Alexander Palace Forum

Books and Films about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Books about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Topic started by: Greg_King on July 12, 2016, 11:13:45 PM

Title: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 12, 2016, 11:13:45 PM
Just an alert that myself and Janet Ashton have a new book coming out on the coronation of Nicholas II titled "A Life for the Tsar: Triumph and Tragedy at the Coronation of Nicholas II."  This will hopefully provide the most detailed look at the coronation yet available in English, and draws on research in Russian, British, and American archives, as well as rare letters, diary entries, official accounts, obscure memoirs, and eyewitness memoirs to follow Nicholas and Alexandra, royals and factory workers, British radicals and American debutantes, as their experiences unfold in Moscow. A large format, coffee table book brimming with more than 200 rare illustrations and an extensive text, this will be published by Eurohistory in about three weeks.

We hope that everyone finds the book as interesting to read and look at as we did writing it.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 13, 2016, 06:47:04 AM
We have just opened up a blog about the book, with a first entry introducing it: - https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/a-life-for-the-tsar/

In coming days, we'll be adding more information about writing it, and including some things which had to cut from the book itself due to lack of space. You'll also be able to follow it on Facebook via its page there.

happy reading!

Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 13, 2016, 07:03:52 AM
Sounds great.  I'll be sure to order a copy the next time I'm at my local Chapters book store.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Maria Sisi on July 13, 2016, 09:07:10 PM
I already own the book "Coronation of Czar Nicholas II. 100th Anniversary, 1896-1996" that was published by Pavlovsk Press in 1996. I has the memories of Francis W. Grenfell, John A. Logan Jr. and Kate Koon Bovey and small photo section. But I'm very excited to see what appears to be a VERY expanded and broadened new publication! It will definitely be in my shopping cart the week it arrives
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 14, 2016, 06:50:54 AM
I already own the book "Coronation of Czar Nicholas II. 100th Anniversary, 1896-1996" that was published by Pavlovsk Press in 1996. I has the memories of Francis W. Grenfell, John A. Logan Jr. and Kate Koon Bovey and small photo section. But I'm very excited to see what appears to be a VERY expanded and broadened new publication! It will definitely be in my shopping cart the week it arrives

Thanks, Maria Sisi. Yes, it's a very different book to the Pavlovsk Press one, which I understand reprints in full several accounts by participants (Greg has a copy; I don't). Ours doesn't include any full reprints; we use parts of peoples' accounts (loads of them!) to build up a picture that also includes our own views, descriptions and words.

There is definitely a role for both books!

In the meantime, here's today's blog entry about our title: - https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/a-life-for-the-tsar-why-we-chose-our-title/

And here's the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LifefortheTsar/ Feel free to "Like" it if you have an account, and you can then follow the updates.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 14, 2016, 07:27:50 PM
I should add that the Pavlovsk Press book only offers selected excerpts from Grenfell, Bovey, and Logan as well, and these were presumably selected because they dealt with the coronation ceremony or a few other events.  As Janet says, we tried to cover a wider approach which takes in the actual experiences of people traveling to Moscow, their sightseeing there, various events, the coronation day, ceremonies that followed, and the Khodynka tragedy.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 15, 2016, 05:02:04 AM
This is going to be another great book.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 15, 2016, 07:37:42 AM
This is going to be another great book.

Thanks, Tim!

To add to what Greg says above about how we have wanted to include peoples' actual experiences of travel to Moscow and seeing sights, I should say that one of my favourite parts of researching the book was finding out about the tourists and journalists who were there. The coronation seemed a very traditional event, but it was super-modern, and that really comes home when you read about organized tours to the coronation, about the issuing of press passes and about the female journalists who went along. The experiences people had in Moscow restaurants and lodgings are a lot of fun. :-)

Today's blog entry is the first part of a list of daily events. This level of detail listing is too much for the book, as it would break up the narrative, but we know some of you will appreciate having it: - 

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/principal-events-in-the-coronation-schedule-pt-1/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 15, 2016, 08:29:04 PM
And....copies of the book are now available.  Below is a link to Eurohistory's page on this, and it can be ordered from Amazon

http://theeuropeanroyalhistoryjournal.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/a-life-for-tsar-triumph-and-tragedy-at.html

Again, we really hope everyone enjoys this - it has been a labor of love for us (and with help from more than a few AP regulars!)
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 16, 2016, 04:10:16 AM
No doubt when I read the acknowledgements page, I'll see some familiar names there. 

Of course, Greg, quite a few books in my collection were authored or co-authored by you.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 16, 2016, 09:05:42 AM
Today's blog entry runs through the schedule for the days which include the Tsar's formal entry to Moscow, the true beginning of the coronation ceremonies.

This dazzling procession, which we describe in detail in the book, marked the fact that for the period of the coronation St Petersburg was abandoned, and Moscow became the capital again. This was intended to evoke organic links between monarch, people and church, playing upon Moscow's role as "the city of 40 times 40 churches", repelling invaders of bygone centuries.

Yet the very procession would hint of something different, and those who took part left a jumble of mixed impressions, which you can read about in the book.....
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 16, 2016, 08:03:07 PM
Indeed, Tim, and thanks for the kind words!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 17, 2016, 04:56:54 AM
You're welcome, Greg.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: rgt9w on July 17, 2016, 04:39:27 PM
Greg and Janet,

I am looking forward to your new book. I have greatly enjoyed your previous works relating to the Romanov dynasty.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 17, 2016, 05:03:19 PM
Greg and Janet,

I am looking forward to your new book. I have greatly enjoyed your previous works relating to the Romanov dynasty.

Thank you, rgt9W.

It being July 17th, there's no update on the blog today of the coronation schedule - that will resume next week.

Instead, here are some thoughts about the sad links between Nicholas's murder and the events of 1896, which superficially seem to be worlds apart: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/17/july-17th/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 19, 2016, 03:37:25 PM
Part 3 of the coronation schedule: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/coronation-schedule-pt-3/

This entry brings the schedule as far as the coronation day itself, and beyond. By now, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of ceremonies dinners, guests and events. So imagine how it felt to be there, changing your clothes every few hours and constantly subject to the attentions of hairdressers (men could not escape; some of the pages left very amusing memories of their ordeals with the tongs).

To make matters worse, it was extremely hot by the day of the coronation, and it's hard to estimate who was more uncomfortable - those crammed into the Cathedral, or those standing in the sun outside waiting to watch the entourage pass.

Three days later, we have an event that proved to be one of the most enjoyable to write about: the grand coronation gala. Picture the squirming embarrassment of the young Emperor, who had to witness his former mistress dance a solo part right under the eyes of his wife, while the audience tittered knowledgeably behind their fans. And through fear of his Uncle Vladimir, even the Tsar of All the Russias was powerless to stop this happening.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 20, 2016, 04:03:54 AM
The blessings, and the curse, of being a Tsar.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 20, 2016, 04:19:50 PM
The blessings, and the curse, of being a Tsar.

