Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Alexandra Feodorovna => Topic started by: AGRBear on July 24, 2004, 11:09:45 AM

Title: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: AGRBear on July 24, 2004, 11:09:45 AM
There seems to be a large number of threads about Empress Alexandra (Alix), so,  I wasn't sure  to start a new thread or not.  The one thread titled Alexandra is in memory of her birthday with great photographs.  It  seemed to have a mood about it that I didn't want to disturb with subjects which may pop up here.  Others were about her relationship with Rasputin, her mother-in-law, and others.  So,  that is why I'm starting this thread.  This is just about her.  When she was born.  Her childhood.  Her growing-up years.  Loves.  Dislikes.  I really do not know much about her before her marriage to Nicholas.  What can you tell me so I can gain a clearer image about Alix who became Empress Alexandra of Russia.  :)

AGRBear
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: AGRBear on August 15, 2004, 10:12:28 PM
What have you read that shows us  Alexandra's  thoughts about her grandmother Queen Victoria?

AGRBear
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchessella on August 15, 2004, 11:16:53 PM
All accounts show that Alix was devoted to her grandmother. Before Alice's death, Alix spent a good bit of time in England, but these visits increased after Alice's death. Victoria stepped into the role of mother to an extent to the younger Hessian children and Alix was an especial favorite and Alix referred to her as 'dearest Grandmama' and signed letters 'your loving little granddaughter' and wrote very freely to her. She also noted her devastation at being unable to attend QV's funeral due to her pregnancy . QV played a very formidable role in the development of Alix and Alix considered herself very English in style and behavior. QV even hoped to make her Queen of England by marrying her to the eventual heir 'Eddy' the Duke of Clarence. Alix felt secure enough in herself and her relationship to resist her formidable grandmama and while Victoria was greatly disappointed she didn't press her once she knew her affections would never turn in that direction. I don't think I've ever read anything negative about their relationship.

Sample letter:
Subject:  Aleksandra Fyodorovna to Queen Victoria, 26 December 1893
My darling Grandmama,
I cannot help always dreading the coming of the New
Year, as one never knows what is in store for one, God
grant that it may be full of joy and happiness for my
darling [brother] Ernie and the sweet little Wife
[Victoria Melita of Edinburgh] whom he is soon going
to fetch. Now I long for my precious One [father] more
than ever, how happy he would have been to see Ernie
happy, and what a comfort it would have been to me, as
life indeed will be very different for me, as I shall
be feeling myself *de trop.* But I must not bother You
with a long letter, as I am sure You have a lot to do.
Kissing Your dear hand most tenderly, and again wish
you much joy,
I remain, Darling Grandmama dear,
Ever your very loving, grateful and dutiful child,
Alix.

Subject:  Empress Aleksandra to her sister, 28 January 1901  Princess Victoria of Battenberg.
How I envy you being able to see beloved Grandmama
[Queen Victoria] being taken to her last rest. I
cannot believe she is really gone, that we shall never
see her any more. It seems impossible. Since one can
remember, she was in our life, and a dearer kinder
being never was. The whole world sorrows over her.
England without the Queen seems impossible. How
thankful, that she was spared all physical suffering.
Morally, she had too much to bear this year.


Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: investigator on January 09, 2005, 08:52:55 AM
What sort of a mother was she?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: ferngully on January 09, 2005, 09:07:43 AM
a dedicated and loving mother
selina              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Lanie on January 09, 2005, 04:05:53 PM
Lots of different opinions on this one.  I think Alix loved her children but obsessively and didn't allow them to really grow since she was so protective and seemed to have ignored the girls in favor of Alexei, which is understandable I suppose knowing her odd personality.  Neither N or A were the absolute perfect loving parents a lot of people think though--like anyone they had their problems and Alix's seems to have been the fact that she coddled them, especially Alexei, too much and didn't let them grow up or have their own faults.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: BattleAngel on January 09, 2005, 10:30:07 PM
I think that the dear woman was trying to create a "tight little island" which could protect itself from all outside attack.
Not exactly without reason considering the way that the outside world judged and misjudged her AND her family.

It truly IS in the psychology of people who are, or who feel, oppressed (and make no mistake about it Alexandra had darned good reason to feel oppressed, if not financially then PERSONALLY by the people who surrounded her) to withdraw into the one circle that will absolutely love and accept them.

Think about it...how many of you really seek out the company of people who you know are judging and criticizing you?
Well, if you do you are either a fool or a masochist!

So of course she wove a web of "us against the world" about her children.
The sense of being assailed on all sides could only have been exacerbated by the illness and continual fear for poor little Alexei's well being.

Imagine trying to keep a secret like that while simultaneously remaining eternally vigilant to what the poor child was doing so as to keep him from doing himself a serious injury!
And all the while the press and the public's  interest are making it well nigh impossible to keep either your worry OR the reason for it private.

Poor dear, it's a miracle she didn't go absolutely bonkers!
I'm sure she was over protective, her family was her ONE TRUE THING.
In her experience they were all she could count on not to turn against her and hurt her terribly.
I daresay she wanted her children to enjoy the mother's love and understanding that fate had ordained she would not long enjoy.

Sure, she was what we (or at least some of us) would call a "s"mother, but like every parent on the face of the earth, she was dealing with the hand she had been given, by life, societal expectations, heredity, typhoid, and...for want of a better word "God"

All in all she was a gem of a mother, if a largely overwhelmed one.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: investigator on January 10, 2005, 05:50:37 AM
I truly agree with u.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Speedycat on July 28, 2005, 01:37:02 PM
Dredging up this old thread, but I thought this would be a good place to post this nice photo of Alix with Olga Tatiana and Marie at Tsarkoe Selo in the late Autumn of 1908.
(http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/3295/alixanddaughtersautumn19088vu.jpg)

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Speedycat on July 28, 2005, 01:41:04 PM
.........and at Hemmelmark, her sister Irene's home in 1909, chatting with Anastasia.  Notice that collection of cameras on the table!

(http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/3490/alixtalkstoanastasiahemmelmark.jpg)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: elfwine on July 28, 2005, 02:13:33 PM
    I think that she wanted to be a good mother but I don't think that she was completely sucessful... Her daughters were not encouraged to have any friends outside the family and I feel that this stunted them emotionally.
  I can understand her desire to protect them-nevertheless this was a mistake.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RealAnastasia on July 28, 2005, 06:42:23 PM
Nobody is perfect in this world, not even the Saints. So, it's natural that Nicholas and Alexandra were not perfect. But there were excellent parents, and very caring to their children. Of course, they made lots of mistakes, like all parents always makes.

Those who admires the Romanovs as some os us here do, don't believe they were "perfect". We admire them for they have lots of good qualities and family high values.

Alix was somewhat hysterical sometimes, yes...She didn't allowed herdaughters  to grow up as young ladies, and keep them as innocent as if they were little girls. But she had reasons to be hysterical and to be af raid of St. Petesburg high society. She must have been afraid of young noblemen who could have been her sons-in-law, for she know how corrupted they use to be. She wasn't in peace with herself when she thought in their daughters future and matrimony. Certainly, we can't blame her.

RealAnastasia
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Marialana on July 28, 2005, 07:25:41 PM
There's no such thing as a perfect parent, but I definitely believe that Alix was an outstanding mother to her children.
Much has been made about her isolating the girls from most of society and keeping them to herself & Nicholas. I don't think she did this out of purely selfish reasons, however. Looking around at the choices of "friends" and social life available to her daughters, if I had been her I probably wouldn't have wanted them anywhere near  vapid Petersburg society either. Alix was treated exceedingly poorly and without respect by much of society, including her own mother-in-law. Small wonder that she didn't want her girls subjected to their morals and attitudes.
All four of OTMA were turning into outstandingly kind, caring, and intelligent young women. and Alix deserves at least half the credit for that.  She often mused about their future to Nicholas in their correspondence, hoping & wishing that they would be so lucky in their married lives. She also expressed her sadness at the fact of her illnesses being detrimental to their happiness - a fact that speaks to me of her love for them.
I often wonder how much the loss of Alix's mother at such a young age impacted the way she dealt with her daughters. Maybe she was trying to make up for the loss of her own mom with a sometimes overly hands-on approach with OTMA?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: rskkiya on July 29, 2005, 08:45:03 PM
Quote
I often wonder how much the loss of Alix's mother at such a young age impacted the way she dealt with her daughters. Maybe she was trying to make up for the loss of her own mom with a sometimes overly hands-on approach with OTMA?


Good point...
However, I think that this emotional loss on her part  stunted her ability to let her daughters develop as independant individuals - and yes - I do know that this arguement is a very very modern one to make.

rs
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: bluetoria on July 30, 2005, 07:59:58 AM
If she had not been Tsarina, she might have been viewed as a very good mother. Part of the isolation of her family was a result of her position, wouldn't you say? The girls did mix freely with the sailors on the Standardt & with their cousins...perhaps they were less 'isolated' than we think. By the time of WWI, Alix was seriously considering possible husbands for Olga, and though she may have rejected most of those who were 'on offer', it was no different to the behaviour of other royals at the time....
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Finelly on July 30, 2005, 11:39:28 AM
Any time you have a member of the family who is an invalid, dysfunction is the result.  In the case of the IR, both Alexei AND Alexandra were chronically ill.  

All of the family energies were devoted to keeping the secret of the hemophilia, keeping Alexei alive and happy, etc.  Alexandra relied on her daughters to attend her, and though they took turns, one can see that it stifled them to some extent, and that they felt torn between resentment and love for their mother.

Maria in particular felt unloved and unappreciated.  Anastasia had her own issues.  As the oldest, Olga had her own burdens.  Tatiana, who was her mother's favorite companion, had to deal with the jealousy of her siblings, who loved her as well as resented her.

Does this make Alexandra a bad mother?  No more than anyone else.  We do not have to be perfect mothers, just good enough.  The kids were well fed, educated, spiritually alive and searching, had the companionship of each other, were loyal.  

Could she have done better?  Yep.  Who couldn't?

In my opinion, evaluation of this issue is not as simple as "a good mother" or "a bad mother".  WAY too simplistic.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Marialana on July 30, 2005, 12:06:22 PM
There are a lot of good points & insights being brought up here.
I think that Alexandra's "isolation" of the girls is very much a double-edged sword. In one respect, she kept them safe from the vipers of society, many of whom had bared their fangs at her for years. In doing this, she fostered a closeness amongst OTMA that may not have otherwise been quite so tight. I don't feel that she deliberately kept them home out of pure selfishness. When "suitable" people were found for OTMA to socialize with, such as the sailors on the Standart, Alix had no problems letting them enjoy themselves to the fullest. To me,  the fact that they were so at ease with others also speaks to the fact that they weren't over-isolated at all.
Of course, Alix & Alexei being ill did take a negative toll on OTMA.  They needed to attend to their mother & brother more so than they would have had their health been fine, as is the case in a many a family where illness is present. I do believe, as bluetoria alluded to, that when the time came for the girls to marry Alix had every intention of letting them evolve into womanhood and leave the nest.
To sum up (finally, as I know I can get pretty wordy!), I think that Alix and Nicholas both enjoyed their children immensely, and cherished the tight bonds of a close-knit family. Sometimes the bonds were a little too tight, but I believe that had nature been allowed to take its course the girls would have ended up happy in adult lives of their own.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: bluetoria on July 30, 2005, 02:12:15 PM
Yes, I agree Marialana. They were certainly no more sheltered than, for example the Wales princesses, were they? Or, for that matter, Edward VII who was not allowed to play with other boys for fear they would lead him astray...and even when he went to university a 'minder' was sent to protect his morals!!

The fact that the war prevented any real negotiations abiut marriage, and then their early death, probably creates the impression that they were more sheltered than was in a fact the case. I do not imagine, either, that many Queens would have been so willing to their daughters to attend patients in hospitals the way the Olga & Tatiana did.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: hikaru on July 30, 2005, 02:35:50 PM
To add the pluses to Alexandra as the mother, I would like to say that she was only one of the Tsar's Families of Europe who feed the children with  her own milk.
She was very serious mother completely dedicated to her children.
But since the birth of Alexey he was at the first place - which was naturally because he was the heir and he was ill.


Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: LenelorMiksi on August 16, 2005, 07:39:17 PM
I think OTMAA were more isolated than the Wales girls, because they were lonely for other people their age.  Alix sequestered them for what, to her, were excellent reasons.  Queen Victoria had a habit of shunning high society, and that habit wore off on Alicky.  Their isolation had both good and bad effects.  They weren't allowed to be around many eligible bachelors.  Can you imagine what would happen if a common sailor tried to marry a grand duchess?  They had to know any kind of relationship like that was doomed.  Look at what happened to Paul A. and Princess Paley.  How many years did it take for Nikki to let them return to Russia?  That being said, everyone has faults and this one doesn't make Alix a bad person or mother, just human.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: LenelorMiksi on August 17, 2005, 01:17:58 PM
I don't know if I can reply twice in a row (or if that's a Discussion Board foul), but I really want to say I believe Alix was an awesome mother.  She let all her children develop their own personality without pressuring them to conform to a preconceived standard.  She let Nastya be goofy, Marie eye hotties, and Olga have a fling with a sailor on the Standart (That last info is from Charlotte Zeepvat's book "The Camera and the Tsars").  She let Tatiana be a fashion guru, as well, when she might have lectured her on behaving too worldly.  She gave them lots and lots of love, as well as setting some boundaries which all children need. ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RealAnastasia on August 17, 2005, 08:30:55 PM
Yes; I think there is a sort of legend about the "isolated" Romanov children.  I read in Penny Wilson and Greg King's book she had no connection with her children and to support this opinion they quote some letters where Alix said to her eldest daughter she might be an example for others, and to Maria that she wouldn't think she wasn't loved just for she scolded her in time to time...This is a thing that all mother does, and actually I remember my mother saying the same things to me. I never felt she was mean or cold to me for that.

As for the "isolation" of the children, all the Royals were a little isolated, some of them more and some of them less. Nevertheless, I notice, watching pics of the Romanov children that they seem happy enough, and were normal children. Besides, they developed friendship in some young people of their entourage (as ladies-in-waiting) and cousins.

I think this issue is more complex that it seems to be.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: LyliaM on August 22, 2005, 11:09:22 AM
Has anybody else seen those precious little drawings that Alix did for her  children?  (Grown-up ladies in fancy dresses and things like that.)  I think she was a very, very good mother who genuinely adored and played with her children far more than the typical royal mother of that day.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: LenelorMiksi on August 22, 2005, 11:26:59 AM
Lylia, I've never seen those drawings, but I think you're absolutely right about Alix.  She probably spent more "quality time" with her children then most regular mothers today, with our busy schedules and television.  They had to entertain themselves which really required more interaction. There's a couple of pictures where you can tell she's scolding Nastya (she must have been trouble with her practical jokes)...but just from photos you can tell her children felt at ease with her.  Thank goodness they made a hobby out of photography!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: LyliaM on August 22, 2005, 12:21:19 PM
Yes, aren't the family photos fascinating? They're kind of old news now, I suppose, but I'll never forget getting my hands on the first book to be published of their family photos.  Another thing about Alix and children:  I have seen several pictures of her chatting with little ones, and she has such a lovely, amused, interested expression on her face.  You feel that she instinctively knew how to interact with children.  She was, of course, a product of  both her era and, more specifically, the Victorian legacy, but I suspect that, as one operating within those parameters, she was fairly progressive in her attitude towards her children.  And there is no question that they sincerely loved their mother.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on November 16, 2005, 09:40:31 PM
There's not doubt in my mind that Alexandra was a loving doting parent, and there's also no doubt that she was an extremely selfish and demanding one.  

She was alienated from the court and had precious few friends and because of that she demanded that her daughters fill those voids.  Not to mention the void left by her tragic childhood.  She was the mother she always wanted but never got - constantly present.

Her children became her court, and she loved them, but she also expected totaly obedience and service.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Janet_W. on November 16, 2005, 10:49:48 PM
It's a complicated issue, and one that mirrors my own experience.

I look at the photo of Alexandra and three of her girls, in fact, and am reminded of how, beginning when I was a preteen, my own mother would stand behind me, grabbing me around the waist with a hand that felt like a clamp. And my expression was just about what we see on Olga's face.

I think there is a certain type of woman who sets out to be a loving, perfect mother . . . and then, somewhere along the way, forgets that her children are only "on loan" and that each has an obligation to himself/herself to grow up and become his/her own person. Although Alexandra wrote and spoke of the time when her "girlies" would marry, I have to wonder if she would have really accepted this. Perhaps so, due to her strong relationship with her husband.  

People are terribly complex, and I know that a seemingly wonderful parent also can be tremendously selfish in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. If I made two columns and headed one "good parenting" and one "bad parenting," then listed all the various aspects of Alexandra's relationship with her daughters, I think the columns would come out fairly even.

That being said, still I have the feeling Alexandra was a better mother than most royal women of the time, and cetainly better than most European society women.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on November 17, 2005, 09:29:17 AM
I know I just posted yesterday, but I thought of something to add  ;D

When it came to her girls marrying, judging from the grip she had on them I think that she planned on following in her grandmother Victoria's footsteps and keeping one or two of the girls single for herself.  In my opinion, those two would have been Marie and Tatiana.  Olga had too much value on the marriage market, and Anastasia was too rambunctious to be a proper companion.  

And I pity the woman who married Alexei (had he made it that far).  Imagine having Alexandra as a mother in law after you took away her precious Sunbeam!  :'(
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Dasha on November 17, 2005, 10:31:20 AM
Tsarina_Liz, you make an interesting point.  I think that Tatiana would have gotten the fate of being the daughter left single to look after Alix, or if not, then she would have been kept in Russia or close to it by being married to a second son of some European monarch.  It's a sad thought that Maria would have suffered the same fate, since she was so set on getting married and being a wife and a mother.  

As for Alix, she was a needy woman in many ways.  She had a tough childhood, and the early death of her mother didn't add anything positive.  I think she did try to compansate for it all in her own marriage and with her own children.  However, even the best intentions can go estray, and hers did.  She was indeed a possessive and selfish mother, though when one looks on the surface alone, it doesn't seem like it at all.  

In terms of Aleksey getting married, and his wife dealing with Alix, I think the situation would have been the same as was with Alix and the Dowger Empress Maria Feodorovna.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 17, 2005, 11:17:11 AM
I judge that she was a good mother, if a bit overprotective. She cared deeply for her children, and they were her life, and she allowed them to have their own life within reason. I think she was close to her family and was very maternal, and her children knew that they were loved, and not smothered. She found fulfillment in being a wife and mother, although she had the intelligence and character to be more. She was a Empress, but she didn't rule the country although she messed with politics later, and firmly believed in autocracy. She was a torn women, who had tribulations, many involving her son. But she never let up in her love for her family. Besides love, she had a real relationship with them and real interaction, as you can witness in photos.

She was very protective, but then they were royalty and were isolated any way. Even today this is true of royal children, and it was more then, when royalty were even more sacred and held remote from ordinary life. So OTMA  were not really any diifferent than any fellow royals in this way. True, they were held a bit more apart from court life than most of their royal peers. And this was directly due to Alexandra, who feared the influence Court Life might have had on her children. This was legitmate enough, and coudn't have continued forever. She wasn't understood by the court, so how could she expect understanding for her daughters? And, OTMA were raised a certain way, and she didn't want this to change. Who can blame her? I think she gave them enough of a life, with the officers on the Standart, or with cousins of theirs and ladies in waiting. As well, I believe that the first World War hemmed them in, amd caused ordinary life to become very different, and so their options were even more limited. They were so young then.

So, Alexandra was a good mother, a loving mother, sometimes strict, but not one who harmed her children by isolating them. I believe everyone relates to the world in their way, and even the isolated physically can understand the world in their own way.Isolation does not always produce what people think it does, although it has the effect of making you fall back on your family more, as OTMA did.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on November 17, 2005, 08:12:27 PM
I disagree that one daughter would have been kept at home with Alexandra. Marriage in the Orthodox Faith is very important. Basically if a woman wasn't going to marry, she would be taking up Holy orders instead.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: elfwine on November 17, 2005, 08:38:05 PM
Wow!
Were there no other options...only marriage or a convent?

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: catt.sydney on November 17, 2005, 08:57:52 PM
Quote
It's a complicated issue, and one that mirrors my own experience.

I look at the photo of Alexandra and three of her girls, in fact, and am reminded of how, beginning when I was a preteen, my own mother would stand behind me, grabbing me around the waist with a hand that felt like a clamp. And my expression was just about what we see on Olga's face.

I think there is a certain type of woman who sets out to be a loving, perfect mother . . . and then, somewhere along the way, forgets that her children are only "on loan" and that each has an obligation to himself/herself to grow up and become his/her own person. Although Alexandra wrote and spoke of the time when her "girlies" would marry, I have to wonder if she would have really accepted this. Perhaps so, due to her strong relationship with her husband.  

People are terribly complex, and I know that a seemingly wonderful parent also can be tremendously selfish in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. If I made two columns and headed one "good parenting" and one "bad parenting," then listed all the various aspects of Alexandra's relationship with her daughters, I think the columns would come out fairly even.

That being said, still I have the feeling Alexandra was a better mother than most royal women of the time, and cetainly better than most European society women.  


   What a thoughtful insite! Thank you, Janet W.!
I must agree that Alix appeared to have had a tight emotional and psychic grip on her family, and they acted as unwitting enablers (sp) encouraging what may be seen as Alix's unhealthy personal environment. I am certain that Alix did not intend to stunt her daughters growth - she did the best that she could.
   Nevertheless I am really quite amazed that the children were not encouraged to have relationships outside the family --this seems terribly unhealthy (and a wee bit emotionally incestuous).... They really ought to have had friends of their own!


Remember the old psychotherapist's joke-- If its not one thing, its a MOTHER!

catt
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on November 17, 2005, 09:40:18 PM
Well, from an Orthodox point-of-view, I think it would be unusual for her to stay at home unmarried. Generally speaking that is what we are called to do - one man + one woman = one flesh.  I just don't see her keeping a daughter at home - it doesn't seem to fit the religion.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: CountessKate on November 18, 2005, 03:06:18 AM
Quote
I just don't see her keeping a daughter at home - it doesn't seem to fit the religion.


I don't think keeping a daughter at home was an issue of religion.  It was a cultural habit, pioneered by Queen Victoria when widowed who arranged a marriage for Princess Helena to keep her in England, and privately decided not to let Princess Beatrice marry (she failed with the latter, but only allowed Beatrice to marry on condition she and her husband made their home with her).  Other possessive mothers such as Queen Alexandra with Princess Victoria, followed in her footsteps, although not her own daughters - they seemed keen enough to get their daughters married.  

Alexandra was very much influenced by Queen Victoria, but it's not clear whether she would have followed her in this.  She was keen for her daughters not to marry unsuitable men for the sake of marrying, which was a very good thing, but it's also true that she didn't give them much of a chance to meet suitable (meaning properly behaved royal) men through a decent social life either.  Sailors on the Standart or even noble equerries were clearly not a suitable social life for imperial daughters of marriagable age and even Alexandra would have known this.  I suspect she thought they would find someone from amongst the huge royal tribes in England, Germany, Greece, or Scandanavia in time just as she and her sisters did, but she certainly didn't give them many opportunities for this before war and revolution put an end to all that life.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 18, 2005, 10:13:33 AM
I think she would have expected one daughter to remain close to home or at home, this was the tradition of the day. It had little to do with religion. I think the daughter might have been able to marry, but she would have had to be nearby, thus married to a fellow Romanov or one of the foreign royal families ( minor german royalty) who had settled in Russia after marrying into the Romanovs. I doubt this daughter would have been Marie; she could not have been prevented from marrying and having children. It would most likely have been Tatiana were was very reserved for romance anyway, and was the most practical daughter, used to taking care of things. Also, she was Alexandra's favorite daughter.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Caleb on November 18, 2005, 02:52:35 PM
Though I don't particularly admire Nicholas's political descisions on their own (though I think his reactions were understandable, considering the assasination of his grandfather & the reign of his father) but I do highly admire Nicholas & Alexandra as parents. I think Alix was a good mother in all considering her situation, though there was room for improvements, like all parents.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on November 18, 2005, 04:41:02 PM
I wasn't getting at her being a bad mother, I think she was admirable in the motherly regard.  Certainly better than many of her contemporaries.  

I can't help imagining how it all would have turned out if Nicky had abdicated the throne earlier and the family had been given a choice over their future.  They would have been wonderfully happy in obscurity and would have made the ideal middle class family, perhaps on a farm in England or Denmark.  

That's something else about Alix I think people tend to forget, that she was given a relatively middle class English upbringing.  Nothing spectacular, just simple tastes in accordance with the times - certainly nothing like she would experience in Russia.  She carried those ideals with her to the throne and implemented them in her parenting.  Which is another reason why she would have probably been keen on keeping a spinster daughter with her - it was very trendy in Victorian times.  And Alix was never one for change.    
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Czarevna Colleen on November 19, 2005, 12:51:17 AM
I don't doubt that Alix was a good mother, if almost neurotically overprotective.  But this was not uncommon at this time in royal circles.  Since in Russia, daughters could not inherit the throne, it was obvious that they would marry other prominent royal family members in other countries, and I think Alix, although she knew that this would inevitably happen, didn't want to be separated from her daughters.

Of course, Alexei and her illnesses demanded a lot of her attention, and her almost fatalistically religious beliefs may have also, in some way, distanced herself from the children, but as it has been pointed out, she was an excellent mother by royal standards - the fact that she breastfed all five at a time when it was thought unacceptable does say something about her priorities.

She wanted what was best for them, even if it wasn't necessarily right.

