Author Topic: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?  (Read 103397 times)

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Offline tenorsfan

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #300 on: June 19, 2020, 03:24:54 AM »
Were you planning of investigating if they were abused by Rasputin as he bragged about? I brought it up and it went over like a lead balloon, even getting deleted in a day or two.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #301 on: June 19, 2020, 03:51:35 PM »
Nah there's no evidence of that happening - though if you're interested in that episode of the Rasputin drama you can dig through the forum, I know it's been discussed. I've just collected enough material to make a good argument that OTMA were being/felt confined, uncomfortable, etc in their positions. Additionally, I feel like their parents were wrong to "sell" their images and essentially force them to be participants of the autocracy. That's the basic thesis of a personal essay I'm working on.

An update on that: I have multiple books ordered coming in. I emailed Mr. Bob Atchison to check his opinion on the authenticity Anna Vyrubova's memoirs written when she lived as Nun Maria in Finland. He says they're authentic, and I trust his judgement, so I ordered a copy of the Swedish version: "Anna Vyrubova: kejsarinnans hovdam."

From the AP article with a piece of text from that memoir (http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/2anna1.html), Vyrubova says: "The Empress was constantly worried about her daughters' future. She cried bitterly when she thought that they would never be able to get married for love as they belonged to the royal family and their choice of the future husband would always have to be motivated by political or other considerations of the kind. I shall dwell on it later in the chapter dedicated to the Grand Duchesses."

I bought my copy to see what she has to say more on that subject. :-)

Offline tenorsfan

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #302 on: June 21, 2020, 02:23:58 PM »
Actually there is, but a difficult subject to confront.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #303 on: June 21, 2020, 08:36:25 PM »
Hmmmm, I'd be interested anyways to see what kind of evidence you have? I'll DM you! I don't think this discussion belongs in the "loneliness thread" anyways.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #304 on: June 21, 2020, 10:38:18 PM »
Actually y'know what, from your previous forum posts it looks like you're referring to Owen Bejamin content on Rasputin. If you consider an infamous antisemite, racist, coronavirus conspiracy theorist comedian as a reputable source - that's extremely pathetic and quite literally unacceptable...you deserved your post getting down I think. Let's NOT chat.

Offline tenorsfan

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #305 on: June 24, 2020, 01:26:28 PM »
Well, I guess that's me slandered; sorry, just trying to help. Was thinking more the contemporary witnesses rather than Owen Benjamin's wonderful Rasputin video; that's gone now, isn't it? Owen gets called a lot of names, never mind losing his Hollywood career, basically for calling out child abuse. Who knows if he didn't inspire Mrs Trump to bring about the child traffickers Nexium's and Epstein's downfall.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #306 on: July 15, 2020, 01:17:34 PM »
Ugh whatever, back on topic:

From "Anna Virubova : kejsarinnans hovdam:"

"Tatiana loved company to a much greater extent than the other Grand Duchesses. She often complained that she had no girlfriends. However, it was easier said than done to get girlfriends, because the empress made sure her child did not choose unwanted companionship. Later, however, the Grand Duchesses were allowed to form friendships with Countess Kleinmichel and Miss Khitrovo. Admittedly, the Empress was worried that her daughters would spend time with the daughters of the Russian aristocracy, who had grown accustomed to an empty and often frivolous life from childhood. Nor did the Grand Duchesses spend time with their cousins to the extent that they wished, since the empress also found them too ruined to be suitable as companions for her children."

Vyrubova's statement that she "often complained she had no girlfriends" goes along with the text in her other memoir that "[Tatiana] liked society and she longed pathetically for friends. But friends for these high born but unfortunate girls were very difficult to find."

I should also note that OTMA were only really interacting with Olga Kleinmichel (Voronova) starting in 1911/1912 (I think - the dates aren't super clear in Voronova's Upheaval), and Margarita Khitrovo in 1914. So Olga and Tatiana were already arounnd 16/15 before they were allowed these friendships - even though, I think I can say with confidence, close friendships are already important considerations when children are much younger, not even in their teens. I really don't know why Alix isn't condemned for this more, she's so icky to me. From statements in OTMA's letters, I know they needed to ask her permission to go out in the park and such. Due to the nature of royals not being able to freely participate in public life like us - such as attending school, clubs, going to public spaces, etc - she had all the power over where her children could go, who they could interact with. I don't know why she didn't make the effort to actively find close friendships for her girls. I know she knew how bad it felt to not have any friends - she really suffered before meeting and befriending Anna Vyrubova.

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #307 on: July 15, 2020, 01:30:03 PM »
Some more pieces of text from Anna Vyrubova's later memoir:

"Since the Grand Duchesses had relatively few female friends, they lived among adults and appropriated their mindset."

