Author Topic: The Enigmatic Tatiana  (Read 58305 times)

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Offline Janet_W.

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The Enigmatic Tatiana
« on: October 04, 2004, 01:45:49 PM »
We’ve discussed Irina and tried to get a handle on who she was and what motivated her.  But how about Tatiana? Of the four grand duchesses, I find Olga, Marie and Anastasia all reasonably easy to understand, to the point that I can recognize similar behaviors in people I have known. Tatiana, however, remains--for me--an enigma. Anybody else have similar thoughts, or perhaps somebody has some insight they can provide re: her personality and motivations?  

Offline jackie3

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2004, 02:09:34 PM »
She always struck me as a similar personality to Queen Elizabeth II of UK - someone who has placed duty (to the crown, to her people and country) as the by-word to the code she lives by. Tatiana was IIRC as shy as Olga and yet made more of a public effort and was the more well-known and popular among the masses of NII's daughters. In this fictional book http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/haskell/katrinka/katrinka.html written during the lifetime of the IF, GD Tatiana plays a pivotal part while her sisters do not perhaps reflecting the views of outside observers of the Romanovs at the time. Being a fashion plate who (along with Olga) often took the place of her sick mother in public duties with the Emperor, she must have stuck out in the crowd.

She also seemed an empathic and intuitive person as regards others (in her treatment of her mother, her role as the "Governess" to the other children, in her role as a nurse which she did diligently). Also a born manager and caretaker with an even-keeled personality that kept her balanced away from the extremes of her siblings (i.e. moody Olga, romantic Maria, trouble-making Anastasia, sickly Alexei). She seemed to yearn for friends but probably so did the other children (isolated as they were). She basically seemed like born royalty (like the quote how you could tell she was the daughter of the Emperor) and knew her place and responsibilities. In a modern constitutional monarchy someone like her would shine an be regarded as a role model.

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2004, 03:05:48 PM »
For me, however, she has seemed a bit too perfect. And none of us are perfect, so I do wonder. All sources indicate that she did not challenge her mother, and was often the daughter who stayed behind to serve as Alexandra's companion while her sisters were elsewhere. Also, she seems to have accepted Rasputin---hook, line and sinker--as existing correspondence indicates. In fact, she didn't seem to question authority at all. The only quality that I, personally, can tap into is that Tatiana--more than the other girls--seemed to yearn for outside society. But since her mother did not approve, she repressed these yearnings and went along with the program. Yet it is rare to read about her showing any emotion or cracking under the strain. And I can think of only two exceptions. The first would be precipitated by her quick thinking, the night at the Kiev Opera House, in trying to prevent her father and Olga from rushing out to the railing of their box when Stolypin was shot. We know, of course, from her father's letter to his mother, that Tatiana was even more upset than Olga about what happened. And then,  in The Fate of the Romanovs, there's an incident involving her, Marie, and one or more of the guards . . . apparently one of them said something, causing Tatiana to quickly get up from the table and exit the room, and leaving Marie to scold the perpetrator and say he had, in effect, stepped over the line.

While I realize that being able to organize and lead requires intelligence and discipline--and an affinity for garnering respect--I also do not see anything particularly original in Tatiana's outward behavior. In fact, Olga, Marie and Anastasia all seem to have been  individualists, whereas Tatiana seems to have been an extension of her mother . . . that part of her mother which was controlled and even nonemotive. Only rarely are there glimpses of who Tatiana might have really been--beyond the efficient, collected person that we usually see--i.e., the photo on the Standart which shows her giving the camera a broad wink as she sits next to Paul Voronov.

Another aspect, by the way, that I find enigmatic . . . Tatiana's handwriting! It seems more a series of slashes, and is completely different from the handwriting of her sisters, brother, and parents. Anybody out there a graphologist?!

In the United States we have a venerated president, George Washington, who also garnered tremendous respect from those who met him and was, by all accounts, an exceptional leader. But, he did not leave an impression of particular warmth, as did another venerated president, Abraham Lincoln.