Indeed - Nicholas hated it all and most days he simply couldn't wait to get away and be alone with Alix.

Anyway....today's blog entry marks a change in the mood of the coronation. From the moment of the Khodynka Disaster, the event lost all sense of gaiety or celebration, and the very atmosphere of the city changed as the smell of data permeated everything, spurred on by the great heat.

Yet the ceremonies continued. In the book, we examine reactions to the disaster in detail, and bring you much new information about Khodynka, including the reactions of the Grand Duke Serge and of his wife Ella, which may change your views of both of them to some extent. There is also some startling new information about the promises Nicholas made to his people.

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/coronation-schedule-part-4-the-disaster/  
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 21, 2016, 05:07:46 AM
Quote
Nicholas hated it all and most days he simply couldn't wait to get away and be alone with Alix.

You gotta feel bad for Nicky.  His reign got off to a rather rocky start, because of the Khodynka Disaster and it only went downhill from there.  Of course, we all know how it ended.

Nicky was a nice guy, but he was not suited to be Tsar.  If he and Alix could have just retired to the Crimea, I think he would have been perfectly happy.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 22, 2016, 04:34:38 AM

You gotta feel bad for Nicky.  His reign got off to a rather rocky start, because of the Khodynka Disaster and it only went downhill from there. 

Indeed, and Greg and I discuss this fact in the book (as you'd expect! :-) ). We think, though, that he could have had a successful reign despite Khodynka if he had handled the tragedy differently. Other reigns also got off to rocky starts, but the way Tsars reacted determined the outcome. Khodynka became pivotal to everything that happened for the next twenty years.
 
At the beginning of the book we "look at people looking at Nicholas" and discuss the different expectation they had of this young man and his wife, who was generally considered to be British and liberal, standing together at the verge if the twentieth century. Not everyone had positive expectations of him, but a lot did (it's interesting to compare who expected what), and that's what makes it all such an important moment in Russian history after the entrenchment of Alexander III's reign. There was so much hanging on the question of what sort of Tsar Nicholas would turn out to be.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 22, 2016, 04:47:51 AM
I should also add that because we wanted the book to be about the coronation as a whole, and to have some fun and lightness, splendour and ceremony, travel and gossip in it as well as tragedy, we cut a reasonable amount from the final manuscript about the aftermath of Khodynka (though we still have at least a full chapter out of twelve and much of the postscript on it, obviously; it was so important). This extra material will be published in the European Royal History Journal later this year when we've turned it into a proper article. 

You'll learn a lot that we are confident is new to readers about Moscow's relationship with Serge and Serge's relationship with Nicholas through the Khodynka chapters of the book. Serge's diaries have been published in Russia now and they were very enlightening!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 22, 2016, 07:10:40 AM
Quote
At the beginning of the book we "look at people looking at Nicholas" and discuss the different expectation they had of this young man and his wife, who was generally considered to be British and liberal, standing together at the verge if the twentieth century.

And yet they kept the Autocracy going.  Queen Victoria worked with a Parliament.  You would think that Alexandra, who loved her grandmother, would have considered that.  Yet, she became Ms. Autocracy for reasons I can't explain.  Things needed to change in Russia and they needed to change fast. 

It says something that the British Monarchy, which is Constitutional, is still around nearly a century after the First World War swept away all the Autocratic Monarchies of Europe (granted that Putin is attempting to bring back the Russian Autocracy, setting himself up as a de facto Tsar, but that's a discussion for elsewhere). 
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 22, 2016, 03:31:21 PM
Here's the last part of the coronation schedule.

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/coronation-schedule-part-5-the-end/

Notice how they spent their days in the aftermath of Khodynka, and where they went on holiday. Perhaps they could have made a better choice. We give quite lot of space in the last part of the book to the question of guilt for Khodynka, and the relationships between the principle players (Vorontsov-Dashkov as well as Serge and Nicholas and lesser officials). It all throws quite an interesting light, we thought, on why people formed the views they did of Alexandra, and whether they were right or wrong.
:-)
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 23, 2016, 05:05:45 AM
I'm guessing the book will not be released here in Canada until a later date. 

Neither the Chapters Indigo site, nor the Canadian Amazon site even acknowledge its existence  >:(
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Ally Kumari on July 23, 2016, 11:26:45 AM
Will it eventually be possible to order either via hoogstraten.nl or bookdepository?
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 23, 2016, 09:01:25 PM
It is available on Amazon now - but it may not be listed separately on Amazon Canada, so you might need to order directly from Amazon or from Eurohistory (if anyone needs information please let us know!).

And yes, it will be available at Hoogstraten as soon as they receive their copies!

But if anyone needs ordering information or help in obtaining a copy please let us know.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 24, 2016, 03:12:30 AM
Also wanted to add it is available (or will be shortly) at Galignani in Paris, and can also be ordered directly from Eurohistory - you can contact Arturo at

aebeeche@mac.com

or write to

Eurohistory.com
6300 Kensington Avenue
East Richmond Heights, CA 94805

Any problems - please let us know!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Eurohistory on July 24, 2016, 11:45:13 AM
https://www.amazon.com/Life-Tsar-Triumph-Coronation-Nicholas/dp/194420704X?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 (https://www.amazon.com/Life-Tsar-Triumph-Coronation-Nicholas/dp/194420704X?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0)

The AMAZON page is set up for international distribution.

The book should also be listed in AMAZON.co.uk by early next week!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Eurohistory on July 24, 2016, 06:45:00 PM
Furthermore, on AMAZON, the book is setup for international sales as well.

The listing on AMAZON.co.uk will be setup for sales within the UK and the European Union.

Many clients and subscribers who have purchased and received the book have shared their very positive impressions about it with us.

I believe that Janet and Greg did an amazing job!

Regards, Arturo Beéche
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 25, 2016, 05:12:29 AM
Quote
It is available on Amazon now - but it may not be listed separately on Amazon Canada, so you might need to order directly from Amazon

Got it.  Thanks.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on July 25, 2016, 12:05:20 PM
Friday 17/29 May
Nicholas and Alexandra retreat to the Neskuchnoye Palace for tea and a walk in the garden.

They must have needed it by then!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Eurohistory on July 25, 2016, 02:46:05 PM
AMAZON listing is setup for international shipping. I know it is working as we have sold some copies to clients overseas.

Regards, Art
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 25, 2016, 09:28:49 PM
Friday 17/29 May
Nicholas and Alexandra retreat to the Neskuchnoye Palace for tea and a walk in the garden.

They must have needed it by then!

Indeed, up until this point there is very little to criticize about the way they conducted themselves in Moscow.  Of course, everything changed the next morning at Khodynka.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on July 26, 2016, 01:11:03 AM
A demanding schedule, but quite sensibly planned, as interspersed with the big events are what I hope were quiet family dinners with undemanding people like the Duke of Connaught and Frederik of Denmark.

