observers often develop a sense that something is odd about the person, without quite being able to nail down what.  Borderline personalities tend toward emotional coldness when their guard is down, but when they are paying attention to their behavior they adopt heightened responses to the emotional needs of others.  They can go through quite exagerrated exercises of caring for the sick or wounded, for instance.  (Such as when an Empress decides to change soldiers' bandages?)  And they can be morbidly sentimental, sometimes oscillating between extremes of coldness and solicitation.  Or sometimes fixating their attention and concerns on the one person who is most dependent on them and thereby least able to assert their own will against them.  (Alexei?)

The bottom line . . . borderline personalities exert a powerful influence on people around them.  In order to remain around them, other people have to subjugate their own wills and needs to that of the disordered personality.  Queen Marie's description of the alteration of Nicholas' personality in the presence of Alexandra is a dead ringer for a man trying to live peaceably with a borderline personality.



Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 15, 2005, 09:05:52 AM
This is truly intiguing, but, would you say that she was not responsible for her own personality? She couldn't help what she became and therefore was not to blame if her influence wasn't always good?

Also, Alix was Nicholas' own choice. This was no arranged marriage - in fact they both overcame many obstacles to be together. Therefore, perhaps, he was looking for such a 'strong' (in some ways) character to lead him & happily let himself be led??  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 15, 2005, 09:41:04 AM
If Alexandra was a borderline personality, she was not responsible for being one.  Even today treatment usually yields only marginal results.  Borderline patients generally do not submit to treatment until they become isolated by the abandonment of others who can no longer deal with them.  That's not a scenario that tends to develop around an empress, who can find plenty of sycophants willing to pay the price to be in her company.

Borderline personalities are often capable of being very vivacious when they want to be, and people often admire them greatly, especially in the initial stages of acquaintance.  And their condition can also appear as strength of character on first blush.  Consequently, they tend to attract mates who are disposed to draw their strength from others and who fall easily into co-dependence.  Does Nicholas fit that bill?  It seems to me he does.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 16, 2005, 12:29:20 PM
Quote
I am not a psychiatrist and certainly am not qualifed to be an armchair diagnostician . . . but I have had prolonged exposure to a person with borderline personality disorder, and the Alexandra portrayed by Queen Marie has many traits in common with that person.

A borderline personality has a determined ability to pull everyone else into the service of his or her emotional needs.  The price of proximity to the borderline personality is to submit to its will.  (This sounds very much like what Alexandra herself said about what it took to be her friend.  It's certainly the way Anny Vyrubova played her cards in the relationship.)

Also, borderline personalities can strongly believe in things and say things that seem patently false to all other observers.  Yet the borderline personalities are not lying in the conventional sense.  Instead, they interpret the world in ways that assuage their emotional needs . . . and they deeply believe in those conclusions.

Finally, borderline personalities have stunted abilities to perceive and respond to the emotional needs of others.  They often respond by feigning the responses they observe in others.  Unless they are very good actors, they usually don't get it quite right, and external observers often develop a sense that something is odd about the person, without quite being able to nail down what.  Borderline personalities tend toward emotional coldness when their guard is down, but when they are paying attention to their behavior they adopt heightened responses to the emotional needs of others.  They can go through quite exagerrated exercises of caring for the sick or wounded, for instance.  (Such as when an Empress decides to change soldiers' bandages?)  And they can be morbidly sentimental, sometimes oscillating between extremes of coldness and solicitation.  Or sometimes fixating their attention and concerns on the one person who is most dependent on them and thereby least able to assert their own will against them.  (Alexei?)

The bottom line . . . borderline personalities exert a powerful influence on people around them.  In order to remain around them, other people have to subjugate their own wills and needs to that of the disordered personality.  Queen Marie's description of the alteration of Nicholas' personality in the presence of Alexandra is a dead ringer for a man trying to live peaceably with a borderline personality.


I'm going to throw a spanner in the works, here, because I've always thought "borderline personality disorder" was a catch-all disorder psychiatrists and psychologists use for basically "every possible mental disorder we might attribute to strong women who don't fit into the patriarchal model and whom we simply don't understand." Princess Diana has been diagnosed by one of her biographers as a "borderline." So has Marilyn Monroe. So, for all I know, have Betty Davis and Joan Crawford. The problem I have with this diagnosis is that it is inherently sexist, reductionist and sloppy. For all we know, Alexandra "merely" suffered from clinical depression, plain and simple: the result of the early loss of her mother and younger siblings, and the subsequent birth of an incurably ill son. The psychological symptoms of depression (self-absorption, self-pity, emotional neediness and desperation, etc.) are all very similar to those ascribed to "borderline personality" disorder.

Another problem with diagnosing Alexandra as a "borderline" is that "borderlines" supposedly crave drama at the price of any kind of intimate life and are indeed supposedly incapable of intimacy. I don't see any of this in Alexandra. She was a devoted wife and mother. She craved solitude, peace and quiet. She did not go gallivanting about town searching for new male admirers. She preferred tatting to dancing. She was a homebody, very domestic and retiring by nature. None of this fits in with the classic "borderline" (as indeed, most so-called borderlines don't!).  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 16, 2005, 01:06:16 PM
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I'm going to throw a spanner in the works, here, because I've always thought "borderline personality disorder" was a catch-all disorder psychiatrists and psychologists use for basically "every possible mental disorder we might attribute to strong women who don't fit into the patriarchal model and whom we simply don't understand."


There is some truth in your assertions here.  "Borderline personality" has joined that list of disorders that anyone can assign to anything that annoys them.  Attention deficit disorder, post-partum depression, and addictive disorders are three of the most popular.  (I actually saw a story on CNN two days ago that maintained that new fathers, too, can have post-partum depression and must be on guard for the symptoms and know where the support groups are meeting.  It was followed the next day by a story on a 9/11 widow who, in the throes of grief, developed a shopping addiction and blew through her $5 million settlement, in part, by spending $500,000 on shoes!)

However, the "real" borderline personality disorder -- which, fortunately, is rather rare -- affects men as well as women and manifests in an array of ways that are partially a function of the sufferers' underlying personalities.  These personalities are neither necessarily passive nor aggressive, introverted nor extroverted, intelligent nor dim.

A craving for drama is a common misconception about borderlines.  They do have heightened threat responses to events that threaten their fragile emotional equilibrium, but those responses can be turned inward on themselves and drive them to quiet despair as easily as vented outward in what others see as drama.

If Alexandra was a borderline personality, she was in the "internalizing" category . . . and I am by no means sure of my view on this and certainly not qualified to urge a view on others.

The thing that makes me most suspect that she might be, though, was her propensity to deduce causes from events that almost no one else could deduce and to be so convinced of her conclusion that she would take significant risks in urging her course on others.  Borderlines interpret the world through their own "emotional truths", which are as compelling for them as objective truth is for others.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 16, 2005, 01:34:33 PM
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I actually saw a story on CNN two days ago that maintained that new fathers, too, can have post-partum depression and must be on guard for the symptoms and know where the support groups are meeting.  It was followed the next day by a story on a 9/11 widow who, in the throes of grief, developed a shopping addiction and blew through her $5 million settlement, in part, by spending $500,000 on shoes!)


LOL, I hadn't heard these stories! Truly precious.

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However, the "real" borderline personality disorder -- which, fortunately, is rather rare -- affects men as well as women and manifests in an array of ways that are partially a function of the sufferers' underlying personalities.


But what do you want to bet that the tiny 1-5 % of men who are diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder" are gay? I tell you, this is an inherently sexist disorder, ascribed to people who exhibit traits that are both stereotypically "feminine" ("hysterical," emotionally needy, histrionic) and too discomfitingly "masculine" (self-assertive, strong, ambitious) to be combined with same.

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The thing that makes me most suspect that she might be, though, was her propensity to deduce causes from events that almost no one else could deduce and to be so convinced of her conclusion that she would take significant risks in urging her course on others.  Borderlines interpret the world through their own "emotional truths", which are as compelling for them as objective truth is for others.


Didn't Peter the Great take "significant risks" in urging his perhaps delusional course upon others? To what detriment to Russia in the long-term? Wasn't Catherine II taking significant risks in seizing the throne when in actuality she had no real claim to it? Wasn't in fact her claim utterly delusional? For that matter, doesn't everyone interpret the world through their own compelling emotional truths? What is true objective reality, anyway?

P.S. Still trying to work out what Marilyn Monroe and Alexandra had in common.... Beauty? Always a problem. Like Dostoevsky's Nastasia Filippovna or Grushenka. Burn the witch! (Sorry, but this dialogue is really provoking the feminist side of my character!)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 16, 2005, 02:10:54 PM
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Wasn't Catherine II taking significant risks in seizing the throne when in actuality she had no real claim to it? Wasn't in fact her claim utterly delusional?


I think Catherine's seizure of the throne was driven by self-preservation.  And I think she understood full well the fragility of her legal claim, and that's why she took so much care to make herself as Russian as she could before making her move.

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Sorry, but this dialogue is really provoking the feminist side of my character!


Apparently.  You'd have to know me better to accept my word for this, but I'm about as rabid a feminist as you.

However, I have my own sensitivities in this matter.  My mother (now dead) was treated in the 1950's for what is now labelled borderline personality.  Unfortunately, she refused to continue the treatment when it became too threatening to her.  (This was a closely held family secret that I did not discover until my adulthood.)

I can assure you, the woman I knew was not just a mix of traditional masculine traits displayed by a woman who knew her own mind and stood her ground.  She was ill in ways that she kept cleverly hidden from most outside observers (many of whom rather liked her), and ill in ways that make me determined never to live in proximity to such a personality again.

You may then say that this could not describe Alexandra, because her husband and children loved her.  Well, it's not that simple.  Borderline personalities can establish an emotional dominance of others that is very hard for them to recognize or acknowledge until they break out of the orbit -- which was impossible for Alexandra's children to do, given their ages and circumstances.  Up until that reckoning occurs, the children of borderline personalities often express extreme devotion to the parent.

I have been intrigued by some posts elsewhere on this board that indicate Olga's relationship with her mother was beginning to cool in the period before the revolution.  As the eldest child, could she have been moving into the first stage of awareness that all was not right with her mother?  (With my brother, who was intensely devoted to my mother, it came when he was 17 and suddenly underwent a pronounced personality change in which he became highly uncommunicative.  He was put into therapy for what he later told me were strong suicidal urges.  Even after this, he went through a years-long period of self-denying devotion to all her needs.  It finally ended when he severed all contact with her three years before her death.  Only with difficulty was he persuaded to attend her funeral.)

A borderline personality is a disorder of degrees.  It can be mild to severe.  If Alexandra had it -- and I'm really not insisting that she did -- it was probably on the mild side.  But there are certain traits she displayed in a mild degree that I know intimately in severe degree.  Maybe my analogy is riddled with a layman's misunderstanding of the illness (likely, in fact) . . . but there are things in Alexandra's reported conduct and makeup that give me a very deep, uneasy feeling that I've known this woman before.

Catherine the Great was a strong, willful woman whom I admire greatly and the likes of whom I wish Russia had seen later in her history.  I'm not in the least put off by the "masculine" elements of her complex character.  Alexandra was not that mix.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 16, 2005, 03:43:59 PM
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I can assure you, the woman I knew was not just a mix of traditional masculine traits displayed by a woman who knew her own mind and stood her ground.  She was ill in ways that she kept cleverly hidden from most outside observers (many of whom rather liked her), and ill in ways that make me determined never to live in proximity to such a personality again.


I'm so sorry to hear about your experience, Tsarfan, it must have been very painful for you and your family. I certainly didn't mean to minimize, much less discount that pain with my knee-jerk response to your comments. I spoke far too hastily. My only acquaintance with "borderline personality disorder" comes from a women's studies course I took in grad school that examined various "female complaints" (such as "hysteria") throughout the modern era. A survey course hardly makes me an expert on the subject, especially when compared to a personal life experience! You certainly sound as if you know what you're talking about, so here I defer to you.

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You may then say that this could not describe Alexandra, because her husband and children loved her.  Well, it's not that simple.  Borderline personalities can establish an emotional dominance of others that is very hard for them to recognize or acknowledge until they break out of the orbit -- which was impossible for Alexandra's children to do, given their ages and circumstances.  Up until that reckoning occurs, the children of borderline personalities often express extreme devotion to the parent.


This is very true of abused children as well. It seems that all children share the misfortune of loving their parents no matter what and forgiving them everything - at least until maturity brings with it a new emotional awareness (although in some cases, where the child is too emotionally isolated, it seems that this blessing of a new awareness will never come).

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I have been intrigued by some posts elsewhere on this board that indicate Olga's relationship with her mother was beginning to cool in the period before the revolution.  As the eldest child, could she have been moving into the first stage of awareness that all was not right with her mother?


I think this is a genuine insight, Tsarfan. I have often wondered the same about Olga. At the very least, if Alexandra was not a borderline personality, she was a deeply narcissistic parent. IMO as Olga matured she had both the intellectual capability and sufficient emotional support from other loving adults to see through her mother's various complexes. I have no doubt that Alexandra, whatever her particular psychological disorder (and it could have been borderline, depression, and/or simple panic disorder) was mentally ill and hence not really responsible for her actions, although that didn't make those actions any less damaging to the people around her, of course.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 16, 2005, 04:07:32 PM
No worries, Elisabeth.  I took no offence.  In fact, I'm a little embarrassed that I let myself get goaded into such an airing of family laundry on this board.

But, then, I've been so hard on poor Alexandra all over this board that people probably have a right to know why I feel so negative about her.

I came upon the "Alix' Ghost" thread last night.  She's apparently been dropping in on a lot of people, and I'm just hoping she doesn't find my address.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 16, 2005, 05:24:46 PM
Fascinating posts as usual, Tsarfan and Elisabeth!  I hope you don't mind if I add my 2 cents.  

I wonder if Alexandra's personality is today only seen in the context of her relationship with Nicholas.  If Nicholas had had a stronger personality perhaps Alexandra might today be seen much as Alexander II's wife came to be seen (as a dutiful wife who stayed in the background and who's health prevented her from carrying out her duties as Empress).  Perhaps she might be seen in a more sympathetic light.

I don't recall there being too much in Alexandra's early history that indicates she was "borderline".  She seems to have had close relationships with her father and all of her siblings, as well as her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and these relationships endured many trials and tribulations.  I don't recall her necessarily running the show viz-a-viz her siblings.  (Even after the revolution, after their supposed "break"Ella was sending care packages to N & A) Queen Victoria was a very sharp judge of character and she seems to have thought Alexandra would have made a suitable Queen of England.  When Alexandra refused to marry Prince Eddy, Queen Victoria wrote that it showed "great strength of character".  Later, Queen Victoria probably knew that moving to Russia, Alexandra was stepping into a snake pit, which is indeed what happened.

I propose that Alexandra was and is seen as a controlling, hysterical woman because she had a stronger personality than Nicholas.  That said, it seems clear that Alexandra did develop a mental illness sometime after she arrived in Russia.  Her false pregnancy in 1903 is clear evidence of this, I think.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 16, 2005, 06:02:21 PM
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If Nicholas had had a stronger personality perhaps Alexandra might today be seen much as Alexander II's wife came to be seen (as a dutiful wife who stayed in the background and who's health prevented her from carrying out her duties as Empress).


Interesting point, and you may be right that it could have played out that way.  The question in my mind is whether Nicholas would have been attracted to Alexandra had he been a stronger personality.

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I don't recall there being too much in Alexandra's early history that indicates she was "borderline".


And I'm not sure she was.  (I'm certainly not competent to make a diagnosis, and I don't know that anyone today would be competent without engaging with her directly.)  I suspect the disorder might not manifest fully in childhood, but I don't know that for sure.

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I propose that Alexandra was and is seen as a controlling, hysterical woman because she had a stronger personality than Nicholas.  That said, it seems clear that Alexandra did develop a mental illness sometime after she arrived in Russia.  Her false pregnancy in 1903 is clear evidence of this, I think.


Hysteria doesn't necessarily imply histrionics, which Alexandra seems not to have displayed.  In fact, during her captivity she seems to have been calm, even chilly to casual observers.

I don't know much about hysteria, but my impression is that it can manifest as panic attacks, an exagerrated mysticism (as in "religious hysteria"), etc. . . . but I've moved from sorta outta my league to way outta my league on this question.

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She seems to have had close relationships with her father and all of her siblings, as well as her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and these relationships endured many trials and tribulations.


I wonder what would have played out with her family had Alexandra lived into old age.

After my brother broke off the relationship with my mother, she asked our favorite aunt (her sister) to intercede.  Our aunt had known that we were all engaging in some adaptive behaviors around my mother.  But she was appalled to the point of tears when she heard some of the things that were going on behind closed doors.

As she digested this, she began to see antecedents to these behaviors in some childhood anecdotes that, at the time, made my mother seem more indecipherable and colorful to her siblings than forbidding or disordered.

Ella did not hang in with Alexandra quite to the end.  I believe it was Ella that later wrote she made no attempt to visit the family in captivity at the Alexander Palace because she was so bitter at what she saw to be Alexandra's role in having brought it about.  Maybe the later "care packages" were more for the children or a relenting on Ella's part as the direness of the situation settled in?

I just wonder what was going on behind the closed doors of the Alexander Palace.  There is an occasional tiny glimpse, such as when Nicholas, in lifting the banishment of Raspution, told Stolypin that he'd rather put up with twenty Rasputins than one more day of hysterics at home.

And remember that Dr. Botkin felt Alexandra was not "entirely normal" based on his private observations of her.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on June 17, 2005, 01:28:17 AM
I personally wouldn't put much weight on Marie of Romania's assessment of other people's psychiatric conditions and characters.  Marie herself fits some of the profile of borderline personality disorder, if not narcissistic personality.

Yes, Alix was not quite normal.  Given what we know from her correspondence and memoirs of those who were close to her, it seems more likely that she suffered from anxiety disorders and depression than anything else.  Anxiety and depression, when left untreated and where the sufferer is allowed to give in to the compulsion to retreat and isolate, will put the sufferer out of touch with reality and unable to cope with the obligations that will actually make them feel better.  

As for the original message on this site, I think that labelling historical figures in general, judgemental ways really defeats the purpose of our exploration.  To call Alexandra "stupid" and "evil" simplifies a very complex character in a very complex historical world.  Yes, she did some remarkably stupid things.  Yes, once could characterize some of her behavior as "evil".  But what would be the point?  

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 17, 2005, 06:54:15 AM
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I personally wouldn't put much weight on Marie of Romania's assessment of other people's psychiatric conditions and characters.  Marie herself fits some of the profile of borderline personality disorder, if not narcissistic personality.


A good counterweight to the foregoing discussion.

As I said, I'm not sure Alexandra was a borderline personality . . . just that I see some rather disturbing parallels between her and a bona fide case.  No matter what our conclusion (if any), I think it's a worthwhile discussion.  By advancing, testing, and even retreating from hypotheses, I think we deepen our understanding of a complex character such as Alexandra's.

If anyone is interested in exploring this angle further, though, I detect some things in the way other people dealt with Alexandra that are indicative of the ways people deal (usually unconsciously) with being in proximity to the disorder:

-  Grand Duchess Olga brought the children into town once a week in order to get them into a broader social circle.  For whatever reason, Alexandra was not tending to this emotional and developmental need of her children.  Almost all observers -- including those who understood their social position and security concerns -- commented on the extreme isolation of the children from influences outside the family orbit.  (Throughout my school years, my aunt used to pick me up every Saturday to take me out to lunch and a movie.  She later told me she knew something was out of whack at home.  She couldn't put her finger on it, but she just somehow sensed I needed a getaway.)

-  Nicholas, a gregarious man up until his marriage, gave up most personal relationships outside his immediate family circle.  All good spouses adapt their behaviors to the needs of their partners . . . but it usually doesn't result in the severance of other ties in quite the degree it did with Nicholas.

-  Alexandra's circle of friends tended to narrow over time rather than broaden.  There was a pattern of people trying to establish a relationship with her and then coming to a realization that the terms were too unequal to sustain friendship (such as Grand Duchess Xenia's trajectory with Alexandra).  Among the Romanovs, only Olga, who was a remarkably empathetic character, retained any lifelong sympathy for Alexandra.

-  Alexandra tended to categorize people into two categories:  loyal friend or enemy.  Loyalty was demonstrated by submission of your will to hers in the personal sphere, or unquestioning submission to the will of the autocrats in the political sphere.  Maintaining any serious difference of opinion converted one from friend to foe.  It happened with Nicholas' best ministers.  It happened with the extended Romanov clan.  It eventually happened with her own sister Ella.  I am not aware of a single instance in which Alexandra referred to the credibility, tenability, or even the good intentions, of any opinion different from her own on important matters.

-  Nicholas' going to Stavka is worth examining in this dimension.  As Alexandra become more focused on mysticism and more open to advice from Rasputin on issues beyond Alexei's health, Nicholas seemed to be looking for an excuse to remove himself from the situation.  Remember, he went to Stavka against the universal advice of the other Romanovs, his ministers, and the leaders of the Duma.  (As my mother's illness advanced, my father, who was a contractor, began to go back to his jobs every evening after dinner.  Years later, in talking to some of his colleagues, I found that he was not really working but just driving around looking at other jobs.  They could never figure out why.  He was a kind, gentle man who would never have sought escape to bars or such places.  He instead sought refuge in something he could justify to himself as legitimate and useful.)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 17, 2005, 10:21:01 AM
It’s true that when you assemble all the evidence like this, borderline personality disorder does seem like a plausible diagnosis. For example, I have no doubt that Nicholas left for Stavka in part to escape the pressures of living with his invalid wife. But couldn’t a combination of clinical depression and anxiety disorder have had much the same dire consequences?

I tend to agree with RichC: Alexandra didn’t show any symptoms of borderline personality disorder before she came to Russia, and I thought borderlines always manifested their illness by their late teens or early twenties, to such an extent, in fact, that at least some are believed to "grow out of it" naturally (which again makes me wonder if this disorder is over-diagnosed, like Attention Deficit Disorder – in many cases just a convenient label to slap on a "difficult" patient who may simply be exhibiting more signs of immaturity than his or her coevals!). The young Alix of Hesse did, however, evince symptoms of depression, if we are to believe the cousin, for example, who commented on her melancholy air and said, very cruelly I always thought, that if Alexandra always affected to be so unhappy now, then what would she do later, when real troubles came? Many times depressed people are so continually blamed for their illness that over time they do develop a deep-seated conviction that they are misunderstood (as indeed they are) and that other people’s judgments are unfair and not to be trusted. I could see this happening very easily to Alexandra, especially since she was by nature shy and retiring, and, after she became tsarina, must have felt continually criticized and disapproved of (as indeed she was!) when she found herself unequal to the task of becoming a social butterfly like her mother-in-law Maria Feodorovna. In such a situation, automatically dismissing the judgments of others might quickly become a matter of self-preservation.

Additionally, we can surmise from descriptions of Alexandra's various symptoms (fear of large social gatherings, flushed face and neck, rapid heartbeat, paralyzing anxiety) that she also suffered from panic attacks. So not only depression but also anxiety disorder would have tended to make her isolated and self-isolating. In turn, the strain of coping with a wife who was an invalid or semi-invalid at best would have caused Nicholas to withdraw from many social engagements, since he would have been unwilling to risk his wife's health in situations in which he knew she would unduly suffer.  

There were, as well, factors other than mental illness which contributed to Alexandra's isolation, and by extension to her immediate family's: her inability to produce a male heir for the first ten years of her marriage, which brought yet more criticism raining down on her; the fact that when her son was finally born, he was a hemophiliac and his illness, aside from being a constant source of stress and worry, had to be kept a secret; her own prim and proper Victorian upbringing, which made her view the Russian aristocracy as decadent and immoral; the threat of revolutionary violence, which increased after the Revolution of 1905. Even leaving aside depression and anxiety disorder, all these factors could have combined to make Alexandra feel increasingly isolated and perhaps in response to isolate herself and her family even more from what she perceived to be a deeply hostile world outside the gates of the Alexander Palace.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 17, 2005, 12:01:05 PM
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It’s true that when you assemble all the evidence like this, borderline personality disorder does seem like a plausible diagnosis.


Quite right . . . but this kind of assembly of evidence is obviously fraught with pitfalls.

Here's the way I'm trying to approach this question.  Posit that Alexandra was a borderline personality, and then try to see what evidence supports that hypothesis, including events that appear in a new light when interpreted through this hypothesis.

The next step is then to see what evidence cannot, through any possible interpretation, be squared with the hypothesis (which some of you have been doing).

In doing so, we can perhaps get a surer sense of whether some degree of borderline personality was likely part of her makeup, or whether it's utterly preposterous.

I think the same methodolgy can be applied to panic disorder or clinical depression as equally-tenable hypotheses.

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Additionally, we can surmise from descriptions of Alexandra's various symptoms (fear of large social gatherings, flushed face and neck, rapid heartbeat, paralyzing anxiety) that she also suffered from panic attacks.


My mother (sorry . . . her yet again) also suffered from panic attacks.  In private, amid only her family circle, she absolutely dominated the scene in ways subtle and not so subtle.  But she seized up in a total panic if she had to speak in any kind of formal setting.  Once it was her turn to read a scripture passage for her Sunday school class.  She fell apart and had to leave the room.  On another occasion, she decided to take the civil service examination.  She returned home after having been gone less than two hours and dissolved into tears.  She had seized completely up the moment the tests were passed out, and she fled the room.

I've never been able to figure out whether the panic attacks were sympomatic of the borderline disorder or whether they were something apart.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 17, 2005, 12:20:58 PM
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Here's the way I'm trying to approach this question.  Posit that Alexandra was a borderline personality, and then try to see what evidence supports that hypothesis, including events that appear in a new light when interpreted through this hypothesis.

The next step is then to see what evidence cannot, through any possible interpretation, be squared with the hypothesis (which some of you have been doing).

In doing so, we can perhaps get a surer sense of whether some degree of borderline personality was likely part of her makeup, or whether it's utterly preposterous.


The danger with this kind of approach, however, is that it is inherently teleological and as a result one risks choosing only those symptoms that fit in with one's foregone conclusion. I think it is better to look at the symptomology itself and see where it leads.

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My mother (sorry . . . her yet again) also suffered from panic attacks.  In private, amid only her family circle, she absolutely dominated the scene in ways subtle and not so subtle.  But she seized up in a total panic if she had to speak in any kind of formal setting.  Once it was her turn to read a scripture passage for her Sunday school class.  She fell apart and had to leave the room.  On another occasion, she decided to take the civil service examination.  She returned home after having been gone less than two hours and dissolved into tears.  She had seized completely up the moment the tests were passed out, and she fled the room.

I've never been able to figure out whether the panic attacks were sympomatic of the borderline disorder or whether they were something apart.


I wonder if even psychologists know the answer to this! As far as I know, no, borderlines don't automatically suffer from panic attacks. But you know, all these so-called disorders are relatively new and the language and terms used to describe them keep changing from one DSI to the next. This is why I have difficulty regarding psychiatry or psychology as real sciences. They're like anthropology: they rely too much on individual subjective factors, not the least of which is one human being sitting in judgment on another human being. This is a situation which is intrinsically problematic, not that many practitioners in this field realize that cold, cruel fact. But the consequence is that the diagnoses remain, in the final analysis (bad pun! sorry!) overlapping and sloppy. Still, there's hope: neuroscience is still in its infancy and I think, will ultimately supply many of the answers we don't have now.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 17, 2005, 12:32:39 PM
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The danger with this kind of approach, however, is that it is inherently teleological and as a result one risks choosing only those symptoms that fit in with one's foregone conclusion. I think it is better to look at the symptomology itself and see where it leads.


True . . . with one exception.  Unless you are positing a hypothesis at the outset, it's hard to be sure you are looking at the evidence from all the possible interpretive angles.  For instance, if you're predisposed against a borderline personality diagnosis, you're less likely to test the evidence against that hypothesis.

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I wonder if even psychologists know the answer to this! As far as I know, no, borderlines don't automatically suffer from panic attacks. But you know, all these so-called disorders are relatively new and the language and terms used to describe them keep changing from one DSI to the next.


What can I say to this?  You're right.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 17, 2005, 01:19:39 PM
Shamelessly lifted from the net:

The DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, defines a personality disorder as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.



Currently, there are 10 distinct personality disorders identified in the DSM-IV:

Antisocial Personality Disorder:  Lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture, marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules.  Sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths.

Avoidant Personality Disorder:  Marked social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and extremely sensitive to criticism.

Borderline Personality Disorder:  Lack of one's own identity, with rapid changes in mood, intense unstable interpersonal relationships, marked impulsively, instability in affect and in self image.

Dependent Personality Disorder:  Extreme need of other people, to a point where the person is unable to make any decisions or take an independent stand on his or her own. Fear of separation and submissive behavior. Marked lack of decisiveness and self-confidence.

Histrionic Personality Disorder:  Exaggerated and often inappropriate displays of emotional reactions, approaching theatricality, in everyday behavior. Sudden and rapidly shifting emotion expressions.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder:  Behavior or a fantasy of grandiosity, a lack of empathy, a need to be admired by others, an inability to see the viewpoints of others, and hypersensitive to the opinions of others.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder:  Characterized by perfectionism and inflexibility; preoccupation with uncontrollable patterns of thought and action.

Paranoid Personality Disorder:  Marked distrust of others, including the belief, without reason, that others are exploiting, harming, or trying to deceive him or her; lack of trust; belief of others' betrayal; belief in hidden meanings; unforgiving and grudge holding.

Schizoid Personality Disorder:  Primarily characterized by a very limited range of emotion, both in expression of and experiencing; indifferent to social relationships.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder:   Peculiarities of thinking, odd beliefs, and eccentricities of appearance,  behavior, interpersonal style, and thought (e.g., belief in psychic phenomena and having magical powers).

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 17, 2005, 01:42:03 PM
Wow!  That's quite a menu from which to choose.  From this list, I'd say Alexandra comes closest to the paranoid personality disorder.

I don't know much about most of the disorders on this list.  But from what I do know about borderline personality disorder, its description here is very simplistic (probably appropriately so for this type of list).

Actually, though, I think this list illustrates Elisabeth's point, too.  There is a lot of fuzziness around these diagnoses, and they are notoriously amenable to the conscious and unconscious biases of the diagnoser.

So why keep discussing whether Alexandra had any or some or all of these disorders?  Because it's interesting.  But let's remember to take everyone's observations here, especially mine (since I'm farthest out on the limb), with a grain or two of salt.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 17, 2005, 02:12:02 PM
Oh, the list I posted is definitely just a form of shorthand.  I thought it might be useful to those reading the thread who haven't the slightest idea what any of these terms mean.

That said, perhaps Alexandra also had a helping of avoidant personality characteristics.  

I'm ashamed to say I had to look up the word "teleological" so naturally I'm assuming I'm not the only one who didn't know its meaning:

a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 17, 2005, 04:47:29 PM
     This is turning into one of the most facinating topics here! Thanks again for the encapsulated DSM-4 disorder list!
    I have often wondered {and discussed in other threads} whether or not Alix would have benefited from taking the "talking cure" (Freud and Co. :D) and while I
understand that Borderline Personality Disorder would probably not have been assisted by this - it would have been another intriguing what if to imagine the poor lady on some therapist's couch! {I would like to think that she would have enjoyed Carl Jung- as they were both intrigued with mystical images!}
    I don't know ebnough about Alix' personality to offer a  'psuedo diagnosis'  about what she suffered from -- but borderline seems the most comprehensive so far... As she seemed to not be that much of a party girl/socialite/civic leader when she was in Hesse, it is possible that she exhibited signs of this condition then too - we don't have enough information.
   Any experts on the young Alix of Hesse please  do help us!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 17, 2005, 09:10:34 PM
Quote
Even leaving aside depression and anxiety disorder, all these factors could have combined to make Alexandra feel increasingly isolated and perhaps in response to isolate herself and her family even more from what she perceived to be a deeply hostile world outside the gates of the Alexander Palace.


I think this is what makes any attempted armchair analysis of Alexandra ultimately futile.  She was the most elevated woman on earth and lived in circumstances so beyond the pale of normal existence that it's hard to get a calibration on what normal behavior would be for someone so situated.  Yet there is always a human lurking behind the veil of royalty, and as such, she was prey to the same maladies as the rest of us.

I still think she had some form of personality disorder (my tentative vote is for borderline) . . . but just how its manifestation would be affected by her status as empress is a source of real confusion to me.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on June 17, 2005, 09:47:39 PM
I really don't think Alexandra was the whole reason...she might have helped...but you can't blame the downfall of the tsars on her. It was building up. It started waaaaaaaaaay before she even married Nicholas.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 17, 2005, 11:14:38 PM
Quote

So why keep discussing whether Alexandra had any or some or all of these disorders?  Because it's interesting.  But let's remember to take everyone's observations here, especially mine (since I'm farthest out on the limb), with a grain or two of salt.


Well, my life partner is a shrink, so I asked him about Alexandra (I had to do some explaining as he knows nothing about the Romanovs).  So, based on the skimpiest of patient histories, with the proviso that this is just a discussion forum about long-dead historical figures, he suggested that Alexandra suffered from a factitious disorder.  Factitious comes from a Latin term meaning artificial.  We know that Alexandra suffered from a false pregnancy in 1903.  She told everyone she was pregnant while not allowing the doctors to examine her.  People with factitious disorders truly believe they are sick with all kinds of illnesses when in reality they're fine.  And there is something called a factitious pregnancy, when a woman wants so badly to be pregnant, she actually convinces herself she really is.  

But in addition to this we know that Alexandra suffered from a bunch of other supposed conditions as well.  

For complex reasons, the patient suffering from factitious disorder needs to be perceived as injured or ill in order to meet underlying, chiefly unconscious, needs.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 18, 2005, 06:47:56 AM
Quote
I really don't think Alexandra was the whole reason...she might have helped...but you can't blame the downfall of the tsars on her. It was building up. It started waaaaaaaaaay before she even married Nicholas.


Good Point!
At the moment, we have moved away from blaming her for all Russia's ills to examining what was going on in her emotional/mental state that made her seem so 'removed' from the chaotic situation around her!
Any ideas?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 18, 2005, 06:52:41 AM
Quote

... he suggested that Alexandra suffered from a factitious disorder.  Factitious comes from a Latin term meaning artificial.  We know that Alexandra suffered from a false pregnancy in 1903.  She told everyone she was pregnant while not allowing the doctors to examine her.  People with factitious disorders truly believe they are sick with all kinds of illnesses when in reality they're fine.  And there is something called a factitious pregnancy, when a woman wants so badly to be pregnant, she actually convinces herself she really is.  

But in addition to this we know that Alexandra suffered from a bunch of other supposed conditions as well.  

For complex reasons, the patient suffering from factitious disorder needs to be perceived as injured or ill in order to meet underlying, chiefly unconscious, needs.


Is it possible for her to have suffered from more than one of these conditions at the same time - such as  borderline (the most logical to me - but what do I know!  ;)) and factitious?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 18, 2005, 07:30:12 AM
Quote
Is it possible for her to have suffered from more than one of these conditions at the same time - such as  borderline (the most logical to me - but what do I know!  ;)) and factitious?


It seems to me she could have suffered from both, but maybe RichC's partner can clarify for us. I know someone who would seem to fall under both the narcissistic and histrionic categories of personality disorder, and might even be borderline as well. But this is the problem I have with these diagnoses, they're so generalized, they almost remind me of astrology (if you're hot-tempered, you must be Aries or Leo! If you're pensive and quiet, you must be Pisces or Virgo! etc.). I'm being facetious but not entirely.

Perhaps it's more useful to look at the question from another angle: wouldn't most people suffering from personality disorders - which would seem to be very major mental illnesses - logically exhibit some of the same behavioral problems? For example, we can assume that in most cases they'd make rather poor parents, whatever their particular personality disorder.

BTW, I should clarify: when I referred to Alexandra as a deeply narcissistic parent, I was referring to narcissism as a trait, not as a personality disorder. I meant that she expected her children to parent her to some extent, providing her with constant attentions and reminders of their love and regard for her. Her daughters' daily lives seem to have revolved to a large degree around Alexandra's various illnesses. How was Mama's heart today? Who would stay with her while the others went out? and so on and so forth. Not surprisingly, Alexandra supposedly expressed reluctance to see OTMA married and outside of her orbit of influence. This is characteristic of parents who have enacted a role reversal with their children, turning them into substitute parents or caretakers. I am not saying that Alexandra didn't love her children, only that she sometimes behaved towards them in a very selfish (narcissistic) way. (And I know I'm going to take some flak for this!)

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Greta on June 18, 2005, 07:32:37 AM
I think that's entirely possible Rsskiya, although personally (and I'm no shrink - so feel free to challenge as much as you like  ;) ) I find the factitious disorder diagnosis a bit more plausible.

Here's Stanford U's take on borderline personality disorders: http://www.stanford.edu/~corelli/borderline.html

I can't recall AF ever having managed to maintain two fronts successfully - in fact it just got worse and worse as the years went on.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Greta on June 18, 2005, 07:35:53 AM
Woops Elisabeth, didn't see your post  :-[

I sympathise deeply with AF as a person, but I think your comments as to her narcissism are spot on!  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 18, 2005, 07:44:25 AM
Quote
I still think she had some form of personality disorder (my tentative vote is for borderline) . . . but just how its manifestation would be affected by her status as empress is a source of real confusion to me.


It seems to me that if Alix of Hesse was a latent borderline, then the stress and anxiety associated with her new status as tsarina would have caused her illness to manifest itself. Or, vice versa, if she was already showing symptoms of borderline personality disorder even before her marriage (and Rskkiya is right, here we simply don't know enough about her early life to be sure one way or the other) then her new status would probably have exacerbated those symptoms. I would think being empress of Russia would be a tough role for most people to fill, no matter how mentally healthy and well grounded they were. As previously mentioned, Queen Victoria thought Alexandra had a strong character but she was nevertheless very worried about the "dear child" making her home in such a dangerous and politically unstable country as Russia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 18, 2005, 07:52:49 AM
Quote

It seems to me she could have suffered from both, but maybe RichC's partner can clarify for us. I know someone who would seem to fall under both the narcissistic and histrionic categories of personality disorder, and might even be borderline as well. But this is the problem I have with these diagnoses, they're so generalized, they almost remind me of astrology (if you're hot-tempered, you must be Aries or Leo! If you're pensive and quiet, you must be Pisces or Virgo! etc.). I'm being facetious but not entirely.

Perhaps it's more useful to look at the question from another angle: wouldn't most people suffering from personality disorders - which would seem to be very major mental illnesses - logically exhibit some of the same behavioral problems? For example, we can assume that in most cases they'd make rather poor parents, whatever their particular personality disorder.

BTW, I should clarify: when I referred to Alexandra as a deeply narcissistic parent, I was referring to narcissism as a trait, not as a personality disorder. I meant that she expected her children to parent her to some extent, providing her with constant attentions and reminders of their love and regard for her. Her daughters' daily lives seem to have revolved to a large degree around Alexandra's various illnesses. How was Mama's heart today? Who would stay with her while the others went out? and so on and so forth. Not surprisingly, Alexandra supposedly expressed reluctance to see OTMA married and outside of her orbit of influence. This is characteristic of parents who have enacted a role reversal with their children, turning them into substitute parents or caretakers. I am not saying that Alexandra didn't love her children, only that she sometimes behaved towards them in a very selfish (narcissistic) way. (And I know I'm going to take some flak for this!)

  

Greta and Elisabeth
Thanks for  both for your insiteful comments.
 Greta, the information on Borderline personalities was very helpful, I now have a far better understanding of the condition.

Elizabeth, I certain won't argue against your view that the relationship between the children and Alix was a bit weird , but any relationship between a mother and a teen age/twenty something daughter can become very strained  - {the fact that the daughters had no other real friends beyond the family always seemed to be to me a very unhealthy thing}
   However I did think that her view on marriage was actually very sweet and healthy (love being better than a purely political alliance)...Did she really want them to stay with her or simply wait and find the right partner?
   Was it still not a social option for young adult ladies to live on their own? Olga & Tatyanna could have been 'roomies' in another estate until Prince Charming - and his cousin- Grand Duke Sweetheart showed up.

Sorry -- I'm wandering off topic...
mea culpae
rs

(a melancholy capricorn) hehehe
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Greta on June 18, 2005, 09:25:14 AM
Staying on the digression  ;): Rsskyia, I seriously doubt that would have been an option for O&T, no matter how forward AF's views on marriage were.  I mean, just look at Wales' girls as an example (and even MF and OA if you want to stick in Russia!)

My last two cents on the topic (and at the risk of echoing what everyone else has said so far): I don't think it's quite fair to call AF as Russia's "worst nightmare".  I think it is largely foremost a by-product of the reaction against an autocratic system which has simply outgrown its day and age.  Certainly AF's character and mental state might not have been the best (and perhaps maybe it is a bit ironic for QV to call her (AF's) character as being 'strong' when you see the latter struggle with the duties of being an Empress), but I also think it is important to remember how cold, superificial and heartless some elements of the Russian Court/nobility would have been, in contrast to AF's more positive character traits.  And hence, the Revolution would have been an inevitable event no matter who was on the throne...(although the outcome may not have necessarily been the same).

For me, AF remains an enigmatic but also very human character.  Yes I must admit I first became interested in her because of her beauty and her tragic story, and got quite upset when I found out she wasn't quite the "fairy princess" (or saint! for that matter  :P) as we all thought she was.  Yet it is very much her human(e) qualities and how she reacted in those extraordinary times which makes her a very fascinating character to study.

Cough cough on all that mush...hope I explained myself clearly  ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 18, 2005, 10:29:33 AM
Quote

It seems to me she could have suffered from both, but maybe RichC's partner can clarify for us. I know someone who would seem to fall under both the narcissistic and histrionic categories of personality disorder, and might even be borderline as well. But this is the problem I have with these diagnoses, they're so generalized, they almost remind me of astrology (if you're hot-tempered, you must be Aries or Leo! If you're pensive and quiet, you must be Pisces or Virgo! etc.). I'm being facetious but not entirely.


Well I kind of went off in a different direction because the incident with the false pregnancy is so well documented.  It's fairly clear, even to a lay person, what happened.  And I guess it means that Alexandra did have mental illness at one point in her life, at least.

Quote
Perhaps it's more useful to look at the question from another angle: wouldn't most people suffering from personality disorders - which would seem to be very major mental illnesses - logically exhibit some of the same behavioral problems? For example, we can assume that in most cases they'd make rather poor parents, whatever their particular personality disorder.


Well I hate to admit it, Elisabeth, but all this makes good sense.  (I hate to admit it, not because you said it but because it's so close to what Greg King and Penny Wilson say in The Fate of the Romanovs, a book which I'm not too fond of -- well researched but sloppily written, in my *humble* view.)  

Although most who wrote books about Alexandra say she was a good mother, all they may know is that she took an active interest in the children.  She certainly seems to have managed their lives to the nth degree.  But taking a close interest in one's children does not always equal good parenting....

But, on the other hand, I suppose it would follow that a person with (an untreated) mental illness would probably not make a good mate, but Nicholas and Alexandra appear to have had a very successful marriage.  (I feel like I'm back where I started)

Quote
BTW, I should clarify: when I referred to Alexandra as a deeply narcissistic parent, I was referring to narcissism as a trait, not as a personality disorder. I meant that she expected her children to parent her to some extent, providing her with constant attentions and reminders of their love and regard for her. Her daughters' daily lives seem to have revolved to a large degree around Alexandra's various illnesses. How was Mama's heart today? Who would stay with her while the others went out? and so on and so forth. Not surprisingly, Alexandra supposedly expressed reluctance to see OTMA married and outside of her orbit of influence. This is characteristic of parents who have enacted a role reversal with their children, turning them into substitute parents or caretakers. I am not saying that Alexandra didn't love her children, only that she sometimes behaved towards them in a very selfish (narcissistic) way. (And I know I'm going to take some flak for this!)



These again are additional signs of a factitious disorder.  One invents sickness to get attention from others, fulfilling some unconscious psychologial need.  This is different from malingering, where one intentionally and consciously invents some illness for some external reason, such as to feign a neck injury in a car accident, then sue for lots of money.

An individual can suffer from one or more personality disorders.  In fact, my partner tells me the list posted earlier can be divided into three groups, the A, B and C groups based on descriptive similarities.  

From DSM-IV

Group A includes the Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders.  Individuals with these disorders often appear odd or eccentric.  Group B includes the Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality disorders.  Individuals with these disorders often appear dramatic, emotional, or erratic.  Cluster C includes the Avoidant, Dependent and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.  Individuals with these disorders ofent appear anxious or fearful.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 18, 2005, 11:50:59 AM
Quote
But, on the other hand, I suppose it would follow that a person with (an untreated) mental illness would probably not make a good mate, but Nicholas and Alexandra appear to have had a very successful marriage.  (I feel like I'm back where I started)


I have no doubt that Nicholas and Alexandra genuinely loved each other to the day they died. Every marriage has its strains, however, and the particular ones in Nicholas and Alexandra's marriage do occasionally show through their correspondence while Nicholas was at Stavka. At one point he writes to her, "Those days spent together were difficult... Forgive me if I was moody or unrestrained - sometimes one's temper must come out!"

Nor can it have been easy for Nicholas to hold his peace while Alexandra continually lectured him to "Be firm... It's all getting calmer and better - only one needs to feel Your Hand - how long, years, people have told me the same - 'Russia loves to feel the whip' - it's their nature - tender love and the iron hand to punish and guide." She writes that "wifey" is wearing "trousers all unseen" (and what a bitter pill that must have been for Nicholas to swallow!). Elsewhere she exhorts him to "be Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Emperor Paul - crush them all under you." Nicholas' gently reproachful reply: "My dear, Tender thanks for the severe scolding. I read it with a smile, because you speak to me as though I were a child...your 'poor little weak-willed' hubby, Nicky."

As I've said elsewhere, I think one of Nicholas' most positive traits was his forebearance. But even a strength can become a weakness in the wrong situation. There is no doubt but that Nicholas was too forebearing with Alexandra, to the point that he became passive and enabling. As Tsarfan has pointed out, one of Nicholas' (perhaps unconscious) motives for assuming command of the army and moving to Stavka was simply to get away from his wife's endless bouts of hysteria and nerves. But she pursued him there with an endless stream of letters importuning him to rule the country the way she saw fit. Nicholas was tsar of all the Russias and yet he was also very much a hen-pecked husband. I think a less gentle and forebearing man would have ceased to love his wife. That Nicholas didn't, despite every excuse Alexandra gave him for doing so, is testimony to his strong inner need for her.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 18, 2005, 11:51:23 AM
Given all the above discussion, I don't know that I'm adding anything new here, but I'm still exploring whether Alexandra could have had borderline personality disorder.  (And I've got to be careful about projecting it onto Alexandra due to my own experience with it.)

I'll start with a caveat from the www.bpdcentral.com website:  "Be very careful about diagnosing yourself or others.  In fact, don't do it.  Top researchers guide patients through several days of testing before they make a diagnosis.  Don't make your own diagnosis on the basis of a WWW site or a book!

Now, casting that caution aside and moving on through their website . . .

"There is no 'pure' BPD; it coexists with other illnesses.  These are the most common.  BPD may coexist with:

- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Mood disorders
- Panic/anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse
- Gender identity disorder
- Attention deficit disorder
- Eating disorders
- Multiple personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder."

I think there is a concensus (then and now) that Alexandra was a victim of panic attacks.  She was seen to flush and begin to breathe quickly on several public occasions from which she beat a quick retreat.

There are some reports that she and Nicholas used cocaine, assumedly at dosages that were prescribed in that era for certain ailments.  Some commentators have speculated that Nicholas might have been taking it fairly frequently in the days preceding his abdication.  But I've never encountered any references to its use by Alexandra beyond the general reports about medicinal use.

Alexandra became a vegetarian, which was unusual in that era . . . except that it was fairly chic in St. Petersburg social circles for a while.  Many people commented that her appetite was remarkably small . . . but her photos certainly don't suggest a woman who was undernourished.

If mood disorders can be defined to include depression, there seem to be plenty of references to that going all the way back to Alexandra's childhood.  She did have death in her family at an early age, but it was fairly common in that era, even among royals.  It generally did not trigger a life-long tendency toward depression.

"The essential feature of Borderline Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts."

I think Alexandra scores on instability of interpersonal relationships, along the lines of my earlier post that most friends tended to fall away from her over time, with her circle becoming more and more constricted, eventually down to three women.  Anna Vyrubova was a silly, submissive lap dog.  Baroness Buxhoeveden was a shameless sycophant out for herself (as she later proved in revealing the hidden jewels to the Bolsheviks).  Only Lili Dehn seems to have been a relatively benign member of the inner circle.

Was her noted shyness a symptom of a poor self-image?

I don't know much about her early years and cannot comment on impulsivity.

"Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment."

Alexandra certainly kept her children on a very tight leash, even for royals.  Nicholas, whether by his own preference or in response to Alexandra's demands, withdrew from the world to an unheard-of extent for a tsar, at one point going more than a year without a public appearance.  And the frequency of Alexandra's correspondence with Nicholas during his absences was astonishing, sometimes reaching five letters a day.  Necessitated by business?  I doubt it.

"Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e. g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)."

I've commented on substance abuse above, although I don't know what to make of it.  The sex angle is interesting.  She and Nicholas have been assumed to have had a prolonged, intimate sex life together.  Condoms and a firkin (a pubic wig, whatever that is) were found in the dresser drawer of their bedroom in the Ipatiev house after their murders.  That strikes me as indicative of something beyond a normal sexual relationship for a middle-aged couple in captivity, the woman of which claimed to be in frail health and was wheel-chair bound most of the time.

"Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.   Disassociation is the state in which, on some level or another, one becomes somewhat removed from 'reality' . . . ."

Bingo.  Alexandra's retreat from reality is so well-chronicled to bear little additional mention:  her determination that a crippled, hoemophiliac son would one day be autocrat; her belief that Rasputin was the instrument through which God delivered his messages to the tsar; her insistence that the Russian peasantry adored their tsar; her certainty that WWI was the crucible of fire through which Nicholas' reign would attain its greatness; her conviction that, ensconced in isolation at the Alexander Palace, she understood events in Russia better than anyone who had a different view.

"The world of the BP, like that of a child, is split into heroes and villains.  A child emotionally, the BP cannot tolerate human inconsistencies and ambiguities; he cannot reconcile another's good and bad qualities into a constant coherent understanding of another person.  At any particular moment, one is either good or EVIL.  There is no in-between; no gray area . . . ."

Another bingo.  In her letters to Nicholas at Stavka, Alexandra categorized people as either "our friend" (usually based on the assessment of Rasputin, who took the top "Our Friend" prize) or as an enemy of Nicholas and his mission to save Russia.  There was never any middle ground, and family members as well as ministers were subjected to the same binary categorization.  Even Ella saw the switch flip on her for daring to disagree.

