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Nicholas II / Re: Nicolas II, first unofficial Nobel Peace Prize
« on: June 17, 2018, 06:57:32 AM »
I am not talking about the real Nobel Peace Prize. It did not exist in 1898. But at his death, Alfred Nobel made a donation (only one) to the German Peace League (Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft founded in 1892).
Here is Alfred Nobel's testament in Swedish original and English translation: Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft is not mentioned as a beneficiary, only private individuals (family, friends, servants etc.) and the fund for the Nobel Prizes.

I'm not saying that Nicholas II was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, he was awarded the prize of the German Peace League paid through a donation from Alfred Nobel.
I understand what you mean. But I couldn't find any mention of this when I googled it in German.

Nicholas II never received the real Nobel Peace Prize. But your book talks about the real Nobel Prize (of which Bjornson was a member).
The Nobel Peace Prize is, according to Alfred Nobel's testament, awarded by a committee of five members chosen by the Norwegian parliament (Stortinget). You are right about Bjørnson being a member of this committee from 1901 to 1906. But when he suggested NII in 1898, this committee had not yet been formed.

Nicholas II / Re: Nicolas II, first unofficial Nobel Peace Prize
« on: June 17, 2018, 06:01:34 AM »
After his death, Alfred Nobel had bequeathed 10 million crowns to the League for Peace of Ludwig Quidde, the famous German pacifist. This sum was endowed with a prize awarded to "the one who has done the most for the cause of peace". Nicolas II was rewarded in 1898. He was thus the first unofficial "Nobel Peace Prize", before Henri Dunant and Frédéric Passy in 1901.

A French link to a source:

Interesting info, but as you can see from the notice in Le Gaulois it was merely a rumour (which the newspaper treated as a bad joke). Here, in a German version of a biography of the Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie I found the same rumour referred to. It was evidently the Norwegian author and peace and minorities activist Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson who had suggested that NII should receive a Nobel peace prize. But apparantly no peace prize was actually awarded that year. But one could say that NII was nominated as a candidate.

The biography further notes that Bjørnson and the rest of the European peace activist intelligentsia were relieved that it hadn't been awarded to him when NII issued the February Manifesto in February 1899, severely limiting Finland's autonomy and aiming at Russification. Four years later, when Bjørnson himself was made Nobel Laureate in Literature, he wrote a poem called Ved modtagelsen av sidste post fra Finland (At the Reception of the Latest Post from Finland) about NII and his role in the Russification process in Finland, containing this verse:

Men han som et folk henretter,
(det lykkes dog ingensinde!)
er født af en nordisk kvinde,
og leged' på danske sletter.
Å Danmark, hvis bøddelen kommer,
da vær ham en folke-sund dommer:
Forbyd ham at træde på jorden;
thi den er de fries i Norden!


But he who is executing a people,
(though it will never succeed!)
was born to a Nordic woman,
and once played on Danish plains.
Oh Denmark, if the executioner comes,
then be a national-sound judge of him:
Deny him to step on the earth;
because in the North it belongs to the free!


Mais celui qui exécute un peuple,
(bien que cela ne réussira jamais!)
est né d'une femme nordique,
et jouît dans des plaines danoises.
Ô Danemark, si le bourreau vient,
sois un juge sain-national de lui:
Dénie-lui de mettre les pieds sur la terre;
parce que dans le Nord elle appartient aux libres!

If the rumour about NII declaring that Bjørnson was his favourite author when Bjørnson wanted to award him a peace prize (not likely to be true and sounds like something Donald Trump would say!), it certainly wasn't after this indictment!

Palaces in Moscow / Re: Grand Kremlin Palace
« on: June 09, 2018, 08:02:49 PM »
Quarterings on a coat of arms represent marriages, so the quarterings referred to here would represent the arms of the individual families whose women married into the Romanov royal line, not countries within the Russian Empire.

Sorry, that's very Anglocentric and more or less wrong with regard to the Imperial House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov (not "the Romanov royal line"). In British heraldry quarterings mostly represent unions with heraldic heiresses (not just any "women" who married into the line). The German tradition which dominates Russian heraldry and the practice concerning arms of dominion like the imperial arms are not concerned with cognatic family lines (unless the woman is a semi-Salic heiress) or arms of alliance, but only with territories and titles which the dynasty can claim, because of actual possession, conquest, cession (after a treaty) (shared agnatic) inheritance etc.. Hence the presence of the arms of Holstein (Dukes of Holstein), Norway (Heir to Norway), Siberia (Tsar of Siberia) etc.

