Author Topic: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren  (Read 113091 times)

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Offline Lanie

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Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« on: May 31, 2004, 01:22:20 AM »
What was Maria Feodorovna's relationship with her grandchildren?  Did she see OTMA and Alexei often?  I'm curious since not much has been said about her relationship with them...

Offline Sarai

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2004, 11:04:15 AM »
From my readings, I get the impression that she of course loved her grandchildren, but it wasn't a close relationship. Their aunt Olga took the girls to have lunch with their grandmother once a week, before going to the little parties that Olga arranged for them. While with their grandmother, the children were said to behave very civilly and properly, and the lunches were rather stiff and formal affairs. Only after they left could they joke and have fun with their aunt. So from this I get the impression that they couldn't really "let loose" and be themselves with their grandmother. Yet despite this solemn and rather detached relationship, she deeply cared for them and inquired about them in her letters, and of course, she never came to accept that they had been killed.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2004, 01:21:42 PM »
Maria Feodorovna was closest to the children of Xenia and Sandro. She rarely saw George Brasov (if at all). MF was closer to N & A and their children in the earlier years of their marriage - perhaps the first 8 to 10 years. As Alexandra grew more desperate for a son, her relationship with Xenia cooled, and nothing improved in her relationship with her mother-in-law.

It was Olga Alexandrovna who helped to provide a relationship between MF and OTMA after the early years by bringing the girls to Petersburg every week. It is doubtful that Alexandra would have allowed Alexis to go along with his sisters on these excursions.

By the time of WWI and the Revolution, MF observed a self-exile in Kiev and later the Crimea. Thus, the relationship with her grandchildren was reduced to letters only until their deaths.

Offline Guinastasia

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2004, 05:42:48 PM »
I've also read that she was much stricter with Olga's children and considered them inferior (partially, I would imagine, because their father was a mere soldier).

I've also heard that Irina was her favorite.  (Although if you think about it, she WAS the oldest grandchild)
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May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
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Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2004, 08:30:56 PM »
I really cannot fault her fondness for Irina Alexandrovna, it's to be expected as the eldest grandchild, after all. And, she was born shortly after MF's husband's untimely death.

The strictness observed towards Olga's children likely has more to do with the Dowager Empress' relatively older age when dealing with OA's children, the reduced circumstances in which they were living, and having less of everthing including space due to their relative poverty. It would have been strange for MF to be prejudiced against OA'a children being soldier's children. That's what Princess Dagmar was - a soldier's daughter! Her family was very poor until her father was named heir to Denmark.

Offline Louise

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2004, 10:13:02 PM »
In defence of the Dowager Empress and her treatment of her daughters, I think one has to remember the atmosphere that the IF lived in at that time in history. First and foremost her responsibilty was to her husband, the Emperor and to Russia. As Empress her duites, responsibilties were many. Also, her attention would have been towards Nicholas who was the Tsarevich. His education and well being would have been a large part of both Minnie and Sasha's lives. The other children coming in second place.

Olga was born after they became rulers of Russia, so they would have had little time for her upbringing.
Also, Olga sought and won a divorce from her husband which went against everything that the Dowager Empress believed in. The Dowager Empress was from the old school. You married for dynatic reasons and love (if at all) followed later. You made the best of it and stayed married.

I don't agree with how the Dowager Empress treated Olga and her second husband and grandchildren, but I can understand it.

She had a better relationship with Xenia, and her family. For whatever reason, I don't know.

Speaking as the first grandchild in my family I can see why the Dowager Empress would have enjoyed and spoiled Irina. Us first born are extra special in our grandparents eyes ;D

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Louise

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Offline Sarai

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2004, 08:45:37 AM »
Another little reference I found about Marie and her grandchildren, from
Nicholas and Alexandra -

Anna Vyrubova reported once seeing Marie "sitting on Alexis's bed talking to him gaily and helping him peel an apple just like any other grandmother" on the Standardt.

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2004, 11:32:09 AM »
In a book by Russian historian Valentin Pikul about Rasputin he writes that DE's relationship with N's children weren't any good. He even writes about a certain event where Alexis asks "How come everyone has a grandmother and I don't?"

Plenty of false info in that book, though, the historian himself is respected. Plenty of truth, too, however.


Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2004, 09:56:06 PM »
[edited for pertinent parts]
Subject:  Dowager Empress Maria to Nicholas II, 21 November 1917
The last letter Nicky ever got from his mother.