Sorry for the long post.  Just wanted to keep Alexandra on the couch a while longer.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on June 18, 2005, 12:29:52 PM
I don't know, Tsarfan, I still think it's a bit of a stretch. I don't see any signs of substance abuse or unusual sexual practices in Alexandra's lifestyle (plenty of invalids have healthy sex lives, and I don't think the merkins should be read as a sign of perversity but rather as one of understandable vanity in a middle-aged woman!). As for instability in personal relationships, and seeing the world in terms of black and white, again, these symptoms could just as easily have been the result of depression, avoidant personality disorder, or (even more likely) paranoid personality disorder, or a combination thereof.

As for her diet, I don't think it was that uncommon (Tolstoy was also a vegetarian; it was a bit of a fad at the end of the 19th century), and while she was exceptionally slender as a young girl, so were her sister Grand Duchess Ella and her daughter Tatiana at the same age. I think in this case we are talking about a genetic trait, especially since after giving birth to five children, she seems to have put on a lot of weight, as might be expected to occur naturally.

Of paramount importance, I don't see any instability in Alexandra's self-image. On the contrary, I think that, despite her shyness, she had a very strong sense of self and every word she ever wrote is indelibly stamped with that readily recognizable personality. She was proud, haughty, some say arrogant; she had the inborn sense of entitlement of most royalty as well as more positive characteristics - her empathy for the suffering of others, her desire to perform good works and to be more than just an empty-headed social butterfly. My impression of borderlines is that they can never quite find their "raison d'etre" in life. They lack a sense of meaning, cannot find a goal, wonder continually what is the purpose of it all? Whereas Alexandra was thoroughly grounded in her religion and always had her eyes on the prize: first, producing an heir, then, ensuring that he inherited an intact monarchy.

Finally, I don't understand what in Alexandra's background could have produced such a major mental illness as borderline personality disorder, which seems to be linked to a history of child abuse or early deprivation at least from the fact that post-traumatic stress disorder is said to be a contributing factor. Alexandra might have had a genetic predisposition (through Prince Albert) to be depressive. But is there any history of borderlines in her English and German families? Is there any precedent in her family tree for concluding that Alexandra was borderline?        
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 18, 2005, 01:03:01 PM
Yeah . . . I've pretty much talked myself into a corner on her being a borderline.  I guess it's much simpler.  I just don't like her.

Oh, well.  It was a fun exercise.  (And there are a lot of other disorders for which she might qualify . . . so let the games go on.)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 18, 2005, 02:54:06 PM
Quote

I have no doubt that Nicholas and Alexandra genuinely loved each other to the day they died. Every marriage has its strains, however, and the particular ones in Nicholas and Alexandra's marriage do occasionally show through their correspondence while Nicholas was at Stavka. At one point he writes to her, "Those days spent together were difficult... Forgive me if I was moody or unrestrained - sometimes one's temper must come out!"

Nor can it have been easy for Nicholas to hold his peace while Alexandra continually lectured him to "Be firm... It's all getting calmer and better - only one needs to feel Your Hand - how long, years, people have told me the same - 'Russia loves to feel the whip' - it's their nature - tender love and the iron hand to punish and guide." She writes that "wifey" is wearing "trousers all unseen" (and what a bitter pill that must have been for Nicholas to swallow!). Elsewhere she exhorts him to "be Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Emperor Paul - crush them all under you." Nicholas' gently reproachful reply: "My dear, Tender thanks for the severe scolding. I read it with a smile, because you speak to me as though I were a child...your 'poor little weak-willed' hubby, Nicky."

As I've said elsewhere, I think one of Nicholas' most positive traits was his forebearance. But even a strength can become a weakness in the wrong situation. There is no doubt but that Nicholas was too forebearing with Alexandra, to the point that he became passive and enabling. As Tsarfan has pointed out, one of Nicholas' (perhaps unconscious) motives for assuming command of the army and moving to Stavka was simply to get away from his wife's endless bouts of hysteria and nerves. But she pursued him there with an endless stream of letters importuning him to rule the country the way she saw fit. Nicholas was tsar of all the Russias and yet he was also very much a hen-pecked husband. I think a less gentle and forebearing man would have ceased to love his wife. That Nicholas didn't, despite every excuse Alexandra gave him for doing so, is testimony to his strong inner need for her.  


I agree there were definitely periods in their marriage that were rocky, and no doubt she must have been difficult for him at times, based on his diaries and letters.  But communication never seems to have broken down, it appears.  And I was thinking of the sex, too, when I said they seemed to have had a good marriage up to the end.  If a couple is on the outs, they probably aren't going to sleep together too much.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 18, 2005, 07:02:57 PM
Tsarfan {et al}
    Well now I get to go out on the weak and fragile branch...Regarding their sex lives - well yes maybe these two were just expressing their marital love for each other, however in the time prior to the abdication I would like to suggest that their was something of a game of "surreal platonic/courtly love" going on with Alix Nicholas and Anna Vyrubova - {YES I do know that she was a virgin!}
    Might I suggest that in some weird way Anna played at being in love with Nicholas, for what reason I do not know, but it certainly was no secret. We have many references to her (Anna) sending 'love notes' to Nicholas at the Front - often Alix actually forwarded them to her husband along  with her own copious letters so this was something that she knew about ... Alix often discussed and complained about such lovers scenes and  demands for kisses from the Cow (A nice name indeed for her best friend!) What was going on here?
  So while I cannot and will not suggest any sort of 'wife swapping' or other alternative lifestyle games here... It does make one think.
Would this sort of behaviour match up with Narcicism or BP or any of the other options.

I hear the limb beginning to crack!

rs
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Abby on June 18, 2005, 07:24:56 PM
Yes, Rskkiya that's right! I think Alix would get a little jealous of Anya V. flirting with Nicky, and although she kept her friend close to her heart, she was possesive of both her and her husband, and didn't want the two of them becoming too friendly, lest they leave her out. A little jealousy is good for marriage, or so I've heard. ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on June 18, 2005, 07:52:42 PM
Edward Radzinsky (sp?) was the one who went into detail about this theory re: Alix, Nicky and Anna.  I've always thought it was pretty sick.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 18, 2005, 07:56:39 PM
It is just the dynamics of a married couple having an intimate "friend" who may be percieved as overstepping her bounderies. It happens, nothing new.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 18, 2005, 11:58:23 PM
This has been an interesting read. I think Alix was both mentally and emotionally ill. As for any kind of diagnosis, we will never know. I also think Nicholas enabled her. I will probably get skinned for saying this, but I do not think they had a healthy marriage. I think their marriage was sick too. In today's terms, I guess we would call them dysfunctional. I think Nicholas and Alexandra had a co-dependant deal going on and there is nothing romantic about that.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Robert_Hall on June 19, 2005, 12:03:12 AM
I agree with you. What Oprah or Dr. Phil would do with them.....!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on June 19, 2005, 12:07:23 AM
Couldn't agree with you more.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 19, 2005, 12:10:32 AM
Quote
I agree with you. What Oprah or Dr. Phil would do with them.....!

Now that would be worth watching.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 19, 2005, 06:20:24 AM
Quote
I will probably get skinned for saying this, but I do not think they had a healthy marriage. I think their marriage was sick too. In today's terms, I guess we would call them dysfunctional. I think Nicholas and Alexandra had a co-dependant deal going on and there is nothing romantic about that.


I don't agree. I think it was only their position of power which made them appear so 'co-dependent'. Under different circumstances I think they would have been described rather as mutually supportive rather than co-dependent; Alix's fear of society drove her into seclusion. Had she been among different people, I think she would have mixed far more freely & their world would have been enlarged.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 19, 2005, 12:30:42 PM
Bluetoria
  Yes, they did have a loving marriage - its one of the few positive things about these two in my opinion, although Lexi makes a very valid point - as far as their need for each others ability to make any other connections - a bit choking perhaps? Everyone, even the most passionate couples, ought to have some seperation in their lives...
  However we need to consider did Alix have many friends as a young person in Hesse? Bear in mind that while some people are naturally gregarious, others  are more hermit-like, and are still quite emotionally balanced!
   Had Alix married Otto Duke of Hossenfeffer  :D (hehehe) she may or may NOT not have been any emotionally different - but the worldwide effect would not have been as profound. Does anyone have more information on  Alix'  young  life in England and Hesse?

rskkiya

PS: I don't agree with Radzinsky that Anna V. was a closet lesbian in love with Alix or that she was a mastermind pretending to be dull to get power...Still if all three people ( Alix Nicky and Anna) are aware of these 'love games' even if they are simply platonic fantasies, it puts a new spin on the emotional state of the household...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on June 19, 2005, 01:24:54 PM
You can have a deep and passionate love and a loving marriage and still have it be a dysfunctional marriage.  

I think the way to judge whether a marriage is dysfunctional is, among other things, to address the following questions:
1.  Are each of the partners encouraging and supporting the other to fulfil their highest potential?
2.  Are each of the partners helping the other to do the right thing to fulfil mutual goals?
3.  On BALANCE (not every moment) is the relationship one of equals?  Does one patronize or subjugate the other?  Belittle or overly criticize?  
4.  Do each of the partners support and encourage one another to interact positively with the rest of the world?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sarai on June 19, 2005, 01:29:06 PM
Quote
However we need to consider did Alix have many friends as a young person in Hesse?


She undoubtedly had a few close friends in Darmstadt, but it was not a wide circle of friends. Even as a young woman she was shy and introverted. In Hessian Tapestry, it says "'Alicky,' at twenty-one, was serious-minded and so shy that her brother's guests sometimes wrongly assessed hostility in her greeting. On occasion she would leave their parties and, alone in her room, become absorbed in some book on religion or the occult." (pg. 227).

Further on, speaking about her as Empress, it says, "Her behaviour was completely out of character with the Hessian family from which she sprung, and also with that of Victoria and Albert. Whilst her mother had been filled with a like ferment of religious obsession, that ferment had brought her ever nearer and nearer to the poor and to the sick. Her father had walked happily with the man in the street. To find a parallel one must return to the behaviour of her great-grandfather, Edward, Duke of Kent, when he was Governor of Gibraltar. His autocratic policy there led to his recall." (pg. 255).
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on June 19, 2005, 03:34:15 PM
This is, I think, the root of the problem. Alexandra didn't have a problem with the poor, the sick - she found solace working in the hospitals with the ordinary people. In this she DID resemble her mother. She often worked for the poor in secret, donating large sums of money to charities (anonymously).
She only really became high-handed among the upper-classes, the aristocracy whom she viewed as frivolous and idle. Again she resembled her mother in this.

As for leaving parties to go & read (& how did the author know what she was reading - why was it assumed to be a book on the 'occult') I don't see anything wrong in that at all. She was bored by small talk (who isn't?? ;D) and obviously found it difficult to make meaningless conversation. I don't think that that is a fault - just a characteristic.  :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Abby on June 19, 2005, 03:36:17 PM
I don't blame Alix for that either (sounds like something I would do, actually! ;D) because she had a kind of agoraphobia, I think.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 19, 2005, 03:41:46 PM
Bluetoria
  Alix spent less time as a nurse than many might realize due to her 'health' which stopped her from doing a great deal more than she might have wished ...
  Also some of her  letters to Nicky mentions numerous complaints about the sick soldiers who so "bothered and troubled her by staring at her" are telling of a less patient personality -if she didn't want to be stared at then why was she at the hospital in the first place?
  I do think that she was very good and thoughtful as a hospital administrator - she sponsored, established or supplied up to 85 hospitals/sanitary trains/ad hoc 'proto mash units' in her day.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Silja on June 20, 2005, 09:56:59 AM
Quote

" Suffering made a strong appeal to the Empress, & whenever she knew of anyone sad or in trouble, her heart was instantly touched. Few people even in Russia knew how much the Empress did for the poor, the sick the helpless." (Anna Vyrubova)



This is very true. However, this attitude is also so very Victorian!!!! It was one of the pastimes of the Victorians to be "compassionate". Yet "they" - generalizing of course - never liked to discuss the real reasons for people's suffering, the reasons for mass poverty in Victorian England for instance.  Another sign that Alexandra was very much conditioned by her English background.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on June 20, 2005, 05:52:58 PM
Going back to the part about her being vegetarian, well, for most normal Orthodox Christians who lead an Orthodox life according to the 'rules' of the Church, more than half the year is spent on a vegan diet, being fasting days on which we eat no animal products whatsoever. It is not such a big jump from that to being fulltime vegetarian. I myself hardly ever eat meat, my wife eats meat a bit more than I do though. I don't think it strange that she would be vegetarian. However, it would have been looked upon perhaps as being strange by those members of high society of the day who made an outward show of piety but did not try to really live an Orthoodx life.

I also think it is pointless and futile to try and diagnose what personality disorder she may or may not have had. We can never know, or talk to the woman in question in this world all we can do is guess. If we were talking about a real patient here and now, would we diagnose them in this way? I would hope not.

Also in Orthodoxy we have the Mystery of Confession during which she would have presumably on a very frequent basis expressed the deepest problems and passions of her soul to God. I will not judge her Confessor who is her witness of what she confessed, but the Confessor has the role of giving advice on how to overcome and tackle the problems and sins the person confessing tells God. One would hope he gives good and sound advice, and that the person confessing acts on that advice...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 20, 2005, 07:06:58 PM
Quote
I also think it is pointless and futile to try and diagnose what personality disorder she may or may not have had. We can never know, or talk to the woman in question in this world all we can do is guess. If we were talking about a real patient here and now, would we diagnose them in this way? I would hope not.


Well, there may be a way out of this dilemma.  Several of the other threads contain posts of people to whom Alexandra has appeared in their dreams or by their sick beds.  One poster has a psychic connection to Alexandra.  Quite a few are corresponding with Alexandra to request that she arrange some miracles for them.

Maybe we could submit a list of questions to these folks and get Alexandra's first-hand responses?  She seems to be very accommodating.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on June 20, 2005, 07:14:31 PM
LOL.
However, for an Orthodox person, seeing as she is a Saint in our Church, it is not too strange to ask her for her prayers and help.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 20, 2005, 07:23:57 PM
I love this board.  It's got room for pretty much any views, doesn't it?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on June 20, 2005, 07:42:56 PM
I think that is the beauty of it! As long as we are civil with each other though - sometimes people seem to get a bit brassed off on certain threads though! Anyway, back to the topic....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Richard_Schweitzer on June 20, 2005, 10:38:15 PM
It is quite possible that Alexandra suffered from Porfiria, as some signs indicate A. did

RRS
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 20, 2005, 11:14:14 PM
Quote
It is quite possible that Alexandra suffered from Porfiria, as some signs indicate A. did

RRS

What is porfiria?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Lanie on June 20, 2005, 11:30:56 PM
porphyria

n : a genetic abnormality of metabolism causing abdominal pains and mental confusion
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on June 20, 2005, 11:35:51 PM
Thank you Lanie. I tried looking it up on google and found nothing. Obviously because I was using an incorrect spelling.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on June 21, 2005, 12:32:01 AM
Quote

I also think it is pointless and futile to try and diagnose what personality disorder she may or may not have had. We can never know, or talk to the woman in question in this world all we can do is guess. If we were talking about a real patient here and now, would we diagnose them in this way? I would hope not.


I fail to see the harm in examining AF from a psychological perspective.  She's not a real patient here and now; she's a long dead historical figure!  And it's not guesswork that she had a factitious disorder at the time of the phantom pregnancy.  It's bright and clear based on the irrefutable historical evidence.  

The rest of course is speculation, but so what?  Even the suggestion that she might have suffered from an NOS personality disorder might help us broaden our understanding of her, as much as we can understand someone who only exists in our imaginations in the first place.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2005, 06:48:38 AM
I just encountered an interesting perspective on Alexandra given by Mosolov, who ran the Secretariat of the Ministry of the Imperial Court:

"She could never become a genuine tsarina due to her personal situation [not specified], and that is a great pity, because with her hard character she could have been of great assistance to His Majesty.  Unfortunately her ideas were even more bigoted than those of His Majesty, so that her support of Nicholas did him more harm than good."

And here is what the tsar said regarding Stolypin's foiled attempts to keep Rasputin away from the empress, as Stolypin reported it to his daughter:

"I agree with you, Pyotr Arkadyevich, but I'd rather have ten Rasputins than one hysterical tsarina.  Of course that explains it all.  The tsarina is ill, seriously ill.  She believes the only person in the whole world who can help her is Rasputin, and it is humanly impossible to persuade her otherwise.  Because in general it is already very difficult to talk to her . . . . "

I find that last line to be a very revealing glimpse into what many view as an idyllic marital relationship.

Stolypin was shot not long after this interchange.  In the three days during which he lay dying, neither the tsar nor tsarina visited the hospital or sent their condolences.  When they attempted to do so after his death, Stolypin's widow refused to receive them.  In receiving Count Kokovtsov, Stolypin's successor, Alexandra told him that she believed God had put Stolypin aside in order to make room for him.  He was appalled by her remark.

People can make all the excuses for Alexandra they want.  But I think the woman was one vindictive piece of work.  There are real reasons almost all of the governing and aristocratic establishments developed an intense dislike of her.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 21, 2005, 03:56:20 PM
Hello all
   I had not even considered the possibility of her having  a case of "porphiria' (sp) - I thought that strangely coloured urine was one of the symptoms... ???
Hmmm...l the mental conditions seem more intriguing to me, but this is a great point to consider.
Georgiy
  I must protest. While I do understand your perspective, I am happy that this site is not only one for Orthodox Christians - we have historians, teachers, chemists, retirees, lawyers students and homemakes here of all religious persuations but we are all bound by our interest in Russian History. I don't think the topic of her 'mental health' is not worth the discussion. Nevertheless, your contributions have been of great help!  
Tsarfan
  I am afraid that I must agree with you regarding Alixandra's temperament - but without an actual time machine we'll never know what she was really like.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on June 21, 2005, 04:45:17 PM
Hi Rsskiya,
I too wouldn't want this site to be the exclusive domain of the Orthodox.
My point was though that we can only second guess and speculate, but we can never know her true mental state or anything like that because we do not know her intimately. Also I think ideas on mental illnesses seem to change over time - today's diagnosis may be very diferent from what is diagnosed half a century later, but which is correct? I think it is obvious she suffered quite greatly from nerves and what at the timne was referred to under that blanket-term of hysteria, but the actual nature of that 'hysteria' we can never really know for sure without knowing her.

My point in talking about Confession is that this is in many ways where she would have been expressing herself in ways that maybe people who don't have this Rite would talk to a psychologist. The person who could best give a complex breakdown of Alexandra Feodorovna would be her Confessor, but of course he would be bound not to reveal anything from her Confession.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 21, 2005, 05:36:24 PM
Quote
I am afraid that I must agree with you regarding Alixandra's temperament - but without an actual time machine we'll never know what she was really like.


Ah, you've hit on one of my great fantasies . . . a time machine to go back to Russia around 1890 and try to warn Nicholas of the shoals ahead.

However, we do have a rough equivalent of a time machine to deduce what Alexandra was like.  First, we have many of her letters and some of her diaries.  (Given that she burned many of these in the days immediately following the revolution, one suspects that what has come down to us tends to put her in a more favorable light . . . but I have no way to be sure of that.)

Second, she was observed by a host of people who left their conclusions behind in memoires and letters.  Granted, we are seeing her through a lot of biased filters, and they run the gamut from unstinting admirers to rabid detractors.  But there are so many reported views of her that one can detect a consensus . . . and it is heavily weighted to the downside.  With the exception of Grand Duchess Olga and a few household retainers who saw her primarily in an intimate family setting, almost all the observers who dealt with her and were highly enough positioned not to be overwhelmed by her august office, found her to be a difficult, rigid, judgmental woman whose influence on critical matters ranged from unhelpful to destructive.

To get to a net negative view of Alexandra, one has to rationalize away the views of a few of her contemporaries.  To get to a net positive view of Alexandra, one has to explain away the views of a much larger number of people who knew her.  That tells me something about what she was like.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on June 22, 2005, 04:38:20 PM
Quote

Tsarfan
Please site this quote!
While I don't disagree with you - this seems a bit too intimate and personal a revelation for Nicholas to make to Stolypin - who he would have considered to be one of his servants. I wonder...

Could Nicholas have been so personally insiteful about this 'mental health' problem -  and yet continue to follow much of her advice throughout the comming war? was this sarcasm? Or a "rewriting" of events?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on June 22, 2005, 05:06:10 PM
www.fineartdealers.nl/Expo/n&a/home

The quote I lifted came from this Amsterdam Hermitage museum site.  However I have seen this letter to Stolypin's daugther, Maria Bok, quoted elsewhere, with a few minor differences (probably resulting from different translations of the Russian original).

I have also seen Nicholas quoted -- in an apparent paraphrase of this letter -- as saying "better twenty Rasputin's than one more day of hysterics at home."

While Nicholas surely was mindful of Stolypin's status as a servant, I have seen other conversations reported by ministers that indicate the best of them had a fairly candid two-way rapport with Nicholas.  Remember that this conversation arose from Nicholas' countermanding Stolypin's order to banish Rasputin from St. Petersburg.  I think Nicholas knew that Stolypin was acting out of a sense of duty to the throne, and I don't find it hard to imagine him explaining his reasons frankly to Stolypin.

Bismarck and Metternich discussed the most sensitive details of royal private life with their sovereigns, including candid assessments of the qualities of their heirs.  I think this kind of interchange between even the most traditional monarchs and their senior ministers was viewed as the norm within royal circles.

I'm not so sure that Nicholas followed Alexandra's advice as much as he could not muster the energy or resolve to resist it.  We've discussed elsewhere whether Nicholas' going to Stavka from 1915 onward wasn't as much about getting away from Alexandra as it was about taking charge of the army.  And in the final weeks before his abdication, some observers saw Nicholas as a man who had simply given up.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: rskkiya on July 03, 2005, 09:26:06 AM
Quote
I'm not so sure that Nicholas followed Alexandra's advice as much as he could not muster the energy or resolve to resist it.  We've discussed elsewhere whether Nicholas' going to Stavka from 1915 onward wasn't as much about getting away from Alexandra as it was about taking charge of the army.  And in the final weeks before his abdication, some observers saw Nicholas as a man who had simply given up.


  After 25 plus year together - even the most loving couples might need some time apart!
  You may have a point about Nicholas - at best he was polite and never wanted to make a fuss - and at best Alix was determined to have her way... :-X

Not "Russia's Greatest Nightmare" but a difficult and disturbing dream for the Nation- no matter the "love dream" that she may have been for Nicholas.

rs
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on July 03, 2005, 09:47:05 AM
I think this was a situation of two people who were passionately in love with each other, with one of the people having a VERY strong and dominating personality, and the other being more passive.

It was natural, therefore, for Nicholas to submit to Alix' will, particularly when not doing so would make her more unstable.

It's important to remember, though, that Alix honestly and truly believed that she was doing the right thing.  And that Nicholas, not having had sufficient training to be Tsar, had a much less clear concept of how to handle things.  When this is combined with a time-period in which there was much unrest and an increasing sense of power in the People, disaster was inevitable.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: pinklady on July 04, 2005, 04:27:11 AM
Quote
"better twenty Rasputin's than one more day of hysterics at home."

Nicholas did say that because Stolypin did not approve of Rasputin.
Stolypin thought that politically Rasputin was dangerous and wanted him removed from the Capital. For this Alix hated Stolypin.


It is a little more complicated than that. Alix didn't hate Stolypin because Stolypin didn't like Rasputin, it was because Stolypin brought a report to the Emperor about Rasputin, which the Emperor had investigated independantly and was shown to have been full of rumors and gossip about Rasputin that was not true.  She disliked Stolypin because she believed him to be yet another jealous person making up lies about Rasputin to discredit him.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on July 04, 2005, 10:27:01 AM
Sorry all,
Somehow, when I quoted Pinklady as MY reply, it just modified her post, instead of quote, so it looks as if it came from her.  I am beyond puzzled  ??? how that happened. She posted the part in the quote and I replied.
My sincere apologies to Pinklady for this odd accident.

The above posting is from me, not Pinklady....

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on July 04, 2005, 10:29:25 AM
...alien radio waves interfering with the board

...communist plot

....pinklady attempting to take over the board and imposing her name on every post.

...<g>
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on July 31, 2005, 09:26:06 PM
I love a good argument ( ;)) so I thought I'd start this thread. I was talking to a friend the other day and she thought that Alexandra was to blame (at least in part) for the Revolution. Let's take sides and debate.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Anastasia_R on August 02, 2005, 08:59:43 PM
I don't really know if she's to blame or not.Alexandra didn't listen to what others had to say about Gregori Rasputin because she was so deeply religious and really believed Rasputin was a "Man of God".She truly believed he could heal her son of his hemophelia.I think that some Russians were against Alexandra for two reasons:
1.The obvious one,she was German
2.Possibly because the people did not like Rasputin and she thought him a "Man of God"
I'm sort of mixed up.I think that in a way she wasn't to blame because she was "blinded",I guess you could say,by her love of God and would not listen to what people said of Rasputin because she really thought he was a Man of God,as I have stated a few times.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on August 02, 2005, 09:07:35 PM
I agree, Andy. I believe that people in a time of war try to look for someone to blame. They all remembered that she was born German and turned against her. That wasn't any of her doing.

But I don't think she should have trusted Rasputin. I mean, it would be one thing to just let him heal Alexei (however he did it). But it would be another thing completely to do what she did, which was trust his advice on political issues. Didn't he tell her to appoint people that were in favor of him? Does anyone have any of the names of the people he told her to appoint?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on August 03, 2005, 04:59:27 AM
I think it is, as you say, simply that people were looking for a scapegoat in blaming Alexandra for the revolution.
Long before she arrived in Russia, revolutionaries had been active (e.g. the murder of Alexander II etc. etc.) and the fact that the revolution 'exploded' during Nicholas' reign was due more to the war and the rapid industrialization of the country, than to any one person.

Alexandra may have misunderstood the climate of the time, but she was not directly (or even indirectly) responsible for what happened. I do not believe she was in a position to prevent it.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on August 03, 2005, 05:03:51 AM
Actually she was near the Tsary , so she will become automatically  also be responsible for the revolution .

Of course , not only she , but all romanovs etc.

But she will be always included into the blame list.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: AlexP on August 03, 2005, 07:16:44 AM
Quote
I agree, Andy. I believe that people in a time of war try to look for someone to blame. They all remembered that she was born German and turned against her. That wasn't any of her doing.

But I don't think she should have trusted Rasputin. I mean, it would be one thing to just let him heal Alexei (however he did it). But it would be another thing completely to do what she did, which was trust his advice on political issues. Didn't he tell her to appoint people that were in favor of him? Does anyone have any of the names of the people he told her to appoint?


This an exceedingly complex question, but a very good one.  Let's look at it.

1.  In terms of the people appointed by Alexandra, let's first consider the Church :

   (a) Whether under Rapustin's instructions or acting on her own, she suggested and secured appointments to virtually all of the important dioceses of the Russian Church.  She caused the Metropolitanate of St. Petersburg to be vacated and it was replaced by such a scandalous person, an intimate of Rapustin's, who was a vicious pedophile, so outrageously scandalous in his conduct that even the Emperor could not resist public pressure and this Metropolitan was exiled to a Monastery in Siberia and eventually liquidated by the Reds; she vacated the Metropolitanate of Kiev and replaced it with a crony of Rasputin's; the Dowager Empress intervened and eventually the Kievan see was stabilized with the appointment of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapavitsky) towards the end of the war; most of the major provincial episcopates were vacated and replaced with Rapustin cronies in the years 1915-1917; nearly all of those appointed by Rasputins founds their positions revoked by the General Church Council of 1917 and most of the ex-Rasputinites were among the first to be seized and liquidated by the CHEKA; the general revulsion of the populace and of the Court was quite noticeable; the Church had reached its moral abyss under this cronysm and was to suffer egregiously during the post-revolutionary years as a result.

2.  Sturmer was long due for retirement, he was exceedingly old, and by his own accounts debilitated; yet, Russia between 1915-1917 suffererd a banana-republic series of governments, with Prime Ministers coming and going often within weeks, usually within months; she furthered the appointment of the very elderly old Prince Galitzine as Prime Minister; she caused the departure of at least one very, very, very competent Foreign Minister, but actually saved his life, because he was exiled to London, and thus escaped the Revolution; she encouraged the extremely represssive General Trepov (father of the well-known Princess Tenisheva of New York society) who was responsible for the Programs of 1905, the events of Moscow in 1905, etc., etc.  She encouraged the extremely reactionary Protopopov who consistently undermined more liberal policies; she actively argued against the creation of all of the Dumas, and this was done in earshot of everyone, and finally it was actually the little Camarilla of the Empress the virtually ran Russia from the middle of 1916 until February 1917, with Anna Vyrubova in a starring role.

3.  I am tremendously sympathic to the family of a hemophialic son, as we should all be.  Nonetheless, her blind faith in Rapustin caused her the general enemity of the Russian people to a degree that I do not believe is still fully understood in the West.  While she herself was not scandalous, and I personally laud her moral virtues, she placed her august personnage in the way of serious scandal and did not withdraw from it.  All of the Russian tabloids of the day were replete with stories and scandals about Rasputin, even the ones subject to immediate censure.  And the Court, which thorougly despised her, except for her Camarilla, found fecond ground in these rapacious tales and further undermined an already collapsing structure. Many felt that she was aloof but not regal, remote but not imperial, etc.  This caused a great deal of damage.

4.  Yes, the German card was played but it was almost incidental in the real damage it did.  And nonetheless, she might have benefited from how the British Royal Family had handled it -- she might have anglicized the Germanophiles at court and banished the more evident Baltic Germans, but true to her nature as a loyal friend, again a quality, she did not.  Where it did damage her, however, was when plans for  a certain major battle were leaked to the Germans and published in the German press, and it was apparent that only a few persons could have known of such plans in advance.   I do not believe that the Empress was directly responsible here, but the fact that the plans came through her brother in Berlin, and another close friend, surely did not help her standing with the Russian people.  Not at all.  And neither did the peace initiatives of Protopov and Strumer, conducted through German relatives of the Empress.  These became widely known in Russian and caused a true furor.

5.  And then she made the fatal mistake of believing all of the adoring letters that she thought were written to her by the Russian people.  They were not -- there was a whole section of the Okhrana charged with writing her adoring letters every day, encouraging the most reactionary policies.  And she believed them, even many, many persons in her employ, and in her service, advised that these letters were simply spurious.

6.  Finally, there are two major items that surely precipated the Revolution : the murder of Stolypin by an agent of the Tsarist Okhrana (and many at that time blamed the Tsar directly for the murder because the Tsar's loathing of Stolypin was general knowledge, not hidden, widely voiced) and the dismissal of von Witte, again, many believed at the behest of Alexandra, who felt they were abridging the Imperial Powers.  Many persons of that period in history felt that the policies of these men, alone, had then been followed, would have saved Russian from the abyss.  But the Good Lord adjuged otherwise.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on August 03, 2005, 08:07:24 AM
Quote
5.  And then she made the fatal mistake of believing all of the adoring letters that she thought were written to her by the Russian people.  They were not -- there was a whole section of the Okhrana charged with writing her adoring letters every day, encouraging the most reactionary policies.  And she believed them, even many, many persons in her employ, and in her service, advised that these letters were simply spurious.


Wait, why would they write her adoring letters if they didn't mean it? And if they were fake how could she not see?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: AlexP on August 03, 2005, 09:21:03 AM
Quote

Wait, why would they write her adoring letters if they didn't mean it? And if they were fake how could she not see?



Margarita,

Let me back up a minute, perhaps you weren't aware of something.

The Okhrana was the Imperial Russian Secret Police.  After the Revolution, it was the CHEK, the NKVD, the KGB, and now the FSB.

There was an entire section of the Okhrana devoted to protecting the Imperial Family.  Within this section, there was an entire "upravleniya" (Hikaru, please help me translate here) that was devoted to the Empress, to maintaining her personal security, but also to keeping tabs on her comings-and-goings.  In this "upravleniya" (I believe it was the "vtoroya uprvaleniya"), there was a minisection, that under orders from persons like Protopopov, Sturmer, Goremykin and the others, composed and wrote "letters" to the Empress from "ordinary Russian citizens" tell her how much they loved her, how Mother Russian loved her, etc., etc., and encouraging her to maintain a (extremely repressive reactionary) political course.  The letters touched her a great deal and when everyone but everyone accused her of being out-of-touch with the Russian people, she would brandish these letters about as proof that she was not.  Agents would be sent to post the letters from different cities around Petersburg, and from even as far away as Kiev, and in one case, Ufa.

When the dynasty fell in 1917, and an investigatory committee into the purported espionage of the Empress was established, this whole mini-section of fraudulent letter writers was exposed.  Most were arrested and jailed, some were executed.  All confessed, as did the head of the Section.  Remember -- by that time it was 1918 and no one wanted to be near the Romanovs at all.

These letters survive in the Romanov File in the Russian Museum.  They are written in poor, clumsy, incorrect Russian just to ensure that they look like the writings of the peasants.

But please bear in mind something else -- in 1918, most of the peasanty could not read nor write.  Most did not speak standard Russian but strange dialects thereof.

And somehow Alexandra just continued to believe in this.  And by the time it was exposed, she had been executed.

Hope this helps.  The next time you are in St. Petersburg, you may wish to consult the Romanov file at the Russian Museum (when it reopens).

With kind regards from Shanghai,

Alex
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on August 03, 2005, 10:31:06 AM
Thank you so much for explaining that, Alex!

You know, I am wondering also why she believed the letters. Maybe she didn't know that most people in Russia couldn't read or write? Is that possible, that she wasn't well informed?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on August 03, 2005, 10:35:28 AM
I think that Nicholas knew about it. It was enough.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on August 03, 2005, 10:37:51 AM
Nicholas knew that the letters were fake, or Nicholas knew that most peasants couldn't read or write, or Nicholas knew exactly who was writing the letters?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on August 03, 2005, 10:46:54 AM
http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=history;action=display;num=1115610497

A thread on the Okrhana (I think I spelled that wrong)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: AlexP on August 03, 2005, 10:58:46 AM
Quote
I think that Nicholas knew about it. It was enough.



Dear Hikaru,

Thanks for the posting.  I was surprised, though, to learn that Nicholas knew of all of this.  I can't swear one way or the other here on this, but I can tell you that Babushka saw enough of these letters to become nearly ill.  It was always the same style and they were horrific, some of them, in their urgings (get rid of this-and-this minister, kill this and this ethnic group, exile this-and-this society lady), etc.

And yes, Margarita, you are correct.  She should have realized that most of the peasanty in her time was illiterate and she surely new that the bourgeoisie (the city-dwellers) reviled her, etc., as did the Court.  But she needed to BELIEVE in Mother Russia, as we all need to believe in something, and this afforded her a modicum of belief.

She was just that out-of-touch with Mother Russia.  And what a shame -- because she was deeply religious, she was a good mother, a faithful wife, but an uneducated and unknowledgeable sovereign who knowingly and unknowingly did as many things wrong, Russian-style, as possible.  She would have been a perfect English lady of noble birth living somewhere in Berkshire.  She was ill-suited, particularly by temperament, for the Russian people.

Let me tell you another small anecdote.  She tried to thoroughly anglicize the Winter Palace in the beginning as much as possible, but she ran into great opposition.  She sent many great paintings of the great masters to the storage room in the basement as well as Aubuisson tapesteries and she attempted to replace them with chintz wallpaper and stuffed parrots.  My God, was it awful.  As soon as she retired to Tsarskeo Selo, the rooms and paintings were restored in the name of national interest.  Can you imagine -- sending a Serov and Repnin to the basement and replacing it with a stuffed parrot from some English stuffed animal shop?  Those are little things, but in Petersburg, 1917, where gossip did not telephones to travel, everyone but everyone knew this.  Remove an Aubuisson tapestry or a Goebbelins and replace it with chintz wallpaper.

She undid all the goodwill in less 20 years that her mother-in-law had created.  It sort of reminds me of the late Queen Mother and Prince Charles and the Rottweiler, along those lines.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on August 03, 2005, 10:59:45 AM
He knew everything of what you have written: fake,
impossibility of the peasonts to write and read ( I believe that on 1917 65 % of Russian population were not enable write or read ), and who wrote the letters.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: AlexP on August 03, 2005, 11:05:40 AM
Quote
He knew everything of what you have written: fake,
impossibility of the peasonts to write and read ( I believe that on 1917 65 % of Russian population were not enable write or read ), and who wrote the letters.



Actually the figure of 65% if a bit low...in his report to the Duma after February, 1917, Rodzianko speaks of 80% of the Russian population not being able to read and write, a figure that was picked upon and elaborated by Mme Krupskaya in her capacity as Commissarsha of National Education.

On a minor note, Mme Krupskaya must have come from a very good family.  I was able to listen to a lengthy talk of hers on an old grammaphone recording, and frankly, the quality of her Russian language was beautiful, in stark contrast to the strong questionable "kartavitz" of one V.I.L., eo "drug"...

Hikaru, can you confirm me, please your source as to how Nicolas knew these letters were spurious?

Thank you.

Alexandre A.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on August 03, 2005, 11:19:56 AM
I have read  the 65% in the book of 1937 about Moscow and its inhabitants - maybe 65% was the figure about population in cities.

As for Krupskaya , there is a famous photo of the Smolyanki ( Smolyny girls) with Krupskaya almost in the center. But  I can not imagine why she spent  such life
( I went recently to the Gorki where was transfered the things from Kremlin Lenin Apartment - there private things were more than simple. And I thought that Lenin did a revolution , changed everything , but  died on somebody's bad on somebody's sheets, surrounded by somebodie's furniture and in somebodie's house. He had no one thing of his own ( escept Rolls Roys).)

I think that Nicholas had to control Okhranka and he did not like histeria of Alex. He also was a  visantian style man - he said one thing , he decided other , and then he did opposite. I recently read 2 volumes of big book called - "Okhranka. Vospominaniya rukovoditeley politicheskogo syska" It was very intresting.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: AlexP on August 03, 2005, 11:48:39 AM
Thank you, Hikaru.

I am also aware of this photograph.  I will defer to you because I am sure that many of the readers are not so familiar with what it means to be a "Smolny Girl".  You may wish to provide more details of what a Smolny Girl was, where she came from family-wise, and where she would go.

As for why Mme Krupskaya ever went from being a Smolnitza to a Leninitza, I also am lost.  And when she was speaking on the need for lowering the illteracy rate from 80% to 10% in twenty years, it was truly moving.  (And the strange thing is that by 1940, 65% of the population could read and write). (And I am not a Bolshevik, just commenting upon the reversal in figures).  And when she spoke, her command of the language, her inflections, her tone were truly those of Smolny.

I will look in my archives to see if I have a copy of the recording.  If I do, I will post it here.

Bolshoi privet iz Shanghaia,

Alexander Alexandrovitch P.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Finelly on August 03, 2005, 12:56:23 PM
Well, of course she was partially responsible for the revolution!  I don't know any scholar who would disagree.  

She was part of a combination of events, personalities, and philosophies that, when put together in the context of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, was combustible.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on August 04, 2005, 01:17:27 AM
Quote
I recently read 2 volumes of big book called - "Okhranka. Vospominaniya rukovoditeley politicheskogo syska" It was very intresting.


Hi hikaru,

Could you please provide more details (which rukovoditeli provided their memoirs) and the year of publication of these tomes?

Thanks in advance :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: hikaru on August 04, 2005, 01:24:56 AM
It is a new edition from the seria " Russia in Memoirs"( Rossiya v memuarakh"
Novoe Literaturnoe obozrenie 2004 .
It consists of 2 big volumes with memoires of Zavarzin, Vashiliev  and Gerasimov.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on August 04, 2005, 01:27:58 AM
Bolshoe vam spasibo  ;D

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on August 04, 2005, 12:58:06 PM
Is it only in Russian?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on August 20, 2005, 04:17:50 AM
Quote
It is a new edition from the seria " Russia in Memoirs"( Rossiya v memuarakh"
Novoe Literaturnoe obozrenie 2004 .
It consists of 2 big volumes with memoires of Zavarzin, Vashiliev  and Gerasimov.


Spasibo hikaru,

Finally I managed to acquire my own copy this week ... it is on its way from Moscow.  ;D

Thanks for bringing this publication to my attention. :)

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on August 20, 2005, 01:29:00 PM
Quote
I love a good argument ( ;)) so I thought I'd start this thread. I was talking to a friend the other day and she thought that Alexandra was to blame (at least in part) for the Revolution. Let's take sides and debate.

You are asking for opinions here, so here is my two cents.
I think the seed of revolution were planted long before Alexandra married Nicholas. That being said, I do not think she did anything to discourage that. AlexP is right, she would have been fine living in England, but was not prepared for Russian culture, imo. Her attachment to Rasputin cost her dearly. It is true she was a devouted mother and wife. And I do think she loved Russia. So I see her as one of many things that ultimately led to the revolution. But not the sole cause.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: nene on August 29, 2005, 09:47:28 AM
I just had to say a quick thing here about Rasputin 'healing' beautiful Alexei. In my opinion, that is absolute utter garbage! The only thing responsible for healing Alexei was the good Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Half the time Alexei was well without Rasputin. I think Rasputin was a con man who deluded himself into thinking he was a man of God. And unfortunately, Alexandra fell for what Rasputin was selling.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on September 02, 2005, 03:41:27 PM
Who were Alexandra's enemies within the Romanov family?  And why did she consider those people as her enemy? :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Ortino on September 02, 2005, 08:18:44 PM
Define "enemy". People against Alexandra? Start with Marie Feodorovna for one.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on September 02, 2005, 11:37:06 PM
Rasputin
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 03, 2005, 06:02:38 AM
The Mikhailovichi. (sp??)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Ortino on September 03, 2005, 08:17:55 AM
Quote
Rasputin


Rasputin wasn't family.  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: LyliaM on September 03, 2005, 10:52:08 AM
Actually, the only member of Nicholas' family who I know for a fact was NOT an enemy was Nicholas' sister Olga, who maintained a warm and affectionate relationship with
Alexandra.

I think Alexandra considered most of those people her "enemies" because they WERE her enemies!  They took any opportunity to criticize and undermine her and were not, to put it mildly, supportive.  I also think the situation was exacerbated by Alexandra's stubborn, black-and-white view of things, her natural reticence, the Tsarevich's hemophilia, etc. etc.  To survive in that family, you had to be a ruthless and calculating shark yourself, which Alix certainly was not.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Ortino on September 03, 2005, 12:06:25 PM
Quote
I think Alexandra considered most of those people her "enemies" because they WERE her enemies!  They took any opportunity to criticize and undermine her and were not, to put it mildly, supportive.  I also think the situation was exacerbated by Alexandra's stubborn, black-and-white view of things, her natural reticence, the Tsarevich's hemophilia, etc. etc.  To survive in that family, you had to be a ruthless and calculating shark yourself, which Alix certainly was not.


A lovely post.  :) Alexandra's personality and stubborness had a lot to do with it I'm sure. She was so distant and shut herself away to such a point that I believe that most of the family didn't even know her at all. Remember, Alix disliked family gatherings and seemed to discourage these as much as possible. Also, much of the family didn't even get along with each other. I'm sure the majority of them relied on information passed down by those who did know her, like Marie Feodorovna, or circulating rumors. About the Tsarevich's hemophilia-I'm pretty sure most of the family didn't even know about it. That information seemed pretty confined to a few immediate relatives, like Olga Alexandrovna and Marie Feodorovna.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: LyliaM on September 03, 2005, 12:15:55 PM
Why, thank you, Ortino!  :D

I think it's difficult for many of us whose notion of "family" includes concepts such as unconditional love, support, and encouragement to understand the dynamics of the Russian imperial family.   Many of them were capable of the basest cruelties to one another and truly rejoiced in bringing each other down.  If you're trying to establish yourself within such a family, while simultaneously trying to win the affection and esteem of the Russian populace, AND you're not the type of person who particularly enjoys the public sphere, AND you're a stone-head ... really, I can only believe that Alix loved Nicky very, very much, and that their love must have compensated for such a life.  I, myself, would have had a nervous breakdown in very short order.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sarushka on September 03, 2005, 11:07:41 PM
How about Vladimir Aleksandrovich and Maria Pavlovna?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RealAnastasia on September 03, 2005, 11:39:28 PM
Maria Pavlovna (The Elder) for sure! And Felix Yussupov...

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 04, 2005, 12:55:18 PM
Xenia Alexandrovna seems to have genuinely cared for Alexandra as well, to judge by their letters. Even Sandro made an effort to speak with her alone during the war, to try and convince her to abandon Rasputin. It ended with harsh feelings on both sides, but I do think that there were those in the immediate family who cared for her. I don't get the impression that Maria Fyodorovna hated Alexandra, just that she didn't understand her.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on September 04, 2005, 01:16:26 PM
For myself I don't think that Maria F. was her enemy. But because they had a different opion they didn't like eachtother.

What if..Alexandra was the sole survivor of the excution. What would Maria F. have done?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: LyliaM on September 04, 2005, 01:44:53 PM
Probably exactly what she DID do with Anna Anderson!

I'm not really being serious, but you pose an interesting question.  Would she have agreed to meet with ANY actual or putative survivor, apart from Nicholas and/or Alexei, given her need to believe (or at least profess to believe), for both dynastic and personal reasons,  that the IF survived?  

I don't think that the Dowager Empress was Alix's "enemy" per se, but her letters and contemporary accounts reveal that the two women didn't exactly "click."  And I think this coolness did become active dislike as events unfolded with Rasputin, etc.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on September 04, 2005, 02:21:22 PM
I think that if Maria F. had knew something more about the Court of Queen Victoria, the child-history of Alexandra that she had learnt to understand her...
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Ortino on September 05, 2005, 12:20:46 AM
Quote
I think that if Maria F. had knew something more about the Court of Queen Victoria, the child-history of Alexandra that she had learnt to understand her...


It is very easy to say that now, but I'd imagine that Marie saw Alexandra as beyond unfit for the position of Empress of Russia, a large reason for her dislike. Alix was the complete opposite of Marie-quiet, shy, uptight, drawn into herself-and the Dowager Empress recognized this immediately, which I would agree with her, did not suit Russia at all. While it is true that Marie could perhaps have made more of an attempt to understand Alix's upbringing and character, it is still difficult for anyone to understand someone else's personality and the way they act, think etc. With a lifestyle and personality so different than her own, I don't think Marie could have understood her. And don't forget that Marie's sister, Alexandra, was queen of England at point, which means that she was not entirely unaware of the English lifestyle. On the whole, it seems Marie just saw Alexandra as unacceptable as an Empress of her country and as a wife for Nicholas.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Prince_Christopher on September 05, 2005, 12:36:38 AM
Not only was Alexandra's personality unfit for being empress, neither was being empress a driving force or a main focus of her life, as it was for Marie Feodorovna, as it would have been for numerous other women envious of her position.

After the birth of Alexei, he was her first and foremost concern, followed by her husband and daughters, their home life, her religious beliefs, her intellectual concerns, and her few friends.

Being empress was FAR down on Alexandra's list.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on September 05, 2005, 01:31:48 PM
Isn't the topic about her enemies who were also family members? I know her charactieristic have been discussed on other threads. Just asking.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: mitia on September 05, 2005, 01:50:17 PM
Cousin Willy, the German Kaiser, was far from beeing a good friend of Alexandra and his acts and words had dreadful consequences on Alexandra's public and private life. But I am not that sure that Wilhelm II was always fully aware of the harm he could do to his cousin.....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 07, 2005, 02:51:45 PM
Quote
I think it's difficult for many of us whose notion of "family" includes concepts such as unconditional love, support, and encouragement to understand the dynamics of the Russian imperial family.


I think you've cut right to the quick of it, LyliaM.  We tend today to try to calibrate the conduct of the Romanovs to that of a conventional family.  But the Romanovs were a dynasty, which is something quite different . . . and they were generally mindful of it (even when they were flouting the implications).

Senior marriages in the dynasty were matters of state and could have far-reaching domestic and international consequences.  In order to protect the interests of the dynasty as he perceived it, the tsar had power over the rest of the dynasty to confiscate, to arrest, to exile, to remove children from parents, to dole out or withhold largesse.

Given this power, the personal idiosyncracies of the monarchs loomed very large inside the family circle and could not help but become the focus of intrigue and maneuver.

Alexandra, from the outset of her reign, showed very little tolerance for the society in which the rest of the imperial family was reared and lived.  She felt dress was immodest, morals were lax, time was frittered away unconstructively.  And she affirmed her disapproval in very real and public ways, such as by keeping her daughters insulated from court and dynastic life.

Beyond this being viewed as an affront to the rest of them, the imperial family had to watch Alexandra pass harsh judgment on them while she herself failed in what they viewed as her own duties to the dynasty:  loathe to make public appearances, and often noticeably withdrawn when she did; prone to follow mystics, even to the point of exposing the monarchy to public derision; an agent in removing the gregarious Nicholas from his circle of friends and extended family and caging him in a claustrophobic inner family circle where her real and imagined illnesses called the cadence of family life; a meddler in Russian political affairs which she understood little but on which she opined much; and, finally, the knowing bearer of a disease into the dynasty that made male heirs questionable propositions for the throne.

Given all this, I find it not the least bit surprising that almost all but Olga ended up arrayed against her.  Olga must have been a kind and delightful person but, as she proved with Michael and Natasha, she was not a diligent guardian of the dynasty's political interests.

Conventional families might have viewed Alexandra as a bit of a prissy eccentric, to be indulged and even respected for her very real positive qualities.  But very few dynasties -- Romanovs or otherwise -- would have thought her anything but bad news.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: nene on September 15, 2005, 07:11:41 AM
I'm thinking that maybe it would have been better, for Alexandra's sake, that she never should have been empress of Russia. She only did it because the love she and Nicholas had was true love. But I think she should have realized and UNDERSTOOD what she was also marrying into.

Just my opinion.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 15, 2005, 08:49:21 AM
Welcome 'Nene'.   This was my nickname as a child!

Unfortunately in so far as Alexandra, the Empress, was concerned, things were not quite so simple... so cut and dried.  

It really is virtually impossible for us to think 'dynastically' - especially in terms of 19th century Europe.

tsaria

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 16, 2005, 05:28:44 AM
Quote
I'm thinking that maybe it would have been better, for Alexandra's sake, that she never should have been empress of Russia. She only did it because the love she and Nicholas had was true love. But I think she should have realized and UNDERSTOOD what she was also marrying into.

Just my opinion.


Hi Nene!  :)  I agree with tsaria; it is easy for us to say with hindsight that she should have understood. Perhaps she thought she did understand. Her opinion of Russia was surely based on her visits to Ella. In Ilinskoe especially, she had seen the devotion of the peasants to the IF and surely formed the idea that the people simply adored their Tsar and tsardom and wanted to be 'led' from above.

It must be remembered too, that since Ella was to eager to promote this marriage, she must have painted a very sunny picture of life in Russia. On top of that, Alix's love for Nicholas would have made her determined to support him and she probably believed that he would 'teach' her as she went along.
I think she tried very hard to be a good Empress (particularly at first) and it wasn't her fault that her background & character was so different from that of the IF that she never quite managed to 'fit in.'
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 16, 2005, 01:53:20 PM
I am agree with Tsaria and bluetoria.

I think that she realizad what she was marrying into, and that she wanted to be a good Empress.

