Author Topic: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)  (Read 78023 times)

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Offline Martyn

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #30 on: August 16, 2004, 09:36:36 AM »
Paul didn't abandon his children when he married Olga.  He had already effectively abandoned them to the care of Serge and Ella after the death of Alexandra Georgievna.  I do not for one moment intend to disparage him because of the grief that he felt over his wife's tragic and early death, but we must remember that it was Ella and Serge, a childless couple, who redily assumed the mantle of parenthood and tried to fill the void that Paul had left.
The subject of Paul and his complex and enigmatic character (inherited to differing degrees by his two eldest children) is probably a good reason for a fresh post.
I'll just leave this with one thought; Maria Pavlovna was able to rebuid her relationship with her father to a degree as a young adult - this at least is a positive.
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #31 on: August 16, 2004, 09:43:46 AM »
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Paul didn't abandon his children when he married Olga.  He had already effectively abandoned them to the care of Serge and Ella after the death of Alexandra Georgievna.  I do not for one moment intend to disparage him because of the grief that he felt over his wife's tragic and early death, but we must remember that it was Ella and Serge, a childless couple, who redily assumed the mantle of parenthood and tried to fill the void that Paul had left.
The subject of Paul and his complex and enigmatic character (inherited to differing degrees by his two eldest children) is probably a good reason for a fresh post.
I'll just leave this with one thought; Maria Pavlovna was able to rebuid her relationship with her father to a degree as a young adult - this at least is a positive.


You're right, but I'd add a caveat. He emotionally abandoned them as children, but they still spent some time with him as Marie recounts in her book. Once he remarried, he physically abandoned them as well and they saw him very infrequently up until adulthood. Paul even refused to attend Marie's wedding , acccording to Xenia's diary, 'At first he intended to come for his daughter's engagement--but he put the condition that he would not come without his wife--which was refused; then he wrote that he was not coming, and sent an official reply to the groom's letter, asking for his daughter's hand, saying that as she had an official guardian (appointed without his knowledge or consent) he was not in a position to say anything...What incredible heartlessness!' . Marie did achieve a reconciliation of sorts with him before he died and also spoke warmly of her martyred brother 'Kolya' but I don't recall what she said of her step-mother or half-sisters.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline Martyn

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2004, 10:29:21 AM »
I would very much like to know what she thought about Pss Paley and her half sisters Irina and Natalie.
I have such a problem with Paul and Serge and Ella's guardianship of the children.  I can understand that he loved Olga and that he wanted her to be his wife but I can also understand why Serge and Ella felt that they had to uphold the Tsar's decision and try to do the right thing.  I think that theirs was the difficult position.
We mustn't forget how close Serge and Paul had been as children, and how close Serge, Ella, Paul and  Alexandra had been as young couples; Serge and Ella must have been surprised if nothing else at Paul's attachment and marriage to a divorced woman of unequal birth.
Paul and Olga's marriage seems to have been very happy; she seems to have been a woman of charm as well as beauty and is one of the few members of the IF who tried to have a good relationship with Alix.  Are thre any books that deal with her in any depth?
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Offline Antonio_P.Caballer

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2004, 11:16:21 AM »
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I would very much like to know what she thought about Pss Paley and her half sisters Irina and Natalie.

Paul and Olga's marriage seems to have been very happy; she seems to have been a woman of charm as well as beauty and is one of the few members of the IF who tried to have a good relationship with Alix.  Are thre any books that deal with her in any depth?


Maria first knew of her fatherīs decission in Tsarskoe in 1902, she writes "it was the last year of my childhood", he just left a letter for her explaining it. Mariaīs first thought about Olga was "How could that person dare to take him from us?"

Anyway, that would change with time and the first time she saw her she had a good impression:

"She was beautiful, very beautiful. An intelligent face, with features irregular but fine; a skin remarkably white..." Then she adds: "In spite of all her efforts and those of my father the conversation languished. My aunt had decided to lend this interview a purely official character, and she succeded."

Maria even had the hope that this first meeting would be followed by others but it would not.