I was not asking why the different charges are found in the imperial arms, but about their presence in these halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace. I should perhaps not have spoken of quarterings, as they seldom are represented as quarterings on one, great shield (but here is an early 19th century example), but usually as separate smaller shields (some with their own quarterings, though) orbiting around the main imperial arms.

Palaces in Moscow / Re: Grand Kremlin Palace
« on: June 09, 2018, 12:37:19 PM »
As far as I can see, the walls of the Alexandrovsky Hall is decorated with the various quarterings or arms that make up the great arms of the Russian Empire, thus including the arms of such (nowadays) independent countries like Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Georgia etc. and foreign regions like Schleswig, Holstein, Oldenburg, Kiev, Vitebsk etc.

The Andreyevskiy Hall (the throne hall) is decorated with the arms of all? guberniyas? of the Russian Empire, in addition to the middle imperial arms on the canopy wall behind the dais with the thrones.. On the wall close to the throne I've spotted the arms of the Volynskaya Guberniya (a silver cross on red), which today is in Ukraina, so I guess it's the former imperial guberniyas, not the current Russian oblasts. But does it include the guberniyas in Poland, Finland etc.?

Can anybody confirm this or even better: Have a list or plan of which arms are displayed where?

The Windsors / Re: Prince Henry/Prince Harry of Wales
« on: May 15, 2018, 03:57:32 PM »
Meghan Markle's maternal African-American ancestry has so far received most of the genealogical attention, but there are some interesting things on her paternal side too:

- Her 3x great grandmother, Irish-born Mary Bird née McCaugue, might have worked as a maid at Windsor Castle in 1856. See this article.

- The Markle name is Pennsylvania Dutch, i.e. actually Deutsch rather than Dutch. Most likely it hails from the small Alsatian village of Lampertsloch, today in France, (according to this article) whence a certain Hans Martin Merckel (1699 - 1777) emigrated to Pennsylvania. At that time Lampertsloch, part of the Lordship of Lichtenberg, was already under French suzerainty, but in 1736  the lordship passed from the last Count of Hanau-Lichtenberg through his late heiress Charlotte to her widowed husband Landgrave Ludwig VIII of Hesse-Darmstadt. Her maternal aunt was BTW British George II's Queen Caroline of Ansbach. After the extinction of the House of Hanau a minor war almost broke out between Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Cassel because of the partition of the Hanau inheritance (Hanau-Münzenberg, including Rumpenheim, going to Hesse-Cassel and Hanau-Lichtenberg going to Hesse-Darmstadt.)

When the French Revolution ended the feudal Hessian lordship in this part of Alsace, Charlotte of Hanau-Lichtenberg's grandson was soon to be Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and her granddaughter Wilhelmine had already lived and died as Grand Duchess Natalya Alexeyevna (first wife of Emperor Paul).

The name Markle is thus an Anglification of the rather widespread German surname Merkel, a diminutive of male first names like Markwart or Markhard. The future member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is probably no relation to Chancellor Angela Merkel née Kasner's first husband Ulrich Merkel, who hails from the S-C-G-ish ancestral woods in Thuringia, specifically from Cossengrün just outside the city of Greiz. Those Merkels seem to have lived there ever since it was part of the Principality of Reuss, Senior Line.

Anastasia Nicholaievna / Re: Anastasia May Have had a Crush?
« on: May 10, 2018, 03:41:30 PM »
Another great ressource for people starting out with NAOTMAA fan fiction are probably the plays "Вишнёвый сад, / The Cherry Orchard" and "Три сестры / The Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov, available in English translation here and here. (Click to go to act I in the upper right corner.) They premiered in 1901 and 1904 and give a very good contemporary picture of how the Russian upper class, to which also NAOTMAA belonged, spoke and adressed each other (lots of patronymics!). Of course, the more vishnyovosadskiy lethargic of us will feel that with "The Cherry Orchard" and "The Three Sisters" the atmosphere of NAOTMAA's existence is immortalized in a way that makes any fan fiction superfluous :-)

Anastasia Nicholaievna / Re: Anastasia May Have had a Crush?
« on: May 10, 2018, 03:53:02 AM »
It's just a little silly thing the author made. It doesn't have to be 100% accurate, it wasn't like she was writing a book or anything. You really need to learn what 'constructive criticism' is before you trash on someone's work just because it isn't accurate enough for you.

But you initially believed it was a true and genuine historical journal! I was just pointing out some ways to tell it isn't a genuine historical source. Pure and simple source critic skills, for those who are interested. Why shouldn't the esteemed author aim to write so convincingly that we all initially are tricked into believing we are reading a genuine source untill we read the disclaimer?