In my opinion it would be very difficult to her to separate the Empress and the mother....if she had to choose between her two functions in punctual occasions, her election for me was clear understandable.

Be mother of an haemophyliac boy(the heir of the throne), in 1904, was not an easy task.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 16, 2005, 05:37:25 PM
Alexandra was not the only woman ever called upon to be a wife, mother, and empress.  Many pulled it off in much more trying circumstances, with husbands who carried on outside the marriage, and with in-laws who engaged in far more vicious assaults than the caustic gossip and insipid little cabals among the Romanovs.

Nor was Alexandra the only empress who had to deal with a sick child.  Her mother-in-law, for instance, actually lost two of her six children (including a tsarevitch) before the revolution but nevertheless managed to avoid paralysis in carrying out her duties.

Alexandra chose to take up the duties of the greatest throne on earth, and I have trouble believing it was an uninformed choice.  The lobbying of Ella and the bucolic visits to Russia notwithstanding, she was certainly counselled long and hard by her British relatives about the pitfalls of royal life in Russia.

Her path was not always easy or clear.  But neither was it strewn with insurmountable obstacles.  The plain fact is that she was not up to the task that many before her had managed to handle.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 16, 2005, 05:54:58 PM
...I agree, Tsarfan, she wasn't up to the task but then, who could have been at that time?  

There may have been others who had sick children and rose above it (Marie Feodorovna for example, as you wrote). There may have been others who dealt better with the weight of responsibility when married to men who found responsibility difficult (Marie of Roumania for example). There may have been others who adjusted to a different culture better than Alix did (Ella for example) But how many of them had ALL those difficulties combined - such power, love of a very sick child, responsibility (and as someone who as the youngest surviving child had never had responsibility) - to deal with at once? And then, on top of everything else, a war in which she found herself named as 'the enemy'!

I don't think I would have done a better job.  Who would?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 16, 2005, 06:27:23 PM
Not me.

I want to add that the illness of Alexei was a "secret", perhaps if his haemophilia would have be public, she would be more relaxed.

If a children died everybody console and support the mother, evereybody is sad about the mother.

Here the illness was a risk of death every minute of the life of the child...., but nobody knowed.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 16, 2005, 07:01:45 PM
I have never been able to understand Nicholas and Alexandra's insistence that Alexis' illness be kept secret.  I cannot imagine that most Russians would have cared if their next tsar was a son of Nicholas, or a brother, or a nephew.  Russians had a long history of rulers coming from other than lineal descent.  The perceived character of the person would perhaps have mattered, to the paltry extent the views of the people mattered in who ruled Russia.  So the purported fears that the monarchy would be destabilized by the news of Alexis' illness just do not ring true.

I have no way to prove this, but the fact that Nicholas and Alexandra tooks pains to prevent all but the most senior of the Romanovs from knowing the full extent of Alexis' illness suggests to me that the issue was less the reaction of the Russian people than the reaction of government insiders who, already inclined to dislike Alexandra for other reasons, would make use of the fact that Nicholas and Alexandra had knowingly brought hemoephilia into the royal bloodline.

For a couple so absolutely determined that the next tsar must be a son of Nicholas  -- and who felt that the mere knowledge of hemoephilia would strike at the very foundations of the monarchy -- their willingness to risk hemoephilia in their male progeny indicates to me a couple who made major decisions in a very short-sighted manner.

While many writers have focused on how Alexis' hemoephilia played a formative role in Alexandra's outlook, I have always felt it played an equally-formative role in the Romanovs antipathy to Alexandra . . . and to Nicholas, too, for that matter.

It was a hugely reckless roll of the dice in a very high stakes game, at least from the Romanovs' viewpoint.  And the roll went against them.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 16, 2005, 11:08:49 PM
Quote
For a couple so absolutely determined that the next tsar must be a son of Nicholas  -- and who felt that the mere knowledge of hemoephilia would strike at the very foundations of the monarchy -- their willingness to risk hemoephilia in their male progeny indicates to me a couple who made major decisions in a very short-sighted manner.


This passage struck me forcefully, and made me think about something that should have been obvious. Nicholas and Alexandra were willing to risk having the disease passed to another generation.

Golly.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 17, 2005, 06:10:52 AM
Quote
I have never been able to understand Nicholas and Alexandra's insistence that Alexis' illness be kept secret.  

I have no way to prove this, but the fact that Nicholas and Alexandra tooks pains to prevent all but the most senior of the Romanovs from knowing the full extent of Alexis' illness suggests to me that the issue was less the reaction of the Russian people than the reaction of government insiders who, already inclined to dislike Alexandra for other reasons, would make use of the fact that Nicholas and Alexandra had knowingly brought hemoephilia into the royal bloodline.
.


Sadly, for many people illness is still equated with weakness. People then as now often took great pains to hide their conditions & to suggest Alexei was ill was to suggest the family was weak.
I agree that if it were known that the illness had been inherited through Alexandra, she would receive the 'blame' for it. Already a 'foreigner' who had not gained the support of the family, her position would have been even more difficult. But why shouldthat make the decision to keep it private, wrong?

Again, it was such a stressful situation for both devoted parents, that perhaps it would have been far too difficult for them to discuss it with anyone outside their immediate circle. Many people do not wish their private family tragedies to be discussed for fear of trivializing them or because they do not wish to be 'pitied.'
Who would want their illnesses/conditions to be discussed by everyone? It would be unfair on Alexei to have everyone knowing all the ins and outs of his medical state - would any of us be willing to have all our medical records open to public scrutiny?  
I do not think it is difficult to empathise with Nicholas and Alexandra in their decision not to have this discussed.

Quote

For a couple so absolutely determined that the next tsar must be a son of Nicholas  -- and who felt that the mere knowledge of hemoephilia would strike at the very foundations of the monarchy -- their willingness to risk hemoephilia in their male progeny indicates to me a couple who made major decisions in a very short-sighted manner.
.


Are you suggesting they shouldn't have had children at all? That seems extremely harsh!
Also, they could not have known whether or not a son would be a haemophiliac. Alix needed only look at her uncles - 3 of them were not sufferers, only one was. Of her two brothers, only one suffered from the condition. Of her sisters, one had haemophiliac sons, another didn't...Alix had every reason to be hopeful that her son would not be afflicted.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 17, 2005, 08:02:47 AM
Quote
Alix needed only look at her uncles - 3 of them were not sufferers, only one was. Of her two brothers, only one suffered from the condition. Of her sisters, one had haemophiliac sons, another didn't...Alix had every reason to be hopeful that her son would not be afflicted.


By this reckoning, a third of the males were afflicted.  That strikes me as a very poor basis for feeling one had "every reason" to be hopeful in avoiding an illness that in that era was usually fatal.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 17, 2005, 08:18:15 AM
Quote
Are you suggesting they shouldn't have had children at all? That seems extremely harsh!


Actually, I'm not suggesting they should not have had children once they were married.  Instead, I have long felt that Nicholas should have followed his parents' advice not to marry Alexandra -- advice which was based, at least in part, on the fact that hemoephilia that was known to run in her family.  

I do understand that Nicholas and Alexandra loved each other.  But being a tsar imposed higher duties than just following one's personal inclinations.  Other tsars, including Nicholas' father, forwent their own romantic inclinations in order to put their duties to the dynasty first.  

I also find it interesting that Alexandra supposedly held off Nicholas' suit for a considerable period while she grappled with her scruples about converting faith.  I wonder why she did not have similar scruples about bringing hemoephilia into a royal house that depended on male heirs for its continuation.  Or did she?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 17, 2005, 08:36:21 AM
 
Quote
Are you suggesting they shouldn't have had children at all? That seems extremely harsh!
Also, they could not have known whether or not a son would be a haemophiliac. Alix needed only look at her uncles - 3 of them were not sufferers, only one was. Of her two brothers, only one suffered from the condition. Of her sisters, one had haemophiliac sons, another didn't...Alix had every reason to be hopeful that her son would not be afflicted.


I don't think anyone is suggesting that they not have children, just that they not have allowed their sick son to be made Tsar.

The Tsar of Russia was not a constituional monarch. He actually ruled, and so a matter of his health had serious consequences, so yes, Alexei's haemophilia --- especially given the medical treatments available in the early 20th century --- was absolutely germane to his ability to serve as Tsar.

In her reply to Tsarfan, Tsaria introduced the idea that Nicholas and Alexandra were playing Russian Roulette, which is offensive to their feelings and the agony they must have felt as his parents. But on the other hand, that is what you are describing in the above quote, isn't it? Sadly, there was information available to them that the disease was rampant within the descendants of Victoria. It isn't enough to consider Alexei, but each of the girls was a potential carrier.

I can't speak to their emotional states or motivations without my books and research, but in fact their actions do give you the story --- they obviously felt that there was a chance that he wouldn't be a haemophiliac, and kept trying until there was a son. That is obvious from the events.

Regards,

Simon
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Lizameridox on September 17, 2005, 09:36:04 AM
To put it simply:  Nicholas and Alexandra prayed for a son, tried for a son, and asked the intercessions of Seraphim of Sarov that they might have a son.  Their eldest daughter, as intelligent as she was, could not rule.  Their bright, compassionate young son, the answer to their prayers, had a serious illness, but was being brought up and taught to rule after his father in the sincere hope that the miracle of his birth would be followed by the miracle of his reign, however long or short it would be.  It would have been absolutely barbaric by our standards to have hidden Alexei Nikolaevich away in the fashion Prince John of Great Britain was, and though the protective cocoon his family made around him kept him somewhat isolated, he was nurtured, greatly loved, and granted the assumption that he had a very important part to play.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 17, 2005, 09:50:28 AM
I must thank the cool heads of bluetoria and Greshniya.   Your points are very sensitive as well as valid.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: mitia on September 17, 2005, 10:14:31 AM
Dear Tsarfan,
Understanding that this topic is about Alexandra's enemies, may I ask you if your conclusion is that Alexandra's worst enemy was in fact herself ?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Forum Admin on September 17, 2005, 01:14:36 PM
As happens from time-to-time, this discussion has drifted into troubled waters where none of intended it to go.   Sometimes we posting things we  later regret when passions have died down.  It seem people post things on the web they would never say in person, I am not sure why this is but it happens.  I have have found looking back on postings I have put up a few days later and wondered "what must I have been thinking at the time!".

Tsarfan, you are very articulate and a great contributor.... Christine, you are passionate and without you where would the forum be today - let alone all of your other wonderful work in Russia!  You are both friends and colleagues with similar goals.... let's step back and all take a breather in this discussion.

Since it has been mentioned here - I admit to treating the site and the forum as a type of 'shrine' to the Imperial Family.  Those who have known me will also concede I am less dogmatic and passionate about defending them aws I used to be!  I hope this is due to greater tolerance and maturity (I hope).

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on September 17, 2005, 01:39:01 PM
Personally I am always happiest when people with totally contradictory views are contributing to the same thread. It makes for a more lively discussion and occasionally, if we are very lucky, a thrilling debate! Especially lately, when the Romanov threads have seemed to suffer a bit from the doldrums (seasonal?), I for one welcome so many different voices raised in opposition!

IMO, in an ideal world Nicholas and Alexandra would have been more cautious in their decision to marry - but how do we even know that they considered a hemophiliac child a possible outcome of such a marriage? To what extent was the illness even discussed in Alexandra's family, much less outside of it? Can we even be sure that Alexandra knew her brother Friedrich was a hemophiliac? (She was only a year old when he died.) Did she actually know she was a potential carrier of the disease? Or was this most "royal" of diseases kept very much a secret, even from those it had the most chance of afflicting? Every family has its skeleton in the closet - perhaps this particular skeleton, like so many others, simply wasn't talked about?

Furthermore, what difference would it really have made if Nicholas and Alexandra had not married? No doubt a Rasputin would not have arisen to discredit the dynasty, but wouldn't Nicholas have been very much the same as a ruler, wouldn't World War I have been very much the same as an epochal crisis? Wouldn't, in fact, the end result have been very much the same? We like to think that these dynastic problems and intrigues were decisive, but weren't they actually, by the second decade of the twentieth century, to some extent anachronistic and, in the final analysis, utterly beside the point?

Just to play devil's advocate.

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 17, 2005, 02:07:25 PM
At the time of Alexandra's marriage, her only experience of haemophilia was that of her Uncle Leopold and her brother Frittie. She had many non-afflicted uncles and a perfectly healthy brother as well as numerous healthy male cousins. (Her nephew, Henry, had not then been diagnosed, had he??) I don't imagine she even thought about being a carrier herself.  :-/
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 17, 2005, 02:13:27 PM
Quote
Personally I am always happiest when people with totally contradictory views are contributing to the same thread. It makes for a more lively discussion and occasionally, if we are very lucky, a thrilling debate! Especially lately, when the Romanov threads have seemed to have suffered a bit from the doldrums (seasonal, I suspect), I for one welcome so many different voices raised in opposition!  


Elizabeth ---

Please feel free to head over to the Survivors Thread, where dissension reigns merrily supreme!  ;D

Regards,

Simon
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 17, 2005, 02:33:26 PM
Alexander III and, particularly, Maria Feodorovna were strongly opposed to the match of their heir with Alix of Hesse.   Of all the reasons given for their opposition, haemophilia was never raised.   One would have thought, had they been aware of the implications of the illness, this would have to serve to enforce their opposition.

There was no understanding of the disease.   In fact in the early 20th century, haemophilia was thought to be a disease of the blood vessels - not of the blood.    Nobody appeared aware of the hereditary nature of the disease.   Indeed most of Queen Victoria's sons survived.   Of her four sons, only one was haemophilliac. Leopold lived until he was 30+ and fathered a son.  In the end, his death was due to a morphine overdose not to haemorrhage.  

Queen Victoria may even, inadvertently, had an inkling of an hereditary factor.   When she witnessed a member of her family marry 'aristocracy' rather than 'royalty', she declared this was healthier for their 'dark' blood.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 17, 2005, 04:19:42 PM
I am absolutly agree with Tsaria.

In that time there was not understanding of haemophilia.

In the cases of two grand daughters of Queen Victoria, Alix and Ena (Queen of Spain), i don´t think that they thought about being carriers of the illness.

I belive that Alix was proposed to marry Eddie, Prince of Wales,...if the risk was knowing, it seems me very improbable that Queen Victoria wanted her to be the future Queen of England, and mother of the future descendents of the Windsor´s.

In my opinion, Nicholas and Alfonso XII were not warned about the risk of have haemophiliacs children.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 17, 2005, 06:08:15 PM
From the hemophilia.org website:

"In the U.S., the transmission of hemophilia from mothers to sons was first described in the early 1800s.  In 1803, a Philadelphia physician named Dr. John Conrad Otto wrote an account of 'a hemorrhagic disposition existing in certain families.'  He recognized that a particular bleeding condition was hereditary and affected males. [my emphasis)"

Leopold (Alexandra's maternal uncle) had the disease, which was reported in the British Medical Journal in 1868.  In 1873 her brother Frederick died of the disease.

So . . . transmission to males through the female line was well understood in Alexandra's youth.  Leopold's condition indicated Victoria was a carrier.  And Frederick's condition indicated Alexandra's mother was a carrier.

The existence of hemophilia in the British royal family was clearly public knowledge.  There was no "well kept secret" to it.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 17, 2005, 09:45:06 PM
Both of her sister Irene's sons were born before Alexei, and both were haemophiliacs.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lexi4 on September 17, 2005, 11:19:21 PM
Alex and Nicky were desperate for a son, that is true. I wonder if they might have been prey to the thinking "it can't happen to us." I know I have fallen prey to that at thinking at times in my life. Especially when I was younger. My father had an illness that is hereditary, did it stop my or my brother from having children? Nope. Did any of them inherit his illness? Yep. Did we think it would happen to one of our children? Nope. See what I'm getting at.
As for keeping their son's illness a secret, I don't think that is so out of the ordinary. For those of us who remember Jackie Kennedy, how long was it after she left the White House that you first knew she was smoker? Some things are just private, even to the most public people.
Someone posted earlier, can't remember who, that the thought Nicholas should have listened to his parents and refrained from marrying Alex. I have thought that at times too. But all that did was probably push them together. They were, after all, young at one time too.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 18, 2005, 03:42:21 AM
Quote
As for keeping their son's illness a secret, I don't think that is so out of the ordinary.


I don't either, at least as it applies to the period soon after Alexei's birth.  But the situation was very different after, say, Spala.  For one thing, Alexei had to be carried in public appearances.  People nearer to the throne were aware that something was seriously wrong.  His obvious illness was the source of much public and diplomatic speculation.

More importantly, Alexandra's dependence on Rasputin was moving from becoming a source of comment to a source of vicious rumors about Alexandra's personal conduct and Nicholas' inability to deal with it.  As it began to cut away at the reputation of the monarchy, the choice became one of trying to conceal the cause of a very visible illness or tolerating the widespread and hugely damaging misunderstanding about why Rasputin was admitted to the inner circle.

At this juncture, I suspect concealing the cause of the illness had more to do with protecting Alexandra than with protecting Alexei.  People would not have blamed Alexei for having hemophilia.  Many, whether justifiably or not, would have blamed Alexandra for it.

Quote
Someone posted earlier, can't remember who, that the thought Nicholas should have listened to his parents and refrained from marrying Alex. I have thought that at times too. But all that did was probably push them together. They were, after all, young at one time too.


Alexander III was young, too, when he abandoned his romance to marry his brother's fiancee.  Russian history was rife with tsars who married for state reasons instead of for love -- and with tsarinas who refrained from marrying (at least publicly) for state reasons.  This particular piece of self-denial came with the job.

To get back closer to the original topic of why other Romanovs were Alexandra's enemies, I think we have to remember the various objections Nicholas and Alexandra raised to marriages elsewhere in the family for the very reason that they damaged the interests of the dynasty.  Dmitri and Maria Pavlovna, for instance, were removed from their father's care and sent to Ella and Serge for raising when their father was exiled for an inappropriate marriage.  Yet when it came to Nicholas and Alexandra, the rule seems to have been "follow where love leads, the consequences be damned."

I agree with all the other posters who have said that an illness such as hemophilia was viewed as something akin to a character flaw in that era and was something that a family would naturally try to keep as private as possible.  That very secrecy would make it an unlikely topic to have been captured in written sources from the era.  It's one of those areas that, I fear, will always be the subject of speculation and dissent.

But some things are known.  We know that hemophilia, though misunderstood clinically in that era, was accurately understood to run in families from female carriers to male offspring.  We know that the hemophilia in the British royal family was reported in medical journals as early as 1868.  In 1873, it was confirmed that Alexandra's mother Alice was a carrier.  We know that all members of the imperial family had private physicians drawn from the most qualified ranks of the profession.  We know at least some of those physicians corresponded with their colleagues in Britain and Germany where the hemophilia of the British royal family was well known.

I have no means to prove it, but I cannot imagine Alexander III and Marie Feodorovna would not have been apprised of the risk of hemophilia in this marriage and would not have raised the issue privately -- and far off any sort of written record -- with Nicholas.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 05:57:24 AM
It shows an uncharacteristic determination on the part of Nicholas II that he fought so vociferously against the self denial which went with the job.

It is remarkable that there is no documentary evidence whatsoever - either from within the Imperial Family, the Court or Government, in memoirs or in papers, that amongst the, rather limp, excuses given as to the unsuitablity of Alix of Hesse as a bride to the heir of the Russian throne, when there was so powerful and valid a reason as the known hereditary implications associated with haemophilia.

I contend that Victoria and her offspring were not fully aware of the implications of this disease.   Even had the, then, rudimentary (see history of haemophilia) scientific conclusions been spelled out to Queen Victoria (if indeed the doctors dared), she would not necessarily have grasped the full implication in terms of her personal legacy.   How often do people hear only what they want to hear - in so far as medical diagnoses are concerned.

Only after the birth of her EIGHTH child (Leopold) was it obvious there was a link between Queen Victoria and haemophilia.     Given there was no previous family history, Queen Victoria was an example of spontaneous mutation. Amonst her descendants, the haemophilia gene has now died out.

Opinion should not be misconstrued as fact.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 18, 2005, 06:30:40 AM
I agree, tsaria. I don't think that any members of the family up until the time of Henry of Prussia's death were fully aware of the nature of this disease. It may have been written of in medical journals but how many medical journals does the average person (royal or otherwise) read.

Princess Alice, writing of Frittie, said, "I trust he will outgrow this illness." She clearly, for all her medical knowledge, did not understand the nature of the condition.

Queen Victoria, too, as you say, seemed rather surprised to discover that more than one member of the family had the same 'tendency to bleed' as she called it.

While Waldemar of Prussia was born before Alix's marriage, both Sigismund & Henry were born later - so Alix would not have known that one of her sisters carried the condition. Nor would she expect it in her own child, if she looked at Victoria whose children happily escaped it.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 18, 2005, 08:04:31 AM
Valid observations.

When dealing with an area that will probably never admit of definitive proof one way or the other, I think it's helpful to argue various potential scenarios and, at the end of the day, see which ones seem most tenable.

I think there's a timeline to this argument, too.  I agree that when Leopold's hemophilia was publicized in the medical press in 1868, it would probably have been of interest to but a few specialists.  However, the fact that the diagnosis warranted publication in one of the leading medical journals of the day indicates that it was viewed as significant by those specialists.

When Frederick was diagnosed five years later, however, I think the situation would have changed.  The disease, which was usually fatal in that era, was known by the medical community to be passed hereditarily.  Now two of Victoria's progeny had the disease.

Then Waldemar (who bled to death at age four) was diagnosed.  At that point, two of Alice's progeny were known to have had the disease -- i.e., one of her three sons and the first of her grandsons.  So there could have been no doubt by the time of Alix' engagement that her mother was a carrier.  In fact, fully half of Alice's male descendants had presented with hemophilia by the time of Alix' engagement.  (Eventually three of Alice's six grandsons were to have the disease.)

How likely is it that the community of doctors who took care of the royal family would not have understood the significance of that and at some point raised the issue with Victoria and others in the family?  I think it very unlikely.

The more difficult question for me is whether Alexander III and Marie Feodorovna would have been alerted.

I do not know what specific inquiry they ordered into Alix' suitability.  What I do know from studying European monarchical history is that it was almost universal practice to thoroughly investigate the backgrounds of candidates for marriage into the direct line of succession to a throne.  Geneaology was examined.  The diplomatic corps was asked to scour the landscape for rumor and innuendo that might signal incipient problems that could later erupt into significance.  Direct and lateral lines were checked for hints of such "family" diseases as madness or "melancholy".  (Remember that, even as early as Leopold's diagnosis, when Victoria protested that the disease could not have come from her, rumors became widespread in diplomatic circles about the "curse of the Coburgs".)


Would it have really gone unnoticed and unreported to Alexander and Marie that Alix' uncle, brother, and first-born nephew had the "bleeding disease"?


I admit it's possible.  But I think it more likely that they were apprised of the situation and, given the attitudes of that era, included it in the discussions with Nicholas that did not make it into the record.

The notions put forward for Alexander's and Marie's very strong objections to the marriage just don't wash with me.  A dislike of England?  Marie's own sister was the crown princess of England.  A preference that Nicholas marry into the line of Bourbon pretenders for political reasons?  What weight would that have carried on the world diplomatic stage?

Something is missing from this puzzle.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 18, 2005, 12:42:19 PM
I still beliving that it was because of political reasons that Alexander III and M F looked with disfavour the choice of his son and i still beliving that they were not informed about the risk of haemophilia.

Even if the Tsar was close to the Hessians ( he had been Alix´s godfather, and he himself was partly Hessian)...the tsarina toathed all things German, ever since Prussia had declared war on her father´s kingdom of Denmark. For me this is an important reason.

The rivality with her sister in law Gran Duchess Vladimir perhaps reinforced her views.

Alexander III and M F prefered Princess Helene daughter of the Comte de Paris (she agreed to change her religion), a marriage to her would strengthen the Franco-Russian pact.

Alix had made a bad impression on Russian society when visiting her elder sister, pathologically shy, clumsy and ill at ease at the court of St. Petersburg....anybody who looked less like a future Empress would be hard to imagine.

Finally Ali´x cousin, Emperor William saw that a Russo-Hessian marriage alliance would go some way towards counter balancing more politically negative aspects of the Franco-Russian treaty. He encouraged Nicky to marry her.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 12:57:08 PM
One gaping hole in this perfectly valid argument is Queen Victoria's approval of a proposed betrothal between Alix of Hesse and the heir of the heir, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.  

In 1889, when Alix was being actively promoted as a prospective bride - she strenuously declined this most 'glittering' of matches.   Surely had Victoria been aware of the hereditary implications of haemophilia, she would not have even considered Alix an option is the marriage stakes.   It was, afterall, her dynasty which really was at stake.

When Alix's sister, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in the face of the disapproval of their grandmother, actively canvassed support for a marriage between Alix and the then Tsarevich Nicholas - her husband's nephew - given the scenario proposed by Tsarfan, surely Grand Duke Sergei have intervened.   But no, instead, along with his wife, he was a firm supporter of the match.

These objections put forward against the match by Alexander III and Marie Feodorovna were shallow in the extreme, so why on earth did they not play this most fatal of fatal cards?

My feeling is Alexander and Marie were caught on the hop.   The Tsar's nephritic condition had already begun to manifest itself by the early months of 1894.  Although I do not think he believed for a moment he was going to die, I think the shock of his illness must have been devasting for a man who embodied strength and health - a strength which is legendary even today.   In this moment of weakness, they capitulated.

tsaria  

   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 18, 2005, 02:28:45 PM
I agree that Victoria's support of Alix's marriage to Albert Victor is problematic to my hypothesis.

There are at least five possibilities:

1.  I am completely wrong (certainly possible).

2.  No one could or would explain the situation to Victoria.

3.  Victoria determined to ignore the implications and press on with business as usual, relying on faith or chance to protect her line (much as Alexandra was later to do with Alexei).

4.  Victoria fully understood the risk and was simply willing to take it.

5.  Victoria recognized the issue of hemophilia but misunderstood the implications.  Remember that people by then knew that hemophilia passed from mother to son, but they understood very little else of the genetics of transmission.  Victoria might have thought that, once the disease was already in the bloodline, intermarriage would have had no further impact on the odds.  The reinforcement of recessive traits might have simply been beyond her ken and that of her advisors.

Someone e-mailed me to say that Victoria's correspondence with Milford-Haven indicates Victoria clearly understood the issues hemophilia posed for her family, but I haven't been able yet to inquire further.

However, all this goes only to what Victoria knew or cared to confront.  What Alexander and Marie might have known was something quite separate.  Remember that Marie, whom some have reported to be the more determined objector to the match, was likely to be getting "back channel" information about the British royal house from her sister, Alexandra.  Surely there were at least some in that house who were taking notice of the fact that Leopold, Frederick, and Waldemar had hemophilia.

With Alix's brother and her sister's first son already dead from hemophilia, how could anyone who knew the barest facts of the situation not have entertained the worry that Alix was sitting smack dab in the bulls-eye?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 02:58:34 PM
But what about Grand Duchess Elizabeth, moreso, Grand Duke Sergei both active proponents of the match?   Ella was an intelligent, aware woman.   Nonetheless, I can understand there may have been strong personal reasons why she wished to have her sister closer.   But HE was equally enthusiastic about the match between his nephew and his sister-in-law.   Would Sergei, had he been appraised of the disastrous implications which lay in this union, really have been prepared to see his own family and the Romanov Dynasty jeopardised?  

Also, it is difficult to imagine that Marie Feodorovna compartmentalised her life to the extent that she did not share such overwhelmingly important information passed to her by her sister, with her husband.   This is not a sufficiently strong reason to attribute Marie's oppostion to the marriage.   There was a personality clash between Marie and Alix from the word go.   They did not have a single iota in common.

It would be fascinating to learn more about the Queen Victoria/Milford Haven correspondence.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 18, 2005, 03:51:37 PM
Yesterday i suggested that Alix was proposed to marry Eddy, Prince of Wales, and that for me it was a reason about the  subjet we were discussin.(I thougth i was discussing too)

Nobody commented my suggestion, today it has been commented when tsaria has posted the same reason than me.

Perhaps my english is not understanding (for me is an effort to express me ) Or perhaps the reasons i am posting are wrong, but i would like to know if they are valids or not.

Does someone appart me think, that maybe political reasons were the reason of the disagrement of Alexander III and M F about Alix?

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 18, 2005, 03:59:40 PM
(Sorry, Isabel.  Your above message came up while I was composing the following post.  I think it perhaps addresses your earlier points.  I find your English quite understandable.)

I didn't mean to imply that Marie would not have told Alexander everything she heard.  I was suggesting that Marie might have taken medical risks and the advice of doctors more seriously.  (Consider the wide variation today in how people react to the risks to their own health of smoking.)

I'm not a particular fan of Alexandra but, when you take hemophilia out of it, I really cannot see why she would have seemed such an unsuitable match in the early 1890's.

Yes, she was a bit reserved and socially awkward.  And yes, she and Marie were oil and water.  But she came from a major royal line and lived in the close orbit of one of the four principal monarchs of the era.  I have trouble accepting that this array of plusses and minuses would have led Alexander and Marie to deny Nicholas a match he desperately wanted and to saddle him with one he abhorred.

And, as I said earlier, I cannot buy the stated political reasons -- Alexander's dislike of things English or his desire to foster the Franco-Russian alliance.  His sister-in-law was in waiting to become the Queen of England.  And his committment to a French alliance was opportunistic and fraught with an underlying suspicion of republicanism.  I seriously doubt whether he would have saddled his son with a life-long marital committment in furtherance of a diplomatic alliance which he viewed with trepidation.  (Remember, Alexander was not a proponent of Romanov males marrying in one direction and then dallying in another.  I think he would have attended seriously to Nicholas' desires regarding marriage, up to a point.)  Even so, marrying into the line of Bourbon pretenders was hardly an effective device for exercising decisive influence over French political affairs.

I really don't know what to make of Serge's and Ella's support of the match.  Perhaps supporting Alexander's and Marie's objections -- if they were, in fact, privately grounded in hemophilia -- would have implied an admission that their own marriage had been foolhardy in risking the introduction of the disease into the Romanov bloodline.

I do know that Ella knew both she and Alix had lost an uncle, a brother, and a nephew to hemophilia.  From that I conclude that she, if no one else in Russia, must have understood that Alix risked bringing the disease into the direct line of succession if she married the tsarevitch.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 04:10:19 PM
Isabel - on the contrary your English is excellent - my Spanish is non-existent, I am sorry to say.   Additionally to be able to write English on a subject as complex and as potentially inflammatory as this, shows a remarkable understanding of a foreign language.   I salute you.

I used the example of Queen Victoria's approval of a possible marriage between her grandson and granddaughter, purely to make the point that I believe the Queen would not wished to have damaged the British crown and leave such a tragic and negative legacy which would forever implicate herself.

I agree Marie Feodorovna had no great love for the various German royal houses and certainly little for her sister-in-law, Maria Pavlovna, but that was family politics.
 
The situation was very complex and lying at its very heart was the resolute love of, the young, Tsarevich Nicholas for Alix of Hesse.

If Tsarfan's hypothesis is correct and all the participating families - Windsor, Hesse and Romanov - were fully aware of the potentially disastrous implications for the Romanov Dynasty which this marriage represented, ALL of them were blind, ALL of them were reckless, EACH and EVERYONE of them IS culpable.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 18, 2005, 04:13:46 PM
There was discussion about hemophlia by the 1890s within the family.

QV wrote to VMH about a possible match between Maud & Ernie but then worried that Maud could be a carrier. Obviously  it wasn't known yet that Maud couldn't be (at least through the QV link) but she was worried about Maud's general weak health and the first cousin connection. It's ironic that she didn't worry about this when promoting the Alix/Eddy match when the circumstances were similar and Alix had a chance of being a carrier due to Frittie's condition as well as Irene's son Waldemar. Henry Jr was born (and died) before Alexei was born (both in 1904 so perhaps not the death) but after Alix & Nicholas married.

I believe I did read that AIII & MF had concerns regarding the hemophilia issue as well as the general health of Alix. Mostly though it seems that they just didn't care much for her. She didn't make a favorable impression on her visits to see Ella and at other gatherings. Plus she wasn't considered English but German and, despite the Hesse/Romanov as well as the Hesse/Danish connection, MF did not care for Germans. Also the religious issue. MF had been in Russia long enough to know the importance of this and with Alix so unwilling to convert, she couldn't have foreseen that Alix would later become very devout. QA apparently disliked the potential match with Eddy for much the same reasons--German, personality, etc... I'm sure the 2 sisters consulted each other.

As for any rolling of the dice, that's true to an extent. I think it's true for anyone who carries a hereditary disease. Even today with great medical technology, there are some diseases passed on to children that are fatal. Anyone looking to marry and have children are faced with the same choices. Alix & NII loved each other and took the chance. It ended badly but Alexei had a chance of not being infected--even Irene had a non-hemophiliac son. It wasn't a 100% guarantee. Plus the Romanovs fathered a great number of sons--Alix's troubles both with her pregnancies and NII fathering so many daughters couldn't have been foreseen. There was probably every reason to believe that even if a son had hemophilia, there would be other sons who were healthy. That might sound cold-blooded but the 'heir and a spare' applied for a reason. As was pointed out, MF lost 2 of her sons before Alexei was born--illnesses and accidents could strike at any time.

By 1905 when Ena married Alfonso of Spain it was certainly discussed. Later when hemophilia took such a toll on their family, Alfonso would bitterly complain that he had been 'deceived' whereas in reality he had been informed that Ena's brother Leopold was a hemophiliac and took the chance. He chose to believe that because Ena had 2 other brothers and looked the picture of health that all would be fine. He had an even more important need for a son. NII at least had 2 brothers (at least until 1899) who could inherit and numerous cousins (like them or not). If AXIII died without a male heir, the throne would go to another branch of the family.

Alexandra would have good reasons to keep Alexei's illness a secret. One was the superstitious nature of Russia. She had always been regarded with some suspicion after she arrived in Russia 'behind a coffin'. As Ena (who also married into a very religious, superstitious country) found out, all kinds of rumors could start. In Spain it was rumored that a soldier had to be sacrificed each day so that his blood could be given to the Prince of the Asturias. Also, and going back to the original topic, AF was surrounded by enemies. If I had so personal a torment, I wouldn't want people who hated me to know about it. HOw much sympathy would she have gotten? If just would've been more for them to chew on--look AF can't produce a son, look she finally does and he's 'deficient', AF is such a bad Empress and now she's fallen down on her primary duty. Miechen would've started planning Kyril's succession then and there--Michael nonwithstanding. As suspcious as she was, AF could very well have figured Alexei's life may be in danger of ambitious relatives.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 18, 2005, 04:28:33 PM
We should be mindful of a key difference between Britain and Russia when comparing Victoria's possible concerns about hemophilia to Alexander's and Marie's:  women could ascend the throne in Great Britain, but not in Russia.  Hemophilia was of more consequence in Russian dynastic affairs.

Granduchessella's last paragraph, above, brings us back full circle.  I think hemophilia lay near the core of the imperial family's resentment of Alexandra.  And I think Alexandra and Nicholas knew it.  And I think that knowledge played a key role in the extended charade they played about preparing Alexei to rule.  They felt they could yield no ground without ceding the war.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 04:35:57 PM
Yes Ella, Alix of Hesse's attitude towards changing her religion certainly would not have endeared her to the Orthodox Tsar of Orthodox Russia.

Ella, may I ask, where did you learn of Alexander and Marie's awareness of the haemophilia factor and its possible existence in the genes of Alix of Hesse?   Did they appreciate it probably disastrous results?

Nicholas II's sister, Xenia produced one daughter followed by five sons.   It is ironic that the one sibling of Alexander and Marie who managed to produce four daughters and then one, sadly, compromised son was their heir.  

An 'heir and the spare' - now, I wonder where I've heard that before.

Has there ever been a satisfactory explanation as to why Alexandra had no other children after Alexei?  

As a woman in 2005, I abhor the very notion of any member of my sex being used as a 'womb', but the Empress of Russia was in very different situation.  

Was it that she was, understandably, physically and emotionally, exhausted after bearing five children + miscarriage(s) and a phantom pregnancy?   I know there is evidence that the Imperial pair did practice contraception (outwith the laws of their Church), but there seems to have been no impetus on their part to produce a spare to their heir.

Tsarfan touches on another interesting thought.   Apart from Helene of Orleans, what other 'suitable' princesses were available on the royal marriage market at the time?

tsaria

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 18, 2005, 04:44:57 PM
Quote
There was discussion about hemophlia by the 1890s within the family.

QV wrote to VMH about a possible match between Maud & Ernie but then worried that Maud could be a carrier. Obviously  it wasn't known yet that Maud couldn't be (at least through the QV link) but she was worried about Maud's general weak health and the first cousin connection. It's ironic that she didn't worry about this when promoting the Alix/Eddy match when the circumstances were similar and Alix had a chance of being a carrier due to Frittie's condition as well as Irene's son Waldemar. Henry Jr was born (and died) before Alexei was born (both in 1904 so perhaps not the death) but after Alix & Nicholas married.

I believe I did read that AIII & MF had concerns regarding the hemophilia issue as well as the general health of Alix. Mostly though it seems that they just didn't care much for her. She didn't make a favorable impression on her visits to see Ella and at other gatherings. Plus she wasn't considered English but German and, despite the Hesse/Romanov as well as the Hesse/Danish connection, MF did not care for Germans. Also the religious issue. MF had been in Russia long enough to know the importance of this and with Alix so unwilling to convert, she couldn't have foreseen that Alix would later become very devout. QA apparently disliked the potential match with Eddy for much the same reasons--German, personality, etc... I'm sure the 2 sisters consulted each other.

As for any rolling of the dice, that's true to an extent. I think it's true for anyone who carries a hereditary disease. Even today with great medical technology, there are some diseases passed on to children that are fatal. Anyone looking to marry and have children are faced with the same choices. Alix & NII loved each other and took the chance. It ended badly but Alexei had a chance of not being infected--even Irene had a non-hemophiliac son. It wasn't a 100% guarantee. Plus the Romanovs fathered a great number of sons--Alix's troubles both with her pregnancies and NII fathering so many daughters couldn't have been foreseen. There was probably every reason to believe that even if a son had hemophilia, there would be other sons who were healthy. That might sound cold-blooded but the 'heir and a spare' applied for a reason. As was pointed out, MF lost 2 of her sons before Alexei was born--illnesses and accidents could strike at any time.

By 1905 when Ena married Alfonso of Spain it was certainly discussed. Later when hemophilia took such a toll on their family, Alfonso would bitterly complain that he had been 'deceived' whereas in reality he had been informed that Ena's brother Leopold was a hemophiliac and took the chance. He chose to believe that because Ena had 2 other brothers and looked the picture of health that all would be fine. He had an even more important need for a son. NII at least had 2 brothers (at least until 1899) who could inherit and numerous cousins (like them or not). If AXIII died without a male heir, the throne would go to another branch of the family.

Alexandra would have good reasons to keep Alexei's illness a secret. One was the superstitious nature of Russia. She had always been regarded with some suspicion after she arrived in Russia 'behind a coffin'. As Ena (who also married into a very religious, superstitious country) found out, all kinds of rumors could start. In Spain it was rumored that a soldier had to be sacrificed each day so that his blood could be given to the Prince of the Asturias. Also, and going back to the original topic, AF was surrounded by enemies. If I had so personal a torment, I wouldn't want people who hated me to know about it. HOw much sympathy would she have gotten? If just would've been more for them to chew on--look AF can't produce a son, look she finally does and he's 'deficient', AF is such a bad Empress and now she's fallen down on her primary duty. Miechen would've started planning Kyril's succession then and there--Michael nonwithstanding. As suspcious as she was, AF could very well have figured Alexei's life may be in danger of ambitious relatives.


What an excellent post in terms of addressing the issues involved. I also think that it makes sense that Victoria RI may have clung to a hope that Alix was NOT a carrier, but even so --- no one could have foreseen the four daughters coming before the only son. It might have been forgivable for Alix to have had one sickly son among three, as Marie Feodorovna herself did.

As far as other royal princesses available for Nicholas, would Toria of Wales have been a viable candidate?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 04:49:38 PM
Same problem, Louis_Charles - HAEMOPHILIA

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 18, 2005, 04:52:51 PM
Right you are. Although if it was known to pass through the mother as opposed to the father, they might have thought she wasn't a carrier.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 18, 2005, 04:52:55 PM
Tsaria--I think the reference was in one of the modern biographies on either Alix or MF. I don't have my books in front of me until I move into the new house though.  :(  (I hate that)

I think the consensus is that between the hemophilia and the difficulties Alix had with her health, that's why they didn't have more children. Each pregnancy wore on her so much--what if they'd tried for another one, severely damaged her health and the children was either a girl or another hemophiliac. It's just my opinion, but I've always had an image of NII being decisive for once and putting his foot down over it--his devotion to AF overriding anything else.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 18, 2005, 05:06:23 PM
Thanks Ella (welcome back, its the first time we've met since the hurricane - I'm glad all's well).

Living out of packing cases is no joke.   When you have a young family, I suppose Mummy's books are low in the list of priorities.   Anyway, even though we will have moved beyond this point, I would be very grateful if you'd be kind enough to give me your source.

Like Louis_Charles I agree, you have eloquently summed things up in your closing para.   You also display Nicholas as a man of considerable light given his time and his position.

However, I do still see Nicholas and Alexandra as 'victims'.   Both victims of their respective parenting.   They were a young couple deeply in love.  

Perhaps given her resolute determination not to change her religion, Alexandra was the most perceptive of all the principles.   Perhaps SHE knew the inherent danger she represented, but at the end of the day, she allowed her heart to rule her head.

I still assert that the Windsors, the Hesses, the Romanovs and, given his role in their betrothal, Cousin Willi - were, in the beginning, and at the end CULPABLE.

tsaria

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 18, 2005, 05:54:22 PM
Well Toria would've been excluded under the 'no first cousins' rule of Orthodoxy--same with Maud or any of the Danish or Greek cousins.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 18, 2005, 05:59:53 PM
Quote
Thanks Ella (welcome back, its the first time we've met since the hurricane - I'm glad all's well).

Living out of packing cases is no joke.   When you have a young family, I suppose Mummy's books are low in the list of priorities.   Anyway, even though we will have moved beyond this point, I would be very grateful if you'd be kind enough to give me your source.

Like Louis_Charles I agree, you have eloquently summed things up in your closing para.   You also display Nicholas as a man of considerable light given his time and his position.

However, I do still see Nicholas and Alexandra as 'victims'.   Both victims of their respective parenting.   They were a young couple deeply in love.  

Perhaps given her resolute determination not to change her religion, Alexandra was the most perceptive of all the principles.   Perhaps SHE knew the inherent danger she represented, but at the end of the day, she allowed her heart to rule her head.

I still assert that the Windsors, the Hesses, the Romanovs and, given his role in their betrothal, Cousin Willi - were, in the beginning, and at the end CULPABLE.

tsaria

  


Thanks for welcome back. I'll try and dig out the source when I get my books back--next week, yay!

I don't know as I hold the whole houses responsible because a) I believe in personal responsibility b) I don't think anything could've deterred them from marrying--NII, usually the most placid of men, was actually defiant in his desire to marry Alix and really dug in his heels and Alix who adored her grandmother so much risked even her displeasure in marrying NII (not that QV withheld her acceptance in the end) and c) many in each house tried to discourage the match--more probably than encouraged it.

On a side note, wouldn't it be the Hanoverians or Coburgs rather than the Windsors at this point?  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 18, 2005, 08:58:43 PM
Well, assuming that religion wouldn't have big an issue as it was with Alix , the bride was sufficiently royal by Romanov standards and was at least 17 by 1894 and hadn’t married prior to 1889 (about when the bride hunt began):

Margaret of Prussia--mentioned by NII's parents (even though she was the sister of the Kaiser); her sister Moretta knew she wouldn't marry Alexander Battenberg by 1889 and didn't marry Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe until 1890 so she would've been eligible (and really wanted to marry)

Archduchess Maria of Austria (would've been only the 2nd Hapsburg-Romanov union) (1867-1932) married Duke of Orleans in 1896

Duchess Adelgunde of (or in?) Bavaria (1870-1958); m. Furst Wilhelm of Hohenzollern in 1915 and her sister Maria Ludwiga Theresia (1872-1954); m. Duke of Calabria  

Duchess Elisabeth (1874- 1957); granddaughter of Franz Joseph of Austria; married Graf von Seefried auf Buttenheim in 1893 and her sister Augusta (1875- 1964); m. Archduke Joseph of Austria in 1893

Duchess Elvira (1868- 1943); m. 1891

Duchess Amalie (1865- 1912); m. Duke von Urach 1892  and her sisters Sophie (1875-1957) married Graf zu Toerring-Jettenbach 1898 and Elisabeth (1876-1965) who married Albert I of Belgium in 1900

Clémentine of Belgium (daughter of Leopold II)  (1872- 1955); m. Prince Victor Napoleon in 1910

And her cousins:
Henriette of Belgium (1870- 1948); m. Duke of Vendome in 1896 and Josephine (1872-1958) who married Karl, Prince of Hohenzollern in 1894

Helene’s sister Isabelle (1878- 1961);  Duke of Guise in 1899 and her cousin Marguerite (1869- 1940); m Duke of Magenta in 1896

Louise of Orleans (1869-1952); m. Alfons of Bavaria in 1891

Marie Louise & Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein (though the whole S-H thing probably would’ve spoiled it for MF)

Miechens’ half-sister (wouldn’t she have loved that) Elisabeth of Mecklenberg-Schwerin (1869- 1955); m. Grand Duke of Oldenberg in 1896

I guess the Montenegrin princesses would’ve been okayed so: Militza (1866-1951); m. Grand Duke Peter in 1889 and her sister Stana who also married in 1889; Jelena (Elena) who I think was also mentioned by AIII & MF (1873-1952); m. 1896 King Vittorio Emamnuele of Italy and Anna (1874- 1971); m. who married Franz Joseph of Battenberg in 1897

Luise of Saxe-Meiningen (1873-1953); m. Duke of Anhalt in 1895

Mathilde of Saxony (1863-1933) never married

Infanta Eulalia of Spain (1864-1958); m. married the Duke of Galliera in 1886 (wouldn't she have been something!)

Infanta Elvira of Spain (1871-1929) never married

Infanta Maria Beatriz (1874-1961); who married the Duke di Anticoli Corrado in 1897; and her sister Maria Alicia Ildefonsa Margarita (1876-1975)

Luise of Tuscany (ranks up there with Eulalia on the 'oh my gosh!' scale) (1870-1947); married Crown Prince of Saxony in 1891 (they'd scandalously divorce)

Carolina of Tuscany (1869-1945); m. Prince August Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1894

Geneaology isn't my forte so there could be hidden factors excluding some of them but I thought I'd throw them out there.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 18, 2005, 10:09:08 PM
::stares at the list, lost in admiration of GDElla::

You can post something like that without your books?

Golly.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 18, 2005, 10:22:24 PM
Thanks L_C  :)

Thank God I can still access geneaology records. I don't have my books, cards or cable modem but at least I have the computer.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 19, 2005, 03:24:12 AM
Nicholas and Alexandra had four daughters between 1895 and 1901. If the haemophilia was knowed between Royals in that time, all the four girls would have been supossed to be carriers of the illness. In consequence, all four would not have been good matches.

When a possible marriage between Russia and Roumania was envisaged....was Olga supossed to be a posible transmesser of haemophilia ?. This point was debated between the two Royal Families? I don´t think so.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 04:59:35 AM
Ella - you leave me... breathless.   Nicholas certainly was not stuck for choice.

Isabel your point about the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra being, literally, liabilities on the marriage market has made me wonder.   Was Alexandra more aware of the hereditary consequences of haemophilia than I had ever imagined?

The drift of this debate has made me think the following are possibilities - no more... possibilities.

Imagine.... Alix's reluctance to marry Nicholas, claiming she could never change her religion and only accepting under the greatest duress - 'If you don't agree to marry me now, that's it.   You'll never see me again' - could this indicate SHE realised this greatest of great vulnerabilities which lay within her and over which she had no control - the likelihood that she would pass to her off-spring what, potentially, was a life-sentence.

If she indeed had this degree of awareness so far as her own position was concerned, she would inevitably have felt the same, or even more, for her daughters.   Could this be the reason why she, quite deliberately, kept them emotionally stunted - in an, albeit misguided, endeavour to protect them?

Given this scenario, on top of this she had the probability that a longed for, absolutely essential, son would live a life in constant, imminent danger of death.

Could she possibly have kept the full ramifications of this horrendous secret concealed, not just from the court, not just from the citizens of Russia, but from Nicholas himself?

These possibilities certainly do make one regard Alexandra though different eyes.  

What unimagineable burdens to carry.   Everyone thought she was a failure.   She KNEW she was a failure.

OK, this is only speculation, but it does explain a great deal about Alexandra and her apparent intransigences.

This also could, to an extent, answer a question I have never really been able to understand - that of Salic law.  Paul changed the law in reaction to his mother.   Why did Nicholas - powerful autocrat that he was too - not repeal this law?

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 19, 2005, 05:15:12 AM
I believe that haemophilia was one of the issues raised by Marie of Roumania when considering a match between Olga & Carol.

(And I also believe that Nicholas said hewouldrather become a monk than marry poor Mossy of Prussia!)

Trying to view this from Alexandra's point of view, even allowing for the fact that she knew haemophilia was the cause of death of her uncle and brother (she was already pregnant with Alexei by the time that her nephew died) I still believe that she remained hopeful that her child would be free of the condition. As a previous poster wrote, her faith was such that she believed Alexei was conceived as a result of a miracle following the pilgrimage to Sarov - and therefore, she would expect such a miracle to be without any dire consequences.

On the other hand, knowing Alexandra's well-documented tendency to pessimism, she may well have feared from the start that her son would have inherited the condition (who knows - perhaps her fears were materialized into his condition!).

But, to be in the position in which she found herself before her marriage: for 6 years she had turned down Nicholas' tentative marriage proposals (as far back as 1888 Ella had written to Nicholas that she had been praying in the Holy Land that they might be brought together). Yet Nicholas and Ella, and later Xenia too, persisted in harassing her about it. She loved Nicholas. She had no interest in marrying anyone else. She had raised so many arguments against this match - Queen Victoria's warnings about the responsibility and unstable state of Russia; her own religious scruples; her shyness - yet still the harassment continued. In such a position could she say, "No, I will not marry him because there is a chance I am a haemophilia carrier?" To say that, would be as good as saying, "None of my cousins or sisters should marry or have married either."
It may be argued that she could have married someone else for whom the birth of a haemophiliac son would have fewer dynastic consequences, but as a woman and a particularly sensitive woman, that would imply that the life of one child were more important than the life of another. I do not think she could have thought about it in that way at all.

There may be many mistakes which Alexandra made, but I do not believe that marrying Nicholas, when she knew the condition was in the family, was one of them. The truth is that no one knew whether or not their children would inherit this illness, and I think everyone in that situation would hope for the best because the think of the alternative was too awful.