I hope those who appreciate Tatiana's capabilities and perhaps identify with her do not take offense to this commentary; being an emotive person myself, it is difficult for me to understand such coolness and restraint!






Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2004, 05:01:08 PM »
You made some good points, AnastasiaFan! Perhaps Tatiana's uniqueness was, indeed, in her ability to remain collected and restrained. Perhaps she craved order and was therefore a model of self-control.

Also, you're right, I had forgotten about that note written by Olga to her mother.

Our sources are limited, but it does appear that Tatiana was the most soothing of the four daughters. She was also preferred--over Olga--by one of the women who was a nurse at the hospital, and whose son later published portions of his mother's diary. Tatiana apparently knew exactly how to behave and what to say in the company of adults.

Also, I like Jackie3's comparison of Tatiana to Queen Elizabeth in terms of duty.

Tatiana's handwriting, however, still mystifies me!

Offline Michelle

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2004, 05:16:39 PM »
Nobody get offended here, but I have to say that I can't for the life of me pin down a personality on Tatiana, the way the others are labeled.  It just seems to me that she didn't really have much of a personality.....:-/  Okay I guess I shouldn't say that, but nothing comes to mind when I think of her (well, other than her exotic beauty).  I suppose I would imagine her to be most like Olga, because that's just what comes through in a lot of her pictures.  Was she sensitive like Olga was?  Could dignified be a personality?  Although it doesn't seem like it could describe her emotions if she had any.........Boy, I'm really sorry if this gets people upset. :-[

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2004, 06:54:25 PM »
Well, personality is always there . . . but it may be submerged, or not to our liking!

There has been at least one reference to the children--in general--behaving like "wild Indians." Tatiana, when younger, very possibly fell into that category; most children do! But Tatiana also has been spoken of as being more delicate than the other children, and more prone to illness. It is possible this may have had something to do with a general lack of boisterousness on her part, at least in comparison to her sisters. Perhaps, then, she saw that her mother placed a value on order and discipline, and this was a way to distinguish herself from her older sister.

(And some people will remember that old advertising slogan about "We're Number Two, so we try harder"?! Well, perhaps that was true of Tatiana, in terms of pleasing adults around her.)

As sisters and then a brother were added, it may be that Tatiana found that her own value could be realized in being the opposite of both her impulsive older sister and rambunctious younger siblings.

Offline anna

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2004, 07:48:09 PM »
Quote

Tatiana is my least favorite of NAOTMAA, not because I dislike her, but because I can't really figure her out. Well I guess I shouldn't say that. What I mean is I can't relate to her like I can the others, especially Anastasia and Olga. Tatiana appears to be more royal compared to the others, meaning she had more understanding of her role as a grand duchess and the job that came with it. She also seems to be very incontrol of her emotions and able to handle difficult situations, like working as a nurse during WWI and witnessing sights we couldn't imagine. I don't think many people could have worked as well as she did in that situation. This all points to the fact that, above all else, she was responsible, which is why N&A counted on her if they needed a task completed. You will see in their war letters how Nicholas is always asking Tatiana, not the others, for favors. Resposible, that is how I describe Tatiana.


Yes I agree with you AnastasiaFan. You can feel yourself related, recognizing your own characteristics in one of the girls. Which I have with Anastasia, Tatiana however is a closed book to me.
I do understand her being the responsible one for her siblings and they sort of depending on her...very very recognizable.... But looking at her pictures I think she shows very little of herself. Being in control of her emotions, could have been her salvation of the horrible things she saw at the hospital and maybe that's made her a good nurse. Olga had much more difficulty with it.

Maybe through her inscrutability Tatiana was considered the most attractive -(by some)-- of the girls. It must have been a lovely girl, but I cannot understand she was the most populair GD amongst people, she looks the one who create distances. Tho' she was her mothers favourite, they had something special together. You could say they were at the same wavelength.

Come to think of it, isn't it amazing families having children each one unique in character and looks, just like this family? And putting them together seeing their similarities simply because they belong to each other.