Who knows if the girls would have remained in Russia or not or gone off to marry princes and dukes - it's one of those things that we can only ponder. 8)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 22, 2005, 10:34:33 AM
Yes, she wanted what was best for her children, and was over protective. She most likely would have wished one daughter to stay in Russia, married or unmarried, to be close to her. Olga wished to stay in Russia, but she and her mother had their conflicts, and each was too emotional for the other. So Olga might have stayed in Russia , but is it likely she would have made a good helper for Alexandra? I think Alexandra would have made a great impact on her children's choices if they had lived, but most likely Tsarvitch Alexei would have felt this the most.She would have had the most influence on him.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: elfwine on November 26, 2005, 04:18:53 PM
 Alix was a romantic soul - so I think she would have 'tried' to see them all happily married off.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: GrandDuchess_Bella on November 26, 2005, 05:39:00 PM
Alexandra wanted the best and only the best for her children. She could be a bit overprotective but every good parent is, right? She did lack some basic parental skills due to the fact that she talked with her children using letters part of the time but she tried to be the best mother she could possibly be and I honestly think that makes a wonderful parent :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: koloagirl on November 26, 2005, 08:55:57 PM
I believe that, despite her faults, Alexandra was a
good and loving mother - her "girlies" (and Alexei)
loved her so much - and despite all the strains and
emotional burdens she was under - she genuinely
loved her family with all her soul.

Alexandra may have had faults (and who doesn't?) but
loving her family and wanting only the best for them
doesn't seem to have been one.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on November 27, 2005, 12:04:19 AM
The fact she communicated by mail isn't such a bad thing - at least she made the effort to communicate in some way with her children - when you hear about how little time some Royals have available for their children...
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: GrandDuchess_Bella on November 27, 2005, 08:47:59 AM
That is a very good point seeing as some Royals hardly ever talked to their children. Sorry if my post sounded silly ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 28, 2005, 02:48:42 PM
She did communicate with her children, as well as could be supposed given the standards of the age, and have Royal Parents then. For a Royal Parent, she communicated with her children well, and they were an important part of her life, which is more than you can say for some Royals. Royal mothers have always faced difficult challenges, but at least to me, Alexandra faced these challenges and won it seems. She did not just have children to have heirs; she had an important special bond with them and wanted the best for them.What would have happened in the future is lost to History; but Alexandra would have made the best choices regarding her daughters.I think she would have strongly influenced Alexei, perhaps negatively, however. But she would not have done this intentionally. She did communicate with her children as best she could. Being a royal mother is a special challenge.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RomanovFan on December 12, 2005, 01:47:34 PM
I think Alexandra was a very dedicated and loving mother (and wife). But also very overprotective. OTMA espcially were looked after by her alot (and of course Alexei with his hemophilia and all). OTMAA were not allowed to see their cousins very much because Alix feared that they would become a bad influence on her children. I think only Olga, as she grew older, realized somewhat the bad state her country was in during the war.

I think Alix meant well by sheltering the children, but in doing so she made them very naieve and very unaware of how things were outside the palace gates. But this was also a product of that era too. Most royal girls (princesses, grand duchesses, archduchesses ect) were sheltered this way. Princess Victoria of Britian with her mother Queen Alexandra. Victoria never married and was basically a companion to her mother in paticular until Alix's death in 1925.

So it wasn't just Empress Alix that was overprotective, but she definately was that with OTMA.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on December 12, 2005, 02:07:50 PM
According to the psychiatric experts, there's a particular clue in Victorian and Edwardian photographs to a parent's psychological appropriation of a child - what I mean by "appropriation" is that the child has become a mere extension of the parent in the parent's mind. Parent and child have a symbiotic relationship which is not conducive to the child's healthy maturation, because s/he is so totally wrapped up in the psychological well-being of the parent.

In photographs (again, according to the experts) this is cued by the child touching the parent while the parent remains passive, not touching the child (except sometimes by default). In other words the child reaches for the parent and the parent remains passive, accepting the touch or embrace of the child but not returning it. If this is true, then the photograph of Tatiana on her knees before Alexandra, on page 170 of Prince Michael's The Family Albums is particularly revealing. Tatiana kneels in the attitude of a supplicant before her mother, touching her dress. Alexandra merely looks down at her benevolently.

P.S. Sorry I can't post this picture myself but I don't have a scanner!   :P
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on December 12, 2005, 09:34:28 PM
I must agree with what you have offered on her IH Alexandra as a mother. Up to the very end, she was very much for her children, her husband. She met her challenges beyond words. She was a wonderful mother.

Tatiana


Quote
She did communicate with her children, as well as could be supposed given the standards of the age, and have Royal Parents then. For a Royal Parent, she communicated with her children well, and they were an important part of her life, which is more than you can say for some Royals. Royal mothers have always faced difficult challenges, but at least to me, Alexandra faced these challenges and won it seems. She did not just have children to have heirs; she had an important special bond with them and wanted the best for them.What would have happened in the future is lost to History; but Alexandra would have made the best choices regarding her daughters.I think she would have strongly influenced Alexei, perhaps negatively, however. But she would not have done this intentionally. She did communicate with her children as best she could. Being a royal mother is a special challenge.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on December 16, 2005, 10:40:27 AM
Her family was very important to her, and I think if you look deep you know this. I think it is interesting to quote experts about the those kind of things, but I don't think it proves anything about relationships within the imperial family. I think we can learn alot about people, but applying what people have come up with in one age to people in another is often dumb, because we can't fully understand what that age was like because we are from a different one experts or not. But thanks, Elisabeth, for posting this. To me, it doesn't show anything about the romanovs, but it does have relevance to the topic.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sadie on December 26, 2005, 11:30:47 PM
In some ways I think Alexandra shielding her daughters kept them more grounded. Alexandra grew up relatively poor in comparison to other royalty. She wasn't nearly as flightly  as other young members of the aristocracy and royalty. So its easy to sympathise with Alexandra after seeing how spoiled and vapid some members of Russian high society were at the time. Her daughters were alreay the offspring of the czar and than for them to be thrust into the society circles would have led them to be influenced and taken advantage by others.

I think another big part of the reason was the fact that she lost her mother anda few other siblings when she was very young.  Alexandra sort of just wanted a family of her own.

However Alexandra's efforts to shield her children over protected them. They were so emotionaly stunted (as someone said earlier) that even their Russian and English was very elementary. Its good that all the children were close to eachother but they needed to be around other people and have outside friends their own ages.

Personally I think Alexai being a hemophiliac was realy the catalyst that sent her over the edge. Had Alexai been a healthy she wouldn't have confined herself to spending so much time at home and she and her daughters would have spent much more time in the public eye.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on January 20, 2006, 12:59:48 PM
Over protection is a term you could use, and it is perhaps applicable To Alexandra. certainly she was a good mother will a few quirks, one of which may have been overprotecting her children. This was true of Alexei especially, because of his hemophilia, that made him unable to do things he would have liked to do. She was overprotective of him, but he was the heir, and her only son, and she had done so much to have him, so this is at least understandable.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 21, 2006, 02:11:53 PM
Quote
The fact she communicated by mail isn't such a bad thing - at least she made the effort to communicate in some way with her children - when you hear about how little time some Royals have available for their children...


You're right, at least she was communicating with them.  But, when looking at it, something deeper comes into play for me.  They were in the same palace, rooms apart and she sent them letters instead of getting up and going to them herself even in the most emotional situations.  For example, Marie once wrote a heartbreaking little letter to Alexandra about how she felt unloved and unwanted.  Alexandra did not go and comfort her child but wrote her a letter containing instructions on manners and etiquette basically saying: "we do love you, but we would  love you even more if you were a good and pleasing child."  Even when Marie wrote her back still more distraught, Alexandra wrote a stiff almost cold letter instead of making direct contact with her child.

I think that the letters, therefore, are an example of how emotionally awkward and unavailable Alexandra was despite loving her children.  To me it speaks volumes that she could not talk to them in person.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on January 21, 2006, 09:27:15 PM
Ah, the letter. Well, of course, we don't have, and can never tangibly have any records of the times when she was personally there for her children to hold them and comfort them. Those things naturally are unwritten and their memory died when the Romanovs were killed. To suggest that the Empress was a distant and cold mother based on a couple of letters (when dozens of others show the great warmth and love between the Empress and her children) is a little bit skewed to me. I think, there were indeed plenty of women who have been 'better' mothers, or more able to spend time with their children, but I don't think she was as awful as some selected samplings of her correspondence to her children would suggest. There is a much broader volume of letters out there than FOTR chose to use, and like I say, letters are one thing, but they offer no proof of the physical and emotional time spent by the Empress with her children.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on January 21, 2006, 10:06:05 PM
Quote

They were in the same palace, rooms apart and she sent them letters instead of getting up and going to them herself even in the most emotional situations.  For example, Marie once wrote a heartbreaking little letter to Alexandra about how she felt unloved and unwanted.  Alexandra did not go and comfort her child but wrote her a letter containing instructions on manners and etiquette ...

I think that the letters, therefore, are an example of how emotionally awkward and unavailable Alexandra was despite loving her children.  To me it speaks volumes that she could not talk to them in person.  


It seems to me, Tsarina_Liz, as self-evident of Alexandra's emotional "problems" as it were. I can't imagine writing letters to my children, particularly with them living under the same roof, when I could physically get up and go to them. The existence of the letters is clear proof that the woman suffered from social and emotial disorders. Her own contemporaries said as much. She represents, to me at least, a sad individual who was about as unfit for her role as tsarina, as any person could possibly be.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on January 21, 2006, 10:11:43 PM
Quote
I think that the letters, therefore, are an example of how emotionally awkward and unavailable Alexandra was despite loving her children.  To me it speaks volumes that she could not talk to them in person.

I'm not sure I can agree with that conclusion. It's possible, of course, but I don't think it's the only option.

As we see over and over again on the forums, it's difficult to judge a person's tone from writing alone, especially if it's not someone we've had face-to-face contact with. Also, plenty of folks place more weight on written words than spoken -- which could very well have been true in the culture of the Imperial family. (I'll grant you, though, that a nice big hug would likely been worth more to a child in that situation than any kind of words.)

There are portions of Alix's second letter to Maria that could be read as cold, while others appear (to me, anyway) as quite tender. Still others are ambiguous. Unfortunately, King & Wilson chose not to quote either of Maria's letters, and only give us two short phrases from Alix's initial reply, which makes the situation even harder to sort out. At any rate, here's Alix's second letter:
Your letter made me quite sad. Sweet child, you must promise me never again to think that nobody loves you. How did such an idea get into your little head? Get it quickly out again. We all love you very tenderly, only when too wild and naughty and won't listen then must be scolded; but to scold does not mean that one does not love, on the contrary, one does it so that you may cure your faults and improve. You generally keep away from others, think that you are in the way and remain alone...instead of being with them. Now do not think any more about it, and remember that you are just as precious and dear as the other four and that we love you with all our heart.

So there you have it. As I said, without knowing Alix, it's hard to know what tone to read into that. Imagine how it would sound if Cinderella's stepmother read it. Now how about Cinderella herself? See what I mean? And there are infinite shades in between those two extremes. Further, not knowing Maria, it's harder yet to know how she would have read it.

At the very least, we don't have the complete picture. Considering the volumes of correspondence Alix generated in her lifetime, I think it's nearly impossible to judge her relationship with Maria in particular (and her children in general) from a portion -- note the elipsis! -- of just one letter.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on January 21, 2006, 11:52:49 PM
Agreed. But it isn't the interpretation of the tone of the letter that is the focus here. It's the fact of her writing a letter period. As I said before, it seems reasonable (certainly within my experience) that most parents would not being writing letters to their children who lived under the same roof, particularly on matters of such emotional import. Oh... I know that we all at times have left a letter on our children's pillow telling them either how pleased or displeased we were with such and such. But this behavior on Alexandra's part has to be packaged together with all of the other behavior (i.e. dismissing her own sister since her views relating to Rasputin displeased her). She was, in my view, a very imperious, cold person. It's all part and parcel of the same dysfunctional nature we've discussed at length.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Helen on January 22, 2006, 02:31:45 AM
Quote
Agreed. But it isn't the interpretation of the tone of the letter that is the focus here. It's the fact of her writing a letter period. As I said before, it seems reasonable (certainly within my experience) that most parents would not being writing letters to their children who lived under the same roof, particularly on matters of such emotional import. Oh... I know that we all at times have left a letter on our children's pillow telling them either how pleased or displeased we were with such and such. But this behavior on Alexandra's part has to be packaged together with all of the other behavior (i.e. dismissing her own sister since her views relating to Rasputin displeased her). She was, in my view, a very imperious, cold person. It's all part and parcel of the same dysfunctional nature we've discussed at length.

I agree with you that Alix was not the most suited person for the role of tsaritsa. But when you write that you cannot understand that any parent would write a letter on such an important matter, and that Alix was imperious and cold, that may say far more about you as a person and about your negative attitude towards Alix than about Alix herself.

Although I have never done so myself, I know fully functional parents who sometimes do write letters to their children on similarly important matters as the one note mentioned above. What they also do, however, is talk with the children in question about the matters discussed in their notes. These notes are a natural element of their communication with their children. I know from the parents and from their children that neither party has ever perceived this as strange or cold. It is just one more method of communication. An advantage of a letter over "just spoken words", though, is that the person who receives the note can re-read it whenever he or she wants.

We most likely do not know half of what passed between Maria and her mother. I think we should be fair to Alix and consider that it is very well possible that she and Maria had conversations in relation to the subject matter of this letter that we do not know about, simply because no one was present at these conversations apart from Alix and Maria themselves. One would be jumping to conclusions when one would assume they did not have such private talks.

This reminds me of a friend I once had. He used to give letters, to his children but also to friends who came to visit him. When a friend left his house at the end of an evening, he would give them a note with some thoughts on matters that were important to him or to the receiving person.  I got such letters too, although  we had ample opportunity to discuss important matters privately or on the phone, at any time of the day.   Some of these letters I still keep and are very dear to me. I never thought him disfunctional or cold. On the contrary; he was an extremely kind and warm person.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grace on January 22, 2006, 04:18:47 AM
Unusually for me, I feel I must defend Alexandra a little.

We are talking here about her mothering skills.  This was a woman born in the year 1872.  She was never subjected to all the educational and child behavioural psycho-babble that we are on a daily basis on TV, in magazines and newspapers, not to mention all the online advice available.

I mean, whether you like it or not, it's there and, in my opinion, a great deal of it is tosh and goes a long way to explaining why our kids have the problems today that previous generations never experienced...but that is beside the point.

Whether she should have communicated to her children in letters may be questioned by today's standards but certainly would not be back then.

The particular letter to Maria is affectionate and reassuring, even if written in Alix's individual "style" and I don't think it's fair to judge it against our idea of what a good parent is today.

I think she was a loving, if not always wise mother and one only has to look at pictures of the family together to see that she was at least a reasonably physically affectionate one also - a hand on or around a daughter/son etc. so, for a change, I'm saying I don't believe she was particularly cold and unfeeling here.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on January 22, 2006, 09:08:28 AM
Good morning, Grace and Helen

(we're about to head off to church so I haven't much time)

I agree (really) with what you've both said. The "but" comes in when I compare this letter-writing with the "rest of her behavior" since it seems to indicate a pattern. Let's take Helen's example of the man who wrote letters to his children and guests. I would completely agree that his behavior was a bit strange but certainly not cold or dysfunctional. However, if this same man had turned to his brother and forbidden him to talk about certain subjects (knowing full well that his brother was a good person and only concerned about the family's welfare along with many other family members and friends) "then" I would be a bit more suspicious about the letter-writing. That's what I meant by taking her action here together with other actions since it seems to be part of a behavioral package.

However, all of that aside I will say this: none of us can truly know one way or the other what sort of parent (or even person) Alexandra was. It seems to me that she cared about her children (particularly her son) and that she took a more hands-on approach to family life than many royals did in those days. And thinking back over some of my posts here, Helen... you may be right in your saying that my remarks may be more indicative of my personal negative feelings about the woman than about Alexandra... period. I can see that in the cold hard light of the day. I just don't care for Alexandra and so it's easy for me to see everything in a very negative light when in fact it may be my own biases that are coloring certain events.

So, in fairness to Alexandra (a person whose shoes I never walked in [thankfully]), I should probably try and be a bit more tolerant and less critical.

Perhaps "my remarks" are part of a package deal. lol After all... I don't particularly care for the Romanovs (oh... I don't dislike them... what I mean is, they don't represent all that is good and warm and fuzzy for me and they certainly do not represent sainthood). So based upon my feelings towards them in general, I can see that many of my posts would follow that mindset and that, as Helen said, they would say more about me than about the Romanovs.

Thanks for the insight. I hope this online confession means I don't have to spill my guts to the priest!  ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Helen on January 22, 2006, 11:20:09 AM
Touché, Leushino! ;D Although I am aware that my views of Alix and other people discussed on this forum or posting on this forum are just as much coloured by my own personality and experiences as anyone else's, there is no harm in being reminded of this. Your clarification of your attitude towards Alix did precisely that. LOL Isn't this forum wonderful?! ;D
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: mitia on January 22, 2006, 02:02:11 PM
Leushino, I do not know your age or your country. I am 50 and live in France. My mother who was born in 1922 was somehow overprotective, a great communicator ( probably too much as I do not think it necesary for children to know everything, I believe in some distance between parents and children ) and part of her communication system was also to write letters to my brothers and myself, letters that we would find in the morning under the door of our respective bedrooms. Moreover, my brothers and myself would say VOUS to our mother and not TU, as a sign of respect. This was and still is the way of educating children in aristocratic families. Writing letters to one's children who are living under one's roof, is also part of this process. Some important things need to be written to be remembered as words just fly away. I dislike telling personnal things, but I hope these lines shall enable to recenter the debate about these letters that Alexandra F used to write to her daughters. At the end of the day, a rather common thing in our world. And I would add that for me it shows how much Alexandra cared for her daughters, taking time to think of the proper pieces of advise to write to them rather than just hurrying into the girls rooms to tell them endless speaches at random !
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on January 22, 2006, 02:33:28 PM
Hello Mitia,

You know, my mum was born in the early part of 1900's, but here in the U.S. Although raised here, she was raised by a mother from a european background, I can say, she was the very same way, in her daily over protectiveness in some ways, and somewhat her daily communication, at times. We of course did not always agree.She was from a time, as was the IH, that 'children were seen and not heard'. This is a far cry from today's chileren, and or how they are thought of, and or raised! Certainly in how they are raised, or how the children want to be raised, again it is up to the parent's, the culture, perhaps social registar, etc. In our parent's day, and the IF's day, there was a bit of a distance between children and parent's. That's just how most children were brought up, and there was little fighting back.

In today's world, I hear and have seen children call their parent's, and other older respective family members, by their 'first names'. One would think they thought  their persons, equal to these older persons, when one needs to gain that stature, as well 'wisdom'. I agree, when one is living under another's roof, one should abide respectively in the best ways of interface, communication, as well what one can offer in exchange in the most positive of exchanges. One cannot dictate what one wants when one lives freely under another's roof.

I have upon occasion, written letters, notes to our lovely daughter. Sometimes the tone, or feelings I express, may state exactly of how I am feeling about that one issue, or difficulty we may be having. It does not however, ever dininish, or take away the endless love, respect, and care I hold for her, always. Some one else picking up my letter, just might think 100% differently. But again, if they don't know how we communicate, and or how we genuinely feel about each other, then they are most not understanding of how to justly interpert our letters, or communications.

We also are at times very comforting, in offering a hug, or kiss here or there. In public, we are not always, or ever so demonstrative. I believe for many, just as their IH, it was and remains in most upper class families today.

You would have to live with us, to really understand our depth of feelings, etc. on many issues. One could not gain an 'inside' understanding if you were not personally in membership of 'our immediate family'. !

Thanks for your input, and views.

Tatiana


Quote
Leushino, I do not know your age or your country. I am 50 and live in France. My mother who was born in 1922 was somehow overprotective, a great communicator ( probably too much as I do not think it necesary for children to know everything, I believe in some distance between parents and children ) and part of her communication system was also to write letters to my brothers and myself, letters that we would find in the morning under the door of our respective bedrooms. Moreover, my brothers and myself would say VOUS to our mother and not TU, as a sign of respect. This was and still is the way of educating children in aristocratic families. Writing letters to one's children who are living under one's roof, is also part of this process. Some important things need to be written to be remembered as words just fly away. I dislike telling personnal things, but I hope these lines shall enable to recenter the debate about these letters that Alexandra F used to write to her daughters. At the end of the day, a rather common thing in our world. And I would add that for me it shows how much Alexandra cared for her daughters, taking time to think of the proper pieces of advise to write to them rather than just hurrying into the girls rooms to tell them endless speaches at random !

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Azarias on January 22, 2006, 03:52:20 PM
It has come up in the threads before that because someone said, did, or wrote this or that, DOES NOT neccessarily conclude that they "were whatever" or believed a particular something.

Don't we all react to a particular situation in a particular way and not always identical to others? I don't mean to talk about inconsistant, just that each situation may be different and may require "vermillion" as compared to "scarlet." It's still all red.

I doubt that letters from the Empress were the only communications she had with her children. Most likely things written were things that may have been difficult to express face to face or things of importance enough to be written and remembered.

To suggest Alexandra was that cold or reclusive with the children is rediculous. If that theory held any validity then I suppose she kept a date book and made appointments ALWAYS to see them on such subjects as to whether to wear the pink ribbon or the green ribbon in the hair. Come on people!

History is sometimes a dangerous thing. Whose story or reality is the particular version of history? Can you really claim to "the mindset" of a dead person from another era? How about all the various factors of time, place and circumstance?

Are we sometimes a little harsh in our evaluations?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: mitia on January 22, 2006, 03:54:05 PM
Tania,
Thanks for your words of " sense and sensibility ". I completely agree with you, family life is a very private matter and the main thing in it is LOVE. Alexandra loved Her children with all the strength of Her heart and soul, no doubt about it in my opinion !
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on January 22, 2006, 04:15:02 PM
Dear Azarias & Mitia,

I thank you for your valued input. I hope most posters will in their future postings, take what has been shared into full consideration, of any given sharing on their IF personal lives, BEFORE, jumping to, or imposing their personal take on what they, [the poster] thinks has transpired with the IF. We may as viewers, and arm chair traveller's if you will, consider a situation if anything, but to honestly state it as gospel truth, cannot ever be established.

One may have personal likes or dislikes on a particular world personage, but that should never interfere with, nor color the real truth about the real facts of any given world personage. While we are here to express our thoughts, they as thoughts, remain just that. It is an injustice to take any historical fact into our own hands, just for the sake of wanting to re-write history as what we might want it to be.

As a mother, her IH Alexandra was genuine, and a wonderful role model of a mother. There is no doubt in my mind, she loved any of her children less than another, or that she did not have their full care and concern in full view, and under considerable follow through. She cannot be found at fault, imho in the manner of how she raised her children. I took a close look again, at the pictures on this thread of her standing with the young grand duchesses. Notice her face, and the loving way in which she holds here young daughters. Only a mother with real love, hold her children as tenderly, and the look on her face, and in her eyes, shares this as well. The look is not cold, nor distant. The look shares in total, a mother's real and true feelings,  of love.  Nothing less.

Thanks again for your input.

Tatiana



Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on January 22, 2006, 05:50:13 PM
I never really thought about why Alix wrote letters to her children or why Victoria did either.

It was just something that I accepted as a "royal thing".

I, myself, prefer to write to people rather than call them on the phone, because it gives me more time to think and say what I want to say more clearly.

A lot of people I write to don't like that.  I don't write to my son, he's right across the hall, but I do sometimes send notes to friends and family members.  Especially if I want to cover something truly important and don't want to be interupted by questions, before my explanation is through.

However on the other hand, I sent some faxes to a doctor once when I wanted to get a clearer explanation and was tired of getting the "run around" on the phone and was told in no uncertain terms to stop writing to him or he would stop seeing our family as patients.  He told me that the faxes were legal documents and that he would not be communicated with in writing.

Of course I we dropped him as a doctor right away.  Who wants a doctor who won't put his advice or opinion in writing?

My mother was also born in 1922, but in our house, no notes were passed.  I don't know what level of society the poster who lives in France is from, but perhaps it is just that France, no matter what level of society, is different than the US.

I often read about how we should surprise our spouses with little notes at random times to keep the "romantic spark" going.    Or how we should put little notes in our children's lunch boxes to let them know we are thinking about them during the school day.

I think that the Victorian ritual of the "children's hour" is what brought about the writing of notes to one's children.  If you only see your child for one hour each day, and the child is washed and dressed and presented for the parent's approval, there wouldn't be much time for private advice or an affectionate hug.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on January 22, 2006, 06:51:03 PM
My mother (of blessed memory) was born in 1920. She did not write notes to me but rather had direct conversations which I generally welcomed. In terms of writing notes versus face to face discussions, I suppose the phrase, "different strokes for different folks" comes to mind.

I just don't view Alexandra as the misunderstood martyr caring for her sick son the way many of you do. Oh, I believe she carried a great deal of guilt for birthing this sickly child... but that's another matter. It's clear to me that she refused her sister's advice (and that of many family members) when it went against her own beliefs as a result of which the ultimate destruction of the dynasty (and ironically her immediate family) was hastened.

All of that ramble aside... I will be ordering some books shortly to broaden my knowledge of this subject. It's becoming increasingly evident that I'm lacking in a number of areas and my views on the tsaritsa may be the direct result of simply not enough "good" information.  ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on January 22, 2006, 07:48:48 PM
Yes, it is a good idea to read, and as widely as possible. It is very hard to find neutral ground as regards Alexandra. Books written by (e.g.) Vyrubova and Dehn are (naturally enough) fawning and show only the good. Books by (e.g.) Radziwill (again naturally enough) show mainly the bad. Actually Radziwill writes some nice things, but always with barbs and some of them very subtle. She was a very complicated person (who isn't? but I think she was in particular) and one of the biggest difficulties in getting to know her is that she was very shy, had a very small circle, and thus the people who knew her intimately were either killed along with her, and the ones who escaped, as I said focus only on her better qualities, of which there were many. Her faults, also, were many, but which of us can deny that about ourselves as well. (OK I know we are not persons of consequence and that she should have and could have done much differently, but we should look at our own faults before looking at others.)