Although I never said that it wasn't quite well, convincingly and entertainingly written, I don't care much for historical fan fiction when there are such masses of genuine historical sources and contemporary literature to be savoured. But I did very much enjoy Kalafrana's "Christmas 1916 at the Anglo-Russian Hospital" Read it here and learn, everybody!

Anastasia Nicholaievna / Re: Anastasia May Have had a Crush?
« on: May 08, 2018, 05:25:17 PM »
Journal of a Russian Imperial Guard soldier. Alexander Palace, 1913.

'...I accompanied Tatiana, Olga, and Marie to the grand staircase where they bade me goodnight before retiring to their rooms. Anastasia was behind me, visibly sad because I never danced with her. I offered her my hand. But instead of returning to the ballroom, she happily took me outside, where we danced in the garden. We relaxed on a bench afterwards, during which Anastasia snuggled on my shoulder. We were still holding hands. I carried her back to the palace when she dosed off...'

That it is fan fiction struggling to be historically accurate is evident from the nonchalant use of first names. A Russian guards officer (NOT a soldier!) would either refer to OTMA as "the grand duchesses" / "Anastasia Nikolayevna" etc. even in his diary or, if he actually was romantically involved with one of them, as "A" or some diminutive or nickname. The casual, modern mode that use of mere first names indicate (e.g. "Hi, Olga! What's up?") was not a possibility - it was either formal, but cordial ("Good evening, Olga Nikolayevna") or intimately affectionate (when you got to the park bench!:-).  Even in their journals and diaries people in this age and in this environment took certain precautions, as there always was the possibility that their journals would be read by someone else.

Another example from the beginning of the entry in question:
Winter Palace, February 1913
A luxurious ball was held in the capital to celebrate the Romanov Tercentenary.

I don't think contemporaries writing casually in a journal would refer to it as the Romanov Tercentary, but as the Tercentary of the dynasty or the imperial house. To contemporaries the Romanovs were not 'the Romanovs', but THE one and only Imperial Family! And they would certainly NOT venture out of the Winter Palace into the garden (which?) in February for a tête-à-tête! Of course not even mentioning that Anastasia Nikolayevna wouldn't attend any state balls at the age of 11!

Another one:
Alexandra instructed us to remove the imperial insignia from our uniforms to avoid provoking the rebels when they return.
God, this is almost as bad as "my sexy crush Anastasia's MILF mom"!!!
The Empress, please! (Or Alexandra Fyodorovna if you are a habitué of the Mauve Boudoir.)

The Allies may have been content with an ununified Germany.

I wonder if this is the reason why Germany was split into four occupation zones after World War II.  Of course, the idea was that all four zones would eventually be merged back together.  Of course, due to the Cold War, that took 45 years to happen.

Britain and France were happy with a partitioned Germany after WW2. The US insisted on merging the three Western zones into a democratic, capitalist state that could serve as an ally in the cold war against Communism and constitute a stable Germany that was big enough to not feel insignificant and resentful and not big enough to get any megalomanic ideas. For the same reason the US encouraged West European coöperation that led to the EU.

Anastasia Nicholaievna / Re: Anastasia May Have had a Crush?
« on: May 07, 2018, 02:59:26 PM »
The same book from which the quotes come also identify him as having a wife named Rimma, so it was most definitely just a hopeless schoolgirl crush.

His Russian Wikipedia article says he was married to a certain Evdokiya Fyodorovna Kosogor (died in 1989 in the USA) and that they had a daughter called Svetlana. See Wikipedia: Зборовский, Виктор Эрастович

Imagine they had made another silly Anastasia movie about 'Anastasia's big crush fighting along with Hitler, receiving the Iron Cross and dying (1944) in the fight against the evil Soviets, Stalin and his American allies to avenge her death'!

The Russian Revolution / Re: Why is Lenin still praised?
« on: May 07, 2018, 02:17:35 PM »
Glad we agree, Nictionary. Lol, the US is quite another world than Imperial Russia and Imperial Austria, which fetishized bureaucracy!

Not only was Hitler's family complicated and abusive / scarring, whereas Lenin's was internally harmonious and supportive, but Hitler, despite his father's prominent social position, had never had Lenin's experience of being "the young lord" / "the master's son" on a landed estate with peasants bowing and scraping (and mocking him behind his back?). In that respect Lenin was more similar to the Romanovs themselves, cured of the desire of having the masses worship the earth he walked upon.

Speaking of which, does anybody know if those peasants were Muslims? See this thread.