It is true that many people nowadays are forced into making the painful decision not to have children because of conditions which are hereditary, but for Alexandra there was no genetic testing etc. and, looking at her sister, Victoria, and her brother Ernie, she probably believed she had every reason to be hopeful.    
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bell_the_cat on September 19, 2005, 06:51:10 AM
Wasn't Rupert, Viscount Trematon, the haemophiliac son of the Countess of Athlone considered as a husband for Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in the late 1920s?

He was more or less OK until the car crash which killed him, but he would have been a carrier, as his grandfather (Prince Leopold) had been.

Curiously, Robert Massie in "Nicholas and Alexandra" doesn't mention Viscount Trematon among the haemophiliac descendents of QV, as he seems to have been unaware that the disease is also transmitted by affected males.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2005, 07:09:03 AM
Quote
Trying to view this from Alexandra's point of view, even allowing for the fact that she knew haemophilia was the cause of death of her uncle and brother (she was already pregnant with Alexei by the time that her nephew died) I still believe that she remained hopeful that her child would be free of the condition.


Now I'm confused.  I read that it was Waldemar, born in 1889, who died at age four (and I rechecked that source).  By that reckoning, Alix would have certainly known of his condition before her marriage.  But when I saw your post, I researched further and found a source that says it was Henry that died at age four in 1904 and that Waldemar lived into adulthood.  Even if that's the case, though, wouldn't Waldemar's condition have been diagnosed during his infancy or youth and likely have been known to Alexandra?

Either way, though, I think your larger analysis and Tsaria's assessment of motives are very apt.

Royal dynasties took bloodlines and their duty to produce viable heirs for their own dynasty and those into which they married very seriously.  I have never been able to accept that something such as hemophilia -- which was a known, direct, and deadly threat to that central duty -- would not have been central to the thinking of Victoria's family once its presence was known.

They, and the people they married, might have arrived at different answers to the calculations they made of the risks involved (driven by a misunderstanding of how genetics worked and by the differences in which different people weigh risk and reward) -- but I am convinced they all made the calculations.  And it has never surprised me to find very little of these in the written record.

As Tsaria said, so much of the Alexandra puzzle falls better into place once grappling with hemophilia is taken into account:

-  her exaggerated reliance on converting faith as an argument against the marriage

-  the later, equally exaggerated reliance of an intelligent, educated woman on mysticism and its more unsavory proponents (Phillipe and Rasputin)

-  the specious reasons Alexander and Marie gave for resisting Nicholas' marriage to an otherwise thoroughly suitable candidate

-  the precipitous decline in Alexandra's mental stability after Alexei was diagnosed, despite her having long known it was a possibility

-  the taking of huge political risks to pretend that Alexei would rule, despite the charade's becoming almost ludicrously obvious after Spala.

In my view, if there is fault to be assigned in all this, it falls largely to Nicholas.  I think Alexandra, though in love with him, had braced herself to say no and would have stood by her resolve had his suit not been so unrelenting.

I firmly believe Nicholas was warned by his parents in no uncertain terms of the risks hemophilia posed to the dynasty.  But, as at so many junctures in his life when confronted with a critical choice, he made the wrong one.

Alexandra was a very intelligent woman whose mental rudder was eventually broken by the unrelenting weight of a secretly-made life-and-death bet gone bad.

Nicholas was a man who had trouble figuring out the right answer on a calm, clear day.

The pity is that it was Alexandra who bore the brunt of the family's ire for an algae bloom at their end of the gene pool.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 07:11:48 AM
Beautifully expressed blue.

I had forgotten Xenia's role in encouraging this match with her brother.   From being the dearest of friends, Xenia and Alix grew progressively distant.   Was this due to Alix's inability to accept Xenia's 'success' in producing healthy male offspring?   Remember how competitive the two couples were over their first-born daughters.   It is also easy to forget that in the early years of their marriages they were close neighbours in the Winter Palace.

I am sure Alix lived in hope and when she found hope wasn't enough and medical science of no help, she turned to charlatans - Dr Phillipe and Rasputin being the 'best' of an array of soothsayers and miracle workers.   Despite her adoring husband, she was essentially, alone.

These associations, by definition, isolated her further.   It is small wonder she became increasingly introspective.   The phantom pregnancy is an important indicator of the vulnerability of her psyche.

Another point which cannot be emphasised sufficiently was not just the constant, unending fear within her family unit, there was the ever present threat of assassination.  And, of course, there was her awareness that her husband, the man she adored, was not strong enough for the role of ruler of Russia.   Probably she, more than anyone, realised Nicholas' temperament was eminently unsuited to the huge task fate had visited upon him.  

Actually, when one begins to dissect the numerous pressures which engulfed Alix, there were times when she displayed amazing mental stability.

The topic of this thread is 'Enemies of Alexandra' - it seems to me she had very few friends - literal or metaphorical.   Apart, that is, from one - a love that endured pressures not one of us can even begin to imagine.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 19, 2005, 07:15:44 AM
Queen Ena of Spain, had for sons and two daugthers, it was more or less at the same time than Alix had her children. So the information of Haemophilia was the same for the two cousins.

Two of Ena´s sons, the eldest and the younger were haemophiliacs, the second one was deaft, the third was a good health boy (father of the actuall King of Spain).

The two Ena´s girls were posibles carriers, and in fact they not married any Royal relative. Beatrice married Alexandre Torlonia Prince of Civitellacesi (she married in 1935, then they had more information about the illness than 30 years ago), and Cristina a rich italian. Both of them had sons and daughters, grand sons and grand daughters but the illness didn´t appear no more.

Ena ,as Alix ,get married in love, but i don´t think that they were so senseless to place in front this love than their responsability.

I continue to belive that in the time of their marriages, perhaps they were conscious of a sort of genetical disease in their family, but i don´t belive that both of them realized the true risk of this.

Where the two cousins two foolish women?. I don´t think so.

In the case of Spain, the dinasty continued with Juan. The case of Russia was worst, anyway the tragic end of the family don´t let us know what finally would happened with haemophiliac heir.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 19, 2005, 07:35:13 AM
Ena married in 1906 so Alexei would've already been a few years old by the time Alfonso was born and diagnosed.

Alice Albany (mother of Rupert) didn't marry until 1904 so again Alexei was already born.

Tsarfan--yes it was Henry Jr who was born in 1900 and died (after a minor fall, I believe) in 1904. Waldemar was the longest-lived royal hemophiliac, dying in 1945.

It's interesting that Waldemar,who lived to almost 60 and married, didn't have any children. I wonder if he and his wife couldn't or made a decision not to? Rupert and Leopold Battenberg (Ena's brother) both never married though at least Leo was old enough. Another calculated risk? I wonder how much was known about carriers vs sufferers. It must've come as a shock when Alice's son Rupert had hemophilia--she was the only one to inherit the gene from an actual sufferer rather than a carrier mother.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 19, 2005, 07:40:37 AM
As to the original topic, here are some I can think that were close to AF at least some of the time and never became 'enemies' even if distance grew with time:

The KR branch of the Kontantinovichi--KR & Mavra seem to get along with everyone and their children played with OTMAA.

Xenia & Sandro--close in the early years of marriage and I think Xenia was always fond of AF while Sandro's relationship deteriorated

Ella--distance grew over time but I don't think Ella could be considered an 'enemy'

Stana & Militza--in the early years very close to the couple

'Greek Minny' perhaps and her husband GD George? They seem neutral on the matters and I think it was Minny who talks of seeing NII for the last time in a fond way. Minny also came in from NII's Greek relatives

Dmitri Pavlovich--very close to the couple which made his ultimate betrayal more painful

GD Michael N--NII was very fond of this uncle, founder of the Mikhailovich clan

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 07:55:08 AM
Wow - I don't know about anyone else, but these posts are coming in faster than I can read, never mind type.   I have resorted to opening two windows -

Isabel's point of the lack of awareness of the full implications is more than borne out by Bell.   Massie - who was introduced to the Romanov family through his own's son haemophilia - either did not know or chose to ignore this important fact.   It wasn't until the 1930s that the two types of haemophilia - A and B - were recognised and, with that, the possiblity of a 'pure' haemophilic.   Females can manifest the disease, as well as transmit it, albeit in a milder form.

I think we need the advice of Belochka here.   As Isabel says, the disease has died out in Spain - it appears to have died out in the Windsors.   Although I recall, many years ago, a rumour that Princess Anne was a carrier.   In as much as it suddenly materialised in Queen Victoria, is it equally possible that it can, just as suddenly, disappear?

Tsarfan is absolutely right - monarchies took bloodlines very seriously.   Think about it - apart from regicide, is there anything they could have taken more seriously?   They clung to their heritage with their fingertips.   They would have gone, indeed they did go,  to practically any extreme to preserve their dynasty.

Why, therefore, were the Romanovs, given they were as fully aware of the ramifications of haemophilia as were known at the time, so lax when it came to the heir to the Russian throne marrying such a risk?   I agree, of all the things we know about Nicholas, the only thing about which he seemed totally unprepared to prevaricate or compromise over, was marriage to Alix.   But this, was not enough.   Monarchies were relentless when it came to securing their survival.

I return to the only viable reason - the sudden, totally unexpected and unanticipated illness of Alexander III.   Alexander was only 49.   There was no reason to believe he would not rule Russia for another 20 years.   It was his failure to prepare Nicholas to face HIS destiny, which gave rise to all sorts of unsurmountable problems.  

Did Alexander III believe that, in addition to being an autocrat, he was invulnerable?  (Despite witnessing the agonising death of his father)   He thought little of his heir - largely because of Nicholas' lack of physical presence.   Here we go - back to genes.   It was not Nicholas' fault that he inherited his mother's stature.   But his father certainly seemed to need to punish him.   His refusal -with the exception of serving on the trans-Siberian railway committee - to support and encourage his son in the business of ruling, was, ultimately, disastrous.   We are certainly not dealing with the sharpest pencil in the box.   And I have wandered way off topic, but I am driving myself to consider that haemophilia was not Alexandra - and, ultimately, Russia's greatest enemy.   It was the legacy of Alexander III.

tsaria    
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: NAAOTMA on September 19, 2005, 10:43:33 AM
Tsaria has put it so well---Alexander III counted on the gift of time, as if he was immortal, and somehow would never have to turn the reins over to his eldest son. His decisions in that regard set a course long before Nicholas met Alix.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2005, 11:14:21 AM
Quote
I return to the only viable reason - the sudden, totally unexpected and unanticipated illness of Alexander III.   Alexander was only 49.   There was no reason to believe he would not rule Russia for another 20 years.   It was his failure to prepare Nicholas to face HIS destiny, which gave rise to all sorts of unsurmountable problems.


I agree that Alexander III, by his refusal to train and engage Nicholas in government, was culpable in much of what later went wrong.  Even his own daughter Olga said as much in her waning years.  And it probably does signal a hope that most of us harbor for a long life.

But your comment triggered a recollection of some fascinating statistics (from a 1904 magazine article) I came across on the main Alexander Palace website some time ago:

"The family history of the Romanoffs is in striking contrast to that of the Hohenzollerns.  They have been short-reigned and short-lived, and their sons have usually been few.  There have been sixteen tsars and tsarinas of the dynasty, besides the two Catherines who held the scepter by right of their marriage to Romanoffs.  The reigns of these eighteen sovereigns span a period of two hundred and ninety years, an average of only sixteen years to each ruler.  Excepting the second Catherine, a Teutonic princess, only one of the eighteen lived to be sixty.  Only thrice since Peter the Great has the crown descended in regular sequence from father to son."

Very few people step back to look at their situations in life objectively.  But even a moderately-critical analysis of their own family history would have alerted Alexander and Nicholas to two things that might have avoided disastrous mistakes:  tsars needed to prepare their successors as early as possible, and the failure to provide a male heir was no real calamity for the dynasty's fortunes.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2005, 12:23:20 PM
Quote
But the situation was very different after, say, Spala.  For one thing, Alexei had to be carried in public appearances.  People nearer to the throne were aware that something was seriously wrong.  His obvious illness was the source of much public and diplomatic speculation.


I just found a new entry on the main Alexander Palace website.  It's a report from London that ran in the New York Times on November 9, 1912 reporting that Alexei suffered from the "bleeding disease" and looking at the history of the disease as it was then known in the English, Russian, and German royal houses.

So the cat was out of the bag, after all.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on September 19, 2005, 01:12:47 PM
Quote

This also could, to an extent, answer a question I have never really been able to understand - that of Salic law.  Paul changed the law in reaction to his mother.   Why did Nicholas - powerful autocrat that he was too - not repeal this law?

tsaria


Witte states in him memoirs that Nicholas did bring up the possibility of changing the Salic law after the birth of Olga, but the ministers (including Witte) strongly advised against it.  There was no support for it in the family, either.  So, Nicholas was talked out of it.  I will post the specific passage later, if necessary.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 02:00:54 PM
The 1904 magazine article is wrong in at least one respect so far as I can see.   The Russian throne was passed directly from father to son in FOUR instances from the time of Peter.

Paul I - Alexander I
Nicholas I - Alexander II
Alexander II - Alexander III
Alexander III - Nicholas II

Alexander I reigned for 24 years:  Nicholas I (59 when he died) reigned for 30 years:  Alexander II reigned for 26 years:  Nicholas II reigned for 23 years.

One would have thought that the education of the heir would have been regarded as a paramount responsiblity for a ruler, but Alexander III helped set the whole disastrous chain in motion with his choice of tutor for his son and heir.   The reactionary, Pobedonostsev, was a man riddled with prejudice who failed to prepare the young Nicholas to rule a country which changed more in the last 40 years of the dynasty than in the previous 300.

It would seem Alexander had a problem with his own infallability.

The New York times article of 1912, was eighteen years after the event.   However, it does expose how removed Nicholas and Alexandra were from reality.   Their way of coping with this particular element in the chaos which swamped their lives, seems to have been to stick their heads well and truly into the sand.

tsaria



Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 02:05:12 PM
Thanks RichC.   That's Nicholas.   Even when it was most likely his instinct which led him in one direction, rather than follow his own instinct, he allowed himself to be influenced by others.  

How different the world might be today had he managed to find the courage of his convictions.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2005, 02:33:25 PM
Quote
The 1904 magazine article is wrong in at least one respect so far as I can see.   The Russian throne was passed directly from father to son in FOUR instances from the time of Peter.

Paul I - Alexander I
Nicholas I - Alexander II
Alexander II - Alexander III
Alexander III - Nicholas II

Alexander I reigned for 24 years:  Nicholas I (59 when he died) reigned for 30 years:  Alexander II reigned for 26 years:  Nicholas II reigned for 23 years.


I wonder if by setting the qualification of "regular sequence" the writer excluded the succession of Alexander I because he viewed that as a palace coup in which he felt Alexander to be complicit?

Alexander III certainly went out of his way to undercut Nicholas' confidence in himself.  When one of Alexander's ministers (I forget which) proposed that Alexander give Nicholas a ministry post or council seat on which to cut his teeth, Alexander's retort was, "Have you ever seen a single serious thought come out of his head?"

If Alexander truly felt that way about his son, why would he not have made it his first order of business to address the flaw by giving Nicholas responsiblities to mature, train, and test him?  If Alexander III was divulging such dismissive views to his ministers, what must he have been saying to family members about what a silly boy Nicholas was?  This quite possibly set up the initial distasteful scenario of Nicholas' reign, wherein the uncles and the dowager empress moved in quickly to try to exert influence and wherein Nicholas reacted by reducing ties to them and hewing more to Alexandra and her tendency to pull him into a cocoon.

In fact, I wonder if this, too, was not part of their early disdain of Alexandra.  Had Alexander so undercut the family's confidence in Nicholas' abilities that they were panicked at his being in charge and therefore more prone to resent Alexandra's success in giving Nicholas an alternate place to turn for support?

In trying to decode Alexander's inexplicable and irresponsible conduct, I sometimes think of the abused child syndrome, whereby the abused child grows up to be the abusing adult.  There were rumors that Alexander II was thinking about cutting Alexander III from the succession because he viewed him as too bumptious and reactionary.  In fact, there were some reports that Alexander III's first act after his father's death was to force open a desk and remove a paper from his father's study that purported to do just that.  Whether true or not, the story is at least an echo of a sentiment from the time that Alexander III was thought by many not to enjoy his own father's confidence.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 19, 2005, 03:06:20 PM
Dears Tsaria and Tsarfan and the others too..How interesting are all your comments¡¡ more than many books...really, i am going to print all this sure...

How i want to be a good english speaker now , to can add my ideas¡¡

I don´t remember where...but i have read that MF wanted her son Michael to be Tsar one day, is it true ?

All my admiration to U2.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 03:42:39 PM
Isabel - thank you so much.   You must not feel inhibited by language.   Your English is fantastic.   It is not an easy debate to follow and, believe me, there are many native English speakers who might struggle.

Your contributions are so valuable.   Although realising Nicholas and Alexandra's daughters carried with them through their young lives, the taint of being haemophilia carriers and their marriage prospects were probably compromised as a result, I had never really addressed the full implications of this.   It was you who brought to my attention that the entire family was crippled by this disease.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 19, 2005, 03:56:37 PM
Yes, I read this too.   I wonder how Marie Feodorovna felt when her beloved Michael actually did become Tsar of Russia, he chose to walk away when he asked the delegates of the Duma - "Can you guarantee my life if I take the crown?" and their silence spoke volumes.

Marie Feodorovna almost gave away her feelings when she admitted to her father "Misha could almost be my favourite"

Michael was Alexander III's favourite child.  

Ten years younger than his brother the Tsarevich, he could do no wrong in the eyes of either parent.   Unlike Nicholas, Michael was born to the purple.  I wonder if this impacted on the Tsar's attitude to his first born son and Nicholas' future suffered as a result.

We have wandered well off course, but I think you will agree, if we study the 'trees', it might help us discover the 'wood'.

tsaria

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2005, 04:07:54 PM
Quote
How i want to be a good english speaker now , to can add my ideas¡¡


Frankly, Isabel, I cannot always follow my own writing, and I admire you immensely for hanging in there.

I took four year of Spanish in high school and one year of French, to no avail.  I finally hit my stride in a foreign language with German.  Apparently I tend to think in endless strings of dependent clauses and separated modifiers, and German fit my convoluted mind like a deformed glove.

Keep letting us all hear from you.  Your English is fine, and your contributions are intriguing.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: NAAOTMA on September 19, 2005, 06:48:08 PM
A bit off topic, but I have also wondered at the twist of fate that Alexander II's eldest son Nicholas ("Nixa"), the heir to the throne so carefully groomed to follow in his father's footsteps, and so much like his father in his beliefs, dies tragically young---and his younger brother Alexander, his opposite in every way, becomes the Heir. (Not to mention inherits Dagmar as a fiancee.) It is as cruel a twist of fate for Alexander II and his Tsarina as that of the longed for and cherished son of Nicholas and Alexandra being a hemophiliac.

Regarding the "roll of the dice" in producing a child with hemophilia, in that day and age even among the wealthy child mortality rates were very high. Disease such as typhoid, cholera, diptheria and scarlett fever ran rampant in palaces as well as modest homes. It was a rare family of any economic bracket that did not lose at least one child to disease. I think that terrible reality made the viewpoint of that time very different from that of ours. Perhaps more fatalistic, in a way. Or perhaps that there were so many childhood illnesses that killed children, the dangers of hemophilia were viewed as one among many ways a child could die from illness, and so concern about it might have been diluted.

I do believe that Alexandra kept her daughters close to home in part as a way to insulate them from the fact that no glittering marriage proposals came their way. They were lovely and very rich, and nothing of their rank came their way in the marriage department for Olga and Tatiana. Their status as potential hemophilia carriers would explain that, which would be absolute hell for Alix to deal with in addition to her precious son's disease. If Louis B. had in fact married his cousin Maria, the Tsar's third daughter, it would have been a pretty lackluster match considering Maria was an absolute beauty with a big dowery like her sisters. Considering their looks, charm and wealth, the telephone should have been ringing off the hook, so to speak. But they weren't being sought after by other top drawer dynasties. Alexandra's sheltering of her daughters was perhaps the chicken, not the egg as it is usually presumed.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2005, 07:20:17 PM
Quote
Regarding the "roll of the dice" in producing a child with hemophilia, in that day and age even among the wealthy child mortality rates were very high. Disease such as typhoid, cholera, diptheria and scarlett fever ran rampant in palaces as well as modest homes. It was a rare family of any economic bracket that did not lose at least one child to disease. I think that terrible reality made the viewpoint of that time very different from that of ours. Perhaps more fatalistic, in a way. Or perhaps that there were so many childhood illnesses that killed children, the dangers of hemophilia were viewed as one among many ways a child could die from illness, and so concern about it might have been diluted.


I agree completely with this observation about mortality rates.  But I think it could lead to a different conclusion.  With so many other diseases to prey upon children, adding hemophilia into the mix made it even more difficult to ensure a male heir which was, after all, one of the chief duties of a Russian empress.

Consider Marie Feodorovna.  She lost two (i. e., 50%) of her sons without hemophilia in the mix.  One, the original tsarevitch, died in infancy.  The other, although living into adulthood, was diagnosed early with tuberculosis, which was viewed as tantamount to an eventual death sentence in that era.  Can you imagine her willingly adding hemophilia into that brew?

Quote
I do believe that Alexandra kept her daughters close to home in part as a way to insulate them from the fact that no glittering marriage proposals came their way. They were lovely and very rich, and nothing of their rank came their way in the marriage department for Olga and Tatiana. Their status as potential hemophilia carriers would explain that, which would be absolute hell for Alix to deal with in addition to her precious son's disease. If Louis B. had in fact married his cousin Maria, the Tsar's third daughter, it would have been a pretty lackluster match considering Maria was an absolute beauty with a big dowery like her sisters. Considering their looks, charm and wealth, the telephone should have been ringing off the hook, so to speak. But they weren't being sought after by other top drawer dynasties. Alexandra's sheltering of her daughters was perhaps the chicken, not the egg as it is usually presumed.


I agree.  The more I write and read from others on this thread, the more convinced I become that the brooding presence of hemophilia in the family has been significantly underestimated by most historians as a clue to some of the otherwise odd or inexplicable behaviors of Nicholas's immediate family.  We've all been schooled to interpret Alexandra's behavior after 1904 in that light.  But I think it touched her behavior going back to her engagement, I think it touched her relationships with the Romanov clan at large, and I think it touched all her offspring with more than just pity for Alexei.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 20, 2005, 06:17:35 AM
NIXA - poor Nixa.   I remembered him during the night, but in a different context, NAAOTMA.   He is probably the heir in the continuum, included by the author in the 1904 article and cited by Tsarfan.   NAAOTMA has brought to our attention a fact worthy of consideration.   Nixa and 'Sasha' were brothers diametrically opposed in character.   Sasha, like his own son, was unprepared to rule.   Whether his character would have responded to 'preparation', is a moot point.  

In addition to the numerous infectious diseases which preyed on young lives, there was the added, very real, danger of peri-natal death.   Nicholas was Marie Feodorovna's first-born son.   Alexander, who died aged eleven months of meningitis, was born a year after Nicholas.   But this is splitting hairs.  

It is difficult for us to imagine from this distance and with all the benefits of modern-day medical science, how different attitudes were in response to the death of a young child.   Not for a moment would I suggest their grief was easier to bear, but given the fact that this was a commonplace event and most, if not every, family, was visited by such tragedy, again we are confronting the difficulty of trying to think ourselves into their 'shoes' (while, hopefully, appreciating our goodfortune.)   I entirely agree with Tsarfan, these factors only served to increase the pressures of duty required of Alexandra as Empress of Russia and, if we are correct in our hypotheseis that Alix was aware of her own vulnerability due to the prevalence of haemophilia in her family, this would only serve to heighten her fear of failure.

According to Coryne Hall's biography of Marie Feodorovna, acceptance of Alix of Hesse by the Russian monarch materialised much sooner than I realised.   (She bears out Isabel's point that Marie Feodorovna was, in part, opposed to a marriage between Nicholas and Alix on the grounds that the Kaiser was in favour of it.)  

In January 1893, Alexander and Marie Feodorovna sent Nicholas to Berlin to represent them at the wedding of the Kaiser's sister, Mossy.   Nicholas was surprised to learn how their attitude to Alix had changed when they give him their permission to ascertain Alix's feelings for him.   In the event, Nicholas and Alix failed to meet on this occasion.   The obvious question is WHY?  

Unfortunately Hall does not provide any references.    It is, therefore, impossible to either validate this or discover the reason for their change of mind.  

Ella began to play the role of go-between.   Sergei and Ella even invited Nicholas to visit them in Coburg where they spent the autumn of 1893.   Nicholas was unable to do so because he had only recently returned to Russia from Denmark and his father did not want him to travel abroad again.

Hall continues - 'Instead the Tsar and Tsarina invited Alicky to accompany Ella and Sergei to St Petersburg.   They refused, saying it would look as if Alicky was running after Nicholas.'   Marie Feodorvna now appears to put the onus on Alix.   She stated to Ella that since her son had been given little hope of Alix accepting his proposal, they could only assume that, had he visited Coburg, it would have been to receive her refusal.   From the Russian point of view, this was a powerful caveat.   The last thing they would want, would be to see, and the world to see, their son and heir spurned in love.  

Ella, rather wickedly, I think, told Marie Feodorovna this was a shame because Nicholas had lost his last chance.  Ella was reportedly taken aback by the Empress' reaction, since she believed her to be opposed to the match.   Understandably, Marie Feodorovna was furious.   Ella had taken them to the brink.   She allowed not only Nicholas, but his parents, to believe his 'dream' of marrying Alicky would soon materialise.   She had failed to tell Nicholas of Alix's continued, implacable opposition to changing her religion.  

The brinkmanship continued.   Grand Duke Sergei and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna placed the blame firmly on the shoulders of the Emperor and Empress citing, as her reason, their refusal to allow Nicholas travel to Coburg.

So, we find, a year before Alexander's declining health appeared to be the excuse for precipitating the Tsar and Tsarina's approval of the match, negotiations between the two families were not just in motion, but advanced.   Haemophilia, certainly at this stage, is not even mentioned as an impediment.

How aware were Nicholas and Alix of the machinations going on on their behalf?   'Games' were being played and Marie Feodorovna and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna were the principle players.  

As mentioned previously, Ella must have been at least as aware of Alix of the likely problems her sister would confront with haemophilia playing a paramount part in any marriage.   The marriage of Ella and Sergei has been discussed fully elsewhere in the Forum.   The relevance of their relationship and Ella's canvassing on behalf of her sister, can only be speculated upon.   However, given the facts, Sergei and Ella were extremely cavalier in their promotion of the union.

Alix has never come across to me as particularly scheming in so far as her personal relationships were concerned.   We have to assume her reluctance to change her religion as anything other than sincere.   A seriously devout young woman, she regarded the extreme, and public display of spitting on her faith - and the faith of her forebears - an insult, not just to them but, more importantly, to God.

But there is something which doesn't quite click, and for me, this lies not in her relationship with Nicholas, or in his with his parents, but in the relationship between Alix and Ella.   Was haemophilia the source of this tension?   We will never know.

tsaria                              
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 20, 2005, 06:54:09 AM
Fascinating . . . I wasn't aware of this eddy in the marriage current.

I wonder if Alexander and Marie were making an informed bet.  Could they have had reason to suspect that Alix was resolved to refuse Nicholas, and they knew Nicholas would not drop his suit until he heard it directly from her?

The Berlin ploy having failed, and being informed of her reserved and awkward nature, could they have wanted her to visit Russia so that Nicholas could see for himself the unsuitability of her personality for the Russian court milieu?

Since their direct attacks on her suitability had failed, could they have been resorting to the type of reverse psychology to which other parents in this predicament have turned?  Sort of a "if-he-won't-listen-to-us-then-let-him-find-it-out-for-himself" scenario?

(Sorry for the confusion about the birth order of Marie's sons.  Every time I try to remember this geneaology stuff off the top of my head without rechecking the sources, I get it twisted.)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 20, 2005, 07:12:01 AM
Oh yes, Tsarfan.   I have to confess, I have considered the possibillity of the employment of 'reverse psychology', in Alix's continued, adamant refusals to 'change religion'.   It is interesting to bear in mind the person credited with her capitulation.   Ironic?

There were lots of games going on in a variety of places.   What seems impossible for us to establish is the role played by haemophilia in these games.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 20, 2005, 08:54:12 AM
Quote
I wonder if Alexander and Marie were making an informed bet.  Could they have had reason to suspect that Alix was resolved to refuse Nicholas, and they knew Nicholas would not drop his suit until he heard it directly from her?


(Sorry for the confusion about the birth order of Marie's sons.  Every time I try to remember this geneaology stuff off the top of my head without rechecking the sources, I get it twisted.)


Interesting idea. Perhaps by dropping their vehement refusal to consider Alix, they hoped Nicholas would become less set on it? Sort of reverse psychology--the more you deny something the more the person wants it. If they gave permission and then Alix still declined, NII may have had no recourse but to acquiesce to a parental choice.

As for the birth order--why is it so confusing? Just because every heir & 2nd son since Paul seems to be named Nicholas and Alexander?  ;)

Paul--Alexander I and Nicholas I
Nicholas I--Alexander II
Alexander II--Nixa and Alexander III
Alexander III--Nicholas II and Alexander

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 20, 2005, 11:02:38 AM
It was an attempt to discover why the author of an article in a magazine dated 1904, wrote that 'only three times since Peter the Great has the crown descended in regular sequence from father to son.'   The point made was this was wrong, in actual fact it was four.   There isn't a problem, Ella.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 20, 2005, 11:25:42 AM
Perhaps it was a combination.   If they knew of Alix's protestations about changing her religion, Alexander and Marie might have opted for a change of approach and banked on this reverse psychology working.
 
If this was the case, it was a chance they took which failed to pay off.

tsaria  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bell_the_cat on September 20, 2005, 11:35:53 AM
Possibly the author of the 1904 article thought that the sequence Paul I - Alexander I was irregular because Paul had to be murdered first in order for Alexander to succeed, something which never happened to the Hohenzollerns.

Just my 2 cents.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 20, 2005, 12:23:21 PM
Quote
As for the birth order--why is it so confusing? Just because every heir & 2nd son since Paul seems to be named Nicholas and Alexander?  ;)


I guess it could be worse.  Without the Oath of the Tennis Court, I'd probably be stumbling over Louis XXXII and Louis XXXIII.

(Please bear with me, folks.  I'm after my Palace Member stripes this month, but I'm really running out of substantive things to say.  Maybe I'd better just set my sights on Christmas.)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 20, 2005, 12:49:54 PM
From "The Romanovs"-by John Van Der Kiste

1.-By Christmas 1890 Queen Victoria had heard than Alix´s sister and Romanov Brother-in-law were doing their best to assist the matchmaking process: "Ella & S. do all they can to bring it about, encouraging & even urging the Boy to do it¡".

Nicholas had an excelent relationship with his oncle Serge and his wife Ella, in fact, Serge was his prefered uncle. Perhaps it was Nicholas who asked them to help him in the marriage project, also, Ella had decided herself to convers to the Orthodox religion, as wife of a Grand Duke, she was not obliged to change her religion, but she decided to do it, ¿who better than she to convince her little sister?.

Ella was 8 years older than Alix, their sisters Victoria an Irene where married, and Ernie was going to do it soon . Perhaps Ella played the "little mother" with her little sister, and thought that a marriage with the Heir of Russia was the better match for her.

2.- (After Alix acepted).-His parents immediatly wrote to him of their delight at the news, mingled with regret that they could not have been sith him al such a happy time. The Tsarina told him that they were both overcome with joy knowing you to be so happy. While the Tzar assured him of the happiness and rejoicing with which everyone greeted the news, and asked him to thanks his dear bride to be for consensting to marry him, and how i wish her to flourish for the joy comfort and peace she has given us by deciding to agree to be your wife.

As Tsaria has said, for me, the Tsar´s acquiscence in a Romanov-Hesse marriage was perhaps because this marriage would stabilize Nicholas and would be finally the better, also, already he was beginning to fear that his own time on earth was running out.

I am a big head, i know, but i continue beliving that haemophilia was not mentioned in this match.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 20, 2005, 02:50:16 PM
I am with you Isabel - that is until granduchessella accesses her books and proves otherwise!

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 20, 2005, 07:51:13 PM
Quote
2.- (After Alix acepted).-His parents immediatly wrote to him of their delight at the news, mingled with regret that they could not have been sith him al such a happy time. The Tsarina told him that they were both overcome with joy knowing you to be so happy. While the Tzar assured him of the happiness and rejoicing with which everyone greeted the news, and asked him to thanks his dear bride to be for consensting to marry him, and how i wish her to flourish for the joy comfort and peace she has given us by deciding to agree to be your wife.

I am a big head, i know, but i continue beliving that haemophilia was not mentioned in this match.


You may be right, but I still wonder.

If this proves Alexander and Marie didn't object to the marriage because of hemophilia, it equally proves they didn't object to the marriage at all.  They seem awfully delighted for people who were raising serious objections earlier to this marriage.  And I think everyone agrees they were quite resolute in their objections at one point.

I would read this letter more as a gracious throwing in of the towel on a lost argument.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 21, 2005, 03:36:44 AM
 You are right, it not proves nothing about haemophilia but it seem that finally they where conformed "...comfort and paeace she has given us by deciding to agree to be your wife". Te Tzar don´t seem to be preocupated about any illness.

My opinion is that in the beginning, they where not agree with the election of their son, basicly because the bride was German and they prefered other posibilitys for The future Tzar and for Russia. In fact, even after their engement society in Sr. Petersburg still looked coldly on the marriage because the British element.

Also, i don´t think that Alix personality preocuped them. In fact, i belive that M.F. wouldn´t had a good relationship with her daugther in law, Alix or any other bride, she was not prepared to be the Douagner and not the Empress.

Finally the Tzar was not in good wealth, this was definitive to accelere the marriage.

About if they were or not informed of the risk of the haemophilia, we will never know exactly, the same discussion than in Spain with Ella and Alfonso XIII, every one has his theorie but it is imposible to prove it.

We only can have an oppinion based in the facts we know.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 21, 2005, 05:04:10 AM
Tsarfan - you have not LOST the argument.   We have all GAINED.   I speak for myself, but I do think the debate has been illuminating for all of us.   Not least for you and me.  

I, for one, am eternally grateful to you for making me THINK.   Rather than pay lipservice to the source material I have accessed over the years, I have been forced to confront the fact that, in this instance at least, we are left with more questions than answers.   I come away from this debate feeling that Nicholas and Alexandra were little more than bit players in the drama.

Isabel has been right from the outset.   These mind games were just the tip of the iceberg in the shifting dynamics of family, dynastic and national politics.

In my own mind, I have no doubt that haemophilia played an even greater part than I contemplated heretofore.   If we assume Alexander and Marie were aware of the potential of this problem from the outset, they were prepared to overlook it for what they perceived as the bigger picture.   All this had little to do with a young couple in love.  That was secondary.   This is the only satisfactory explanation as to why they, so easily, didn't just capitulate, but became protagonists.

Perhaps there is something in my suspicion that Alexandra was aware that she was more a liability than an asset.   Perhaps Alexandra really was much more realistic regarding haemophilia and its ramifications than I, for one, ever imagined.   This, for me, now becomes the only viable reason to her objections to marrying Nicholas.   All the indicators point to this.   She refused to marry elsewhere.   She longed for her own family.   She was alone with Ernie, playing First Lady, until she was supplanted by Ducky.   What did the future hold for her?   With the exception of the occasional rather mild, for her, interjection from Queen Victoria, her entire family was in favour of the marriage.   Nicholas was in love with her.   She was in love with Nicholas.   Giving up religion?   It wasn't as though she was being required to turn her back on Christianity.

Alexandra was reared on the tragic story of little Frittie.   She had to make annual pilgrimages to his grave   The window he fell through had been converted into a stained glass memorial.   She lived with that every day of her life.

What could she do when all parties were promoting the match - ultimately sealed by a man she loathed, but he was a major player both within the family and international politics - the German Kaiser?  Why was 'Cousin Willie' selected to apply pressure when it looked as though Nicholas would walk away?   At the end of the day, Alexandra was left with no choice, she had to conform.

Kerensky wrote - 'If there had been no Rasputin, there would have been no Lenin.'

I would take that further.   Had there been no haemophilia, there would have been no Russian revolution.

tsaria

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 21, 2005, 05:53:52 AM
Tsaria, do you honestly believe that the child's disease was THE cause of the Russian revolution?
That revolution was born long before he, or any of them were surely.
As for Alexandra's enemies: well she provided plenty of ammunition for them did she not ?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 21, 2005, 06:15:27 AM
Robert, I am using the 'child's disease' metaphorically as well as literally.

If, as we appear to have determined, Alexander III and Marie Feodorovna were aware of Alix's haemophilic status and, at the end of the day, they chose to ignore this, I return to my contention.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: ChristineM on September 21, 2005, 06:38:29 AM
As for Alexandra's Enemies, Robert, I think you will concede that - of them all - haemophilia was Enemy No.1.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on September 21, 2005, 07:49:56 AM
Dears Tsarfan and Tsaria... if this debate is beeing so interesting it´s grace of you and your points of view of this part of  the story.

Tsarfan...why do you think you have lost the argument?...certenly not¡ your arguments are as valids as mines, Tsaria is wright, we all win. If we all have the same opinions , this debate would not have any sense.

Really, i don´t think that Alix could thought she was a liability,....she was in love , she was young, she was beauty, she was a Royal, and she had a good wealth (supossing of course that she didn´t knew the real risk of haemophilia)....why a liability?

The only think that disturbed her in this math was the religion.

The four Hesse sisters were extremly pious and devoted (Ella became a nun). Thier mother Alice encouraged them this devotion. After the death of Frittie, May and the mother, this devotion increased, perhaps it was the girl´s comfort with regard to their sorrow.

Alix was firm in her religious ideas, she didn´t want to change, even for love, the religion in Alix mind was in my opinion essentia. Ella get married to GDS, but she was not obliged to change as wife of a GD, if she changed she did her choice. To Alix it was an imposition. Is the same case than with Ena, who suffered a lot too with this.

Tsaria, about the Revolution i am not sure...it so complicated. Who knows, perhaps Nicholas would had abdicate in his son, if Alexei would be a wealthy boy. Perhaps the Revolution would existed later, perhaps Alexei would had been the Last Tzar.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on September 21, 2005, 08:20:34 AM
Quote
Tsarfan - you have not LOST the argument.   We have all GAINED.   I speak for myself, but I do think the debate has been illuminating for all of us.   Not least for you and me.    



I thought Tsarfan was talking about Alexander and Marie throwing in the towel.

Quote
Perhaps there is something in my suspicion that Alexandra was aware that she was more a liability than an asset.   Perhaps Alexandra really was much more realistic regarding haemophilia and its ramifications than I, for one, ever imagined.   This, for me, now becomes the only viable reason to her objections to marrying Nicholas.   All the indicators point to this.   She refused to marry elsewhere.   She longed for her own family.   She was alone with Ernie, playing First Lady, until she was supplanted by Ducky.   What did the future hold for her?   With the exception of the occasional rather mild, for her, interjection from Queen Victoria, her entire family was in favour of the marriage.   Nicholas was in love with her.   She was in love with Nicholas.   Giving up religion?   It wasn't as though she was being required to turn her back on Christianity.


I have often wondered that Alexandra was afraid to marry Nicholas because (1) she did not feel particularly welcome in Russia on her previous visits -- and perhaps she was aware his parents had previously been against the match (2) the idea of becoming the Empress of Russia (with all its attendant responsibilities) must have been a pretty daunting proposition for someone who was too shy even to play the piano for a few of her grandmother's friends after dinner -- maybe she was afraid she wasn't up to the job?  (3) her health; I've seen posts on here which indicate the female hemophiliac carriers can experience their own set of symptoms -- different and far less dire than what males experience, but symptoms nevertheless (4) Romanov family history -- Alexander II had been assassinated just 13 years earlier  (that would certainly give me pause)


Quote
Kerensky wrote - 'If there had been no Rasputin, there would have been no Lenin.'


This is the Massie's entire premise.  If there had been no hemophilia, there would have been no Rasputin and thus no Lenin.  So, it isn't so far out  -- I certainly agree it's a valid position.  But Kerensky's quote has always bothered me.  I always thought he said this to get himself off the hook for his own foolish mistakes -- and he's blaming *Alexandra* by implication (he doesn't mention hemophilia) for everything.  





Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 21, 2005, 09:48:51 AM
Quote
There isn't a problem, Ella.

tsaria


I didn't think there was a problem. If you look at my quote box, I was making a joke about tsarfan's confusion over birthorder and how it's understandable given the repetition of the names Alexander & Nicholas. I wasn't referencing the article at all.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 21, 2005, 12:43:25 PM
Quote
This is the Massie's entire premise.  If there had been no hemophilia, there would have been no Rasputin and thus no Lenin.  So, it isn't so far out  -- I certainly agree it's a valid position.  But Kerensky's quote has always bothered me.  I always thought he said this to get himself off the hook for his own foolish mistakes -- and he's blaming *Alexandra* by implication (he doesn't mention hemophilia) for everything.


I think it's impossible to ascribe the revolution to any one cause and even difficult to assign order of impact among the many causes.

I think that by the start of 1917, the Romanov monarchy was hanging by a single strand of a once-strong rope.  That rope lost a strand or two when, after a whiff of hope for liberalization under Alexander II, the monarchy reverted to a more reactionary stance under Alexander III.  But I think the unravelling began in earnest when Nicholas ascended the throne ill-prepared by both temperament and training for what lay ahead.

Several strands let go with his "senseless dreams" speech upon his accession and its reinforcement a decade later in his speech opening the Duma.  Further strands broke as he began to isolate himself from the senior nobility.  That seemingly minor loss of fiber had a disproportionate impact when the frustrated senior nobility (as well as the extended Romanov clan) became amplifiers for reports and rumors into the larger body politic about Alexandra's problematic traits.

Critical strands broke when Nicholas proved incapable of finding and hanging onto strong ministers and resisting the importunities of his wife and others to appoint toadies.

And Alexandra, whether or not haunted by the specter of hemophilia (which I think does offer previously underestimated clues to her psyche), contributed to many of the problems that plagued her.  While Alexei's hemophilia occasioned the role Rasputin was to play, I don't think that means Alexandra might have otherwise avoided having her crediblity compromised.  Remember that the Mssr. Phillipe mess was spawned by her resorting to a psychic for help in having a son, not for help in dealing with hemophilia.  She had a propensity for mysticism and a lack of judgment in whom she trusted that would have shown up under any circumstances in which her conduct was put on display.

World War I put huge additional strains on the monarchy, but I am not among those that think a strong rope could not have held Russia together as a monarchy under those trying circumstances -- if for no other reason than a strong monarch would have had competent ministers who might have avoided Russia's involvement in the first place or managed her affairs better once she was in the war.

In my view, Raspution only had the power to cut that final strand that held the monarchy above the abyss.  The problem was that that's all that remained to be cut by the time the scissors were put into his hands.  The entire depressing circus of the final months -- in which increasingly laughable ministers came and went, in which Nicholas went into hiding at Stavka to avoid the intractable problems in his capital and home, in which a Romanov and a Yussopov resorted to murder and were publicly hailed for it, in which everyone just gave up and waited for the end -- was the culmination of the progressive breakdown of a rope plagued by a core weakness in the fiber:  Nicholas himself.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 22, 2005, 11:30:35 AM
Quote

World War I put huge additional strains on the monarchy, but I am not among those that think a strong rope could not have held Russia together as a monarchy under those trying circumstances -- if for no other reason than a strong monarch would have had competent ministers who might have avoided Russia's involvement in the first place or managed her affairs better once she was in the war.



I am not at all sure about this, really...Until WWI I would have considered Prussia/Germany a strong monarchy. The Kaiser may have been accused of many things, but never weakness, and yet the Hohenzollerns were also swept away in the rising tide of republicanism...

Can the 2 countries be compared? I am not sure but perhaps they can....  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: mitia on September 22, 2005, 12:20:36 PM
I am not at all sure either....Though it is true that Russia had become " an autocracy without an autocrat " in the space of about 20 years and that, nevertheless, the huge majority of russian moujiks still had great respect for their Holy Tsar, socialism was rising up all over Europe within the minorities of educated people. As we all know, minorities ( not majorities ) change the world for the best or for the worst. The " right of the princes " was coming to an end in favour of what was thought as the " right of the people "....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Tsarfan on September 22, 2005, 02:11:52 PM
Actually, I'm not sure either.  To my mind it's a close call whether a strong monarchy could have survived World War I in Russia.  I wouldn't put any real money on it either way, though.

I think the situation in Germany was somewhat different.  First, Germany had actually lost the war by the time the Kaiser abdicated.  Second, the Kaiser was shown the door, in part, because he was viewed as a buffoon by the military which, unlike Russia, was still intact.  Given a choice between standing by a Kaiser who had lost public support and preserving a military that was still cohesive, the General Staff opted for the latter.

As the Weimar Republic was to show, it was a paper revolution.  Monarchists remained deeply entrenched in the judiciary, and little changed in the fact that the General Staff ran the military with the head of civilian government -- be it a Kaiser or a President -- only a titular head.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 22, 2005, 04:15:33 PM
Quote


I am not at all sure about this, really...Until WWI I would have considered Prussia/Germany a strong monarchy. The Kaiser may have been accused of many things, but never weakness, and yet the Hohenzollerns were also swept away in the rising tide of republicanism...

Can the 2 countries be compared? I am not sure but perhaps they can....  


I think something can be found in that the monarchies that didn't survive this period were the most autocratic--Russia, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Germany. Russia had been roiling for a long time whereas A-H was cracking under the pressure of it's various ethnic groups. Germany was mostly undone by the fact that it was the loser of a war many felt it was responsible for.

Those countries more responsible to their publics--Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Romania--were intact or even stronger.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RichC on September 23, 2005, 08:09:31 AM
Quote

I think something can be found in that the monarchies that didn't survive this period were the most autocratic--Russia, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Germany. Russia had been roiling for a long time whereas A-H was cracking under the pressure of it's various ethnic groups. Germany was mostly undone by the fact that it was the loser of a war many felt it was responsible for.

Those countries more responsible to their publics--Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Romania--were intact or even stronger.


I agree what you are saying is factually correct.  The winners were mostly countries with democratic governments.  But this does not mean that countries with autocratic or authortarian governments cannot be extremely powerful militarily or economically -- even today.  Look at Nazi Germany (which followed the ill-fated, democratically elected, Weimar republic).  Or communist Russia (the Soviet Union) which emerged from WWII as one of the world's two superpowers.  Or China (hardly a government responsible to the public!) today, a country which is a superpower comparable to the United States.

Sorry to stray so far off topic!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on September 23, 2005, 10:45:28 AM
Quote
Germany was mostly undone by the fact that it was the loser of a war many felt it was responsible for.


The Russian monarchy was also undone by WWI. It could not survive long enough for the Allies to win that war. Remember, Russia was already losing the war to Germany when Nicholas II was forced to abdicate by his own generals. But the provisional government that replaced him was no more effective. And arguably, no Russian government would have been effective because in 1917 Russia simply lacked the infrastructure and resources to prosecute a modern, technologically advanced world war, a fact which Lenin was only too well aware of.

Remember, a million soldiers deserted their army units between March and October 1917. They left because they were fed up with fighting a war they did not believe in and because they wanted to seize the land. As General Brusilov wrote:

The soldiers wanted only one thing - peace, so that they could go home, rob the landowners, and live freely without paying taxes or recognizing any authority. The soldiers veered towards Bolshevism because they believed that this was its programme. They did not have the slightest understanding of what either Communism, or the International, or the division of workers and peasants, actually meant, but they imagined themselves at home living without laws or landowners. This anarchistic freedom is what they called "Bolshevism."

IMO, Alexei's hemophilia and Rasputin were not major causes of the March Revolution of 1917. Without Rasputin there would still have been a Lenin, because arguably that's exactly what the Russian people thought they wanted.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bluetoria on September 24, 2005, 10:04:26 AM
Quote

Without Rasputin there would still have been a Lenin, because arguably that's exactly what the Russian people thought they wanted.
 


So in fact, one might say that this was the 'senseless dream' of which Nicholas spoke. The dream that Lenin might suddenly make their lives so much easier...

And perhaps it could also be said, then, that Alexandra's main 'enemies' were War and the misfortune of having been born 'royal' in an 'enemy' country.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: NAAOTMA on September 25, 2005, 10:59:44 AM
And perhaps that as being born royal and marrying imperial, her most important job as Empress of Russia was to produce healthy male children (heirs and sufficient spares) to continue the male line was Alix's greatest enemy.


If her child-bearing situation had been that of Xenia, she would of had a huge amount of pressure off her at the very start of her marriage. If the baby she miscarried just after the Coronation had been instead a healthy boy, just that could have changed so much of what transpired on so many levels. There would have been no mad mystical scramble to produce a son and later to keep him alive, there would have been no family tension regarding her ability to produce a son, there would have been no reason to isolate her family to the extent she did, her close relationship with Xenia most likely would not have cooled, her relationship with Ella most likely would not have cooled---the list goes on and on. And of course, no need for any Holy Men/Healers.

With healthy baby boys produced early on in her marriage, Alix would have been a very different person emotionally and mentally even with all of her personality and character as they were. She would still had a tremendous pressure on her, as did her mother-in-law, regarding her family's personal safety. She still would of had the challenge of fulfilling her social obligations when her character was shy and publicly charmless. But the crushing pressure of trying to produce a son and then keep him alive was what really dismantled her emotionally and mentally.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: grandduchessella on September 25, 2005, 04:14:35 PM
I wonder if this played a role in her deteriorating relationship with Xenia? There was never any overt hostility (unlike with Miechen) just a gradual estrangement. It must've been really hard to see this parallel couple--very close, married in the same year--produce healthy son after healthy son when nothing was really dependent on it. (Xenia's sons were in the succession via Sandro but so far down it was basically inconsequential) It must've been hard to see and thus easier to remove yourself.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: NAAOTMA on September 25, 2005, 06:20:42 PM
I can imagine that as Xenia produced her bumper crop of robust baby boys, Alix must have dreaded family gatherings despite her warm relationship with Xenia in the early days of their marriages. It must have been hell for Alix and added hugely to the other strains she felt. Xenia's many sons must have been a huge and painful reminder of her own failure to produce a healthy baby boy. The fact that the Dowager Empress doted on Xenia's children would have been another stab in Alix's heart.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: matushka on October 14, 2005, 04:46:09 PM
Alexander Alexandrovich,
May I correct you about church's questions?
Mitropolit Pitirim, the "protege" of Raspoutine came in Petersbourg's, at the place of Metropolit Vladimir, who was sent to Kiev. It was an evident disgrace. Mitropolit Pitirim stay in Petersbourg until the Revolution, then echap to the South of the country. I can not remember where. In that aera where a lot of other Church' rulers. There was also prince Jevakhov. He stay with Pitirim until the "natural" death of the metropolit (typhus, or something like that) and wrote about him very hagiographic things in his Memories... About death of Pitirim, you can read, for example, in Mitropolit Evlogy' Memories, or Chavelsky's memories.
A bishop was indeed in Siberia and was killed by the Bolsheviks. It is Germogen (Hermogene).
Mitropolit Vladimir stayed in Kiev, he was killed at the beginning of 1918 (I think), becomming one of the first neo-martyr.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 24, 2005, 07:41:37 AM
Since you state with a certainty that Nicholas knew of the letters "written" to Alix to fool her into thinking that she was in touch with the Russian people, for the first time, I feel genuinely sorry for her.

