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Messages - Tsarina_Liz

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16
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: January 03, 2007, 08:27:55 PM »
But it has been suggested that her disparaging remarks regarding Paul paternity were part of the reason he hated her so much.

Did Catherine make any public remarks regarding Paul's paternity during Peter's lifetime?

Not that I recall.  It would have been a dangerous move, putting her and her child in danger and humiliating her husband.  Not to mention giving Peter one more reason to rid himself of her the moment he took the throne, which potentially endangered Catherine's plans for the throne.  Every one (in court) knew she was having an affair, but it was kept hush-hush.

17
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: January 03, 2007, 04:53:51 PM »
Peter's reasons for accepting Catherine's children (if they were indeed not his) have been talked about earlier to some extent, but I think we left out some thing (to the best of my recollection).  Perhaps Peter accepted the children, not only to save face etc., but also because it was easier for him to accept Catherine's children by others than actively try and conceive children with Catherine.  He hated and mistrusted her, having to go to her bed chamber on her regular basis would have been torture.  And no doubt Catherine would have preferred this lack of contact.  Gave her more freedom and kept her away from a man she loathed.  For as much as they detested each other they, in my opinion, reached an amicable enough solution. 

18
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: December 28, 2006, 05:27:29 PM »
As distant as we are from the reign of Catherine the Great, it's probably not wise to fixate on who the father of Paul I was.  I personally think Saltykov was his father, and he looks like his mother (especially when comparing him to the drawing of her while still Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst posted here earlier as reply #34).  But there is a probability Peter managed to consumate the marriage successfully. 

Catherine mentioned the non-Romanov paternity of Paul in her memoirs, written some time after the beginning of her reign.  Some have speculated this was to spite Peter and his memory but I simply cannot see the logic in this.  Peter was long gone, although his ghost would never completely disappear, having died a horrible death possibly with the consent of his wife.  Catherine would spend her reign battling the grumblings of the Muscovites etc. who would always hate who ever was on the throne, and therefore would naturally express their preference for the dead Tsar over the Tsarina.  Given attitudes and ideological threats such as these, it does not make sense to me that Catherine would spread a rumor that (at the time of the memoirs) would further destroy her image and make Peter a martyr.  And while I understand she was not fond of her eldest child, I cannot see her undermining his future (even for the remote chance he could be disposed and his son placed on the throne).  Like Elizabeth, Catherine was not fond of her actual heir but of her grandchild and would not have risked his future by creating a scandal. 

Any thoughts?   

19
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: December 21, 2006, 07:39:30 PM »

While contemporaries probably would not have seen it this way, the passing of the throne from Elizabeth to Catherine II (forgetting Peter III's brief stint) was something of a watershed in Russian dynastic history.  Russian tsars up through Elizabeth had periodically shown gargantuan appetities in terms of violence, sexuality, lust for power, and byzantine fiscal excess...Where the 18th century in Russia had been the rule of lions, tigers, bears -- and the occasional squirrel -- the 19th century in Russia became the rule of burghers.

I've never been really sure what to make of this transition and when it occurred.  How much was the influence of Peter's westernization policies?  How much of the French Revolution?  How much the shift from Russian tsars marrying Russians to marrying western royals (of which the numerous German states were the most prolific purveyors)?  How much the fact that the Romanov bloodline probably ended with Elizabeth?

Certainly the French Revolution had a huge impact on the attitudes of monarchs.  It would have been a terrifying thing for Catherine and her successors to realize how fragile their power really was and how much they relied on the millions beneath them.  Especially in the case of Russia where the rich were an insanely small minority and many boyars lived on lands far from 'civilization', meaning they were vulnerable to the peasants (unfortunately, the peasants never realized how powerful they really were until 1905).  Russia was a land of barbarity at the turn of the 18th century, forgive the expression, and was constantly seething.  If the legendary Versailles could fall, so could the Winter Palace.  And, of course, you are right to bring up the influence of foreign (ahem, German) brides.  They destroyed the purity not only of the blood lines, but also the culture.  They civilized the wilderness.   

Catherine was the beginning of the new wave of ruler, but she still lived an excessive life compared to many other monarchs.  Privately, however, she was something of a prude.  She liked beauty, but valued English simplicity.  Rumors, though, constantly floated around court about her financial and sexual excesses.  It's interesting to wonder, personally, if she encouraged them in order to paint herself as a traditional Russian monarch - blood, sex, power and jewels.

20
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: December 20, 2006, 08:17:33 PM »
Tsarfan - thanks for bringing up Elizabeth's mother because she obviously played an important role in this drama.  I know Elizabeth was extremely proud of her (maternal) peseant heritage, do you think this played a part in her acceptance of the similarly low-born Catherine as well?  Perhaps created a sense of solidarity?   

