Author Topic: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?  (Read 34505 times)

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Alixz

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What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« on: August 04, 2011, 10:08:52 AM »
I was asked this question by another poster.

I think this is a great subject for a thread and so I have started one.

Thoughts anyone?

Offline Sunny

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2011, 10:13:19 AM »
As far as the name is concerned, "The last empress" by King is quite clear stating out that the real given name was Alixz, but i have read hundreds of time that people thought it was Alice. I have always thought that her real given name was Alix, but Victoria (the Queen) called her Alice because the english form was easier to her. But that's just IMHO.
Alixz, thank you for starting the topic, because i have always wondered which was her native language. It seems interesting to me that she had always written her diary in english, not in german. I believe that a person who keeps a diary - a document meant to be not public, but intimate and private - uses the languages or slang that "feels" more inside himself. So it is quite clear that Alexandra felt english her language more than german. But it is quite curious anyway - at last, it is to me.
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Alixz

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 12:19:54 PM »
Her full given name was Victoria Alix Helena Louise Beatrice.  She was named after her mother and all of her aunts in order.

Her maiden name is the question. Was it Hesse or did the Hessian Grand ducal family have another name as the Windsors do now?

We always read that she was Alix of Hesse and by Rhine.

As for her native language, I have always wondered myself.

Nicholas's native language was Russian.  George V's native language was English.  Kaiser Wilhelm's native language was German.  So what was Alix's?


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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2011, 01:55:55 PM »
what was said about a diary being written in native language i wouldn't strictly agree with. I'm english and i keep a diary but i write in cyrillic and french...
i don't know. If someone asked me i'd say that her native language was German, as she WAS german, but that she spoke english with most regularity and at most ease, as though it was her native language. but i don't know...

Alixz

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 03:30:58 PM »
I would say that her native language was German as well, but then we always get into the whole "she was more English than German" thing.

That probably comes from World War I when she didn't want to be associated with the Germans (she was anyway) but she tried very hard not to be German then.

She could have been proud of her adopted country and probably would have had less trouble with her German background if she hadn't shut herself away during the years prior to the war and made so many enemies not only among society but also among the workers.

As I have mentioned before, Marie Feodorovna never had to worry about being Danish and no one questioned her loyalty to Russia even though she still went back to Denmark to visit her relatives almost every year.

And even Marie Alexandrovna who was Hessian never had to defend her loyalties to Russia ( I know that Russia didn't fight Germany during her tenure as empress, but still...)

And Marie Pavlovna - Grand Duchess Vladimir - didn't get the same bad press as Alexandra and she was German, too.

Alexandra simply was her own worst enemy and caused so much upheaval with her attitudes that people went for whatever would make her a target.

So was her native language German or English - I would say German.

TsarAlexeiII

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 03:51:54 PM »
Her full given name was Victoria Alix Helena Louise Beatrice.  She was named after her mother and all of her aunts in order.

Her maiden name is the question. Was it Hesse or did the Hessian Grand ducal family have another name as the Windsors do now?

We always read that she was Alix of Hesse and by Rhine.

As for her native language, I have always wondered myself.

Nicholas's native language was Russian.  George V's native language was English.  Kaiser Wilhelm's native language was German.  So what was Alix's?

Hesse and Rhine describe regions of Germany. She was "of Hesse" and "by Rhine", but those aren't surnames. Did she have a surname?

As for her native language, it was German by definition because Germany was her native country. However, that doesn't mean it was her strongest language. She was always very close to her grandmother, Victoria, and when Alix lost her mother at the age of six, her grandmother practically raised her. So it is likely that if she didn't fully assimilate to British society, she must have been very strong in her English skills.

This 1904 U.S. article claims that the Tsaritsa uses English and German in her private life when speaking to her husband, and that "they also speak French and Italian." Nicholas accommodated her.

Alixz

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 04:06:15 PM »
I had always thought that her French was very awkward and I never heard of her speaking Italian.

She never made a concerted effort to learn Russian the way that Marie Feodorovna and Ella did.  Alix was not especially fluent or comfortable in Russian.  She could have learned at lot in the 22 years she was on the throne, but at the end she was still speaking English to her husband and her children.