"The Empress was constantly worried about her daughters' future. She cried bitterly when she thought that they would never be able to get married for love as they belonged to the royal family and their choice of the future husband would always have to be motivated by political or other considerations of the kind."

"The imperial children had all received a religious upbringing and, just like the parents, felt a certain attraction to the mystique. A very special feature that characterized them was the burning love of the motherland. The motherland was so dear to them that, with fear, they thought of the possibility of being forced by marriage to abandon it or abandon their religion."

Again, my opinion: this is more of a systematic issue of royalty - which I find inherently immoral - butvboth OTMA and Alix worried about them marrying for political considerations; however, Alix (and Nicholas) were the ones with the power to change this. The modern view of N&A is the beautiful loving middle-class inclined family persecuted by the evil aristocracy - but are they not playing directly into the oppressions of the aristocratic class by carrying on the tradition of marrying only in one's class, even though it constrained their daughters.....I really wonder if anyone else feels like I do about this?

Offline CountessKate

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #308 on: July 16, 2020, 08:37:07 PM »
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Again, my opinion: this is more of a systematic issue of royalty - which I find inherently immoral - butvboth OTMA and Alix worried about them marrying for political considerations; however, Alix (and Nicholas) were the ones with the power to change this. The modern view of N&A is the beautiful loving middle-class inclined family persecuted by the evil aristocracy - but are they not playing directly into the oppressions of the aristocratic class by carrying on the tradition of marrying only in one's class, even though it constrained their daughters.....I really wonder if anyone else feels like I do about this?

I think the problem is that you are applying modern arguments to people who would have had simply no idea of what you are talking about.  It may be a modern view - I don't think it is 'the' modern view which applies across the board - to see the idea of marrying only in one's class as an aristocratic tradition, but it applied quite as much to a 'beautiful loving middle-class family' of the period who would have been just as horrified at the idea of their sons and daughters marrying out of their class as would N&A or a contemporary aristocratic family have been.  The son of a professional lawyer, for example, marrying the daughter of a tenant farmer, or a prosperous farmer's daughter marrying a labourer would have made quite as many waves within their respective families although there was at least the possibility of such a marriage actually taking place, and even of the families coming around, though far less so the further up the classes you went. Nicholas's refusal to accept non-dynastic marriages within the imperial family meant that this became an issue which affected the entire imperil family, and was of concern to many of them, who were similarly placed with Nicholas's daughters - as Tatiana Konstantinova's situation demonstrated.  She had to renounce her dynastic rights to marry what one would have thought was a perfectly suitable marriage partner for an imperial princess (not even a grand duchess!) not very close to the throne.  So yes, Nicholas and Alexandra could have changed this situation - but why on earth would they, given the limitations of their entire upbringing and culture?  If Princess Marina could sneer at the aristocratic Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott in the 1930s, as "common little Scottish girls", whose families were "not even mediatised", how much more would N&A have sadly regarded morganatic marriages as unsuitable for the daughters of the Tsar, and that they should have to marry in their rank either in or out of Russia.  Even Edward VIII said, whether truthfully or not, that he did not realise until quite a long time after WWI that his parents would have accepted his marrying a non-royal spouse. 

So while I absolutely agree N&A were short-sighted and just plain wrong with regard to their marital policy for their children - of course it applied absolutely to Alexei as well - I don't see that it in any way distinguishes them in any special way from not only the majority of their own royal rank, but from pretty much all the other classes of their time.  And the middle classes were upholding these views just as much as the aristocracy.  The only leveller was money - and that did not apply to royalty at this time, and did not necessarily apply consistently to every other level.  The impoverished duke of X was perfectly capable of refusing his daughter's hand to the millionaire Mr Y of New York Consolidated Railroads, parents unknown. 

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #309 on: July 17, 2020, 03:27:49 PM »
Er, I hope I understand what you're trying to say...I should have specified more, instead of just referring to marriage into one's class across all classes. All classes follow this unspoken rule - I can't think of any exceptions off the top of my head - but to me, royal marriages are distinguished from other class marriages, as there's enormous political consequence - the image and, thus, legitimacy of a dynasty is at stake. Hardly a good environment to develop healthy, intimate relationships.

I'd guess that all royals had an unconscious understanding of this; at the very least, Alexandra understood that royal marriages were distinguished from others. In Sergei Sazonov's memoir "Fateful Years," he recalls a conversation with Alexandra after proposing an alliance through marriage with Romania (the Olga-Karol match): "I recollect a conversation I once had on this subject with the Empress, on the terrace of the Palace of Livadia. ‘I think with terror,’ said the Empress, ‘that the time draws near when I shall have to part with my daughters. I could desire nothing better than that they should remain in Russia after their marriage. But I have four daughters, and it is, of course, impossible. You know how difficult marriages are in reigning families. I know it by experience, although I was never in the position my daughters occupy, being the daughter of the Grand Duke of Hesse, and running little risk of being obliged to make a political match..."