Also, I am unfortunately far from well informed about Elizabeth.  Was she ever legitimized by Peter?   

21
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: December 19, 2006, 09:19:55 PM »
Certainly the first couple of affairs Catherine had were condoned, but you are right to point out some of her liasons took place after Peter took the throne.  Perhaps, by this time, she had grown rather indifferent and stubborn (which, given her personality, is not out of the question).  Peter, also, peaked in cruelty towards her and Catherine was under intense psychological and occasional physical abuse.  Affairs, while dangerous, may have been a form of release.  Personally, I see them as a sign that Catherine knew how secure her position really was.  Peter may have huffed and puffed but Catherine, while rightly terrified, had to realize how popular she and her children were and that Elizabeth kept her with Peter for a reason - to act as the real ruler.  Had Peter acted to remove Catherine upon taking the throne, she may have risen up against him much earlier than she did.  Certainly many courtiers would have been outraged, and maybe even appalled at the thought of Peter ruling without Catherine as consort. 

Could, then, her affairs as consort have been (at least partly) attempts to flip the switch for her coup?  A little out there, but I don't think it's an impossible possibility.

I also think Paul knew about his paternity, some one would have inevitably whispered it in his ear, but it was politik to recognize Peter.  And it certainly helped that recognizing Peter incensed Catherine (no love lost between mother and son).         

22
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: December 19, 2006, 12:04:18 PM »
There's more evidence than simply Catherine's memoirs.  Specifically, Elizabeth's actions and reactions.  She was no idiot when it came to Peter and his inability to fulfill his relationship with Catherine.  She also detested him and probably took pity on Catherine.  Any female ruler is in peril when she lacks a legitimate heir, Peter was not truly legitimate because he was not Russian born.  But "his" son, born and raised in Russia by the Empress, would have served to secure not only Elizabeth's position but also Peter's.  And Elizabeth probably realized this needed child would not biologically come from Peter.  Besides, even at that time Catherine was considered a better potential ruler than her husband.  Any child that came from her would have been valued.  Furthermore, Elizabeth had an iron grip on her court and kept an absurdly close eye on Peter and Catherine.  She (and indeed the whole court) would have known if Catherine was sleeping around and if Elizabeth had been displeased (or had she wanted an heir only from Peter), she undoubtedly would have continued locking Peter and Catherine together.  The fact that she removed her spies from Catherine's circle and stopped forcing Peter and Catherine together is proof, in my opinion, that she approved of the adultery.  Remember, too, that Elizabeth was highly strung and not afraid to punish those who went against her.  If Catherine had been having an affair Elizabeth considered illicit or damaging, Catherine would undoubtedly have incurred the royal wrath and paid heavily.

As for Elizabeth's pride in her Romanov heritage, while she loved being the daughter of Peter III if she had any sincere intention of preserving her father's line she would have married and produced her own heir instead of plucking a distant relative out of obscurity.  She willingly and knowingly did not produce her own biological heir.  By the time Catherine started sleeping with Saltykov, Elizabeth probably realized the true Romanov line would end with her because of her poor decision - making Peter her heir.  It would have been enough for her to have been the last blood Romanov (she probably got some kicks and pride out of it), because in spirit the Romanov line would always continue.  And that seems to have mattered most.

And then look at Peter's actions.  He never struck out at any of Catherine's lovers, never sought to humiliate them or have them removed (at least until they had served their purpose and gotten him another heir).  He could even be friendly with them, and indeed they were good and well liked men regardless of rank (some were even quite popular, much more so than Peter).  And Catherine never flung them in Peter's face, never actively sought to cuckold him.  Catherine and Peter seemed to have worked out a truce, realizing that while they could not have children together, they could at least create a makeshift, stable family for the sake of the empire. 

There were no secrets in the Russian Court.  Everyone would have known Saltykov was Paul's father.  But there was no opposition or scandal.  Only acceptance.         

23
Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: December 18, 2006, 05:24:25 PM »
How would it have looked if Peter hadn't accepted Paul?  The court would have regarded him as a cuckold, his wife as a whore and Elizabeth would have been infuriated.  Peter was doubtless an idiot, but even he realized that it was in his best interest to recognize the boy. 

Catherine would probably have relied on Peter to play along.  Sure, she was better liked than her husband - but she was still a foreigner and forever dancing on thin ice.  Remember, too, that she had Elizabeth's implicit permission to sleep with Saltykov and an implied guarantee the child would be regarded as legitimate.  What purpose would she have to sleep with Peter any longer?   

