Author Topic: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters  (Read 17141 times)

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Offline Svetabel

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Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« on: December 26, 2008, 04:39:39 AM »
  I am starting a thread on Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch, eldest son of GD Konstantin K., famous KR. One can say there’s no need in creating one more “Konstantinovitch” topic as the whole thread on all the Konstantinovitchi exists but it’s too large now and contains mainly photos.
The reason here for me is like that:
Recently I’ve came across the correspondence between GD Konstantin K. and his firstborn son Prince Ioann. The letters are of 1903-1914 period and a very interesting source on Prince Ioann and his relations with the parents. In some of those letters Prince Ioann corresponded to both parents but the large part of the epistolary were letters to his father and they were the most confidential and honest.
   The letters were published in 2007 year in Russian, they had been preserved at the stock of GD Konstantin K., his spouse GD Elizaveta and Prince Ioann, at the Russian State Archives.

   I’m under strong impression of that rare source of info on Prince Ioann and that’s why: Ioann is not a well-known person for modern readers of the Romanov family history. Even in the very good “Gilded Prism” I’ve not found much on the firstborn child of GD Konstantin.
   Only those few letters bring a part of Ioann’s character to the light as actually the common opinion on him is that he was a deeply religious man with the bad health (as many of the Konstantinovitchi) and inclination to be a monk. He was plain and somewhat ugly, discreet person with quiet and shy manners, so many people didn’t know what’s on his heart and in his head throughout his boyhood, teens and youthful years.
   He adored his parents and siblings, was deeply attached to home and friends and at the same time he was a lone figure saying sadly that everybody imagines him like “a little idiot” because of his shyness and religiosity. Ioann was a great fiend with his brother Gavriil, they shared a nursery, then a schoolroom and lone years in Livadia in 1903-1905 where they were sent to strengthen their health. They lived there far away from home and the large family, and Prince Ioann continuously begged his parents to visit them more often but Pa and Ma always were too busy (and had time to go to some relatives in Germany though). Ioann and Gavriil were really close but very different in characters: Gavriil ended as a society person and later kept a company of “fast” people including Mathilda Kschesinskaya (his 1st wife Antonina was Mathilda’s friend).
Ioann was quite the opposite person.

   The letters can be sorted as 2 periods: 1903-1908 and 1909-1913.
   Ioann’s letters of 1903-1908 years sound like reports of a teenager to his strict father: Prince tells about his lessons, teachers, he promises to study better and never to pain his parents and admits his laziness and inability to learn foreign languages (for some years Ioann was struggling with his bad French and German). GD Konstantin K., in his turn, as a careful father instructs Ioann to study better, behave presentably and so on and such like – all in all we can see that he speaks to his firstborn and 1st heir expecting much from him and never indulging. And obedient Ioann never forgets about the duty of the heir even signing his letters to parents as “Your firstborn, Ioannchik”. He tries to be equal to their expectations and repeats almost every time that he is very grateful to them for the upbringing and education (and sometimes he bitterly admits that he don’t know much about real life, the life out of the Romanov gilded cage).
   In 1909-1910 years the tune of the Prince’s letters changed. Ioann has became a young man, he wants to speak to his father as an adult and equal, he repeatedly writes: “you know that I am like you, I am similar to you, you must understand me”. Those frank letters are just a cry of a lonely man whom the parents had never indulged, never showed extra tenderness, who was used to a company of tutors, teachers, books and the deep faith in God.
  As early as in 1904 Ioann for the 1st time wrote to father his thoughts about possible marriage and described in detail how he saw his marital life, talked about the rooms of his own future family in the Marble palace and in Pavlovsk. Of course GD Konstantin answered that all the plans were too early as the marriage in 18 years old was out of question. Till 1910 Prince Ioann from time to time returns to the marital discussions (and every time about marriage to some commoner) and GD Konstantin turns his son down. Seems Ioann had an amorous disposition or was too naïve and a soft mark who languished for love and tenderness. One of his 1st loves/crushes was GDss Olga Nikolayevna (eldest daughter of Emperor Nicholas II) who caught his imagination after Tsesarevitch Alexei’s christening in 1904 (Olga was 9 years then, and Ioann was 18). Other crushes of Prince were commoners and sometimes married women.
   All his feelings Ioann confides to father and GD always admonishes his son not to be in a hurry, to think twice and never forget that Ioann is a Prince and the Romanov offspring…After all in 1910 GD Konstantin received a carefully worded letter and in fact a disconsolate cry and confession from Ioann. Some lines from it: “I really need a sweet women’s little heart to warm me”, “Uncle is a monk is his soul and will never understand me” [Uncle is GD Dmitriy K. who loved his nieces and nephews as if they were his children]. In the end Ioann declared that he had kissed women, brought them to his place and then discoursed with them and persuaded to live in high morality. He pointed out that he never had sex and had made vow to do such things only with his wife…
  So, while GDsses Olga and Tatiana, daughters of Nicholas II, were giggling at Ioann’s engagement to Elena of Serbia and wondering how would he kiss, Prince Ioann itself was a really happy guy who finally find a proper bride (with the help of his mother though).