I can not imagine being duped like that and by her own husband!

I have always thought that Nicholas should have put a muzzle on her, but he should have done it with dignaty
and with complete openess.

He was such a weak man.  With his ministers and with his wife.  

Alix did contribute to all the problems.  She was part and parcel of all sorts of things that combined at the time to bring down the dynasty.

But to be betrayed by her own husband.  Even if she didn't know it, how awful!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 24, 2005, 08:17:44 AM
I have always thought that the letter after the engagement was a "throwing in of the towel" on the part of the Tsar and Tsaritsa as well.
Again ( as I mentioned in the thread on the Language of Victorian Letters) everyone was gracious and loving and emotional in their letters to each other.

Once the engagement was a fact, Alix became a "dear Daughter" and MF wanted to be known as "motherdear" not "Aunty-Mamma"

MF probably figured she would be able to control Alix and "train her in the right way".  I don't imagine that anyone thought that Alix would dig in the way she did.
They probably all believed (as I always have) that the "no, I can not" over the religion was a big show!

But it did never occur to me that Alexander III was never trained to be Tsar and so therefore why would he know how to train his own son?  I had never read much about Nixa before "Little Mother of Russia"  I only knew that he had died and passed Dagmar on to his brother.

I wonder what kind of Tsar Nixa would have been and what kind of children he and Dagmar would have had?

Talk about divergent history!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: isabel on October 24, 2005, 02:53:35 PM
You are right, Alexander III, was not trained to be the Tzar, but he had a strong character, and a very deffinated nature, when he took a decision he didn´t hesitate. I don´t think that Nicholas had the same nature. No.

About Nixa and Dagmar, it´s imposible to imagine how kind of children would they have, imposible.

But i really think that children she had with Alexander III, all five, with their defects and virtues, where good people after all.

I belive, that if they would not be the Tzar´s sons and daughters, they would have been more happy in their privates lifes.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 24, 2005, 05:52:57 PM
Another thought just occured to me.  Why do we alsways look to asign blame to just one person over all others?
I have always believed that life is a general convergence of all things which are happening at the same time.

No one lives in a vacuum.  Not even Autocrats.  

I state again that I have never been a fan of Alix's, but as much of a lose cannon as she was, she could not have personally caused all of the troubles that brought down the dynasty.

Perhaps Romanov Autumn (which I am eagerly awaiting) shows that best.  For at least one hundred years before the Revolution, things began to move and converge and intertwine.  Each monarch and his consort contributed to the end, just as much as did Alixz and Nicky.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: koloagirl on October 24, 2005, 06:33:52 PM
 :) ;)

Dear Alixz:

You'll love "Romanov Autumn"!

Janet R.   ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 25, 2005, 09:45:02 PM
Koloagirl - I just found out that I won the auction.  It should be shipped very soon.
Thanks
Alixz
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: imperial angel on November 09, 2005, 11:02:18 AM
Yes, I believe that in history, no one is specifically to blame. Alexandra did contribute to the Revolution primarily because she overly trusted Rasputin, and allowed hom to play a role in goverment to which he was not suited. Also, she gave Nicholas bad advice, partly inspired by Rasputin, and influenced Nicholas in a bad direction. She insisted on Autocracy, even though it was not a good poltical system for Russia anymore. She lacked the temprament to make her popular with the Russian people. Then and now, royalty fare better if they have charisma. This is not say that Alexandra did not have some, but she was not able to express it where she needed to, in public. So she seemed very foreign and unapproachable to Russia's common people.

But she did suffer with Alexei's illness, and also with her own physical ailments. She was not understood by very many people, and no likes to feel they do not have understanding with people. She was very much alone, and she knew it. She, too had to bear the difficult burden of Russian politics of the time. Her son's illness tore her apart, both emotionally, and physically. So you have to grant her understanding. But Nicholas played a role, too, as did many others. I can't relate to Alexandra much, except people may not have understood me sometimes.But we should all attempt to understand the challenges that were faced by the last romanovs.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Anastasia_R on November 11, 2005, 03:00:58 PM
I suggest reading "People Against Alexandra",has quite a few interesting points. ;)

Just to respond to the original post-a tad harsh!She spent quite a lot of time worried over Alexei,and you can't really blame the poor woman-her son had hemophelia,I'm sure any mother would rather stay home with their sick child rather than got to parties,etc.She was most certainly NOT stupid!She wanted a cure so badly for Alexei,and she truly believed he was a holy man.Do not blame her for ending the Romanov rule.Bluetoria-I must agree with what you said about the Tsarina living through a nightmare.

Sorry if my comments are a tad offensive.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Anastasia_R on November 12, 2005, 04:35:00 PM
Wow...my brain is so dead right now..if I think of anything tonight I'll post.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RealAnastasia on November 12, 2005, 09:12:25 PM
Quote
Yes, I believe that in history, no one is specifically to blame. Alexandra did contribute to the Revolution primarily because she overly trusted Rasputin, and allowed hom to play a role in goverment to which he was not suited. Also, she gave Nicholas bad advice, partly inspired by Rasputin, and influenced Nicholas in a bad direction. She insisted on Autocracy, even though it was not a good poltical system for Russia anymore. She lacked the temprament to make her popular with the Russian people. Then and now, royalty fare better if they have charisma. This is not say that Alexandra did not have some, but she was not able to express it where she needed to, in public. So she seemed very foreign and unapproachable to Russia's common people.

But she did suffer with Alexei's illness, and also with her own physical ailments. She was not understood by very many people, and no likes to feel they do not have understanding with people. She was very much alone, and she knew it. She, too had to bear the difficult burden of Russian politics of the time. Her son's illness tore her apart, both emotionally, and physically. So you have to grant her understanding. But Nicholas played a role, too, as did many others. I can't relate to Alexandra much, except people may not have understood me sometimes.But we should all attempt to understand the challenges that were faced by the last romanovs.


Good points. Romanov_fan! I share completely your points of view.

RealAnastasia..
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: anna11 on November 13, 2005, 11:28:14 AM
Quote
Since you state with a certainty that Nicholas knew of the letters "written" to Alix to fool her into thinking that she was in touch with the Russian people, for the first time, I feel genuinely sorry for her.

I can not imagine being duped like that and by her own husband!

I have always thought that Nicholas should have put a muzzle on her, but he should have done it with dignaty
and with complete openess.

He was such a weak man.  With his ministers and with his wife.  


But to be betrayed by her own husband.  Even if she didn't know it, how awful!


I highly doubt it.
And about the revolution, she did play a role, but that isnt to say it was her fault if  you see the difference
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Caleb on November 13, 2005, 04:45:08 PM
Quote
I just had to say a quick thing here about Rasputin 'healing' beautiful Alexei. In my opinion, that is absolute utter garbage! The only thing responsible for healing Alexei was the good Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Half the time Alexei was well without Rasputin. I think Rasputin was a con man who deluded himself into thinking he was a man of God. And unfortunately, Alexandra fell for what Rasputin was selling.
I fully agree with you, that only Christ could heal Alexei. As far as Alexandra goes, I truly believe that she was a scapegoat if anything else. Not many of the people in Russia knew about her, except for what they had been told, and most of what was told on Alexandra was unflattering tissues of lies & gossip. When things go wrong in society, people wan't to blame other people instead of themselves in most cases, like in the case of the Dowager Empress of China, however fraud biographers were mostly responsible. Also another scapegoat, I personally believe, would be President Bush. Not to ramble, but I think he is a well  meaning man who just wants to do what's right in the eyes of God. Nobody ever said that doing the right thing would be popular!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: imperial angel on November 17, 2005, 11:56:54 AM
Doing the right thing is never popular sometimes, but doesn't everyone differ as to what the right thing is? It is even worse to be misunderstood by your people, too as Empress Alexandra was. They never ''got'' her so to speak. She was foreign to them both literally and figuratively. Which is sad. I think people make mistakes but shouldn't be judged by these things, no one can claim perfection for a living leader or for one far back in history. Some people make mistakes, but also do incredibly wise things, too, in other times. Some seem just to make mistakes, with nothing redeeming.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on December 19, 2005, 01:36:21 PM
Quote
Alexandra
Empress of Russia, became absolute ruler in her husband's absense (1915-1917)

She was born in 1872 in Darmstadt, the daughter of Alice, Queen Victoria's daughter, and Louis IV, duke of Hesse-Darmstadt. Darmstadt was located in present-day West Germany. Alexandra was often unbending and firm-willed with a strong and proud appreciation of her Teutonic blood. She married Nicholas II of Russia in 1894 and dominated their entire married like. She was not popular with the Russian people, who considered her a German interloper. As consolation, she immersed herself in religion; however, her interest in religion did not present her from exerting her influence to undo the 1905 reforms, which limited the powers of the monarchy. The couple had four daughters before their so Alexis, a hemophiliac, was born. The boy's perilous health also put the future of the dynasty in peril. Alexandra turned for advice to Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, a self-proclaimed holy man upon whom she came to rely so heavily that her conduct became a public scandal. In August of 1915, when Nichoals left for the front to assume command of Russian troops, Alexandra moved quickly to consolidate her own power. She dismissed valuable ministers and replaced them with puppets, choices of Rasputin. The government soon became paralyzed, and Alexandra was further alienated from an already suspicious and mistrusting public. Alexandra apparently believed she was safely beyond justice, and even when Rasputin was murdered, she continued her despotic rule, giving public opinion no quarter. After the October Bolshevik Revolution, the entire family was imprisoned. On 29 July 1918, she was shot to death at Yekaterinburg, now Sverdlovsk, Russia. It might be concluded that she alone precipated the collapse of the military government in March of 1911 and thus hastened the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution.


Women Who Ruled by Guida M. Jackson


This is kind of on topic. Thoughts?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on December 19, 2005, 01:41:17 PM
I disagree with the idea that Alexandra was the 'absolute ruler'. She had, undoubtedly, influence on the Tsar, but in the end, he made the decisions, he was the ruler. Also, Rasputin couldn't have been 'self-proclaimed', or no one would have gone to him.  One doesn't go around calling oneself a starets - one gains a reputation as one and it becomes known by word of mouth.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Margarita Markovna on December 19, 2005, 01:56:32 PM
I agree with you Georgiy- it's what I was thinking while I read it. I also don't like how they blamed her completely for the October Revolution.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Georgiy on December 19, 2005, 02:16:36 PM
It's far too simplistic. Many things contributed to the revolution. Alexandra's perceived actions were one of them. Her actual actions were another, but there was much, much more going on that precipitated the revolution.

The whole concept is flawed anyway. If Alexandra were the absolute ruler, why did Nicholas have to abdicate. If she really were the ruler of Russia she would have to. No one passed the crown on to her. Sure she met the ministers and heard their reports, but she in turn passed on that info to the Tsar, from her point of view perhaps, but the buck stopped with him.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: nene on December 29, 2005, 09:57:15 AM
Now THIS is a hot topic to discuss! I've been reading the messages here regarding Alexandra, and I would like to put in my two cents as well:

How can anyone call Alexandra a stupid and evil woman? In my opinion, that's going too far! Also, to say that she was responsible for communism and the Soviet System, that is just flat out ridiculous! I think it was basically a miscommunication gap between Alexandra and the Russian people.

-I think it would have helped if Alexandra had been better prepared or coached in the role of Empress. Why didn't her mother-in-law, Marie, instruct Alix in this?

-Also, Alix should have made a better effort to be more sociable and be more out there, seeing what's really going on with the Russian people. Instead, she turned more inward, withdrawing from alot of people.

-Regarding Rasputin-I will admit right now that I completely detest this man. In my opinion, I always thought he was a con-man who deluded himself into thinking he was a miracle worker. Anyway, you can't really blame Alexandra for depending on him. I mean, if you gave birth to a son, and he's afflicted with a deadly disease, and you know you're responsible for it, you would want to believe in something, anything, to help your son get better. I'm sure alot of people would have done the same thing.

-Maybe the Russian people should have given Alexandra a chance, a chance to show what she could have done for the country. They should have gotten past their anti-German feelings and see her for the kind, caring, loving woman she was.

And Alexandra was a lovely, kind woman who really wanted to make a difference to the Russian people. She was an exemplary mother, and a loving wife. I guess it goes both ways.

I hope I pointed out some good points regarding Alexandra. And to answer the question-she was not Russia's worst nightmare, not in the slightest.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: leushino on December 29, 2005, 10:26:53 AM
Quote
I just encountered an interesting perspective on Alexandra given by Mosolov, who ran the Secretariat of the Ministry of the Imperial Court:

"She could never become a genuine tsarina due to her personal situation [not specified], and that is a great pity, because with her hard character she could have been of great assistance to His Majesty.  Unfortunately her ideas were even more bigoted than those of His Majesty, so that her support of Nicholas did him more harm than good."

And here is what the tsar said regarding Stolypin's foiled attempts to keep Rasputin away from the empress, as Stolypin reported it to his daughter:

"I agree with you, Pyotr Arkadyevich, but I'd rather have ten Rasputins than one hysterical tsarina.  Of course that explains it all.  The tsarina is ill, seriously ill.  She believes the only person in the whole world who can help her is Rasputin, and it is humanly impossible to persuade her otherwise.  Because in general it is already very difficult to talk to her . . . . "

I find that last line to be a very revealing glimpse into what many view as an idyllic marital relationship.

Stolypin was shot not long after this interchange.  In the three days during which he lay dying, neither the tsar nor tsarina visited the hospital or sent their condolences.  When they attempted to do so after his death, Stolypin's widow refused to receive them.  In receiving Count Kokovtsov, Stolypin's successor, Alexandra told him that she believed God had put Stolypin aside in order to make room for him.  He was appalled by her remark.

People can make all the excuses for Alexandra they want.  But I think the woman was one vindictive piece of work.  There are real reasons almost all of the governing and aristocratic establishments developed an intense dislike of her.


I couldn't agree more. The actions above and the attitude that set in motion those actions (re Stolypin) are indicative of a vindictive spirit.  I don't believe a more unsuitable candidate for tsarina could have been found than Alix of Hesse. There is so much evidence of her psychological disorders that it boggles the mind that some people will intentionally close a blind eye to the damage she brought to the dynasty and ultimately to her immediate family.

However, what use is it to present the evidence when its authenticity is questioned and excuses made?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: CountessKate on December 29, 2005, 11:30:53 AM
Quote
However, what use is it to present the evidence when its authenticity is questioned and excuses made?


But I don't think there is any absolute evidence.  There is just speculation and discussion and opinion.  The 'evidence' about Stolypin only establishes that people thought Nicholas and Alexandra behaved badly towards him, not that Alexandra was a vindictive spirit. We are unlikey to know whether she was the moving spirit or whether Nicholas was - and why exactly one or the other or both together behaved in this way.  Similarly you can argue that there is no evidence for her 'psychological disorders'.  Saying she was hysterical is not evidence.  I personally happen to agree with the view that Alexandra was a disaster for her dynasty and family, but that's just my view - and I think the great thing about these discussions is that my views are constantly being challenged.  You have to present your ideas and expect to get them shot down!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: imperial angel on January 23, 2006, 11:45:23 AM
Alexandra does unfortunatly suffer from often being negatively seen, and she is thus ''slaughtered again and again''. She was a complex person who is rather hard to understand, and it is too easy to see the stereotype of her, rather than see her as the person she was. She was fun, in her own way, that story above proves although that is more relevant to another thread, and it proves the Grand Duchesses did get a chance for a social life, and were not sad and deprived as one thread says. It is interesting how we can compare in this way. Alexandra was different in youth, before some of the extremes of her life took hold, and yet she was the same person too, just one that hadn't known so much shadow.

Her motivation for being so obssessed with Alexei's inheiritance is no doubt complicated as someone stated, although I don't buy the guilt theory. She came from a more liberal background, and then was as autocratic as any Romanov autocrat later in life. One could say that the extremes of behaviour otherwise acceptable took hold. She did write in a certain style, but this doesn't mean anything, anyway, because it was typical for that era.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: griffh on January 30, 2006, 02:44:29 PM
I love Baroness Buxhoeveden's point about Alexandra in the Preface of her book, "The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna," where she states:

"The Empress's character was very complex.  Love for her husband and children was its dominant trait.  Shew was an ideal wife and mother; her worst enemies could not deny this.  She was a very womanly woman, and not always logically reasonable when it was a case of conflict between reason and affection.  Her intellect was always subordinate to her heart.  In her dealings with other people, her idealism often made her find in them the good that her own nature led her to expect....She never acquired the easy outward manner and ready smile that win the hearts of the public, and her modesty kept her from fighting for the popularity she so ardently desired at heart...Her want of political experience, her trust in the innate goodness of humanity, made her commit many political errors.  But in everything she did, she was guided solely by her love for the country of her adoption...Towards the end the selflessness and spiritual serenity of the Empress grew daily...Her hunger and thirst were for righteousness.  At last, in her Christian submission to the Divine will, she must have found the Truth she sought, and it was the supreme mercy that sent her the fulfillment of the prayer of Ruth and left her with her husband."

The Baroness' words mean a great deal to me because I feel she was not a flatterer but has seen the Empress in a proper perspective.  I believe that Alexandra would have eventually come back to her liberal roots just as her sister Ella did after Serge assassination.  Well anyway that is just a thought.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet_W. on January 30, 2006, 04:13:46 PM
" . . . She never aquired the easy outward manner and ready smile that win the hearts of the public, and her modesty kept her from fighting for the popularity she so ardently desired at heart..."

Thank you for quoting that passage from Baroness Buxhoevedon's book, Griffh.  And as you can see, I've singled out a particular section which I think underscores some major differences between Alexandra and her cousin Marie of Romania.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: lovy on February 07, 2006, 11:18:49 PM
I definitely agree that Alexandra did make the dynasty die down. But she really didn't mean to! She just wanted what was best for Russia, but simply didn't know how to do it and always asked Rasputin for advice. Geez, well maybe he should be known as Tsar Rasputin I.  >:( And Alexandra always told her husband what to do! He went to Stavka but does that stop Alexandra from tormenting him? No! She gave him letters everyday, each explaining what "our Friend" told them to do, and then later on writing of her passionate and physical love for him (once even saying: "Four months we have not slept together...") Once she went too far, and then Nicholas wrote back to her being sarcastic, saying stuff like "...many thanks, for the severe scolding..." and so on. I want to read that letter. Does anyone have it's full thing?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on September 14, 2009, 08:40:54 AM
Well, if she did not meddle in politics until the war, as someone has said, she sure made up for lost time, did she not ? Indirectly she did meddle in his political life, and constantly influenced him negatively. She wrote to him telling him how to treat people, and expressed her prejudiced and personal dislikes of various ministers and courtiers, from the day she landed in Yalta right at the beginning.
Read the letters. She meddled constantly, and he allowed her to do so, because he lacked the courage to cross her. He allowed people to bully him, specially his wife. The poor man was henpecked, until the day he died. 
I think she contributed hugely to the way things turned out, starting from day one.
I disagree that the Russian people had a problem with Marie Feodorovna because she was a spendthrift. Please. If you look at the whole Imperial family, from a "western" perspective, they were all spendthrifts. 
Part of the Russian nature is to live life to the fullest, in every sense of the word. Russians love splendour and beauty, just as they lived in misery and pain under Lenin and Stalin.  Look at the architecture and all the other wonderful things the world has inherited from Russia. And they have not changed. I think they loved Marie Feodorovna, she was a dutiful Empress, fun loving, gregarious, loved parties and society and fitted into her role perfectly. I have never read anything negative about her. Its no wonder she disapproved of her daughter in law. They were complete opposites.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, was also accused of leading a too lavish life, but the English loved her. i think she had a lot in common with Marie Feodorovna.

     
 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on September 30, 2009, 09:02:00 AM
Poor thing , yes she was not entirely to blame for the revolution, but she sure fanned the flames furiously, and helped it along by playing perfectly into the hands of the revolutionaries. I think she made their task a lot easier by making, what must surely be, the worst mistakes of any monarch in history and having the worst possible public image. Created by herself, for herself and with no help from anyone else.

Nicholas was just a puppet with no backbone, the poor man was hopeless and incompetent.  To give him his due, I think at the beginning he had a bit of gumption, though. Before Alexandra started meddling and interfering. He had the leftover people from his fathers court to advise him. And  thank God sometimes he listened to them. Well, sort of. But probably because he thought " Papa would have done that" I think Nicholas's ancestors sometimes haunted him, and caused him anguish.
The Hague conference was an example of one good thing he did. After that I think it was downhill all the way, so to speak.

I dont think one should compare her to Marie Antoinette. The two were completely different. The former never interfered in anything and was a bit of an airhead, the second was a meddler in things that did not concern her, and largely schemed and manipulated her family and country to disaster.At least Marie Antoinette had a sense of styule and a sense of humour. She also vindicated herself a bit during her trial.
People who play with fire normally get their fingers burnt, and as they say, " a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing".

Perhaps if the woman had some sort of education, other than sewing and playing the piano...................who knows ?

Can anyone think of anything amazing these two people did for Russia ? I'm thinking, but cant come up with much.


My post will probably rev up the engines of those of you who glamourise her like a movie star.

Sorry !!
       
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on September 30, 2009, 03:32:11 PM
*sigh*
 
I don't glamourise her but I have read enough original documents to know what a loving, careing and unselfish person she was. And she was self-critical - a virtue not everybody on that forum owns................

I think the voice of your post is most embarrassing and shows that you do not know much about the last Empress.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on September 30, 2009, 04:10:06 PM
Your hatred to The Empress Alexandra is so obvious. What a pity that your knowledge Pavlov is so tiny about her. I feel really sorry for you.
I can't imagine that someone can so hate someone as you do, that you even opens old threads whoes last reply was 3,5 years ag, only so you can show your hatred towards her. Telling the same old story, what you do over and over again in all kind of threads. You take every change to show your dislike towards her.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on September 30, 2009, 05:24:00 PM
I confess!, I had the attitude to glamorise her, but now that I learned a bit more about Empress Alexandra I have to say that I changed my mind about her.
But, although I discovered her bed sides, I'm still inclined to consider Empress Alexandra as an interesting historical character, and I don't hate her...I'm agree that she committed a lot of mistakes and that she had a bad character, but I don't consider her a bad person, after all.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: imperial angel on September 30, 2009, 07:09:06 PM
One thing I have always considered in Marie Antoinette's favor when evaluating her and Alexandra, is that MA did show signs of maturity later in her life and did grow up. Alexandra's personality was simply fixed, as she was 22 when she married Nicholas and became Empress consort. Her mistakes were in her early 20s and after, whereas MA came to the French court to marry Louis in an arranged marriage at age 14. Many of her mistakes where made as uneducated teenager, struggling to have an heir, who was trying to make the best of an arranged marriage and unfamiliar country where she didn't choose to be, and where she wasn't popular. Alexandra on the other hand was far older and was in a supportive marriage with someone she loved, in a country where she wanted to be, although she too struggled to have an heir- but at least she was known to be fertile, and had children, albeit daughters. MA didn't have any children at all for some years.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on September 30, 2009, 09:08:20 PM
Glamourise...no.  Understand...yes.

Big difference.  Huge.  Canyon-like.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on October 01, 2009, 04:23:09 AM

That guy - by the way - smells like the former "AlexP"...................

One simply cannot state that Alexandra was responsible for the revolution. A single person..... the Russian Empire was a very complex and complicated political and bureaucratic system. The Empress's tasks were merely representative matters. Considering her bad health this is a job she did wonderfully and in a very modern way - working and paying much for charity and traveling around to see people instead of presiding balls.
The revolution would have come - even without Nicholas and Alexandra. Simply due to the fact Russia was an autocratic monarchy in the 20th century.....

To call Alexandra uneducated is simply ridiculous - and to refer to her hobbies like needlework and her talents as a musician as if they were a sign of stupidity shows your own deficiency regarding that subject.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 01, 2009, 08:46:36 AM
My apologies if I have offended you, but history speaks for itself, and this is a discussion forum, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But the history books and letters speak for themselves. Her disastrous handling of her position as Empress of Russia is very well documented.  I am not
alone in my opinion of her. Read the letters from her family, members of the court etc, and the posts of many people who have done extensive research on the subject. She is well documented by many different people, and her unfavourable niche in history was not created by anyone other than herself, and is a direct result of her misconduct as Empress of Russia. Perhaps you should do a bit of research yourself.
I am very knowledgable about the subject I think,thank you. And no, I am not " that Alex P " guy ! ( ? )

I think Alex P is still around on this forum, is he not ? I think his posts are very valuable and informative. Has he dissappeared ?
 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on October 01, 2009, 08:51:33 AM

I should hope so...............
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 01, 2009, 09:56:26 AM
Well that is self opinionated isnt it ?

To reply to a previous post. I dont hate Alexandra. I love Russia and all it stood and stands for. I very often spend months at a time in St Petersburg, especially in the summer.

I just think she was a contributing factor to the disaster, and despise her for it. She had the opportunity to make things better, and she made them worse. For a brief period she was the most powerful woman in the world.

To give her some credit. Perhaps she did not know what she was doing at the time. I think this came about perhaps because she had removed herself so far from the real world.

I recently found the following comment during my research. It was written  by a senior courtier, and a member of the entourage of Nicholas :

 "Not understanding that Sovereigns must pay with their persons for the priviledges of their position in the world, she spends her time in imploring her husband to put himself and his family into safety instead of urging him to come forward and to confront whatever danger lies before him. When it was said that the workmen of the capital were marching towards the Winter Palace and wanted to see their Tsar, Alexandra Feodorovna begged her husband to fly to Tsarskoe Tselo for safety, and she has never wanted to return to the capital since that fateful day.
Owing to her nervousnous the breach between the Sovereign and his people has become complete, and the estrangment that divides them has assumed proportions that can only become wider and wider as time goes by ".   

Also please note that I may open any post on this forum, even if it was 3 and a half years ago, and comment on it. I dont think there are any rules about that are there ? If so, please tell me where they are.
 

That is what keeps this forum alive and so interesting, peoples opinions of the subject, and everything related to it.   

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on October 01, 2009, 10:16:19 AM
I just think she was a contributing factor to the disaster, and despise her for it. She had the opportunity to make things better, and she made them worse. For a brief period she was the most powerful woman in the world.

I have to agree with this, that brief period of power was indeed negative, not only for her reputation...sadly.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 01, 2009, 10:47:03 AM
Whoa - I am one who occasionally refers to Alix as one can short of a six pack.  A few ants short of a picnic.

AlexP has not been around in a long time.  I used to pm with him and I do believe that he was well read and knew a lot about his subject.  If I am not incorrect, he was an older man who had lived through some of the results of the Russian Revolution as the child of those who had been displaced by that revolution.

He spoke many languages including Chinese and Russian and English and always had very interesting stories to tell.

I have no doubt that Alexandra did what she thought was best.  She had every good intention, but she was not Empress material.  I get so tired of hearing about her many sterling talents as a mother and wife.  If she were indeed that sterling, she would have known enough to leave her husband to his job and to kick Rasputin out on his butt!  As I have mentioned before, Alexei lived for 18 months after Rasputin was murdered and did very well without him.  In fact some of the pictures from Tobolsk before the sled debacle show him to be strong and tall and healthy enough to help his father saw logs.  Alexandra was wrong about a lot of things and she should have learned her place in the imperial family and kept to it.

I don't hate her, but I don't like her either.  If anything, I feel disgust for her meddling.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on October 01, 2009, 11:04:36 AM

I am - of course - no mother but I can imagine what one must feel seeing ones child in undescribable pain and danger. Rasputin was Alexandra's "anchor" - whatever might or might not have been his powers. And no argument in the world will convince me of the contrary.

Of course she was no politician - how should she have been? But she had her opinions and acted in the most honest ways. The end would have come even without her. It is ridiculous to blame her entirely
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 01, 2009, 12:07:33 PM
I, of course, am a mother but even though I know that Alexandra was in constant pain over the health of her only son, I also see her (IMHO) as more worried about saving the dynasty for him.

I think she was torn between being an Empress and the mother of an Emperor.  In the end, she lost both.

I also know that she was "ill" herself (some real and some imagined) and so reacted as an ill person to the overwhelming lifestyle that she chose.

In the end no matter how wonderful she was in her personal life, I believe that subjecting her children to the likes of Rasputin was akin to child endangerment and child abuse.  I believe that showed her selfish side.

The only thing Rasputin did as "her anchor" was to pull her down to his level and in the end to drown her.

I am not saying that she was the sole cause of the Russian Revolution and the end of the dynasty.  That was beginning long before she was even old enough to know what was going on in Russia, let alone in her own country of Hesse.

But no matter what, she was proud and intractable and married to a soft and pliant man.  Bad combination.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on October 01, 2009, 01:12:07 PM
What makes you think that she was "proud"?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 01, 2009, 08:08:36 PM
I am an "Alix fan"...but I know she made mistakes.  It's easy to see with a safe cushion of time and distance.  I think the mistakes she made were catastrophic, but I do believe she indeed thought she was doing the best she could.  She didn't start the revolution by herself, and she couldn't have stopped it by herself either.  She didn't deserve the quantity and type of filth that was slung at her.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Terence on October 02, 2009, 12:12:19 AM
In the end no matter how wonderful she was in her personal life, I believe that subjecting her children to the likes of Rasputin was akin to child endangerment and child abuse.  I believe that showed her selfish side.

The only thing Rasputin did as "her anchor" was to pull her down to his level and in the end to drown her.

Well we all know it didn't end well, that's certainly an understatement.  But IMO to raise these charges is too much.  She used this man to save the life of her child.  I don't see where it endangered her other children unless you assume Rasputin was the cause of the Revolution, and I find that very tenuous.  There was a lot more involved than Raspy!

T
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 02, 2009, 05:02:42 AM
Alex P. What has happened to him.? Has he stopped posting completely ?. Perhaps he has been offended by something or someone. I really enjoyed his postings, which were very informative and interesting.  I miss him.  I think he is a loss to the forum, he always sounded like a very erudite and ciultured person.

Alex P, if you are out there, perhaps you would like to come back ! 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 02, 2009, 06:08:05 AM
This is a can of worms. We are flogging this poor woman like a dead horse.
 
SHE WAS NOT SOLEY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION. Of course not, just like Marie Antoinette did not start the French Revolution. They just contributed and were scapegoats for public opinion. But it was all self inflicted.

Its just the glaring mistakes she made that scream out at one from the historical records. What would we have done if we were in her position ?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and although she found herself in an extremely complex situation, made up of all sorts of problems, I think her arrogance and narrow minded perception was her down fall. I also think she had mental and emotional problems, which went way back to her childhood. Adjustment problems. Perhaps that is why she did not adapt or adjust to being Empress. I think she carried some of these problems over to her children, by isolating them from the "cruel" world.

The first thing I think she should have done was to consider the advice offered to her by the family, and others in government. Instead she showed them the door.

The second thing which should have been done, in my humble opinion, was to appoint an emergency " council" composed of a cross section of people from different levels, including Nicholas's uncles, to assist in running the country during the time her husband was playing war at the front. The Duma was constantly being disbanded, that together with her constant " hiring and firing" of people, did not contribute to stability or continuity.
Perhaps there were many other things she could have done if she thought carefully about the singularly difficult situation she found herself in. Thought about them intelligently.

I think that she really believed that God had put her in charge of Russia at that time, to the exclusion of everyone else.

I am going to be shot down in flames for saying this.

How intelligent was she ? Taking everything into consideration. Should she have been left in charge of the largest country in the world ?

Many people here are constantly saying that she was such a wonderful mother and wife. Was she ?

I dont think so. She closetted her children away from everything, subjected them to Rasputin, and bullied her husband into making the most disastrous decisions in history. Her children have been  described as being a bit " backward' in some ways, as they were denied normal social interaction. Any reasonably intelligent parent would not do that would they ?

At what point, does one in a situation like this, say to yourself " something is wrong here, this is not working, i am not coping, maybe I need help" ?     
 
I sometimes wonder if she influenced her husbands decision to engage in the disastrous Japanese war ? Although he also did not listen to good advice.

Considering all the disasters afterwards, I have this theory that she influenced this one as well. It just seems to be an  Empress Alexandra  "special" . Perhaps I am wrong. But I think about this one very often.

I am running for cover!!



And no, she did not only start to interfere, at the start of the war. She started on day one.

Now you can all shoot me down in flames !!!   

Con
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 02, 2009, 06:55:39 AM
*boring*
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on October 02, 2009, 07:56:17 AM
I sometimes wonder if she influenced her husbands decision to engage in the disastrous Japanese war ? Although he also did not listen to good advice.

Now you can all shoot me down in flames !!!  

Don't worry...all members of the forum have the right to say their opinion.  ;)

Concerning to the Russo-Japanese war, personally I don't think that Empress Alexandra was in favour of that war, I think that Nicholas II was pushed on it by bed suggestions of ministers, and by the expansionist tendency of the Imperial Russia...or at least is what I think...correct me if I'm wrong.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on October 02, 2009, 12:00:57 PM
One cannot compare nowadays education with the views around the turn of the century.
Actually I think Alexandra was very modern in many ways - and please keep in mind that they were the first family of the largest Empire of the day. Bodyguards, papparazzi and such were daily routine for the Romanovs. Very understandable that Alexandra wanted to enable her children to develop even another more free layer of their personalities.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 02, 2009, 01:10:43 PM


The second thing which should have been done, in my humble opinion, was to appoint an emergency " council" composed of a cross section of people from different levels, including Nicholas's uncles, to assist in running the country during the time her husband was playing war at the front. The Duma was constantly being disbanded, that together with her constant " hiring and firing" of people, did not contribute to stability or continuity.
Perhaps there were many other things she could have done if she thought carefully about the singularly difficult situation she found herself in. Thought about them intelligently.

I think that she really believed that God had put her in charge of Russia at that time, to the exclusion of everyone else.

I am going to be shot down in flames for saying this.

 
I sometimes wonder if she influenced her husbands decision to engage in the disastrous Japanese war ? Although he also did not listen to good advice.

Considering all the disasters afterwards, I have this theory that she influenced this one as well. It just seems to be an  Empress Alexandra  "special" . Perhaps I am wrong. But I think about this one very often.




I have no interest in shooting anyone down in flames, but neither do I have any interest in being accused of looking upon some historical character as a rock star! :-) I have my views about this, and they are based on my interpretation of the way history was heading.

Nicholas II had a messianic views of his own role - and it was politically aggressive. He learned this at his father's knee, just as he learned to play divide and rule amongst the "wise men" his father bequeathed him as ministers. Is your contention that an autocracy can work because  Alexander was surrounded by some sensible councilors? It wouldn't be mine. It's in the nature of these systems that anyone who becomes too influential whilst deprived of the office of Prime Minister thus sows the seeds of his own destruction, both amongst his fellows and indeed with the "Autocrat".

This situation caused massive problems for Nicholas at the start of the reign, whilst his own predilection as "Autocrat" for extra-ministerial advisors (including table-turners etc, starting before he married Alexandra) allied to his cloud-cuckoo-land notion of his politico-religious role in Asia was what brought him to war with Japan. For the third time in a century, Russia finds itself forced to consider a change in government as the result of a disastrous war. Enter Duma.

At this point Nicholas has two choices: he can work with it or he can do what he can to reduce its power. Alarmed at what he has done in convening it, he adopts the latter course, and he makes this plain from the start to his advisers.

Another war comes along. By this point, the suspicion and mistrust between Nicholas and his government (all arms of it) is so great that the imperial family become object of all manner of rumours, and competent ministers can barely be found. Once appointed, men last little time. Nicholas and Alexandra are partially responsible for this constant reshuffle, but certainly not entirely, at least not on a day-to-day level. Whether their overall policy can be blamed is another matter.

I don't think Alexandra was any better or worse a mother than most royal parents; she was probably rather better than many. There is absolutely no evidence that she urged Nicholas to war with Japan; there is plenty of evidence that she opposed the declaration of war in 1914, and every likelihood that she did in 1904, considering her own background and the problems engendered between Britain and Russia as a consequence, as well as her genuine dislike of bloodshed, which is apparent in her own correspondence.

So that is my view: as far as I am concerned, Alexandra's main contribution was in encouraging Nicholas on a path on which he was already decided.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 03, 2009, 01:30:35 PM
I wish that some posters would simply read the pages that were posted in the past.  Some of the questions are asked and answered over and over and over again.

I am with Teddy.  *boring*.

Rasputin did not in any way save Alexei's life.  I have said again and again that after the murder and before the Tobolsk sled debacle Alexei did very well without Rasputin.  Rasputin was Alexandra's crutch - not Alexei's.  I would not let that lecherous old man any where near my virgin daughters, especially at bed time while they were in their night gowns.

I know that he fooled Alexandra and that I am looking at him from 100 years later and I have a lot more information as I read in my comfy chair. But just the image of Rasputin in the nursery brings at least child endangerment if not child abuse to my mind. The psychological not physical abuse of four young girls having to watch their mother who was their world "bow" to a man of such evil intent and no virtue.

Alexandra had no self respect when it came to Rasputin and his group.  She refused to believe what was shown to her and proven by Spiro and others.  She was intentionally blind when it came to his faults and she convinced herself that he did indeed "heal" when the Tobolsk months prove that he did not.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 04, 2009, 04:27:08 AM
I wish that some posters would simply read the pages that were posted in the past.  Some of the questions are asked and answered over and over and over again.

I am with Teddy.  *boring*.

Rasputin did not in any way save Alexei's life.  I have said again and again that after the murder and before the Tobolsk sled debacle Alexei did very well without Rasputin.  Rasputin was Alexandra's crutch - not Alexei's.  I would not let that lecherous old man any where near my virgin daughters, especially at bed time while they were in their night gowns.

I know that he fooled Alexandra and that I am looking at him from 100 years later and I have a lot more information as I read in my comfy chair. But just the image of Rasputin in the nursery brings at least child endangerment if not child abuse to my mind. The psychological not physical abuse of four young girls having to watch their mother who was their world "bow" to a man of such evil intent and no virtue.

Alexandra had no self respect when it came to Rasputin and his group.  She refused to believe what was shown to her and proven by Spiro and others.  She was intentionally blind when it came to his faults and she convinced herself that he did indeed "heal" when the Tobolsk months prove that he did not.

It can be frustrating when individuals ask a simple factual question repeatedly (especially one they could find out with a few seconds research) but I don't think posters should be discouraged from seeking opinions or have to accept an individual's view as the "right" answer.

I have never read any suggestion anywhere that Rasputin was a danger to young girls; Alexandra might just as well have excluded their womanising Romanov uncles and great-uncles from their nursery, and there is no evidence that she did. According to the account of these visits, the eldest was no older than fourteen when the last one took place; and clearly the governess was also present as she talked about it later. (Worth noting too that Alexandra complained about Tiutcheva spreading "Stories about the children" with the implication that something she was saying was untrue. We don't know what, but it's a point to ponder).

True: Rasputin did not help Alexei in Tobolsk. I have no particular view of whether he did so on any other occasion, but I don't think there can be any automatic "read-across" from one instance to another. It does not follow that because he wasn't around to help in that occasion he did not do so on any other. There's no direct evidence that Alexandra thought he literally kept the boy alive, though we may infer that she did; rather the evidence suggests that she looked to him for assistance and advice in dealing with the potentially fatal illness, which on one occasion at least apparently included giving advice that the family regarded as crucial in stopping the bleeding. But most historians see the Nicholas-Alexandra-Rasputin relationship as being far more complex than that; the argument that she kept him around because she thought her son would die without him is one developed by sympathizers in the household and elsewhere right after the revolution, and it rather falls down when people look at the rest of their lives and their dealings with a whole assortment of Holy Men and advisers.

I don't know if anyone has made these points elsewhere in this thread or on the board, but since I'm inclined to give my own opinion while finishing coffee in the morning and before starting on something else I have done that...:-)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sarushka on October 04, 2009, 07:23:09 AM
*boring*

Rude.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 04, 2009, 07:34:34 AM
*boring*

Rude.

Difference of opinion.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 04, 2009, 11:13:04 AM
I never suggested that anyone should take my opinion or anyone else's as solid truth, I was only mentioning that the same questions have been asked of me and answered by me several times.  i.e. why I think it was "child abuse" etc.  I have explained that many times.

The fact that Alexandra was a "sterling"mother (and I don't think she was) does not mitigate the mistakes she made in public life.

Her obsession with mystics including Rasputin put a tarnish on the Imperial Family.  Her negligence concerning her public duties hurt not only her image, but the image of the entire family.

And when I said she was proud, I meant that she was too proud, stubborn, stupid to accept the advice of those who did have her welfare in mind.  Grand Duke Paul and Grand Duchess Ella to name a few.

As her grandmother said about the jewelry,  'Now, Alix, don't get too proud." However, Alix let being an empress go to her head and she became "too proud" about everything.

Remember that Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, "The evil men do lives on.  The good is interred with their bones."

The evil that both Rasputin and Alexandra did has far out lived any good either may have done.  If Alexandra was not so neurotic, so much could have been prevented.

JMHO
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 04, 2009, 11:58:05 AM
Yes rude. If you are not interested in what someone else has posted, ignore it. OR CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING INTERESTING YOURSELF !!

My humblest apologies if I have bored you.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 04, 2009, 12:33:48 PM
Yes rude. If you are not interested in what someone else has posted, ignore it. OR CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING INTERESTING YOURSELF !!

My humblest apologies if I have bored you.

Don't hide, behind your mothers' skirt!

You believe that the whole world is against you! Wit my reply of *boring* was not directly personal towards you, but you take it personal. The whole thread is become to become boring, because nobody want to listen to eachother, so I think that I'm in my right to say, that it begins to be boring.

And by the way PAVLOV, if you call that rude, then you must know me, when I'm really rude! And don't take the role as most humble, as the most weakest of us, so that everyone becomes pity with you.  

But I'm so humble, that I accept your sincere apology
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 04, 2009, 06:19:13 PM
Whoa!  Let's not get too personal.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 05, 2009, 04:42:51 AM
I do not take it personally. You are just impolite, and offensive. It is clear that you are rude.  I think we should all respect each others opinion on this forum. If we dont, there is no point is there ?
Please dont be rude in future, you turn people off.

If you find this Forum boring, go away and post on a forum that is more interesting, and where you can insult people.

The people on this forum are all very nice, and your attitude is uncalled for.
 
Subject closed.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 05, 2009, 05:43:26 AM
Indeed this topic is closed!
But a reminder for you: I never would leave this forum, only a thread!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 05, 2009, 07:31:44 AM
I'm happy to join Pavlov in the firing line!

Alexandra's period of political power was a disaster. Obviously her actions were not the sole cause of the Revolution, but were certainly one of a number of major factors (of course, Nicholas was partly to blame for leaving her in charge).

I also agree with Pavlov that Alexandra was by no means a perfect parent. Machine gun nests will no doubt spring up in front of me when I say that I am not a parent myself, but to my mind a good parent needs to have some objectivity about their children and to be able to step back from them, particularly once they are teenagers. What is best for an individual child is not necessarily what their parents want for them (just to take a fairly mundane example, one of my current students spent a period unhappily studying dentistry because that was what her parents, both dentists, wanted, despite her having no interest whatever). Alexandra had no objectivity at all. Oh yes, she loved her children, obsessively so, but she isolated them from ordinary life, she over-protected Alexei to an extreme degree, and fell under the spell of a charlatan, for that, to me, is what Rasputin was. Pavlov makes the very good point that Alexei was in good health from the time of Rasputin's death up to the accident in Tobolsk 16 months later. He also spent several months in total at the Stavka, and was in good health for most of that time, in fact, apart from the nosebleed at the Stavka, he enjoyed the best health of his life from 1915 up to March 1918 (and the Tobolsk accident looks largely self-inflicted). Partly, of course, that was because he was getting older and less likely to have minor knocks, but he was still managing without Rasputin. I would be most interested to see how Alexandra's sister Irene dealt with having not one but two haemophiliac sons - I suspect very differently.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 05, 2009, 03:16:55 PM
I never suggested that anyone should take my opinion or anyone else's as solid truth, I was only mentioning that the same questions have been asked of me and answered by me several times.  i.e. why I think it was "child abuse" etc.  I have explained that many times.

Ah - I see now that your previous post was a reply to Terrance; I had thought it was directed at the whole board....



Her obsession with mystics including Rasputin put a tarnish on the Imperial Family.


This may be true; but she was only building on a tarnish amply applied to the imperial family's public image by Khodynka; by Aleksandr Bezobrazov; by Petr Badmaev; by Sergei Aleksandrovich; Alexander II's sex life, and any one of a number of other factors which all underscore the vital point: it doesn't matter who the imperial family associates with as long as those associates are not perceived as wielding unwarranted power. And had Nicholas not set himself on a collision course with his own government, it wouldn't have mattered one whit who he received at home.

I have no strong views on whether Alexandra's lack of public appearances was a hindrance or not at this point, and whether this was excusable in a woman who spent much of the first half of her reign pregnant. Maria Feodorovna may have consorted with the aristocracy but she was not visible to the country at large, and her children were much less visible than Alexandra's were. Many on this board still see her as a good Empress. The vast majority of the Russian people made no distinction between one Empress and another; she was no better loved by the people who followed Nicholas in power.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 05, 2009, 03:36:09 PM
(of course, Nicholas was partly to blame for leaving her in charge).



Nicholas was entirely to blame. How could a man who insisted dogmatically on the style of "autocrat" be considered "partly" to blame for what happened on his watch?

I actually agree with Teddy to a degree; I don't think that anyone is really all that interested in listening to each other here. I did have a look at the earlier parts of the thread, and it seemed that back in 2005 there were genuine exchanges going on, and exploration of different ideas. Now, it just seems that people just make assertions of their beliefs and then prepare for martyrdom. It doesn't encourage anyone to be forthcoming. I considered replying to a few more points here, but I am sure it would lead to my being categorized as being on some "side", so I am disinclined to.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 05, 2009, 08:31:15 PM
I'm happy to join Pavlov in the firing line!

Alexandra's period of political power was a disaster. Obviously her actions were not the sole cause of the Revolution, but were certainly one of a number of major factors (of course, Nicholas was partly to blame for leaving her in charge).

I also agree with Pavlov that Alexandra was by no means a perfect parent. Machine gun nests will no doubt spring up in front of me when I say that I am not a parent myself, but to my mind a good parent needs to have some objectivity about their children and to be able to step back from them, particularly once they are teenagers. What is best for an individual child is not necessarily what their parents want for them (just to take a fairly mundane example, one of my current students spent a period unhappily studying dentistry because that was what her parents, both dentists, wanted, despite her having no interest whatever). Alexandra had no objectivity at all. Oh yes, she loved her children, obsessively so, but she isolated them from ordinary life, she over-protected Alexei to an extreme degree, and fell under the spell of a charlatan, for that, to me, is what Rasputin was. Pavlov makes the very good point that Alexei was in good health from the time of Rasputin's death up to the accident in Tobolsk 16 months later. He also spent several months in total at the Stavka, and was in good health for most of that time, in fact, apart from the nosebleed at the Stavka, he enjoyed the best health of his life from 1915 up to March 1918 (and the Tobolsk accident looks largely self-inflicted). Partly, of course, that was because he was getting older and less likely to have minor knocks, but he was still managing without Rasputin. I would be most interested to see how Alexandra's sister Irene dealt with having not one but two haemophiliac sons - I suspect very differently.

I, for one, become incensed when her parenting ability is criticised.  Not you, Kalafrana, but generally.  Only because parents, mothers in general, are judged constantly, and harshly.  Then, and now.  The judgment doesn't let up.  I don't know one mother who would disagree with me.  And I know no mothers who are Empresses.  : P  Her parenting ability has no bearing whatsoever on her ability as an Empress, just as any working mother's parenting has no bearing on her job as a lawyer, or teacher, or cocktail waitress.

We can all say what she "should" or "should not" have done differently in regards to her children, but we can say the same about any one of us.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Terence on October 06, 2009, 12:15:45 AM
I never suggested that anyone should take my opinion or anyone else's as solid truth, I was only mentioning that the same questions have been asked of me and answered by me several times.  i.e. why I think it was "child abuse" etc.  I have explained that many times.

Ah - I see now that your previous post was a reply to Terrance; I had thought it was directed at the whole board....

Huh?  Where did I suggest that Alixz said "anyone should take my opinion or anyone else's as solid truth".  Here's my post..

In the end no matter how wonderful she was in her personal life, I believe that subjecting her children to the likes of Rasputin was akin to child endangerment and child abuse.  I believe that showed her selfish side.

The only thing Rasputin did as "her anchor" was to pull her down to his level and in the end to drown her.

Well we all know it didn't end well, that's certainly an understatement.  But IMO to raise these charges is too much.  She used this man to save the life of her child.  I don't see where it endangered her other children unless you assume Rasputin was the cause of the Revolution, and I find that very tenuous.  There was a lot more involved than Raspy!

T

I simply expressed an opinion on another's opinion.  Her charges seemed excessive to me, as apparently they did to you.  Since then Alixz has explained that opinion in more detail.  Such is the exchange of ideas.  I thought that was what you found lacking here lately Janet.

I guess Alixz can explain, but I certainly didn't it take as directed at me in particular, but rather at the the general discussion.  Ah, the fun of message boards when you can't get the in person nuances. :)

Best regards,
T

BTW it's TERENCE, but Terry or T is just fine
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 06, 2009, 03:47:17 AM
Janet

I am trying to have a sensible debate, and would be happy to see the points you would like to make.

Kalafrana
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 06, 2009, 09:34:09 AM
I think that the replies are getting tangled.  What might have been meant as a reply to me is being taken as a reply to an other's post.

Alexandra has been slandered and hated over the past 100 or so years.

Many mothers have children with disabilities and do not run to the nearest two faced "starets" to get help.

I just said that I don't buy the "sterling mother" mitigation for her other mistakes.  She was not a private person.  She was not first a parent but an Empress.

I truly believe that Rasputin did nothing for Alexei.  He did more for the mental attitude of Alexandra.  Ultimately he dragged her down to his level whether she deserved to be there or not.

Alexandra's whole reaction to Alexei's illness was one of hysteria - not common sense.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 06, 2009, 09:44:04 AM
Here is a quote from a book written by a senior member of the court, which relates to the general behaviour of Tsarevich Alexis, who by all accounts sounds like a spoilt brat :

   " From morning to night the Tsarevitch is told that his existence is so precious to his parents and that no caprice of his is to be allowed to pass without being at once gratified. He is constantly impressed with his own importance, and already knows very well his rights, though he entirely ignores his duties. Arrogant by nature, this arrogance is fostered instead of being corrected. No one is allowed to rebuke him, or even to contradict him. The Tsarevitch beats his sisters, tyrannises over his servants, and whenever anyone attempts to correct him he instantly threatens the unfortuanate person with all kinds of punishments " Training he recieves none, and education very little.