Did Heinrich of Prussia go to the coronation by himself? I have seen no mention of Irene, who would have been about 3 months pregnant with Sigismund at this time and was maybe laid low by morning sickness.

I love the 'specially enlarged imperial box' at the Bolshoi. Given the huge number of royalties listed, it must have been hugely enlarged, or there would have been standing room only!

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 26, 2016, 02:32:41 AM

Did Heinrich of Prussia go to the coronation by himself? I have seen no mention of Irene, who would have been about 3 months pregnant with Sigismund at this time and was maybe laid low by morning sickness.



Irene was indeed back at home, taking no chances with her pregnancy. But she and Henry carefully filed his mementos of the coronation, and in the book we reproduce a number of photographs and other items from their collection, courtesy of Ian Shapiro, an art collector and auctioneer who has always been more than generous in sharing his finds with writers he knows. Glad you gave us the chance to mention this! :-)

And there's a new blog entry up today, exploring the official album printed for Nicholas's coronation, which was an invaluable source for us: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/nicholas-iis-coronation-album/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 26, 2016, 07:28:03 AM
Quote
Indeed, up until this point there is very little to criticize about the way they conducted themselves in Moscow.  Of course, everything changed the next morning at Khodynka.

Nicky and Alix should have cancelled the reception  when they heard of the tragedy.

This would be like if President Obama had gone to a fancy dinner in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Of course, he toured the affected areas.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on July 26, 2016, 09:48:06 AM
Tim

I agree, but better still if the French had cancelled the ball and so avoided putting Nicholas and Alexandra in the position of having to choose.

Note that the Austro-Hungarians modified their events because of the death of Archduke Karl Ludwig (then the Emperor's immediate heir presumptive).

Ann

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Eurohistory on July 26, 2016, 12:28:17 PM
The book is now listed and selling on AMAZON.co.uk

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Tsar-Triumph-Coronation-Nicholas/dp/194420704X?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Tsar-Triumph-Coronation-Nicholas/dp/194420704X?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0)


Furthermore, Galignani in paris and Hoogstraten in The Hague have been sent their respective copies and should have the book available within a couple of days.

Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 26, 2016, 09:02:29 PM
As you will see, the issues of the French ball and the ensuing engagements were very complex questions.  Nicholas had the right instincts, but unfortunately let himself be dictated to by others.

The French Ambassador, by the way, fully expected to cancel the ball and was awaiting word from the Imperial Court to make the announcement...that never came, unfortunately.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 27, 2016, 04:16:03 AM
Quote
Nicholas had the right instincts, but unfortunately let himself be dictated to by others.

A fatal flaw he never overcame.  That flaw would ultimately cost him his own life,and that of his family.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 27, 2016, 04:11:29 PM
Today's blog entry is the first part of a list we've compiled of the main guests and representatives of each nation which sent a delegation to the coronation. Many were chosen explicitly because of their connections to the imperial couple - Francis Grenfell of the British party, for example, knew Nicholas from the days of the future Tsar's Grand Tour of Egypt and India, and left a lovely hand-illustrated memoir which we draw on in our book. He was also quite the gourmand, who made careful notes of everything he ate - which we hope will get your mouth watering in places.

Several other guests in these lists also left memoirs, providing unique views of events. You may have encountered Grenfell's before, but we're confident tat you won't know them all!

Many more of the official guests were also relatives of the imperial couple, as you can see.

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/principal-royal-and-diplomatic-guests-attending-the-coronation-part-1/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 27, 2016, 09:38:14 PM
Just a little more information on the content:

A Life for the Tsar draws on a galaxy of witnesses both privileged and ordinary to offer a kaleidoscopic portrait of ceremony and disaster.  Weaving together a tapestry of adventures and emotions, the vibrant narrative follows an uncertain Nicholas II and his bride Alexandra as they struggle with unwelcome ceremonial duties; eavesdrops on stuffy men in gold-braided uniforms as they plan the great pageantry; walks in the shoes of tourists eagerly discovering exotic and bewitching Moscow; records the opulent ceremonies of a doomed court; and experiences the horrific Khodynka disaster in mesmerizing detail.  We follow renowned American journalist Richard Harding Davis, swooning over Empress Alexandra and bribing his way across Moscow on behalf of William Randolph Hearst; radical British reporter Aylmer Maude, whose acerbic pen eagerly chronicles the excesses he encountered; and a pair of young French cinematographers, sent to capture the ceremonies on film for the first time who unwittingly find themselves at the center of the Khodynka disaster.  Imperious tantrums by the scandalous Grand Duke Sergei, the Tsar’s uncle, lead to tragedy; rumors swirl around the Bulgarian Prince who sleeps in his pink silk nightgown; the Tsar’s former mistress gleefully dances in a gala ballet before Nicholas II’s new wife; the Papal representative interrupts state banquets by spitting on his religious rivals; American tourists Emily Warren Roebling, who had supervised completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, Chicago Gilded Age hostess Bertha Palmer, and young Minneapolis debutante Kate Koon are enraptured by the staggering pageantry; diplomats ridicule American Ambassador Clifton Breckinridge as an Arkansas hick; and English missionary Mary Hickley and young factory worker Semen Kanatchikov look on in horror at bruised and bloodied corpses from Khodynka.  These stories, obscure and often ignored, punctuate and puncture the carefully orchestrated ceremonies enacted by the Russian Court.

The gilded pageantry of a coronation and the devastating disaster on the dusty Khodynka field: these two radically disparate forces, shadowing each other like Titanic and its iceberg, form the dramatic narrative of A Life for the Tsar.  The tragedy changed the coronation from fairytale to nightmare.  It was a pivotal moment in Russian history: every move Nicholas II made after 1896, every effort to deal with the problems the empire faced, was viewed through the lens of his response to Khodynka.  In turning triumph to disaster, the last Tsar unwittingly sowed the seeds of revolution.

For the first time, these events come vividly to life in A Life for the Tsar.  Drawing on unpublished archival sources, rare private memoirs, obscure accounts, and contemporary media, a dramatic and engaging narrative reveals how three pivotal weeks in 1896 forever shaped perceptions of Nicholas II.  A Life for the Tsar draws on extensive research to provide a comprehensive portrait of this critical moment in Russian history.  The text includes new and important information from GARF in Moscow, including previously unpublished excerpts from Nicholas II’s diary, Romanov family documents, and other unique items; Imperial Court papers from GIAR (Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv Rossisskii, the State Historical Archives of the Russian Federation, in St. Petersburg; previously unpublished Romanov family letters from the Bakhmeteff Archive at Columbia University in New York City; and rare materials from the British Library Collections.  The authors have also utilized more than a dozen rare, privately printed manuscripts, along with numerous memoirs, contemporary press accounts, and obscure pamphlets that give readers innumerable new perspectives and sources on the coronation and on the Khodynka tragedy.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Eurohistory on July 28, 2016, 12:24:54 AM
Hoogstraten English Bookstore in The Hague has copies of the book!

http://www.hoogstraten.nl (http://www.hoogstraten.nl)
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 28, 2016, 07:07:08 AM
Quote
It was a pivotal moment in Russian history: every move Nicholas II made after 1896, every effort to deal with the problems the empire faced, was viewed through the lens of his response to Khodynka.  In turning triumph to disaster, the last Tsar unwittingly sowed the seeds of revolution.