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2008, 04:41:28 AM »
Prince Ioann's short  bio:
Born  July 5 1886 in Pavlovsk, 1st child (son) of GD Kosntantin Konstantinovicth (1858-1915) and GDss Elizaveta Mavrikievna (born Princess of Saxe-Altenburg). Married in 1911 Princess Elena of Serbia. Murdered July 18 1918 in Alapaevsk.



Those new publications of the correspondence of some less known Romanovs are such a great source that one only can imagine the tons of information (preserved in the Archives), which gather dust at the stocks and wait for a biographer and publisher…

If someone got interested in Prince Ioann’s correspondence after my opus on him : )) then I can translate some of his letters and post here.


Offline Marc

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2008, 06:37:26 AM »
Hi,Svetabel,I think that you have started a great thread because we don't know that much about lesser known royals and Romanovs...I am very interested in knowing something about early loves of Prince Ioann(were they all commoners apart from GD Olga),also interested if there are some infos about his relations to other Romanov cousins or some foreign ones(did he even know them considering he spent most of his time in Livadia and did he correspond with them) and I am also interested in his marriage,who arranged it,why and did he know his wife before etc.

Sorry for so many thing that interest me,but you seem to be the only source I have,apart from the few ones in books where he was just mentioned...Thanks in advance!

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2008, 08:09:24 AM »
At once I can answer that Ioann's marriage was an arranged one actually. Grand Duchess Elizaveta, his mother, offered Elena of Serbia as a possible future wife, then the meeting was arranged between young people, Ioann was enchanted by Elena's charm and they got engaged.

Of course careful parents after such bitter letters from their son (see my previous post) finally made a decision to find him a wife before he would involved in some unsuitable alliance with a commoner - he was their firstborn and heir after all. Princess Elena was one of the best choices - she was an Orthodox (don't forget Ioann was deeply religiuos) and from a friendly Royal house.
Seems they were happy together and Elena did her best to help Ioann in the tumultiuos 1917-1918 years.

More info is coming...:))

Offline Marc

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2008, 07:08:05 PM »
Can't wait!Thank you Sveta :-)

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2008, 01:53:43 AM »
As for "loves" of Prince Ioann before his marriage.

 In November 1909 Ioann wrote the letter, that cry of a lone man, to his father and mentioned almost all his crushes: GDss Olga Nikolayevna, then some Marie, then Countess Marina Palen (married woman, I’ve not found her in the Palen genealogy though), then some Tanya (who later married and Ioann suffered because of that), then Olga Nikolaevna Philosophova (maid-of-honour of GDss Maria Georgievna). The last was more a friend though. In the same letter Ioann admitted that he still had a dearest dream to marry GDss Olga. In a year later he said that her parents wolud never permit such a marriage.

Then the last mention of a commoner. Lyubov Alexandrovna Narishkina (1890-1967) , who later married in 1914 Prince Sergei Alexandrovitch Obolenskiy (1879-1960), and they had 6 children (the family emigrated and lived in England and France). Prince Ioann told about Lyubochka December 1910 and pointed out that she was a quiet shy girl , and for 1st time a girl fell in love with him, usually Ioann himself had found an object for adoration. Prince wrote to father he felt that he would love Lyubochka more and more and asked for fatherly blessing and stressed that Tatiana (his sister) had been permitted to marry Prince Bagration so why not Ioann could be permitted to marry Narishkina. GD Konstantin answered that the question of Tatiana and Bagration had not been solved yet and reproached his son for his warm temperament.

Offline Marc

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2008, 04:25:26 AM »
Interesting about his loves...even though his loves were mostly commoners,they did come from the same social circle as he did...If there was a Marie von der Pahlen,she would be a Countess,Narishkina a Princess etc.,so not that they were that common...I wonder why he thought that he wouldn't be premitted a marriage with GD Olga...Because he was only a Prince of the Imperial blood or...?I once read somewhere that her parents wanted her to stay in Russia,so he would be an ideal choice....he was a Russian subject,he was Prince of Russia,he was of equal birth and he was really in love with Olga...

Offline violetta

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2008, 06:37:54 AM »
I would like to say a few words about Elena Petrovna, Ioann`s wife. They had 2 children, Vsevolod and Ekaterina. Elena Petrovna followed him to exile, to Siberia. A few days after the murder in Alapaevsk, she went back to Petrograd to pick up her kids from her mother-in-law, Elizaveta Mavrikievna. On her way back she was arrested, and she spent in jail the rest of 1918. Then she somehow managed to get to Sweden where her mother-in-law and children were waiting for her. She took her kids to Serbia, then to France and thrn to England. Elena Petrocna died in 1972 in France. She and her family suffered so much during the revolution and the civil war that she didn`t want her children to speak and know Russian. Vsevolod Ioannovich was married 3 times but he died childless. he died  in 1973

Offline Marc

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2008, 08:06:07 AM »
She was helped by Serbian ambassador in St.Peterburg Miroslav Spalajkovic,who was a friend of my great-great grandfather...she was of course helped with knowing of the Bolsheviks who didn't want to ruin diplomatic realations with the Kingdom of Serbia because of one person who happened to be the daughter of a King...She than moved to Serbia with some other Konstantinovich relations where the son of her brother Prince Tomislav first fell in love with Elena's nephew in law Princess Natalia Bagration-Mukhranska...She didn't have good relations with her brother,the new King after her father died and that's why she moved later to France and England...