For me, which I don't know if anyone will agree with me lol, I perfectly understand the reasoning behind N&A to limit their childrens' + the rest of the Imperial Family's marriages. I know they weren't being intentionally mean, manipulative, etc. But, it's not an excuse, because they were in the wrong. Their family members were pawns used to prop up the image of the Romanov dynasty, and thus, advance Russian imperialism. And I do feel that they are excused today. A major view of them in both the West (example: historians like Robert Massie) and the East (Russian orthodoxy, especially those in the extremely far political right) is the perfectly united, loving patriarchal family, which is 100% excusing that N&A were manipulating their children and confining them to highly restrictive roles for an Imperialist agenda.......the sanitized image of the Romanovs really kills me. :-(

Recently I was listening to an episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved (a mystery podcast haha) about Edgar Allen Poe, and they mentioned that he married his 13 year old cousin. One of the speakers was like "Welllll it's was a standard of the times" but the other said, funnily, "It's very easy to condemn from our point in history… so we do condemn! Wholeheartedly!" That made me laugh, but I also think it's a good mindset. Here's the clip just for fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4DTW4B3Sjs&feature=youtu.be&t=292

Offline GDSophie

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #310 on: July 17, 2020, 03:41:18 PM »
To be honest it seemed Nicholas wasn't as strict with family who married non-royals or even royals 'lesser then them' if they asked for permission. Tatiana Konstantinova and Irina Alexandrovna are examples; yes they had to give up their place in line but that was it. They were still invited to official proceedings, they weren't shunned by their family; they actually had it much easier then family members who didn't ask, and so weren't exiled or had their titles stripped from them. A friend over on PanHistoria once said that maybe this was Nicholas 'testing the waters' for what would be acceptable marriages for his daughters at the time.

By the way Buzzfeed Unsolved is an excellent, funny web show thanks to Ryan and Shane (the two speakers you mentioned) and you have great taste. ;)
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #311 on: July 17, 2020, 06:33:14 PM »
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But, it's not an excuse, because they were in the wrong. Their family members were pawns used to prop up the image of the Romanov dynasty, and thus, advance Russian imperialism. And I do feel that they are excused today. A major view of them in both the West (example: historians like Robert Massie) and the East (Russian orthodoxy, especially those in the extremely far political right) is the perfectly united, loving patriarchal family, which is 100% excusing that N&A were manipulating their children and confining them to highly restrictive roles for an Imperialist agenda.......the sanitized image of the Romanovs really kills me.

I understand the argument you are making, and I agree that the soft focus can be really irritating, but it seems to me that just because an image of a "perfectly united, loving" family is projected by some, does not mean that N&A should be especially attacked for "manipulating their children and confining them to highly restrictive roles for an Imperialist agenda" when frankly, all the royal and imperial families of the period were doing the same.  Where were the personal friends for the children of George V and Queen Mary?  Nowhere.  They may not have had the same constrictions as N&A's family but they were bullied by their father, and not protected by their mother.  And they were certainly used in "highly restrictive roles for an Imperialist agenda" - their marriages were subject to control by the sovereign via the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 and limited in choice.  You might say that N&A, for all that, were genuinely involved with their children in a way that George and Mary weren't.  Yes, N&A's family situation wasn't perfect and Helen Rappaport in her 'Four sisters' is highly critical of some of Alexandra's maternal manipulations and control.  Yes, the dynastic constraints to imperial marriages had difficult or unpleasant implications for all the imperial family.  But to expect N&A to rise above the limitations of their upbringing and go against the views of the majority of their culture and do away with the imperial restrictions on marriage, and loose their daughters into Russian society to find an appropriate group of friends and eventual mate was something just not within their mental grasp - and they would have considered such a notion actually immoral, not just in letting their daughters find their own friends or partners, but in not supporting the dynastic aims of the imperial family - that was their duty.  I'm not making this argument because I like or support N&A - I think Nicholas was a incompetent ruler, and Alexandra incredibly stupid over Rasputin and the whole shutting down of public representation aspect of their lives - but I do feel that it is going a bit far to blame them for the glossy and sanitized view of others.  They were the product of their time and their environment and neither were sufficiently bright or radical to make imaginative leaps beyond them.

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Nicholas wasn't as strict with family who married non-royals or even royals 'lesser then them' if they asked for permission.