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on January 22, 2006, 09:44:11 PM
Truthfully, it is most likely that was just the way they communicated, and it should not reflect on their relationship at all. Different families communicate different ways, and those not of that family cannot understand it at all. And there are the things not on the written record, too, because there could have been topics that were covered by face to face communication, and not by notes, although the record is sparse here. Just because Alexandra wrote notes to her children does not mean she was a bad mother in any way at all, and that is a very modern reading of the sitiuation. Victorian familes did things differently, and so did Royal familes, and the norm for a royal family of another age is likely to be different than our own. And what are ''norms'' anyway? Just the certain things of a time and place. Alexandra may have been  a bit over protective, but she was a good mother who chose the way she communicated with her children, on what worked best for her family, and that's all there is to it, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on January 25, 2006, 07:23:11 AM
Quote
Unfortunately, King & Wilson chose not to quote either of Maria's letters, and only give us two short phrases from Alix's initial reply, which makes the situation even harder to sort out. At any rate, here's Alix's second letter:
Your letter made me quite sad. Sweet child, you must promise me never again to think that nobody loves you. How did such an idea get into your little head? Get it quickly out again. We all love you very tenderly, only when too wild and naughty and won't listen then must be scolded; but to scold does not mean that one does not love, on the contrary, one does it so that you may cure your faults and improve. You generally keep away from others, think that you are in the way and remain alone...instead of being with them. Now do not think any more about it, and remember that you are just as precious and dear as the other four and that we love you with all our heart.


It looks as if the whole letter is quoted in a Russian-language book called Divniy Svet. There are a few small differences in the Russian version. Here goes:

11 March, 1910.
My dear Mashen'ka
Your letter made me very sad. Dear child, you must promise me never again to think that nobody loves you. How did such an idea get into your head? Quickly get it out again. We all love you very tenderly, and only when only when too wild and naughty and won't listen then you are scolded; but to scold does not mean that one does not love. On the contrary, it's done so that you may cure your faults and become better!
You generally keep away from the others, think that you are in their way and remain alone with Trina instead of being with them. They imagine that you don't want to be with them. Now you be a big girl -- and it will be better for you if you follow and be more with them.
Now do not think any more about it and remember that you are just as precious and dear as the other four and that we love you with all our heart.
Yes, God bless you, dear child. Tender kisses.
Very your loving old Mama +.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on January 25, 2006, 07:35:14 AM
The letter before that one reads:

7 March, 1910.
Dear Maria,
I lovingly thank you for your few sweet letters. Our Friend came for a very short time. Try to always be a good and obedient little girl, and then all will love you. Anastasia and I don't have any secrets, I don't like secrets. God bless you.
Many kisses from your Mama+.


Unfortunately, the book doesn't include Maria's letters for these dates. I wonder, though, what sort of nursery intrigues had gone on to make Maria think Alix & Anastasia were in cahoots about something?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on January 25, 2006, 08:47:37 PM
Dear Sarushka,

Your words are well taken. We cannot judge her IH on the limited notes to her children that remain. It is indeed up to the reader, (plus i would believe their lack of, or wealth of information on a particular person).of how to perceive someone's writings, etc.

If a person has definite feelings against another, their remains little objectivity. If the heart, and mind are open, there may be an opening of reasoning to see other perspectives.

In order to fully come to a reasonable understanding, the more we read, the more we 'educate' ourselves fully without biasness. I believe this is applicable to do with any person, or issue(s), then we can safetly converse or exchange without personal biasness.

In terms of time variances, then as opposed to now, the variances are monumental.

But again by your kindness in translating these very warm and caring letters to her daughter(s) dear Sarushka, one may see in the letters entirety, that she loved her children immensely. That was only a letter. I can imagine how she was in the flesh, and receiving her direct messages. I think she was a very, very caring and loving mother !

Tatiana


Quote
I'm not sure I can agree with that conclusion. It's possible, of course, but I don't think it's the only option.

As we see over and over again on the forums, it's difficult to judge a person's tone from writing alone, especially if it's not someone we've had face-to-face contact with. Also, plenty of folks place more weight on written words than spoken -- which could very well have been true in the culture of the Imperial family. (I'll grant you, though, that a nice big hug would likely been worth more to a child in that situation than any kind of words.)

There are portions of Alix's second letter to Maria that could be read as cold, while others appear (to me, anyway) as quite tender. Still others are ambiguous. Unfortunately, King & Wilson chose not to quote either of Maria's letters, and only give us two short phrases from Alix's initial reply, which makes the situation even harder to sort out. At any rate, here's Alix's second letter:
Your letter made me quite sad. Sweet child, you must promise me never again to think that nobody loves you. How did such an idea get into your little head? Get it quickly out again. We all love you very tenderly, only when too wild and naughty and won't listen then must be scolded; but to scold does not mean that one does not love, on the contrary, one does it so that you may cure your faults and improve. You generally keep away from others, think that you are in the way and remain alone...instead of being with them. Now do not think any more about it, and remember that you are just as precious and dear as the other four and that we love you with all our heart.

So there you have it. As I said, without knowing Alix, it's hard to know what tone to read into that. Imagine how it would sound if Cinderella's stepmother read it. Now how about Cinderella herself? See what I mean? And there are infinite shades in between those two extremes. Further, not knowing Maria, it's harder yet to know how she would have read it.

At the very least, we don't have the complete picture. Considering the volumes of correspondence Alix generated in her lifetime, I think it's nearly impossible to judge her relationship with Maria in particular (and her children in general) from a portion -- note the elipsis! -- of just one letter.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on January 26, 2006, 10:44:58 AM
Indeed, these letters are loving, and well toned, and don't bear out any assumptions about this form of communication. Those kind of assumptions are modern, and should not detract us from that time and place, nor the tone of the letters.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 27, 2006, 01:15:47 PM
I read the complete letters back and forth, both Maria's and Alexandra's and based on what I have also read about Alexandra's typical pattern of behavior the letters still seems cold and distant.  I am not here to bash Alexandra and I am not one of those who constantly seeks to belittle her, I would jump to her defense here if I could but based on what I know I can not.  She dearly loved her children, that is unarguable, but she was a flawed personality who unfortunately grew up in an atmosphere that did not promote one on one connection with children (look at Victoria, she loved her children but wasn't a warm mother).  Given her history with her personality, the letters make perfect sense.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: lilavanderhorn on January 27, 2006, 02:14:25 PM
I do not see the letters as cold and distant at all.  If anything I see a mother trying to soothe a child who feels that she has been slighted by her sisters.  For all we know she could have talked to Maria about this issue as well.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on January 27, 2006, 04:23:25 PM
I'm somewhat confused by your post. First you say it's good she was communicating with her children. Then you argue that they were rooms apart.Then you are bothered by the fact that you think she would not take the time to go directly to a child no matter what the 'emotional' situation. Looks like she couldn't win for losing...

From one situation, and that based on a letter, you base your statement of her IH inability to have a real bonding with her children ? How sad. If history is to base our lives on such smallness of note, then it is to have nothing at all in terms of 'relationships'.

In a follow up post Sarushka posted letters, which indeed showed definite exactness of her IH feelings, and her shared understanding that she loved all her children equally.

I don't find her IH Alexandra to have been with any of her children akward, nor emotionally negating.

How do you know, and can you prove in detail that she was or had the inability to speak to her children in person ? This is most assuredly, your opinion, but nothing of reality. Because of one situation you base your findings that she was an ineffective, and or non reachable mother. :(

As a mother, and as one who has worked with children over 30 years, and understanding the backdrop of the IF and somewhat of how royal houses were with children, I can say, that her IH A was a very good mother, and most sincere in raising her children in the best way she could, given the many added difficulties she had to address. Just mho.

Tatiana


Quote

You're right, at least she was communicating with them.  But, when looking at it, something deeper comes into play for me.  They were in the same palace, rooms apart and she sent them letters instead of getting up and going to them herself even in the most emotional situations.  For example, Marie once wrote a heartbreaking little letter to Alexandra about how she felt unloved and unwanted.  Alexandra did not go and comfort her child but wrote her a letter containing instructions on manners and etiquette basically saying: "we do love you, but we would  love you even more if you were a good and pleasing child."  Even when Marie wrote her back still more distraught, Alexandra wrote a stiff almost cold letter instead of making direct contact with her child.

I think that the letters, therefore, are an example of how emotionally awkward and unavailable Alexandra was despite loving her children.  To me it speaks volumes that she could not talk to them in person.  

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 27, 2006, 05:31:54 PM
Quote
I'm somewhat confused by your post. First you say it's good she was communicating with her children. Then you argue that they were rooms apart.Then you are bothered by the fact that you think she would not take the time to go directly to a child no matter what the 'emotional' situation. Looks like she couldn't win for losing...

From one situation, and that based on a letter, you base your statement of her IH inability to have a real bonding with her children ? How sad. If history is to base our lives on such smallness of note, then it is to have nothing at all in terms of 'relationships'.

In a follow up post Sarushka posted letters, which indeed showed definite exactness of her IH feelings, and her shared understanding that she loved all her children equally.

I don't find her IH Alexandra to have been with any of her children akward, nor emotionally negating.

How do you know, and can you prove in detail that she was or had the inability to speak to her children in person ? This is most assuredly, your opinion, but nothing of reality. Because of one situation you base your findings that she was an ineffective, and or non reachable mother. :(

As a mother, and as one who has worked with children over 30 years, and understanding the backdrop of the IF and somewhat of how royal houses were with children, I can say, that her IH A was a very good mother, and most sincere in raising her children in the best way she could, given the many added difficulties she had to address. Just mho.

Tatiana




Yes, it was good that she was communicating with her children at all.  But they were only rooms apart in the palaces, and all she could do was send letters.  And I am not saying that letters are in themselves bad I am saying that when they are used at a time when personal contact would have been better, and even normal, they become bad and become indicative of a a distant relationship.  When a mother normally senses her young child is in distress, they run down the hall and comfor them.  Alexandra did not.  She wrote a note.  A note.  And then when the child again wrote of her emotions, another note was written.  The words in them may have been comforting (well, at least some of them) but the action was decidedly not.

I NEVER implied that Alexandra did not bond with her children (if I said it in a previous post I am sorry because I certainly don't think that) and I did commend her on being a loving mother, albeit a distant one.  But loving your children does not cover it in all situations.  Actions speak louder than words, especially written ones.  And I NEVER said she was "ineffective" (obviously she - along with her husband and entire court of people - managed to raise five functional and interesting individuals), just distant.  Nor did I state she had the inability to talk to her children, at least physically.  It was, for a lack of better words, mental or just habitual.  Very imperial in nature, sending notes throughout the house to loved ones.  Stereotypical almost.

I base my opinion on everything I have read of Alexandra, the note to Maria being just one point in a long history (and one of many notes between mother and children).  I looked at the whole of Alexandra, including that she did love her children.

Again, I never have ever meant to even imply that she did not love her children.  But the relationship was less than Hallmark.

I don't know how to express it other than the note sending is symbolic.  That's as simple as it gets.

[There are obviously a number of good parenting sites out there and in almost every book on child psychology, face to face communication free from emotion on the part of the parent and free from criticism (such as, "well gee Marie we would like you so much more if you were more well behaved").  Face to face is the idea when it comes to parent-child relationships, it is the most natural and nurturing way of communication, the very reasons why it is emphasized today.]
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on January 27, 2006, 06:41:46 PM
Quote
I read the complete letters back and forth, both Maria's and Alexandra's

Can you tell us where you read Maria's letters ??? FOTR quotes only portions of Alix's replies, and I've not been able to find Maria's responses anyplace else. Maria's part of the correspondence would be invaluable for determining the context of the situation!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 27, 2006, 07:20:54 PM
I'll look for it.  I think it was an online source.  Give me some time, school's going a little strong right now.  If I don't get back to you by then, PM me!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on January 28, 2006, 12:09:08 PM
Yes, I agree with you Sarushka. Having a very or somewhat more realistic balanced understanding of any/all of Maria's letters, (and the other imperial children's responses as well) to her IHA would allow us all to have a semblance of determining the context of the situation. Again though, these letters do not, and will not provide the whole parent child relationship alone. But at least to have the above, it will offer cerrtainly a better understanding to date on this particular issue. Thanks !

Tatiana+


Quote
Can you tell us where you read Maria's letters ??? FOTR quotes only portions of Alix's replies, and I've not been able to find Maria's responses anyplace else. Maria's part of the correspondence would be invaluable for determining the context of the situation!

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: BaronessSophie on January 28, 2006, 02:11:04 PM
Quote
I do not see the letters as cold and distant at all.  If anything I see a mother trying to soothe a child who feels that she has been slighted by her sisters.  For all we know she could have talked to Maria about this issue as well.


I agree with you Lilavanderhorn. I don't see the letters as cold or distant either. I see the letters as very loving.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 28, 2006, 04:12:57 PM
Quote

I agree with you Lilavanderhorn. I don't see the letters as cold or distant either. I see the letters as very loving.


Why then, would Alexandra even bother writing a letter at all?  Why not just go to Maria?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on January 29, 2006, 12:55:03 PM
I remember very distinctly that one of the grand duchesses (I think it was Tatiana) wrote to Alexandra around this time, "But Mama, we never see you anymore." (This letter is included in Maylunas and Mironenko's book.) IMHO we have to consider the possibility that Alexandra's perpetual illnesses may very well have kept her from spending as much time with her children as she wanted to, or ought to have done.

Edited to add that I think it's significant that Gibbes, when he began tutoring Alexei, noted that the boy seemed to understand some English, but could not speak it himself. Again, this indicates to me that Alexandra did not spend nearly as much time with her children - even her son - as previously thought. (Because Alexandra only spoke English with her children, and one would expect a boy raised in such a bilingual environment - Russian and English - to speak English fairly fluently, if with many mistakes.) Not to mention the "Hibernian" English accent her daughters supposedly picked up from their nanny, and which Edward VII commented negatively upon. (Thus leading to the hiring of Gibbes.) I ask you, how could the grand duchesses have picked up such an accent if they had their own mother's example constantly before them? It's obvious to me that Tsarina Liz is right in asserting that Alexandra was a frequently absent mother.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 29, 2006, 04:21:37 PM
Quote

As someone else pointed out already, how do you know she didn't talk to Maria about it as well? She very well could have. No one witnessed it, so I don't think it is fair to judge Alexandra for something she may or may not have done.


I think OTMA's letters that are available on the Alexander Palace website make it pretty clear that their mother did indeed spend a lot of time with them.


It's not the point whether or not she talked to Maria about it, the point is that the letters came first and that it is disturbing they were even written at all.  And, yes, Alexandra did spend time with her children.  We all know that.  Hundreds of photos out there attest to that.  But there was also a darker side to the relationship that cannot be ignored and this letter writing is symptomatic of it.  

Even if Alexandra was sick, she could have had herself wheeled to the child or summoned the child.  



Elisabeth, you mentioned that the reason Gibbes was hired was because of the girl's Hibernian accents.  Why would the IF have been so worried about the girls' accents in English being perfect?    
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on January 29, 2006, 05:03:22 PM
How do we know ANYTHING of what really transpired? All of these discussions are essentially little more than our guesses at what happened based upon the authors we've read and those authors' best guesses. It's all little more than speculation and guesswork. So... based upon our best guesses, some of us believe Alexandra had a number of psychological and emotional problems which manifested themselves in her somewhat dysfunctional behavior both within her own family and outside. Some of you do not accept these opinions and based upon your best guesses, believe otherwise. In truth, it doesn't really matter one way or the other since it's about as meaningless as the silly and trite discussions on "who" is prettiest... "what would So-and-So" have looked like had she lived into the 20's and 30's... "would" Olga have made a good tsarina (ballerina, singer, entertainer, computer programmer)? lol

Seriously, we have to recognize that most of what we're talking about here outside the architectural discussions, can never be proved. BUT... it's fun... so let the dicussions proceed. ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 29, 2006, 07:32:36 PM
Quote

Again, how do you know she didn't do this? You didn't witness it.


Okay, I'll explain it again: I do not know if she talked to Marie in person.  It's likely she did the next time they met.  I am talking about the notes passed back and forth containing within themselves conversations, questions, concerns, etc. that would not ordinarily warrant a letter and would be handled face to face.  This one more concerning because of the contents.  There are other letters out there, more than one bemoaning Alexandra's absence from her daughter's presence due to illness, etc.  The notes themselves, and not any conversation before or afterwards, are what is important and the fact they exist at all is what bothers me.    
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 29, 2006, 07:34:14 PM
Quote
How do we know ANYTHING of what really transpired? All of these discussions are essentially little more than our guesses at what happened based upon the authors we've read and those authors' best guesses. It's all little more than speculation and guesswork. So... based upon our best guesses, some of us believe Alexandra had a number of psychological and emotional problems which manifested themselves in her somewhat dysfunctional behavior both within her own family and outside. Some of you do not accept these opinions and based upon your best guesses, believe otherwise. In truth, it doesn't really matter one way or the other since it's about as meaningless as the silly and trite discussions on "who" is prettiest... "what would So-and-So" have looked like had she lived into the 20's and 30's... "would" Olga have made a good tsarina (ballerina, singer, entertainer, computer programmer)? lol

Seriously, we have to recognize that most of what we're talking about here outside the architectural discussions, can never be proved. BUT... it's fun... so let the dicussions proceed. ;)


Exactly.  I happen to be interested in Alexandra's relationship with her children because I see the relationship as a microcosim of traditional Victorian parent-child relationships especially among royalty.  These (the royalty) are the people who shaped the world, and I find it fascinating to know where they came from - it helps explain some of their actions.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on January 29, 2006, 08:31:58 PM
Quote

Exactly.  I happen to be interested in Alexandra's relationship with her children because I see the relationship as a microcosim of traditional Victorian parent-child relationships especially among royalty.  These (the royalty) are the people who shaped the world, and I find it fascinating to know where they came from - it helps explain some of their actions.


Ah. I hadn't thought of that aspect of the discussion. That does make things more relevant. Thanks for the insight. :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on January 30, 2006, 08:24:31 AM
Alexandra might have made mistakes as a mother; perhaps; but I don't think that for the most part she did. And as for the letters they seem normal for that era, for the letters of royalty in that country. There seems to be nothing formal or distant in them as that era was more formal. That covers the content of the letters. The fact of the letters is that they are not by any means an abnormal nor unusual means of communication for royals of the time, and they don't show that much about Marie and Alexandra's relationship except that they are warm letters that support the conclusion that she was a good, loving mother who was no more distant than any royal mother, and in fact a good deal closer to her children than most. Even looking at their relationship in a more stern way this is what I find, although I can understand looking at it this way.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on January 30, 2006, 10:23:45 AM
Quote
Elisabeth, you mentioned that the reason Gibbes was hired was because of the girl's Hibernian accents.  Why would the IF have been so worried about the girls' accents in English being perfect?


Well, as you know the British have traditionally been very particular about accents, which are considered an indicator of class. At this period of history the British upperclasses considered Irish accents distinctly low-class (pardon the terrible snobbery, it's not my own!). If the grand duchesses did indeed speak in English with an Irish ("Hibernian") accent then Edward VII was no doubt thoroughly shocked. And Alexandra, as the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, would probably have shared his attitude.

But surely it's significant that the girls had picked up the accent of their nanny and not of their mother (for Alexandra would have had a "proper" English upperclass accent). This is why I suspect they rarely saw Alexandra. I also find it significant that Alexandra didn't notice her daughters had picked up an Irish accent until it was pointed out to her!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on January 30, 2006, 10:48:00 AM
Yes, the Irish accents stuff is true, and it does prove that she did not not notice this until it was pointed out to her. She as a Royal mother, and  Royal mothers especially back then did not spend so much time with their children as today's mothers would do. Princess Diana was rather a pioneer in that field. So this did happen, but it doesn't mean that Alexandra was an usually cold Royal mother. She took her role as mother seriously, although she may have been more preoccupied with Tsarevich Alexei than with her daughters, due to his illness, and role as heir. We can only offer our opinions, and let others offer theirs, give and take. I have read many books, mostly everything on the subject in the past eight years.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 30, 2006, 11:43:42 AM
Quote

Well, as you know the British have traditionally been very particular about accents, which are considered an indicator of class. At this period of history the British upperclasses considered Irish accents distinctly low-class (pardon the terrible snobbery, it's not my own!). If the grand duchesses did indeed speak in English with an Irish ("Hibernian") accent then Edward VII was no doubt thoroughly shocked. And Alexandra, as the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, would probably have shared his attitude.

But surely it's significant that the girls had picked up the accent of their nanny and not of their mother (for Alexandra would have had a "proper" English upperclass accent). This is why I suspect they rarely saw Alexandra. I also find it significant that Alexandra didn't notice her daughters had picked up an Irish accent until it was pointed out to her!


Hmm.  That's very interesting.  Such snobbery over something so darn trivial... Which leads me to another question: what did the girl's Russian sound like?  Everyone keeps mentioning how they spoke Imperial Russian, but I am still not sure if that refers more to the grammar than the accent.  

Do you think the parents would have been just as worried if the girls' Russian had a British accent?  Or, since everyone spoke so many languages, would that have been common in the Russian court?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 30, 2006, 11:54:12 AM
I was reading my Sociology book Emotional Abuse by Marti Loring (my professor, he he) and an interesting passage jumped out at me in the chapter on "Attachment:"

 "Securely attached children hold onto nurturers tightly and are, in turn, consistenly embraced with firmness and warmth.  Even when the nurturer is occasionally unavailable or sad [Alexandra certainly was], the certainty of physical and emotional reunification (consistently established over time) remains and no harm is done.  The child is not panicked or traumatized by such infrequent physical and/or emotional absences [there are some notes from Olga and Tatiana that mourn their mother's absence and long for her return into their lives - I read this as a mild panic due to the frequency of Alexandra's absences]...Infants and children who lack this secure and empathic foundation may become "anxiously attached" [I also read this in the girls' letters] (Bowlby, 1973, 1979, 1988 ).  This pattern is sometimes established when illness or depression limits a parent's physical or emotional accessibility to the child...  Similarly, the prolonged hospitalization or death of one parent often disrupts the development of normal attachment; the child may grow up emotionally abandoned. ... Bowlby (1973) found that a child blamed for a parent's depression will blame herself and become prey to anxiety and fears of abandonment [Marie and Anastasia would have known that their births came as something of disappointing shocks and while they were loved and knew that, too, it still would have been hard for them].."
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on January 30, 2006, 12:13:53 PM
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Hmm.  That's very interesting.  Such snobbery over something so darn trivial... Which leads me to another question: what did the girl's Russian sound like?  Everyone keeps mentioning how they spoke Imperial Russian, but I am still not sure if that refers more to the grammar than the accent.


I'm not sure what they mean by "Imperial Russian." Was there a particular accent only associated with the imperial family? I've never heard of such a thing, but it's possible. My own feeling is that most of the Romanovs probably spoke very good, educated Russian with an accent most people would have recognized as belonging to aristocratic St. Petersburgers. (I do know that the nobility of St. Petersburg and Moscow had slightly different accents.) On the other hand, when writing specifically of OTMAA, Gleb Botkin (granted, not the most reliable witness) said that they spoke Russian with an accent uniquely their own. This is also possible. My own husband is British but trilingual from birth and says certain words in English with a very peculiar accent I've never heard anywhere else! Maybe because OTMAA were raised in a bilingual environment and kept rather isolated they did develop their own way of pronouncing certain words... I honestly don't know.

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Do you think the parents would have been just as worried if the girls' Russian had a British accent?  Or, since everyone spoke so many languages, would that have been common in the Russian court?


I think Nicholas II would have worried if his children spoke Russian with a British accent, because it would have marked them out as foreigners, and he was a true Russian patriot who prided himself on his Russian-ness (even though as you know he was mainly German!). His own English and Russian were reputedly excellent; he seems to have been genuinely gifted at languages.  

It's also true that English did become a very fashionable language in aristocratic St. Petersburg and Moscow during the reign of Nicholas. Many Russian noble children had English governesses. A good example of this practice was the writer Vladimir Nabokov, who grew up in a noble household speaking both Russian and English. After the revolution, he emigrated to Germany and eventually the United States, where he made his reputation as a great "American" writer (although the Russians understandably still claim him as their own, and his early works are all in Russian).
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 30, 2006, 03:47:03 PM
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I'm not sure what they mean by "Imperial Russian." Was there a particular accent only associated with the imperial family? I've never heard of such a thing, but it's possible. My own feeling is that most of the Romanovs probably spoke very good, educated Russian with an accent most people would have recognized as belonging to aristocratic St. Petersburgers. (I do know that the nobility of St. Petersburg and Moscow had slightly different accents.) On the other hand, when writing specifically of OTMAA, Gleb Botkin (granted, not the most reliable witness) said that they spoke Russian with an accent uniquely their own. This is also possible. My own husband is British but trilingual from birth and says certain words in English with a very peculiar accent I've never heard anywhere else! Maybe because OTMAA were raised in a bilingual environment and kept rather isolated they did develop their own way of pronouncing certain words... I honestly don't know.


I think Nicholas II would have worried if his children spoke Russian with a British accent, because it would have marked them out as foreigners, and he was a true Russian patriot who prided himself on his Russian-ness (even though as you know he was mainly German!). His own English and Russian were reputedly excellent; he seems to have been genuinely gifted at languages.  

It's also true that English did become a very fashionable language in aristocratic St. Petersburg and Moscow during the reign of Nicholas. Many Russian noble children had English governesses. A good example of this practice was the writer Vladimir Nabokov, who grew up in a noble household speaking both Russian and English. After the revolution, he emigrated to Germany and eventually the United States, where he made his reputation as a great "American" writer (although the Russians understandably still claim him as their own, and his early works are all in Russian).