This together with appalling table manners, licking plates etc, and humiliating senior ministers in public, in the presence of his father, who's only comment was " You will find it more difficult dealing with my son than with me" certainly indicates a lack of basic parenting skills, irrespective of whom they were.

So was she such a great parent ?

This together with the fact that the 4 girls were separated from children their own age, denied access to the real world, and having to live in their mother's " dream world" does not seem to me to be what a parent should do for their children.    

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 06, 2009, 09:49:17 AM
I do not take it personally. You are just impolite, and offensive. It is clear that you are rude.  I think we should all respect each others opinion on this forum. If we don't, there is no point is there ?
Please don't be rude in future, you turn people off.

If you find this Forum boring, go away and post on a forum that is more interesting, and where you can insult people.

The people on this forum are all very nice, and your attitude is uncalled for.
 
Subject closed.


Pavlov - the people on this forum are very nice but everyone is entitled to disagree for what ever reason.

I don't know who you were telling to go away, and that is why I said that the replies seemed to be getting tangled.  Please use the name of the person you are replying to or the reply# so that we can all get on the same page.

As for me, I can't go away.  In case you missed it, I am one of the moderators here.  I would be remiss in my job if I "went away".

But even though I am a moderator, I am still entitled to my personal opinion which I always designate as mine and not historical fact or the opinion of the Forum by adding IMHO,

So  IMHO - Alexandra was at least one can short of a six pack when she was dealing with Rasputin.  Her "sterling parenting" skills (which I still don't believe in) do not mitigate the impossible situation she created by trying to run a country she had never taken any interest in before the war.

Nicholas is to blame.  If believed himself to be an autocrat, then he could not turn over his duties in St. Petersburg to "wifey - who wears trousers unseen".

And finally, I could be a "sterling parent" and a terrible accountant.  Hopefully I am neither.  I would like to think that I handle both jobs with equal aplomb.  I would not want to leave either my son or my fellows employees in the mess that Alexandra left hers in.  

Her children were raised in a cloistered existence which left them young for their years and she made political decisions that she then thrust on her "weak willed hubby".  All the while hysterically trying to "protect the dynasty for Baby".

Can one ever be a "partner" to an autocrat?  I don't know since I have never been one, but Marie Feodorovna did a pretty good job of it and she lost every one of her sons without running to a "two faced starets" for help in coping.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 06, 2009, 09:54:10 AM
Oops - looks like we crossed replies again.

Alixz
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 06, 2009, 10:02:24 AM
By the way, I dont think that it is a prerequisite for anyone to be a parent to be able to judge what is right or wrong in the upbringing of children. We were all brought up by parents who made mistakes. I think all that is needed is intelligence, dicipline and good old fashioned common sense, and needless to say many other things you learn as you go along. Most parents learn as they go along.

I agree that Rasputin had very little influence on Alexei,and more on her. Before Rasputin, came all the other "mystics" and spiritualists. So she was vulnerable to mysticism already, and I think easily influenced by this sort of thing.
I venture to agree strongly with Alixz that Alexandra's response to her sons illness was not normal. Instead of being level headed and sensible, she was hysterical and irrational. What a disaster, she may have been well intentioned, but had no guidance from anyone. If only she had a had opened herself to a circle of intelligent supportive friends she may have handled the situation differently. But she shut everyone and everything out.        
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 06, 2009, 10:14:07 AM
Alizx, my comments were not directed at you ! And yes,I can see you are a moderator. It was directed at someone who was in my opinion impolite.
The answers and posts are certainly getting tangled here.
 
My apologies to you, if you thought I was targetting you. 

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 06, 2009, 10:25:02 AM
PAVLOV

Thanks you for your kind clarification.  I think we are all beginning to react like the famous dogs.  Jump first - think later.

Being a parent is the one job that no one ever needs or gets a degree for.  One needs a license to drive and one must register to vote, but one need not have any kind of certificate to become a parent.

It is so sad.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 07, 2009, 03:29:23 AM
'Alexandra's whole reaction to Alexei's illness was one of hysteria - not common sense.'

This sums up Alexandra's attitude entirely. This is one reason why I would be most interested to know how her sister Irene managed with two haemophiliac sons, also Ena of Spain (two haemophiliac sons and a third who became deaf-mute as a result of measles). Alice of Athlone also had a haemophiliac son, though she does not say in her book that that is what he had, and makes no mention of his health except in connection with his death (after a car accident, aged 21). Not much is written about Alice's son Rupert, but he seems to have grown up to have been a reasonably well-balanced and pleasant young man, certainly nothing like as spoilt and badly behaved as Alexei was wont to be when not getting his own way.

Shutting her daughters off from ordinary friendships with girls their own age is pretty unhealthy. Their only girl first cousin was Irina, but surely there were plenty of well-brought-up girls of about the same age among the daughters of the household. And then there was the absolute terror of the influence of Russian aristocrats. There were a lot of dubious goings-on among the aristocracy, but all I have read suggests that aristocratic men did not have affairs with unmarried girls of their own class (this was one reason why Alexander II's liaison with Ekaterina Dolgorukaya was so scandalous). Surely the worst that was likely to happen was that one of the girls might be held a bit close in the waltz, or spend rather a long time chatting in the garden between dances.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 07, 2009, 07:44:13 AM
While I know that Olga N and her sisters were very happy in Russia, by the time Queen Olga of Greece was 16, she was married to Alix's brother.  I would have thought that visits between the Grecian relatives and the Russians would have been more common.  Not just between Prince George of Greece and the Tsarevich Nicholas.

How cool would it have been for Olga N and Tatiana to visit their somewhat young "Aunt Olga" and Olga's children who were also their first cousins.

Because Alix had many siblings and everyone of them except Ella had children their were many "first cousins" not just the Russian ones on Nicholas's side.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 07, 2009, 08:49:35 AM
Alixz

I was thinking of the Russian first cousins, as the ones who lived close by and were in a position to see regularly and have ordinary friendships with. They had plenty of first cousins outside Russia, but could only have seen them occasionally. 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 07, 2009, 08:19:13 PM
How cool would it have been for Olga N and Tatiana to visit their somewhat young "Aunt Olga" and Olga's children who were also their first cousins.


They did - before WW1, they visited Aunt Olga lots.  This according to Ian Vorres in his biography of Olga A.

Olga's children were born during the Revolution - they never knew the Grand Duchesses.  : (
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 08, 2009, 02:41:09 AM
While I know that Olga N and her sisters were very happy in Russia, by the time Queen Olga of Greece was 16, she was married to Alix's brother.  I would have thought that visits between the Grecian relatives and the Russians would have been more common.  
Alixz, which Alix were you referring to? Alix - as in Nicholas II's wife - had one brother, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, who was first married to Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and then to Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, but not to Queen Olga of Greece.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 08, 2009, 07:04:06 AM
Janet

I am trying to have a sensible debate, and would be happy to see the points you would like to make.

Kalafrana

Ok - good! :-) I was a little concerend that anything I said would be taken as a "shooting down" by an unquestioing fan. Such seemed to be the mood of the thread. I wanted to reply to your point about Alexandra's parenting. On the one hand, I do think she deserves credit for allowing her son to go off to the Stavka during the war. While his health may have been reasonably good at this time, in teh sense that he had few major bleeds, a study of his parents letters indicates that his daily life was an almost unrelieved catalogue of minor complaints and reasonably debilitating pain. Poeple are often over-precious about what terrible lives Nicholas and Alexandra's kids are supposed to have - but I certainly don't think anyone should down-play the difficulties of Alexei's disease.

Conversely, when I judge what sort of a mother she was, I meausre her against her contemporaries. We might think it "unhealthy" today that her daughters were raised with limited contact with girls outside their family, but their situation was a lot less restricted than that of Mary, the future Princess Royal say - whose brothers were sent off to school, essentially levaing her alone with her parents for company. And her brotheres at elast were terrified of those parents, particularly their father. Nicholas and Alexandra's kids, by contast, were undisciplined and badly educated - I'd see as being their parents' failure rather than over-control. One of their cousins did actually decsribe Alexnadra's treatment of her son as "incautious" - and he was with them on a daily basis at this point.

As far as Queen Ena is concerned: she had the trees in the park padded to protect her sons when they went out to play.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 08, 2009, 07:21:11 AM
I never suggested that anyone should take my opinion or anyone else's as solid truth, I was only mentioning that the same questions have been asked of me and answered by me several times.  i.e. why I think it was "child abuse" etc.  I have explained that many times.

Ah - I see now that your previous post was a reply to Terrance; I had thought it was directed at the whole board....

Huh?  Where did I suggest that Alixz said "anyone should take my opinion or anyone else's as solid truth".  Here's my post..


Ouch! No - I didn't intend to suggest that you did - I thought at the time (erroneously) that Alixz was sort of shutting down the conversation by saying that she'd explained before. In reality she was replying with a longer explanation to you of her views.....AAGHH!! No doubt hat confiuses the issue still further...

My apologies for mis-spelling your name; I work with a Terrance so that spelling seems to spring to the keyboard most readily! (as it is, I have huge typo issues without the spell check anyway...)

Indeed, such are the joys of message boards....

Best

Janet
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 08, 2009, 07:40:29 AM
Janet

I'm far from being an unquestioning fan of the Empress.

In the end I'm less concerned about her parenting of her daughters than of the Tsarevich. Part of their isolation resulted, no doubt, from the war, which came just as the two eldest would otherwise have been becoming more independent. but in relation to the Tsarevich she seems to have had no common sense at all. She never seems to have got beyond perpetual panic at the possibility of him injuring himself, spoiling him rotten (with disastrous effects on his behaviour) and treating him as an infant. She did allow him to go to the Stavka, admittedly. That the family were still calling him Baby when he was almost 14 (and he apparently put up with it) speaks volumes to me. All this was not inevitable - not all mothers of disabled children behave in this fashion.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 08, 2009, 11:58:22 AM
While I know that Olga N and her sisters were very happy in Russia, by the time Queen Olga of Greece was 16, she was married to Alix's brother.  I would have thought that visits between the Grecian relatives and the Russians would have been more common.  
Alixz, which Alix were you referring to? Alix - as in Nicholas II's wife - had one brother, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, who was first married to Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and then to Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, but not to Queen Olga of Greece.

Ooops!  Wrong Alix.  How uncommon that name is now and how common it was then.  I was thinking of Olga who married George I of Greece who, of course, was Marie and Alexandra of Denmark's brother, not Alix of Hesse's.

Guess I was just tired that day - and every day lately.

In 1914 Olga N was 19, she should have been well on her way to marriage, if not already there and pregnant.  Tatiana was 17 and could have been just as close to it.  That was another reason that I brought up Queen Olga of Greece.  She was married to King George at 16.

Alix H and Nicholas purposely keep their children young and "stupid".  In Alix's case, I think she was looking for another Toria or Olga A and that was selfish of Queen Alexandra and Empress Marie and would be equally selfish in Alix H's case.

I think one of the problems of seeing Alix H from today's standpoint is that now we don't have empresses whose job it is to be breeding stock.  Diana, Princess of Wales not withstanding, most all of the royal brides while they may have children also have had careers at some point and they try to keep the careers - look at Sophie and Edward. 

Alix H had two careers.  One was to my Empress of Russia and the other was to produce heirs.  Of course she had no control over the heirs part and back then the poor woman would have thought that the sex of the child was her fault even though we now know that Nicholas had the big say in that one biologically.

But Empress of Russia she was and should have been better at.  And a mother - of girls or one sick boy - she also was.  Hers was not a private nor personal hell.  It belonged to the whole of Russia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 08, 2009, 12:42:09 PM
Janet

I'm far from being an unquestioning fan of the Empress.

Indeed - I noticed! :-)

In the end I'm less concerned about her parenting of her daughters than of the Tsarevich. Part of their isolation resulted, no doubt, from the war, which came just as the two eldest would otherwise have been becoming more independent. but in relation to the Tsarevich she seems to have had no common sense at all. She never seems to have got beyond perpetual panic at the possibility of him injuring himself, spoiling him rotten (with disastrous effects on his behaviour) and treating him as an infant. She did allow him to go to the Stavka, admittedly. That the family were still calling him Baby when he was almost 14 (and he apparently put up with it) speaks volumes to me. All this was not inevitable - not all mothers of disabled children behave in this fashion.

I wonder if anyone called him "Baby" to his face when he left the nursery? I don't see it anywhere except his parents' letters to one another; in writing to him they and his sisters all called him Alexei. This sort of perpetual baby-naming was not uncommon: e.g. his cousin Sophie of Greece went through life with the name "Tiny" - but I suspect girls got stuck with it more often than boys.

While I think that Alexei was unruly, I think this had as much to do with his parents ideas about his education as a Grand Duke and future autocrat who must learn to understand his own instincts as anything else. It has often been suggested that Alexandra feared saying no to him lest he hurt himself: what excuse then can be made for allowing Anastasia to run wild? Or for Olga's imperious instincts as a young kid?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 08, 2009, 12:51:49 PM

In 1914 Olga N was 19, she should have been well on her way to marriage, if not already there and pregnant.  Tatiana was 17 and could have been just as close to it.  That was another reason that I brought up Queen Olga of Greece.  She was married to King George at 16.



Queen Olga was two generations older than Nicholas II and Alexandra's children, and even in her day 16 was not considered a particularly acceptable age to marry a girl off. Her own parents had great misgivings about it and blamed Maria Feodorovna for manipulating the situation.

Had Alexandra married off Olga and Tatiana at 16, I suspect people would have plenty of criticisms to make of her for that - and that, to me, is the puzzling thing here: there is so much emotion in peoples' views of all this (and I don't mean you or any individual in particular). There are those who find the merest criticism of N and A a "blasphemy", and those who condemn them in return for failing to raise their kids according to 21st century standards. It would be nice really if people would stand back and look at these individuals dispassionately for what they were: royalty, raised in the late 19th century, instead of always expecting them to be "just like us" and loving them for it or getting angry with them when they turn out not to be. I may be off base here, but that's what I always feel about these debates (not just here) and the way they polarise between those perceived as "apologists" and those perceived as "critics".
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 08, 2009, 01:55:08 PM
In 1914 Olga N was 19, she should have been well on her way to marriage, if not already there and pregnant.  Tatiana was 17 and could have been just as close to it.  That was another reason that I brought up Queen Olga of Greece.  She was married to King George at 16.
I don't see why Olga Nicholaevna, 18 years old,  'should have been well on her way to marriage, if not already there and pregnant' at the outbreak of World War I. Queen Olga of Greece had married quite young at 16, but Xenia and Olga Alexandrovna had married at the age of 19 - in Olga's case, quite unexpectedly - Alix's sister Victoria had married at the age of 21, her sister Ella at the age of 20, her sister Irene at the age of 21, and Alix herself at the age of 22. Olga Nicholaevna still had time. And the family's visit to Romania in 1914 shows that Olga's parents were giving the issue of potential suitors serious thought.

I wonder if anyone called him "Baby" to his face when he left the nursery? I don't see it anywhere except his parents' letters to one another; in writing to him they and his sisters all called him Alexei. This sort of perpetual baby-naming was not uncommon: e.g. his cousin Sophie of Greece went through life with the name "Tiny" - but I suspect girls got stuck with it more often than boys.
Alix's friend Toni Becker had a friend who was also called 'Baby', and she too went through life with this name: Toni's granddaughter knew her as 'Aunt Baby'. ;D  [L. Hoffmann-Kuhnt, Briefe der Zarin an ihre Jugendfreundin Toni Becker-Bracht, p. 107]
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 08, 2009, 01:56:20 PM
I have just always thought that if Olga N and Tatiana had been married at the age that young girls (then) were married at - they might have been out of the country and safe from the execution.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 08, 2009, 02:27:33 PM
 :-\ I don't know the exact average age in years and months at which a girl married at the time, but yes, Olga and Tatiana might have survived if they had married young and had moved abroad. But they didn't. Their parents wanted them to have a chance to marry for love, knowing that it might take them one or two years longer to find their husbands. And even if Olga and Tatiana had been married at the time of the revolution, it would not necessarily have meant that they had been out of Russia. After all, before WWI, Olga stated that she wanted to marry a Russian, to remain in Russia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 08, 2009, 04:48:48 PM
(http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k14/Livadia13/grumpy.jpg)

this is a new picture of me.

sorry to have been so crabby lately.

Alixz
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 09, 2009, 03:27:57 AM
Viktoria Luise of Prussia was 21 when she married in 1913 - the most recent 'major' royal marriage before August 1914. I read somewhere that she was considered as a possible bride for the Duke of Windsor in 1911 when she was 19 and he 17 - she accompanied her parents on a visit to Windsor and about a year later he visited Berlin - but the two did not hit it off, and Viktoria Luise shortly afterwards fell in love with Ernst August of Cumberland.

So Olga, rising 19 in summer 1914, was approaching the typical marriageable age and it was not surprising that her parents were starting to consider potential suitors, but she showed no interest in Carol of Romania (sensible girl!) and the war put paid to any overtures to anybody outside Russia. In 1914 Tatiana was still a bit young.

I would certainly be interested to know whether anyone called Alexei Baby to his face by 1914-18 (I know it does happen but I find it a bit peculiar when people above the age of about 10 are prepared to be called by nursery nicknames - there is a woman called Bunny Guinness who appears on BBC gardening programmes whom I just cannot take seriously!). But even if they didn't, the fact that the family were happily referring to him as Baby and the Little One (and in a letter quoted on another thread Alexandra was writing of his 'dear little arm' when he was 11 and at the Stavka) says a lot. And the job of his parents was not simply to keep him alive but to equip him to be a ruler, which they weren't doing. Romanov men were not long-lived, even without the assassin's bomb or bullet, so there was distinct possibility that Alexei would succeed while still a boy, or in his twenties. Had he succeeded as a boy there would have been a regency, but not if he succeeded as a very young adult. Nicholas himself complained of being totally unprepared for the throne, but he and Alexandra really did nothing to start the process with Alexei. Nicholas at least had a decent education and what would now be called consistent boundaries, but Alexei seems to have had no boundaries at all.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 09, 2009, 03:44:42 AM
I think personally that Alexei only was called Baby and Little One in letters and diaries of his parents.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 09, 2009, 01:08:35 PM
, the fact that the family were happily referring to him as Baby and the Little One (and in a letter quoted on another thread Alexandra was writing of his 'dear little arm' when he was 11 and at the Stavka) says a lot. And the job of his parents was not simply to keep him alive but to equip him to be a ruler, which they weren't doing. Romanov men were not long-lived, even without the assassin's bomb or bullet, so there was distinct possibility that Alexei would succeed while still a boy, or in his twenties. Had he succeeded as a boy there would have been a regency, but not if he succeeded as a very young adult. Nicholas himself complained of being totally unprepared for the throne, but he and Alexandra really did nothing to start the process with Alexei. Nicholas at least had a decent education and what would now be called consistent boundaries, but Alexei seems to have had no boundaries at all.

I agree with you about Alexei's education being poor (but note though Alexandra's references to the 15-year-old Anastasia as "our little girlie", to our husband as "agooweeone" etc; her protective attitude was consistent and not limited to him - and also her worries about Alexei's manners in public in this period). However, I am not really sure that Nicholas's education was all that decent, except in the sense that he learned many academic subjects. He was not encouraged to question anything - or himself - and was also given to believe that his own judgement was infallible (this is one of the reasons Alexander did not worry too much about training him in statecraft: "he himself knows very well what he should do"). I think that Nicholas was training Alexei to have a similar self-belief.....and it is evident that N and A did think his exposure to generals, soldiers, etc was part of learning his job.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Sarushka on October 10, 2009, 04:58:37 PM
I think personally that Alexei only was called Baby and Little One in letters and diaries of his parents.

Olga N. also refers to Aleksei as "Baby" and "Little One" in her letters to NAM from Tobolsk in April-May 1918.

I don't know if those nicknames were used only in writing, or in person.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 12, 2009, 04:01:20 AM
I agree that Alexandra infantilised other people besides Alexei - it is simply that for me it is most noticeable with Alexei.

Nicholas seems to have had a good education in terms of academic matters - that is what I meant. His education for being a ruler was most certainly lacking, but the point I am making is that Alexei didn't even get a good academic education.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 12, 2009, 04:16:40 AM
I agree that Alexandra infantilised other people besides Alexei - it is simply that for me it is most noticeable with Alexei.

Nicholas seems to have had a good education in terms of academic matters - that is what I meant. His education for being a ruler was most certainly lacking, but the point I am making is that Alexei didn't even get a good academic education.

But how can you give a sick child a good academic education? Imagine that you was his personal tutor, where would you train him in?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 12, 2009, 09:48:34 AM
:-\ I don't know the exact average age in years and months at which a girl married at the time, but yes, Olga and Tatiana might have survived if they had married young and had moved abroad. But they didn't. Their parents wanted them to have a chance to marry for love, knowing that it might take them one or two years longer to find their husbands. And even if Olga and Tatiana had been married at the time of the revolution, it would not necessarily have meant that they had been out of Russia. After all, before WWI, Olga stated that she wanted to marry a Russian, to remain in Russia.

Just because they married and stayed in Russia didn't mean that they would have been killed in the Revolution.  Many of the Imperial family were in Russia at that time and even though they endured "hardships" they lived through it.  Alix could have let her daughters marry at any time, but she was pulling an Queen Alexandra and am Empress Marie by keeping them close. 
From what I have read and heard from others here at least Olga had flirtations and might have chosen one of her fellow Russians to marry, but Alix was again selfish.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 12, 2009, 09:55:26 AM
As married women, Olga and Tatiana would not have been living with their parents and even though I am sure they would have wanted to rush to Tsarskoe Selo when they heard of the arrest, they would have had personal family obligations.  They just might not have been arrested and sent to Tobolsk and on to their deaths in Yekaterinburg.

There was one proper profession for a girl of their status and that was marriage and children.  It does look as if their closest relatives did not marry young, but it was not uncommon for a girl to be engaged by 16 and certainly by the end of her debut year.  If she were not at least engaged, she would be "on the shelf" and her prospects would become slimmer and slimmer the older she got and the farther from her debut year it was.  At 20 most were considered "old maids".

Again in 1914, Olga turned 19 and Tatiana 17. It was not at all unusual for a girl to be snatched up and engaged at those ages, especially with an Imperial connection.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 12, 2009, 10:01:03 AM
I agree that Alexandra infantilized other people besides Alexei - it is simply that for me it is most noticeable with Alexei.

Nicholas seems to have had a good education in terms of academic matters - that is what I meant. His education for being a ruler was most certainly lacking, but the point I am making is that Alexei didn't even get a good academic education.

But how can you give a sick child a good academic education? Imagine that you was his personal tutor, where would you train him in?

Sick or not, Alexei was spoiled.  Any tutor would have had trouble with Alix as his student's mother.  It wasn't the tutors who were at fault for his bad education, but Alix's for coddling him.  While there was no reason for the Gibbes solution of letting him jump from table to table and kick lanterns, there were ways to let out that youthful enthusiasm and still get an education into him.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 12, 2009, 10:44:58 AM
'But how can you give a sick child a good academic education?'

Entirely possible, I would have thought. I can recommend John Vaizey's 'Scenes From Institutional Life'. The author was bedridden in a long-stay hospital for some two years after he got osteomyelitis of the spine at the age of 14. He describes in detail how he and his fellow patients were taught by teachers who came in every day, and at the same time he discovered books (most of the time he was lying on his stomach because of the state his back was in). From there he went within a fairly short time to the London School of Economics on a scholarship, at a time, (1940s) when university education was a rare thing for a working class boy.

There must have been long periods when Alexei was immobile but not particularly ill, and could therefore have been occupied with schoolwork, quite apart from the periods between bleeds.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 12, 2009, 11:05:29 AM
'But how can you give a sick child a good academic education?'

Entirely possible, I would have thought. I can recommend John Vaizey's 'Scenes From Institutional Life'. The author was bedridden in a long-stay hospital for some two years after he got osteomyelitis of the spine at the age of 14. He describes in detail how he and his fellow patients were taught by teachers who came in every day, and at the same time he discovered books (most of the time he was lying on his stomach because of the state his back was in). From there he went within a fairly short time to the London School of Economics on a scholarship, at a time, (1940s) when university education was a rare thing for a working class boy.

There must have been long periods when Alexei was immobile but not particularly ill, and could therefore have been occupied with schoolwork, quite apart from the periods between bleeds.

Dear,

You recommend a book whose author is born in 1929 and the book itself is first published in 1959 to the Tsar and the Empress Alexandra who died in 1918??? Are you serious? You and I know now already that this comments sounds in many ears .....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 12, 2009, 12:24:22 PM

Nicholas seems to have had a good education in terms of academic matters - that is what I meant. His education for being a ruler was most certainly lacking, but the point I am making is that Alexei didn't even get a good academic education.

A good academic education should surely equip a person to find their own answers - not provide them with them. Nicholas's education did the latter, and in that regard it was useless to him as a man and as a ruler. He lacked confidence in his own views and thus stuck to them dogmatically - exactly as Alexander III had done.
The war allowed him to make something of a virtue of his own son's lack of interest in books by exposing him to more people, which both parents believed built his confidence in conversation and exchanges with others, as well as showing him something more of life than Nicholas had known as a boy. Whether he would ever have capitalized on this experience later is an absolute unknown, but it is clear from their own correspondence - and from Gilliard's memoirs - that they valued this more than a schoolroom education and believed it would "develop him quicker". And that when Gilliard argued for him to come home Alexandra insisted that he remain at the Stavka, despite its risks to his physical well-being and Gilliard's concerns that his behaviour there was out of control.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 12, 2009, 01:12:13 PM
.  Alix could have let her daughters marry at any time, but she was pulling an Queen Alexandra and am Empress Marie by keeping them close. 
From what I have read and heard from others here at least Olga had flirtations and might have chosen one of her fellow Russians to marry, but Alix was again selfish.


Whoah whoah whoah! :-) :-)
If you are going to say this sort of thing you ought at least to provide some evidence that anyone asked to marry her and her mother prevented this. The only suitor we know of is Carol, whose own mother was not at all keen either - and neither apparently was Olga hereslf.
The issue of Russian men is  irrelevant to her real-life prospects but somehow it's interesting you raise it: - the only Russian whom OLga could have married without losing her rights was a near relative, first cousins excluded, and the pool was rather limited. All others were of unequal birth, and that includes the flirtations she had. Alexandra was not responsible for the marriage laws of the Romanovs or for the social conventions of the day that dictated that a Tsar's eldest daughter was a prime catch and - even leaving aside the laws - was not going to be marrying a commoner without a massive scandal ensuing.
Again - I refer people to Alexandra's correspondence in which she sighs, referring to a Russian commoner: "what a son-in-law he would have made". This to me is an that she had misgivings about the laws herself - after all, she wanted her kids relatively close to her, and this is hardly an unusual or monstrous thing for a parent to feel -  and goes along with statements like "could but our children find such happiness in their married lives!" to indicate that she had every intention they marry.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 12, 2009, 01:30:48 PM


Sick or not, Alexei was spoiled.  Any tutor would have had trouble with Alix as his student's mother.  It wasn't the tutors who were at fault for his bad education, but Alix's for coddling him.  While there was no reason for the Gibbes solution of letting him jump from table to table and kick lanterns, there were ways to let out that youthful enthusiasm and still get an education into him.

Alexei was spoiled, as was Anastasia, as according to some accounts was Olga. Their parents (BOTH of them), as the people ultimately responsible for their care, should take the blame for this. But - raising a royal child without an exaggerated sense of its own importance has to be a uniquely difficult task.

People often forget that Alexandra and Nicholas were not a minute-by-minute presence in their childrens' lives. They - and Alexei in particular - spent far more time with their nannies and later with their tutors. The whole world was lining up to ruin these kids: whether it be soldiers who saluted them, crowds who cheered them or passers-by who thought that a glimpse of them would cure their own families' ills - EVERYONE was showing them how important they were. And that includes parents who gave them suitcases emblazoned with their titles.

Sidney Gibbes was noted in previous employment for beating his pupils and being harshly critical of them. Yet (noted Frances Welch in her bio; it's not just my view as such) to him, the imperial children were wonders of charm and originality. Later, briefly, Alexei palled on him, but - as you note - he was himself always alarmingly liberal in what he let the kid get away with. In a nutshell: their tutors tended to be under the spell of their rank as well.

As I say, the parents bear ultimate responsibility for the way a child is trained, but Alexandra was not the person who was with her son every second indulging every whim. Other people played their own part in this. Including also - their FATHER. :-) And this isn't about who was to blame and whether she was a good or bad mother - rather the reverse: it's about saying: royal parents don't actually raise their own kids. Those cosy scenes in the mauve room are just one small part of the picture....

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 12, 2009, 01:33:52 PM
Rats - it's like: for sure everyone will nail me as some sort of apologist, as I always fear. But it's kind of difficult not to assume that role when people seem to demonize one person, pin every legal and social problem in imperial Russia onto them and deny them even their virtues....let's have some balance please and some evidence too! :-)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 12, 2009, 09:50:14 PM
Rats - it's like: for sure everyone will nail me as some sort of apologist, as I always fear. But it's kind of difficult not to assume that role when people seem to demonize one person, pin every legal and social problem in imperial Russia onto them and deny them even their virtues....let's have some balance please and some evidence too! :-)

My feelings exactly.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 13, 2009, 03:04:04 AM
Teddy

'You recommend a book whose author is born in 1929 and the book itself is first published in 1959 to the Tsar and the Empress Alexandra who died in 1918??? Are you serious?'

I am simply using this as an example to make the point that someone can be seriously ill and confined to bed for a lengthy period and still get a decent education. Alexei wasn't ill all the time. There were quite long periods when he was healthy and others when he was immobile and possibly bedridden but not actively ill. His illness seems to have led both parents to abdicate responsibility and simply indulge him.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 13, 2009, 03:43:51 AM
'Rats - it's like: for sure everyone will nail me as some sort of apologist, as I always fear. But it's kind of difficult not to assume that role when people seem to demonize one person, pin every legal and social problem in imperial Russia onto them and deny them even their virtues....let's have some balance please and some evidence too!'

Janet

I'm not demonising Alexandra. She's not someone I admire, and I certainly don't think that spoiling her children can be accounted a virtue, but I too am trying to find a balanced view. Alexandra was not solely responsible for spoiling the children - their father certainly spoilt Alexei and Anastasia as well. However, the tutors etc would tend to take their cue from the parents, and if the parents weren't much concerned with academic education, good manners or self-discipline then the tutors were unlikely to push these things very hard (interesting that M. Gilliard protested that Alexei was out of control at the Stavka and was ignored). The tutors were going with the flow.

I also take the point that it was quite difficult to prevent royal children from growing up with an exaggerated sense of their own importance. However, many if not the majority of royal parents in the last century or so have tried to bring their offspring up with a sense of their responsibilities as well. Sometimes, of course it backfired - look at Edward VII and his devotion to pleasure - but there have been plenty of very hard-working royal adults in Britain and elsewhere.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 13, 2009, 08:52:45 AM
Teddy

'You recommend a book whose author is born in 1929 and the book itself is first published in 1959 to the Tsar and the Empress Alexandra who died in 1918??? Are you serious?'

I am simply using this as an example to make the point that someone can be seriously ill and confined to bed for a lengthy period and still get a decent education. Alexei wasn't ill all the time. There were quite long periods when he was healthy and others when he was immobile and possibly bedridden but not actively ill. His illness seems to have led both parents to abdicate responsibility and simply indulge him.

Ann

Thank you Ann, for letting us know what you where meaning.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 17, 2009, 05:39:27 AM


I'm not demonising Alexandra.


I wasn't specifically meaning your comments; I did think Alixz got a little carried away in arguing that Alexandra's daughters might have been happily married to ordinary Russians if it weren't for her! And when you add to this the general tendency of people to blame her and the Rasputin business for the collapse of the government without looking at Nicholas's policy and beliefs and the detail of what was actually happening in those years - that's what I mean about the demonisation. She suffers it seems to me from the exact reverse of Sergei Alexandrovich: because she's had a reasonably sympathetic press through the likes of Robert Massie (and of course through Buxhoeveden and all her friends before that) as well as the syrupy publications of the 90s in particular, there seems to me to be a tendency at least on the internet to react against that now by emphasising her faults and taking at face value every negative account of her that any contemporary wrote, regardless of how reliable they are. Catherine Radziwill often gets quoted on this board and her words mis-attributed to relatives etc., though her own source was nothing more than newspaper reports.

Gilliard was not quite ignored when he told her that Alexei was out of control: she pointed out that keeping him there was a matter of deliberate policy to ensure that he grew up with more confidence than his father. She herself was forever writing urging Nicholas to correct the boy's manners and not let him run wild. I don't think anyone wanted him to grow up a monster, but they faced very particular difficulties in bringing him up, which ranged from his restless, outgoing personality (he might have done better with other children to share his lessons) to his illness (which would mean that no other child could share his lessons as Alexei would inevitably miss topics through illness and either thus hold the other boys back or fall behind himself). I'd recommend Robert and Suzanne Massie's "Journey" as in interesting and moving account of the difficulties their far more academic son faced in at school.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 19, 2009, 05:23:33 AM
Janet

I don't think Alexandra can or should be solely blamed for the collapse of the Russian government - it was a lot more complicated than that. However, her reliance on Rasputin was immensely damaging, and she does seem to have brought out the worst in Nicholas as a ruler, not least by her insistence that everything must be kept unaltered for 'Baby'.

While she undoubtedly loved Alexei, I don't think her attitude towards him was at all constructive. For example, I've been gradually working my way through some of the older threads on the forum and found it very interesting to read in 'The Crisis at Spala' that, according to Spiridovitch Alexandra was dead against Alexei having orthopaedic treatment to straighten his leg, and Professor Wreden had to insist on it against opposition from both parents. While I can appreciate that a parent might well be reluctant to put her son through more pain and discomfort, I think any sensible parent would recognise that it was necessary on the basis that he would otherwise be left permanently lame. Nicholas obviously had a role in Alexei's upbringing, but, given that Alexandra was a much more forceful character, I can't help thinking that he tended to go along with her rather than the reverse.

I'm happy to accept (I haven't read the letters) that Alexandra was always telling Nicholas to correct Alexei's manners and not to let him run wild, but by the time Alexei was at Spala he was 11 and it was rather late for basic lessons in manners (don't know about you, but I was certainly getting the 'Don't put your knife in your mouth,' 'Don't put your elbows on the table' business by the time I was four!). There were obviously practical difficulties in relation to Alexei's education, but the impression I have is that nobody actually tried very hard to resolve them. As with Alexandra, there has been a pendulum swing with people writing about Alexei. We had Alexei the adorable little darling, then Alexei the budding saint (some of the tales about Alexei's compassion are rather like those in medieval hagiography!). Now we have Alexei the brat to end all brats! The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. I think he was very spoilt, and babied by his family, particularly his mother, and being at Spala didn't really improve matters because he was made rather a pet of by some of the senior officers. Some of the time he was doubtless a very pleasant boy, especially when getting his own way and being the centre of attention, but at other times he was a horror (as all children are from time to time, the issue is how much). I'm interested to see from William Lee's article on Dimitri that in 1909 Dimitri was writing to his sister Marie Pavlovna at the time of the birth of her son Lennart, and saying that he hoped the boy did not turn out like Alexei!

As to the girls and marriage, to suggest that they would have been happily married to Russians were it not for Alexandra is putting it a bit strongly and, I think, rather more than Alixz implied. Yes, Nicholas and Alexandra could have started looking round for potential husbands for Olga rather earlier than they actually did, but there was no particular need for haste (Olga was at the young end of marriageable age), and it was perfectly reasonable for them to want her to marry someone she loved (after all, the example of Olga Alexandrovna and Peter Oldenburgsky may well have been in their heads). As to marrying a Russian, it is interesting that KR and Elizabeth Mavrikievna were against their daughter marrying Konstantin Bagration-Mukhransky. As far as I know, there was nothing dubious about his character, so the reason must have been that they hoped for a 'more suitable' match. Tatiana Konstantinovna was, of course, on the more distant fringes of the imperial family, not like Olga (though Irina Alexandrovna was allowed to marry Felix Yussupov, which doesn't quite fit my thesis). Was Bagration actually an ADC to KR at this time?  According to 'A Lifelong Passion' he was an ADC later on, and falling in love with an ADC was not quite the thing (like falling in love with a lady in waiting). Also, we should bear in mind that any foreign prince very close in age to Olga was going to be a bit young for marriage in 1914. Someone will no doubt correct me if I'm mistaken, but I think that by this time it was unusual for a prince to marry under 21 (the Prince Consort in 1840 is the latest example I can think of) and 22 plus was more common. Carol of Romania was born on 13 October 1893 so rising 21 in summer 1914, but Olga wasn't interested. The future Duke of Windsor was 20, but he and Olga hadn't met since 1909. Would a meeting have been set up if war hadn't intervened? (it is interesting to speculate on whether Olga might have hit it off with the future George VI, a much more serious-minded and conscientious individual than his brother - perhaps they would have got on rather well).
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 19, 2009, 02:29:02 PM
Janet

I don't think Alexandra can or should be solely blamed for the collapse of the Russian government - it was a lot more complicated than that. However, her reliance on Rasputin was immensely damaging, and she does seem to have brought out the worst in Nicholas as a ruler, not least by her insistence that everything must be kept unaltered for 'Baby'.

I often say - though I don't know if I've done so in this thread ( :-) )- that Rasputin would not have mattered a jot had it not been for what he represented: which is, Nicholas's well-established tendency to take advice from "unofficial" sources - which predates Rasputin by some years. Nicholas started his reign set on a policy which portrayed him as inalterable autocrat with a mission to bring not just Russia but indeed the whole of Asia to God. Alexandra, who had deliberated so long - on religious grounds - over her own decision to marry him, found meaning and justification in this idea - and of course her own role was to back him up and provide his heir (no mere  cousin or his weak brother Mikhail would be worthy to inherit this mission). Even after conceding the formation of the Duma Nicholas remained resolute in his insistence on the title of autocrat. In this context, I don't think he needed much encouragement to leave things unaltered for "baby" - these were his ideas, played back to him.

While she undoubtedly loved Alexei, I don't think her attitude towards him was at all constructive. For example, I've been gradually working my way through some of the older threads on the forum and found it very interesting to read in 'The Crisis at Spala' that, according to Spiridovitch Alexandra was dead against Alexei having orthopaedic treatment to straighten his leg, and Professor Wreden had to insist on it against opposition from both parents. While I can appreciate that a parent might well be reluctant to put her son through more pain and discomfort, I think any sensible parent would recognise that it was necessary on the basis that he would otherwise be left permanently lame. Nicholas obviously had a role in Alexei's upbringing, but, given that Alexandra was a much more forceful character, I can't help thinking that he tended to go along with her rather than the reverse.

I'm happy to accept (I haven't read the letters) that Alexandra was always telling Nicholas to correct Alexei's manners and not to let him run wild, but by the time Alexei was at Spala he was 11 and it was rather late for basic lessons in manners (don't know about you, but I was certainly getting the 'Don't put your knife in your mouth,' 'Don't put your elbows on the table' business by the time I was four!). There were obviously practical difficulties in relation to Alexei's education, but the impression I have is that nobody actually tried very hard to resolve them. As with Alexandra, there has been a pendulum swing with people writing about Alexei. We had Alexei the adorable little darling, then Alexei the budding saint (some of the tales about Alexei's compassion are rather like those in medieval hagiography!). Now we have Alexei the brat to end all brats! The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. I think he was very spoilt, and babied by his family, particularly his mother, and being at Spala didn't really improve matters because he was made rather a pet of by some of the senior officers. Some of the time he was doubtless a very pleasant boy, especially when getting his own way and being the centre of attention, but at other times he was a horror (as all children are from time to time, the issue is how much). I'm interested to see from William Lee's article on Dimitri that in 1909 Dimitri was writing to his sister Marie Pavlovna at the time of the birth of her son Lennart, and saying that he hoped the boy did not turn out like Alexei!

It's very difficult to come to an objective judgement about Alexei because he never grew up. It is clear that other children feared him (and his sister Anastasia) because they were rough and wild, and tended to pull rank in forcing younger kids to obey them; though as far as Dmitri (a much older boy) is concerned, Will Lee has always been very fair in saying that D himself might have been jealous because he lacked a real family life and doting parents of his own.  But even the best brought-up children will kick over the traces and play up if they can - and Alexandra was concerned about her son's manners well before 1915, if KR's evidence can be believed (her rebuking Olga for not rebuking him at lunch). The imperial children were scrutinized far more closely than other children would be, and every good or bad act noted as evidence of their developing personalities. In truth, we can never know how they might have turned out, and whether their parents might have been seen to have ruined them or to have given them an admirably relaxed and liberal grounding that allowed them to develop as they wished. We do know tat the timid Nicholas and his siblings were also considered out of control when they were young, though, and Alexandra's family were no angels, particularly her brother, who avoided lessons whenever he could. I don't know if this is reflected in their characaters as adults.
Spiridovich says that Nicholas and Alexandra were reluctant to expose him to the orthopaedic treatment in 1913; this may be so, but thereafter there are mentions of use of the electrical apparatus to relieve aches and pains, so they obviously were convinced and willing to change their views after seeing it work.




More in next post, as this won;t go through if it gets too long.....
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 19, 2009, 02:51:21 PM
Janet,

As you pointed out, Alexandra was not a minute by minute mother but some of that was because of all of her "illnesses" which kept her from the meals where she would then "rebuke" Olga for not "rebuking" Alexei.

Again, I see this as Alexandra's fault.  Olga was not Alexei's mother and should not have been left with that responsibility.

Alexandra should have gotten off her "duff" and done more of her own jobs.  Then she wouldn't have had time to interfere in Nicholas's jobs.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 19, 2009, 04:46:41 PM
Janet,

As you pointed out, Alexandra was not a minute by minute mother but some of that was because of all of her "illnesses" which kept her from the meals where she would then "rebuke" Olga for not "rebuking" Alexei.

Again, I see this as Alexandra's fault.  Olga was not Alexei's mother and should not have been left with that responsibility.

Alexandra should have gotten off her "duff" and done more of her own jobs.  Then she wouldn't have had time to interfere in Nicholas's jobs.

Well, it seems from the account that Alexandra was present at the meal, but at some distance from the children because she was doing what was expected of a conventional hostess and entertaining her guests. It's moot whether the children should have been allowed to be present in those circumstances - most royal couples certainly wouldn't have had them around - but since they were she fell back on what most contemporary parents would have fallen back on, and expected the elder ones to keep the younger in check. So it seems that on this occasion she was doing what she is generally held accountable for NOT doing - playing the conventional empress and hostess. Doing her job according to Maria Feodorovna's definition of the role.

Whether one likes it or not, or considers it appropriate or not (and I have different views of family influence depending who the Grand Duke in question was!), Nicholas ASKED her to "interfere" in his work. I'm not sure he ever asked his mother or any other member of his family, but they did so anyway; it was expected of them and they were raised to play that role of a "support" to the emperor. He didn't question it either.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 19, 2009, 04:56:40 PM

As to the girls and marriage, to suggest that they would have been happily married to Russians were it not for Alexandra is putting it a bit strongly and, I think, rather more than Alixz implied. Yes, Nicholas and Alexandra could have started looking round for potential husbands for Olga rather earlier than they actually did, but there was no particular need for haste (Olga was at the young end of marriageable age), and it was perfectly reasonable for them to want her to marry someone she loved (after all, the example of Olga Alexandrovna and Peter Oldenburgsky may well have been in their heads). As to marrying a Russian, it is interesting that KR and Elizabeth Mavrikievna were against their daughter marrying Konstantin Bagration-Mukhransky. As far as I know, there was nothing dubious about his character, so the reason must have been that they hoped for a 'more suitable' match. Tatiana Konstantinovna was, of course, on the more distant fringes of the imperial family, not like Olga (though Irina Alexandrovna was allowed to marry Felix Yussupov, which doesn't quite fit my thesis). Was Bagration actually an ADC to KR at this time?  According to 'A Lifelong Passion' he was an ADC later on, and falling in love with an ADC was not quite the thing (like falling in love with a lady in waiting). Also, we should bear in mind that any foreign prince very close in age to Olga was going to be a bit young for marriage in 1914. Someone will no doubt correct me if I'm mistaken, but I think that by this time it was unusual for a prince to marry under 21 (the Prince Consort in 1840 is the latest example I can think of) and 22 plus was more common. Carol of Romania was born on 13 October 1893 so rising 21 in summer 1914, but Olga wasn't interested. The future Duke of Windsor was 20, but he and Olga hadn't met since 1909. Would a meeting have been set up if war hadn't intervened? (it is interesting to speculate on whether Olga might have hit it off with the future George VI, a much more serious-minded and conscientious individual than his brother - perhaps they would have got on rather well).

When Tatiana K was first attracted to Konstantin she was technically unable to marry him as imperial consent would not have been given to this "unequal" betrothal; but in response to this engagement Nicholas modified the House Law with the 1911 ukaz that permitted marriages of Princes and Princesses of the Blood Imperial with Russian subjects. This was why Irina's situation was simpler, despite objections to Felix on the grounds of his personality. Nicholas's daughters, as Grand Duchesses, weren't covered by the Ukaz, of course, and these marriages with Russian nobles were considered morganatic despite imperial consent.

I agree that the available princes whose names were coupled with Olga's would have been deemed rather too young for her, certainly in her parents eyes. Alexandra was surprised at the betrothal of her nephew Georgie Battenberg when he was "all of 23", so I think she was expecting an older man to come for her girls.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on October 20, 2009, 12:49:11 AM

I often say - though I don't know if I've done so in this thread ( :-) )- that Rasputin would not have mattered a jot had it not been for what he represented: which is, Nicholas's well-established tendency to take advice from "unofficial" sources - which predates Rasputin by some years. Nicholas started his reign set on a policy which portrayed him as inalterable autocrat with a mission to bring not just Russia but indeed the whole of Asia to God. Alexandra, who had deliberated so long - on religious grounds - over her own decision to marry him, found meaning and justification in this idea - and of course her own role was to back him up and provide his heir (no mere  cousin or his weak brother Mikhail would be worthy to inherit this mission). Even after conceding the formation of the Duma Nicholas remained resolute in his insistence on the title of autocrat. In this context, I don't think he needed much encouragement to leave things unaltered for "baby" - these were his ideas, played back to him.

Nikolai II according to the Oath he uttered in Church HAD to preserve the autocracy. Indeed, he did not require "much encouragement" to undertake that understanding for "baby".
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on October 20, 2009, 01:02:10 AM
Alexandra should have gotten off her "duff" and done more of her own jobs.  Then she wouldn't have had time to interfere in Nicholas's jobs.

Vulgar commentary such as this - is unwarranted and regrettably serves to perpetuate the numerous misconceptions written about Alexandra Fyodorovna.  
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 20, 2009, 03:53:18 AM
'but since they were she fell back on what most contemporary parents would have fallen back on, and expected the elder ones to keep the younger in check.'

That something is commonplace doesn't make it right. Alexandra does seem to have been rather in the habit of expecting somebody else to deal with the aspects of bringing up Alexei that she didn't like, i.e. the awkward business of getting him under control (she is starting to remind me of all the modern parents who expect the schools to deal with all the things they should have sorted out themselves before the child started school!). By the time of the incident we are talking about, Alexandra was surely aware that her darling Alexei could not be relied upon to behave properly at the table, so either he should not have been there (the sensible solution) or she should taken responsibility for him herself.

'When Tatiana K was first attracted to Konstantin she was technically unable to marry him as imperial consent would not have been given to this "unequal" betrothal; but in response to this engagement Nicholas modified the House Law with the 1911 ukaz that permitted marriages of Princes and Princesses of the Blood Imperial with Russian subjects. This was why Irina's situation was simpler, despite objections to Felix on the grounds of his personality. Nicholas's daughters, as Grand Duchesses, weren't covered by the Ukaz, of course, and these marriages with Russian nobles were considered morganatic despite imperial consent.'

Thanks, Janet, for sorting that one out.

'In this context, I don't think he needed much encouragement to leave things unaltered for "baby" - these were his ideas, played back to him.'

You are saying what I'm saying about Alexandra bringing out Nicholas's worst characteristics as a ruler, just in a different way.


'Alexandra should have gotten off her duff.'

This is not vulgarity but simply a light-hearted way of saying that Alexandra should have taken her responsibilities more seriously - in British English we would say that she should have got off her backside.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on October 20, 2009, 04:35:43 AM
'Alexandra should have gotten off her duff.'

This is not vulgarity but simply a light-hearted way of saying that Alexandra should have taken her responsibilities more seriously - in British English we would say that she should have got off her backside.

The imagery conveyed is nevertheless the same is it not? A vulgar expression in any one's language.

Why do you presume that Alexandra Fyodorovna did not take her responsibilities seriously?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 20, 2009, 05:04:33 AM
'Why do you presume that Alexandra Fyodorovna did not take her responsibilities seriously?'

As I said above, she seems to have expected the people around her to deal with the 'awkward' aspects of bringing up Alexei. Plenty of mothers do that (or did that), but that doesn't excuse it. Obviously Nicholas had responsibilities as well, but she was the more forceful personality and he seems to have taken his cue from her a good deal.

I start to be reminded more and more of a neighbour my family had years ago, who had a very spoilt four-year-old son who looked angelic (curly fair hair, big blue eyes) but was a complete horror. One one occasion he stuck a mapping pin (very large drawing pin with a flat surface for writing on) in his mother's backside, at which she turned to him, patted him on the head and declared, 'Richard, darling, you mustn't do that.' I often wonder how he turned out - he will be past 40 now.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 20, 2009, 05:15:07 AM
Reading Olga's 1913 diary reveals Alexandra  is rarely with them at this point ...due to constant headaches, tiredness and her heart. If she does come with them to an event  , they pay later. Olga notes her mother's health almost more than anything else in her own diary.  It's the chief barometer of their lives. Thankfully the girl's aunt ,Olga A., and their grandmother arranged tea and dance parties  for them or their lives would have resembled how they lived in Tobolsk  well before they got there . Seeminly their mother just couldn't be bothered and couldn't see the need for them to see other people.

When looking at Alexandra, one must remember she lost her mother when she was six. That will mark you.
As they grew older , she seem to  turn these girls into mothers.... for herself and or Alexi. And any opposition is seen as the original abandonment and is  treated as such.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 20, 2009, 06:24:55 AM
'but since they were she fell back on what most contemporary parents would have fallen back on, and expected the elder ones to keep the younger in check.'

That something is commonplace doesn't make it right. Alexandra does seem to have been rather in the habit of expecting somebody else to deal with the aspects of bringing up Alexei that she didn't like, i.e. the awkward business of getting him under control (she is starting to remind me of all the modern parents who expect the schools to deal with all the things they should have sorted out themselves before the child started school!). By the time of the incident we are talking about, Alexandra was surely aware that her darling Alexei could not be relied upon to behave properly at the table, so either he should not have been there (the sensible solution) or she should taken responsibility for him herself.

