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Messages - kenmore3233

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Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Emperor Pavel - life and tragic end
« on: September 06, 2005, 11:00:11 PM »
Who was behind his assassination?

Paul was assasinated by a large group of prominent Russians, including Bennigsen, the famed military commander, Pahlen, a scion of one of Russia's leading noble families and a leading government minister, and many other notable persons of the time.

This group of assasins made their plans well in advance. That the group formed in the first place was due to the growing sense that Paul was mentally unstable and that his whims were leading Russia to political and economic ruin.

Paul was definitely mentally unstable. An obsessive-compulsive who was prone to fits of paranoia and rage, his mental condition became worse under the stress of governing.

During Paul's last months, he ended Russia's war with France and proposed an alliance with Napoleon. Further, he went to war with England, even going so far as to dispatch 20,000 Cossacks on the bizzare and impossible mission of conquering India via an overland Asiatic route.

Paul's reversal of Russia's traditional alliance with England was regarded as an act of insanity. When Napoleon heard about it from Russian diplomats, he was so amazed that he had the diplomats arrested, thinking that they must have deliberately misrepresented Paul's directives.

The Russian aristocracy in particular was negatively affected by Paul's alienation of England, as these aristocrats made their living by selling their agricultural products in British markets.

The ranks of Paul's assasins were swelled by others who were motivated by anger and a desire for revenge. In the five years of Paul's reign (1796-1801),  many prominent citizens of St. Petersburg were jailed, publically humiliated, exiled or ruined socially and professionally as a result of Paul's paranoid and vindictive cruelty.

By 1801, obviously many people had good reasons for wanting Paul dead.

The object of the assasins at first was to let Paul live but to force him, by threatening his life in his bedchamber, to sign an abdication in favor of his son, Alexander. Alexander, just 24 at the time, was informed of this plan in advance and reluctantly gave his approval, as he knew as well as anyone else that his father was nearly insane and in need of removal.

The assasins, however, were thoroughly drunk the night they made their way via a supposedly secret staircase to Paul's bedchamber, and they beat him to death in the ensuing melee.

I believe there were approximately two dozen assasins in Paul's bedchamber that night.

Paul is a very fascinating figure to least from a psychological perspective. He was actually rather intelligent and he had a grandiose element to his personality. If not for his mental illness, Paul might have proven to be an unusually capable tsar.

I'm not sure that your right about that.  The tombs were opened in the 20's by the Soviet's searching for jewels to sell.  A couple of respectable author's have now said that his Tomb was empty - I guess we won't know for sure until it is opened again - but what proof do you have that these author's are wrong?


Who are the "respectable authors" who say that the tomb was empty? As far as I know, no competent professional historians believe the empty tomb story.

You have to take into consideration the credibility of the authors of the story: the Bolsheviks of the 1920s.

It is well known that the Bolsheviks lied about many, many things in order to mislead the Russian public. The Bolsheviks at the time were trying to discredit the tsars: hence the bizarre story about the empty tomb.

As for Bolsheviks looking for jewels to sell...I have never heard that any other Romanov tombs were opened or ransacked.

Alexander's death at Taganrog in 1825 is very well documented. There were many witnesses to his death, including well known and respected men of government, and medical authorities.

All of these very credible people could not possibly have conspired to fake Alexander's death.

There is no credibility to the Bolshevik empty tomb story. Period.

If Catherine hadn't acted to take her share of Poland, then Austria and Prussia would have divided Poland amongst themselves.

If Prussia and Austria had swallowed all of Poland themselves, then those powers would have been strengthened relative to Russia, which is something no Russian ruler would have permitted to happen.

It was important for Russia to keep its borders with Prussia and Austria as far to the west as possible. It was better for Russia to have that border redrawn in what was formerly central Poland, as opposed to having the Austrian and Prussian borders drawn along Russia's ancient frontiers. Hence Russia's participation in the partitions.

As to why Russia didn't swallow all of Poland itself, the answer is that if Russia had tried to do this, it would have become embroiled in a major war with Prussia and Austria, which was something Russia wanted to avoid.

Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Emperor Nicholas I
« on: August 04, 2005, 08:30:14 PM »
I don't know a lot about this particular Romanov, but I just read on of the Romanov websites that some  historians believe that Nicholas I poisoned himself after receiving news of the defeat of Russian forces at Evpatoria. It sounds a little strange and I was wondering if anyone knows anything about this. Thanks!

Nicholas definitely did not poison himself, and he didn't deliberately make himself sick because he wanted to die.

The Battle of Evpatoria that you allude to was a small and inconsequential battle. By no means did it have any impact on the overall course of the Crimean War.

As for the Crimean War itself, even though the Russians were not performing well, defeat was not a certainty when Nicholas died. There was still reason for believing that the Allies might ultimately be repulsed at Sevastapol.

Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Emperor Nicholas I and poet Pushkin
« on: August 04, 2005, 08:24:35 PM »
did nicholas actually have an affair with pushkin's wife? was he involved in pushkin's death?

I have read that Nicholas was just one of many lovers of Pushkin's wife. She had many affairs, as did Nicholas himself.

Pushkin's death was the result of a duel he had with a French nobleman who was pursuing a military career in Russia. The Frenchman was intimately involved with Pushkin's wife, which is why Pushkin fought him in a duel.

Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: August 04, 2005, 08:20:17 PM »
Unfortunately, I heard the same horse myth years ago from my Russian History Professor....Makes you wonder how many people are perpetuating that myth.

My information is drawn from a biography of Catherine titled "Catherine the Great", by Zoe Oldenburg. It was published in the 1940s.

I'm sure that any biography of Catherine will give you enough data to dispel the horse myth.

Interesting to note also, the greatest reforms in Russia always follow military defeat. The Crimean War resulted in emancipation. The Russo-Japanese war resulted in the first Constitution. WW 1 resulted in Revolution. Afghanistan resulted in the fall of communism.

What you're saying about cycles of reform following military defeat in Russian history is true. I would not, however, put Afghanistan in that category.

The relationship between defeat and reform with respect to Afghanistan is the exact opposite of what you describe. Gorbachev's great reforms began independently of Afghanistan, and the Soviet army was pulled out of Afghanistan because of these reforms, and not because of any military defeat.

Afghanistan was just a small sideshow of a war. Not in any way was it comparable to the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War, WW1, the Napoleonic Wars, etc.

Further, the Soviet army was not really being defeated in Afghanistan. It generally had the upper hand against the guerrillas.

The problem was that the army would have to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely in order to eradicate the guerrillas, and this long-term reality posed problems for Gorbachev in the areas of international diplomacy and economic reform.

Gorbachev removed Afghanistan from his agenda because it was an impediment to his larger, more important and more far-reaching plans.

Soviet presidents prior to Gorbachev, no doubt, would have kept their army in Afghanistan for decades, or as long as it took to finish war on Soviet terms.

Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Empress Catherine II
« on: August 04, 2005, 12:16:25 PM »

I had a prof. once who told us a tale about her dying because a horse was being lowered onto her for very embarrassing reasons and the hoist broke and the horse crushed her. She was found on the floor unable to move or speak and then died. But recently someone told me this is not true, that she died on the toilet like Elvis. She had a stroke and fell in the floor naked but there was no horse. That story was started back then by Polish nobles she had stripped of their power to humiliate her memory in all of Europe. What is true?

The horse legend, although delightfully salacious, is definitely untrue.

Catherine died from some illness that I cannot remember. The illness manifested itself very quickly, and she spent her final days bedridden. If my memory serves me correctly she was in a coma during her final hours.

Imperial Russian History / Re: Paul I and Catherine the Great
« on: August 04, 2005, 12:11:11 PM »
What sort of relationship did Paul I have with his mother?  It is common knowledge that they did not get along with each other.  Was Paul I a good ruler?

Paul was seriously mistreated by his mother as he was growing up. They rarely saw each other, in fact, as Catherine preferred to keep Paul tucked away in some distant castle.

Paul also grew up with the burden of knowing that his mother was complicit in the murder of his father, Peter III.

That Catherine was motivated to treat Paul so badly is powerful evidence that Peter III was indeed Paul's father. There is really no other way of explaining Catherine's attitude toward her son. This fact is often overlooked by those who claim that Paul's father was someone other than Peter III.

Probably as a result of these early life stresses, Paul developed serious psychoemotional problems. He was mentally unstable in an extreme way, although not insane or psychotic as many historians and diarists from the era have made him out to be.

According to today's psychological nomenclature, Paul would be regarded as an "obsessive-compulsive".

As to Paul's intellectual ability, he was definitely of above-average intelligence, and if he hadn't been burdened with such heavy psychological damage, he probably would have proven to be a very capable ruler.

As to how well Paul actually did rule, the answer is that he didn't do a good job. Paul made many irrational, reckless decisions regarding matters of state.

At first the influential nobles and men of state surrounding the throne tolerated Paul's whims and erratic behavior. After several years, though, when it became clear that Russia's best interests were being threatened by Paul, St. Petersburg's leading citizens formed a committee to remove him from power.

Imperial Russian History / Re: Why did Russia go to war in WW1?
« on: August 03, 2005, 11:58:34 PM »
Hello Charlie, welcome to the forum  :)

That sounds more like the Russo-Japanese War. In 1914 he went to war to protect his ally Serbia whom he felt bound to support.
He had tried to avoid war by advising the Serbians to accept Austria's ultimatum...& they did in all but one or two details but the Austrians seemed to be just waiting to crush Serbia anyway  :-/

That's one reason Russia went to war in 1914, true. However, Russia also went to war because it was pressured to do so by it's ally, France.