Again: wow.  Thanks so much for that, Elisabeth!  Of particular interest was the fact that during Nicholas' reign English became a popular language.  I had always perceived Russia of the period as very Anglophobic, part of the reason why Alexandra was so disliked.  But I guess that no matter how unpopular the ruler, their habits etc. are still vogue.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on January 30, 2006, 04:57:54 PM
Allow me to remind readers, a 'text book quote' is only that. I hope that more would be offered than a few lines from any one's Sociology book, when addressing any one person's life !

This is a passage from a book, and not any real commentary on a real person's issues. It remains just as one reads it, 'an interesting passage', and the above just something to catch you the 'reader's attention'.

Now if it held anything of specific value from the point of a professional' then it would and could be addressed.

YUP, and  'life is more than wonderful', no matter what the challenges we must meet in our daily lives !

Tatiana+


Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 30, 2006, 07:50:25 PM
First of all, look up the book - it's not a textbook.  It's the published results of an extensive study done by Loring, vetern of the sociology/psychology field and an expert witness for federal court cases (and mitigator) and her research partners.  The research was done on dozens of women (emotionally abused, physically abused and non-abused) through one on one interviewing and questionnaires.  It looks not only at the present situation of the women but also their family histories (including the psychology and importance of the family).  Throughout the book, research subjects' personal stories and reports are interjected making the book a focus on real people and not just statistics.  Their backgrounds and famiy histories are diverse.

  The passage I quoted was one that dealt with the situation of distant family members due to illness and depression, things Alexandra was extensively documented to experience.  The passage is one of any number in that book, many of which may relate to the IF.  Or any family for that matter.  Family psychology does not change.    

It's an interesting book, you should read it.  No, it does not all pertain to the IF (although, some of the more general passages may) but it brings to light a hidden and lethal problem: emotional abuse.    
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: hikaru on January 31, 2006, 12:39:21 AM
I wonder, what did happen with the marital perspectives of the OTMA.
I have read that Alexandra ordered to decor Zubov Wing  of Catherine Palace for your daughter's marriages.
She ordered to buy  a lot of the old (beginning of 19th century) russian furniture made from Carelian birch  to decor the rooms for daughters after their marriages.
I understand that she made the preparations firstly for the marriage of the Dmitry and Olga.
But it seems, that from 1914 she did not care much of her daughters.
She thought only about the NIcholas and Alexey.-
I think that she was scared that Vladimirovichi would
enter to the Throne.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: CountessKate on January 31, 2006, 02:42:00 AM
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I wonder, what did happen with the marital perspectives of the OTMA.
I have read that Alexandra ordered to decor Zubov Wing  of Catherine Palace for your daughter's marriages.
She ordered to buy  a lot of the old (beginning of 19th century) russian furniture made from Carelian birch  to decor the rooms for daughters after their marriages.
............But it seems, that from 1914 she did not care much of her daughters.
She thought only about the NIcholas and Alexey.-
I think that she was scared that Vladimirovichi would  
enter to the Throne.


If Alexandra didn't continue to prepare a 'marriage chest' for her daughters after 1914, I think it is more likely that she was putting such things on hold due to the fact that a major part of the marriage market (eligible German princes) were fighting against Russia at the time, than that she didn't care for her daughters marital future.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: hikaru on January 31, 2006, 04:59:56 AM
Taking into consideration that she was preparing the "Chest " in Russia, we could  presume that she hope that girls will not leave Russia.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: CountessKate on January 31, 2006, 07:26:52 AM
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we could  presume that she hope that girls will not leave Russia


That might be true, but equally it was traditional for Russian Grand Duchesses to have enormous dowries which included furniture - Nicholas I's daughter Alexandra took furniture with her to her new home in Hesse Cassel when she married, as noted in the exhibition catalogue of Hesse - a princely German collection.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on January 31, 2006, 10:16:47 AM
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I was reading my Sociology book Emotional Abuse by Marti Loring (my professor, he he) and an interesting passage jumped out at me in the chapter on "Attachment:"

  "Securely attached children hold onto nurturers tightly and are, in turn, consistenly embraced with firmness and warmth.  Even when the nurturer is occasionally unavailable or sad [Alexandra certainly was], the certainty of physical and emotional reunification (consistently established over time) remains and no harm is done.  The child is not panicked or traumatized by such infrequent physical and/or emotional absences [there are some notes from Olga and Tatiana that mourn their mother's absence and long for her return into their lives - I read this as a mild panic due to the frequency of Alexandra's absences]...Infants and children who lack this secure and empathic foundation may become "anxiously attached" [I also read this in the girls' letters] (Bowlby, 1973, 1979, 1988 ).  This pattern is sometimes established when illness or depression limits a parent's physical or emotional accessibility to the child...  Similarly, the prolonged hospitalization or death of one parent often disrupts the development of normal attachment; the child may grow up emotionally abandoned. ... Bowlby (1973) found that a child blamed for a parent's depression will blame herself and become prey to anxiety and fears of abandonment [Marie and Anastasia would have known that their births came as something of disappointing shocks and while they were loved and knew that, too, it still would have been hard for them].."


Tsarina Liz, this is very interesting as regards Alexandra's relationship with her children. I say that even though I myself would hesitate to call OTMAA emotionally abused children because to me the term "abuse" implies willful intent on the part of the "abusive" parent (I know it doesn't necessarily have these connotations in the psychiatric literature). I guess I'm uncomfortable ascribing blame to Alexandra because I think her illnesses were genuine, something she could not help. Nevertheless it's clear to me that the poor state of her health forced her to be apart from her children much of the time, and that her frequent absence seems to have had a negative impact on her children's development - at least judging from their letters. Tatiana in particular often sounds panicky and fearful of abandonment  in her letters to her mother. Of course this is just my opinion.        
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on January 31, 2006, 10:28:43 AM
I am not sure that sociology books offer much of a perspective on understanding people from back then or even today, but more especially from back then. It isn't really relevant as that was a different era, and a different time, and often the people who write those things are not writing about way back when but about today. It is better to use historical perspective when dealing with people from history, in my opinion, that just being my opinion of course, and nothing else, nothing more at all. I think that person who commented on that was right. So I find it impossible to understand Alexandra as a mother based on such books. Her letters were a normal, and warm means of communication, and there was nothing in the letters, or in the fact of of them that makes one say anything else. In reference to other posters, that is my opinion. Hey, I have never written a book on the Romanovs, and it is true that sometimes books are not the most accurate means to see the past, but were anyone of us actually in Russia when these letters were written? Not impossible, but unlikely. Modern books have little relevance to use for theories on historical issues... ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on January 31, 2006, 11:29:35 AM
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I am not sure that sociology books offer much of a perspective on understanding people from back then or even today, but more especially from back then. It isn't really relevant as that was a different era, and a different time, and often the people who write those things are not writing about way back when but about today. It is better to use historical perspective when dealing with people from history, in my opinion, that just being my opinion of course, and nothing else, nothing more at all.


While I agree with you that it's important to keep the historical context in mind at all times when studying figures from the past, it seems to me slightly ridiculous that we should exclude as tools of our study every single advance in knowledge and methodology that we have gained in the last one hundred years or so. No historian in his right mind precedes this way! If they did, we'd all still be reading biographies and histories written in the high Romantic style of the nineteenth century. And that would be really ridiculous...

Of course it's true that sociological and psychological knowledge is not graven in stone but is always subject to change and amendment. That's as it should be. But just because sociology and psychology are not hard sciences does not mean they cannot provide valuable insights into people's behavior throughout the ages.  

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So I find it impossible to understand Alexandra as a mother based on such books. Her letters were a normal, and warm means of communication, and there was nothing in the letters, or in the fact of of them that makes one say anything else.


Well, I will go so far as to say that a truly abusive parent would never have bothered to write letters to her children at all. If they appealed to her for help or comfort, she would probably not have responded, or else she would have responded only with scolding and guilt trips ("how dare you bother me when I'm so ill," etc.)!

In fact I think a large part of our uncertainty in analyzing Alexandra's behavior towards OTMAA is that she did write what seem to many of us here very caring, affectionate letters to her children... It's the mere fact of the letters' existence that makes us wonder how much contact she actually had with her children and how emotionally available she was to them. Also the children's own letters, which often express fears of abandonment or lack of love.

At the same time, I should point out that no one blames Nicholas for being a mainly absent father (for even Massie notes that the last tsar, to his own regret, didn't have much time to see his children, because of the many cares of state). So perhaps we are laying an unfair burden on Alexandra's shoulders. Still, it's entirely in keeping with the "historical context" of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to see the mother as the primary caretaker of her children. We tend to blame the mother alone for her children's problems, because we take it for granted that the father was busy at work!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 31, 2006, 11:45:26 AM
Oh snap, I don't mean to make people think that Alexandra was an emotionally abusive parent!  That passage just happened to come from a book on emotional abuse research.  I do think that Alexandra could be manipulative and demanding when it came to her kids, but she certainly was not emotionally or physically abusive.  

And, Elisabeth, I must say that I do blame Nicky for a lot of the family problems.  I my opinion he was so devoted to his work, the children were pushed into the background a lot of the time.  Which isn't to say he did not love them, he was just preoccupied with trying to run Russia (and ultimately failing).  There appears to be more "artifacts" (letters, diaries, etc.) dealing with Alexandra's relationship with the children from what I have seen.  

But at the same time, I think Nicky and Alexandra counterbalanced themselves parenting wise.  Nicky, when he was available to the children, provided what was probably a welcome relief from Alexandra's stricter parenting (and demands).  Joking, laughing and generally romping with the children.  And Alexandra provided the mainstay parentally for her children.  Let's face it: she was both omnitient and omnipotent.  

And maybe the reason she was so Imperially distant but simultaneously controlling of her family was that she had all this built up nonsense in her head about being a Tsarina but was not allowed to actually rule the country with her husband - no one in the court and nobility seemed to listen to her.  But her children had to.  Either way, peasant or child, she was Matushka.  But that's admittedly going out on a very far, very thin branch.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on January 31, 2006, 12:22:06 PM
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Oh snap, I don't mean to make people think that Alexandra was an emotionally abusive parent!  That passage just happened to come from a book on emotional abuse research.  I do think that Alexandra could be manipulative and demanding when it came to her kids, but she certainly was not emotionally or physically abusive.


Sorry, I just wanted to make sure you clarified your position. I didn't honestly think you were suggesting this, but you have to be very careful - some people here will go for your jugular for much less, believe me!  

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And, Elisabeth, I must say that I do blame Nicky for a lot of the family problems.  I my opinion he was so devoted to his work, the children were pushed into the background a lot of the time.  Which isn't to say he did not love them, he was just preoccupied with trying to run Russia (and ultimately failing).


Bob Atchison once made a great post to the effect that it would have been much better for Russia if certain tsars, such as Nicholas II, had been a whole lot less conscientious in their duties and just left affairs of state to their more able ministers...

The irony is, Nicholas always wanted to be a simple family man, and not only his family, but also his country, would probably have been better off if only he had fulfilled this modest ambition!

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But at the same time, I think Nicky and Alexandra counterbalanced themselves parenting wise.  Nicky, when he was available to the children, provided what was probably a welcome relief from Alexandra's stricter parenting (and demands).  Joking, laughing and generally romping with the children.  And Alexandra provided the mainstay parentally for her children.  Let's face it: she was both omnitient and omnipotent.


I think Nicholas was essentially a very well-adjusted person, at least until World War I wore him down. Unlike his wife, he was healthy both mentally and physically. Maybe not the brightest bulb, but no doubt a very good father when he had the time to be. And I'm sure as you say that he provided the perfect counterbalance to Alexandra in terms of parenting. After all, Nicholas and Alexandra must have done something right in raising their children because most people, even after the revolution, spoke in very positive terms about OTMAA - even those who had a negative opinion about their parents.

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And maybe the reason she was so Imperially distant but simultaneously controlling of her family was that she had all this built up nonsense in her head about being a Tsarina but was not allowed to actually rule the country with her husband - no one in the court and nobility seemed to listen to her.  But her children had to.  Either way, peasant or child, she was Matushka.  But that's admittedly going out on a very far, very thin branch.  


Well, I'll go out on a limb, too, and say that I agree with you! ;) I think Alexandra ruled her roost. Her mistake was in trying to rule Russia, too.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 31, 2006, 02:02:20 PM
Ah the saddening what if's in history.

I definitely agree the family and Russia (if not the world) would have been much better off had Nicholas not been Tsar through abdication, etc.  I don't, however, think Revolution was avoidable.  Someone had to pay for the perceived (and, yes, the real) Romanov crimes.    

I must wonder, though, how much not being Tsarina (whether it be at all because of Nicky relinquishing the throne immediately after AIII's death or later in life around the time of the 1905 revolution) would have affected Alexandra.  Would it have made her a relaxed, affectionate mother who spent more time with all of her children and not just Alexei?  Or was Alexandra's behavior in fact not a consequence of her stressful status and just who she was (a theory I lean more towards)?  And along that line, did the crown make her the mother she was?  Did nature?  Did her upbringing?  A combination of all three?

I know this thread is about Alexandra as a mother, but what about Alexandra as a grandmother?!  In my opinion, she would have outlived Nicky (who probably had real heart problems not to mention a royal amount of guilt about his country and family's fate).  I also think she would have pulled a Victoria (whom I have always felt she was too much like) and gone mildly, hysterically mentally ill.  Her spiritualism would deepen along with her fatalism and I can absolutely see her permanently in widow's weeds demanding the complete worship of Nicky's memory.  I think that, given Alexei's more than likely early death, she would do the same thing with him.  But, I also think like Victoria, she would take much more pleasure in her grandchildren than she did with her children.  Alix would become the adoring, playful "gam-gam" Victoria did.  Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on January 31, 2006, 02:25:17 PM
Let's not forget that most parents of that era - mothers and fathers of upper-middle to upper class were 'absent' parents, essentially leaving the raising and nurturing of their children to nannies, nurses and servants. I suspect that the writing of letters as opposed to actually going and talking to one's child was far from abnormal in those days for people of means.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 31, 2006, 05:13:42 PM
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Let's not forget that most parents of that era - mothers and fathers of upper-middle to upper class were 'absent' parents, essentially leaving the raising and nurturing of their children to nannies, nurses and servants. I suspect that the writing of letters as opposed to actually going and talking to one's child was far from abnormal in those days for people of means.


I don't think anyone here would find the note thing abnormal on a societal level.  But I still think that with many parent child relationships including the IF's, it was something a little more, shall we say, symbolic.  After all, as you yourself said, most uppercrust children were raised by nannies and governnesses and every day servants.  Probably not the most healthy and nurturing environment for a child.  I mean, they might love their nannies more than their parents but their parents still factored into their lives.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on January 31, 2006, 05:21:14 PM
I think the GD's parents did factor in their lives, in a similar way to what most uppercrust children had. Is having Nanny any different from what people do nowadays to their kids - dump them in Daycare at 7 AM collecting them at 5:30, or 6 in the evening? In some ways, I think Nanny and the servants may well have been a better option than what a lot of kids get now.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: BaronessSophie on January 31, 2006, 05:35:20 PM
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But at the same time, I think Nicky and Alexandra counterbalanced themselves parenting wise.  Nicky, when he was available to the children, provided what was probably a welcome relief from Alexandra's stricter parenting (and demands).  Joking, laughing and generally romping with the children.  And Alexandra provided the mainstay parentally for her children.  Let's face it: she was both omnitient and omnipotent.  


I think the children also had fun with their mother. Their letters on the main page of the Alexander Palace show Alexandra could have a good time with them. Here are a few sentences of their letters I snipped. :)

From Olga's section of letters:

Yesterday evening we were playing charades with Mother and we are going to do it again today.

Mother and Maria are playing "colorito" as usually and take turns in winning.

"...In the evening Mother sang very beautifully. She is such a dear!..."

From Tatiana's section of letters:

"Yesterday we were playing with the pillows. Mother was with us. She jumped into the pillows and fell through them."

From Maria's section of letters:

"...Aleksey is in bed in the playing-room. Mother has just come to his room and they are playing different games..."

Mother is trying to send Anastasia to bed but she is desperately trying to find Shvybzik which is missing. Everybody is calling him but he would not come, merzavets. He was found at last 10 minutes later. We all thought that he was under the sofa. Mother started to bark and Shvybzik answered. he appeared to be sitting under Mother's couch and we all put a great effort in pulling him out of there.

Anastasia's section of letters:

"...Yesterday was Saturday so I had dinner with Mother and stayed with her up to 10 p.m. and we were making an album..."

My favorite is Maria's letters describing her mother barking to help Anastasia find her dog. ;D I just wish Alexei had some of his letters up, too.


Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 31, 2006, 07:56:54 PM
Daycare.  Not at all better than a nanny, IMO.  At least with a nanny you get some sort of one on one care (ideally).  It's a wonder the family unit survives at all today and that kids even find time to talk to their parents.  The cellphone has become the equivalent of the IF's inhouse notes.    

Anyways... Sure, Alexandra was a playful mother.  But she also seems to have been the disciplinarian and the more serious parent (although I am sure that she did not relish the task, who would).  Nicky, to me, seemed to have the ability to be more of a big brother.  The kids liked their outdoor time with him and seemed comfortable spending time just strolling and talking with him.

I guess, then, it may have been better to say that Alexandra ruled the domestic sphere but once were out of doors they were on Dad's turf.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on January 31, 2006, 08:26:52 PM
That's a very good way of looking at it - I hadn't thought of it as being similar to what families do now with text messaging. The difference, I think though, is that with a letter you can write more, and think more about what you are writing.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on February 01, 2006, 12:59:53 AM
Dear Georgiy,

I think what you have stated is very valuable! In today's world especially, children sometimes are quick to speak without thinking. Parent's (some) are also pulled into difficulties by children who can be very demanding. I think with writing a note to your children, one can 'think' what one wants to share, and these thoughts of a parent can sometimes be very important to re-read in years down the road.

Many of us can remember when we have quarelled, or had sharp words. This is not the best to want to remember, but it's part of the growth process. When one has a parent who takes the time to write out their feelings, it can really bring that parent even closer. Luckly, I had the best of both personal contact, as well receiving her loving notes.

I have letters still today from my mum I have saved.  I value them very much. She's gone, but I have her notes to look at whenever I want to bring her close in thought, to remind me of how much she cared, and loved me.

Tatiana+


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That's a very good way of looking at it - I hadn't thought of it as being similar to what families do now with text messaging. The difference, I think though, is that with a letter you can write more, and think more about what you are writing.


Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 01, 2006, 08:19:18 AM
Well, we can get alot of insight from sociology and psychology, but it doesn't seem very relevant here for whatever reason, it seems like it is a modern way of thought, although it is important to advance in thought as you noted. Alexandra was no worse than any other upperclass parent of her day, because as one person said, that was typical, and she was a great deal more warm, loving, and close to her children than some were. She cared about her children, and the notes were a way of communicating, typical of that time and place that showed real affection for her children, in my opinion. She was a product of her time and place, and I am sure would not understand those reading so much into her notes so many years later. We do not always have to read into things. And daycare seems to have become the modern way, replacing the nannies, and tutors,etc, for most anyway. What Alexandra would have been like as a grandmother would certainly have been interesting, anyway.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on February 01, 2006, 10:17:42 AM
Just because a child-rearing practice is traditional does not make it beneficial to the child. And just because a child-rearing practice is commonplace nowadays doesn't necessarily make it a good thing, either. Look at some modern middle- and upperclass children who are so over-scheduled with music and language lessons and other extra-curricular activities that they actually have to make appointments or "play-dates" in order to have time to play with their friends (I personally know children raised this way!). I don't think such children are any better off than upperclass European children a hundred years ago who were raised almost entirely by their nannies, governesses and tutors. No doubt the parents have the very best of intentions in raising their children this way but IMO it is still not an ideal situation for any child to be in.

At the same time all too many parents cannot see their children as often as they would like because of external circumstances beyond their control - financial difficulties, for example, or in the case of Alexandra, illness. My own feeling is that what contributed to OTMAA's sense of emotional insecurity, and partly explains the panicky tone of some of their letters, was simply the fact that they knew their mother was ill. It would only be natural if they  worried from time to time that their mother would die. The death of a parent is the most final and irrevocable form of abandonment a child can contemplate. On top of this, OTMA also had to deal with the constant threat of Alexei's life-threatening illness. No wonder religion was such a comfort to them, as it was to their parents.

   
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on February 01, 2006, 06:43:32 PM
Let us also not forget that our own opinions about Alexandra are shaped to a degree by the reading we have done. A lot of the books about Alexandra have been written by biased people. People biased towards her like Vyroubova and Dehn, and people biased against her like Radziwill. Without knowing Alexandra personally and being brought up by her, we can not really know what she was like as  a mother. If indeed she had brought us up, we would all be quite different people than what we are.

I think Radziwill might have written the book that began with the comment that the blame for the revolution can be placed at Alexandra's feet, mentioned in another thread, but i am not sure. Surprisingly though, even Radziwill shows sympathy for Alexandra as a woman with a sick child, and for the way she coped after the revolution.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 02, 2006, 10:08:31 AM
Yes, everything that you read as my post is my opinion. I don't cite others to support what I say because some have different views than others, and as you said who knows the truth. I think we all have a valid point of view, and the forum thrives on such, debate, it keeps the threads going. In those letters, Alexandra sounds like a normal mother to me, depends on what you mean by normal..I guess you would say. But the way upperclass parents in general  were is a agreed upon fact, it was a way of life, just as we know daycare is a way of life today for many. That is a fact. How we interpret that bad or good is subjective. To me, Alexandra was a warm loving mother, who, in my opinion, was  a good mother, who was sometimes overprotective, but all parents make slight mistakes, or sometimes huge errorrs that is what I think. I said sociology and psychology don't seem insightful here, using the word seem to show it was just my opinion, which it is; obviously others disagree. ;)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on February 02, 2006, 03:14:10 PM
I have made the same point about day care and nanny day care in other threads.

Also about the "play dates".

Perhaps our reasons are different for why we are letting someone else raise our children, but the fact remains that we are still doing just what the upper class Victorians did.

As one poster said we "dump them in day care".

I had a long hard look at that option when my son was young and decided that I didn't want someone else bringing him up.  At least not before he began kindergarten because I felt that was the time when he would be the most influenced by others.

The British are still "cautious" of their accents, aren't they?

I know that Pygmallion and its clone My Fair Lady made just that point.

"Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?" is what Henry Higgans asked.  And that was the sentiment of the author George Bernard Shaw.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on February 02, 2006, 03:28:53 PM
I had another thought about speaking English and it has nothing to do with Alix as a mother.

Why can't Americans teach their children how to speak?  I am American and it amazes me how our children murder the "English" language. (Our adults do it as well.)

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on February 02, 2006, 04:03:46 PM
Quote
I had another thought about speaking English and it has nothing to do with Alix as a mother.

Why can't Americans teach their children how to speak?  I am American and it amazes me how our children murder the "English" language. (Our adults do it as well.)



Good question. I'm Canadian by birth (and actually most of my adulthood with the exception of these past seven years) but now reside in the United States. I might have asked the same question, although it seems to me that Americans tend to murder the language more than their Canadian counterparts. It's my own personal bias.  ;)

Why? Well... perhaps laziness, ignorance, poor education, television (MTV-type silliness), movies, video games and so forth. What passes for modern culture but in essence is little more than an erosion of culture has in all probability had a profound effect upon our children. I well recall the children of the 70's saying, "I gots a ...." rather than, "I have a..." We still see this in some of the older Egg and Dairy Board ads: Got Milk? Got Eggs? The grammar is horrendous. This, it seems to me, is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on February 02, 2006, 06:21:22 PM
I noticed about twenty years ago that the word doesn't disappeared from American English.

Everyone says "he don't and she don't" instead of he doesn't...

Also when I answer the phone "This is she" when someone asks for me I usually get complete silence.

Also ain't seems to have made a come back.

I remember a teacher in high school pointing out that "Tell is like it is" should be "Tell is as it is".

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on February 02, 2006, 07:52:00 PM
 ;) 'Yup, englis is gots its good points and bad points',  a young lady once told me...

But, what i hate hearing is, when I ask someone a question, they say to me, 'hold on, le me axe someone, i ain't got the answer here' !

Lol, so much for englis !

Tatiana+


Quote
I noticed about twenty years ago that the word doesn't disappeared from American English.

Everyone says "he don't and she don't" instead of he doesn't...

Also when I answer the phone "This is she" when someone asks for me I usually get complete silence.

Also ain't seems to have made a come back.

I remember a teacher in high school pointing out that "Tell is like it is" should be "Tell is as it is".


Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on February 02, 2006, 08:28:01 PM
To try and edge the topic back towards Alexandra, I wonder what kind of English she spoke? What kind of accent did she have? Was it similar to how the Queen talks? Was it somewhat German sounding?

(PS. I like, hate how like has, you know, like made its way into teenagers speech in NZ. It's like so annoying.)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on February 02, 2006, 11:33:47 PM
Quote
To try and edge the topic back towards Alexandra, I wonder what kind of English she spoke? What kind of accent did she have? Was it similar to how the Queen talks? Was it somewhat German sounding?

(PS. I like, hate how like has, you know, like made its way into teenagers speech in NZ. It's like so annoying.)


I imagine she would have spoken proper British English (if there is such a thing) but her German, while grammatical, would not have the proper accent because of the extensive English influence in her childhood (her grandmother, Orchie, teachers, etc.)  But that's just an educated guess.

And, dude, you think that "like" is bad in NZ?  Try coming to America!  There, like, was this kid in one of my classes in like High School who like said like all the time.  We like recorded how much he like used like in like a paragraph and like it came out like to almost every other like word.  Dude.  Totally.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 03, 2006, 08:36:14 AM
I think it is hard to tell what Alexandra sounded like. In my opinion iyou can conjecture on how the people of history spoke but it is hard to say exactly how they spoke. It does seem like English is taking a downturn, but it will most likely be worse fifty years down the line in my opinion.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: leushino on February 03, 2006, 09:31:55 AM
Like do you really think so?  :o ;) ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 03, 2006, 10:07:25 AM
In my opinion, yes, anyway, I think I will move on to other threads... ;) :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on February 03, 2006, 01:40:52 PM
Quote
I think it is hard to tell what Alexandra sounded like. In my opinion iyou can conjecture on how the people of history spoke but it is hard to say exactly how they spoke. It does seem like English is taking a downturn, but it will most likely be worse fifty years down the line in my opinion.