Aitodor, 21st November, 1917.
I have just received your letter of October 27th which has filled me with joy. I cannot find words to express my feelings and thank you with all my heart, my dear. You know that my thoughts and prayers never leave you-- I think of you day and night and sometimes feel so sick at heart that I believe I cannot bear it any longer. But God is merciful-- He will give us strength for this terrible ordeal. Thank goodness you are all well and that at least you live together and in comfort. A year has gone by already since you and darling Alexei came to see me at Kieff... I am sorry you are not allowed to go for walks, I know how necessary it is for you and the dear children; it is an incomprehensible cruelty! ....It is a blessing I am with Xenia, Olga and the grandchildren, who dine with me by turns every day. My new grandson Tikhon is a source of joy to us all. He grows bigger and fatter every day and is such a darling, so charming and quiet. It is a pleasure to see how happy Olga is, and how delighted she is with her baby which she had hoped for for such a long time. They live very snugly above the cellar. She and Xenia come to see me every morning, and we have our cocoa together, as we are always hungry....I am very glad to get those dear letters from Alix and my granddaughters who all write so nicely. I thank and kiss them all. We always think and talk about you. It is so sad to be separated, not to see one another, not to be able to talk.
They also serve who only stand and wait--John Milton
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Offline Sarai

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2004, 10:01:33 AM »
I quite like this letter, especially the part where she speaks tenderly about Olga and her baby. After having read that she was not particularly fond of her grandchildren by Olga, due to their father's commoner status, it is good to read that she wrote something so nice about one.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Sarai_Porretta »

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2004, 10:58:00 AM »
grandduchessella, thank you for posting this tender letter.

Sunny

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2004, 09:24:39 PM »
You're very welcome for the letter! I also found this one relating to Olga's 2nd marriage (again edited to pertinent parts):

Subject:  Maria Fyodorovna to Nicholas II, 16 November 1916
Kieff, 16th November, 1916.
My dear darling Nicky,
I cannot tell you how happy I was to see you
here with dear Alexei. It was so pleasant and cosy and
I recall these two days with such delight. Sandro can tell you everything about Baby Olga's wedding and about my great emotion. I am so very glad I was able to attend. May God give her every happiness. She herself is more than happy. She wrote twice: "I am having the time of my life!" [in English]

I embrace you tenderly and wish you all, all the best. God bless you.
Your old Mama who loves you with all her heart.
My best love to dear Alix and the sweet grandchildren.


Sheds another light on Empress Marie's reaction to Olga's 2nd marriage. Until the end of Nicky's life, she always wrote most tenderly to him, even as they grew farther apart than when he was younger. One can only imagine how hard it was for her to have lost 4 sons in her life: Alexander (as an infant), George, Nicholas and Michael.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by grandduchessella »
They also serve who only stand and wait--John Milton
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Offline Guinastasia

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2004, 02:38:56 PM »
Oh, I'm not saying she was a bad grandmother.  Just that she tended to favor one over the other.  

She was also brought up to be a very "proper" lady, and I would imagine would expect her daughters and granddaughters to act like "little ladies", perfect etiquette and such.

However, the way she and her sister Alexandra treated their daughters-expecting them to be almost servants, was wrong.  (Alexandra was worse-poor Toria!)

However, Olga A, one of my favorite Romanovs, ended up a pretty tough cookie.  And for all her flaws, "Minnie" clearly loved her family and was certainly more attentive than a lot of royal and upperclass mothers of the time.

And yeah, Irina probably got more attention as being the oldest.  (Who was the youngest-before Olga's children, btw?  Was it Alexei, or one of Xenia's sons?)
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2004, 03:49:06 PM »
I don't believe she was a bad grandmother either. I mean, it's not like she could be a grandmother like we'd expect--visiting her house and having her bake us cookies, etc...---when you're an Empress.  :)  And like many "regular" grandparents, she probably did have some favorites and Irina, being not only a girl but the firstborn, probably held a pride of place. She also visited and vacationed with Xenia and her family more often.

As for expecting them to be "proper" ladies, I wonder. She was brought up in a pretty free-wheeling royal household and her sister Alexandra used to say of her "wild" children that she was "just as bad" as a youngster. But maybe time in Russia with its strict etiquette changed her view somewhat.

She certainly was a less cloying mother than Alexandra. At least both her daughters were able to marry! Even Olga, who was probably closeted more than Xenia, expressed sympathy for "poor Toria" just a "glorified maid" to her mother. And she was certainly very hands on, especially when they were young and her letters to all ring with affection and concern until the very end.
They also serve who only stand and wait--John Milton
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Offline Guinastasia

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Re: Marie Feodorovna and her grandchildren
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2004, 04:28:14 PM »
It's a real shame that Alexander III didn't live to see his grandchildren.  I can imagine that he would have been the coolest grandfather ever-if the accounts of his nieces and nephews are anything to go on!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.