As I said, Nicholas never really wanted to be Tsar.  Also, his father, never properly prepared him.  Of course, Alexander III never thought he'd die so young (he was 49, my age), so he no doubt thought he'd have lots of time to get Nicholas ready.

The same could be said for Alexandra.  Her predecessor, MF, lived in Russia for nearly twenty years before AIII became Tsar, so she had plenty of time to prepare.  Alexandra, on the other hand, was just thrown into the fray from Day One. 

If Nicholas and Alexandra had been better prepared, one has to wonder if they would have handled things better in the wake of Khodynka and, perhaps their reign would have been much more successful.

Alas, we'll never know.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 29, 2016, 02:40:44 AM
Here's part 2 of our guests list, including the offending Antonio Agliardi mentioned yesterday in Greg's post (this was the Cardinal who spat on his rivals...).

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/principle-royal-and-diplomatic-guests-attending-the-coronation-part-2/

As you might expect, the various churchmen played quite a big role, and many an hour was spent negotiating tensions between different branches of the Christian faith, as well as between different faiths themselves. You'll read about the contrasts between Agliardi and his British counterpart, Mandell Creighton, who was very deliberately treated as an especially honoured guest by the Russians and couldn't turn around for people offering him tickets to galas or refreshing cups of tea!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on July 29, 2016, 07:28:45 AM
The German delegation was enormous, the Austrian comprised only the ambassador. Was the Austrian delegation cut right down because of the death of Archduke Karl Ludwig?

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Ortino on July 29, 2016, 10:48:08 AM
Quote
It was a pivotal moment in Russian history: every move Nicholas II made after 1896, every effort to deal with the problems the empire faced, was viewed through the lens of his response to Khodynka.  In turning triumph to disaster, the last Tsar unwittingly sowed the seeds of revolution.

As I said, Nicholas never really wanted to be Tsar.  Also, his father, never properly prepared him.  Of course, Alexander III never thought he'd die so young (he was 49, my age), so he no doubt thought he'd have lots of time to get Nicholas ready.

The same could be said for Alexandra.  Her predecessor, MF, lived in Russia for nearly twenty years before AIII became Tsar, so she had plenty of time to prepare.  Alexandra, on the other hand, was just thrown into the fray from Day One.  

If Nicholas and Alexandra had been better prepared, one has to wonder if they would have handled things better in the wake of Khodynka and, perhaps their reign would have been much more successful.

Alas, we'll never know.


Things may have been better if they had more time to prepare. However, personality played a enormous role in their downfall. As you pointed out, Nicholas had little desire to be Tsar and Alexandra certainly had little interest in assuming the role that was expected of her. They tried to live like a simple, ordinary, bourgeois family, which they obviously were not. Alexander III and MF attempted something similar, but counterbalanced it by staying involved in the going-ons in St. Petersburg. MF had a huge advantage over Alexandra in that she was partook in the parties, gossip, fashions, etc. If Nicholas II and Alexandra had kept the support of the aristocracy, their future might have been rather different.


Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Maria Sisi on July 29, 2016, 03:17:28 PM
I think the whole "Alexander III didn't properly prepare his son to rule" thing is widely overstated. An attempt to shift the blame and excuse all the stupid decisions he made, on his own, during the course of his reign. True some things could have been done better, but that's true with everything. Nicholas had a brilliant education. And his father did put him on government committees but from what I have read he didn't show feeling there except being bored. He thought his father would live long so he put it off and nobody pushed him into it and let him be. His personality combined with, the great change of the era he lived in, and the personality of Russia itself is what led to his failure. Some blame goes to his parents but not the amount people lay on them.

Its hard to point to a era of Russian history where Nicholas, as he was, would have ended up successful because its history is such a roller-coaster. The only one I can think of is if he had been Catherine the Great's son instead of Paul even though the waves of the French Revolution had shaken everyone. Russia was probably at its most stable and a lot like Nicholas had envisioned it. The way he had envisioned it was completely outdated by 1894.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on July 29, 2016, 09:01:24 PM
Yes.  Karl Ludwig was supposed to have come with a retinue, but his premature death led Austria-Hungary to charge their ambassador with all representational duties in Moscow.

The German delegation was enormous, the Austrian comprised only the ambassador. Was the Austrian delegation cut right down because of the death of Archduke Karl Ludwig?

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 30, 2016, 07:33:01 AM
I guess it was common for a lot of movers and shakers to attend event like that.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: NicolasG on July 30, 2016, 10:15:59 AM
I think the whole "Alexander III didn't properly prepare his son to rule" thing is widely overstated. An attempt to shift the blame and excuse all the stupid decisions he made, on his own, during the course of his reign. True some things could have been done better, but that's true with everything. Nicholas had a brilliant education. And his father did put him on government committees but from what I have read he didn't show feeling there except being bored. He thought his father would live long so he put it off and nobody pushed him into it and let him be. His personality combined with, the great change of the era he lived in, and the personality of Russia itself is what led to his failure. Some blame goes to his parents but not the amount people lay on them.

Its hard to point to a era of Russian history where Nicholas, as he was, would have ended up successful because its history is such a roller-coaster. The only one I can think of is if he had been Catherine the Great's son instead of Paul even though the waves of the French Revolution had shaken everyone. Russia was probably at its most stable and a lot like Nicholas had envisioned it. The way he had envisioned it was completely outdated by 1894.

Would you care to elaborate what you mean by "all the stupid decisions he made"? The fact is that 100 years afterwards, historians do not agree about what his mistakes were or what he should have done to avert revolution. "Reform and modernization" is a bit lazy. Dominic Lieven writes in his biography that Nicholas II's biggest mistake was his "forward policy" in the Far Eastern that led to war with Japan. Surely not the first thing that comes usually to mind. And even in that case Nicholas II did not want to provoke a war, it was rather a "miscalculation".