Every generation says English is on a down turn and it can't really be considered "worse" then before linguistically but maybe from a prescritpive perspective.  Darn teenagers, always changing things.  For anyone who's really interested, Harvey Daniels wrote a fascinating paper on langauge and some basic tenets (and misconceptions) called "Nine Ideas About Language."  In it he covers the normality of language change.

Hey!  I think I can relate this to the topic.  Daniel's mentions in his first topic that children learn their native language swiftly and without instruction.  Growing up in a household with multiple languages floating about must have been hard for the girls.  When did Alexandra start teaching them English grammar and such?  Was it right from the start (because it obviously was something she felt was important) or did she put of schooling and let the children learn it naturally from her and their nurses?  Did she encourage the girls to think of English or Russian as they native language?  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elisabeth on February 03, 2006, 05:05:24 PM
Quote
Hey!  I think I can relate this to the topic.  Daniel's mentions in his first topic that children learn their native language swiftly and without instruction.  Growing up in a household with multiple languages floating about must have been hard for the girls.  When did Alexandra start teaching them English grammar and such?  Was it right from the start (because it obviously was something she felt was important) or did she put of schooling and let the children learn it naturally from her and their nurses?  Did she encourage the girls to think of English or Russian as they native language?  


I know that children who grow up in a bilingual environment tend to have much smaller vocabularies to begin with than other children. If you think about it, this makes sense because a bilingual child has twice as much work cut out for her as a child raised with only one language. My own stepdaughter was raised bilingual and when she started kindergarten her vocabulary in English was still so small that the teacher actually thought she was retarded! Dumb teacher.

If you look at OTMA's letters in English to their mother it's obvious that their vocabulary, grammar and spelling left much to be desired. Hikaru has written elsewhere that their written Russian was also littered with mistakes. But again, I think this is a fairly common pattern with bilingual children. Of course, speaking a language properly and writing it properly are two entirely different things. My stepdaughter can speak Spanish like a native but she had to take courses in college in order to learn how to write it.

It's interesting that Alexandra used the opportunity of corresponding with OTMA to correct her daughters' written English. There's a letter included in A Lifelong Passion in which she patiently lists each word that Maria or Tatiana (?) mispelled and then gives the correct spelling. But my impression is the girls were mainly taught written English by their tutors. I have no idea when this formal training began, however. Surely not with Gibbes? He came to the household rather late. But come to think of it, maybe Alexandra was the first person to teach her children how to write in English!

As for Russian, I'm sure Alexandra like Nicholas encouraged OTMA to regard it as their native language because they were first and foremost Russian grand duchesses. (BTW, this is one reason why a lot of Russians find Anna Anderson's claim to be Anastasia so ridiculous - the woman flatly refused to speak Russian. What could be more insulting to Russians than this?)    
 
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on February 04, 2006, 06:29:05 PM
Dear Tania you had me rolling on the floor.  But you are so right.

I have a very dear friend who always "axes" people.  I would never dream of correcting her, but I almost always think of chopping off someone's head, not "asking" them a question.

I always read that learning a language as a child is so much easier that learning it as an adult.  But the most important thing is learning to "think" in the language.  Not translating in your mind from one language to the other.

I think that bi-lingual people (or multi lingual) are so lucky.

All I ever got from my German speaking side were the "explitives deleted" but also, some of the very special endeaments.

Now I am married into an Italian speaking family (some of whom were born in Italy) and I am quite lost all the time.  Unfortunately, my mother in law (who was born here and is not a native speaking Italian) decided that her children should not be bi lingual, so my husband is in the same boat that I am.  I get all of the Italian "explitives deleted" but at a family gathering, we are both lost.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on February 04, 2006, 08:30:11 PM
Hello Alixz,

Sorry if i had you rolling, but the percentage of people who use the word 'axe' is quite high. Some think that this is the right word, but again unfortunately,would not be readily able to spell the word correctly as well.

As a mother, and as her father, we believe in encouraging children to learn languages. I think this is more than a plus for any child. I believe their IH did as well. I believe also, that mother's are very important in allowing their children to love learning, and to read. It's the most important message we can offer in their growth process, as well for their livlihoods to be.

I think in the U.S. we are slowly understanding the gift of offering languages to our students.'Stepping' outside our door, offers a student much, and in learning another language, I think it gives them more incentive to learn more about our global community, rather than being just stationary in thought of just their immediate environment(s).

As to learning languages at an early age, allow me to share with you the following. Our daughter as soon as she could understand, was readily taught, three languages. This started when she was in infancy. By the time she was in pre-k, she could speak, respond in three languages. In high school, she added another language for 3 years. After graduation, she added one more language.

Her dad was born outside the U.S. He was brought up in the same manner. (most children outside the U.S. easily are taught languages early on). Her dad learned 5 languages, his father, I believe 7.

So, I believe it's all in how we are raised, and not live in fear of learning a language or to that of any subject matter, etc. I also understand in Israel, children have a very long day in school, and must learn at least three if not four languages.

Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts...

Tatiana+





Quote
Dear Tania you had me rolling on the floor.  But you are so right.

I have a very dear friend who always "axes" people.  I would never dream of correcting her, but I almost always think of chopping off someone's head, not "asking" them a question.

I always read that learning a language as a child is so much easier that learning it as an adult.  But the most important thing is learning to "think" in the language.  Not translating in your mind from one language to the other.

I think that bi-lingual people (or multi lingual) are so lucky.

All I ever got from my German speaking side were the "explitives deleted" but also, some of the very special endeaments.

Now I am married into an Italian speaking family (some of whom were born in Italy) and I am quite lost all the time.  Unfortunately, my mother in law (who was born here and is not a native speaking Italian) decided that her children should not be bi lingual, so my husband is in the same boat that I am.  I get all of the Italian "explitives deleted" but at a family gathering, we are both lost.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on February 04, 2006, 08:40:23 PM
Excusa, but I forgot to add something.  :D Not only are both my husband and daughter with ability to speak, read, write outside the english language, but invariably, when in a room with these various nationalities, have easily slipped back and forth from one language to another, and sometimes with those whom can as well converse adequately, mix these various international languages together. It's the most amazing thing to see in motion. The first time I saw this, and when my daughter was young, it just about caught me speechless, and that's a hard thing to do. lol.

What's the bottom line of all this, we are all very happy that they have enriched their language ability, as well adding to opening up the door and windows of the world to make more meaningful relationships.  :) Thanks.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on February 05, 2006, 05:43:35 PM
Tania  I will take any opportunity I can get to roll on the floor laughing.  I loved your little post.


I know when I was younger, that I would have died if someone suggested that the US have longer school days.

Also, I believe that Spanish as a second language should be taught in all US schools. Not as an option, but as a requirement.  I live on the East Coast and could certainly use a good understanding of Spanish.

Just my humble opinion.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: snugglemummy on February 06, 2006, 12:53:29 AM
Sorry to hark back to the earlier conversation about Alexandra writing letters to her children, but I came into this thread late. Actually, I've just written my opinion about this subject in a thread on the Maria board, and then I found this discussion. This discussion forum is so huge!

I strongly believe it is an error to judge Alexandra and her mothering style based on a couple of letters. Especially when, in FOTR, they were taken so very much out of context. As others have said, we know nothing about what personal conversations preceded these letters. Actually, I thought that quite a bit in the letters to Maria suggest that there have indeed been previous conversations, and certainly Alexandra has been watching Maria and noting her emotional state for a while.

As for it being strange for a mother to write such letters to her child ... well, then I must be strange, for I sometimes write letters to my own young child after we have had a conversation on important matters, to emphasise points, direct her thoughts, and reassure her of my love with a momento she can refer back to whenever she wants. Infact, I have even preceded conversations with such letters, once or twice, to "prepare the ground" as it were. I especially find this helpful because I have a rather shy child who does not like talking about her feelings much. If I put my thoughts into a letter to her, she can read them and think about the whole matter in privacy and then she can choose if she wants to discuss it further.

Perhaps Maria was the same and so found it easier, less embarrassing, even more comforting, to have her mother write these confidential little notes to her as a way of opening the discussion.

My reading of the various material and studying photos lead me to believe that Alexandra was an exceptional mother for her era and a good mother for any era. I think, as others have opined, that she would have probably been ever better had she lived in a more modern age and/or not been the Empress of Russia.

Also, I know from personal experience what it is like having a child with a serious health condition, and I think that no one can analyse Alexandra's character or parenting style without seriously understanding and sympathising with this situation.

Sarah.



Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: snugglemummy on February 06, 2006, 01:01:28 AM
Oops, I should clarify something before people start yelling at me! ;-) When I said "no one can analyse Alexandra's character or parenting style without seriously understanding and sympathising with this situation", I didn't mean that one had to be in that same situation to understand it ... only that being the mother of a seriously ill child probably affected Alexandra so profoundly that this situation must be considered the prevailing influence on her character and behaviour.

Also, I did want to add, I really doubt Alexandra would have considered keeping any of her daughters with her as an unmarried companion. She herself acknowledged her grief that one day they would all leave her as they married, probably outside of Russia, but she hoped for them to be as happy in their marriages as she was in hers.

Sarah
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 06, 2006, 02:00:29 PM
It seems to me that the above post about sums the subject up, at least for me. Well put! I think we have to try to at least understand people in history even if the understanding is sometimes flawed, because we are from a differeNt era and time. One can defend Alexandra if one wants to, that's a right..even if we may be wrong. But it seems to me writing letters was not so odd, nor do we need to go into involved explanations of writing letters. It doesn't in my opinion really serve the discussion well.  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: griffh on February 06, 2006, 02:55:11 PM
It is interesting to consider that fact that Alix allowed her daughters to start visiting the Empress Dowager from 1906 to the outbreak of WWI every Sunday for lunch during the winter months at Anitchkov Palace and then the girls went on to the Grand Duchess Olga's palace where they danced, played games and had tea with wider company of friends than they mingled with at Alexander Palace.  

As the Empress Dowager was determined to broaden her grand daughters social life, she also arranged for them to visit her every morning at her Cottage during the Czar's annual summer retreat at Peterhop Palace.  The other thing that is interesting is that when Olga came of age in 1911 at the age of 16 the Czar and Czarina started holding balls at Livadia and continued to hold them for both Olga and Tatiana and they also were given balls by the Grand Duke George and others.  And these events were not limited to just the sailors on the Standard according to such particpants as Baroness de Stockel.  

Nicholas also started taking Olga to the theater in St. Petersburg on a regular basis as early as 1911.  And the other thing is that Alexandra was wanting to start Court balls again for her daughters but WWI interupted her plans.  

I believe that society was charmed by Alix's daughters.  They appeared to love to dance and wear pretty dresses and they were very charming approachable and most society matrons considered that Alix had been an admirable mother.  

One other interesting point is that many of the letters to her children were written during the time that the children's governess, Sophie Tyutcheva was spreading rumors about Rasputin undressing the girls, etc and Madame Tyutcheva went to far as to attempt to turn the older girls against their mother.  Anna V. says that Alix started to visit her daughter's less frequently in part because of Madame Tyutcheva's attitude and that this was compounded by Alix's heart troubles which started the same year.  Dr. Botkin was checking her heart twice a day and it was during this period that he advised Alix to cut back on attending many court functions.  The period I am speaking of is from 1909-1910.  

I hope that some of this information is helpful.  griff      
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on February 06, 2006, 03:51:41 PM
Dear Griffh,

To put it gently, one cannot gain enough information on their IH and children, for those interested in their lives. It is indeed why this wonderful Alexander Palace Discussion Board exists. Precisely as you have shared, to offer as much information to expand our everyday understanding, in full of all that was in and of 'their lives'.

I am most certain, that even after our generation has gone on, more information will evolve about them, their personal lives, etc.

Thank you, as have the many before you, for your all taking time to share information about their lives, etc.  :)

Nice to meet you, and belated welcome !

Tatiana+

Quote
It is interesting to consider that fact that Alix allowed her daughters to start visiting the Empress Dowager from 1906 to the outbreak of WWI every Sunday for lunch during the winter months at Anitchkov Palace and then the girls went on to the Grand Duchess Olga's palace where they danced, played games and had tea with wider company of friends than they mingled with at Alexander Palace.  

As the Empress Dowager was determined to broaden her grand daughters social life, she also arranged for them to visit her every morning at her Cottage during the Czar's annual summer retreat at Peterhop Palace.  The other thing that is interesting is that when Olga came of age in 1911 at the age of 16 the Czar and Czarina started holding balls at Livadia and continued to hold them for both Olga and Tatiana and they also were given balls by the Grand Duke George and others.  And these events were not limited to just the sailors on the Standard according to such particpants as Baroness de Stockel.  

Nicholas also started taking Olga to the theater in St. Petersburg on a regular basis as early as 1911.  And the other thing is that Alexandra was wanting to start Court balls again for her daughters but WWI interupted her plans.  

I believe that society was charmed by Alix's daughters.  They appeared to love to dance and wear pretty dresses and they were very charming approachable and most society matrons considered that Alix had been an admirable mother.  

One other interesting point is that many of the letters to her children were written during the time that the children's governess, Sophie Tyutcheva was spreading rumors about Rasputin undressing the girls, etc and Madame Tyutcheva went to far as to attempt to turn the older girls against their mother.  Anna V. says that Alix started to visit her daughter's less frequently in part because of Madame Tyutcheva's attitude and that this was compounded by Alix's heart troubles which started the same year.  Dr. Botkin was checking her heart twice a day and it was during this period that he advised Alix to cut back on attending many court functions.  The period I am speaking of is from 1909-1910.  

I hope that some of this information is helpful.  griff      

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Azarias on February 06, 2006, 07:57:50 PM
Thanks Griff, your post gives a fresh slant on things!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 07, 2006, 10:10:07 AM
Information on Alexandra's role as a mother is always appreciated, especially information that helps us judge her further. To me historical information seems more relevant than stuff from Sociology books in understanding her role as a mother. :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Azarias on February 07, 2006, 08:58:39 PM
Quote
Information on Alexandra's role as a mother is always appreciated, especially information that helps us judge her further. To me historical information seems more relevant than stuff from Sociology books in understanding her role as a mother. :)


Perhaps both are really important. Especially when dealing with historical figures, so far removed.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 08, 2006, 08:13:26 AM
Yes, in judging figures of the past we should always be careful to make accurate judgements because they are so far removed from us. So perhaps both are indeed important.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on February 08, 2006, 05:25:47 PM
As any of us post, I agree the word in terms of making judgement should and must be based on being accurate.

As another poster stated, their are posters who have and continue to throw history out the window, and bring conjucture, and hypothetical ideas, rather than dealing and offering accurate scenerios. I do hope that in the spirit of which these wonderful threads were created, that we all continue to ask and are presented with accurate statements. Thanks for allowing me to add my kopeck !  ;)  or should I offer it in euro's, or ?  :D

Quote
Yes, in judging figures of the past we should always be careful to make accurate judgements because they are so far removed from us. So perhaps both are indeed important.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on February 09, 2006, 09:51:55 AM
Quote
As any of us post, I agree the word in terms of making judgement should and must be based on being accurate.

As another poster stated, their are posters who have and continue to throw history out the window, and bring conjucture, and hypothetical ideas, rather than dealing and offering accurate scenerios. I do hope that in the spirit of which these wonderful threads were created, that we all continue to ask and are presented with accurate statements. Thanks for allowing me to add my kopeck !  ;)  or should I offer it in euro's, or ?  :D



Well, I do believe that was directed at me... History is more important to me than anything else one can bring to the boards here, but sometimes supplementary materials help.  They offer explanations and analysis most people wouldn't think of and can help broaden a reader's sense of the historical character.  I'm not talking phrenology or palm reading here, I am talking hardcore, proven methods of analysis like those used by sociologists and psychologists.  

Anyways... Griff mentioned something interesting about the period in which the notes in question were written (but, we should remember, not all of the notes).  It was at a time when the nursery was in turmoil because of Tyutcheva (sp?) and her campaign against against Rasputin (which I believe was in the GDs best interest).  Alexandra, Griff mentioned stayed away.  And this confuses me.  She was always the first one to jump to Rasputin's defense when he was slandered by courtiers so why did she not sack Tyutcheva right away and reclaim her daughters?  Why, excluding her episode of heart "problems", did she stay away from the nursery like that?  Was it because she knew the girls were attached to the woman?  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on February 09, 2006, 10:16:50 AM
That one posters statements about what was going on at the time these notes are written is very illuminating, and helpful in my opinion, and it is this kind of information we should look for, and I agree with anybody who states that this historical information was helpful to them-it certainly was to me. :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: jenjen on May 28, 2006, 05:22:59 AM
What kind of mother-daughter relationship did Alix have with her girls?  There have been so many different accounts of that.  Where they all close, even Olga who often argued with Alix?  I think it has been written somewhere that they were ignored in favor of their brother.  I know he required more attention because of his illness.  Also, I wonder if the girls (especially Marie and Anastasia) felt with knowing their birth was a disappointment.  I would be hurt, but I'm not royalty.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Janet_W. on May 28, 2006, 11:29:13 AM
Hi Jenjen--

These questions have all been asked and responded to previously on this forum, but I can't blame you for not knowing that, especially since most of the categories have pages and pages of threads, and most of the threads are quite extensive. I'll do my best, then, to encapsulate my own thoughts on this topic, and perhaps others will add their own thoughts as well.

Alexandra had a very "typical" relationship with her daughters. What is "typical"? Well, it included many ups and downs, but it was loving and close, and she and her daughters were definitely bonded. Unlike many royal mothers, and indeed many Victorian/Edwardian mothers of almost station, Alexandra was a very "hands on" mother. She breastfed her daughters and she was with them as much as possible during their growing-up years. Read the letters of her daughters and you will note that she playing games with them and that they frequently spend both leisure and public time with their mother. This isn't to say that they were with her 24/7.  Nurses, nannies, governesses, tutors and--ultimately--ladies-in-waiting also played a role in taking care of Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia. But Alexandera was very much a prescense in the day-to-day lives of her daughters. Some, in fact, would say too much so . . . and in some instances, I would say they were correct.

Olga was the eldest daughter, and I know from my own experience that oldest daughters do not always have an easy time of it with their mothers, especially if those mothers are more-than-typically protective. But there is much to indicate that Olga's relationship with her mother, while at times troubled, was not seriously threatened to the point of irreparable chism. Read Olga's poem to her mother, written while they were in captivity, and you will see that Olga understood her mother and loved her very much.

Alexei, being the heir, would of course be the focal point of the family. And, as you point out, his illness also made him a center of concern. I think all four girls accepted and understood this, though of course all siblings have complaints about each other at times, and it had to have crossed their minds on occasion that such-and-such wasn't fair. But such thoughts probably would not have lingered, for after all it was a male-centered culture, and the sensibilities of 100 years ago are not the sensibilities of today.

Much has been made of Marie's sensitivite nature, and I would agree that as a "middle child" she no doubt had issues related to that fact. I don't think, however, she was aware of her birth being "a disappointment." Most of us know about the initial reaction of her father to her birth, but we also know that Nicholas loved Marie very much, declaring her to be the family angel. As for Anastasia, I would not doubt that much of her bumptious personality was related to the fact that she was the fourth girl, followed by the only boy, and therefore had to do SOMETHING to get attention. But again, I doubt she was intellectually aware of her birth being a "disappointment."
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on May 28, 2006, 06:20:40 PM
Quote
What kind of mother-daughter relationship did Alix have with her girls?  There have been so many different accounts of that.  Where they all close, even Olga who often argued with Alix?  I think it has been written somewhere that they were ignored in favor of their brother.  I know he required more attention because of his illness.  Also, I wonder if the girls (especially Marie and Anastasia) felt with knowing their birth was a disappointment.  I would be hurt, but I'm not royalty.

Be it a blessing or a curse Alexandra loved her children equally.  This, however, probably did not mitigate the slights Marie and Anastasia seem to have felt over being nationally unwanted (at least at first).  But in time their parents' love and their own precociousness allowed them to carve out their own places in the family.  Anastasia, of course, became the prankster (out of a need for attention and her own outgoing personality) and Marie became a wonderfully caring, nurturing young woman with a remarkable capability to bond with almost everyone she met.  Of course all the girls came second to Alexei (especially in Alexandra's world), and this must have caused some resentment, but their parents realized each girl for who they were and made them feel special and loved no matter what.  Alexei may have been the center of Alexandra's every day world, but her girls never meant less to her and even I (who am not a huge fan of Alexandra's selfish, cold and ultimately stunting parenting) must give her credit for letting the girls grow up into distinct and fascinating young women.  Even in the tight world of the Alexander Palace the girls managed to grow in a thousand different directions, something they could not have done under a stricter or less understanding mother.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Caleb on June 01, 2006, 02:49:38 PM
Well but then again, Nicholas & Alexandra referred to Marie Feodorovna as "Motherdear" as did George V & his siblings refer to Queen Alexandra. I think in a way we all have nicknames for friends & family.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on June 05, 2006, 03:24:48 PM
I agree with Tsarina_Liz. That is very true, that Alexandra must be given the final credit for what her daughters became. They were indeed beautiful, accomoplished, intelligent young women. She was also a caring parent to Alexei, although it was easy to be over protective given his illness. She may have faced some of the issues other families face with children and siblings. There were of course conflicts and sibling jealousy sometimes or feeling unloved. That is natural and human, but at the end of the day Alexandra mostly had a good effect on her children. They grew up well, although Alexei never lived to grow up, only his sisters were grown up or close. Alexandra seems a good mother to me, her children being her ultimate test.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on June 05, 2006, 10:22:19 PM
Quote
I agree with Tsarina_Liz. That is very true, that Alexandra must be given the final credit for what her daughters became. They were indeed beautiful, accomoplished, intelligent young women. She was also a caring parent to Alexei, although it was easy to be over protective given his illness. She may have faced some of the issues other families face with children and siblings. There were of course conflicts and sibling jealousy sometimes or feeling unloved. That is natural and human, but at the end of the day Alexandra mostly had a good effect on her children. They grew up well, although Alexei never lived to grow up, only his sisters were grown up or close. Alexandra seems a good mother to me, her children being her ultimate test.

Well, I personally don't think she deserves as much credit as all of this  ;)  Her and Nicholas combined, IMHO, get about 45% of the credit while the girls themselves get the other 55%.  In many ways they raised themselves thanks to Alexandra's illnesses and psychological quirks as well as her attentiveness towards their brother - and I think that was a good thing because it allowed them to become unique individuals.  But, of course, I have never seen evidence of Alexandra trying to radically change who they were - even the rambunctious Anastasia, whom she must have occasionally found tiring (or even possibly amusing when she was sick and needed cheering).  When Alexandra was around, she could be harsh and demanding (read her notes to the girls, they mean well but they come across badly) although I think she tried to show love through instructions.  Methinks that she was somewhat emotionally stunted growing up due to the lack of a caring, attentive mother figure of her own - Queen Victoria meant well, but she wasn't exactly 'cuddly' and therefore Alexandra didn't really know how to be affectionate (yes, I realize it's speculation).  Alexandra also, it should be added, did her fair share of damage.  Most of the girl's immaturity both psychologically and socially, resulted from her enforced isolation from the rest of the society.  As the Dowager Empress Marie said, the girls were "captives of their mother's paranoia."  

The girls were great, but had they been allowed to grow up normally I think they would have been spectacular with unlimited potential.  They all had good heads on their shoulders, something I don't think Alexandra ever realized, and would have blazed their own paths in society without compromising their integrity.  And given the increasingly lax rules of the society they lived in and the social fluctuations, they could have become much more than trophy wives.  I have seen it written that Anastasia, for example, would have made an admirable photographer.  Olga could have ruled a country with the suitable husband becoming, I imagine, much like QEII in our time - a smart, popular "business queen".  In trying to protect her girlies, Alexandra caused quite a bit of damage.  
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sophia_Skymind on June 07, 2006, 08:31:20 PM
Hi!

I have to agree with those who say that Alexandra was slightly over protective. But I don't think it should be considered as bad for her children. Sometimes, over protectiveness is what allows people to grow. I know it's paradoxal, but if you have nothing to disturb you, you'll have lots of energy to think, to analyze what is life, no? (please keep in mind that it's a point of view...)

Don't know. Don't forget that kids didn't had as much rights then today, and that they were considered children a lot younger then today. Adolescence is a new concept, thinking about it.

For example, I once saw an old video from the 1976 summer Olympics, figuring gymnastics champion Nadia Comaneci. What always surprises me is that sportscasters refer to her as a little girl. She was 14 years old, not 10! And it was what, 40 years ago? So imagine in 1910! People were expected to go from "child" to "adult" in no time, and maybe that was some of them didn't really knew how to rear their own kids. They maybe didn't felt ready at only around 20 years old, as a few years before their own parents refered to them as "little girls" and young boys.