24
Olga Nicholaievna / Re: A nunery
« on: December 13, 2006, 02:44:54 PM »
Yep, I am of the school that Alexei would not have made it to the throne.  It has never made sense to me that the Tsar did not make any moves to change the Pauline laws.  Alexei had a sense of duty because it was continually imparted on him, Olga (from all the evidence) actually felt it.  She was keenly aware of her place as the oldest, and it shows in her actions and sense of duty.  She may have been a pawn (all royal children then were), but it seems that at least part of the time she was a willing one.  Another reason why I doubt Olga would have taken the veil.

Remember - even Anastasia could have helped her families position.  Just marrying the lowest royal or noble would have helped begin the rebuilding of the Romanov powerbase.  As of the 1917, they were at the bottom and it would have taken all of their efforts to dig back out.       

25
Olga Nicholaievna / Re: A nunery
« on: December 10, 2006, 10:45:08 PM »
The children of a ruler, deposed or not, are expected to do certain things in their life.  If they are female, they are valuable pawns on the international marriage market.  Nicholas may have been a crown without a country, but he still had weight as the scion of the enormous, immensely wealthy and influential House of Romanov.  And, of course, for some time it seemed it was possible the Russian monarchy could to some extent be restored.  His daughters would have been useful tools in regaining not only lost power (by marrying, say, the future kings of other European countries or other high ranking royalty) but also lost wealth.  Olga and, to perhaps a lesser extent her sisters, had a duty to pass on the Romanov blood (which, it should be remembered, consisted of the DNA of other powerful Houses).  Alexei would not have lived to inherit the throne, so any children of OTMA were potential heirs to the throne and the future leaders of the House of Romanov.  Granted, they would have been (barring a legal alteration) in line behind the sons of Mikhail Romanov, but still would have held important positions.  Until they fulfilled these duties, the daughters (especially Olga) could not go about their lives as they wished.  Perhaps Marie and Anastasia could eventually gain their freedom and were certainly under less pressure to find an appropriate mate, but Olga as the eldest child (daughter or son) of Nicholas II held a uniquely demanding position. 

It should also be remembered that Olga, unique it seems among her siblings, had a keen sense of her duty and loyalty to Mother Russia.  She knew how important she was to the future of the country and would have done whatever was necessary to benefit her people.  I doubt she would have thrown all this, and her important place in the family unit, away to take vows.  Also, like I mentioned, even had she wanted to do so (and some how obtained her father and mother's permission) she would have no one to look towards on her trail blazing path.  It would have been a first, I believe.  Even Ella had followed the expected path in life, her religious detour was a freak occurence that I sincerely doubt she contemplated before the death of Serge. 

26
Olga Nicholaievna / Re: A nunery
« on: December 10, 2006, 03:32:41 PM »
Given she was the eldest daughter of the Tsar, it is unlikely she would have been allowed to join a convent.  Even had the family been exiled to England, etc. she probably still would have been relatively in demand because of her blood and family connections.  Remember, Ella started her religious career only after she fulfilled her duties as a wife and had none of the dynastic and political importance of her nieces. 

27
The Hohenzollern / Re: Books on the Hohenzollerns
« on: October 07, 2006, 01:24:45 PM »
Try "The Last Kaiser" by Giles MacDonough.  I was thoroughly unimpressed with it because it focused more on politics and less on the subject that any respectable biography should.  There's also a series by Lamar Cecil that's supposed to be good. 

28
The Hohenzollern / Re: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria (Dona)
« on: October 02, 2006, 11:58:00 AM »
I haven't been able to find a lot of information on Dona.  From what I understand, Wilhelm found her a rather plain Jane and although friendly with her wasn't exactly fired with passion by her appearance.  For her part, did Dona leave any record in correspondances, etc. of her opinion of Wilhelm's appearance (particularly his arm)?  Or did she maintain a wifely, adoring silence? 

29
Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« on: September 23, 2006, 02:36:59 PM »

I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc. were mental and not physical in origin).  But she did use them to her advantage.

Wait a minute. Now you're saying that you never "meant to imply" she faked them, but you still claim she "used them to her advantage." Now, if she used them to her advantage, wouldn't that be a person faking their illness? And you could have fooled me with not implying that she faked them when you stated the quote below:

Quote
The tantrums and bouts of hysteria were certainly aimed at getting attention in my opinion, she enjoyed the fuss surrounding her.


This does indeed sound like you are implying that she faked her illnesses.

Quote
Her headaches kept her laid up in the mauve budoir for days at a time, she was confined to a wheel chair for most of the last years of her life (sure, sciatica played a part), demanded attendance of her daughters and the cancellation of events.