Please note though that I didn't say it was right or wrong to expect the person next to him to take him in hand - and I hesitated to wade into this thread because of exactly this sort of presumption of "sides". The Alexei-at-table incident is one we know of because it aws wriiten in a letter by a man who took little interest in his own children (accoring to his own son) and it appeared in a commercially published and edited book; we actually know nothing else about the context; whether it was part of a pattern on Alexandra's part; whether Alexei had been at table with adult guests before or whether his activities came as a nasty surpirse to them all, so it seems pointless to me to be saying things like "she should have known". Maybe she should have. Maybe she did. Maybe she simply wanted him to learn through experience; it's what her own attitude with Gilliard suggests (we are going in circles here).

And, unfortauntely, whether we think this is a good practice or not it simply was the case that royal and aristocratic parents paid others to raise their children. Especially boys. In Alexandra's caes, she seems to have been most involved with the two eldest, and to have withdrawn somewhat from hands-on upbringing when her health began to collapse. With the first three girls, she attended lessons and commenetd on their behaviour and learning to their tutor. This is far more hands-on than most other parents of her station, so in that sense she was very involved in the unpleasnatness of issues that arose. As far as Alexei is concerned, I should imagine that - after around 1909 and at least until 1914 - he associated her company mainly with periods of illness and frustration, and that he acted up accordingly.



'In this context, I don't think he needed much encouragement to leave things unaltered for "baby" - these were his ideas, played back to him.'

You are saying what I'm saying about Alexandra bringing out Nicholas's worst characteristics as a ruler, just in a different way.



I am saying that she didn't really need to. One thing I do take a stance on morally in this debate is the slightly misogynist air that creeps in (and I dont emean in your case; I am speaking generally): the tone of "oh, that ball-breaking bitch; if she'd only kept her nose out of men's work all would have ben well and good old Nicky would have settled into a constitutional role." Most recent biographers of Nicholas have tended to reduce her poltiical role to practically nil. I am not sure I 100% agree with that, but I do see that he was capable of taking what advice he wanted and ignoring what advice he didn't, as with any one of his councilors and ministers.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 20, 2009, 06:41:17 AM
Seeminly their mother just couldn't be bothered and couldn't see the need for them to see other people.
This is simply not true. In a letter written at the end of 1913, Alexandra explained that she had made some staff changes, replacing older ladies with younger ones, where her main criteria was that the ladies were young and prepared to go out with Olga and Tatiana and to accompany them into town.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 20, 2009, 06:42:24 AM
Reading Olga's 1913 diary reveals Alexandra  is rarely with them at this point ...due to constant headaches, tiredness and her heart. If she does come with them to an event  , they pay later. Olga notes her mother's health almost more than anything else in her own diary.  It's the chief barometer of their lives. Thankfully the girl's aunt ,Olga A., and their grandmother arranged tea and dance parties  for them or their lives would have resembled how they lived in Tobolsk  well before they got there . Seeminly their mother just couldn't be bothered and couldn't see the need for them to see other people.

When looking at Alexandra, one must remember she lost her mother when she was six. That will mark you.
As they grew older , she seem to  turn these girls into mothers.... for herself and or Alexi. And any opposition is seen as the original abandonment and is  treated as such.


1913 waas the low point of Alexnadra's life in the sense that her  health completely collpased after Spala; almost a form of PTSD. I have always thought that she did see the need for her duaghters to see others in the sense that she allowed them to go to these parties; her own health did to act as an excuse to prevent this happening, though she was in absoltuley no state to host such things.
The girls lived lives rather seperate from Alexei's; he spent most of his time with his tutors. I do agree with you though that she often expecetd the elder girls to asusme a caring role towards her as they grew up.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 20, 2009, 07:30:39 AM
'And, unfortauntely, whether we think this is a good practice or not it simply was the case that royal and aristocratic parents paid others to raise their children. Especially boys. In Alexandra's caes, she seems to have been most involved with the two eldest, and to have withdrawn somewhat from hands-on upbringing when her health began to collapse. With the first three girls, she attended lessons and commenetd on their behaviour and learning to their tutor. This is far more hands-on than most other parents of her station, so in that sense she was very involved in the unpleasnatness of issues that arose. As far as Alexei is concerned, I should imagine that - after around 1909 and at least until 1914 - he associated her company mainly with periods of illness and frustration, and that he acted up accordingly.'

I have been concentrating on Alexandra's upbringing of Alexei, as it was there that the inadequacies showed. Yes, royal and aristocratic parents paid other people to look after their children, but ultimately discipline was a parental responsibility - certainly a paternal responsibility in the case of boys. Look at George V and all those summonses to the library! Maybe Nicholas should have been stricter with Alexei, but I can't help thinking that he wanted a quiet life and wasn't going to come into potential conflict with Alexandra on this one.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 20, 2009, 08:18:43 AM
Belochka - it is good to see you back.  You were not posting for a while and I among others missed you.

As to saying that she could have gotten off her "duff", I could have said "a**", but I didn't.

Alexandra is an enigma and always will be.  Most of us here have read the same books and some have read others in other languages (I am envious of those who can read the originals in Russian).  From what I can tell from my readings, Alexandra didn't want the job of Empress, but she did want it.  She didn't like what she had to do to be Empress and ignored that part.

She did cloister her children and if it weren't for their Aunt Olga and Grandmother, they would have had no social life at all.  Xenia and Sandro allowed the marriage of their only daughter to a man that no one was quite sure of (Felix) because they were in love, but Alexandra could not see anything but rank first and then love.  When considering Dmitri Pavlovich remember that he was Nicholas's first cousin not Olga's.

She did turn her daughters into her own care givers.  Her health was almost as important as Alexei's and every day turned on whether or not Alexei or Alexandra felt well.

It is too bad that my foremost image of Alexandra is of her lying in that over emphasized "mauve" room with yet another "illness" while she did not attend to her duties.  Then delegated her duties to her eldest daughters as they grew old enough to take on the responsibilities.

That is until the war and Alexandra's sudden "transformation" from invalid to nurse.  This transformation, to me, shows that she was never that sick to begin with.  Being a nurse is no lightweight job.  Not now and certainly not in the early 1900s during a war.  All of those "imagined" illnesses just disappeared and suddenly Alexandra is a tower of strength.

I know that Alexandra has her supporters and her detractors.  Personally, I have been on both sides, but I mostly come down on the detractor side as IMHO she was a hypochondriac who used her "illnesses" to get out of doing what she didn't want to do - mainly her job as Empress.  She wanted the title, the man and the living conditions, but she didn't want to have to pay her dues to the Russian people.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 20, 2009, 08:52:51 AM
Alixz

I agree, it is interesting that Alexandra's illnesses all vanished and she metaphorically leaped from her bed as the war began and she found a purpose in life. I wonder whether things would have worked out differently had she kept away from the business of government and confined herself strictly to nursing and organising relief works.

There are some people who 'enjoy' illness (consciously or not), whether their own or someone else's (usually their child's). They enjoy the fuss they get, whether as the sufferer or as the devoted mother of the invalid, and the exemption they get from ordinary responsibilities. I think Alexandra was one of these.

On a lighter and purely tangential note, I was initially puzzled by your use of the word 'duff', as in British English duff refers to a kind of suet pudding, usually wrapped in a cloth and boiled up (as in plum duff or figgy duff). A moment's vision of the regal Alexandra sitting on a suet pudding!

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 20, 2009, 10:29:40 AM
 
Quote

....1913 was the low point of Alexandra's life in the sense that her  health completely collapsed after Spala; almost a form of PTSD.


Certainly that is a good point . It would be interesting to see other years diaries. 

Quote
I have always thought that she did see the need for her daughters to see others in the sense that she allowed them to go to these parties; her own health did to act as an excuse to prevent this happening, though she was in absolutely no state to host such things.


true on both counts....but she wouldn't have  the taste to do whatever her health. However perhaps all concerned were glad how it turned out the way it did. The girl's aunt and grandmother could  treat them and  spend  time with them.  And the girls  could  spend hours partying  free from worrying if AF was getting tired and what that cost them later. That concern would have been a cloud over a party hosted by AF , for sure.  No wonder after these parties Olga says,"  I was very, very happy ". ( it had to do with certain officers being there too! )

Quote
The girls lived lives rather separate from Alexei's; he spent most of his time with his tutors. I do agree with you though that she often expected the elder girls to assume a caring role towards her as they grew up.

Again insight can be gained when one remembers Alexandra  was raised a good deal in the English court where is was a  tradition
of turing at least one daughter into a lady in waiting...that is,  a care giver. One of Victoria daughter's was allowed to marry late in life only  if she kept her care giving role and  Queen Mary's daughter  was never allowed  to lmarry at all. Lucky for OTMA they were four and could spread the job around ! Marie was fully on board as a AF care giver by the end.
 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: mcdnab on October 20, 2009, 11:15:15 AM
I don't know so much about the tradition at the English Court - certainly Alexandra (as in Queen Alexandra) had a tendency to treat all her children as children long after they were grown adults very similar to how her parents treated all their children and how her sister Marie Feodorovna treated hers. Victoria certainly expected her younger daughters to remain with her but they did marry. Victoria herself expressed concerns to Bertie about her granddaugthers and their marriages Bertie agreed with her though expressed an opinion that he didn't believe Toria inclined to marriage and marriage for the others didn't stop either Marie F or Alexandra expecting all their daughters to dance attendance.
Queen Mary's only daughter Princess Mary The Princess Royal married Lord Lascelles later Earl of Harewood and had two sons - Queen Mary was a very differnet style of mother to her mother in law.

To be fair i think in some families it is often common particularly with many families where an older matriarch dominates - my own mother was expected to do a great deal for her mother (most of it willingly i would add) whereas her brother was never exepected to share in any of that.

From my own point of view - Alexandra's isolation from society and what that meant for her children is in many ways what I find hard to forgive or understand. A happy close family is one thing but even as children and with the threat of violence and assasination Nicholas II and his siblings regularly played with the children of court officials and carefully chosen children from within society.
As to her health I am sure that the worry over her son added to her problems and I suspect both made each other worse - her worry transferring to her son when he was ill (hence the success of Rasputin's hypnotic peace calming both of them). Her ability to take up nursing probably reflects her own sense of duty.
I've always found the nursing odd and distinctly un royal - funding hospitals (as her female relations did), touring them and offering comfort would have been far more appropriate and would perhaps have done much for her reputation. Instead she chose direct nursing surrounded by her immediate family and rather isolated yet again.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 21, 2009, 07:16:06 AM
Yes, it is amazing how she suddenly "perked" up in 1914. Almost Biblically miraculous.
 
She grew up in a Victorian atmosphere, where health, illness and death were almost part of daily entertainment. Their letters contain plenty of references to their own and other family members health issues. Death almost seemed cause for celebration, with minute and exact descriptions of the illnesses, death bed scenes and funerals.

Could this all have had an effect on Alexandra ?

Queen Victoria shrank into virtual obscurity after Alberts death, also to the detriment of the Royal family, and had to be coaxed out by the prime Minister. For a long time she neglected her duties totally. I think she felt very sorry for herself, long after she started to recover after Alberts death. And she never allowed anyone to forget how much she was sufferring, and for how long ! A bit unnatural I think. She certainly was not one to "move on".

Could it be that many of Alexandra's illnesses were hypochondriac in nature, and that she "enjoyed" being ill, as it gave her an excuse to avoid people and situations, and thus her duties as Empress ?

Or was she just sorry for herself, because her son was ill ? Her Grandmother perhaps set the example. If one looks at Queen Victoria's family and personal history and everything as a whole, she was a bit of a "Drama Queen" I think.

I dont mean it in a bad or insulting way. She was the greatest Queen of England possibly.

Could her attitude have had a detrimental effect on some of her descendants ? IE Alexandra ?

They also look so miserable in all the family photographs. I know Royalty were not supposed to look " jolly " when having their pictures taken, but they all look positively, desperately, depressed.

Alexandra never smiled. How many photographs do we have of her smiling ? I think I have seen one, somewhere here.
   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 21, 2009, 08:55:09 AM
We all know that taking a photo in Victorian times could be a long a tedious process and that holding a smile that long would be almost impossible.

However, with the invention of the Kodak Brownie, exposure took much less time and smiles were captured as evidenced in "Anastasia's Album" and other photo histories.

It is the intrinsic sadness in Alexandra's eyes, even in her engagement pictures that has always made me wonder about her character.  Nicholas does not look sad in these pictures, but Alexandra does.  Even in pictures and portraits taken of Alexandra before Alexei was born, she always looks either sad or wistful, never composed or self assured.

Certainly Alexandra had plenty of attention in her life and did not need to be "ill" to get more.

But I think you are right about one thing.  Being ill sometimes does relieve a person from their day to day responsibilities and when that person feels over whelmed illness is sometimes the only way to get people to leave them alone.  And that illness can be an illness they have or that their child has.  It is called Munchausen Syndrome and in the case of the illness of a child, Munchausen by Proxy.

I don't believe that adults consciously fall into Munchausen, but when one is on sensory and emotional overload, it is quite easy to slip into it without even knowing that it is happening.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 21, 2009, 08:56:12 AM
Alixz

I agree, it is interesting that Alexandra's illnesses all vanished and she metaphorically leaped from her bed as the war began and she found a purpose in life. I wonder whether things would have worked out differently had she kept away from the business of government and confined herself strictly to nursing and organising relief works.

There are some people who 'enjoy' illness (consciously or not), whether their own or someone else's (usually their child's). They enjoy the fuss they get, whether as the sufferer or as the devoted mother of the invalid, and the exemption they get from ordinary responsibilities. I think Alexandra was one of these.

On a lighter and purely tangential note, I was initially puzzled by your use of the word 'duff', as in British English duff refers to a kind of suet pudding, usually wrapped in a cloth and boiled up (as in plum duff or figgy duff). A moment's vision of the regal Alexandra sitting on a suet pudding!

Ann

LOL -  Ah the variances of our "common" language.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 21, 2009, 09:59:15 AM
Alixz

'But I think you are right about one thing.  Being ill sometimes does relieve a person from their day to day responsibilities and when that person feels over whelmed illness is sometimes the only way to get people to leave them alone.  And that illness can be an illness they have or that their child has.  It is called Munchausen Syndrome and in the case of the illness of a child, Munchausen by Proxy.'

Yes, Alexei really was ill, but Alexandra's reactions to this were extreme. I think Munchhausen's Syndrome and Munchhausen's Syndrome by proxy technically involve fabricated illness (there was a case in Britain last week where a mother had kept her 8-year-old son in a wheelchair for most of his life, with oxygen and being fed through a tube, when there was absolutely nothing wrong with him (she had managed to fool a lot of doctors as well as the boy's father). She pleaded guilty to child cruelty and is awaiting sentence.

Alexandra didn't fabricate Alexei's illness, but (to use an expression of my mother's) she wallowed in it, and wallowed in her own. Alexei's illness was essentially her purpose in life. Once again, I would like to know more about Irene of Prussia and how she coped with two haemophiliac sons.

Ann
Title: Why did she isolate her children
Post by: Rodion_Felix on October 21, 2009, 12:59:25 PM
That is what i am asking
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 21, 2009, 02:49:56 PM
Alixz


Alexandra didn't fabricate Alexei's illness, but (to use an expression of my mother's) she wallowed in it, and wallowed in her own. Alexei's illness was essentially her purpose in life. Once again, I would like to know more about Irene of Prussia and how she coped with two haemophiliac sons.

Ann

She at least used her own illness  as a wand of tremendous power over the family  and she ran a very tight ship...seemingly they were all terrified of her. You only had to say, " Alexandra  Feodorovna has a bad headache"  to have the Tsar of all the Russias go deathly pale.

Alexandra had " the terrible strength of the weak " to quote an old proverb. I 've known a good number of care givers who go to the grave well before the supposedly weak care taker. ( isn't funny how we say " care taker"  to mean the one who is giving the care? .... "care taker " should be for the one taking it! )
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 21, 2009, 03:05:38 PM
Care taker meaning the one who takes the care.  Care giver meaning the one who gives the care.

But you are right, we use care taker for the one who takes the care from the care giver.  In other years, the care taker would be the one like the castle care taker who took care of the castle.


Another (totally off topic example) is the use of over sight.  That used to mean over looked as in "I didn't see the mistake, it was an over sight on my part."  Now oversight is used for those who are over seeing a project as in the "oversight committee".

There also used to be no such word as over fly.  By now jets do it all the time.  It used to be fly over.  It still should be as in the jet flew over the town.  Not the jet participated in a fly over.

Who comes up with these things?  Those with bad English skills?  I wonder if these things happen in other languages as well.

But back on topic and back to Alexandra. 

As to Irene and Henry, we need some information from someone who has researched and/or read about their lives.  After all, they were not as famous as N&A or as Ena of Spain and her husband.
Title: Re: Why did she isolate her children
Post by: Alixz on October 21, 2009, 03:30:11 PM
I am moving this question to "Alexandra - Slandered and Hated"  This topic is being covered there.

Alixz
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 21, 2009, 04:32:17 PM

I have been concentrating on Alexandra's upbringing of Alexei, as it was there that the inadequacies showed. Yes, royal and aristocratic parents paid other people to look after their children, but ultimately discipline was a parental responsibility - certainly a paternal responsibility in the case of boys. Look at George V and all those summonses to the library! Maybe Nicholas should have been stricter with Alexei, but I can't help thinking that he wanted a quiet life and wasn't going to come into potential conflict with Alexandra on this one.

Ann

I have seen evidence that Alexandra was concerned at Alexei's behaviour, whether it be asking his father to correct him at Stavka; remarking on one occasion that his sister should have corrected him at table; and urging him in letters "Be a good boy!" I have never seen any evidence that Nicholas attempted to be more strict. Rather, it would seem that he was proud of his son's obstreperous spirit as he was proud of Alexandra's. As I have commented in another thread, Nicholas seemed to go through life with a sense that others did not treat him with the respect he was due as autocrat. The evidence for this is in his words to his cousin Sandro - Alexandra being the only person he trusted - and in the snide tone of his comments on this who opposed him, in a variety of sources ranging form letters to his mother to letters to Alexandra.

Again, though, I am going in circles.

Incidentally, taking up a point you made in earlier post, while parents may chide any child about table manners, I wonder how many normal kids actually listen? I know I was described aged eight as "eating like a barbarian" - my father's words; so does this mean my parents were to blame if I acted up?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 21, 2009, 04:37:31 PM


Again insight can be gained when one remembers Alexandra  was raised a good deal in the English court where is was a  tradition
of turing at least one daughter into a lady in waiting...that is,  a care giver. One of Victoria daughter's was allowed to marry late in life only  if she kept her care giving role and  Queen Mary's daughter  was never allowed  to lmarry at all. Lucky for OTMA they were four and could spread the job around ! Marie was fully on board as a AF care giver by the end.
 

It would probably be over-stating it in my opinion to say she expected them to act as "care-givers" in the way that Beatrice or Olga A or Toria were expected to act as "care-givers" who waited on their mother. But she expected them to be to care as needed as they grew up; and don't forget that the role was reciprocated, e.g. when they were sick.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 21, 2009, 04:53:41 PM
Yes, it is amazing how she suddenly "perked" up in 1914. Almost Biblically miraculous.
 

   

I'm replying to you, though several here have said the same thing, so it's a proxy for the several of you. The war undoubtedly revived Alexandra's spirit, but it is quite wrong to state that her health changed. A survey of her own correspondence will tell you that.

Ultimately, because we don't have her medical records and wouldn't 100% trust the Edwardian doctors of we did, we don't know whether Alexandra's problems were caused by organic disease or by being overwhelmed by her life - not "wallowing in Alexei's illness" (again, the actual evidence of their correspondence suggests that the children were almost an incidental part of the daily schedule, rather than overwhelming it) but being psychologically crushed as people can be by the events they have lived through. Probably, as Alexandra suggested herself, it was a combination of the two. But I am curious as to why so many people have trouble accepting that idea that the illness MIGHT have been organic? And why is it seen as a stain on her character if it was not?
I could be wrong, but all these references to "illnesses" and biblical miracles are far from dispassionate in tone, and this is where I am inferring the  condescension which scares people off responding in opposition to the consensus view you all seem to have here.   There are people on this board who have done rather more than "read all the same books", yet somehow most of them seem to fight shy of this thread.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 22, 2009, 04:08:04 AM
'But I am curious as to why so many people have trouble accepting that idea that the illness MIGHT have been organic? And why is it seen as a stain on her character if it was not?'

Janet

I can speak only for myself here. If evidence is produced that Alexandra's illnesses were organic in origin I will happily read it and weigh it up. As to the 'stain on the character', I have to admit that I have no patience with people who have vague illnesses where no cause can be found (I am also impatient with myself in such circumstances - being ill is a pain and a waste of time that could be put to better use), and those who when ill like to have people fussing around them (if I'm not feeling well I like to be left alone!).

From all I know of Alexandra, she sounds like just the person who would get psychosomatic illnesses.

'Incidentally, taking up a point you made in earlier post, while parents may chide any child about table manners, I wonder how many normal kids actually listen? I know I was described aged eight as "eating like a barbarian" - my father's words; so does this mean my parents were to blame if I acted up?'

Clearly I was not a normal child - I did listen to what I was told about table manners. And though my father chided me for dreadful diction when I was a teenager, I am told that I now speak like a Radio 3 announcer. I think parents are ultimately responsible for their children's behaviour - they are, after all, in a position to control it (or at least take the child outside and deliver a telling-off when the child misbehaves in public). Alexandra reminds me of the kind of modern mother who lets her three-year-old do exactly what he (or she) likes and smiles indulgently as he creates mayhem. If Nicholas actively admired Alexei's obstreperous tendencies then he was doing the same, which can't have helped.

Perhaps this is evidence of defects in my character, but instead of feeling sorry for Alexandra I get exasperated with her.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 22, 2009, 07:08:41 AM
Munchausen Syndrome could have been a possible cause for her illnesses. I never realised until i read your post that the condition can be projected onto children.
I had a friend who for years pretended to have kidney Cancer, and was confined to his bed after apparently having had major surgery. He is the picture of health though, and even used to live on a strict vegetable diet, which he believed would cure the cancer.When nobody was around, he was not averse to a steak and a glass of red wine. Over the years he had 4 kidneys removed ! It got so bad that he forgot that he only had two !
He went to extraordinary lengths to avoid working in the family business, and regularly flew overseas to have treatment, until someone spotted him cavorting in nightclubs on the Costa del Sol, instead of being bedridden in a London clinic !
The interesting thing is that he turned on people regularly,and cut his friends off totally after years of friendship, and ignored them completely.
 

Could Alexandra have had Munchausen's Syndrome ? Could she have projected this onto her children perhaps, in a way. Obviously not Alexei.
She also got rid of people on the slightest pretext, ministers etc. I wonder if this is a characteristic of the condition ?

Quite interesting.


Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 22, 2009, 08:48:50 AM
I do believe that parents are responsible for their children's manners.

I remember being chided as a child by my father, mostly, who would make us eat "square meals".  This meant bringing the fork straight up from the plate and then moving it squarely to the mouth on a 90 degree angle.  No slouching and no arcs were allowed.  Believe me, we learned quickly that food falls off the fork and it is uncomfortable to eat that way.  Our manners improved directly.

My son began around age 13 to eat "like a cave man".  He made noise and used his hands.  I was appalled and I dealt with it.  Not with the "square meals" I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but I felt that I must have made a mistake somewhere in his manners training and together my husband and I corrected it.  I suppose that my son was imitating someone he knew at school and thought was "cool" but the bad manners had to go.

Now that he is 23 and dating a very nice girl whose parents invite him to dinner all the time, I am sure he is grateful that we took quick action.

I also agree with Ann.  When I don't feel well, I like to be left alone.  Even when and if I need to go into the hospital, I don't like to have visitors.  I prefer to read and to rest without the invasion of "visitors" who always say they hate hospitals but are always in the room of a relative who has to be there.

As to whether or not Alexandra's illnesses were organic, even her doctors can't seem to be pinned down.  And if they were not, the stain on her character comes from her (IMHO) selfish refusal to do her job and using imagined illnesses as a reason.

Also, when I said that most of us have read the same books, I also said that many of us have done much more.  I humbly acknowledge the research and the time and energy that some here have put into not only learning more but sharing it with us by writing those books.  

I only meant that in most if not all of the books and sources that we have available to the ordinary non-writer who posts here, there is no positive proof that Alexandra had organic illnesses.  And again, nursing is no picnic.  If she did have serious non-hypochondriac illnesses, and she could put them aside to nurse, then she  (IMHO) could also put them aside to do her job as Empress.

I think 'exasperation' is exactly the right word.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 22, 2009, 09:18:40 AM
I don't know that posters are shying away from this thread.

There are some new and interesting things being posted here.  Some of the new posters have opinions that are making me think in a new way. 

However, we have covered this subject many times in many other places, maybe some are just tired of covering the same material or they are afraid they will be bored with the same conclusions.

A lot of the postings are long, but well worth reading.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 22, 2009, 10:30:45 AM

As to whether or not Alexandra's illnesses were organic, even her doctors can't seem to be pinned down.

lol! The doctors  could not be pinned down  if they wanted to remain employed ! She would, at times,  contradict them and  tell them what was wrong with her!  One could agree with her or pack your  bag. For a woman of Alexandra's generation ( Victorian) being ill was the only way you could get out of doing what you did not want to do .You could not say "I don't want to" ...you had to say " I have one of my headaches" ....and she could have had them , because  she believed what she believed with remarkable ferocity. It'd almost impossible to know if her illnesses were  real or way to get out going , or cut short your time , at  public , even private events. She's missed many family meals because of her illnesses . It's impossible to know, but  her headaches and "rubbery" heart  were sure convenient weren't they?!

Royalty must work. You must go out among the people even if you have a headache or are shy. You must be seen enjoying being with the people and give a damn. Princess Diana, for one,  understood this.  Royalty is not a one way road . People feel unappreciated if they do not have a chance to express their loyalty to thier sovereign .Then that loyalty turns back on them,  begins to turn to dislike and then the sovereign is  in trouble.

Alexandra unfortunately watched her grandmother, Queen Victoria, removed herself from the people, and while great complaints were made about it ,  Victoria continued to rule without great consequences on that account . But 19th cent England was not 20th cent Russia, and it was a disastrous example for Alexandra to follow.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 22, 2009, 01:23:05 PM
I agree.

Look what happened when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip chose to "ignore" Diana's death and not put on a public display of mourning!  The Brits took offence and actually forced QEII to go on air and make that speech.

Diana was loved.  Alexandra was not.  Alexandra chose not to give anything of herself to her people.  She also continued to believe that the Russians were like "children" and needed their 'matushka".

She separated herself from the imperial family and the people of Russia.  That is why she is slandered and hated.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 22, 2009, 05:05:05 PM


Also, when I said that most of us have read the same books, I also said that many of us have done much more.  I humbly acknowledge the research and the time and energy that some here have put into not only learning more but sharing it with us by writing those books.  



Alixz, this wasn't really what I meant to say. I don't mean to demand extra acknowledgement and respect for the opinions of those who do extra research; but equally I do not feel that new or different opinions should be dismissed derisively on the grounds that "we have all read these books". And there are many derisive-sounding posts in this thread.

For my own part, because I spent many years looking through all of this evidence, I find it easy to see when someone is posting something that is simply factually wrong. This makes it easy for me to reply, but that automatically casts me as  a "defender"; the more so as I am inherently contrary and will summon the reverse of what anyone is arguing in any thread. It also means equally easy for me to get tired of the discussion and see it all as "old hat" and annoying because I have been through it so many times before. Therefore I am not the best person to participate here and I withdraw from it. I have tended to have exploratory discussions in private with friends, rather than in public where they all too easily turn into personal insults, as some of the latest posts now effectively turn on me for suggesting that children are inherently children, and we are who we are, often in spite of the best efforts of our parents. Which has been my (personal) experience, with myself, my niece and nephew, and the children of my friends, all of whom have been known to act up. As I say, I think people tend to suffer from expecting this Romanov family to be perfect and actually over-react to finding that they weren't; that they argued and were sick and made mistakes in raising their kids, just like anyone else does. Alexandra's children had the burden of seeing their mother sick, just as many other children do; and suffered from it, as people suffer when someone they love is unwell. But at least they didn't have to prepare her breakfast before school, and it doesn't make her a psycho who kept her daughters locked in a basement. They had the luxury of space in this family. And, yeah, they weren't perfect - she didn't create a fairyland for them after all, despite the writings of Bokhanov and others, and despite the yachts and the other trappings of luxury. It was far closer to fairyland than many people get though.

Yes, of course there is "evidence" for organic disease in Alexandra, just as I am sure we all have known people who have "imaginary ailments" who died of them (well, I have); but if you (generically) are minded to reject this, you are minded to reject this, and nothing will convince you otherwise. Just as it obvious that Alexandra cared about public opinion and to that end urged her husband to show their son off, just as they both imprinted the image of their "perfect " family on the world media; this isn't a maverick view, though I came to it through reading their letters; Richard Wortman shares it. But it should be "new" here because it contradicts what is being said.

But it's good if anyone posted here makes anyone think in a different way at all, because that should be the aim. Please don't though, as moderator, forget to ask people for the evidence of what they are saying. That's all.....Like I said, I think I made a mistake in getting involved here.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 23, 2009, 05:07:16 AM
'Look what happened when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip chose to "ignore" Diana's death and not put on a public display of mourning!  The Brits took offence and actually forced QEII to go on air and make that speech.'

Some Brits took offence, but not all! This is going off topic, but a substantial section of the population were of the view that the tabloid press behaved extremely badly and should have left the Queen and Royal Family to cope in the way they thought best, i.e. staying at Balmoral until the funeral and looking after the two boys.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 23, 2009, 05:28:48 AM
'I have tended to have exploratory discussions in private with friends, rather than in public where they all too easily turn into personal insults, as some of the latest posts now effectively turn on me for suggesting that children are inherently children, and we are who we are, often in spite of the best efforts of our parents. Which has been my (personal) experience, with myself, my niece and nephew, and the children of my friends, all of whom have been known to act up.'

Janet

I have no intention of any personal insults - I am simply disagreeing with you and using my own experience to justify my disagreement. If the way I express myself comes across as a personal insult, then I apologise.

For the record, I don't expect the Imperial Family to be perfect. To read about the odd ordinary failing is actually quite refreshing (to hear that my very conformist and serious-minded father once handcuffed a police sergeant to a fence with his own handcuffs makes me smile!) However, we're not simply talking about ordinary failings that only affected Alexandra's immediate family and companions. The effects of Alexandra's failings, whether 'ordinary' or not, went far beyond that.

Like you, I also have a contrary tendency and will argue against a consensus. Maybe I've just read too much syrupy stuff about Alexandra (not from you), just as I've read too much syrupy stuff about Diana.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 23, 2009, 07:05:07 AM
One must also remember that Alexandra came from a seemingy healthy family. Her surviving sisters ( except Ella ) of course, and her brother lived very long and healthy lives as far as I know. Her sister Victoria smoked like a chimney all her life, and so did her brother.

Normally good health is in one's family genes. I find it odd that Alexandra became so "ill" when so very young. Almost bedridden, or at least spending so much time on her mauve chaise.
 
I was watching the original movie of the opening ceremony of the Imperial family's private church close to the Alexander Palace, and Alexandra was walking along without any difficulty, looking quite well, and certainly not in a wheelchair. No limp either. The movie was slowed down
so the walking speed was normal ( not like in Charlie Chaplin movies)
So one does wonder.
I dont suppose we will ever know.     
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 23, 2009, 09:42:17 AM
One must also remember that Alexandra came from a seemingy healthy family. Her surviving sisters ( except Ella ) of course, and her brother lived very long and healthy lives as far as I know. Her sister Victoria smoked like a chimney all her life, and so did her brother.

Normally good health is in one's family genes. I find it odd that Alexandra became so "ill" when so very young. Almost bedridden, or at least spending so much time on her mauve chaise.
 
I was watching the original movie of the opening ceremony of the Imperial family's private church close to the Alexander Palace, and Alexandra was walking along without any difficulty, looking quite well, and certainly not in a wheelchair. No limp either. The movie was slowed down
so the walking speed was normal ( not like in Charlie Chaplin movies)
So one does wonder.
I don't suppose we will ever know.    
We probably won't. Whereas you watched a movie of the opening ceremony of the Feodorovski Sobor and think the Empress looked quite well, I watched original footage of the family entering a church in which Alexandra clearly was  limping and, probably, in pain.

Did Alexandra really come from a healthy family? We don't know what ages Alexandra and Ella would have reached if they had not been murdered, but your reference to Ernst Ludwig's, Victoria's and Irene's long and seemingly healthy lives does give a slightly distorted picture, as Ernst Ludwig, Victoria and Irene were just 3 out of the 7 children of Grand Duke Ludwig IV and Alice. Ella almost certainly had a hysterectomy in January 1908 and she may have suffered from kidney problems in earlier years, around 1895. Their brother Frederick was a haemophiliac, so wasn't a healthy child either. And May died from diphtheria as a child. Even if May had had a long and healthy life, the score would be that 3 out of 7 (42,9%) of the children were not the strongest and healthiest. And then there was Grand Duke Ludwig IV himself, who died relatively young, at the age of 54. I haven't seen his medical files, but Ernst Ludwig's biographer Manfred Knodt wrote that Ludwig IV died from a cerebrovasculair accident connected with a heart condition he had suffered from for quite some time.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 23, 2009, 10:32:05 AM
I could be wrong, but all these references to "illnesses" and biblical miracles are far from dispassionate in tone, and this is where I am inferring the  condescension which scares people off responding in opposition to the consensus view you all seem to have here.   There are people on this board who have done rather more than "read all the same books", yet somehow most of them seem to fight shy of this thread.
Indeed!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 23, 2009, 11:05:28 AM
Alixz

Just to say that I hope all goes smoothly on 28 October and the problem is sorted out.

My similar views to yours on Alexandra's health are partly at least because I come from a family of Energiser Bunnies.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on October 23, 2009, 12:10:20 PM
Alixz, I sincerely hope that your surgery on the 28th will go well and you'll make a speedy recovery!

As regards Alix and her resting on a sofa: I'm not sure Alix herself is entirely to be 'blamed' for this. In the years before 1894, Alix sometimes had trouble keeping up with relatives on walks in Scotland - that is to say, QV wasn't walking but driving in some kind of a mini-carriage and the others were simply supposed to keep up with her carriage. When she couldn't keep up, Alix sometimes went for a walk on her own, at her own pace. I don't know much about the medical advice Alix was given, but in 1894, before her marriage, a doctor recommended her to rest on a couch, as that would be the best 'cure' for her to make more blood flow into her painful leg. I doubt modern doctors would give her such advice and I've always wondered whether the remedy wasn't worse than the disease, as regards muscle strength, fitness, and posture. No matter what we think of it today, this was professional advice given to her. Alix initially seems to have disregarded this advice - she went on long walks with Nicholas - but she may have had second thoughts and have heeded it more and more when doctors ordered her to rest during pregnancies and the pain in her leg became worse.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 23, 2009, 02:15:20 PM
Thank you all for your kind words.

I think of Franklin Roosevelt when I think about bad advice given by doctors.  The massaging that was prescribed for his polio numbed legs was painful and probably made things worse.

I am sure that with our 100 years of medical growth and research, our doctors would prescribe different things to Alexandra.  

However it is also true that Dr. Botkin was often told by Alexandra what she had and not the other way around.  I know I need a source and I will get one.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 23, 2009, 03:21:48 PM

Janet

I have no intention of any personal insults - I am simply disagreeing with you and using my own experience to justify my disagreement. If the way I express myself comes across as a personal insult, then I apologise

Ann

It's Ok - I didn't mean to sound as if I was offended - or attacking you with my view of "normal" kids! - I suppose I just feel that when we get into trading personal experience it doesn't really advance the argument in historical terms because it does come down to questions of comparing values and that can get dodgy!
(I wasn't planning not to read the thread again lest I was tempted to start arguing, but I'm glad I did as things have settled own - and if I hadn't I wouldn't have seen Alixz's news!)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 23, 2009, 03:29:02 PM


As to people dying from "imaginary" illnesses, it does happen.  Also medical mistakes can cause deafness and blindness and other physical impairments.

The example I was thinking of was this poor woman whose kids were at school with me. She was forever having treatment that involved being flown to London, and she looked ill and distracted all the time. Everyone was prone to doubt her and think she enjoyed her afflictions - until she died of a chronic kidney complaint.

Your bone problem sounds very alarming for you - of course you aren't thinking of the internet! The anticipation of a big procedure is always awful, but I am sure it will go swimmingly and you will be back on top of things in no time! It's very lucky they found it and your persistence paid off.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 23, 2009, 03:41:45 PM


Did Alexandra really come from a healthy family? We don't know what ages Alexandra and Ella would have reached if they had not been murdered, but your reference to Ernst Ludwig's, Victoria's and Irene's long and seemingly healthy lives does give a slightly distorted picture, as Ernst Ludwig, Victoria and Irene were just 3 out of the 7 children of Grand Duke Ludwig IV and Alice. Ella almost certainly had a hysterectomy in January 1908 and she may have suffered from kidney problems in earlier years, around 1895. Their brother Frederick was a haemophiliac, so wasn't a healthy child either. And May died from diphtheria as a child. Even if May had had a long and healthy life, the score would be that 3 out of 7 (42,9%) of the children were not the strongest and healthiest. And then there was Grand Duke Ludwig IV himself, who died relatively young, at the age of 54. I haven't seen his medical files, but Ernst Ludwig's biographer Manfred Knodt wrote that Ludwig IV died from a cerebrovasculair accident connected with a heart condition he had suffered from for quite some time.

Victoria also had problems with her circulation, and - I believe - both she and Ella had rheumatic issues which must have some relationship to Alexandra's sciatica - her first problem. According to Ilana, Irene had some form of gynaeological problem - and indeed Miss Jackson and others worried a great deal about her as an adolescent, around the time she began menstruating, and over-protected her (in the view of her sisters). As she was a haemophilic carrier, it may be that she was a symptomatic carrier who had very heavy periods. Alexandra seems to have had menstrual migraine, which is really common. As her children were all very large at birth, someone has suggested to me that she may have had gestational diabetes - and possibly even diabetes itself, which would explain the exhaustion at times. At any rate, I don't think it's too far-fetched to wonder if all those pregnancies - more than any of her sisters - damaged her health (possibly her heart).

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: imperial angel on October 23, 2009, 03:42:36 PM
I sometimes think the title of this thread should be changed to Alexandra: Controversial and Debated. For someone who has been dead for almost a century, she can still give rise to great debate. Alexandra in my view was a very rigid person who believed what she believed and that was it. She didn't listen to others, but she didn't have good judgment, and she could have had a better attitude towards life. In the end though, we will never know her, so opinions are just that.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 23, 2009, 04:08:22 PM
 
Quote
Alexandra in my view was a very rigid person who believed what she believed and that was it. She didn't listen to others, but she didn't have good judgment, and she could have had a better attitude towards life. In the end though, we will never know her, so opinions are just that.

Indeed. I was thinking being raised in the tiny duchy of Hesse and or  with Queen Victoria, would not prepare such a person for being a sovereign in Russia during  the 20th century  . In both those places the Duke or the Queen did as they liked  with little consequences to the throne. But in my opinion  Nicholas and Alexandra needed to be in St Petersburg more and hole up in Tsarkoe Selo less.

And I can understand St. P society condemning someone who wouldn't give her gown royal daughters balls or parties and yet right away, subjected them to WW1 war wounds and nursing.... Where is a healthy balance in that ?  It is said Alexandra  was planning parties and such for the big pair  for the fall of 1914...and yet her parents  were trying to get Olga engaged to Carol during the summer. How many balls and parties would an engaged woman go to? Not many I'm thinking.

I think it's wonderful the GD did nursing, but they should have had the fun times too.
Thankfully because of  their Aunt, Olga A ,and their grandmother steping  in , they did .
Other wise for Olga and Tatiana would have been dolls,  needle work and then....speed forward to war wounds
 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 23, 2009, 09:27:40 PM
Alixz!  I will be thinking of you on the 28th and I send you my thoughts and prayers for a quick and smooth recovery. 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 24, 2009, 05:21:52 AM
Janet

'It's Ok - I didn't mean to sound as if I was offended - or attacking you with my view of "normal" kids! - I suppose I just feel that when we get into trading personal experience it doesn't really advance the argument in historical terms because it does come down to questions of comparing values and that can get dodgy!'

Don't worry - I'm just treading a little carefully at present.

Though I agree with you that comparing values can be dangerous when trying to come to a realistic conclusion about a historical person, it is rather difficult to avoid. I think we all tend to process information through our own mindset and though the factual information may be the same, the interpretation may be quite different. To take an example relevant to our differing views of Alexandra, some years ago the British politician William Hague had an operation on his sinuses, and the newspapers noted, apparently approvingly,  that Mrs Hague took a couple of days off work to look after him. Having had the same operation a few months before, I was of the view that Mr Hague was a big boy now and could quite safely be left for a few hours  in a centrally heated house with a jug of orange juice, and all that was needed from his wife was a quick telephone call at lunchtime! On the one hand, Mrs Hague - devoted wife. On the other - Mr and Mrs making a lot of unnecessary fuss. Same information, different interpretation.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on October 24, 2009, 09:18:56 AM
Alixz!  I will be thinking of you on the 28th and I send you my thoughts and prayers for a quick and smooth recovery. 

I send my prayers and thoughts too.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 24, 2009, 09:47:25 AM
I am not sure why any of us should be offended by one anothers views on Alexandra.

They are just that, our views.

It is as if we take it all so seriously as if we are the ones being discussed not Alexandra and our views on her.

And I don't think it matters that she was Empress of all the Russians.  That shouldn't mean that she deserves more respect than anyone else than we would discuss here.

I want to thank everyone for their kind words and thoughts.  I am embarrassed now that I posted so much.  I normally don't get into personal problems on the forum.  But it is scary to think how many people get the wrong diagnosis or are written off as "complainers" by their doctors.

However, as I quote from the show ER.  "What do you call the med student who graduated last in his class?"

The answer is "Doctor".
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 24, 2009, 08:48:02 PM
I am not sure why any of us should be offended by one anothers views on Alexandra.

They are just that, our views.

It is as if we take it all so seriously as if we are the ones being discussed not Alexandra and our views on her.

And I don't think it matters that she was Empress of all the Russians.  That shouldn't mean that she deserves more respect than anyone else than we would discuss here.

I want to thank everyone for their kind words and thoughts.  I am embarrassed now that I posted so much.  I normally don't get into personal problems on the forum.  But it is scary to think how many people get the wrong diagnosis or are written off as "complainers" by their doctors.

However, as I quote from the show ER.  "What do you call the med student who graduated last in his class?"

The answer is "Doctor".

Ha!  Good quote!

You're right.  It is being taken seriously, and I'm one of the guilty!  I don't know what it is, but I've mainly refrained from replying to this thread because it makes me angry!  I feel so defensive as regards Alexandra.  I don't understand it myself, so there's no way I could attempt to explain it to anyone else.  : P  I baffle me.  lol
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 24, 2009, 09:01:49 PM
I'm not an admirer of Alexandra....however she produced OTMA and I have to highly  prasie her for that indeed ! ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: wildone on October 24, 2009, 09:45:20 PM
I've been reading this thread with fascination.  You all have such interesting arguments. : )  I sympathize with Alix, but I don't tend to feel defensive about her unless she is being compared disfavorably to Ella.  I just don't see what is so great about Ella.  She was more social and she hated Rasputin -- that's it.  Of course she started a convent and helped a lot of people, which is deserving of praise.  However, that does not make her better than Alix, who might have done the same thing if she did not have a family, and who did a lot of admirable work during the war.  Moreover, those who favor Ella tend to favor even pre-convent Ella over Alix, no doubt aided by accounts from people like Marie of Romania (who strongly favored Ella and disliked Alix).  Ella was prettier.  Ella was preferred by Russian high society.  Ella was more selfless.  Etc., etc.  Except for the views of Russian society, I don't think any of that is true.   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 25, 2009, 01:02:36 AM
  Moreover, those who favor Ella tend to favor even pre-convent Ella over Alix, no doubt aided by accounts from people like Marie of Romania (who strongly favored Ella and disliked Alix).  Ella was prettier.  Ella was preferred by Russian high society.  Ella was more selfless.  Etc., etc.  Except for the views of Russian society, I don't think any of that is true.   

Well if  one reads the account of another Marie,  "Education of a Princess" 1931  by GD Marie Paul....  one would see
she agrees with your view of Ella. Her portrait of Ella is chilling to say the least. Ella and her husband GD Serge raised Marie and her brother Dmitri...who spent much time with the IF. 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: wildone on October 25, 2009, 01:40:25 AM
  Moreover, those who favor Ella tend to favor even pre-convent Ella over Alix, no doubt aided by accounts from people like Marie of Romania (who strongly favored Ella and disliked Alix).  Ella was prettier.  Ella was preferred by Russian high society.  Ella was more selfless.  Etc., etc.  Except for the views of Russian society, I don't think any of that is true.   

Well if  one reads the account of another Marie,  "Education of a Princess" 1931  by GD Marie Paul....  one would see
she agrees with your view of Ella. Her portrait of Ella is chilling to say the least. Ella and her husband GD Serge raised Marie and her brother Dmitri...who spent much time with the IF. 

I haven't read the book, but I've heard that Marie Pavlovna is pretty critical of Ella (her account of kissing Ella on the neck and getting a harsh rebuke is repeated in book after book), and I'm not sure I would subscribe to her views either.  Ella seemed to have a sweet/kind/selfless side, and a myopic/cold/self-absorbed side... like many people.  The Ella who did so much work for the needy and during the war was the same one who desperately tried to overlook her husband's controversial role in the massacre of peasants, and who expressed profound relief at the murder of Rasputin.  She was in many ways admirable, but in my eyes (if not the Russian Orthodox believers'), she is no saint.

No problem, except that some people have elevated her high above Alix -- even based on their lives before they came to Russia.  As if it were a character flaw for Alix to be deep-thinking and serious, and to not want to play hostess at her brother's parties all night long (after he became Grand Duke).  Obviously her shyness did not help her in Russia, but it is not clear that she would have been so much better off if she had been more social.  (Note that mere shyness/lack of sociability is a different thing from isolating yourself completely, which the Imperial couple did later and which did harm them significantly.)  Ella was more social -- everyone (save Marie Pavlovna) seemed to love her, so therefore she would have made a better Empress, etc.  That she never would have been Empress seems beside the point.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 25, 2009, 02:46:01 AM
 
Quote
Well if  one reads the account of another Marie,  "Education of a Princess" 1931  by GD Marie Paul....  one would see
she agrees with your view of Ella. Her portrait of Ella is chilling to say the least. Ella and her husband GD Serge raised Marie and her brother Dmitri...who spent much time with the IF. 
 

I haven't read the book, but I've heard that Marie Pavlovna is pretty critical of Ella (her account of kissing Ella on the neck and getting a harsh rebuke is repeated in book after book), and I'm not sure I would subscribe to her views either. 



The book is quite good. I think anyone interested in this topic would enjoy it . It's an interesting account of being a child at the twilight etc and all that happened afterwards. Marie Pavlovna ( thank you for the spelling ) gives quite a few examples and maintains Ella was jealous of the children's place in GD Serge's affections. She also has much to say about Ella's religious streak . However she does praise Ella for her fortitude when GD Serge was assassinated.

Ella seemed to have a sweet/kind/selfless side, and a myopic/cold/self-absorbed side... like many people. 


I would say  Ella and Alexandra shared many traits! But even I say Alexandra seems  a good deal warmer. I think the difference was  that the children she was raising were hers. Ella seemed not able to connect with Marie and Dmitri at all.

If their positions were reversed, perhaps those who think Ella far above Alexandra  would change their minds . I frankly don't think either sister would excel at being the Empress  20th cent. Russia needed.

However Alexandra of the two,  was the  Empress , so she comes in for the criticisms. I think some people praise  Ella  merely a way to slam Alexandra as much if not more  than to just  praise Ella . But I do think the lack of a decent social season for 23 years created a great bitterness. There is our own likes and dislikes  and then there is our duty. It was Alexandra's duty get out of the mauve room more.  It's unfortunate she grew up  watching  Queen Victoria hide at Balmoral because she  drew the wrong lesson from it.


 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on October 25, 2009, 03:59:27 AM


Though I agree with you that comparing values can be dangerous when trying to come to a realistic conclusion about a historical person, it is rather difficult to avoid. I think we all tend to process information through our own mindset and though the factual information may be the same, the interpretation may be quite different. To take an example relevant to our differing views of Alexandra, some years ago the British politician William Hague had an operation on his sinuses, and the newspapers noted, apparently approvingly,  that Mrs Hague took a couple of days off work to look after him. Having had the same operation a few months before, I was of the view that Mr Hague was a big boy now and could quite safely be left for a few hours  in a centrally heated house with a jug of orange juice, and all that was needed from his wife was a quick telephone call at lunchtime! On the one hand, Mrs Hague - devoted wife. On the other - Mr and Mrs making a lot of unnecessary fuss. Same information, different interpretation.

Ann


Perhaps they just felt like a few days off to catch up on their backlog of DVDs! :-)

- It is true that we process things through our own mindset - and of course there has been a vast debate about this in historical methodology - but ultimately I think that we still have a responsibility to be aware of this and not to allow our own mindset to take precedence over the evidence (I'm not saying this is what you do of course!). The whole basis of the so-called empirical "scientific" approach to history is that we look at as much material as conceivably possible and examine it from all angles before making up our minds. And empiricism has been challenged of course - at least insofar as it claims to be "objective' - but is still the basis for historical method today.
Strictly personally, I have always enjoyed history for opening up new topics and theories to me, rather than looking into it for a reflection of myself - which isnt to say that there's anything wrong in the latter approach, but I for one don;t identify with Alexandra, despite knowing more about her than almost any other person in history I've studied.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 26, 2009, 05:11:02 AM
Janet

You are quite right that we need to be aware of our own mindset and be careful. Mind you, my mindset is somewhat inconsistent. Based on my normal prejudices, I should have no time whatever for Paul Alexandrovich, who had an affair with the wife of an ADC, abandoned his legitimate children to run off with her and the by-blow, then proved a complete disaster as a General on the one occasion he took direct command of troops. And he was frequently ill. However, I rather like him!

To the Forum generally.

I'm not a particular Ella fan. I prefer her to Alexandra, but I don't subscribe to the 'Ella the beauty and saint' approach. Partly it is contrariness - if a person is praised uncritically, I immediately start thinking, 'Are they really so marvellous?' and start looking for faults. And being constantly told that Ella was beautiful definitely brings out my contrary streak! On a more serious level, she was clearly a more complex individual than the saintly image suggests, and, like most of us, had her faults.

Ann

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on October 27, 2009, 01:38:14 PM
I keep looking for that exceptional beauty that Ella was supposed to have had and I don't see it.

I think it might be the style of photography were everyone looked wistful or thoughtful or even bored!!

I don't see much beauty in Alexandra either, but again without being able to see her eyes in real life must be part of it.  Beauty is usually in the eyes and not the face.

