Author Topic: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings  (Read 30971 times)

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Offline investigator

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Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« on: April 08, 2004, 04:25:47 AM »
What sort of a relationship did Alexandra have with her brothers and sisters?
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Offline Greg_King

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2004, 05:54:37 AM »
Of them all, I'd say she was closest to Ernie.  They understood each other completely, shared very similar characters and outlooks, shared religious and philosophical interests, and even tastes for art nouveau.

Her relationship with Victoria was close, but the age difference did much to keep them from feeling like confidants.  Victoria, being older and also probably the most level-headed of the Hessian children, may also have been a bit more judgmental about Alix.

The difference in age also applies to Ella-as far as I can tell Alix and her only became fairly close after Ella married Serge, and then when both sisters were living in Russia.  But their relationship-that of two stubborn, passionate women, each convinced that she knew best-was never easy, and in the months before the Revolution practically broke down completely.

Irene was closer to Alix than either Victoria or Ella by virtue of age and shared experiences, though this, too, faltered somewhat when Irene married Heinrich of Prussia.  From everything I've seen and read, there isn't much evidence that Irene ever served as a confidant to her sister after Alexei was born with hemophilia, though one might have expected it.

Frittie died when Alix was only a year; May served as her playmate for 4 years until she died, but I've never really run across any evidence or information that her death had much of an impact on Alix-it had much more impact on Ernie.

Greg King

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2004, 12:28:01 PM »
Greg:

I am sure you'd agree that Alix and Ernie has a life rather seperate and differnet than their older siblings.  Their difference in age and the absence of their mother meant that the two youngest were in the nursery or still being taken care of my nannies when the oplder girls were in real school.

My own impression is that Alix and Ernie were 'little brother' and 'little sister' to the others and they were used to bossing them around.  Elizabeth made lots of decisions for Alix before she arrived in Russia.  I know she made many decisions about the design of their rooms at the Winter Palace with Meltzer and the other designers but Alix didn't care for them.  It seems like Alix didn't assert herself much at first and let Elizabeth do things like this.  I think she eeven made some decisions on Alix's jewelry...  I imagine Alix was rather in awe of her older sisters for some time into adulthood.  They probably thought of her as a child well into her twenties.

Ernie got pulled away from Alix pretty early too, wasn't he Greg - you know more about that than I do....  Alix was pretty much alone with her nannies and governess until her teens - isn't that right?

As you probably found in your research Alix and Ernie's English was much better (perfect spoken, inperfect spelling and grammar at times) than their older sisters.  Elizabeth seems to instinctively choose German over English.

Bob


Offline Greg_King

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2004, 12:36:40 AM »
Bob-

Yes, I agree that Alix and Ernie were closer largely owing to their ages and to circumstances, but they also shared a number of personal interests and character traits absent in the other Hessian children.

Ernie was forced to undergo military obligations, but these were largely confined to Darmstadt, excepting his time in Potsdam, which amounted to less than a year.  Even so, he spent more time when home with Alix than with Irene.  I don't think I'd quite characterize Alix as being somewhat left alone as a teen-Ernie was there, and even when he was away was either home at night or during weekends often and holidays.  There's a wealth of correspondence between Ernie and Alix in Darmstadt-it's one of the things that struck me-the sheer amount of letters passed between them-far more than anything preserved at Broadlands to Victoria.

A lot of their letters are on philosophical questions.

Greg King

Offline tea_rose

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2004, 10:02:10 AM »
 This closeness is the reason that Alix was so upset about the break-up of the marriage between Ernie and Victoria Melita (who left because of her attachment to Grand Duke Kyril who she eventually married.) The marriage was extremely unhappy and a good example of bad matchmaking. But-those were different times-and divorce was not as accepted then as now.

Greg-did Alix ever relax her frostiness regarding this?  I know it did cause yet more distance between the Imperial Family and the rest of the Romanovs.

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2004, 12:03:20 PM »
What has intrigued me is that Alexandra and Nicholas eventually "saw" Victoria Melita (Ducky) and Kyril socially.  Given Alexandra's famously rigid positions on issues of morality, etc., this must have been very difficult for her.  I'd be interested in knowing more about the dynamics of this relationship between the two couples, if such information exists!

From what I've read, sometime during the marriage of Ernie and Ducky, the latter gave Alexandra an earful of complaints re: her troubled marriage. How much Ducky told her and how much Alexandra was able to believe and/or assimilate is a good question.  I've always wondered if Alexandra--presuming she acknowledged/comprehended  her brother's proclivity for men--blamed Ernie's disinterest on Ducky, for being an inadequate wife or possibly a depraved woman?

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2004, 02:41:18 PM »
Janet:

It's a good point you raise.  Nicholas and Alix even saw members of the family after the police told them these Romanovs were plotting Alix's death or exile and the replacement of Nicholas on the throne with Michael! How could Nicholas meet his brother so tenderly before the departure for Siberia when he knew his own brother had conspired against him.

I don't understand how they could do it....

Bob

Offline Janet_Ashton

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2004, 03:31:29 PM »
Quote
My own impression is that Alix and Ernie were 'little brother' and 'little sister' to the others and they were used to bossing them around.  .