Absolutely.  Though both Tatiana Konstantinova's and Irina Alexandrovna's marriages were initially was opposed by their families (though I think the first was on dynastic grounds - an unequal marriage - and the second due to Felix Yussupov's rather unsavoury reputation, as the idea had been established).  But the daughters of the Tsar would probably have to go with (1) a Russian Grand Ducal or at least Princely cousin (2) a foreign royal. 

Offline slhouette

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #312 on: July 20, 2020, 03:34:39 PM »
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I understand the argument you are making, and I agree that the soft focus can be really irritating, but it seems to me that just because an image of a "perfectly united, loving" family is projected by some, does not mean that N&A should be especially attacked for "manipulating their children and confining them to highly restrictive roles for an Imperialist agenda" when frankly, all the royal and imperial families of the period were doing the same.

Oh, I'm not meaning to specially attack them (especially attack, though I must admit I do get fired up about this topic haha). I'd make the same argument for all royals of the time period: that's why it's a systematic issue, not just personal to one family. I can't expect N&A to have acted outside the conventions of their time period/rank - but I don't think that lets them go of any responsibility. If someone does something wrong unintentionally, they still are responsible. I think it's a really bad idea to excuse the actions of historical figures because they were acting within the norm - there are lots of societal normals (in all cultures) that are accepted behavior while also being wrong. An easier example would be, say, cultures where child marriages are traditional (think Marie Antoinette being married off without her consent + expected to become pregnant at 14, aaah!!).

(I also hope I'm not coming off as argumentative, this is an interesting discussion.)

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To be honest it seemed Nicholas wasn't as strict with family who married non-royals or even royals 'lesser then them' if they asked for permission. Tatiana Konstantinova and Irina Alexandrovna are examples; yes they had to give up their place in line but that was it. They were still invited to official proceedings, they weren't shunned by their family; they actually had it much easier then family members who didn't ask, and so weren't exiled or had their titles stripped from them. A friend over on PanHistoria once said that maybe this was Nicholas 'testing the waters' for what would be acceptable marriages for his daughters at the time.

This is interesting! Though I wonder if Nicholas was so agreeable to permitting these marriages because they were lower-ranking Romanovs - princesses instead of Grand Duchesses - and not as dynastically important. I doubt Nicholas would have let his Uncle Paul marry morganatically if he'd asked beforehand, lesser so with his brother Michael because he was heir (after Alexei). There's not much "data" to look at, with only a handful of marriages happening in the family during his reign.

Offline GDSophie

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #313 on: July 20, 2020, 06:04:39 PM »
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This is interesting! Though I wonder if Nicholas was so agreeable to permitting these marriages because they were lower-ranking Romanovs - princesses instead of Grand Duchesses - and not as dynastically important.

True, but may I point out there was one Grand Duchess - not a lower ranking Romanov - and extremely close to Nicholas in terms of dynastic importance who would fit the bill and that would be his youngest sister, Olga Alexandrovna. Nicholas had no problem with not only granting her a divorce from Duke Paul of Oldenburg (once he gave it, of course) but gave permission for Olga to marry Nicholas Kulikovsky. Unlike Tatiana Konstantinovna and Irina Alexandrovna who married men with titles, he had none and his only claim to nobility was being a grandson of a general who fought during the Napoleonic Wars and his family happened to own two large estates in Ukraine.

Yes, Nicholas refused to grant a divorce to her before the War on religious and dynastic grounds; he believed marriage was for life and that royalty should marry within royalty. However he changed his mind after visiting Olga in Kiev - both annulling the marriage and granting her permission. In a letter (I think to Alexandra, who did not think too kindly about all this) he also had no qualms against it and wished his sister a lifetime of happiness. Before the War, sure, he wouldn't have allowed Olga let alone any high ranking Romanov a divorce or marriage a commoner like Kulikovsky but during? After, if the family had lived? We will never know, but I will not say it is out of the realm of possibility.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2020, 06:09:09 PM by GDSophie »
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Offline Marc

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #314 on: July 22, 2020, 09:36:40 PM »
Nicholas had no problem with not only granting her a divorce from Duke Paul of Oldenburg (once he gave it, of course) but gave permission for Olga to marry Nicholas Kulikovsky

You mean Duke Peter of Oldenburg.

He also married for the second time Russian noblewoman Olga Vladimirovna Ratkova-Roznova (1878-1953), daughter of Russian Senator Vladimir Alexandrovich Ratkov-Roznov (1834-1912) and Vera Yakovlevna Shishmanova (1841-1920). She was rich and even a street in Sankt Peterburg was named after her:

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A3%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%86%D0%B0_%D0%96%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%B0_%D0%94%D1%8E%D0%BA%D0%BB%D0%BE