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Messages - James_Davidov

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Tsarevich Alexei Nicholaievich / Re: Alexei's wife?
« on: December 28, 2012, 10:13:30 PM »
It is interesting that no one has suggested the potential that Alexei (if he had hypothetically survived) would not have married equally, or perhaps at all.

there were so many factors that complicated any potential matches (in the event that he was to survive). 

Russian Noble Families / Baroness Marie von Graevenitz
« on: December 15, 2012, 11:17:20 AM »

Tsarskoe Selo Palaces / Re: Catherine the Great's room
« on: January 06, 2012, 11:57:03 PM »
Various forms of erotica were very popular in Europe, and due to their nature, an items provenance is usually difficult to ascertain, although someone with a better eye for furniture would be able to tell fairly easily if the table in the photo was 18th century or later.

I think if Catherine II did have a room of 'erotica', there would surely be some sort of reference to it somewhere.  Although erotica was always hidden, be it in a secret room, cigarette case or toilet, it was often intended to be shared with 'like minded' gentlemen.  For example a male host would pass around a snuff box with a (fairly innocent) painting of bare breasted woman amongst his male guests after they had retreated to smoke and drink in a separate salon to the women.  So it is probable that the Empress would have shared this room of curiosities with some of her ladies or lovers - and it isn't likely that they were all tight lipped after seeing a phallic furniture set.

Probably the the greatest reason to doubt it belonging to any of the Romanovs is that it was located in the palace post 1917.  As the palace was a museum, and the furniture 'unusual' in its make, some authority would have probably decided to shift it there from the confiscated mansion of say an aristocrat, merchant or bishop ;).  Another point to reason with is that while the furniture survived a revolution and civil war, it is unlikely that it would have survived the last Empress Alexandra - they may not have lived in the Catherine palace, but there were certainly many occasions spent there, and there is no way AF would have allowed her daughters anywhere near a palace that contained a room full or carved penises - she would have had that table on the first train to Siberia - or Potsdam!

So historical reasoning points to no.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« on: January 06, 2012, 09:53:59 AM »
I have been slated in this forum for expressing my views on Alexandra. If one reads everything here that is said about her, it is generally negative. many people glamourise her, because of her tragic end, and compare her to Marie Antoinette. But one gets out of life what you put in. ( Mostly) I dont think these two ladies knew anything about projecting the correct image, or doing what was right for their countries, and rather indulged themselves. I think Alexandra's attitude was that because she was the wife of an Autocrat, chosed by God, she could just lie back on her daybed and make no effort. How wrong she turned out to be. 
Queen Mary tolerated Alexandra for family reasons, but was quoted as saying that Alexandra was entirely responsible,single handedly, for the Russian revolution and therefore alll the horrors that followed. ( See James Pope-Hennessy's famous biography of Queen Mary). Furthermore, Queen Mary was quite vocal about her opinions as to the level of Alexandra's intelligence, and competence.
The British Royal family was very critical of the fact that Russia was an Autocracy, and outdated. Queen Mary was very often quoted as saying that she was living in "Modern times", and therefore one had to adapt. Alexandra, having removed herself and her family from the real world,lived in ignorance of what was really happening in her country, and virtually neglected her duties and function as Empress.

I think there are a few reasons for this. She was terrified of the revolutionaries, and withdrew to Tsarskoe to protect her family.
She realised that she was not sophisticated enough to compete with the glamorous and aristocracy of Russia. ( and she was not).
The Russian  system should have changed to a democracy in 1905, which was the perfect moment in history I think, to do so. Had she not constantly, and stupidly clung to the outmoded idea that her husband hang on to being an Autocrat, in order to pass it on to their heir, things may have ended differently. Yes there were many other contributing factors as well, but many of these were aggravated by the archaic ideas of both nicholas and Alexandra.

I dont dislike Alexandra, she was a good mother, and nobody deserves to end your life like she did.

I tend to agree with Queen Mary though, and I dont think she was alone in her opinions of Alexandra either. Queen Mary's commitment to her Royal duties, are today reflected in Queen Elizabeth ll, and her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

One has the greatest respect for them.     


I also find AF an extremely frustrating historical figure, however I don't think your appraisal is particularly fair.  Alexandra was not a lazy and detached woman who neglected her duties for her day bed, true like Marie Antoinette she did isolated herself from her court, but she was not consumed with escapism and preoccupying herself with fetes and frivolities.  To the contrary Alexandra was an extremely intense and complicated individual, burdened by fervent theology and personal anxieties, her destruction lay in the fact that unlike Marie Antoinette, she was determined to influence her husband, and his 'divine position', when she saw fit.

she was basically a very difficult neurotic, and the worst possible candidate to be let loose on a Autocratic Monarchy - had she been brilliant and enlightened, such as her German forbear Catherine II, her forthright interference could have done the world of good, instead she poured salt onto the wounds of an already rapidly deteriorating Tsardom.

one can only imagine how things could turned out had she been a liberal, and hounded Nicholas to grant reforms.

Imperial Transportation / Re: Royal Carriages
« on: December 30, 2011, 05:34:39 AM »

I love state carriages (not just the Romanov's), but information is hard to track down, except for English examples.  I just found the link below - jackpot!

The Hohenzollern / German Court Etiquette
« on: August 09, 2011, 12:43:54 AM »
One often reads that many of the German houses were stifling in their formal etiquette. 