In fact, the "mistake" that proved to be fatal was his agreement to mobilize that led to the German declaration of war, and it was a decision forced by his own ministers, the press and the liberal members of the Duma.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on July 31, 2016, 01:51:56 AM
Karl Ludwig died on 7/19 May at Schonbrunn. He died from typhoid after incautiously drinking from the Jordan on a visit to the Holy Land. Presumably, if he hadn't died, another Archduke would have taken his place. His elder son, Franz Ferdinand was at that time recovering from TB and in fragile health, so the next in line would have been Ottoman, father of the Emperor Karl.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on July 31, 2016, 07:52:51 AM
Quote
His elder son, Franz Ferdinand was at that time recovering from TB and in fragile health

He recovered from that, then came Sarajevo...
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 01, 2016, 05:14:44 PM
Last part of our list of official guests: - https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/principle-guests-at-the-coronation-part-3/

Some of them were representing countries or territories which were not really independent states at all but were part of the Russian or British empires. They came along to demonstrate the vast reach of these nations. Tourists loved them; their clothes were very flamboyant and they brought some conscious exoticism to the ceremony and helped to give the impression of vast global power.

As you can imagine, there was even quite a bit of diplomatic manoeuvring at the coronation, with inescapable discussion over borders and areas of tension. Korea, Japan, China - all these countries were embroiled in complex situations with Russia which would have repercussions in the near future, and when their representatives came into contact with each other the mood was rather tense. China's ambassador was a very entertaining figure who features a lot in our book.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Превед on August 01, 2016, 05:41:27 PM
Last part of our list of official guests: - https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/principle-guests-at-the-coronation-part-3/

Some of them were representing countries or territories which were not really independent states at all [...]

As you can imagine, there was even quite a bit of diplomatic manoeuvring at the coronation, with inescapable discussion [...]

In that vein:
Sweden AND NORWAY
Crown Prince Gustav of Sweden AND NORWAY
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden AND NORWAY


We Norwegians bordered Russia itself, the Swedes just bordered the Grand Duchy of Finland (which, being a former Swedish dominion with Swedish as an official language, wasn't real Russian :-)

Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 02, 2016, 01:31:48 AM
Generally speaking, it seems to have been Crown Princes who attended. Interesting therefore that the Duke and Duchess of Connaught represented Britain rather than the Prince and Princess of Wales, the more so as Alexandra was Nicholas's aunt. Of course, both the Prince of Wales and Duke of Connaught were AF's uncles.

Any indications as to why the Connaughts went? They seem to have done most of the long-distance visits.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 02, 2016, 03:19:28 AM
Generally speaking, it seems to have been Crown Princes who attended. Interesting therefore that the Duke and Duchess of Connaught represented Britain rather than the Prince and Princess of Wales, the more so as Alexandra was Nicholas's aunt. Of course, both the Prince of Wales and Duke of Connaught were AF's uncles.

Any indications as to why the Connaughts went? They seem to have done most of the long-distance visits.

Ann

George, Duke of York was actually expecting to go - and was pretty unhappy when he discovered that it would be the Connaughts. I suppose the Connaughts were chosen because Arthur was the most senior son of the Queen available, and experienced at representative duties - I'm not sure why the Prince of Wales wasn't chosen; I suspect everyone felt he'd be a security headache. Of course, he'd been to Russia not too long ago for the funeral of Alexander III.
Alfred wasn't technically available, of course, because he was there as Duke of Coburg, representing himself.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 02, 2016, 03:40:03 AM
I should add, a propos all these official guests, that some of the most interesting commentators and characters aren't mentioned in the list, because they came in  different capacities. The journalist Richard Harding Davis, the translator and radical Aylmer Maude, a young Russian factory worker named Senka Kanatchikov, and a whole bunch of tourists from the US and the UK are among our favourite protagonists, and over the next few days we'll put up some extracts from the start of each chapter of the book, so you can get a flavour of some of the people who appear and of our style of writing. (we are doing this partly because we've had some questions from readers about how it differs from the other book on the coronation, and we think this will help demonstrate the differences. Ours is narrative history).
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 02, 2016, 07:04:16 AM
Janet

Thanks for your answer. I'd wondered about the Duke of York.

I notice Ferdinand of Bulgaria went in person. He seems to have been a man who liked a spectacle, and, of cours, his heir, Boris, was a little young to go to Russia with a suite!

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 02, 2016, 07:28:27 AM
Quote
I'm not sure why the Prince of Wales wasn't chosen; I suspect everyone felt he'd be a security headache. Of course, he'd been to Russia not too long ago for the funeral of Alexander III.

The future Edward VI, right?
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 02, 2016, 09:44:30 AM
Edward VII.

I wouldn't have thought he was more of a security headache than anyone else.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 02, 2016, 12:42:27 PM

I notice Ferdinand of Bulgaria went in person. He seems to have been a man who liked a spectacle, and, of cours, his heir, Boris, was a little young to go to Russia with a suite!


Ferdinand *was* a spectacle at the coronation! ;-) He managed to be the centre of a little drama or two - having recently had Boris baptised into the Orthodox Church, which didn't go down well in certain quarters.

He and Nicholas of Montenegro were both still princes at this stage, and Ferdinand was technically even a vassal of the sultan, though Bulgaria was independent in practice. But it seems to have meant they were not regarded as "full" sovereigns who were expected to stay away (Russian-born Queen Olga of Greece excepted). 
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 02, 2016, 12:44:41 PM
Edward VII.

I wouldn't have thought he was more of a security headache than anyone else.

Ann

I don't know - I'd imagine the Prince of wales would have been quite a significant scalp for some revolutionary - much more noticeable than, say, Nicholas of Montenegro.....But of course I'm just speculating as to why he wasn't chosen to go.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Ortino on August 02, 2016, 07:34:34 PM
Quote
I'm not sure why the Prince of Wales wasn't chosen; I suspect everyone felt he'd be a security headache. Of course, he'd been to Russia not too long ago for the funeral of Alexander III.

The future Edward VI, right?

You're off by one--Edward VII!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 02, 2016, 10:50:02 PM
Here are some extracts from our introduction, as promised.....

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/the-opening-paragraphs-of-our-introduction/

More to follow over coming days!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 03, 2016, 07:03:39 AM
Quote
You're off by one--Edward VII!

I hate those Roman numerals!
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 05, 2016, 12:38:49 PM
Extracts from chapter one: - https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/extracts-from-chapter-one/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 06, 2016, 07:03:08 AM
Interesting.

Thanks for posting, I enjoyed reading it.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 07, 2016, 04:38:47 PM
Thanks, Tim!

Here are some tasters of chapter two, in which we discuss the preparations and begin to explore the coronation more broadly, adding humbler characters and explaining how it would all affect them: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/extracts-from-chapter-two/

You can start to read in this chapter about the city's residents and some of the less exalted participants in the coronation itself.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 09, 2016, 03:23:31 PM
The tourists are arriving, and forming their views of the freshly-painted city: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/extracts-from-chapter-three/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 10, 2016, 07:05:11 AM
All getting ready for the Main Event.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: rgt9w on August 11, 2016, 06:47:44 PM
I am really enjoying the book, especially the insights of the various individuals who actually traveled to Russia and attended the coronation events.  If Aylmer Maude was as acerbic and bitter in person as his writing suggests, then he must have been very unpleasant to be around.  As soon as I see his name in the text, I know there is going to be a nasty comment of some sort by him.  But it is great to have all of these varying perspectives in one book.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on August 11, 2016, 07:29:13 PM
Thanks rgt9w - that was one of the points we had hoped to offer - we quote from a multitude of sources, and Maude sort of serves as a counter-point to the official coronation book text we include as well as some of the more breathless witnesses like Therese de Vianzone from France.  Hopefully by the end - and after looking at what dozens of people had to say -- the book allows a reader to form their own impressions based on the evidence.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 14, 2016, 09:05:24 AM
Here are some extracts from Chapter Four, in which we introduce many of the royal and diplomatic guests, and discuss their arrangements and accommodation.