So I believe that when thinking about Alix's relationship with her daughters, we have to compare her with standarts from her own times. (And I don't mean to offend anyone by saying that.)  :)

Sophia
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on June 08, 2006, 10:34:13 AM
I agree that we always have to take standards in context with the era. What might seem normal parenting in one era tends to seem different in another. It might be ok, but to another era not seem so. I think overlooking this is an issue. Perhaps parenting is not good, but in that era was regarded as so. You have to take that into consideration. Also, royalty have always raised their children differently, and always will than most of us. Thus, their standards might not be ours. Alexandra had some challenges in her role as a mother, and in my opinion she performed well, except that she was a bit over proctective of her daughters, that is true. It was hard to avoid that though, in the circumstances.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on August 20, 2006, 04:13:17 PM
Did Alexandra every get so angry at the children that she couldn't talk to them?
i think she would beacuse of alexei's illness.

and viseversa... did the children get mad at her they couldn't talk to her?
i mean i somtimes i can't talk to my mom over a fight or somthing.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on August 22, 2006, 07:29:09 AM
I would imagine so, though I can't actually think of an incident to prove it. After all, they were just regular people underneath it all...
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Dasha on August 22, 2006, 05:36:32 PM
Any parent and any child would get angry at either party because it's only human to do so.  Parents expect certain behaviour from their children and children don't want to do what they ought to be doing.  I'm pretty sure that the Imperial Family got angry and frustrated with one another and when one is angry, it is very possible that he or she may want to be isolated for a while and not communicate with the person that has caused the said anger.  This your typical family stuff, and it's very common in large families as well as small ones.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grace on August 23, 2006, 07:06:25 AM
Did Alexandra every get so angry at the children that she couldn't talk to them?
i think she would beacuse of alexei's illness.

and viseversa... did the children get mad at her they couldn't talk to her?
i mean i somtimes i can't talk to my mom over a fight or somthing.

I wouldn't imagine Alexandra would be angry at the other children because of Alexei's illness -- that was not their fault -- but they probably grew to realise that, at those times, Alexandra was under terrible strain and had little time to spend with them.

I'd say the children had their frustrations with her too, especially as they got older -- Olga at least has touched on this in some of her correspondence.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on August 28, 2006, 01:01:45 PM
The last person is correct. Like any family, they had their tensions, but like any other family, they resolved them too I think for the most part. Alexandra was never specifically angry at her children because of Alexei's hemophilia, but it was a tension that might have erupted at times true. But Alexandra did not really have a bad temper or anything.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on September 06, 2006, 04:48:22 PM
well i'm sure when she found out she was mad at herself for a little while. but as tim progressed she knew it wasn't her fault.
true any family would have fights. and any normal family would resolve them.
thank you :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on September 06, 2006, 05:32:24 PM
Well, I think she might have blamed herself for a while about Alexei having hemophilia. It did come from the mother after all, and she was the mother, the carrier.I think it lessened, but there was still some guilt there. Of course, it wasn't her fault, it was genetics. But she always felt responsible towards Alexei, because of his illness.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on September 06, 2006, 08:08:14 PM
aw she must have felt awful... i can see Nicholas cheering her up.of course it wasn't her fault, buti know if i was a mother i would feel guilt no question!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Dixie-Joy on September 10, 2006, 09:02:40 AM
I'm sure she did get mad at the children from time to time. Kids will be kids. They will act bratty  and need to be corrected by their parents. Just because they were royalty did not mean they were angelic all the time.

But I don't see Alix ever being angry with OTMA because of Alexei's hemophilia.

I do think that she probably blamed herself for Alexei's illness though. She probably felt terrible about it. What mother woudn't.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on September 10, 2006, 11:15:38 AM
aw do feel sorry for alix.
nicholas was probobly heart broken!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on September 10, 2006, 06:11:14 PM
Well, Alexandra did feel responsible. But I think she was an excellant mother to all her children. Nicholas accepted it, and tolerated Rasputin because he knew Alexandra needed him. He was aware of the larger issues involved, but he still paid attention to the fact that Alexandra thought he was indispensable for Alexei. Nicholas and Alexandra lived with the favt of Alexei's hemophilia as best they could.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on September 10, 2006, 06:44:54 PM
well of course
its like having a child with autism 'sp?'

you want the best for your child, any means necessary.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on September 10, 2006, 06:53:46 PM
I think that was the main thing for both of them; making sure that they did the best for Alexei that was possible. And that went above and beyond any other issues.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on September 17, 2006, 09:27:57 PM
yes i'm sure it was...

but i do think that she did baby him a bit. but then again, i'm not a mother and i don't really know.

but she could have let him done somthings on him own and not been right behind him everysecond!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Ortino on September 18, 2006, 12:22:40 AM
yes i'm sure it was...

but i do think that she did baby him a bit. but then again, i'm not a mother and i don't really know.

but she could have let him done somthings on him own and not been right behind him everysecond!

Autism and hemophilia are not medically equivalent--autism can't potentially kill you. If she had let him romp around like other boys or not had him supervised all the time, he might have injured himself and ultimately died from that injury. Even a small one could be painful and potentially life threatening. Let's be realistic here people. And indeed, Alix fawned over him more than was necessary. He was a rather spoiled, unruly child.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on September 18, 2006, 08:48:16 AM
He was a bit spoiled, which is understandable as he was the heir, her only son, and also ill. She did have to pay attention to him, and did, although it became the most important thing in her life, which is hard for some to understand.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on September 23, 2006, 11:46:41 AM
well it was just a comparision

thanks for all your opinions!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RealAnastasia on November 06, 2006, 11:24:04 PM
Well...You are not right. Many princess were tomboys back then. I think that tomboys are more common these days than now, when girls likes to use rosy clothes , to collection "Barbies" and to diet until starve to look absolutely perfect. My sister -in-law is teacher and she knows girls of 8 years old making diet and having absolutely all the things they wear in a rosy colour!

There were a lot of tomboy princess...One of them was Alix herself! She was not a submissive sweet Victorian princess. Even if she was not as mischievous as Anastasia, she was a tomboy, and had an independent mind. I think than she and her Malenkaya has more than a trait in common!  ;)

Of course, there was another VERY KNOWN tomboy princess: Elizabeth of Wittelsbach...our very well known Empress Sissi!

And what about Marie-Antoinette, born a lot of years before Sissi and Alix?

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RealAnastasia on November 06, 2006, 11:28:46 PM
Well, I think she might have blamed herself for a while about Alexei having hemophilia. It did come from the mother after all, and she was the mother, the carrier.I think it lessened, but there was still some guilt there. Of course, it wasn't her fault, it was genetics. But she always felt responsible towards Alexei, because of his illness.

Thank you for writting this, Imperial_Angel. I read in a website about hemophilia , that mothers usually thinks that they are responsibles of their children disease. Of course, they aren't, but it is a normal psychological reaction.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 07, 2006, 08:55:07 AM
Yes, it was a normal reaction for her to have. I think she never really understood that she wasn't to blame. If it had had happerened nowadays, she might have more understanding of the whole thing.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: lori_c on November 07, 2006, 11:53:25 AM
What Alix had to endure with poor Alexei's illness on top of the guilt she carried aged the poor lady mercilessly.  Her entire life changed to accomodate the illness and the prospect of impending death of the young heir. The Emperor supported whatever would help his hysterical wife.  I agree that he was quite aware of the larger picture involving Rasputin but given the choice, he chose his son and his wife.  As anybody would.   I think this strain of hemophilia may have shown itself within her relationship w/her girls but also, the girls were quite aware that their brother was very ill and showed great kindness and consideration towards him and they babied him as well.  Though Olga was sometimes rebellious, she was also growing up and becoming a young lady.  Most certainly going through the pangs of teen angst (as much as there could be during Victorian times).  But she and the othe girls truly loved their brother and understood as did her sisters the tremendous strain and danger to his health that was involved.

Though spoiled and unruly, he was also grew up with the knowledge of how seriously ill he was.  He even went so far as to ask at quite a young age that when he was dead would it stop hurting? Not something a healthy child even has to face.  He lived life to the fullest that his illness allowed him. 
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 07, 2006, 12:15:41 PM
Yes, Nicholas was aware of the larger sitiuation involving Rasputin. But, you are right he chose to focus on the more human parts of the sitiuation, something that I can understand. People commenting from afar often say that he should have paid more attention to the political aspects of the sitiuation, and not to the personal. But, honestly, his did his best, and for Alexandra Rasputin was very much a neccesity for her son, and her own sanity.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Tania+ on November 07, 2006, 12:35:48 PM
Any adult having to address the issues that Alix was forced to address would age a person imho. Her life did change considerably as most households to in those times, as it is in the present. In most families, the role of caretaker of an invalid is primarily up to the mother, and in this case it fell on Alix. In those days hemophilia was not explored as it was later medically, so there were many unanswered issues, and with those issues unanswered it can and does produce extremes of anxiety, in that alone. Being a parent, without the other issues of being head of an empire, is considerable, then as it is now, and now even more so. Focusing just on the issues of being a family as this thread is, then for these children, much imho, love was offered generously, but with strickness as it should be for young souls. The children led lives that most children in the world are not. We as readers read everything now days after the fact on their lives, and can easily point to what we think is a problem or not. But for this particular family, they led a very enclosed life, and were more or less identifiably friends, sisters and brothers unto themselves.
With this understanding, I think they came to know their weaknesses and their strengths, and grew with this to depend greatly on their family togetherness.

That the young heir apparant was looked on as special, is not out of the ordinary, from a royal family or from an improvished family. What is of greater importance is how the children were addressed in specifics of what was deemed responsible or inadmissable behaviour, and imho, i think this was addressed in how each child's personality was. Their parents were in insufferable to them, nor at all to destroy their child's persona.
This was just the way this royal family chose to raise their children, and did to the best they knew how, imho.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 10, 2006, 12:08:50 PM
Indeed, that is all true, as ever, I could not have put it better, at all.Alexandra did her best in the cirsumstances and sitiuation she found herself in. She was under much pressure, and the way she acted can often be understood in terms of that in my opinion.  Hemophilia would have been understood better later, and it would have made it easier for Alexandra, and it would have made it easier for to understand. But still, she was the mother of the heir to the throne, and this part of that was the hardest for her, knowing that this was her son, and not just that, the heir. Had he not been the heir, it still would have been hard, but that just made things worse.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 12, 2006, 07:06:34 PM
Well, Nicholas knew exactly what Rasputin did when he was not at the palace. He knew that the things said about Rasputin were real, not not just rumours. I tend to think that Alexandra heard these stories, although maybe not all of them, and that she thought many of them were rumours, and not reality. It isn't like Alexandra was denying reality, she simply didn't believe in it. But, Nicholas did know reality, and he chose not to get rid of Rasputin, but rather to allow him to stay. I believe that Nicholas knew these things were reality, not rumour. To me, that's the essence of the matter, anyway.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Belochka on November 12, 2006, 10:19:33 PM
Well, Nicholas knew exactly what Rasputin did when he was not at the palace. He knew that the things said about Rasputin were real, not not just rumours.

There is no historic basis to this presumption. The truth became the victim. This unfortunate situation has not been correctly addressed in modern English language sources.

Margarita
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on November 13, 2006, 05:49:25 PM
Could you please elaborate on this Belochka?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Belochka on November 13, 2006, 11:53:38 PM
Hi Georgiy,

I will be delighted to do so. You will have to wait until the cyber Rasputin Coronial Inquest to better understand who Rasputin really was.

Rasputin was a simple peasant who understood the teachings of the Church. Recent post soviet material from Russia is providing clear evidence that the image portrayed by the media was far from accurate.

Nikolai II was aware of who Rasputin was and was respected by Him and the family members.

Stolypin, Witte and General Kurlov described Rasputin in fair and favorable terms. It was those who never met him or preferred to immerse themselves with Petrograd gossip and politics who believed they knew better.

After the collapse of the Imperial government, the rumors were accepted as fact and became part of history.

Margarita  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 14, 2006, 11:18:22 AM
That's very interesting. I would like to hear more about that. It's true that gossip and rumour do stain people's characters sometimes in ways far from the truth. I think that Alexandra and the IF in general often had their name dragged through the mud because of Rasputin, so it would be interesting about the truth of his own reputation.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on November 14, 2006, 11:45:01 PM
Thank you Margarita, that makes perfect sense. There is so much 'mythology' about Rasputin it is very hard for most of us to see what he really was. I have long thought that he was what you have said, qualified with that he had huge iskusheniye (temptations). Maybe he ended up in a state of prelest', but I would not like to judge the man.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RealAnastasia on November 15, 2006, 07:02:27 PM
Yes, it was a normal reaction for her to have. I think she never really understood that she wasn't to blame. If it had had happerened nowadays, she might have more understanding of the whole thing.

But even today many women who have hemophiliac children still feels guilty. I do not know why,but it is pretty common as a medical reaction, for even if you know what hemophilia is and how it is transmised, the reality remains that it comes from mother's side and this is the fact that make mothers to think they are to blame... :-\

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on November 15, 2006, 08:43:54 PM
Certainly, you are right. But I now see it that, if you consider her sitiuation as a royal mother, in a monarchy where she was the mother of the the male heir, where only male heirs would allowed to succeed, that even in modern times the sitiuation might be the same, say in Japan that also struggled, but much more so to find a male heir to the throne. In general, had Alexandra lived in a later age, she would have at least been more informed, so maybe she could have made better judgements on her own guilt or not .But, she would not have been that rational about it one wonders, although had she been a commoner, there would have been less pressure on her, so maybe she would have put less pressure on herself. :-\
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: grandduchess_42 on March 19, 2007, 09:56:01 PM
This thread might be a bit inconventional so please bear with me.  :D

i always wondered if Tsarina Alexandra would use her daughters as pawns accross the monarchs of Europe.
Queen Victoria, Empress Marie-Tereasea (sp) certainly did just that.

Im sure that both queens had the best intresest at heart for their daughters, but back then Men mattered most.
they had "will power".

but do you think that the empress would deliberatly use her daughtesr for satisfaction of spreading their names?
if that was the reason.

Please explain this to me, I would also like to hear your input on this subject.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on March 19, 2007, 10:27:09 PM
I don't think Alexandra would have deliberately used her daughters' marriages solely for political gain. She realized how very lucky she was that her own marriage was a love match, and hoped for the same for her children, although Alix was a little fearful of letting them go. (There's a letter from Alix to Nicky that says all this, but I'm not sure when it was written, or whether I can find it.)

For example, the IF went to Romania in 1914 so Olga could meet crown prince Carol, a possible suitor. Olga showed virtually no interest in the prince, and the issue was dropped. (Carol later brought up the idea of marrying Maria, but Nicholas dismissed the proposal, saying Maria was too young.) Olga herself told Gilliard, "I am a Russian, and I intend to remain Russain," and I don't recall reading anywhere that Alix ever pressured her daughter one way or the other where the possibility of marriage was concerned.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Elizaveta on March 20, 2007, 11:59:39 AM
Perhaps Alexandra would try to find suitors for her daughters that could be seen as political gains, but I don't think she'll push her daughters into marriages to men they didn't love. As Saruska had said, she didn't force Olga to marry Carol. I think she's hoping for a perfect union that can be both a political gain and a love match. Also, there's an issue of haemophilia in Alexandra's family, and it's difficult to find a willing husband to accept the possibility to have carrier daughters and sickened sons. Alexandra must have realized this, and she might have felt that prospects for her daughters' hands were limited due to this problem. So, she's simply striving for best matches possible for her daughters regardless of their suitors' ranks (as long as he's a prince, I suppose!).

grandduchess_42, I think it's a fascinating topic to bring up! It really got me thinking  :)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on March 24, 2007, 09:05:03 PM
It is indeed an interesting topic. I think, knowing of Alexandra's deep Orthodox Faith, if she was going to marry her daughters politically, then she would have been perhaps more likely to look towards other Orthodox nations - as indeed, Romania is.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RomanovFan on April 11, 2007, 06:28:44 PM
I agree with Sarushka. I don't think Alexandra would have forced her daughters to marry just to make a good political match. When the Imperial Family went to Romania in 1914, Olga made it clear that she refused to marry Crown Prince Carol and that she would always remain a Russian. But at the same time, I think she and Nicky both may have pushed their girls (once they became of marriagable age) to wed the best royal they saw fit at the time. I believe there was some talk in 1913/1914 just before the outbreak of war that it would have been a good idea if Olga married Edward, Prince of Wales (Edward VIII). But nothing ever came of it.

Since she was the oldest daughter, Olga probably would've been expected to marry before her sisters, and Alexei being the only boy and heir, would have certainly been expected to make a good marital match as soon as he was old enough. I'm pretty sure Alexandra would have put more pressure on her son to marry well than any of her daughters.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on May 09, 2007, 09:33:30 PM
Anyone know at which conditions she allowed her daughters to see Aleksey when sick? She worked so hard to shelter her kids from anything she thought would harm them, it sounds weird that she'd let them in to see their brother when he could die at any moment. But maybe she only let them see him when he was recovering, since they only wrote in their diaries that they read to him, and the adults wrote that he was "screaming with pain." But in Spala, wasn't Aleksey almost always on the brink of death? They did go in to see him, then. But everyone did expect him to die, maybe she thought OTMA needed to be with Aleksey in what easily could have been his last moments. Have anything?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Rodney_G. on May 16, 2007, 10:13:45 PM



  I don't think there were any restrictions at all on OTMA seeing Alexei sick. It's as well to remember that they adored him from birth and his bouts of illness began not long after, occurring sporadically throughout his life. Their rooms were not far apart at the AP and I think they would have been comfortable visiting him and cheering him up. Anastasia especially was close to him.

It's true it would have been very hard on them (or anyone) at those moments when he was in real agony but then it was most often Alexandra with him.

Generally speaking, Alexandra's sheltering of OTMA  was in the nature of keeping them from contact with people and situations of what she thought of as a morally dubious character, not from exposure to life's sufferings. She thought it quite valuable for the girls to visit the sick in hospitals and to value and appreciate their own great material comfort and good fortune., and that there was indeed great suffering in the real world.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Belochka on May 16, 2007, 10:57:40 PM
One consideration relating to Alexei's episodic bouts was that the family was drawn closer together. However it was always Alexandra who constantly stayed by Alexei's bed during his most painful hours.

Margarita
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 19, 2007, 07:29:03 PM
Quote
it sounds weird that she'd let them in to see their brother when he could die at any moment.

I disagree. I don't think it would be appropriate for Alexandra to hide how truly horrible his disease was from her children, so it seems natural in my opinion that she would allow them to see Alexei at his worst.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: TheAce1918 on May 19, 2007, 09:47:26 PM
I don't think it would be appropriate for Alexandra to hide how truly horrible his disease was from her children, so it seems natural in my opinion that she would allow them to see Alexei at his worst.

I think the girls knew how serious Aleksey's condition was, especially after Spala.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 20, 2007, 12:51:21 AM
I don't think it would be appropriate for Alexandra to hide how truly horrible his disease was from her children, so it seems natural in my opinion that she would allow them to see Alexei at his worst.

I think the girls knew how serious Aleksey's condition was, especially after Spala.
I do as well. They would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to hear poor little Alexei screaming. I'd like to think they were right there next to him comforting him until the arrival of Rasputin. :-\
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on May 30, 2007, 07:27:14 AM
Olga and David (Edward VIII later Duke of Windsor)  Hmmmmm!  How that would have changed history.  ;)

Would David still have had a wandering eye?  Or would marriage to a beautiful and savvy Russian Grand Duchess have made him quite content.

I wonder if this marriage would have been accepted by parliament.  After all, Victoria was gone and so was Edward VII.  I am sure that Kaiser Wilhelm II would not have been "amused".

Olga would have had to change her religion as her mother had before her.  It would have been a reversal of roles in one generation!  Would Alexandra have allowed it and would Olga have accepted it....   Hmmmmm    :-\
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: TheAce1918 on May 30, 2007, 10:09:15 PM
Alexandra might have supported it, and Kaiser 'Bill' would take the event with a grain of salt, I think.  And I doubt Olga would have accepted such a proposal.  England or not.  She was a patriot to her nation, and well, you simply just can't argue with that. But who knows?  ::)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on May 30, 2007, 10:44:55 PM
Oh, I agree that Olga probably wouldn't have accepted the proposal.  But Kaiser Bill would not have liked an alliance of Britain and Russia through a marriage that would put a Russian Consort of the British throne.

The Kaiser always thought that his uncle King Edward VII was machinating behind his back.  This would have taken the proverbial cake.

I wonder though, since Alix had refused to marry Eddie (Albert Victor) would she have even considered sending Olga to marry David (Edward VIII)?

We know that Alix had a strong connection to Britain, some her happiest days were spent there.  But she had promised that her daughters could marry for love and if Olga did not love David, then there would be no question of the engagement coming off.

Wouldn't Queen Victoria have been proud, though.  Had she been alive to see it.   :D

Just a thought has anyone ever read in any biographies of David whether or not he ever considered Olga as suitable or if he was interested in her?  Most of what I have read concentrates on his premarital flings with married women (he was a commitment phobe) and, of course, Wallis Simpson.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: azrael7171918 on May 31, 2007, 05:48:06 AM

We know that Alix had a strong connection to Britain, some her happiest days were spent there.  But she had promised that her daughters could marry for love and if Olga did not love David, then there would be no question of the engagement coming off.


Maybe it is just as well that neither Carol nor David worked out. Carol it seems had a marriage he was unhappy with and took up with a mistress. David was running around quite a bit. In fact at the time of Prince Charles marriage to the late Princess Diana the family was rather releaved that he was settling down because it was said at the time he was reminding family members of David.

So it is not just a matter of Olga accepting the marriage but if neither man was in love with her more than likely it would have become a miserable situation for everyone concerned.

Azrael
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on May 31, 2007, 08:13:54 AM
Oh, I agree with you.  By the turn of century, royal marriages were no longer tolerated by the wife just because of propriety.  Edward VII and Alexandra were from the old school.

George V and Queen Mary were truly in love as were George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  I have heard rumors that Prince Phillip has not been as faithful to Queen Elizabeth II.  (But I have no source just rumor.  You Brits would know more about that than I)

So I believe that Olga and any of the other daughters of Alix would not have had to marry a man she did not love or who did not love her.  The marriage requirements were changing as women began to advocate for themselves.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 31, 2007, 07:24:37 PM
I don't think so. Alix always had her daughters' happiness in mind first.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Russophile on June 01, 2007, 06:51:55 PM
IMHO, Alix wanted to keep their family together as much as possible. I would think she would have been very happy if all her daughters remained "spinsters". They seemed to be very happy in each other's company.
Very doubtful she would use them as pawns.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Duke of New Jersey on June 01, 2007, 07:13:08 PM
Yes, I agree with Russophile.  Alexandra would not have pushed her daughters into marriage.  I had always assumed that if they had the Russian Revolution never happened only one out of four of Alix's daughters would have married.  I don't know which one though.  There was always talk of one of them marrying Dimitri Pavolich to stay in Russia but who knows. 

There are a lot of chances of this in history:
-"The Aunts" of Louis XIV (daughters of Louis XV)
-Daughters of George III
+Others

The biggest thing would have been an inflated sense of self-importance.  Nobody would have been good enough (in their minds) for a daughter of the Tsar.  This is what happened to Marie Alexandrovna, even though she later married.  The same thing happened to the daughters of Louis XV, nobody was good enough for the daughters of the French King.  One of Louis XV's daughter did marry (Louise-Elizabeth married Philip of Spain, Duke of Parma) only because it was a way to pep up realtions with the Spainish Court. 

Maria Theresa, and Victoria to a lesser extent, were keen on using their daughters as tools of Foreign Policy.  Maria Theresa was/is quite famous (or imfamous) for that.  (But, they were by far not the only ones who did this.) 

-Duke of NJ

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: dmitri on July 04, 2007, 11:43:21 AM
I don't think Alexandra Feodorovna would have liked any of her daughters to marry at all. She controlled them so tightly. She never really let them have any freedom. I tend to feel quite sorry for them because of this. One wonders about Olga. Perhaps she might have married abroad just to be free of her Mother. We will never know. Certainly if she had married Carol I doubt that would have been very happy as he treated Helen extremely badly and ended up losing his throne to boot. An unhappy marriage to Carol though would have saved her the dreadful death in the cellar at Ekaterinburg. As to whether she would have been a carrier there is no way of knowing that. It is quite possible that none of Nicholas II and Alexandra's daughters were. Of course all of them could have been too or perhaps just one or two. There is no way of knowing. Certainly they did not all inheirit identical genes from their parents. What sibling ever does? Not all of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's daughters were carriers. Victoria, later Empress Friedrich certainly wasn't. There is no real way of knowing about Helena as neither of her daughters ever had children. Louise never married, Alice and Beatrice were both carriers. As for Queen Victoria I doubt she would have been amused at all by her granddaughter. There is one famous letter before she died where she warned Alexandra about her inflexible attitude to the Russian people and Alexandra arrogantly replied back. Perhaps if she had listened, a habit she never learnt, she would not have ended up dead in the cellar in Ekaterinburg. Queen Victoria would have of course been deeply sad about Alexis  as she knew about her son Leopold and others within her family before her death. As for 1905 and 1917 she would not have been surprised. She always called the Russian throne unsafe. Remember she wanted Alexandra for Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. What a blessing for the British Monarchy that that marriage never occurred as they avoided the disease plus a woman not suited to be Tsarina or Queen anywhere. Queen Mary was a far superior choice for both British Princes. Perhaps Nicholas II might have listened to Queen Victoria thought he rarely listened to anybody. Certainly the deaths would have made her very sad. I doubt though that Queen Victoria, even though Kaiser Wilhelm II was hardly her favourite, have agreed to a war with Germany unless it had been forced on her. She was awake up to Kaiser Wilhelm II but Germany was close to her heart. All so many ifs. Perhaps Queen Victoria would have ensured all the Romanov Grand Duchesses married abroad just to escape Russia and its chronic instability. I wonder what Maria Feodorovna would have wanted for marriages for her granddaughters? That is something nobody knows.   
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: anna11 on November 16, 2007, 03:32:57 PM
I read on one of those blog thingies that Alix once had a pillow fight with OTMA. Any truth in it? And does anyone have any info about it? lol
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: koloagirl on November 16, 2007, 07:21:59 PM

Aloha from Kaua'i!

I remember reading this anecdote also -- but it wasn't on a blog -- possibly the Massie Nicholas and Alexandra book?

I don't know if there is any truth to it either - but it is something that has always stuck in my head -- it makes a wonderful image!

Janet R.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on November 17, 2007, 12:04:57 AM
I've always heard that it's true, and I hope it is.  :) It would show that Alexandra wasn't as strict with her daughters as people tend to think.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Raegan on November 19, 2007, 08:41:02 AM
I believe you all are referring to a letter Tatiana wrote to her father.