Bob - as a kind of aside on this, my general impression is that the closest relationship where the four sisters were concerned was between Victoria and Irene, who spent lots and lots of time together and had the added closeness of their interest in the Navy. Ernie of course says openly that his elder sisters were jealous of him, but the whole family as adults looked up to Victoria.

Quote
Alix and Ernie's English was much better (perfect spoken, inperfect spelling and grammar at times) than their older sisters.  Elizabeth seems to instinctively choose German over English..



Victoria's English though was faultless. I do find Ella's grammar and punctuation very odd.

Janet


Offline Janet_Ashton

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2004, 03:45:04 PM »
Quote
This closeness is the reason that Alix was so upset about the break-up of the marriage between Ernie and Victoria Melita (who left because of her attachment to Grand Duke Kyril who she eventually married.) The marriage was extremely unhappy and a good example of bad matchmaking. But-those were different times-and divorce was not as accepted then as now.


I think Alix gets an unduly harsh rap on this. Nothing I have ever seen indicates that she felt anything other than sympathy for BOTH parties at the time of the divorce. Members of the family do still maintain that all of Ernie's sisters were extremely supportive of both him  and Ducky. It's perfectly possible that they knew details of his private life and realised that for Ducky this was unsupportable. The nasty comments over the divorce came from the Dowager Empress, who declared that Ernie and Ducky might have been better off dead than causing a scandal.

I can't imagine that the Alix/Ducky relationship was ever very easy - in some ways they were quite similiar, and Ernie mentions jealousy from Ducky - but there is evidence that A did try to get along with her sister-in-law in the early days of the marriage.

If rift there was, I think it had more to do with the awkward (illegal) marriage to Kiril than with any animosity over the divorce.

Alix appreciated Ducky's wartime nursing role - and bravery - very much

Janet

Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2004, 03:56:33 PM »
Janet, thanks--that helps put things in better perspective.  We have to remember that usually there are a lot of shades to human behavior, and that most of us are far too complex to paint with a broad brush!

Thomas_A.

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2004, 11:32:44 AM »
Quote



Victoria's English though was faultless. I do find Ella's grammar and punctuation very odd.

Janet



I must say that I believe that all the Hesse children were not very firm in grammar or even in orthography and synatx.
All of them wrote strange combinations and wrong words etc. in german letters I read!.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Thomas_A. »

Offline Ilana

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2004, 06:10:55 PM »
It's funny, my impression is that Victoria and Ella were the closest of sisters, not Victoria to Irene.  Irene was considered somewhat backward in the family, and because both of their husbands were in the Navy gave Louis a chance to report on the German Navy, but I don't think they were particularly close as naval wives.  I also felt that the wars inserted a bitterness in their relationship that was not present, strangely, in Victoria's relationship with Ernie.  

Victoria, however, mothered those children, and the sisters seemed to have a conspiracy to keep the harshest realities of life from Ernie.  There seemed to be an unspoken agreement between Irene and Victoria not to tell Ernie the graphic details of Ella's death... they wrote about to him in generalities.  I'm sure he found out for himself as time went on, but not from his sisters.
So long and thanks for all the fish

bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2005, 12:01:49 PM »
There is a rather disturbing quotation in Martha Mouchanow's autobiography which says that Alix would tremble whenever Ella, "swept down upon her with a complaint or in an excitement of some kind or another."
In one of his early letters to Alix, Nicky refers to Ella 'the governess.'
Later on, it seems that Alix sometimes took a high-handed approach to Ella, reminding her that she was not her 'little sister' but her Empress.
I find the relationship between them fascinating.
I firmly believe that from the time Alix arrived in Russia, Ella's sole intention was to ease her into her new role, but did Alix come to resent this (long before the Monsieur Philippe & Rasputin episodes)?
I - having grown up in the shadow of a far more confident & outgoing elder sister!! - have some sympathy with Alix but at the same time I feel that she eventually treated Ella very harshly - even mocking her religious foundation & suggesting that she was setting herself up as a saint.
Do you think Alix WAS a little afraid of Ella? Or was her 'trembling' just her own nervous nature?
Any other thoughts on their relationship?


Offline ashanti01

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2005, 10:16:37 PM »
I think Alix was to an extant resentful and envious of Ella.

While Ella had managed to be accepted and become frineds with the Romanovs and other high ranking noble familys, Alix was not.

She also seemed to have been somewhat envious of the special relationship between Nicholas and Ella who were very close for years before Alix and Nicholas finally married.

I think Alix was very defensive and may taken a gesture to help her ease into society as an attack on her social skills or rather lack of social skills.

I agree the sisters seemed to have had thier own share of problems, that would only become more intense with the years.

bluetoria

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Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2005, 10:53:33 AM »
Quote
I think Alix was to an extant resentful and envious of Ella.

While Ella had managed to be accepted and become frineds with the Romanovs and other high ranking noble familys, Alix was not.

I think Alix was very defensive and may taken a gesture to help her ease into society as an attack on her social skills or rather lack of social skills.
.


Thanks, Ashanti, for responding.  Your point about Ella being accepted & Alix is is very interesting. I'm not so sure about the jealousy because of her relationship with Nicholas - if anything, surely, she should have been grateful for that :-/ But, yes, perhaps did not like being helped; as you say, maybe she took it as an attack...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bluetoria »