Much later on, after the revolution Maria will meet Olga in Paris, she describes her warmly as grief striken by Paulīs death and how they talked about it. I think Maria understood how much Olga loved her father during those sad days.

About Princess Paley you will find information on her own memories and also in Mariaīs two books, as well as Jacques Ferrand "Le Grand Duc Paul Alexandrovitch de Russie"


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Antonio_P.Caballer »

Offline Janet_Ashton

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #34 on: August 17, 2004, 02:45:00 PM »
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Also, itīs been always amazing for me the way Maria excuses anything her father did.


Children do this though! :-) It's like the offspring of divorced parents, who often represent the absent one as ideal and the one left to care for them (and discipline them) as a monster. I can't imagine Marie P. felt much different to this, particularly if she felt cold-shouldered by her aunt and smothered by her uncle. Her relationship with Dimitri has been described by one pair of writers (Perry and Pleshakov) as "psychologically incestuous".

Another analogy is the offspring of men killed in wars - and I'm thinking for some reason of Christopher Isherwood (perhaps because it's his centenary this week) who remembered his dead father rather fondly, yet persecuted an adoring mother for the whole of his adult life, forcing her to read manuscripts in which he lampooned and criticised her, and basically sponging her money when it suited him. A slightly tangential point maybe, but for now I consider Isherwood to be "on topic" here, because he was born ten days or something after the Tsesarevich, and his mother proudly noted that fact in her diary...:-)

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Being a Grand Duke was not only privilege, it was also duty before his country, the same country that supported all those privileges.


I certainly agree with you there!

Janet

Offline Ilana

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #35 on: August 21, 2004, 04:28:00 PM »
ANother random thought about Ella, which may not be very popular, but she strikes me as one of those people for whom it was easier to care about the world than the wards put in her charge.  :-/
So long and thanks for all the fish

Offline Janet_Ashton

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2004, 04:58:59 PM »
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ANother random thought about Ella, which may not be very popular, but she strikes me as one of those people for whom it was easier to care about the world than the wards put in her charge.  :-/


I agree entirely. I think the mistake some of her biographers have made has been to assume that love for humanity in the abstract is the same thing as love in the particular, and that a religious zeal equals a sentimental soul. I don't think she was that way at all.

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Offline Janet_Ashton

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2004, 05:07:46 PM »
Incidentally, there have been at least two biographies of Ella published in Russian recently, and not by the usual suspects (Bokhanov et. al) - I plan to take a look to ferret out what primary material has been contributed, though I doubt my ability to manage the nuances of the text... :-/

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2004, 01:43:19 AM »
One of recent biographies of Grand Duchess Ella in Russian  -  Vera Maerova`s book "Grand Duchess Elisaveta Fedorovna"(Edition 2002,Saint-Petersbourg).Much interesting....I don`t read Ella`s biographies in English,except one chapter in Miriel Buchanan "Queen Victoria Relations" (though there was memories -not biography).So Vera Maerova`s research is the best for me today - the author paints a rather complex portrait  of Grand Duchess  -the primary material for the book were private letters by Ella and her family.

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #39 on: August 29, 2004, 01:02:30 AM »
Perhaps it is much easier to love humanity than the persons under your own roof.

I have always wondered at the two sides of Ella's character, and this discussion has been so interesting to follow. I do not understand women who simply do not care for children, but there are women out there who simply do not. Just like there are people who like small children, but not teenagers or vice versa.

Does any one of his peers have anything good to say about Serge? Ella's character and her growth as a person seem to have been dominated by him even in death. She could have done anything as a beautiful young widow, including remarry and perhaps even have  children of her own in that second marriage (like Grand Duchess Olga A.) Her choice to become a nun was noble, but sad in a way. She is one fascinating lady.

Offline Sarai

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #40 on: August 29, 2004, 12:30:44 PM »
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Ella's character and her growth as a person seem to have been dominated by him even in death. She could have done anything as a beautiful young widow, including remarry and perhaps even have  children of her own in that second marriage (like Grand Duchess Olga A.) Her choice to become a nun was noble, but sad in a way. She is one fascinating lady.