Anna

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Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2004, 08:14:25 PM »
I think it depends on what we define personality as. To me Tatiana fit into a category like the others--the dutiful/elegant/regal one. She always reminded me of Queen Mary. They both had mothers whom they were devoted to but who could be demanding in their ways (Mary was irresponsible while Alexandra was in ill-health). They both appeared somewhat too calm and controlled (Queen Mary even wrote to GV that she wished she wasn't so 'stiff and shy' with him). I think that had fate decreed, Tatiana would've made an admirable consort to some king or prince. Like QV said of QM--she would be the making of some one. Here are some extracts of letters to/from/about Tatiana that show how much she felt responsible for her mother and how apprehensive she could be if she wasn't perfectly dutiful and if she added to her mother's stress. I was especially struck by the apologetic tone. It's easy to see how an outward personality could be submerged by this but I don't think it indicates a lack of one. [All spelling errors are the writer's]
Tatiana Nikolaevna to Aleksandra Fyodorovna, 26 November 1911
My sweet, darling, own Mama dear,

I beg your pardon that I don't listen to you and that I contradict you, that I am disobedient. At once I never feel anything but afterwards I feel so sad and miserable that I made you tired of telling me always to do that and so on. Please forgive me my own precious Mama darling. Really now I'll try and be as good and kind as I can be, else I know how disagreeable it is to you when one of your daughters don't listen to you and  behaves bad. I know it is very bad of me to be so horrid with you my dear Mama, but really, really my sweet one I WILL try and be as good as I can and never tire you and always listen every word you will tell me.
Forgive me deary. Write to me please a word only that you forgive me and then I can go and sleep with a
clear conscience. God bless you always and wherever you go-- show this letter to nobody.
Kisses from your own loving, devoted, thankful, and true daughter,
Tatiana

Tatiana Nikolaevna to Aleksandra Fyodorovna, 17 January 1909
My darling Mama!
I hope you wont be today ver tied and that you can get up to dinner. I am always so awfuy sorry when you  are tied and when you cant get up. I will pray for you my darling Mama in church. I hope that we can go some day to Annias little house with you. Please sleep well and dont get tied. Perhaps I have lots of folts but please forgive me. It is very nice that you didnt go to chruch yesterday els I am shore you would be much more tied…I try to listen what Mary says now as much as I kan. Many, Many kisses to my beloved Mama. Sleep well and I hope that you wont be ti[r]ed. Your loving dauther
Tatiana
I will pray for you in church.

Aleksandra Fyodorovna to Tatiana Nikolaevna, 29 October 1914
Thank you, sweetheart, for your loving words. You do not hurt me my little gurlies, but those who are older might sometimes think but its all quite natural. I perfectly understand all Russians' feelings and *cannot* approve our enemies' actions. They are *too* terrible, and therefore their cruel behavior hurts me greatly-- also what I have to hear out there. I am *quite* Russian, as you say but I can't forget my old home. 1000 kisses.
Mama+

Tatiana Nikolaevna to Aleksandra Fyodorovna, 30 September 1914
[Tatiana apologizes to her mother about a "little dog" which "he" gave her. It seems likely that the dog was Tatiana's French bulldog, Ortipo (sometimes mistranslated as Ortino), in which case "he" was Dmitri  Malama, an officer. Tatiana met Malama when he was wounded and sent to the hospital where she worked with her mother and Olga. An innocent romance sprung up between the two. Alexandra was very fond of him, going so far as to note "a perfect son in law he wld. have been-- why are foreign Pces. not as nice!" He died during the Russian Civil War.]

Mama darling mine,
Forgive me about the little dog. To say the truth, when he asked should I like to have it if he gave it to me, I at once said yes. You remember, I always wanted to have one, and only afterwards when we came home I thought that suddenly you might not like me having one. But I was really so pleased at the idea that I forgot about everything. Please, darling angel, forgive me. Tell Papa about it. I hope he won't have anything against it. Good night, beloved Mama. God bless and keep you. 1000 kisses from your devoted daughter and loving,
Tatiana



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Offline Lanie

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2004, 08:23:11 PM »
I've been working on an article on Tatiana for awhile and I admit it's quite hard for me since I still can't pin her down too well!  Your comments are all rather helpful for my own endeavor.