In the 1880s Russia and France entered into a military alliance that called for each of them to assist the other in the event that either was involved in a war against Germany.

At the time, Germany was the most powerful country in Europe militarily and industrially, and it was conducting itself aggressively in international affairs.

For the French, it was especially important that Russia be prepared and able to resist any kind of threats imposed on it by Germany. If for some reason Russia proved too weak or irresolute to stand up to Germany, the French would have lost confidence in Russia as an ally, and they would have terminated the alliance and sought other allies elsewhere.

Had the Russians lost the French as allies, Russia itself would have been isolated in the face of German threats, in which case its international position would have been dire.

In 1914, as you noted, Austria threatened to conquer Serbia, and Russia came to the defense of Serbia. Germany of course then assisted Austria by threatening Russia with war.

Russia's refusal to back down in the face of the German threat occured as much because of French pressure as it did for because of its desire to protect Serbia.

Imperial Russian History / Re: Russia and the American Civil War
« on: August 03, 2005, 11:50:33 PM »
On another thread talking about the Alaskan purchase it was mentioned that Russia sided with North during the war. Given that both England and France were very sympathetic with the South for various reasons and that the Crimean war was still in recent memory, was this part of a larger geopolitical power play? I've seen pictures of Russian naval ships visiting New York circa 1863 while to my knowledge no British or French ship ever visited a Southern port.

In 1863, Russia itself was on the verge of war with England and France. The Russian government sent its warships to shelter in San Francisco and New York so that they would be in a position to raid English and French shipping in the event that war actually broke out.

It is important to recognize that had the ships remained in their Russian ports, they would have been easily bottled up by the English navy.

And no doubt you are aware that in 1863 England and France were close to entering the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. Part of the Russian government's aim then was that the presence of the Russian vessels in American ports might help to incline America into an alliance against England and France.

Russia's tensions with England and France in 1863 stemmed from Russia's suppression of an armed revolt in Poland.

Rulers Prior to Nicholas II / Re: Emperor Alexander I
« on: August 03, 2005, 11:36:11 PM »
From many sources I have learned that Alexander Pavlovich was a very handsome man. Does anyone have pictures that could prove it? I'd be very much obliged :)

Alexander was definitely known for his sex life. His romantic partners included, among others, Queen Louise of Prussia and Josephine DeBeauharnais, the ex-wife of Napoleon. He was also involved with Josephine's daughter.

I think the best researched source of info on this topic is a book called "Imperial Legend:  The Disappearance of Czar Alexander I", by Alexis Troubetzkoy.  Although we won't know for sure until DNA testing is done (if ever), there is ample evidence that the Czar planned his own disappearance and that his brother Nicholas knew and helped to keep his cover.

Sorry, but there is no such evidence. It is just rumor, and nothing more.

There is a fascinating legend that Alexander I faked his own death and "retired" from life under another name.
At one point a man named Fedor Kuzmich appeared in Tomsk and local residents suspected that this might well be Tsar Alexander himself. In 1864 Kuzmich was lying on his death bed, his last words being, "God only knows my real name!"
Allegendly, in 1865, Tsar Nicholas attempted to quell the rumors about his brother and had his casket opened. Rumors soon spread about the casket being empty. Then in 1926, over one hundred years after Alexander's death his casket was opened again and was officially declared empty. To this day, supposedly no one really knows where he lays buried.

I would forget about the Soviet government's announcement in 1926. It was almost certainly disinformation, one of many such lies intended to discredit Russia's former rulers by making them seem like fools, tyrants, or bizarre individuals of one sort or another.

The Soviet's 1926 statement about Alexander's coffin has never been backed up by any kind of evidence.

I don't think that professional historians anywhere give any credence to the empty coffin story. It was communist proganda, plain and simple.

As for the Kuzmich story, it is true that such a peasant lived in Siberia in the mid-1800s. He was remarkable for knowing things about the Russian imperial court that a simple peasant wouldn't be expected to know. Still, knowledgable people who interviewed Kuzmich came away convinced that he was an ignorant peasant and nothing more.

The documentation and eyewitness accounts surrounding Alexander's death in Taganrog in 1825 are very credible. You can rest assured that Alexander died there, just as historians say.

Alexander died of an illness that was either malaria or something akin malaria. The disease was rampant in the Taganrog area at the time.

Imperial Russian History / Re: WW I & Nich II's Leadership/Truth & Fi
« on: August 03, 2005, 11:21:08 PM »
(post deleted)

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