What an excellent point, as I have often wondered about this myself. It seems to the majority of people that Serge was an unloving, cold, and distant husband to Ella, and yet she was so shocked and affected by his death that she chose to become a nun rather than remaining open to the possibility of re-marrying. She was still young and beautiful and eventually could have married a man who was worthy of her, and who could have provided her with warmth, love, and the children she probably wanted.

I realize that they had shared their lives for over 20 years and that his death was particularly brutal and shocking, but I can't help think that if a woman had what could be considered an emotionally abusive husband, involved in a passionless marriage with a man that could be outright cruel, cold, and just plain strange, she could eventually get over his death. Not to sound insensitive, but in a way she could almost be relieved to be free of that marriage and look forward to rebuilding her life. And yet Ella chose to shut herself out from the outside world and become a "bride of God" instead - so traumatizing was his death to her. She must have felt a lot more for him than he did for her. Indeed she was an enigmatic woman.

Offline Ilana

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #41 on: August 29, 2004, 07:12:09 PM »
...or possibly, because she had always wanted to be a nun, as she told her sister Victoria.
So long and thanks for all the fish

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #42 on: August 29, 2004, 08:50:08 PM »
Perhaps if the Lutherans had had religious communities Ella would have joined one at an early age. That could have really changed history...         Melissa K.

Offline cimbrio

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #43 on: March 24, 2005, 06:54:03 AM »
I know you're talking about Ella but her niece Alice of Battenberg-Greece was a keen smoker (like her own mother) and nonetheless tried to follow her aunt's steps into Christiandom. Her mother Victoria poo-pooed her to a relative in a letter (can't tell you who to exactly now, though it may have been Alice's sister, the Swedish Queen louise) where she criticizes her, laughing at her pretentions to being a Good Orthodox Nun while she smoked so much. I think, frankly, that Princess Alice was another version of Empress Alexandra, in the religious sense of being so zealous etc. Quite frankly I'm glad she didn't pass much of ehr character to neither of her children, who seem to ahve been quite normal.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Ella)
« Reply #44 on: April 13, 2005, 12:25:29 PM »
I realize this topic might upset some people, so I would ask for your patience in reading what I have to say.

In her memoirs, Marie Pavlovna the Younger relates a story about Ella that I have always found extremely disturbing. She writes that after the murder of Rasputin:

"My aunt clearly realized all the complications that were arising in connection with the death of Rasputin, but she was so happy at his disappearance that she could not condemn the murderers. To her, Rasputin had been a living and active personification of evil; and she felt that Providence had chosen Dmitri and Felix to perform judgment upon him. (...)

"Not knowing any of the details [of the crime] my aunt sent Dmitri an enthusiastic and probably incautious wire which was brought to the attention of the Empress. As a result, she had been accused of complicity.

"And now, in spite of her devotion to her sister and of all her Christian feelings, my aunt's patience was at an end."

IMO, if this story is true (and I stress the "if"), it does not reflect at all well on Ella's character, much less the depth of her "Christian feelings." I know that others have argued back and forth at length about certain character flaws Ella might have evinced before the death of her husband: for example, her "selfishness" and "coldness" to Marie Pavlovna when Marie was a child. But the incident I speak of happened long after the assassination of Grand Duke Sergei and Ella's spiritual epiphany - she was already a nun and the head of her own order, not to mention a future saint of the Orthodox Church. Yet here we find her sending her congratulations to a murderer on the occasion of his crime! Moreover, she does so in the full knowledge that her action, should it become known to her sister Alexandra, would deeply wound her.

It seems to me Ella behaved irresponsibly and cruelly in this instance - certainly not in a manner that can be described as worthy of a future saint.

But do we know if this story is even true? As far as I have been able to discover, Marie Pavlovna is the only source for it. Of course, Marie had her own reasons for portraying her aunt in an unattractive light. On the other hand, Rasputin's murder happened after Ella and Marie had reconciled; it was committed by Marie's brother and supported by a large number of the imperial family; moreover, in the passage I quoted above, Marie is being critical of Alexandra, not of Ella and her "Christian feelings."  

 
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