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2008, 01:03:54 AM »
Interesting about his loves...even though his loves were mostly commoners,they did come from the same social circle as he did...If there was a Marie von der Pahlen,she would be a Countess,Narishkina a Princess etc.,so not that they were that common...I wonder why he thought that he wouldn't be premitted a marriage with GD Olga...Because he was only a Prince of the Imperial blood or...?I once read somewhere that her parents wanted her to stay in Russia,so he would be an ideal choice....he was a Russian subject,he was Prince of Russia,he was of equal birth and he was really in love with Olga...

In the eyes of the Imperial Laws Lyubov Narishkina or Marina von der Palen were commoners , even though they were from the same social circle as Ioann...As for GDss Olga I can't say exactly why he thought he wouldn't be permitted to marry her but Empress Alexandra F. was definitely convinced that all the Konstantinovitchi, though good boys, had very weak health (and she was right in fact). Possibly Ioann thought Olga didn't like him or who knows...at least GD Konstantin K, responding to that letter of his son, said nothing on the reason "why woudn't be permitted".

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2008, 02:55:50 AM »
also interested if there are some infos about his relations to other Romanov cousins or some foreign ones(did he even know them considering he spent most of his time in Livadia and did he correspond with them)

As for Ioann's relations with his cousins seems he was on good terms with the family of his maternal Aunt Furstin Marianne of Schaumburg-Lippe who was very close to her sister GDss Elizaveta M. and kind and soft woman (at least Ioann thought so). Apart that there's no much mention in Ioann's letters about his cousins and relatives except his close family.

The publication of Ioann's epistolary contains 2-3 letters of Princess Tatiana (his sister) to him. From those correspondence one can draw a conclusion that the Konstantinovitchi were all really close to the Schaumburg-Lippe family and Duchess Adelheid (spouse of Ernst, brother of GDss Elizaveta M.). At the same time the relations with maternal grandparents were somewhat strained esp. with Duchess Augusta, mother of GD Elizaveta. As Princess Tatiana put it in her letter to Ioann: "How is Omama? She definitely tried to be tremendously polite and careful...But Aunty must be liked by you more [Marianne]...she knows our life better".


Offline Marc

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2008, 05:38:52 AM »
''She definitely tried to be tremendously polite and careful...''

This sentence also sound like Tatiana tried to be tremendously polite and careful even in her letter towards her grandmother...Maybe off-topic but do you know something more about her grandmother and her relations with her daughter and her grandchildren?

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2008, 06:02:00 AM »
''She definitely tried to be tremendously polite and careful...''

This sentence also sound like Tatiana tried to be tremendously polite and careful even in her letter towards her grandmother...Maybe off-topic but do you know something more about her grandmother and her relations with her daughter and her grandchildren?

From those sources I've ever read/seen I deduced that relations were not very good. I'd say grandparents Moritz and Augusta weren't close to their Russian grandchildren, as they obviuosly didn't understand Russian ways of life and proobaly had been against Konstantin/Elizaveta marriage.

Offline Marc

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2008, 06:02:45 PM »
Was their marriage aranged by Alexandra Iosifovna?

Does Ioann mention or share some thoughts about some other Romanov cousins apart of Konstantinovich branch and OTMA?Michailovich,Nicholaievich or Vladimirovich...?

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Prince Ioann Konstantinovitch (1886-1918) - letters
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2008, 12:42:54 AM »
Was their marriage aranged by Alexandra Iosifovna?

Does Ioann mention or share some thoughts about some other Romanov cousins apart of Konstantinovich branch and OTMA?Michailovich,Nicholaievich or Vladimirovich...?

You are correct about GD AI's part in arranging her son's marriage but we don't know for sure what was going one there and how all was arranging.


As for mentioning the other Romanov relatives in his correspondence Ioann says about GDsses Militza and Stana in 1905 year - when Stana attended exams of Gavriil and Ioann in Livadia and then brought them at first news of their infant sister Natalia's birth and then  her death. Ioann points out that Aunt Stana was sweetness and sympathy herself.
Interesting note on GDss Olga Alexandrovna (sister of Nicholas II) I've found in a letter of 1908 year. Ioann tells his father that he visited Olga Alexandrovna but couldn't be at her place long as the manners of Colonel Kulikovskiy were disgusting for Ioann's eye. Actually Colonel just frequently looked into Olga's eyes and it was evident he was in love with her.

Apart that there are no special thoughts and opinions on the other Romanovs. Just brief notes whom he met, where he's been and such like.