October 27, Tsarskoe Selo, p.262. no date

"Yesterday we were playing with the pillows. Mother was with us. She jumped into the pillows and fell through them."

http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/tdiaries.html
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: koloagirl on November 19, 2007, 07:13:57 PM

Aloha all!

Well it certainly appears that Alexandra was playing with the girls - and with pillows -- so I'll keep my mental image of her enjoying a good old-fashioned pillow fight after all!

Janet R.
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v202/Koloagirl/oaf6794es.jpg)

Sometimes it doesn't seem all that hard to imagine - at least in some of her pictures!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: anna11 on November 24, 2007, 05:29:21 PM
I think the 'isolated' Romanov children is a bit of a myth. Certain isolation would come from their position, don't you think? Daughters of the Tsar? They talked with officers freely on the Standart, Aunt Olga took them out to town, they were allowed to wonder around by themselves on visits to England etc. And if Alexandra was as over protevtive as people say, I don't think she would have let them be exposed to bleeding dieing, and probably naked men.

I don't think 'good mother' can really be defined. Certainly Alix was not a 'bad mother', but I don't think you can define that either. Alix raised her children how she thought was best, she spent time with them, looked after them and tried to turn them out as good as possible. That's all any mother can do.

And again, sorry about spelling.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: pandora on December 08, 2007, 09:26:19 AM
I agree with you, Anna11, regarding the "good mother, bad mother" judgement. Since there isn't a book, per se, one has to go by when being a mother this responsibility is sheerly a stab in the dark in what not to do. For the era Alexandra lived, I personally believe she was an excellent mother. Protocol required her to place Alexei ahead of her daughters because of his future in Russia. As far as the girls being isolated or overprotected, I think again the era required girls of their station in life to be protected or shielded from the world. Making good marriage matches was the primary goal of royal daughters.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: anna11 on January 12, 2008, 02:16:43 PM
And also, the good mother bad mother judement aside, Alexandra was very good with her children, (and children in general I think) as in playing games with them and talking and joking with them. And they obviously really enjoyed her company, as she did them.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: NAAOTMA on January 13, 2008, 12:03:38 PM
An important point has been made that Alix needs to be evaluated in terms of her peers and her era.

As far as being overprotective of her daughters, she does not seem to be any more than her Aunt Alix or her mother-in-law were.

Compared to the nonrelationship between MF and GD Olga, she was an involved parent in her daughter's everyday lives.

Her relationships with her children, when compared to those of Queen Mary, seem to be more natural and involved than Queen Mary's when set against modern standards.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: pandora on January 20, 2008, 03:56:47 PM
I can't agree with you more, NAAOTMA. In comparison to what I've read about Queen Mary for example, Alexandra would almost be viewed as a "hands-on" mother. She seemed to consider herself a wife and mother first then an Empress.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: dmitri on January 20, 2008, 06:56:18 PM
Yes this probably was the cause of her undoing. She needed to pay far more attention to undertaking in an appropriate manner with good advisers her role as Tsarina. Avoiding the task placed her beloved children in jeopardy.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: pandora on January 20, 2008, 09:09:41 PM
I seriously doubt being a wonderful mother was her "undoing" since she had nothing to personally "undo". As in any culture, being a wonderful mother, wife, help-mate is never considered wrong.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: dmitri on January 20, 2008, 10:57:12 PM
Of course not. Being a neglectful and inept Empress though tends to bring the entire society down.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: ChristineM on January 21, 2008, 08:20:35 AM
dmitri

YOU ARE GOING RATHER TOO FAR REGARDING YOUR NARKING CRITICISMS OF EMPRESS ALEXANDRA FEODOROVNA - MUCH OF IT BASED ON BOLSHEVIK PROPAGANDA AND INTER- FAMILY JEALOUSIES.

IF YOU - and any others who air similar views - DO NOT KNOW THAT BOB ATCHISON CREATED THIS ENTIRE WEBSITE (long before the Forum) IN MEMORY OF ALEXANDRA FEODOROVNA..... YOU DO NOW.

KINDLY BEAR THIS IN MIND AND DO NOT OFFEND YOUR HOST.

tsaria
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: dmitri on January 21, 2008, 09:57:21 AM
I'm hardly offending any person who objectively examines Russian history. It is bizarre is the attitude that Alexandra Feodorovna was some sort of lily white innocent. That has never been the case. Historical fact clearly shows the role Alexandra Feodorovna played and that is not Bolshevik propaganda by any means. To suggest such is some form of unusual paranoia based on no historical fact. One would hardly call W.Bruce Lincoln, Robert Massie, Orlando Figes  and so many other reputable historians Bolsheviks. That is greatly offensive and grossly inaccurate. I have a great deal of sympathy for Alexandra as a mother and a wife and of course her end was absolutely dreadful. She was however hardly a success as Empress. In fact Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna tried to prevent the marriage with all possible means until his ill-health forced their hand. Of course the majority of the Romanov family turned against Alexandra Feodorovna as well. That is well documented. They can't have all been wrong either. Even her sister Elizabeth was rejected and admonished by Alexandra when all she was doing was trying to warn her. Everybody who wanted to help tried to warn her. The Russian people called Alexandra "Nemka" and other charming terms. She was not at all popular. Even early on in the reign it was widely stated that she came to us behind a coffin. That is not Bolshevik propaganda either. It is well worth doing research to note that Alexandra was deeply flawed. It is worth watching "Love and Revolution" in theexcellent  "A Royal Family" series made for Danish Television. It is very well made and gives a very good view of Alexandra and other Romanovs including her mother-in-law who many here deeply malign in an unusual attempt to make it all Maria Feodorovna's fault for poor Alexandra experiencing problems. Others also put the entire blame on Alexander III. Very few historians would take such a viewpoint at all seriously. An accompanying book is also available. I wonder how many who come out with the angelic Alexandra ideas have ever been to Russia and made any attempt to investigate Alexandra seriously? She is not viewed with any great care apart from her devotion as a Mother and wife. I would suggest some examination of how the Romanovs today view Alexandra as well. There is sympathy for her as an individual, but a thorough understanding of the role she played in causing great problems for Russia during the last reign along with her husband is a common and accurate assessment. In fact members of the Danish Royal family have described her as an hysteric. That is based on numerous relations and their recorded viewpoints. Kaiserin Friedrich and Queen Victoria also had a clearer opinion of Alexandra than some do here. She was not an angel although she has been declared a passion bearer Saint many decades after her tragic end. I would hope people look beyond the love story and search for historical truth. The role of mother and wife was only one aspect of Alexandra's life. It is perhaps not wise to concentrate on the role of mother for too long as when she wedded Nicholas she became Empress of Russia. Even before this she was created a Russian Grand Duchess by Alexander III. Alexandra was not a private citizen. She had enormous influence and power with her husband Nicholas II over the destiny of millions of ordinary Russians. I wonder how many truly care for those who died or lived inappalling squalor due to inept and incompetent policies? Many also had no luxury lifestyle and worked under shocking conditions. Their names are sadly forgotten along with the brave soldiers who were not even equipped with proper weapons or sufficient ammunition during both the Russo-Japanese war and the first world war . Perhaps they are indeed far more worthy of memory than Alexandra Feodorovna. Historians look at matters objectively and not through romantic rose-tinted glasses.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Janet Ashton on January 21, 2008, 12:15:35 PM
I'm hardly offending any person who objectively examines Russian history. It is bizarre is the attitude that Alexandra Feodorovna was some sort of lily white innocent. That has never been the case. Historical fact clearly shows the role Alexandra Feodorovna played and that is not Bolshevik propaganda by any means. To suggest such is some form of unusual paranoia based on no historical fact. One would hardly call W.Bruce Lincoln, Robert Massie, Orlando Figes  and so many other reputable historians Bolsheviks. That is greatly offensive and grossly inaccurate. I have a great deal of sympathy for Alexandra as a mother and a wife and of course her end was absolutely dreadful. She was however hardly a success as Empress. In fact Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna tried to prevent the marriage with all possible means until his ill-health forced their hand. Of course the majority of the Romanov family turned against Alexandra Feodorovna as well. That is well documented. They can't have all been wrong either. Even her sister Elizabeth was rejected and admonished by Alexandra when all she was doing was trying to warn her. Everybody who wanted to help tried to warn her. The Russian people called Alexandra "Nemka" and other charming terms. She was not at all popular. Even early on in the reign it was widely stated that she came to us behind a coffin. That is not Bolshevik propaganda either. It is well worth doing research to note that Alexandra was deeply flawed. It is worth watching "Love and Revolution" in theexcellent  "A Royal Family" series made for Danish Television. It is very well made and gives a very good view of Alexandra and other Romanovs including her mother-in-law who many here deeply malign in an unusual attempt to make it all Maria Feodorovna's fault for poor Alexandra experiencing problems. Others also put the entire blame on Alexander III.

If you believe that the four-year old post of Greg King's criticising Alexander III which you commented on in another thread proceeds from some hagiographical intent on Nicholas II's behalf, let me assure that this is not the case......
Otherwise, this is one of your posts in which you make many points with which I agree.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Helen on January 21, 2008, 12:21:51 PM
It is perhaps not wise to concentrate on the role of mother for too long as when she wedded Nicholas she became Empress of Russia.
??? Different threads in the Alexandra section of these boards discuss different aspects of Alexandra, so why shouldn't there be an 'Alexandra as a mother' thread? After all, she was an empress and  mother.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Helen on January 21, 2008, 01:16:29 PM
Dmitri, 
I can only speak for myself, but I have never seen Alix as a lily-white person. She was a human being with good qualities as well as shortcomings, just like you or me. I don't see her as an angelic person, but neither as the bad person you seem to take her for.

You are right in saying that it is not Bolshevik propaganda that Alexandra more or less came to Russia behind a coffin. In my opinion, it was not the most delightful, enjoyable way for her to enter the country, and it was unfortunate that some people saw it as a bad omen, but it's not something to hold against her.

You mentioned the A Royal Family series. I have watched it two or three times. To some extent I agree with you that it is a 'well made' series. The film footage is wonderful. I thought the narrative rather superficial and biased, though. Imo, the series was clearly meant to put various princes/princesses of Danish birth in a favourable light.

According to you, Kaiserin Friedrich had a clearer opinion of Alexandra than some people on these boards do. Kaiserin Friedrich seems not to have been very fond of Alix. But she wasn't very fond of the other Hessian princesses either, was she? And are you sure that she had a 'clearer' opinion? Or does her opinion of Alix just suit your agenda better?

You wrote that no serious historian would put the entire blame on Alexander III. I fully agree. I don't recall anyone on these boards ever doing such a thing, though. On the other hand: no serious historian would ignore Alexander III's reign and its results - or lack of results - as a factor relevant to Nicholas' reign either. Earlier today or yesterday you complained that Alexandra had failed to understand the need for reform. Irrespective of Alexandra's views, this need for reform did not arise overnight when Alexander III died. It already existed when Alexander III was still alive.  Alexander III failed to understand the need for reform too. Historians look at matters objectively, as you said, and don't ignore such facts.

You mentioned the people who died for their country in the Russo-Japanese War and WWI. I am in heartfelt agreement with you that their lives are worth remembering.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: ChristineM on January 21, 2008, 01:18:26 PM
Rather too many posters are inclined to create the impression that they are Russian historians - a vast subject which breaks down into a variety component parts.   However, supporting credentials never seem to materialise.   Sometimes its not just the content, but the construction of posts which can indicate the standard of educational background.

There is nothing whatsoever wrong with enthusiastic amateurism which can, indeed, be in some ways as enlightening.   Each of us should be mindful of our abilities and not bully others into believing that conveniently selected quotes, and subjective interpretation, are infallible.

What saddens me most is that, even when Bob Atchison's unfailing commitment and years of outstanding work are brought to posters' attention - this goes unheeded.

tsaria   
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: dmitri on January 21, 2008, 06:39:48 PM
Tsaria and Helen you are both welcome to your opinions for what they are worth. Viva la difference!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Purple Lady on April 27, 2008, 04:59:21 PM
From all I've read, it seems that she was an excellent mother (more 'hands-on' than most in her position.) However, I have seen pictures (an unfortunately I did not include any) where the children are all wearing necklaces. I believe these to perhaps be icons they wore daily. Does anyone have any more info on what these were? There are a few beach pictures of Alexei with one of these necklaces on. Could someone please elaborate on this? Is this a common tradition in the Orthodox faith?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on April 27, 2008, 06:44:40 PM
All the children wore baptismal crosses on chains. I've never seen a photo where the crosses themselves are visible, but there are a number of photos (particularly formal shots of OTMA) where the chains are visible. According to orthodox custom, baptismal crosses are not prominently displayed as jewelry -- they're more a private symbol of faith. I think OTMAA may also have worn medals or pendants with a portrait of Rasputin. I'm fairly sure this has been discussed in other threads, so if you do a search on crosses, jewelry, or necklaces you'll likely come up with more information.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: matushka on April 29, 2008, 12:49:27 PM
According to orthodox tradition, all baptised wear a cross, but should not show it. So most of the time the chain or necklace is long enough to hide the cross under the shirt.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: tzarevich charlie on June 04, 2008, 01:15:38 PM
i have allways seen Alexandra as a doting mother and proud womanwith good values and morals ! i was just intrested to see how everyone else saw her!!!!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on June 04, 2008, 01:26:04 PM
Hi Charlie,

There have been some very long and lively discussions on this topic in the past. If you do a search on "Alexandra as a Mother" you should turn up some interesting results.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Ally Kumari on June 04, 2008, 01:27:12 PM
If I´m not mistaken, there has also been a thread "What do you really think of Alix".
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on June 04, 2008, 01:30:27 PM
Yes, and there are numerous discussions about whether OTMAA were isolated and sheltered that deal with Alexandra's parenting. Please look around Charlie -- you will find lots of information and opinions!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: nena on June 04, 2008, 01:44:16 PM
Firsltly----welcome Charlie !
Secondly----I agree with Sarushka.
OTMAA were isolated.
But Tsarevich Alexei druring war wasn't isolated as OTMA were, for example. Because he oftenly visited military, and knew many persons, soliders.
Empress was interesting person. She was good mother, often in misgiving about her son. She wanted to protect her children, and because this, OTMAA were devilish isolated. We have to understand her, fear ,heed made she maybe  hardfeatured person.
Remember her son and husband could died very often(Aleksie due to hemophilia, NII  due to possible assassination.)
Hope, Charlie, Sarushka, me, Ally helped.
Nena
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: tzarevich charlie on June 04, 2008, 01:49:47 PM
yes thank you you have all helped greatly!
i would also like to hear peaples opinions on her as a pearson in genaral!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Russka Princess on July 28, 2008, 07:39:05 AM
i mean if Alix cleared up her girls about sex and such thinks. ? ??? or has OTMA a nanny who has told it them.

i knew that Alix, didn't wanted that girls spend time with their Russian cousins,like Xenia's sons. Cause they has many freedom, and  they could do what they want.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Michael HR on July 28, 2008, 08:35:39 AM
I think the Empress saw them and treated them as little girls to a large extent and never as adults in their own right. Sex education is something of our age to a large extent helped no end by TV and films.

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Russka Princess on July 28, 2008, 08:42:23 AM
do you mean she has told it to them in a mother-daughter discussion ??
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Imperial_Grounds on July 28, 2008, 08:54:45 AM
Intresting, and the same goes for Alexei. But as we know Alix treated her children as little children, even when they were into their teens and might have questions about it. I wonder if Alexei might have been able to ask his father those kind of things.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Michael HR on July 28, 2008, 08:57:48 AM
It may be that he just had no concept as boys in that age were boys a lot longer than they are today. 13 is young and maybe girls just had not yet intrested him.

The daughters were growing up but never got the chance to break free and have a life of their own, sadly. It is nice to think they were all innocents in the world.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Russka Princess on July 28, 2008, 09:19:25 AM
yeah i know that Alix didn't like it if the girls flirt with soldiers she didn't know.  the girls could only flirt with the soldiers, at home, sailors , who Nicky and Alix know.

 Alexei has  friends and i think they knew it too, and they has talk about it with Alexei, of course when he was older like 13.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Imperial_Grounds on July 28, 2008, 09:57:10 AM
It may be that he just had no concept as boys in that age were boys a lot longer than they are today. 13 is young and maybe girls just had not yet intrested him. 

I don't think he was intrested in girls by that time, but we have to remember he started his teens and might have been wondering what happened to him, I mean 13 year old boys were seen as children back then, but when Alexei became a teen, and noticed that his body was changing, he might have had questions about it. And in my opinion you can't see Alexei as a child anymore, I mean most boys start puberty when they are about 12, and I see Alexei as a teen therefore. And back to the girls, I think they might have known some things about sexualty and those kind of things, since there is no doubt that they had questions when they got their periods for the first time, and I think there was no way to keep things hidden for them then.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Raegan on July 28, 2008, 10:16:45 AM
i knew that alix, didnt wanted that girls spend time with their russian cousins,like xenias sons. Cause they has many freedom, and  they could do what they want.

Actually, Nicholas and Alexandra's children did spend time with Irina and the boys. It wasn't everday, however it also wasn't unusual for Sandro, Xenia and their children to visit with Nicholas, Alexandra and OTMAA. Grand Duchess Olga wrote in her diaries about being in the company of Irina more so than many people think.

As for as what Alexandra may have told them in regards to sex, I'm not sure anyone will ever know. The children's diaries are pretty innocent when it comes to the opposite sex. For example, Grand Duchess Olga's 1913 diary is full of entries about her infatuation with a certain man, but again, it was pretty innocent. I seem to recall a letter Alexandra wrote to Nicholas asking him to be sensitive and understanding to Olga's feelings for a young man. This may have been in one of the letters they exchanged during WWI.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Aliss_Kande on July 28, 2008, 06:14:05 PM
Well, and in that day an age, some girls didn't receive "the talk" until the day before they were married, which must have been such a shock to the bride (if she was as sheltered as the grand duchesses seemed to be).  And even then, they might not have received the "facts of life".   Marie of Romania started having morning sickness about 2 weeks after she got married and was informed that she was pregnant.  I guess she had never put two and two together before.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: sgc on July 28, 2008, 06:34:52 PM
Well, and in that day an age, some girls didn't receive "the talk" until the day before they were married, which must have been such a shock to the bride (if she was as sheltered as the grand duchesses seemed to be).  And even then, they might not have received the "facts of life".   Marie of Romania started having morning sickness about 2 weeks after she got married and was informed that she was pregnant.  I guess she had never put two and two together before.

For those interested in reading about a young woman's budding interest in boys as she enters puberty: I highly recommend reading (or re-reading) The Diary Of Anne Frank...not the tamer and highly edited one you've most likely perused in grade or high school, but the Revised Critical Edition.

This incredible work is available in bookstores as well as from many places on the Internet, including Amazon where I bought my copy.

The volume is well worth the rather expensive asking price.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Lalee on July 29, 2008, 01:18:41 AM
I don't think that we will ever know what sort of personal talks Alix may have had with her daughters, so who knows. In my personal opinion, she may not have said anything (I think she may have truly seen them still as much younger and was protective on which people they were to socialize with), but that doesn't mean that they didn't have the slightest bit of knowledge about things like that.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: LisaDavidson on August 08, 2008, 11:47:47 AM

I agree with Raegan, it is likely that we will not know for certain what Alexandra told her children about "the facts of life". My grandmother told me that what was absent from this generation was comprehensive information in the way we now explain these matters. Very often, one would hear things from friends or siblings and much of the information was wrong - all in the name of keeping young women innocent.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Michael HR on August 08, 2008, 04:05:21 PM
I think I agree with this answer. Alexandra saw her children as kids and not grown up and who knows what would have happened.

I don't think that we will ever know what sort of personal talks Alix may have had with her daughters, so who knows. In my personal opinion, she may not have said anything (I think she may have truly seen them still as much younger and was protective on which people they were to socialize with), but that doesn't mean that they didn't have the slightest bit of knowledge about things like that.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Halinka on October 02, 2008, 08:06:22 PM
Yes, and they also grew up in a complely different time. With relgion as a major factor in there lives and by the end of there lives they proably knew the basic's but thought it was a meant for a man and wife.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on July 25, 2009, 03:48:13 AM
I've really heard a lot about Alexandra, but I wonder if she was a caring and loving mother esp. to her daughters for Alexei was always number one, wasn't he? I red she was a caring mother to the babys but strict and demanding to the girls when they were older. They didn't dare to speak one word against her opinion and some of the girls were more devoted to their affectionate father. So was Alix not that affectionate? I've red anywhere (it was a view from an ancestor) that the girls were sometimes nervously looking for any sign of her mother to meet her desires immediately...would like to know your point of view :-)

 
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on July 25, 2009, 04:00:25 AM
It's maybe silly, but she always looks so severe and bad-tempered on fotos with her children...thats why I ask too. It's not a good impression not to see her one time with a charming smile. I would do so when I would be fotografed with my children. :-)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on July 25, 2009, 07:42:27 AM
You also have to take into account smiling for pictures was not very common back then. People did not automatically smile when they got their picture taken like they do today. It is true though Alexandra did not smile a lot in public as she was too shy.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Olga Maria on July 26, 2009, 09:34:27 PM
They didn't dare to speak one word against her opinion and some of the girls were more devoted to their affectionate father. So was Alix not that affectionate? I've red anywhere (it was a view from an ancestor) that the girls were sometimes nervously looking for any sign of her mother to meet her desires immediately...would like to know your point of view :-)

Valeria, did you read that in Olga's wikipedia page, too? I read that there and it was said by Queen Marie of Romania.
Actually, I knew Alexandra as a strict mother. It's obvious that she will also nurture her children in a Victorian way as she herself was brought up in that way. Although she was strict, she didn't completely deprive her children of their happiness. If the Russian society were humble people and their Romano relatives are not rough-mannered (for those who were), she would have let OTMAA interact with them, right?  IMHO, she did the right things. OTMAA would be bad and undesirable people had she not been their mother.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on July 26, 2009, 09:47:41 PM
There's already a good long thread on this very topic here:

Alexandra as Empress and Mother (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=1234.0)

I'd merge the threads for you guys, but I'm not a mod on this board.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on July 27, 2009, 09:51:39 AM
Sarushka - merging complete.

To everyone who comes here to read - please go back to page one of this thread.  There is indeed at lot of great information on Alexandra as both Empress and Mother.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on July 27, 2009, 12:37:41 PM
Shandroise,
yes, it was the view of Marie of Romania. Though I did not really know a lot about Alix' educational methods this comment represented my impression I had. It was barely victorian age but I've red a lot of people find her education too oldstyled and compared her with Alexandra of England who - correct me if I am wrong - kept one of her daughters doggedly by her side because she could not accept that times have changed. Maybe Alexandra would have done so with Tatiana or maybe Anastasia as her youngest. But this is just my speculation :-)
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on July 27, 2009, 12:47:27 PM
I really wonder if Alix would have prevent a love or even a marriage between OTMA and any man which would not have met her expectations or had a low social rank even if  the daughter would be really in love with him. If she would have accept that her daughters were unhappy...
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on July 27, 2009, 04:45:18 PM
Shandroise,
yes, it was the view of Marie of Romania. Though I did not really know a lot about Alix' educational methods this comment represented my impression I had. It was barely victorian age but I've red a lot of people find her education too oldstyled and compared her with Alexandra of England who - correct me if I am wrong - kept one of her daughters doggedly by her side because she could not accept that times have changed. Maybe Alexandra would have done so with Tatiana or maybe Anastasia as her youngest. But this is just my speculation :-)

Yes, Alexandra of England did keep one of her daughters by her side, Toria. But it wasn't so much because she couldn't accept that times had changed, it was because as a mother she really clung to her children and kept them by her side, that's true not just of Toria- one of her other daughters, Maud didn't get married for a long time, and Alexandra and her son George V's letters when he was a young man show she regarded her children as children long after they were adults, that was just her way of being a mother. Alix of Russia I don't think would have clung to her daughters as much, although I'm sure she would done so to Alexei, as he was the hemophiliac heir.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on July 27, 2009, 05:47:36 PM
Maybe Alexandra would have done so with Tatiana or maybe Anastasia as her youngest. But this is just my speculation :-)

Good luck pulling that off with Anastasia -- I'm betting neither mother nor daughter would have enjoyed that arrangement much. IMO, Tatiana's personality was much more suited to that type of relationship.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on July 27, 2009, 07:01:46 PM
Indeed, Tatiana was her favorite daughter or the one who was a good companion for her. I think Alix and her parenting was different than Alexandra in England though. What books say Alix and Alexandra's parenting was alike?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on July 27, 2009, 09:06:59 PM
Indeed, Tatiana was her favorite daughter or the one who was a good companion for her. I think Alix and her parenting was different than Alexandra in England though. What books say Alix and Alexandra's parenting was alike?

I think a brief comparison was made either in Rappaport or King & Wilson. I'm looking...
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on July 27, 2009, 09:32:06 PM
FOTR, pg 49:
"With Tatiana, the empress mirrored the behavior of her own aunt, Queen Alexandra, and had treated her daughter Princess Victoria like 'a glorified maid,' according to Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna."

That statement, in turn, is attributed to page 53 of Ian Vorres's The Last Grand Duchess:
'I grew very fond of Uncle Bertie and Aunt Alix, but I felt so very sorry for their daughter, Princess Victoria. Poor Toria was just a glorified maid to her mother!'