Deportment and comportment and compassion and life "fire" are all a part of beauty and each of us sees it differently.

One of the posters here has a collage of the three sisters in signature.  I have looked at it often and I do not see beauty in any of them.  In fact I think that Victoria was homely.  But again "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" so I am probably missing something that others see.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on October 27, 2009, 08:42:50 PM
And the standards of beauty have changed too.  Those who consider, say, Angelina Jolie as beautiful probably wouldn't hold Alix or Ella to the same criteria of evaluation.

Only slightly off-topic, but not really - I've read in "Born To Rule" by Julia Gelardi, how rapturous the Spanish people were by Queen Victoria Eugenie (Ena).  I have the same reaction as you, Alixz, when I look at her photo - she's not unattractive, but beautiful?  But the comments made were of her colouring - which, of course, you don't get the essence of in a black-and-white photo!

My point is that I think we really would have to have met these women in real life to make any sort of accurate judgements on their physical appearance.  The photos we see really don't do them justice.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: imperial angel on October 27, 2009, 09:54:32 PM
Ella was more laid back than Alexandra who was a far more rigid person. Although Ella was very religious like Alexandra, Ella was religious in a constructive way, unlike Alexandra with regards to Rasputin and other men like him. Ella had more common sense than Alexandra. She would have been easier to know. She just seems more down to earth, and obviously had better judgment. So yes, I do prefer Ella to Alexandra. I think both sisters were pretty, but that Ella's beauty lasted longer than Alexandra's beauty did.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 28, 2009, 07:09:32 PM
Apparently their coloring was amazing and that is impossible to get across in
the b/w photos...and coloring was highly prized. 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 29, 2009, 08:57:26 AM
Does anyone think that Grand Duchess Vladimir would have made a good Empress ? Or in your opinion anyone else in the family ?
I would vote for G D Vladimir for the following reasons :

1) She was more social, and realised that it was the family's duty to mix in society. her personal sense of duty was very evident.
2) She had a stonger appreciation of who she was, and where she fitted in.
3) She had a sense of fun, and got on well with people from all levels of society.
4) She had a "Russian" sense of grandeur, not only reflected in her jewels and clothes, but also in her palaces, and the way she entertained.
5) She looked more regal, but without the coldness and haughtiness of Alexandra.
6) Her children were also more acceptable as heirs to the throne. She had more sons, although they were not all that well behaved. But i would imagine that the Russian people were more forgiving than we think, and did not have the Victorian outlook that Alexandra had, when it came to the off indiscretion.

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on October 29, 2009, 11:33:01 AM
Does anyone think that Grand Duchess Vladimir would have made a good Empress ? Or in your opinion anyone else in the family ?
I would vote for G D Vladimir for the following reasons :

1) She was more social, and realised that it was the family's duty to mix in society. her personal sense of duty was very evident.
2) She had a stinger appreciation of who she was, and where she fitted in.
3) She had a sense of fun, and got on well with people from all levels of society.
4) She had a "Russian" sense of grandeur, not only reflected in her jewels and clothes, but also in her palaces, and the way she entertained.
5) She looked more regal, but without the coldness and haughtiness of Alexandra.
6) Her children were also more acceptable as heirs to the throne. She had more sons, although they were not all that well behaved. But i would imagine that the Russian people were more forgiving than we think, and did not have the Victorian outlook that Alexandra had, when it came to the off indiscretion.

I don't know if you know it, but you talk about GD Maria P. sr. as if she could in hired the throne of Russia!

1) Indeed she was more social: she loved gossip. But that's not social at all. By the way, her personal sense of duty was not black mailing her Empress, but supporting her.
2) Alexandra had also a good appreciation of who she was, but she just lived at the background.. Whats' the problem with that?
3) Please give us a few examples!
4) So because Nicholas and Alexandra chooses to live a more back to basic level, someone like GD Maria must be a Empress?
5) If you are black mailing a person then indeed you see every minor mistake in a way, that it is even there at all.
6) I hoped she had a more Victorian outlook. She was criticised in WW1 because she looked so German. By the way  what strange example do you give. Only because someone has more sons, someone has more right on something. So for example, because my sister has children, she must get all the inheritance of my parents, because I don't have children?
 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: mcdnab on October 29, 2009, 12:51:44 PM

[quoteHowever Alexandra of the two,  was the  Empress , so she comes in for the criticisms. I think some people praise  Ella  merely a way to slam Alexandra as much if not more  than to just  praise Ella . But I do think the lack of a decent social season for 23 years created a great bitterness. There is our own likes and dislikes  and then there is our duty. It was Alexandra's duty get out of the mauve room more.  It's unfortunate she grew up  watching  Queen Victoria hide at Balmoral because she  drew the wrong lesson from it.

I really do think we shouldn't draw any suggestion that Queen Victoria's decision to retreat from public appearances was any kind of lessons to Alexandra or any of her descendants.
Firstly Victoria's decision was based on her own reaction to early widowhood and the loss of a dearly loved husband.
Secondly her removal from public duties caused outrage and public attacks on the crown which her family in particular her son were exceptionally aware of.
Thirdly by the 1880's and 90's she was once again making more frequent appearances (which helped in averting that criticism of the crown that had been noted in the 1860's and 70's).
Another point worth bearing in mind that in the 19th and early 20th Century the public role of  royalties was very different to how it developed in the rest of the 20th century. Their public engagements were far fewer, they were seen far less and for younger members of royal families and those not in direct succession it was perfectly possible to have an appropriate career (in the armed services for example) and to have the kind of lifestyle and freedoms enjoyed by their wealthiest and most aristocratic subjects.
In the Post World War I period with the extension of the franchise in most European countries, the growing power of the left, the mass depression, the birth of the mass media, the public side of the role increased along with their duties matched in many countries in the decline of their political power - the welfare monarchy was born in Britain which was an attempt to emphasise the charitable works of royalties making them appear less distant and more interested in the 'humblest' subject of course they still occupied a position of privilege and wealth and continued to have friends, servants and aquaintances who came out of the correct 'top' drawer, that example was largely copied by most of the surviving monarchies.
Alexandra seems from her war work to have found the charitable side of monarchy far easier and comfortable (where she would be largely meeting significantly socially inferior people who would treat her with the due deferance and also felt she was being practically helpful) than the social aspect of the role. It is hard to see that she wasn't her own worst enemy - she definitely was personally ill suited to that side of the role and probably (given the examples of the german and british courts) perhaps unaware that in following Marie Feodorovna, who loved that side of the role, she would be expected to take an active social role amidst the higher echelons of Russian society.
To be fair it wasn't a role that was really that onerous: to host and attend a few events during the relatively short season, to visit the theatre, basically to appear at all without looking like she didn't want to be there and rushing home at the first opportunity. The secrecy over her son's illness after his birth doesn't really excuse her inability to cope with these occassions in her first decade as Empress.
Society feeling snubbed reacted badly which in turn made Alexandra less willing to take part and more willing to retreat into private family life which in turn made the problem worse. It was that retreat from society that desire for privacy that made it far easier for people to attack her for every problem real or imagined because they didn't really know her.
I think it was Marie Feodorovna who noted (as quoted in Coryne Hall's excellent book) who thought it strange that she seemed to want society's recognition but didn't comprehend that her own attitudes and behaviour were the main problem. To put it in other words - she had little comprehension that due deference, trust and respect even admiration have to be earned by even the highest person in the land.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 29, 2009, 04:52:52 PM
Quote
I really do think we shouldn't draw any suggestion that Queen Victoria's decision to retreat from public appearances was any kind of lessons to Alexandra or any of her descendants.

Well I feel it was a very unfortunate example for Alexandra to be exposed to....since it affirmed her own inclinations of retreat.

Quote
Firstly Victoria's decision was based on her own reaction to early widowhood and the loss of a dearly loved husband.

Indeed. But the reason for withdrawal was not what I was pointing to. Each has their own,whatever one's reason's the result is the same.

Quote
Secondly her removal from public duties caused outrage and public attacks on the crown which her family in particular her son were exceptionally aware of.

There was a huge uproar...but ultimately not enough consequences  to give a young girl staying with her grandmother  pause. Plus being raised by her grandmother gave Alexandra a view of what royalty could do that was 50 years out of date ...and she needed one at least 20 years ahead.

Quote
Thirdly by the 1880's and 90's she was once again making more frequent appearances (which helped in averting that criticism of the crown that had been noted in the 1860's and 70's).

Indeed. But by that time the pattern had be set...but I believe Alexandra's lack of understanding about what was required of a monarch in Russia  also  stemmed from  coming from tiny  Hesse where really one could simply do as they wish and live privately as any  wealth family. 
Quote
Another point worth bearing in mind that in the 19th and early 20th Century the public role of  royalties was very different to how it developed in the rest of the 20th century.

Certainly

[/quote]Their public engagements were far fewer, they were seen far less and for younger members of royal families and those not in direct succession it was perfectly possible to have an appropriate career (in the armed services for example) and to have the kind of lifestyle and freedoms enjoyed by their wealthiest and most aristocratic subjects. [/quote]
I agree...but I feel the Russian throne had a extremely social role, which was more pronounced than one finds with other royalty.   Seemingly every month brought  ceremonies it was involved in for 100's of years  and there was the importance of the "season" from Xmas and lent...which cannot be overstated....particularly as you point out, coming after Marie Feodorovna brilliant  leadership!

Quote
Alexandra seems from her war work to have found the charitable side of monarchy far easier and comfortable (where she would be largely meeting significantly socially inferior people who would treat her with the due deference and also felt she was being practically helpful)
Well certainly someone with inferior feelings about themselves would welcome social interaction with  those of  less rank and therefore  who must give them deference.  She could then relax and be generous. The Romanov family were not  nearly as deferential to the head of the family as Victoria's was with her!  It was far more rough and tumble lol! I have found shy people are proud people too. It's mixed up. Feeling inferior and prideful,  they are both...not one or the other.

And that's another thing. I can see  St.P. society scorning her for curtailing her grown royal  dauther's exposure to balls and parties , but immediately have them involved with every part of nursing and  war wounds?  Were is the balance in that? It's wonderful they did nursing...but why were they not allowed the fun too?  They would have enjoyed it even if she did not, and they should not have been denied it. Yes the war put an end to such things, but Olga came out in 1911...and unlike her mother, loved it. 

Quote
than the social aspect of the role. It is hard to see that she wasn't her own worst enemy - she definitely was personally ill suited to that side of the role and probably (given the examples of the german and british courts) perhaps unaware that in following Marie Feodorovna, who loved that side of the role, she would be expected to take an active social role amidst the higher echelons of Russian society.

Agree and very well said.

Also a huge  problem was Alexandra would not listen , or even consider  advice on this matter ( or any other!) . She could not even appreciate the  sincere effort, but saw it only as a terrible  affront.Then many years  of  watching the results of her  mistaken policies taught her nothing but to repeated the failed pattern more strongly. Her belief in her own ideas was indefatigable...it seems no reality could shake it. 

Quote
To be fair it wasn't a role that was really that onerous: to host and attend a few events during the relatively short season, to visit the theatre, basically to appear at all without looking like she didn't want to be there and rushing home at the first opportunity. The secrecy over her son's illness after his birth doesn't really excuse her inability to cope with these occasions in her first decade as Empress.

Exactly...but what is of the most import is the social role was not her natural inclination . And it seems all was bent to that .
As you say,  Alexi's illness  could not excuse her behavior in her first decade. But her pattern of disliking the social occasions was there long before....still one has a job to perform . And Alexandra's  refusal to put aside her own inclinations in order to do her job, cost her dear.
Quote
Society feeling snubbed reacted badly which in turn made Alexandra less willing to take part and more willing to retreat into private family life which in turn made the problem worse. It was that retreat from society that desire for privacy that made it far easier for people to attack her for every problem real or imagined because they didn't really know her.

Very true...slander comes when people feel  the string of rejection  and look for reasons to do rejecting themselves .

Quote
I think it was Marie Feodorovna who noted (as quoted in Coryne Hall's excellent book) who thought it strange that she seemed to want society's recognition but didn't comprehend that her own attitudes and behaviour were the main problem. To put it in other words - she had little comprehension that due deference, trust and respect even admiration have to be earned by even the highest person in the land.

Very well put !!  I was thinking, indeed, she wanted the privileges of being a sovereign , but not the actal work. 
There are people who think having an exulted position  is enough, their part is then at an end ...but that's just the beginning.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on October 30, 2009, 05:53:00 AM
 I am sorry but I dont agree with anything you have said. 
She certainly engendered more respect from the Russian people and  society than Alexandra did.
Grand Duchess Vladimir also took her part in the Imperial family very seriously, and performed her duties exceptionally well. She carried out many official duties on behalf of the Imperial family, probably because Alexandra was reluctant to perform them herself. She certainly did them a lot better than Alexandra did !!.
 
 She did not lie around on her sofa all day, she did not withdraw from society, break out in a rash and tremble with nervousness in public. She certainly appeared from all accounts to have been a far more balanced person that Alexandra. She also did not sequester her children  from the world.
It does not matter if people thought she looked "too German". So what ? A large portion of the Russian court were German, and so too the aristocracy.
How do you have to look, to look German ? Perhaps Marie Feodorovna looked too Danish ?
Very strange. 

PERHAPS THIS IS THE WRONG PLACE TO POST THIS SUBJECT.

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 30, 2009, 06:47:33 AM
Certainly by the 1880s and 1890s a 'public service monarchy' was emerging in Britain. This seems to have been led by her children and (British) grandchildren rather than Victoria herself, although she was emerging from her 'Widow of Windsor' phase and making some public appearances.

Although quite a lot of the work done by such people as Helena of Schleswig-Holstein was behind the scenes (her involvement in the registration scheme for nurses, for example), it was known about, and contributed to the high standing of the British royal family by 1914 (I love the way that Helena briskly told Marie Louise, after the annulment of her marriage, not to mope about but to throw herself into charitable work).

Unfortunately, Alexandra doesn't seem to have taken much notice of this example. That she was shy is not, I think, really an excuse. Shyness seems to have been a disease among Queen Victoria's descendants(!) but many were conscientious in performing public duties notwithstanding. George VI is probably the best example, if rather later, but Arthur of Connaught was also terribly shy  (according to his Oxford DNB entry), but comes across as a classic hard-working royal and one seen as a safe pair of hands (interesting that at the age of only 19 he was sent to Japan to present the Meijii Emperor with the Garter - one would have thought that quite a delicate mission).

Alexander III was a homebody who didn't like parties, but nevertheless appeared at balls, recognising that was part of his job.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on October 30, 2009, 10:13:30 AM
Quote
Although quite a lot of the work done by such people as Helena of Schleswig-Holstein was behind the scenes (her involvement in the registration scheme for nurses, for example), it was known about, and contributed to the high standing of the British royal family by 1914 (I love the way that Helena briskly told Marie Louise, after the annulment of her marriage, not to mope about but to throw herself into charitable work).

Haha!! Good advice! It helps oneself as much, if not more,  as those in need of the charity!

Quote
Unfortunately, Alexandra doesn't seem to have taken much notice of this example. That she was shy is not, I think, really an excuse.

I agree and it's sad. Shyness is not helped by withdrawal , but by going forward regardless. Making an effort is, at least, respected. If you can't enjoy yourself at a ball ,well  others will...why deprive them of the enjoyment? And by withdrawing  she is  curtailing the thrones' social  role generally and that's a mistake. If you made the world go on with out you, it will. About Alexandra, what often sticks in my mind is the event on the Imperial couple's visit to England in 1896. Queen Victoria made a gesture of allowing Alexandra to go before her , but was shocked when Alexandra didn't realize it was but a gesture and actually did. Alexandra had a clear idea of what was due to her, but not, it seems,  of what  was expected of her.

Quote
seems to have been a disease among Queen Victoria's descendants(!) but many were conscientious in performing public duties notwithstanding. George VI is probably the best example, if rather later, but Arthur of Connaught was also terribly shy  (according to his Oxford DNB entry), but comes across as a classic hard-working royal and one seen as a safe pair of hands (interesting that at the age of only 19 he was sent to Japan to present the Meijii Emperor with the Garter - one would have thought that quite a delicate mission).

Alexander III was a homebody who didn't like parties, but nevertheless appeared at balls, recognising that was part of his job.

Interesting anecdotes! Thank you!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on October 30, 2009, 10:32:12 AM
BlessOTMA

I think also that royalty do have a degree of flexibility in what they do - yes, they have to make public appearances, but it's possible to put some emphasis on things they are actually interested in. Hence we have the Prince of Wales with the Prince's Trust, other organisations to do with young people, and environmental matters. In an earlier era George VI also had an interest in young people, as well as in industry. Lots of royalties have been interested in medical matters - for example, the Earl of Athlone was chairman of the Middlesex Hospital for many years (prior to the National Health Service, that would have involved a lot of fundraising).

Even if Alexandra hated huge social events, she could still have had small dinner parties and the like, with people she didn't know as well as those she did.

Massie in Nicholas and Alexandra has a nice depiction of Alexander III at a court ball, doing as much dancing as he had to, then ambling round chatting to people while Marie Feodorovna held centre stage.

And you are quite right to say that Alexandra wouldn't take advice unless that it was advice she wanted to hear. She was one of those people who think they are always right - an extreme case of that. Perhaps that was her greatest failing, certainly the aspect of her character which exasperates me most.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: blessOTMA on November 01, 2009, 06:07:54 PM
 Ann,

Quote
Even if Alexandra hated huge social events, she could still have had small dinner parties and the like, with people she didn't know as well as those she did.

Indeed and it's tragic because she actually could have hid more readily at a big event! The point is not to curtail your subjects enjoyment and  involvement in these social gatherings,  simply because you don't personally enjoy them. Balls during season at the Winter Palace were a vital political component that should not  have been dropped . 

[/quote]Massie in Nicholas and Alexandra has a nice depiction of Alexander III at a court ball, doing as much dancing as he had to, then ambling round chatting to people while Marie Feodorovna held centre stage..[/quote]

Exactly. If Czar Alexander III  felt compelled to make this gesture, surely Alexandra should have! I believe people greatly appreciated his efforts and it makes a subject feel their sovereign hears them. If people have a sense of that, they will allow the sovereign lea way else where.

Quote
And you are quite right to say that Alexandra wouldn't take advice unless that it was advice she wanted to hear. She was one of those people who think they are always right - an extreme case of that. Perhaps that was her greatest failing, certainly the aspect of her character which exasperates me most.

And it exasperated many then!

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on November 10, 2009, 08:21:19 AM
I have recently finished reading a book written by a senior court official before 1917, and found the following paragraph quite interesting :

" Misfortune seemed to be her lot. Four times her hopes of giving an heir to the crown were brought to naught as one girl after another was born to her, adding to her blighted life the knowledge that in this respect Russia was bitterly disappointed. Her relations with her husband were affectionate, but not tender, and she never knew how to manage him, or to develop by her sympathy the best side of his nature. Her manner towards him, also, was not what it ought to have been. She treated him more like a naughty boy than like a monarch whose first subject she was.
In the early days of their marriage it was related that one evening, when they had a few people to tea at Tsarskoye Selo, feeling tired and desiring to withdraw, she turned towards the Emperor, and said to him in English, a language always spoken in the Imperial family, " Now come, my boy; it is time for me to go to bed"  One may imagine the stupefaction which this phrase caused among a people accustomed to all the rigidity of etiquette which had always ruled the Court of St Petersburg. They could not understand how an Empress could forget herself so far in the presence of others as to address the Tsar of All the Russias as " my boy"."

I was very surprised by this revelation, and wonder if it was not just gossip, as she was so uptight in the presence of other people. but it does speak volumes about the way in which she dominated her husband. 

   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on November 10, 2009, 11:24:12 AM
I have recently finished reading a book written by a senior court official before 1917, and found the following paragraph quite interesting :

" Misfortune seemed to be her lot. Four times her hopes of giving an heir to the crown were brought to naught as one girl after another was born to her, adding to her blighted life the knowledge that in this respect Russia was bitterly disappointed. Her relations with her husband were affectionate, but not tender, and she never knew how to manage him, or to develop by her sympathy the best side of his nature. Her manner towards him, also, was not what it ought to have been. She treated him more like a naughty boy than like a monarch whose first subject she was.
In the early days of their marriage it was related that one evening, when they had a few people to tea at Tsarskoye Selo, feeling tired and desiring to withdraw, she turned towards the Emperor, and said to him in English, a language always spoken in the Imperial family, " Now come, my boy; it is time for me to go to bed"  One may imagine the stupefaction which this phrase caused among a people accustomed to all the rigidity of etiquette which had always ruled the Court of St Petersburg. They could not understand how an Empress could forget herself so far in the presence of others as to address the Tsar of All the Russias as " my boy"."

Pavlov, what is your source? Which book, which author. You say always that your posts are based on facts. So you would not mind to share the title and author of your book.



I was very surprised by this revelation, and wonder if it was not just gossip, as she was so uptight in the presence of other people. but it does speak volumes about the way in which she dominated her husband. 

   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Helen on November 10, 2009, 12:20:02 PM
Pavlov, what is your source? Which book, which author. You say always that your posts are based on facts. So you would not mind to share the title and author of your book. 

Teddy, the original source is "Behind the Veil at the Russian Court" (1913) by 'Count Paul Vassili', a pen name of Catherine Radziwill. Elsewehere on this forum, she and her books have been described as 'a terrible gossip', 'not the most reliable of sources', someone who 'took down notes from gossipmongers from Berlin to St. Petersburg. Most of it was not backed by fact', 'sadly confused', 'full of untruths and out right fiction'  etc. The qualification 'full of untruths and out right fiction' was given by Alixz, by the way.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Eddie_uk on November 10, 2009, 02:07:04 PM
Didn't she also say awful things about the Empress Frederick? & also spent time in jail!! Interesting sounding lady......
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on November 10, 2009, 08:40:56 PM
I have recently finished reading a book written by a senior court official before 1917, and found the following paragraph quite interesting :

" Misfortune seemed to be her lot. Four times her hopes of giving an heir to the crown were brought to naught as one girl after another was born to her, adding to her blighted life the knowledge that in this respect Russia was bitterly disappointed. Her relations with her husband were affectionate, but not tender, and she never knew how to manage him, or to develop by her sympathy the best side of his nature. Her manner towards him, also, was not what it ought to have been. She treated him more like a naughty boy than like a monarch whose first subject she was.
In the early days of their marriage it was related that one evening, when they had a few people to tea at Tsarskoye Selo, feeling tired and desiring to withdraw, she turned towards the Emperor, and said to him in English, a language always spoken in the Imperial family, " Now come, my boy; it is time for me to go to bed"  One may imagine the stupefaction which this phrase caused among a people accustomed to all the rigidity of etiquette which had always ruled the Court of St Petersburg. They could not understand how an Empress could forget herself so far in the presence of others as to address the Tsar of All the Russias as " my boy"."

I was very surprised by this revelation, and wonder if it was not just gossip, as she was so uptight in the presence of other people. but it does speak volumes about the way in which she dominated her husband. 

   

Let's pretend for a moment that the source is reliable and factual.  The phrases "...it was related..." and "One may imagine..." would suggest secondhand information at best. 

I recall reading not too long ago, in "Born To Rule" by Julia Gelardi, about a princess (not one of the ones featured in the book) who received a dressing-down by Queen Victoria for stating that she must "go to bed."  According to one of Gelardi's sources, the queen addressed the princess in question:  "Young lady, a princess shall say 'I believe it is time for me to retire.'"

This makes me believe also that Alix, under Victoria's wing as she was for the vast majority of her childhood, would never state that it was "time to go to bed", no matter who she was addressing or what she addressed that person as.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Belochka on November 10, 2009, 10:02:35 PM
I have recently finished reading a book written by a senior court official before 1917, and found the following paragraph quite interesting :

" ..." Now come, my boy; it is time for me to go to bed" 

This makes me believe also that Alix, under Victoria's wing as she was for the vast majority of her childhood, would never state that it was "time to go to bed", no matter who she was addressing or what she addressed that person as.

You are absolutely correct historyfan! Radziwill's book is just another farcical publication, which receives more attention than it deserves.   

Margarita
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on November 11, 2009, 06:06:29 AM
Teddy
Behind the Veil at the Russian Court. Page 234, Paul Vasili, Elibron Classics,Isbn1-4021-9748-p ( paperback)
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on November 11, 2009, 06:33:56 AM
Teddy,
In future I will include the page no's, the author and the isbn no, specially for your benefit. Will that make you happy ? Perhaps you should do the same.

One of the very nice things about this forum is that we can share information, it is up to everyone to decide what to make of it. Your comment is very unfortuanate because it tends to turn people off posting anything on this forum.  Most of us dont have a PHD's in Russian history. We are here because this is fun, and we can share things we have read. O K ?

The author of this book may be suspect in ONE persons opinion, however many of the things written are very factual. I posted this because I thought it was interesting. So take it in whatever spirit you wish.
Perhaps we should all start quoting Authors, Page numbers, ISBN No's in future, to avoid any future confusion.
I will certainly do so from now on.
 

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on November 11, 2009, 07:09:37 AM
Teddy,
In future I will include the page no's, the author and the isbn no, specially for your benefit. Will that make you happy ? Perhaps you should do the same.

One of the very nice things about this forum is that we can share information, it is up to everyone to decide what to make of it. Your comment is very unfortuanate because it tends to turn people off posting anything on this forum.  Most of us dont have a PHD's in Russian history. We are here because this is fun, and we can share things we have read. O K ?

The author of this book may be suspect in ONE persons opinion, however many of the things written are very factual. I posted this because I thought it was interesting. So take it in whatever spirit you wish.
Perhaps we should all start quoting Authors, Page numbers, ISBN No's in future, to avoid any future confusion.
I will certainly do so from now on.
 
PAVLOV, I certainly want to if you like! But it was just a normal question. You don't have to be so snippy dear PAVLOV!

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on November 11, 2009, 08:22:03 AM
All posts are interesting for what they say about the era and about the people who were there.

All of us, including moderators, have been questioned about our sources.  It is not a personal thing, we just want to know who wrote the book and if the source is reliable.

Radziwill has been shown to be unreliable.  Perhaps she wrote under a pseudonym because, as a woman, she felt that she would be accepted more if her public thought she was a man.  However, she also may have used a pen name to cover the fact that she was an ardent Alexandra hater and a lot of what she wrote was fiction.

Pavlov, please don't take the question of source as a personal affront.  Some days it does feel as if we are being questioned constantly and it is not much fun to post here anymore, but most members just want to know about new (to them) sources so that they can read them.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on November 12, 2009, 06:07:05 AM
O.K. Point taken.
Title: Alexandra Slandered and
Post by: ayadinara on November 24, 2009, 09:51:19 AM
tsar is Czar or  similar Kaiser in germany come out from the latin name Caesar. Nicola II was a good man but unable to be a very Caesar or tsar.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on December 30, 2009, 09:19:51 AM
I think that Alexandra's treatment of Ella was really nasty. I am referring to the last meeting they had, when she virtually threw her own sister out of the palace. Prinsess Yussoupov recieved the same treatment. This is definately not the behaviour of a normal person, is it ? Both of them went there with the best intentions in the world, and were treated abominably.
Typical of Alexandra. I think she went a bit mental in the end.   
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Teddy on December 30, 2009, 09:51:47 AM
I think that Alexandra's treatment of Ella was really nasty. I am referring to the last meeting they had, when she virtually threw her own sister out of the palace. Princess Yussoupov received the same treatment. This is definitely not the behaviour of a normal person, is it ? Both of them went there with the best intentions in the world, and were treated abominably.
Typical of Alexandra. I think she went a bit mental in the end.  

Apart for your point that she went a bit mental at the end, I can agree with you. Of course you must always be remind that Alexandra was still the Empress, so in rank much higher then a Grand Duchess and of a noble Princess. So you can not see entirely everything whats on your mind, a still have a respect towards the person above you in this case, The Empress. But second, as for Al icky and Ella, they were still also sisters. That must be a reason not to thread eachother in this way. But were 2 persons are 2 to blame. I think that if the revolution that the relationship between them would have been restored.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: historyfan on December 30, 2009, 09:09:48 PM
I think that Alexandra's treatment of Ella was really nasty. I am referring to the last meeting they had, when she virtually threw her own sister out of the palace. Prinsess Yussoupov recieved the same treatment. This is definately not the behaviour of a normal person, is it ? Both of them went there with the best intentions in the world, and were treated abominably.
Typical of Alexandra. I think she went a bit mental in the end.   

I simply can't imagine the level of stress they were all, but particularly Alexandra, under at that time.  : (
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Carolath Habsburg on December 30, 2009, 10:01:49 PM
Pavlov, i ve thought exactly like yuo.. i always thought that in later years Alexandra suffered of some mental  illlnesss...can that be possible?
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: LisaDavidson on February 26, 2010, 10:55:34 PM
I think that Alexandra's treatment of Ella was really nasty. I am referring to the last meeting they had, when she virtually threw her own sister out of the palace. Prinsess Yussoupov recieved the same treatment. This is definately not the behaviour of a normal person, is it ? Both of them went there with the best intentions in the world, and were treated abominably.
Typical of Alexandra. I think she went a bit mental in the end.   

Alexandra was always convinced that she was right about everything. this made her very difficult to deal with. I think she was more than "a bit mental". She obviously had some kind of personality disorder, and this turned out to be very unfortunate for both her marriage and for Russia.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who was largely responsible for Alix marrying Nicky, was treated horribly by her sister for some time.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: macristo on January 08, 2011, 06:58:56 PM

First of all, I want to apologize because English is not my native language. Secondly, it seems that this subject is abandoned. But, as I discovered it a few days ago, I would like to write my comments. I am really shocked by the title of the link, how can a person who does not know another one "hate" her. You can like her or not. Concerning the specific case of Alexandra, I think she had virtues and defaults, as everyone of us.
"She was depressive and shy": may be if she would have known Prozac, as many of us, she would have been a better Tsarina, wife, mother, etc, etc.  But she didn't.
"She was obsessed with the health of his son": I wonder what would any of you had done if you had a boy who is lying in bed, bleeding, whose cries of pain were listened through the whole palace, a boy who could die at any moment, a boy who says to you "Mammy, I want to die because the pain is too hard".
“She was THE reason of the Russian Revolution”: my God!!!!! What a plain idea!!!! Take a book, read a little, as we say in Spanish “books don’t bite”!!!
We cannot understand the attitudes of people of other times, other countries, other cultures, other origins, they are different to us.
As in the case of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, I think that it is very easy to say what they should have done, when you know the end of the story. Living the moment is not that easy. They were not better or worse than other kings of their time, they just were in the wrong place, in the wrong moment. And they knew how to die, with dignity and honor. We should have more pity and respect when speaking about people who paid such a big price for their mistakes.
And last, but not least, I find the attitude of King George of England towards his “dear cousin Nicky” one of extraordinary cowardice and lack of honor. “He betrayed his cousin with a kiss”.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RealAnastasia on January 08, 2011, 10:18:40 PM

First of all, I want to apologize because English is not my native language. Secondly, it seems that this subject is abandoned. But, as I discovered it a few days ago, I would like to write my comments. I am really shocked by the title of the link, how can a person who does not know another one "hate" her. You can like her or not. Concerning the specific case of Alexandra, I think she had virtues and defaults, as everyone of us.
"She was depressive and shy": may be if she would have known Prozac, as many of us, she would have been a better Tsarina, wife, mother, etc, etc.  But she didn't.
"She was obsessed with the health of his son": I wonder what would any of you had done if you had a boy who is lying in bed, bleeding, whose cries of pain were listened through the whole palace, a boy who could die at any moment, a boy who says to you "Mammy, I want to die because the pain is too hard".
“She was THE reason of the Russian Revolution”: my God!!!!! What a plain idea!!!! Take a book, read a little, as we say in Spanish “books don’t bite”!!!
We cannot understand the attitudes of people of other times, other countries, other cultures, other origins, they are different to us.
As in the case of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, I think that it is very easy to say what they should have done, when you know the end of the story. Living the moment is not that easy. They were not better or worse than other kings of their time, they just were in the wrong place, in the wrong moment. And they knew how to die, with dignity and honor. We should have more pity and respect when speaking about people who paid such a big price for their mistakes.
And last, but not least, I find the attitude of King George of England towards his “dear cousin Nicky” one of extraordinary cowardice and lack of honor. “He betrayed his cousin with a kiss”.


Hi, Macristo: I share 100% your opinions about Alix. She was a person with his virtues and defaults, like all of us, and the Fact.  she had her own political views and doesn’t agree with the political correct ideas that are accepted today by all people doesn’t mean she had a mental illness or something. We must also think that her behavior toward Alexei hemophilia is the common thing among parents of children suffering from  this awful sickness. Just read scientific publications about the issue. Alix was not an exception on it.

She also fighted for her girls were not contaminated by the depravation and decadence who was hitting Russian aristocracy. She wanted them fresh, innocent ( Beware! innocents doesn’t meant “idiots”) and responsible. I’m always amazed for she is criticized when trying to educate her children far from frivolity and living them some responsibilities. Some people relieves she was an hysterical woman for she brought her older daughters to work as nurses when the war began…They thinks that so young girls must be dancing and having fun rather than being confronted to badly wounded men   , bloody bodies and so on.

Alix had her defaults…who doubts it? But my opinion is that she was one of the less guilty of the Bursa of Revolution in Russia: Kyrill, the Yussupovs and other noblemen and women with a scandalous life, while Russian people was dying at the front, were, by far, more guilty of Revolution than Alix. She ignored a lot  of political issues, and believed that all things depends on our own will; she was rather ingenuous. But she was a righteous, honest Tsaritsa, and I think she deserves to be respected for it.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RHB on January 08, 2011, 10:26:26 PM
I couldn't agree more! Was Alix a little too overprotective of OTMA... maybe but at the same time with how things seemed to have been going in Russia that wasn't so much of a bad thing! She had her reasons for doing the things she did (or even didn't do) I wouldn't doubt! It's always been my opinion on the saying "People judge what they just don't understand"... that it's not that people can't understand different people but they just don't WANT to!
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Selencia on January 29, 2011, 02:35:16 AM
I can understand why some people think that if Nicholas hadn't married Alexandra then perhaps things would have been different. Her as Empress really didn't help the situations and she was very close minded in her views. She was right and everyone else was wrong; and both her and Nicholas refused to accept change. Yes they were good parents, but they had another job to do which they did not live up to.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: PAVLOV on March 30, 2011, 06:28:12 AM
If only she had not been so arrogant, and listened to advice given to her by so many people, including her own family, things may have turned out differently.

I recently read the King / Wilson book, which is crammed with very well researched details of the time leading up to the murder.

Right up until the end, in fact seconds before she died, she had attitude.  I remain firmly convinced that she had major emotional problems, and her attitude to the outside world was definately the result of her condition.

I think she was a very unhappy woman with many unresolved issues.

Perhaps, as mentioned, if they had Prozac in those days, things would have been different.
I have also read that if Hitler had popped 1 Lithium tablet every morning, the 2nd World War may not have happened.

We will never know. 

 
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: TimM on March 30, 2011, 10:42:24 AM
Alix was a worried mother with a sick child.  I can't even imagine what she was feeling.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: RealAnastasia on March 30, 2011, 10:38:04 PM
Alix was a worried mother with a sick child.  I can't even imagine what she was feeling.

Good said, Tim!

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on March 31, 2011, 03:25:06 AM
It's more complicated than that. Alexandra was already self righteous and convinced only she was right long before Alexei was born. The strain of having Alexei made these traits worse, but did not cause them.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on March 31, 2011, 08:13:31 AM
I agree with Ann.

Alexandra began her self righteous journey when she began to write in Nicholas's diaries even before the death of Alexander III or the wedding.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Terence on March 31, 2011, 07:38:19 PM
I agree with Ann.

Alexandra began her self righteous journey when she began to write in Nicholas's diaries even before the death of Alexander III or the wedding.

What is the source for that?  Sorry to show my ignorance, I've never heard of that.
TIA
T
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: bestfriendsgirl on March 31, 2011, 08:09:27 PM
I first read of in in N and A, but it's been mentioned other places too.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on March 31, 2011, 10:52:48 PM
In every biography that I have read about Alexandra, she always begins her "helpful" comments in Nicholas's diaries in Walton on Thames when they visited Victoria and Louis in the summer after the engagement in Darmstadt.

At Livadia in the month that Alexander III died, she gave Nicholas the advice to have the ministers come to him first and not his mother.  She said (and I paraphrase) that they must remember who Nicholas is and will be.

I also remember that she quoted Marie Corelli in Nicholas's diary during the Walton on Thames visit.  "For the past is past and will never return.  The future we not.  Only the present may be called our own." 

That of course if nothing more than a romantic thought from a love sick girl to her fiance, ( some think she was forgiving him for his "little affair" with Mathilde Kschessinska) but she went on after that and wrote a lot more.  A lot of it was advice on how to act and how to react to others in his role of Tsarevich and then Tsar.

All of that was way before she could be excused for being the mother of a hemophiliac son.  Actually about 10 years before.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 01, 2011, 04:19:33 PM

At Livadia in the month that Alexander III died, she gave Nicholas the advice to have the ministers come to him first and not his mother.  She said (and I paraphrase) that they must remember who Nicholas is and will be.

Please quote where she tells him to have ministers come to him not his mother. Are you saying that Marie Feodorovna was receiving ministers at Livadia in 1894 in lieu of the Heir?

I also remember that she quoted Marie Corelli in Nicholas's diary during the Walton on Thames visit.  "For the past is past and will never return.  The future we not.  Only the present may be called our own."  

That of course if nothing more than a romantic thought from a love sick girl to her fiance, ( some think she was forgiving him for his "little affair" with Mathilde Kschessinska) but she went on after that and wrote a lot more.  A lot of it was advice on how to act and how to react to others in his role of Tsarevich and then Tsar.

Quote, please, this "lot of advice".

All of that was way before she could be excused for being the mother of a hemophiliac son.  Actually about 10 years before.

Hopefully history isn't about making excuses for people. I detest the way people try to reduce women in particular to being nothing more than a parent (I don't mean that you are saying this, either!)

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on April 02, 2011, 08:24:58 AM
In the time that Alexandra was at Livadia waiting with all of the family as Alexander III lay dying, she wrote this is Nicholas's diary:

"Sweet child, pray to God. He will comfort you.  Don't feel too low.  Your Sunny is praying for you and the beloved patient...  Be firm and make the doctors come to you every day and tell you how they find him...so that you are always the first to know.  Don't let others e put first and you left out.  You are Father's dear son and must be told all and asked about everything.  Show your own mind and don't let others forget who you are.  Forgive me, Lovy."

I said ministers, but it was doctors. Alexandra was already telling Nicholas to "show your own mind" when IMHO, it was her own mind that she was expressing.  She was already telling him how to act and they weren't even married yet.

Doctors hurried from the bedside to the Empress, scarcely noticing the shy young man and woman standing outside the door or waiting at the foot of the stairs.  In time, Alix became offended by this treatment.  Her lover, whom she honored was Heir to the Throne.  If this huge Tsar whom she scarcely knew should die,her fiance would be the Tsar.  Yet he was treated like a nobody.

This quote is from page 43 - chapter Four - Marriage.  Nicholas and Alexandra  by Robert Massie
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on April 02, 2011, 08:34:37 AM
Janet - As to your other questions, I will have to do some research to find the exact quotes and sources.

Your requests for sources and quotes sound rather peremptory.

I am sorry to sound put out, but this "interference" of Alexandra into Nicholas's mind and diary is fairly well known to anyone who has ever read a biography of the Empress.  It is in all of the the books from Massie to King and everyone in between.

Later on the interference transferred to the letters that she wrote to him while they were apart.  Alexandra was as bad as Empress Marie in treating Nicholas like a school boy for most of his life.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 02, 2011, 09:43:56 AM
In the time that Alexandra was at Livadia waiting with all of the family as Alexander III lay dying, she wrote this is Nicholas's diary:

"Sweet child, pray to God. He will comfort you.  Don't feel too low.  Your Sunny is praying for you and the beloved patient...  Be firm and make the doctors come to you every day and tell you how they find him...so that you are always the first to know.  Don't let others e put first and you left out.  You are Father's dear son and must be told all and asked about everything.  Show your own mind and don't let others forget who you are.  Forgive me, Lovy."

I said ministers, but it was doctors.

Indeed. And she doesn't mention his mother. It could equally be inferred that she was offended by the omnipresent uncles - or, indeed, government ministers - pushing into the scene.


Alexandra was already telling Nicholas to "show your own mind" when IMHO, it was her own mind that she was expressing.  She was already telling him how to act and they weren't even married yet.

Doctors hurried from the bedside to the Empress, scarcely noticing the shy young man and woman standing outside the door or waiting at the foot of the stairs.  In time, Alix became offended by this treatment.  Her lover, whom she honored was Heir to the Throne.  If this huge Tsar whom she scarcely knew should die,her fiance would be the Tsar.  Yet he was treated like a nobody.

This quote is from page 43 - chapter Four - Marriage.  Nicholas and Alexandra  by Robert Massie

What Massie says (and this is of course his inference from the diary entry) is that she was offended by the treatment of the future autocrat. What is Massie's source for alleging that the Empress was the person they hurried to and that this is why Alexandra was offended? This is what I am questioning.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 02, 2011, 09:54:02 AM

Your requests for sources and quotes sound rather peremptory.

I don't mean to sound peremptory - it's basically meant to be a challenge for proof! :-) I start these discussions in a rush and then wish I hadn't for various reasons....I DO think that anything posted here is open to challenge, but basically - people can get offended if one challenges their views....I could say "what is the source, PLEASE, I guess - but that to me sounds dishonest and coy, as I know the source well. Oh well....

I am sorry to sound put out, but this "interference" of Alexandra into Nicholas's mind and diary is fairly well known to anyone who has ever read a biography of the Empress.  It is in all of the the books from Massie to King and everyone in between.

Later on the interference transferred to the letters that she wrote to him while they were apart.  Alexandra was as bad as Empress Marie in treating Nicholas like a school boy for most of his life.

I'm aware of the quote, but what I am questioning is the suggestion that there are other entries beyond this incident at this stage in their life - and, also perhaps, the exact interpretation Massie placed on it, though his sensitivity to the young girl who was offended at seeing her beloved pushed aside is noted; he is not using the harsh terms like "self-righteous" or suggesting that this was part of a pattern of her thinking she knew better than Nicholas. Whether we like this or not, Alix was marrying a man who stood at the pinnacle of a highly autocratic government, and she had had this fact dinned into her beforehand, as had he. He was also part of a highly quarrelsome family which was part of the idea of autocratic government in itself, and had its own ideas about who was best suited to the role. It was her role as a nineteenth-century wife to support Nicholas; I reject the suggestion that somehow she was responsible for his views and he would have retreated from them without her; OR that there is anything wrong in her urging him to stand up for himself as man and future Tsar. I really don't think - as you know - that the failings of the whole regime come back to AF.

Anyway, I WILL cut out of this now; else we go round in circles.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on April 02, 2011, 10:27:34 AM
Sorry to interject here, but I do think that most women (Alexandra Feodorovna included) whose husbands have very strong mothers know that occasionally steps need to be taken to curb that influence. Not to eliminate it, but to curb it. Because it can be a very destructive influence, certainly not intended as such, but on occasion emasculating and disempowering, nonetheless.

I think Nicholas's misfortune was that his mother was not only an extremely strong personality, but also not very intelligent, while his wife, also, was an extremely strong personality but not very intelligent either. So in both cases it was basically the blind leading the blind, or the blind trying to help the blind to find his own two feet. It was simply a tragic situation all around.

However, I have to agree with Janet that AF had little or nothing to do with the coming of the Russian Revolution. It's clear, for example, that she adopted her husband's political beliefs (blindly!) after their marriage. Hook, line, and sinker. Face it, after her husband, in 1905 and again in 1917, she was the most stalwart supporter of Russian autocracy on this planet (because she loved and supported her husband with all the strength of her being, and he was a believer in the autocratic system). But even if Nicholas and Alexandra had been the most democratically minded monarchs imaginable, I suspect World War I would have destroyed them anyway. Arguably it would not have cost them and their children their lives, only their thrones. Arguably. Although it should be kept in mind that given the triple forces of landlessness, poverty, and the brutality of World War I combat, any Russian revolution that came was bound to turn violent in the end.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Alixz on April 02, 2011, 10:37:02 AM
Janet, since I know you (from the forum) and know your writings and I have a copy of The German Woman I knew that you knew the sources and so I was wondering why you should be asking so abruptly.

I am not saying that Massie said that Alix was interfering, I am saying that I think she is interfering.  I was only getting the quote from his book.  I could have gotten it many other places, but it is always to easy to find things in his book.

On page 42 Massie says:  Doctors, government ministers and court officials treated Marie not only with the normal deference due an empress, but with the extra consideration accorded a human being facing a great personal ordeal.  Doctors hurried from the bedside to the Empress, scarcely noticing the shy young man and woman standing outside the door or waiting at the foot of the stairs.

And no, as you must already know, Massie does not give any sources for his words.

I know that you look at Alexandra differently than I do.  I have little respect for her sloppy romantic notions that then became her more than autocratic personality which she wielded while all the time refusing to be the autocrat's wife as she should have been.

I never saw the Victorian Woman in the 19th century as the support of her husband.  It was her duty to be subservient to him.  Women were still property in this time. They had few rights and certainly not the right to question their husbands.

I think some of us tend to color our views on Victorian womanhood with the very picture of the female in charge as Queen Victoria was over Prince Albert, but even he had problems with not being the man of the house.  Alexandra was no Queen Victoria.  She did not have the wisdom or the ability to read people as her grandmother did and so she tried to act like a sovereign without the talents of a sovereign.

Alexandra just happened to find a man who had little self confidence and/or training and then in the name of undying love began to walk all over him.

Through out their lives, Alexandra gave advice in the guise of being "the little wifey" and treated the Tsar of all the Russians as a recalcitrant school boy.  Just another of her many children.

If you still wish, I will get more sources to post here as I know that you don't need me to point out where the information is to be found.  I would do it for those who are not as familiar with the source books as you and I are.  

But from the day that Alexandra began writing in Nicholas's diary, her reign of advice giving began.  I my opinion most of her advice was bad and she should have concentrated on her job of bring Empress Consort, not trying to be the Emperor's backbone.

Had she done a superlative job of being what she was, Empress Consort, instead of alienating the entire Imperial Family and cloistering herself and Nicholas and her children at Tsarskoe Selo, I might see a reason for her interference in matters that were not in her job description.  But she chose to close herself and her family off from the court and the rest of the country and then she still tried to act like she could play an important role in the life of Russia by nagging Nicholas until even he (and I know you want my sources) said it was easier to give in than to put up with her anger.

And Elizabeth - I think that Alexandra was a stalwart supporter of autocracy not for her husband but for her son.  All she cared about was preserving the autocracy for Alexei.  I don't doubt that she loved Nicholas, but by 1905 and then again in 1917, she was more worried about the future for "Baby" than for any other reason.

Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Kalafrana on April 02, 2011, 10:45:56 AM
I don't think Alexandra was the sole cause of the Russian Revolution (and I doubt even her sternest critics would claim that she was), but her behaviour and attitudes were certainly a factor.

There was certainly a tendency to shower male relations with advice among Queen Victoria's descendants. The Empress Frederick and Wilhelm II is perhaps the extreme case, but Victoria was no slouch herself when it came to advice. Perhaps Alexandra grew up with the idea that if you love somebody you tell them what to do! I know Alexandra's mother died when she was six, but was she an enthusiastic adviser of her husband and older children?

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on April 02, 2011, 10:46:06 AM

And Elizabeth - I think that Alexandra was a stalwart supporter of autocracy not for her husband but for her son.  All she cared about was preserving the autocracy for Alexei.  I don't doubt that she loved Nicholas, but by 1905 and then again in 1917, she was more worried about the future for "Baby" than for any other reason.

I simply disagree. Remember, Alexandra was forced to make a choice in spring 1918, in Tobolsk. She could either stay with her very ill son in Tobolsk or accompany her husband under guard to an unknown destination (she and Nicholas presumed it was Moscow, where he would probably face trial). If all Alexandra ever cared about was her "Baby" son then she would have stayed with Aleksei and left Nicholas to his fate. But Alexandra loved her husband first and foremost, as most women who fall in love with one man forever do. In other words, no matter how many children they might have, no matter how much they adore those children, the husband always comes first with such women. And I know a lot of people here would actually fault Alexandra for this trait -- but I don't. In my opinion, one of the few uplifting things to be gleaned from the lives of the last tsar and tsarina is that they truly loved each other, always and forever, despite every misfortune -- and after all, they had every misfortune that could be imagined heaped on them.
Title: Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
Post by: Elisabeth on April 02, 2011, 11:03:44 AM
Janet, since I know you (from the forum) and know your writings and I have a copy of The German Woman I knew that you knew the sources and so I was wondering why you should be asking so abruptly.

I am not saying that Massie said that Alix was interfering, I am saying that I think she is interfering.  I was only getting the quote from his book.  I could have gotten it many other places, but it is always to easy to find things in his book.

On page 42 Massie says:  Doctors, government ministers and court officials treated Marie not only with the normal deference due an empress, but with the extra consideration accorded a human being facing a great personal ordeal.  Doctors hurried from the bedside to the Empress, scarcely noticing the shy young man and woman standing outside the door or waiting at the foot of the stairs.

And no, as you must already know, Massie does not give any sources for his words.

I know that you look at Alexandra differently than I do.  I have little respect for her sloppy romantic notions that then became her more than autocratic personality which she wielded while all the time refusing to be the autocrat's wife as she should have been.

I never saw the Victorian Woman in the 19th century as the support of her husband.  It was her duty to be subservient to him.  Women were still property in this time. They had few rights and certainly not the right to question their husbands.

I think some of us tend to color our views on Victorian womanhood with the very picture of the female in charge as Queen Victoria was over Prince Albert, but even he had problems with not being the man of the house.  Alexandra was no Queen Victoria.  She did not have the wisdom or the ability to read people as her grandmother did and so she tried to act like a sovereign without the talents of a sovereign.

Alexandra just happened to find a man who had little self confidence and/or training and then in the name of undying love began to walk all over him.

Through out their lives, Alexandra gave advice in the guise of being "the little wifey" and treated the Tsar of all the Russians as a recalcitrant school boy.  Just another of her many children.

I actually think that like a lot of spouses Nicholas and Alexandra had much in common, including an almost crippling lack of self-confidence. It was only by leaning on each other that they could each individually summon up the courage to deal with life... Not surprisingly, they had a far, far more difficult time of it dealing with reality itself.

I agree that AF's tone with NII in the letters to the front during World War I is irritating and often even infuriating, but it takes two to tango. And I think at this point NII was fully capable of drawing the line with his wife, as he did at least once in his letters, tactfully suggesting to her that she was treating him like a child. And she instantly backpedalled, as I recall, and stopped nagging him. Because he was the monarch and let's face it, whether or not she loved him, ultimately he called the shots.

This whole notion that Nicholas was tied to Alexandra's apron-strings is a myth, she followed his lead in everything but