Courts such as Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Mecklenburg-Strelitz are examples where strict and irrational formal ritual served to alienated and victimised its own members.

I was wondering if anyone could provide some specific examples or anecdotes, of German court etiquette.


This is a little off track, but I was raised to never accept extravagant gifts, and to accompany even the smallest of gifts with feigns of 'you really shouldn't have'.  I know that this  specifically Victorian approach (although common in many cultures) to generosity.

I haven't the slightest doubt that at her age, as a young lady, she would have rejected a diamond broach from the Tsarevitch.  European visitors to the Romanov court were also very conscious of how extremely wealthy their counter parts were, and a genuine English Victorian would have been very careful to save face by not being seen to take advantage of any extravagant gestures.

The Hohenzollern / Re: German Empire and reactions to Unification
« on: October 14, 2010, 12:48:42 AM »
great responses everyone, if I could lead a more specific approach,

I understand that during the Austro-Prussian war, Prussia & Bismark had the support of the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz, but not much else.

Following Prussia' success, I am guessing that the royal families of Württemberg and Bavaria were fairly hostile, given that they were forced into reparation agreements.

does anyone have any accounts or quotes from Ludwig II on the matter?  I suppose political dominance may have been a relief for him, his focus was on majesty and extravagance, substance wasn't desired when it came to his role.


I was wanting to know a little about the Habsburgs life in exile, in Switzerland.  I read that the Florentine diamond was stolen from the family sometime between the wars, and wondered how wealthy the family remained, was/is there a residence?


The Hohenzollern / Re: German Empire and reactions to Unification
« on: October 10, 2010, 08:32:59 AM »
I was wondering if we could discuss the reactions of the various (German) royal houses to the unification.  Obviously we know that in the case of some rulers (Hanover), it was a devastating turn of events, but were there others who welcomed Prussian dominance?

I especially wondered about the reaction of Bavarian and Saxon courts.

I know that Bismarck wasn’t terribly popular with many royals, but how did people receive the Hohenzollerns?  I imagine that some of the older, Catholic, Hapsburg leaning courtiers must have been a little affronted!

I thought this to be the most appropriate place to post this question, the forum really does need a general ‘German royalty’ section, given the number of houses!


The Greek Royal Family / Re: Title and surname of the Greek Kings
« on: July 25, 2010, 06:23:19 AM »
I don't believe that this question has been properly answered yet (if it has I apologise).

I believe the 'of Hellenes', which is really just an alternative term for Greek, was brought into use following the failure of the first modern monarchy (under Otto of Wittelsbach).  King Otto or Orthon was styled 'King of Greece', a title he retained in exile as he did not abdicate, the following house (Glucksburg) therefore required an alternative title, and happy to distance themselves from the last unsuccessful King, adopted the style 'of Hellenes', a term which identified their role as head of Greek society and culture.

It should be noted that neither House could claim King of the Greeks', as many Greeks resided in Ottoman territory, and it would have increased tensions.


Palaces in St. Petersburg / Re: Palace of GDss Olga Aleksandrovna
« on: February 23, 2010, 06:56:34 AM »
it is rather like a town house, great!

Palaces in St. Petersburg / Re: Palace of GDss Olga Aleksandrovna
« on: February 18, 2010, 05:03:17 AM »
I was wondering if anyone had any further information on the Sergievskaya street mansion gifted by NII to Duke Peter and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna.

If I remember correctly there was an picture of the mansion in the 'Last Grand Duchess', and it seemed a large multi story mansion.  I have read it had 200 rooms, but have failed to find anything else, except that the Nabokov's (according to google :P) also had a house on this street.


Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra and her education
« on: July 21, 2009, 03:43:23 AM »
According to the book "Empress Alexandra" by Greg King, she had a degree in psychology from Heidelberg University. I've never seen this mentioned in other books. I had always thought Princesses were not permitted to go to public universities with regular people

I also have come across this anecdote, although once only (possibly via King), but I do not believe it is factual…

Often honourable and unusually gifted women were permitted to sit in on lectures at universities, but unfortunately the patriarchal system ensured that they could only ever achieve a sort of quasi tertiary education.  This was achieved by measures such as prohibiting women from engaging in lectures, and even segregating them in the great halls so they were merely isolated audience members, to barring them from sitting exams and having their results published, and in most cases graduating/matriculating. 

This was the case at Heidelberg University during Alexandra’s adolescence, as it was with Oxford and Cambridge; I believe one of the only possibilities may have been the University of Zürich at that time.  I am not sure however how ‘honorary degrees’ may have functioned in those days, if they did at all (but that is a possibility).

Either way, if Alexandra were to have undertaken a degree, it would have taken a considerable amount of energy, determination and influence from her family, and would have been quiet controversial (I am not sure how QV would have received it), so needless to say there would be a mass of sources confirming it.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: How did Christian IX view Alexandra?
« on: July 20, 2009, 11:11:13 AM »
Christian IX probably shared the same sentiments regarding Alexandra as his daughter.  He would have certainly been informed by MF of the growing tensions between mother and daughter in law, and Alexandra’s Hessen origins from the onset would have sat uncomfortably with all members of the Danish royal family, who never really recovered from the humiliation of the second Schleswig War at the hands of Germany and Austria.

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