Pierre Gilliard wrote in Thirteen Years At the Russian Court that it was the Grand Duchesses who came up with the idea of attending to their mother when she needed it, not Alexandra herself. It was the daughters who came to their mother's aid on their own initiative. I would guess they did this out of love for their mother.

Quote
In She avoided public appearances, overdosed on drugs (which I think would have killed her in the long run) and clung to smelling salts, metaphorically (she is very much like Aunt Pitty Pat in "Gone With the Wind").

When did she overdose on drugs?   

Quote
But in an instant could be boisterous and determined (see her nursing work or the accounts of her bounding down the stairs to meet Nicholas).
 

Alexandra wasn't always sick.

Quote
Those are the signs of a woman playing her illness for all its worth in my opinion.

So you ARE still implying that she faked her illnesses. 

Quote
This is not to say she was completely healthy, besides obvious psychological problems there was the sciatica and probably aches and pains due to bearing four children

She had five children.



Many of Alexandra's physical illnesses were not real.  They were largely physical manifestations of psychological problems (probably including the need for attention) and as such were real enough to her but not technically real physical illnesses.  Because they had no physical origin, a simpler term for them would be "faking" but, like I said, they were real enough to her.  So they existed and she took advantage of them.  Maybe even exaggerated occasionally.  She certainly was not sick all the time, but it would be fair to say she was "ill" a significant proportion of the time. 

As her "illnesses" progressed Alexandra increasingly used narcotics to control the symptoms, I don't have direct access to my books right now, but I think she was taking (excessive amounts of) some sort of narcotic and also mercury (mercury chloride?) for her heart (someone who can get to books, please feel free to write the specifics).  She was experiencing "symptoms" so often, including insomnia, she was taking the drugs on a regular basis meaning they built up in her system to the point she had to essentially overdose to obtain the desired effect.  Her body had built up a resistance.  An autopsy on her body probably would have been very interesting. 

Alexandra required attendance by her daughters and did not like to be alone. The girls simply devised a system of serving on a rotating basis.  Yes, they loved her and she loved them but that does not mean she did not make demands of them.  Some authors discuss, albeit briefly, the relationship between Alexandra and her daughters - especially Olga and mentions the strain that sometimes occured. 

My bad about the 4 children mistake.  Inexcusable brain spasm.     

As for Alexandra's letters, letters before and after the war exhibit the same nagging albeit to a lesser degree.  Obviously the stress of war hyperactivated her.  No matter how coy and loving the words, they are still demanding.  Helen, where can I find the letter in which Alexandra admits her illnesses are phantoms?

Alexandra felt it necessary to condition her attendance of a public celebration "with great force of will, suffering severe pains."  Why would she, other than to gain attention and sympathy for her martyr like bravery, have to mention this?  Her entire family would have known about her aches and pains, mentioning them was pointless. 

What I find interesting is that she worked herself into fits of pain over walking past a crowd but performed seamlessly when faced with blood and gore and trapped in small operating rooms most people would consider a hell.  It's almost like an exaggerated Munchhausen's Syndrome.  She needed others to be sick for her to be healthy and to come to the rescue.       

30
Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« on: September 22, 2006, 01:40:54 PM »
I don't think the hemophilia gene had anything to with any illnesses of hers, at all. I think as well that Raegan has got it right; there is simply no evidence she ever faked illness, however much those may have been psychological in orgin.

I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc. were mental and not physical in origin).  But she did use them to her advantage.  The quote about the hysterical Alexandra is a good example as I also brought up her tendency to become hysterical when it came to getting her way and she could be a stubborn, nagging woman (read her letters and how harshly she criticized Nicholas, albeit in sugar coated words, or about her imploring letters to poor Olga to be more proper etc.)  Her headaches kept her laid up in the mauve budoir for days at a time, she was confined to a wheel chair for most of the last years of her life (sure, sciatica played a part), demanded attendance of her daughters and the cancellation of events.  She avoided public appearances, overdosed on drugs (which I think would have killed her in the long run) and clung to smelling salts, metaphorically (she is very much like Aunt Pitty Pat in "Gone With the Wind").  But in an instant could be boisterous and determined (see her nursing work or the accounts of her bounding down the stairs to meet Nicholas).  Her illnesses had a tendency to come and go.  Those are the signs of a woman playing her illness for all its worth in my opinion.  This is not to say she was completely healthy, besides obvious psychological problems there was the sciatica and probably aches and pains due to bearing four children and maybe even complications from carrying hemophilia, nor is it to say she was not a loving, devoted woman.  She was a complicated individual and like everyone, she appears to have had her dark side.   

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