As to her handwriting, I can read it because mine is very similar--very angular and stuff.  Not nearly so bad, but it's still similar enough to where I get, "How the HECK can you READ THAT?" all the time. ;)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Lanie »

Offline Grand_Duke_Alexei

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2004, 08:32:29 PM »
Tatiana always seemed to me very refined and a perfectionist.  I think she is a person that wants people to look up to her.  She is my least favorite of OTMA, because of how mysterious she is.
Blow a kiss I run through air
Leave the past, find nowhere
Floating forests in the air
Clowns all around you

Alll this black and cruel despair
This is an emergency
Don't you hide your eyes from me
Open them and see me now

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2004, 10:28:41 PM »
Wow - there are such great insights on Tatiana here.  So, I suppose I feel a little embarassed posting my simple thoughts.  :-[    Tatiana has always been an enigma to me, as well.  She's just a bit harder for me to pin down - boy, is Janet_W. ever right about her hand- writing!

There are usually two things that I recall to mind when thinking of Tatiana.  The first thing I see in my mind's eye - is of her "bringing up the rear" and dragging her suitcase through  the rain and mud in Ekaterinburg along with Anastasia and Olga.  To me - that picture always represented how reliable, steadfast and responsible she was.  It was easy to see why her sisters often called her the governess.  She was a very caring and level-headed person, probably one of the reasons why she made such a great nurse.

The other event I recall is of her reading Obiadiah 1:4 to her mother on the last day.  "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord"  I often wonder what she thought after reading these words.  Did she have any idea (like perhaps Olga did) of what would eventually come to pass?

Tatiana has always struck me as being so many different things.  She was regal, elegant, and stunning - a true Tsar's daughter - yet she was also outgoing, warm, introspective, religious, and level headed - all at the same time.  I think, no matter how much I may ever learn about her - she will continue to be an enigma to me.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2004, 10:45:36 PM »
Your comments aren't 'simple' at all--they're very insightful themselves.  :) No need to ever feel embarrassed here!

Here are some more letters from Tatiana that show clearly how much of a caretaker she was for Alexandra and how she dreaded causing her mother any more upset or adding to her burdens. Some of her remarks and her closing sound more like Tatiana is the mother. There's also a poignant note from N to A recalling Tatiana's birth and how she may be a balm to them in their old age.  :'(

Tatiana Nikolaevna to Aleksandra Fyodorovna, 7 August 1915
Mama darling mine,
….Mama, sweet, I am so awfully sad. I see so little of you. I hate going away for so long. Really, we never  see you now. It doesn't matter if sisters go earlier to bed- I'll remain. For me it is better to sleep less and see more of you, my beloved one. God bless you, deary. 1000 kisses to you and Papa dear.
Your own true loving child,
Tatiana

Tsar Nicholas II to Empress Aleksandra, 29 May 1916
[Nicholas reminisces Tatiana’s birth. With the benefit of hindsight, there is something quite bittersweet about N’s remark -- "may God grant that she will be... our consolation in old age!"]
Stavka. 29 May, 1916.
My beloved Wify,
I thank you tenderly for your dear letter. In thought I go back to the event which took place 19 years ago, on the farm in Peterhof! May God bless Tatiana—may God grant that she will remain as good, loving and patient a girl as she is now, and be our consolation in old age!……..
Eternally your
Nicky.