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/extracts-from-chapter-four/

You'll read about a new friend of Empress Alexandra's in this chapter (we can bet that most people didn't know about this particular relationship), and a whole quiverful of interesting, difficult and influential characters.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 15, 2016, 05:06:19 AM
Thanks for the new chapter extract.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Joanna on August 15, 2016, 10:03:57 AM
Empress Alexandra’s Library in the Winter Palace

Coronation Album in Empire Drawing Room

https://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2016/08/empress-alexandras-library-in-winter.html

Joanna
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 16, 2016, 05:05:39 AM
Thanks for..  Hey, you're not Greg or Janet  :)
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 16, 2016, 02:27:41 PM
https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/extracts-from-chapter-five/

Now that the foreign guests are assembled, and journalists wait with pens poised and ticker tape at the ready, the Romanovs begin to arrive in the city with their immediate entourage. Some of the entourage is human; other crucial trappings - which to onlookers seem perhaps more important than the humans! - are not.

Nicholas and Alexandra themselves come down from St Petersburg now, but take up residence outside the city until the ceremonies are to begin.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 16, 2016, 02:31:38 PM
Empress Alexandra’s Library in the Winter Palace

Coronation Album in Empire Drawing Room

https://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2016/08/empress-alexandras-library-in-winter.html

Joanna

A very interesting post, because it shows how important the coronation album and all it symbolised was to Alexandra. The coronation represented almost an extension of her marriage vows, a wedding to Russia and re-consecration to Nicholas. And, of course, as we know, the two of them believed that they were swearing to keep the autocracy intact.

It is a fascinating branch of study, looking at peoples' libraries and book collections for what they tell us about their view of the world. I wrote a Masters thesis on the library of the famous Ladies of Llangollen (two Georgian gentlewomen who ran away to Wales together), and have also written about Alexandra's reading in the past, albeit her religious reading only.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 17, 2016, 05:05:34 AM
Amazing how Alexandra became Ms. I Love The Autocracy. 

I mean her grandmother, Queen Victoria, whom she had always been close with, was a Constitutional Monarch.   If Nicky and Alix had adopted such a system in Russia, I strongly believe they might have not had the horrible ending that they had. 

We'll never know, of course, but that is just how I feel.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 17, 2016, 08:33:29 AM
I'm much enjoying the extracts from the book!

Note that prior to the State Opening of Parliament here, the Imperial State Crown is taken by carriage from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster with a Regalia Escort of the Household Cavalry.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Joanna on August 17, 2016, 09:35:12 AM
It is a fascinating branch of study, looking at peoples' libraries and book collections for what they tell us about their view of the world.

Janet, do you have the info on HM Own Library and story of Zichy watercolors of the coronations?

Joanna
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 18, 2016, 03:05:06 PM
It is a fascinating branch of study, looking at peoples' libraries and book collections for what they tell us about their view of the world.

Janet, do you have the info on HM Own Library and story of Zichy watercolors of the coronations?

Joanna

I know Zichy painted for earlier coronations, but did he do anything in 1896? I know he was still at court, but if he did anything for Nicholas's coronation I'll admit it's new to me! :-)

Anyway, here are the extracts form Chapter Six, the day on which the sun symbolically came out for the formal entry to Moscow, a moment of great expectation for so many people, offered a first chance to see their Tsar: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/extracts-from-chapter-six/ 
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 18, 2016, 03:09:32 PM
I'm much enjoying the extracts from the book!

Note that prior to the State Opening of Parliament here, the Imperial State Crown is taken by carriage from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster with a Regalia Escort of the Household Cavalry.

Ann

Yes, it's interesting - as we note in the book, even in 1896 only the British monarchy maintained anything approaching the level of display of the Romanovs. Many of the other monarchs had given up being crowned at all, if their ancestors ever even had been. But in Britain and Russia, things seemed to go in the opposite direction, creating or elaborating on a set of ceremonies that became grander and grander as the twentieth century approached.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 18, 2016, 03:17:03 PM
Amazing how Alexandra became Ms. I Love The Autocracy. 

I mean her grandmother, Queen Victoria, whom she had always been close with, was a Constitutional Monarch.   If Nicky and Alix had adopted such a system in Russia, I strongly believe they might have not had the horrible ending that they had. 

We'll never know, of course, but that is just how I feel.

Queen Victoria was never really all that meek a monarch, though, and she had to learn to bite her tongue.
By contrast, both Franz Joseph and Wilhelm II were actually constitutional monarchs too, or close to it, though both retained a right to suspend parliament and retreat to some form of personal rule if they wished (in FJ's case, this right was ultimately vested in his prime minister rather than himself). It was the war rather than system of government which cost both these monarchs their power, just like Nicholas and Alexandra. And it was the war which taught George V to take a back seat, I feel. In the crisis over the House of Lords and the Peoples' Budget just before the war, he was inclined to do the opposite.

I think Alexandra found a "meaning" in autocracy by identifying it closely with her husband and his church (as the church indeed encouraged her to do). By doing so, she could "forgive" herself for abandoning the Protestantism of her childhood by seeing that she had a much greater mission in marrying Nicholas and helping him on his way through life. It's easy to become intoxicated with the Orthodox Church, the scenery of Russia, and swallow national myths whole. 
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Maria Sisi on August 18, 2016, 06:40:43 PM
Everybody always asks how Alix, who grew up in liberal England under constitutional monarch grandma, could end up championing autocracy as hard as she did right to the bitter end. In reality its seems to have started with grandma and didn't start in Russia at all. 

In Virginia Rounding's book she goes in length of how negative an influence the Queen was on her. Victoria was a domestic tyrant who always had to dominate the scene and have her way. As the Queen of Hearts (perhaps inspired by Victoria herself) in Alice in Wonderland said, "Always MY WAY!!!" It was she who encouraged Alix to act like a constant invalid and use her health as a reason to get out of things she didn't want to do and to virtually emotionally blackmail those closest to her. It was she who fostered Alix's shyness and pretty much told her it was okay to hide away instead of showing herself in public. All the negative aspects of Alix's personality was fostered and apparently encouraged by grandma.