Just to be perfectly clear: the comparison of Tatiana and Toria is made by King & Wilson, not Olga A.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Georgiy on July 27, 2009, 10:32:36 PM
I rather get the picture that Alexandra felt the adult Tatiana was a kind of confidante - look at what happened in Tobolsk, it was tatiana who told her mother that she needed to make some kind of decision about whether to go with the Tsar or stay with Alexei. I don't think Tatiana would have standed being a kind of 'glorified' maid - from all accounts, it seems to me that she was somewhat business like and liked to organise people and things (e.g. her Refugee Committee), rather than be organised by others.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on July 28, 2009, 01:57:25 AM
According to the other statement...do YOU think Alix would have prevent a marriage with one of her daughters and a - in her eyes - nonsuitable man? Even to accept the unhappiness of the daughter? :-\
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on July 28, 2009, 07:21:57 AM
According to the other statement...do YOU think Alix would have prevent a marriage with one of her daughters and a - in her eyes - nonsuitable man? Even to accept the unhappiness of the daughter? :-\

That's a difficult question. As a mother, it's clear from her wartime letters to Nicholas that Alexandra hoped for love matches for her daughters. But as the empress, I'm not sure how she would have reacted to a 'nonsuitable' man if push came to shove. Alexandra's behavior after the revolution, which was described as "haughty" and "arrogant" by the guards from Tsarskoye Selo to Ekaterinburg, tells me she was very conscious of proper respect for rank.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on July 28, 2009, 02:24:34 PM
Thanks Sarushka for looking that up. I agree with Georgiy, I don't think Tatiana was the type to be a glorified maid. But I also think that Alexandra wasn't the type of mother to have treated one of her daughters like a glorified maid, nor one I feel who would have forced or encouraged one of her daughters to stay with her unmarried against their will, so the issue might never have come up. Had any one his daughters stayed with her, it would likely have been Tatiana, but even had she stayed with her mother, I don't think she would have been treated like Toria. Nicholas and Alexandra and their children were a close knit family, unusually so for royals of the time, so maybe one of the daughters would have stayed. Queen Victoria tried to force Beatrice her youngest daughter to stay, but Beatrice had other plans and married against her mother's will, so Queen Victoria didn't speak to her for months during her engagement while they lived under the same roof, etc. I don't know whether Alexandra would have done that. I think of all her children, it was not daughters she clung to, but instead, the heir Alexei.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Olga Maria on July 29, 2009, 12:18:35 AM
There's also a possibility that Anastasia could voluntarily stay with her mother. She has the personality which doesn't get easily attracted to men. I assume that would make her single forever and prefer to tend her mother. The other girls also had love interests at their early adult life which gives a possibility that they will marry before or after they reach 25.

Alexandra also wasn't bad to dictate on her children who they will marry as she herself didn't like that idea on an early age. She is so religious a person and for sure, she knows the saying "Do unto others what you want others to do unto you".

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: jehan on July 29, 2009, 08:58:11 AM
There's also a possibility that Anastasia could voluntarily stay with her mother. She has the personality which doesn't get easily attracted to men. I assume that would make her single forever and prefer to tend her mother. The other girls also had love interests at their early adult life which gives a possibility that they will marry before or after they reach 25.



I find it odd that anyone could say that a girl who died at 17, and lived the last 18 months of her life imprisoned (making her 15 when she was last "free") as having a defined personality that "isn't attracted to men".  How does anyone who never  knew her  at all know something like that?  She may have been a late bloomer.  I wasn't interested in boys until I was in my late teens (and married at 24). She may have had facets of her personality that were still developing and changing- in fact she almost certainly did.  And she certainly was more complex than people here give her credit for- none of us can be as easily defined or stereotyped as the GDsses are by some of the board members here.

Anastasia would have been a young woman in the 1920s and 30s.  Times were changing and I doubt it would have been easy to keep her at her mother's side in those changing times.  And I'm sure she would have found such a life stultifyingly boring and would have made her own way eventually.  But then I don't know her any better than anybody else on this board.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on July 29, 2009, 01:21:36 PM
I remember reading that Alexandra and Nicholas were both kindly disposed to a match between Olga and Dmitri.  After the murder of Rasputin, even without proof of who actually killed Rasputin, Alexandra immediately became opposed to any match.  I believe that she would have never allowed her daughters to marry for love if she did not like the suitor.

She may have dreamed of love matches for her daughters, but only on her terms and with her approval.

And remember, she was very conscious of rank and I doubt that she would have approved of any "unequal" marriages either.  

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Olga Maria on July 30, 2009, 12:00:13 AM
Exactly, Alixz. Last night, I was reading Buxhoeveden's memoirs and she mentioned that the Empress disliked the idea of marrying her children to commoners to respect their father's status.

You're also right, jehan. I now realized my mistake ",) Everything/everyone changes and nobody from us knows what would have become of Anastasia had not the massacre happened.
All of us, even the closest ones to the family, could ever know for 100% who the real Anastasia was.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on July 30, 2009, 12:40:26 AM
Quote of Post # 270 : "All of us, even the closest ones to the family could ever know for 100 percent  who the real Anastasia was."   IMO, quite right, indeed; we never will.  And the same goes for the rest of that family. Present-day speculation, projection, wishful-thinking, delusions of reincarnation, "sisterly" dreams/"reveries," et al. can NEVER substitute for whatever the actual truth would have been.  Why ruminate about it endlessly?  Seek the closest common denominator from potentially the most accurate sources and discard 95 percent of that ; THEN you MAY be closer in your "understanding of who (fill in the blank) was."   AP
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: imperial angel on July 30, 2009, 08:44:48 AM
I do feel though that it is easier to make more accurate statements and/or speculations about Alexandra than it is about OTMA since we have more historical evidence about Alexandra and what she was like than we do about 0TMA, since they died so young.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on July 30, 2009, 01:56:51 PM
 Concerning/and quoting from  Post # 272 :    " ....we have more historical evidence about Alexandra...."   One would think so,  "imperial angel," but see the topic "Alexandra and her education," specifically Post # 1, 05/22/09, referencing Heidelberg University.  High profile professional writer-historians seemingly cannot totally agree on such -----one would suppose-----an eminently documentable fact as to whether she had a degree (in Psychology yet!) from that educational institution, OR EVEN ATTENDED.  In the stream of history, this is comparable to "yesterday's facts."   Best regards,  AP
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Olga Maria on August 12, 2009, 06:50:21 AM
Echoing Vyrubova:
The Empress simply would not allow them to associate with the sons and daughters of the nobility. She wanted to keep them sweet and clean minded and good, and she knew that very few of the children of high society in Russia were fit companions for them. The daughters of our nobility are mostly frivolous, selfish, empty-headed girls, and as for the sons, they are too often debauched in early boyhood. You can imagine that the Empress's poor opinion of them and her refusal to allow her children to know them aroused great resentment. People always think their own children perfect, you know."
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: PAVLOV on August 31, 2009, 03:46:48 PM
I found the contents of a letter written by Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria to her daughter Marie Antoinette, which I think applies directly to Alexandra :

" I am glad to hear that you are going to take up again all the official receptions of Versailles. I know how empty and dull that kind of thing is, but, believe me, if it is not observed, the inconveniences that result from its neglect, are far more important than the small annoyance that it causes"

Perhaps Alexandra should have read this letter and its prophetic contents, got off her mauve chaise, and performed the minimum requirements of being Empress of Russia.   She could perhaps have spared herself, her family, her henpecked husband and her country the "annoyance" that followed.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: CountessKate on October 02, 2009, 06:38:37 AM
I found the contents of a letter written by Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria to her daughter Marie Antoinette, which I think applies directly to Alexandra :

" I am glad to hear that you are going to take up again all the official receptions of Versailles. I know how empty and dull that kind of thing is, but, believe me, if it is not observed, the inconveniences that result from its neglect, are far more important than the small annoyance that it causes"

Perhaps Alexandra should have read this letter and its prophetic contents, got off her mauve chaise, and performed the minimum requirements of being Empress of Russia.   She could perhaps have spared herself, her family, her henpecked husband and her country the "annoyance" that followed.

I think Grand Princess Shandroise's quotations from Sophie Buxhoeveden and Anna Vyrubova illustrate the problem Alexandra had in disentangling 'society' in its wider sense from the narrow sense of 'high society' and her inability to distinguish between the proper functions of royalty in being the centre and showcase of the court and the need to lead a morally exemplary life.  All royalty depends on a high public profile for validation, and this is especially important when the royalty in question has such a political role;  and of course one of the ways of achieving this validation is to attend the balls, receptions, and other functions of 'high' society.   However, while it's true that Maria Theresa's advice to Marie Antoinette was the sort of advice which would well have applied to Alexandra, it's not as if Maria Theresa was around to give it to her.  Instead she had Queen Victoria, who considered 'society' morally bankrupt, who had a long period of seclusion herself after the death of the Prince Consort, and who considered the Russian court as particularly decadent and improper.  Alexandra was not likely to get any advice about "get off your couch and get dancing" from her, and of course Queen Victoria died before Alexandra's isolation from the court developed to the extent it did.  But if Alexandra reflected back on the dear departed, she wouldn't have a hard time convincing herself that Grandmamma would have approved of her keeping aloof from the wicked Russian court and patronising simple peasants like Father Grigory who represented the 'real' Russia.  And indeed, Queen Victoria had had her own simple peasant, John Brown, and there were similar wicked slanders about her relationship with him - and the throne had not fallen and Queen Victoria had a triumphant conclusion to her reign, full of years and glory.  So I think we can all see the prophetic nature of the advice given to Marie Antoinette in the clarity of hindsight, but I don't think it was at all obvious to Alexandra.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Thomas_Hesse on October 02, 2009, 12:05:27 PM
I found the contents of a letter written by Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria to her daughter Marie Antoinette, which I think applies directly to Alexandra :

" I am glad to hear that you are going to take up again all the official receptions of Versailles. I know how empty and dull that kind of thing is, but, believe me, if it is not observed, the inconveniences that result from its neglect, are far more important than the small annoyance that it causes"

Perhaps Alexandra should have read this letter and its prophetic contents, got off her mauve chaise, and performed the minimum requirements of being Empress of Russia.   She could perhaps have spared herself, her family, her henpecked husband and her country the "annoyance" that followed.

To compare an 18th century reception with a 20th century one......... is rather difficult.

By the way - once again I see how uninformed you are stating that the Empress spent her days sitting in her apartments. Rarely a letter not mentioning different tasks and works.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Imperial_Grounds on October 03, 2009, 07:08:36 AM
Well, Alexandra was a really good mother, I am sure of that, but over-protective for sure. You can't blame her for that. After all I think it is quite normal with Alexei's illness and her fear for his life. Also she feared that her children would get 'corrupted' by the minds of Russian Nobbility. Alexandra's way of life after all was different from theirs.

As for Alexandra as Empress of Russia, she indeed did not like official receptions and so on but that was only due to her shyness and this prevented her for communicating pleasently with many people. Alexandra wanted to get to know people, and at Court people always would put masks on and be so formal that she must have felt uneasy about it. Yet one cannot say she was a bad Empress. She was not right for the official role in Court perhaps but she truly did care about the people whom she got to know in her role as Empress. This did show during the war when she became a nurse and got to know some of her patients, these men had often quite different ideas about the Empress and were amazed by how comforting and nice she really was. There is one thing that really got to me a while ago: Alexandra had a patient and the young man was sure to die. She kept him company and talked with him, comforted him and also she was heartbroken when the young man died. Also she and her family are said to have spent much of their fortunes on good works and war effort. This shows Alexandra as an Empress who really cared about the people, but who was strongly misunderstood, yet on political grounds she and Nicky both wanted to hold on to authocracy while many asked for a constitutional monarchy If they would have granted this, they would have been spared such a tragic fate, also she listened to much to Rasputin's advices on the replacement of Ministers and so on, this made her a weak ruler. Yet, she was a caring but misunderstood woman, and thus she was seen as the evil Empress while she was completely different.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Clemence on July 08, 2011, 09:26:31 AM
I found the contents of a letter written by Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria to her daughter Marie Antoinette, which I think applies directly to Alexandra :

" I am glad to hear that you are going to take up again all the official receptions of Versailles. I know how empty and dull that kind of thing is, but, believe me, if it is not observed, the inconveniences that result from its neglect, are far more important than the small annoyance that it causes"

Perhaps Alexandra should have read this letter and its prophetic contents, got off her mauve chaise, and performed the minimum requirements of being Empress of Russia.   She could perhaps have spared herself, her family, her henpecked husband and her country the "annoyance" that followed.

just like marie antoinette has, perhaps?

while I was trying to find some info on victorian royal children and how they were supposed to grow up, you know, getting up early, simple meals, hard beds, strict tutors, I was wondering why on earth did they believe back then it was so important to be so hard on them. after all, those childrem were to become filthy rich and important elegant adults. was it after some religious view or somewhat else I cannot say but in todays western world, where parents feel they cannot pamper their children enough, sure having baths in frosen water seems rather odd ...
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Alixz on July 08, 2011, 02:16:27 PM
I agree with Clemence - it has always seemed odd to me that the children of Imperial Russia were expected to eschew comfort and pampering in youth yet grew up to handle the largest fortunes in the 19th century.

I have never understood hard camp beds and cold morning baths. Perhaps parents thought that these things would build character, but to me it was a waste of time.

I believe it actually gave the children a false picture of the world they would inherit.

I also don't remember reading that Alexandra used a hard camp bed or took cold morning baths during her youth or most especially as Empress while she was instructing her daughters to do just that.

I know that the Duchy of Darmstadt was not rich and they child grew up on those eternal "baked apples and porridge" (whatever).

Even though Nicholas grew up on the hard bed cold bath theory, I am sure that it wasn't comfortable or likable and I am surprised that he didn't make changes or at least instruct Alexandra to make them in the nursery.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Condecontessa on July 09, 2011, 09:28:08 AM
The book "A Gathered Radiance" by McLees on p. 18 mentions the Hesse children having beds of simple army cots.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Sarushka on July 09, 2011, 10:49:43 AM
I've often wondered just how "hard" and "cold" those beds and baths really were -- especially by OTMAA's time. I wouldn't be surprised if we've imagined much more severe extremes than the reality.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Kalafrana on July 10, 2011, 06:13:26 AM
Military beds are not actually uncomfortable, at least when you're used to them! I grew up with Royal Air Force beds which had very firm mattresses - you were pretty much on the bed rather than in it. The result - I like firm mattresses, and every time I have to buy one I'm bouncing around the beds in the shop trying to find one that's nice and firm! Soft ones, ugh - and give me backache.

Cold baths are another matter, however.

Ann

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Clemence on July 10, 2011, 07:31:02 AM
infact, I was not thinking of hygienic habits, like hard beds or wide open windows, but of cold baths and the idea of not spoiling children which seems a bit weird to me today. how could you avoid to spoil kids that had teachers and lesson at home, nannies and servants in all their lives? who knows how much the idea of spoiling a child changed through time ...
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on July 10, 2011, 11:36:22 PM
Don't tell me they didn't really take cold baths or sleep on hard cots, those "facts" make me feel better when I'm eating Ramen noodles because school is expensive.  :P

The idea of not spoiling OTMAA always sounded funny to me too. Make them take cold baths and sleep on army cots, but give them diamonds for their birthdays and don't forget living in 3+ different palaces and two weeks on the family yacht!

You also can't forgot the mansion in Tobolsk and the nice sized house in Ekaterinburg they called cramped.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: RHB on July 10, 2011, 11:47:00 PM
nice sized house in Ekaterinburg they called cramped.

Well maybe it was cramped to them! You take 11 people (a family of seven plus four remaining servants) and who knows how many guards... probably one almost around every corner they went watching them... maybe it was "cramped"!

how could you avoid to spoil kids that had teachers and lesson at home, nannies and servants in all their lives? who knows how much the idea of spoiling a child changed through time ...

As for having servants and such to wait on them... i read somewhere i think it was a bio on Olga that Alix firmly believed that having someone do something you could do for yourself was not acceptable! You know... "you have two legs, you can do it yourself" kind of phrase? I believe the girls helped their maids make their beds and clean up their rooms... or something like that anyhow! Not like their legs or hands weren't broken so the servants had to do everything for them! Though yes, i guess the thought of how to spoil children has probably changed!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: feodorovna on July 11, 2011, 02:26:03 AM
I understand that the children were taught to be respectful of their servants and referred to them as "Aunties" and "Uncles." It may have had something to do with what their mother learned as a motherless child at the less formal courts of Hesse and England. Their Great Grandmother, QV, always seemed more comfortable with her personal servants than with society of the "high" kind.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Kalafrana on July 11, 2011, 03:26:01 AM
Bear in mind that in Ekaterinburg they were only allowed outside for very limited periods and the windows were painted over so they couldn't see out. That would certainly make the place seem cramped.

As to the idea of not spoiling the girls, I don't find that strange at all. There is a strong strand of belief among the British upper crust that with privilege comes responsibility, and you don't behave in a self-indulgent fashion. Also, you don't indulge your children - if you spend money on them, it's on things that will do them good, like piano lessons, and if you get them a pony, they are expected to look after it themselves. You also don't mess the servants about. There is a famous tale that when the Queen was 5 or 6 she reaalised that if she walked past the guardroom at Windsor Castle the guard would be turned out, and she and a pal spent some time walking past the guardroom again and again. Result, a severe telling off!!!

As with most things, this philosophy worked with some upper class offspring and not with others (it didn't work with Edward VII or the Duke of Windsor, for example).

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Selencia on July 26, 2011, 02:01:57 AM
Alexandra:
Good Mother
Not So Good Empress
As for this idea of not spoiling them, I think children who are born into incredible wealth can be raised not to be spoiled, or at the least not to be a spoiled brat. I don't totally understand how sleeping on a cot and taking cold showers does this, but I applaud N*A for trying. I will admit it digs at my heart to think of those beautiful beds I see in pictures in some of the palaces not being slept in by the girls.
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: slhouette on June 14, 2020, 01:26:01 AM
This whole thread is quite old, but I'll voice my thoughts anyways for any readers out there that may benefit. I've read this many times and the variety of opinions on Alix's mothering style has always been interesting and thought provoking. People have gone back and forth over Alix's personal choices of raising her kids apart from high/low society included, and whether it's manipulative or not. I'm of the opinion; isn't living as a royal child inherently manipulative to some degree? I'm thinking of this more systematically. For example, even without the major security concerns the IF faced, it'd still be inherent for them to live apart from others - for the children, away from kids of their own age - as royalty requires an exalted and carefully controlled image to maintain itself.

(I should mention I'm mostly speaking of OTMA; I know more about them as I just don't have as much interest in Alexei.)

I think it was perfectly correct for Alix to keep her kids away from high society; but, she also didn't dip into a pool of contacts from lower social classes, even though she very much liked "plain people." I blame this precisely on royalty inherently isolating itself from lower classes. The GDs got to, as far as I can tell, infrequently interact with the Rasputin sisters, Gleb and Tatiana Botkin, etc, but not on the basis of creating, in my opinion, much intimacy and closeness. It's true that they had a variety of loving familial relationships, plus courtiers/tutors/sailors who they had great rapport with. However, to me, they didn't have deeply close friends in their own maturity bracket, and mostly lived in the company of adults. Each of us should personally know that, while we may be satisfied in one facet of our social lives (in this case, family), we may feel sadness/loneliness if another is lacking. It's entirely possible to have a great family life but also desire different types of relationships, i.e. close friendships, romance, etc. I just posted this recently, but it seems Anastasia specifically struggled with this: http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=19109.0. (If the link gets broken, the topic is in the Anastasia subforum called "La Fause Anastasia.")

Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: slhouette on June 14, 2020, 01:49:51 AM
I'll keep going about monarchy being inherently manipulative, I love this kind of thing lol. To me, as monarchy requires an exalted image to be maintained/hold positive public opinion, children are controlled in order to maintain a specific image. The best example I can think of is marriages. Royalty must marry royalty or it affects the prestige of the dynasties. Buxhoeveden said, in Life and Tragedy, that "the Emperor and Empress did not want their daughters to make marriages de convenance. They wanted them to marry for love, as they themselves had done. On the other hand, the Empress disliked the idea of marriage with commoners. She thought that it tended to weaken the prestige of the Imperial Family, and that the Emperor's daughters had a duty towards their father's position."

 In my opinion, it was controlling of Nicholas and Alix to confine their children to only marrying into a small pool of possible matches. Alix herself fretted over her daughter's futures - but them developing healthy romantic relationships would be 100000% easier if they were allowed to marry outside of their class - especially as OTMA notably got along better with the "plain people," i.e. the Shtandart officers. Remember Olga's crush on Voronov - it'd be an arguably unhealthy relationship given the age/maturity gap. But if they were the same age, it'd still be a match that would never ever be allowed. Is it not controlling and manipulative for a parent to not allow their child to marry who they love (assuming the relationship is healthy, not abusive/controlling itself in any way, etc)?

I really believe Nicholas and Alix would stick to their guns and not give way to letting their daughters marry outside rank. Nicholas himself broke up family ties over morganatic marriages: when GD Paul Alexandrovich married morganatically, he was exiled from Russia, and though he intended to, was forbidden from taking his children Maria and Dmitri with him. At least in Maria Pavlovna's case, she suffered immensely from her father being banished. In my view, it was Paul's literal human right to marry who he wanted. Even if he broke the law against morganatic marriages in the Imperial Family, is that law not inherently unjust, and deserving of being broken? Isn't Nicholas in the wrong for upholding an unjust law? That's my opinion, at least. Not to mention, GD Michael Alexandrovich was exiled, with all his assets frozen, for marrying the woman he loved. Messed up stuff!
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: slhouette on June 14, 2020, 02:01:11 AM
OH one more thing, about controlling their children's images. We're all of course familiar that OTMAA were routinely photographed in formal photoshoots. This is undoubtedly as propaganda pieces: the photos were mass produced and sold, for example, as postcards. I was going through some periodical articles cited in Rappaport's The Romanov Sisters - just checking for interesting information that she didn't use - and found a relevant tidbit. The article "The Ill Fated Children of the Tsar" in Scribner's Magazine is by Mikhail Geraschinevsky, who was a patient in M&A's hospital. He records some of his impressions of them. He talks about them showing round their photograph albums, and then states this: "They did not like to pose for photographs. They feared it was for publication, and felt embarrassed about it."

This made me feel uncomfortable: They were embarrassed about their image being sold against their will. Am I crazy or does that not reflect well on N and A.....I feel like it's an invasion of their children's privacy. Would love to hear from others on their opinions; I wish this forum was used as often as it was back in the 2000s! I was just in elementary school then, so I really missed out...

Here's the Scribner's article by the way. You'll have to scroll to page 158 to read the article: https://modjourn.org/issue/bdr478733/
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: slhouette on June 14, 2020, 02:03:35 AM
This whole thread is quite old, but I'll voice my thoughts anyways for any readers out there that may benefit. I've read this many times and the variety of opinions on Alix's mothering style has always been interesting and thought provoking. People have gone back and forth over Alix's personal choices of raising her kids apart from high/low society included, and whether it's manipulative or not. I'm of the opinion; isn't living as a royal child inherently manipulative to some degree? I'm thinking of this more systematically. For example, even without the major security concerns the IF faced, it'd still be inherent for them to live apart from others - for the children, away from kids of their own age - as royalty requires an exalted and carefully controlled image to maintain itself.

(I should mention I'm mostly speaking of OTMA; I know more about them as I just don't have as much interest in Alexei.)

I think it was perfectly correct for Alix to keep her kids away from high society; but, she also didn't dip into a pool of contacts from lower social classes, even though she very much liked "plain people." I blame this precisely on royalty inherently isolating itself from lower classes. The GDs got to, as far as I can tell, infrequently interact with the Rasputin sisters, Gleb and Tatiana Botkin, etc, but not on the basis of creating, in my opinion, much intimacy and closeness. It's true that they had a variety of loving familial relationships, plus courtiers/tutors/sailors who they had great rapport with. However, to me, they didn't have deeply close friends in their own maturity bracket, and mostly lived in the company of adults. Each of us should personally know that, while we may be satisfied in one facet of our social lives (in this case, family), we may feel sadness/loneliness if another is lacking. It's entirely possible to have a great family life but also desire different types of relationships, i.e. close friendships, romance, etc. I just posted this recently, but it seems Anastasia specifically struggled with this: http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=19109.0. (If the link gets broken, the topic is in the Anastasia subforum called "La Fause Anastasia.")

Oh, I messed up. I meant more along the lines of: doesn't living as a royal child inherently mean being manipulated to some degree?
Title: Re: Alexandra as Empress and Mother
Post by: Diotima on March 26, 2021, 03:08:14 AM
Again, this is not a new thread but my thoughts fit best here - Alexandra as mother.

Most seem to agree she was a good mother, and in many ways, I agree. She was loving, she was more attuned to her children's needs than most aristocratic mothers of her time, there is something "bourgeois" in her insistence on close-knit family ties, and she educated through love and example, not authority and instilling fear. I like all those things and I think she was a very gentle soul.

But after reading most of Helen Azar's excellently annotated and edited translations of the letters and diaries, there is something I must bring up and discuss with other :-)

Her children were very much worried about her health, and she gave them details that are imo unnecessary. Her daughter Olga really obsesses about her mother's health and mentions it nearly daily in her diary. Dear Mama is tired - has the headache - her heart is enlarged - her cheek, leg, back aches - she has a temperature of 37.5 - she is better but very tired - she stayed in her room - and she sat with N.P. [Sablin] - she sat with him quite a lot.

I have much sympathy for Alexandra, I suffered from chronic pain for many years and can understand how mentally exhausting it is. I also don't want to be judgmental but in this case, I fear I am. I think there were enough shadows over the lives of her daughters - their worries about their little brother, their isolation, the tensions within the family - the public interest in them. I think Alexandra could have spared them the details about her physical situation and the daily updates about whether her heart was Nr.1, 2 or 3. I found myself really pitying Olga while reading it.

Where the emotional bond is so strong, parents still have to use discretion and be careful not to over-share.

Maybe I'm too critical but I'm somehow disappointed that Alexandra threw such a shadow over her daughters' minds. Especially because I estimated her mothering instincts greatly. What played against her in the "good society" so much, her introversion and sensitivity, made her a good wife and mother. But she held her health situation like a shield between herself and the world, including her daughters.

I highlighted the sentences about her health situation in my Kindle edition of the book, and wow were they many.