Since she was so young when her mother died, it can not be said that her mother influenced her in speaking English more than German.  And Queen Victoria spoke fluent German and should have had no trouble being sure that her granddaughter spoke her native language well.   Queen Victoria had a German accent as did Prince Albert and Prince Albert Edward.

I have read that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spoke German with the family which is why her daughters had no trouble marrying into German houses.

As to the family name.  I know that of Hess and by Rhine are descriptions of localities.  I have never heard that the family had a surname as did the Hohenzollerns.  However I have heard Alix called Alix Hesse and not only by Nicholas in his diary.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 04:14:41 PM by Alixz »

Offline historyfan

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 04:19:46 PM »
I thought it was simply "von Hesse".  Nicholas referred to her as "Alix H." in his diary in...what was it, 1892?  Where he confessed that his dream was one day to marry her?

The "von" is dropped in ordinary speech sometimes.

Alixz

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2011, 04:25:29 PM »
In German, von [fɔn] is a preposition which approximately means of or from.

When it is used as a part of a German family name, it is usually a nobiliary particle


So it is not a surname simply a modifier.  It brings us back to Alix of Hesse (von = of)

TsarAlexeiII

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 04:38:06 PM »
Quote
She never made a concerted effort to learn Russian the way that Marie Feodorovna and Ella did.  Alix was not especially fluent or comfortable in Russian.  She could have learned at lot in the 22 years she was on the throne, but at the end she was still speaking English to her husband and her children.

True. She spoke Russian slowly (as if having to think about what words to say and the grammar) until the end, but it is understandable as Russian grammar is very complex and different than English or German.

Quote
Since she was so young when her mother died, it can not be said that her mother influenced her in speaking English more than German.  And Queen Victoria spoke fluent German and should have had no trouble being sure that her granddaughter spoke her native language well. Queen Victoria had a German accent as did Prince Albert and Prince Albert Edward.

I have read that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spoke German with the family which is why her daughters had no trouble marrying into German houses.

I didn't know that. Maybe her grandmother did speak German with her, but regardless, there is no doubt that she knew some English.

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I thought it was simply "von Hesse".  Nicholas referred to her as "Alix H." in his diary in...what was it, 1892?  Where he confessed that his dream was one day to marry her?

The "von" is dropped in ordinary speech sometimes.

Thank you, historyfan. This makes perfect sense. Many German and Austrian families use von as Spanish and French families use "de", and Dutch families use "van", to mean "of" or "from".

Offline DNAgenie

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2011, 06:18:42 PM »
There's a very useful explanation of royal surnames (or the lack of them) at the British Monarchy site at http://www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/TheRoyalFamilyname/Overview.aspx .  As far as Alix's native language goes, she was born in Darmstadt (now Germany) into the household of a German-speaking father and English-speaking mother, so she would almost certainly have been bilingual in German and English. Alix's family didn't have a surname as we know it, so she was known as Princess Alix of Hesse and By Rhine and she was usually referred to by others as "the Hesse princess" before her marriage.

Her mother Princess Alice was English (child of Queen Victoria) so English would have been her first language, although she would also have spoken German fluently. After Alice's death, the children spent a lot of time in England with their grandmother Queen Victoria, where they would have spoken English all the time, so I believe that Alix grew up with English as her preferred language.   It's true that QV spoke German fluently but it wasn't her native language. Her children all spoke German but it wasn't their native language either. I believe that Alix's diaries and jewel books were written in English, and that she spoke English in private with Nicholas and her children.

Offline historyfan

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2011, 08:09:32 PM »
In German, von [fɔn] is a preposition which approximately means of or from.

When it is used as a part of a German family name, it is usually a nobiliary particle


So it is not a surname simply a modifier.  It brings us back to Alix of Hesse (von = of)

I know, but there were plenty of German surnames using "von" - von Paulus comes to mind, Field Marshall of the German Eighth Army in Stalingrad, and people usually refer to him as simply "Paulus".  I thought the same thing might be said of "von Hesse".  Yes, it's where she lived, but it could have doubled as a family name.

Offline LadyAstraea

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2011, 12:17:56 AM »
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Yes, it's where she lived, but it could have doubled as a family name.