Albert was the one who taught Victoria how to rule as a constitutional monarch and still be the center of everything because she was tittering on disaster before he came (lady Flora Hastings/openly favoring Melbourne, and openly refusing to work with the other side, anyone?). Otherwise without him she would have been more openly trying to dominate everything and the end of the monarchy would have likely came.

Russia being an autocracy gave Alix the outlet to shamelessly act out openly as grandma had in private. Victoria most certainly would have acted very similarly to Alix had she been Empress of Russia although probably with more success since she was smarter and more practical. Alix had all of grandma's negative but not much of her positive.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: NicolasG on August 19, 2016, 05:12:17 AM
I find amazing that so many people simply think that the transition to some kind of constitutional government could be easily done in Russia, had it not being for the "weak-willed" Nicholas II, the "silly" Alexandra and Rasputin, the "representative of the power of darkness". These same people would probably express doubt about the possibility of planting palm trees along the avenues of Sant Petersburg...

"It was stupid of the tsar not to do away with autocracy and become a constitutional monarch" is a view that ignores completely the situation in the Russian countryside, the little support for liberal politicians (and their dubious behaviour), the widespread terrorism, the revolutionary networks...
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: DNAgenie on August 19, 2016, 06:50:13 PM
Quote
Everybody always asks how Alix, who grew up in liberal England under constitutional monarch grandma, could end up championing autocracy as hard as she did right to the bitter end. In reality its seems to have started with grandma and didn't start in Russia at all. 

In Virginia Rounding's book she goes in length of how negative an influence the Queen was on her. Victoria was a domestic tyrant who always had to dominate the scene and have her way. As the Queen of Hearts (perhaps inspired by Victoria herself) in Alice in Wonderland said, "Always MY WAY!!!" It was she who encouraged Alix to act like a constant invalid and use her health as a reason to get out of things she didn't want to do and to virtually emotionally blackmail those closest to her. It was she who fostered Alix's shyness and pretty much told her it was okay to hide away instead of showing herself in public. All the negative aspects of Alix's personality was fostered and apparently encouraged by grandma

I disagree with the idea that Alix was unduly influenced by Queen Victoria's attitudes. The sad fact was that although Alix shared many of the Queen's personality traits, rather than being influenced by them, she inherited them.

Modern research indicates that a child's personality is determined before it is three, so although training can have some influence, the main parameters are already laid out. Alix's father was a cheerful extrovert but Alix was the opposite, as she got most of her personality traits from her mother, who was Victoria's daughter. Princess Maud died when Alix was seven, and Alix's basic attitudes would not change after that By then the framework of her personality was already determined.

Queen Victoria was horrified by the idea that Alix wanted to marry Nicholas, and did all she could to discourage the match, without effect. You can't blame Victoria for all the mistakes Alix made, although they were alike in many ways. Alix was her own woman, she lived her life as she saw it, and she paid the price for her beliefs. I feel very sorry for her.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 20, 2016, 07:10:10 AM
Quote
I find amazing that so many people simply think that the transition to some kind of constitutional government could be easily done in Russia, had it not being for the "weak-willed" Nicholas II, the "silly" Alexandra and Rasputin, the "representative of the power of darkness". These same people would probably express doubt about the possibility of planting palm trees along the avenues of Sant Petersburg...

"It was stupid of the tsar not to do away with autocracy and become a constitutional monarch" is a view that ignores completely the situation in the Russian countryside, the little support for liberal politicians (and their dubious behaviour), the widespread terrorism, the revolutionary networks...


Yeah, but keeping the Autocracy didn't exactly help them either. 

Looks like Nicky and Alix were screwed no matter what they did. 
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 21, 2016, 05:12:55 AM
Speaking of autocracy.....Chapter 7 sees Nicholas receiving his diplomatic guests as he awaits his coronation, and many of these guests have an important role in the way he sees his coming role as Emperor. Here are a few extracts to whet your whistles...:-)

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/extracts-from-chapter-seven/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 21, 2016, 07:06:16 AM
Thanks, Greg and Janet, for these excerpts.

They're like the appetizer before the main course.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: NicolasG on August 21, 2016, 12:19:05 PM
Quote
I find amazing that so many people simply think that the transition to some kind of constitutional government could be easily done in Russia, had it not being for the "weak-willed" Nicholas II, the "silly" Alexandra and Rasputin, the "representative of the power of darkness". These same people would probably express doubt about the possibility of planting palm trees along the avenues of Sant Petersburg...

"It was stupid of the tsar not to do away with autocracy and become a constitutional monarch" is a view that ignores completely the situation in the Russian countryside, the little support for liberal politicians (and their dubious behaviour), the widespread terrorism, the revolutionary networks...


Yeah, but keeping the Autocracy didn't exactly help them either.  

Looks like Nicky and Alix were screwed no matter what they did.  


Autocracy (or rather, autocratic measures) MIGHT have saved the Russian monarchy. What caused the overthrow of the monarchy was the war. And what caused the (European) war was Russia's general mobilization. The tsar might have decided to resist any pressure and not to get involved in the Balkans whatever happened. The final decision depended on him and he blocked the order for general mobilization ONCE. At the second attempt he gave in.
After the murder in Sarajevo, in order for Russia not to be dragged into the war, Nicholas II should have had to apply a lot of autocratic measures:

1. Fire a lot of people: Foreign Minister Sazonov, Minister of Agriculture Krivoshein (one of the main hawks), Minister of War Sukhomlinov, chief of General Staff Yanuskevich, ambassador in Paris Izvolsky... and many senior officers in the army and the State administration. A real purge, but not like Stalin's: with a dismissal letter thanking them for their services to the motherland, a generous pension and maybe one medal or two.

2. Have a family talk with the Grand Dukes (specially with Grand Duke Nicholas, married to a Montenegrin princess).

3. Dissolve the Duma and rule by decree, as a temporary measure.

4. Impose strict censure.

5. Through the procurator of the Holy Synod let the bishops know that preaching about the suffering of "our orthodox brothers, the Serbs" was completely verboten.

6. Find a reliable statesman that could help him along the process. The most difficult part: Stolypin had been murdered, Witte and Nicholas disliked each other but maybe they could patch up their quarrel.

7. Sign a whole batch of laws to improve the lot of workers (for example: resurrect Zubatov's state-sponsored trade unions and make negotiation with a government-appointed mediator compulsory to solve conflicts between labour and factory owners). Lowering some taxes would also help.

Certainly not easy, but not impossible and it was precisely autocracy what allowed it.

If Russia had not mobilized, there would have been a short war between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia (with Bulgaria and Albania joining on the side of Austria towards the end, to get some spoils) instead a horrible world war, followed by a horrible Revolution, followed by a horrible Civil War, followed by a horrible Communist regime, followed by the rising of the horrible Nazi regime, followed by yet another horrible world war, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Communist occupation of half of Europe...
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 23, 2016, 02:02:38 PM
Chapter eight is the first of two whole chapters devoted to the coronation day itself, as we cast our eye over every rank of society involved, from the man at the centre of the ceremonies, to the diplomats and guests, to the onlookers and tourists.