Tsarevich Alexei Nicholaievich / Re: Who is Irina Tolstaya?
« on: May 07, 2018, 08:24:30 AM »
She is the great grandmother of the current Princess Sophie of Prussia (wife of the current pretender), née Princess of Isenburg-Birstein.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Why is Lenin still praised?
« on: May 06, 2018, 04:00:04 PM »
Hitler believed in biological determinism, just as Lenin believed in historical determinism.  Lenin and Hitler actually had similar backgrounds.  Both were the sons of minor bureaucrats.  Neither ever seriously attempted to make a living by any means other than politics, and both were only really at home in a world where the pursuit of power by conspiracy, agitation and force was the chief object and satisfaction of existence.  But in that world both were masters.  They had the same intellectual egoism, lack of self-doubt, ruthlessness in personal relations, preference for force as opposed to discussion, and the ability to combine absolute fidelity to a long-term aim with skillful opportunism.  They even shared a certain puritanism: both had little personal vanity and were not corrupted by the more meretricious aspects of power. 

A very good assessment, but some remarks:
- Neither Hitler's nor Lenin's fathers were minor bureaucrats. Ilya Ulyanov ended up in class IV, corresponding to a major-general. I'm not sure if Austria-Hungary had a complete, corresponding version of the Table of Ranks, but I read that Alois Hitler, as a senior customs official, held the rank equivalent to a captain (which would be class VII in the Russian Table of Ranks, which has 14 classes).

- I'd rather say that Hitler's personal vanity in terms of mass adulation was huge. But, like Lenin, he was also rather materially ascetic in his personal life. Hitler was no doubt much more emotional than Lenin, but could his vanity and need for adulation be due to different social backgrounds? Not only was Hitler's family complicated and abusive / scarring, whereas Lenin's was internally harmonious and supportive, but Hitler, despite his father's prominent social position, had never had Lenin's experience of being "the young lord" / "the master's son" on a landed estate with peasants bowing and scraping (and mocking him behind his back?). In that respect Lenin was more similar to the Romanovs themselves, cured of the desire of having the masses worship the earth he walked upon.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Why is Lenin still praised?
« on: May 06, 2018, 12:02:27 PM »
I think Lenin was in the same league as Hitler. Ruthless and genocidal in their drive for an ideological goal. Stalin was not just ruthless, but despite his extremely high intelligence he was aimless, random and pathological in his quest to kill and destroy enemies and rule by fear. Do also remember that Lenin and Hitler hailed from the opposite ends of large imperial bureaucracies, with regard to the environment they were brought up in: Lenin from the upper end of the Table of Ranks and Hitler from the lower end. Stalin was not from the educated or petty bourgeoisie, he was from the real working class, from a tribal society and was way more Asiatic in outlook than the other two. He had just as much in common with Mao, the North Korean Kims and Pol Pot than with the chinovnik's sons Hitler and Lenin.

I am not saying that all Asians are barbaric, but human rights are something that developed in Europe, not in Asia. That is due to several influences, one being that populations and nations were smaller in Europe compared to the enormous civilisations in Asia, so the individual stood more out and was assigned more value in Europe compared to Asia.

The Павловский институт (благородных девиц) - the Pavlovskiy Institute (for wellborn* maidens) or Павловский женский сиротский институт (Pavlovskiy female orphans' institute) was one of ten "female institutes" in St. Petersburg before the Revolution. It was originally founded by Emperor Paul as a military orphanage for both sexes, but the boys were separated in 1829 into the Pavlovskiy Cadet Corps. In 1851 it was housed in a specially built impressive building on Znamenskaya ulitsa 8 (8 Street of the Sign). Today the building houses Гимназия № 209 or Павловская гимназия, Gymnasium or High School nr. 209 or Pavlovskiy Gymnasium with the adress ulitsa Vosstaniya 8A (8A Street of the Uprising) two blocks north of the east end of Nevsky Prospekt.

The secluded life of the павлушки (pavlushki, i.e. more or less "paulines", the институтки or institute girls at this particular institution) is well documented in the books (like "Записки институтки" - Notes of an institutka, published in 1901) of actress and author Lidiya Alekseyevna Charskaya, who attended the Pavlovskiy Institute from 1886 to 1893.

Historical pictures

The building today.

* The girls were daughters of military officers in the Table of Ranks who were technically noble (service nobility), but often poor compared to the landed and titled nobility. The girls were educated with the goal of preparing them to earn a living as governesses.

I translated these titbits (with Google Translate) from this site, which has much more information on the institution:

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