Right, but as shown in the above link to the royal website explaining royals and surnames, as a royalty, Alix wouldn't have needed to have a surname - sometimes royalties use surnames (e.g. the Windsors) but more often than not, they are simply identified by the country/region they are from. In Alix's case, it was "von Hesse und bei Rhine." For many royalties it is a problem for even them to find out what sort of "surname" they can take if they previously haven't used one and suddenly need one. E.g. when Prince Philip had to give up his greek title when marrying into the British royal family -- no one knew what sort of last name he actually had. Was it "Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksberg....?" Perhaps, but he was known as "of Greece" more commonly. So he ended up adopting "Mountbatten."

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I have read that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spoke German with the family which is why her daughters had no trouble marrying into German houses.

According to Victoria herself, her own native language was English, as she was not allowed to speak German when she was little, and became fluent later. When raising her own children, she insisted that she and her husband "spoke English just as much as German" amongst their children and family. Considering her husband was at first unsure of himself in English, and that German was his native tongue, it is natural that the children would have grown up bilingual. I think this would have been the same with Alix -- of course she was born and raised in Germany, and her English mother died when she was only 6, but still, given her closeness to her grandmother and her preference for English, I think we can say that perhaps both German and English were her "native" languages, with English being the preferred one. (I live in Canada and know a few people who don't actually know if their "native" tongue is French or English - they are just bilingual and don't have an accent in either language).

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She could have learned at lot in the 22 years she was on the throne, but at the end she was still speaking English to her husband and her children.

I don't really believe that speaking English to her husband and children was a deliberate snub at refusing to speak the Russian language by Alix. My own grandparents immigrated to Canada from Germany 60 years ago, and although by now they speak English most of the time and have mastered the language, between the two of them and sometimes to their children, they still speak German. The thing is, with the people to whom you are closest, you're going to want to express yourself the best you can - so it's logical and understandable you would speak to them in the language you feel the most at home with - not one that you only began learning as an adult (unless of course you have no other choice and no one understands your native tongue).

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Offline Alexander1917

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2011, 01:05:30 AM »
I thought it was simply "von Hesse".  Nicholas referred to her as "Alix H." in his diary in...what was it, 1892?  Where he confessed that his dream was one day to marry her?

The "von" is dropped in ordinary speech sometimes.

that's true. when reading her (and family letters) the "von" is always cut out and so we got Marie Coburg for the GrandDuchess Marie of Edingburgh, an Alexander Batternberg etc etc etc...and it's easier to know which of those many Alice's, Marie's and so on is meant.

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Re: What was Alexandra's Native Language and Maiden Name?
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2011, 02:51:01 AM »
I thought it was simply "von Hesse".  Nicholas referred to her as "Alix H." in his diary in...what was it, 1892?  Where he confessed that his dream was one day to marry her?

The "von" is dropped in ordinary speech sometimes.

Yeh i'd agree with this, i don't necessarily think that there would be any other surname as such,

I had always thought that her French was very awkward and I never heard of her speaking Italian.

She never made a concerted effort to learn Russian the way that Marie Feodorovna and Ella did.  Alix was not especially fluent or comfortable in Russian.  She could have learned at lot in the 22 years she was on the throne, but at the end she was still speaking English to her husband and her children.

Since she was so young when her mother died, it can not be said that her mother influenced her in speaking English more than German.  And Queen Victoria spoke fluent German and should have had no trouble being sure that her granddaughter spoke her native language well.   Queen Victoria had a German accent as did Prince Albert and Prince Albert Edward.

I have read that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spoke German with the family which is why her daughters had no trouble marrying into German houses.

As to the family name.  I know that of Hess and by Rhine are descriptions of localities.  I have never heard that the family had a surname as did the Hohenzollerns.  However I have heard Alix called Alix Hesse and not only by Nicholas in his diary.

really? i'd heard that edward VII had a german accent in certain words because he rolled his r's or something, and of course i assumed that albert would speak with a german accent, but QV? really? i've never heard of this? I find it strange to think that she would. Where did you hear this? Sorry not saying you're wrong, you probably know loads more than i do, but i'm just interested as i've heard it of Edward but never of Victoria?
as i said before, i would always say she's a native german speaker because imo she is natively german as someone pointed out. My grandad speaks English to all of us and writes in it too etc and it is what he uses and is most comfortable using. on top of that he speaks  7 other languages, but still although he uses english most commonly as he is ukrainian that is his native language although he doesn't use it commonly.  that just my logic behind it but for alix i guess there's loads of angles to come from.