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/extracts-from-chapter-8/

Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: rgt9w on August 24, 2016, 08:01:48 PM
I was really surprised by the callous treatment of the victims of the Khodynka tragedy.  Given the numerous religious services the Imperial Family attended on a regular basis, I was shocked that there was no official service for those killed at Khodynka field during the coronation.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Greg_King on August 24, 2016, 09:09:22 PM
Indeed...they should have followed the advice of Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna and the Minister of the Imperial Court and held (and attended) a memorial service - it probably would have gone a long way in demonstrating public sympathy with the victims.  But again Nicholas let himself be talked out of (and threatened out of) such a plan that may have helped ease the situation.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 25, 2016, 03:59:00 AM
I agree that a memorial service was an obvious and proper thing.

Any indication as to who talked Nicholas out of it, and on what basis?

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 25, 2016, 04:28:56 AM
Chapter Nine covers the second part of coronation day, as Nicholas is crowned and the onlooking world forms its own, various views of the young couple at the centre of everything. Dinner and public appearances follow, and there are some deliberate departures from convention in the name of increasing the imperial regime's visibility or popularity, as Mandell Creighton, Bishop of Peterborough, learns....

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/extracts-from-chapter-nine/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 25, 2016, 04:54:11 AM
I agree that a memorial service was an obvious and proper thing.

Any indication as to who talked Nicholas out of it, and on what basis?

Ann

"The uncles" felt that a service would detract from the "joyous" celebrations, and that Nicholas's visit to the hospital was enough to show sympathy. I don't think they really needed to do much talking him out of it, since nothing even got as far as the planning stage. When KR suggested such a service, Nicholas did not even reply. At every point, he was trying to avoid hectoring from his uncles. (Ella's enthusiastic espousal of her husband's viewpoint also throws a darker light on her character at this point in her life.)
It's interesting, on the other hand, to note how conservative Russia, as epitomised by senior officials and right-wing journalists like Alexei Suvorin, reacted to his decision. Many reactions were not what you'd expect.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Joanna on August 25, 2016, 10:26:33 AM
Court Painter – Mihaly Zichy (1827-1906)

Collection of paintings, drawings, etc in the Winter Palace including coronation years.

https://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2016/08/court-painter-mihaly-zichy-1827-1906.html

Joanna
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 26, 2016, 07:07:06 AM
Those uncles really liked sticking their noses in, didn't they.

Too bad Nicky never worked up the backbone to stand up to them.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 29, 2016, 06:35:52 AM
Speaking of Khodynka.....
Chapter ten opens with the sense of anti-climax that envelopes the city when the coronation is over. But the most memorable of days have yet to come. As Nicholas cringes at the domestic dramas epitomised by his former mistress's starring role in the Coronation Gala, a far larger tragedy is starting to unfold elsewhere in the city, its real-life theme of peasant sacrifice far eclipsing that of the coronation's leitmotif opera, "A Life for the Tsar."

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/extracts-from-chapter-ten/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 30, 2016, 07:13:44 AM
And the drama continues. 

I've always wondered something.  Alexander III died in 1894, yet Nicky was not officially crowned until 1896.  What took so long?
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 30, 2016, 07:26:15 AM
Bear in mind that Nicholas succeeded in November 1894, and a year of official morning then followed. Coronations don't tend to be scheduled in winter.

Alexander III succeeded in March 1881, but was not crowned until 1883.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on August 31, 2016, 06:52:52 AM
Yeah, that makes sense.  Thanks for the info.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on August 31, 2016, 01:46:26 PM
Part of the delay in Alexander III's coronation was that Olga Alexandrovna was born on 13 June 1882. Marie F would not have appeared in public for some months before and after, pushing the earliest possible date for the coronation, given the desire for fine weather, to spring 1883.

Our present Queen succeeded on 6 February 1952, but was not crowned until 2 June 1952, between court mourning and the desire for good weather. In the event, it poured all day!

Ann   
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on September 01, 2016, 07:13:54 AM
Ah, yes, that British weather. 
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on September 01, 2016, 10:21:29 AM
Indeed, but without it we would have nothing to talk about.

Queen Salote of Tonga endeared herself to the British public by insisting on taking part in the procession in an open landau regardless of the weather and beaming throughout.

George VI and the Queen Mother had better weather on 12 May 1937. The original intention was that the Duke of Windsor be crowned that day, so the coronation simply went ahead with a change of king.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on September 02, 2016, 07:02:26 AM
Quote
George VI and the Queen Mother had better weather on 12 May 1937. The original intention was that the Duke of Windsor be crowned that day, so the coronation simply went ahead with a change of king.

Well, why not.  Everything was no doubt all arranged in advance.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Kalafrana on September 02, 2016, 09:04:29 AM
Precisely. That's what happened.

Ann
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on September 02, 2016, 04:55:32 PM
Bear in mind that Nicholas succeeded in November 1894, and a year of official morning then followed. Coronations don't tend to be scheduled in winter.

Yes, spot on - once they were through the mourning, they had to wait for decent weather. It was touch and go until the days or two before the coronation, when terrible weather symbolically gave way to wonderful sunshine. But in the days after the coronation the heat grew more and more oppressive, and you can imagine what it was like to be in a city where hundreds of bodies lay unburied in the heat while many more went about their own duties almost like zombies themselves, intoxicated (but not always in a good way) by the atmosphere and revolted by the never-ending tables of rich food.

On that note, chapter eleven brings us to the day of Khodynka: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/extracts-from-chapter-eleven/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on September 06, 2016, 02:09:34 AM
And here, in our final chapter, Nicholas and Alexandra and their guests move on autopilot through many more days of celebration, as the coronation draws to its close: -

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/extracts-from-chapter-twelve/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on September 07, 2016, 07:01:14 AM
My thanks to you and Greg for this look at your book, Janet.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on September 11, 2016, 10:40:49 AM
Our pleasure, Tim!

Here are the final set of extracts, drawn from the epilogue which looks at the later lives and fates of all our participants, and also at the aftermath of Khodynka, the official enquiries into what had gone wrong, and the reality of Nicholas's pledge to compensate the victims.

https://coronationofnicholasii.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/extracts-from-our-epilogue/
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: Janet Ashton on September 11, 2016, 04:52:33 PM
Blog entry I've written for work on Aylmer Maude, one of the loudest voices in our book!

http://blogs.bl.uk/european/2016/09/tolstoys-translator-a-brief-life-of-aylmer-maude.html

posted in honour of Tolstoy's birthday on 9th September.

This one include images of his book on the coronation.
Title: Re: A Life for the Tsar King/Ashton
Post by: TimM on September 13, 2016, 05:01:28 AM
Once again, thanks Janet.