Grand Duchess Tatiana to Empress Aleksandra, March 1912
My sweet darling dear beloved own dearest Mama,
I am so awfully sorry that you wont come with us. I hope that you will feel better tomorrow when we come. Fancy it will be the first time that we will sleep on the Standart it is awfully sad Mama dearest. I hope that Ania will be nice with you and wont tire you and specialy wont come in to you to disturb when you lie or when you want to be alone. Such I petty I could not stay with you Mama dear. It would be such a pleasure to me. I do hope you wont feel too tired. Please Mama darling dont run about the rooms to see how they  are. Send Ania or els you will be very tired to receive Auntie and Uncle [apparently Ernie & Onor].I will try and be as good as I con on board with the officers.Goodbye till tomorrow. Dont worry sweety about baby I will look after him and all will be alright. God bless you my sweet own darling.
Many many kisses to you angel from your own loving devoted and true daughter
Tatiana

Tatiana Nikolaevna to Aleksandra, 29 October 1914
[Note the pacifying tone towards Alexandra & attentiveness to her moods. Of the 4 daughters, most witnesses concur in saying that Tatiana was her favorite. "It was not that her sisters loved their mother any less," wrote Pierre Gilliard,  "but Tatiana knew how to surround her with unwearying attentions and never gave way to her own capricious impulses."  On the few occasions she did, she was quick to offer apologies.]

My sweet darling angel, Mama dear,
I do so hope that you all sleep well and won't feel so tired tomorrow as you will probably do so much the whole day. Please forgive me, my Mama Sweet, if I ever hurt you involuntarily by saying something about your former home, but really if I do say something, it is always without thinking that I can hurt you, or  something like that, because really, when I think of you I only think that you are our angel, Mama dear-- a Russian, and always forget that it was not always so, and that you had another home before you came to Papa here. Do forgive me deary. Now goodbye. I pray God give you a good sleep and that you'll be well and happy tomorrow.
1000 kisses to my own darling, sweet, precious Mama, from her ever-loving, thankful, and true daughter,
Tatiana
They also serve who only stand and wait--John Milton
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Offline nerdycool

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2004, 10:54:07 PM »
In my opinion, Tatiana was a pleaser. I think that it broke her heart when she caused someone grief... either through naughtiness as a child or through moodiness as a teenager. She probably knew that the rest of her siblings (except maybe Maria) cause her parents stress in one fashion or another and maybe made up her mind to cause as little trouble as possible. So she did what she was asked, looked after little ones, went out in place of her mother, all without expressing reluctance to do so. In time I imagine this became her nature so she didn't even think about doing otherwise. I call this kind of person a servant. My definition of this word isn't a negative one... but instead a definition of strong and true character. She felt it was her duty and so she did it without complaint.

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2004, 12:20:05 AM »
Thank you for the kind comments grandduchessella - you made me feel welcome here.  I enjoyed reading your post with the letters from/about Tatiana.  It's always nice to read their own words !  The letters are very helpful in determining what Tatiana was like, and they clearly depict her as the caring and warm girl that she was.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Enigmatic Tatiana
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2004, 07:58:19 AM »
Does anyone else here find Tatiana's childhood letters to her mother as disturbing as I do?  They seem indicative of a real role reversal between parent and child.  But, not to sound like a broken record, I think this is in keeping with the Victorian middle and upperclass tradition of turning one daughter into the family caretaker -- usually the eldest or the youngest (when the parents became elderly; but who can see Anastasia in that role?).

I like Tatiana, even if she was a bit of a goody-goody-two-shoes at times.  I think she, in her role as family caretaker, was under tremendous stress as she grew up.  She had an invalid mother and a seriously ill younger brother.  I always think of Robert and Suzanne Massie's  "Journey" -- hemophilia places a terrible strain not just on the parents of the child-sufferer but on his siblings, as well.

Not that Tatiana's role would have been entirely self-sacrificing in nature, since it also gave her some power in the family. It was she who was often consulted when the family had to make important decisions, such as when Yakovlev came to take Nicholas away from Tobolsk.  Tatiana told Alexandra the choice came down to accompanying Nicholas, or to staying behind with Alexei.  After Tatiana had laid out the options, Alexandra then calmed down and decided to leave with her husband.

I agree with Janet and others who have noted that Tatiana would have made an excellent manager of any large institution such as a hospital or school or charity organization, where she could have realized her managerial potential and had an outlet for what I perceive to have been a certain will to power --- not in the negative sense, but in the positive one.  She was ambitious; she liked to take charge, and apparently she was quite good at it.  

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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