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Messages - David Pritchard

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Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« on: December 23, 2008, 11:51:09 AM »
You are correct in identifying Nikolas II as the root of all of the family's problems. Alexandra's involvement in wider political and familial matters simply highlighted his short comings. A psychiatrist might see their relationship as an unhealthy co-dependency.

While the 18th century successions to the Imperial Throne were messy affairs, they did eliminate the less capable heirs. Even Aleksandr I came to the Throne in the traditional manner despite the Pauline Laws already being in place. Of the four 19th century emperors that succeeded to the Imperial Throne without having to dispose of any family members, only Aleksandr II stands out as a leader. This fact illustrates the short comings of codified male primogenitor rather than succession through survival of the fittest.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« on: December 19, 2008, 10:10:40 PM »
I understand what you are saying, but this applies even if you are the consort of the ruler of the "Romans"?  :)  I suppose I still believe (in my 20th-century-middle-class-North-American mindset, lol) that they didn't have to do as she did, or like it, but did they have to punish her for it? 

I see now that you are not too familiar with the Russians. They can be brutal to those who do not conform. One could easily imagine that the saying "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" was invented by Russians.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« on: December 19, 2008, 09:05:20 PM »
The more I read, the more I am convinced - it wasn't Alexandra who was snobbish.  It was the Russian aristocracy!  Perhaps I am putting my 20th-century-middle-class upbringing too close to this flame here, but those people make me angry, the way they turned their noses up at her "ways".

But Alexandra was in Russia, so it was their ways that were the standard not hers. When I first lived in Russia, the Russians reminding me often that Russia operated differently than America and that I would have to adjust.

When in Rome do as the Romans do.

St. Ambrose, 387 AD

News Links / Re: New Russian Revolution in the Making?
« on: December 09, 2008, 07:23:40 PM »
It is my own opinion that the Russian government will fund the short falls in the federal budget through the continuing re-acquisition of the large former state industries that were privatised under questionable circumstances in the early 1990's. I cannot imagine that public protests let alone public unrest would be tolerated by the present government. Most Russians are conscious that their freedoms have strict boundaries and will act accordingly. If the economy worsens expect the price of vodka and bread to be lowered to placate the basic needs of the masses.

The Imperial Family / Re: Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
« on: December 09, 2008, 02:14:42 PM »

What a wonderfully knowledgable post on this topic. It is nice to learn that there are still members of this forum that are actually familiar with the Fundamental Laws and have a firm understanding of them. I am strongly in agreement with you on all your points.

News Links / Re: Patriarch Alexei II passed away - aged 79 - in Moscow
« on: December 08, 2008, 04:16:59 PM »
79 is not that old. That is why I was a bit surprised he passed. 

Since the demise of the Soviet health care system, male longevity in the Russian Federation had dropped to 57.7 years as of 1994 from a high of 64.9 in the year 1987. As of the year 2000 this low life expectancy had risen to 58.9 years, which when compared to the rest of Europe and North America is quite a short male life expectancy. By Russian standards the Patriarch Aleksei II had quite a long life.

Russian males (and Russians in general) suffer from high rates of smoking, excessive alcohol use, high fat diets, stress, environmental pollution, and undetected (and therefore untreated) diseases.

The Imperial Family / Re: Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
« on: December 07, 2008, 03:05:16 PM »
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear--I don't care for this branch of the family

With this issue out of the way, your opinions (and their value) can be weighed in the minds of the readers in a fairer manner.

When Paul I changed the laws of succession there was no recourse as evidenced by the succession of emperors who followed faithfully his wishes.

This not true legally. The Emperor was the Sovereign Autocrat and he could change the Fundamental Laws if he so desired. The Fundamental Laws were modified four times by a reigning emperor: the Manifesto of Nikolai I of 22 August 1826, the Family Statute of Alexander III of 2 July 1886, the Fundamental Laws of the Empire of 23 April 1906 and the Imperial Ukase No. 1289 of 8 August 1911. What did keep Emperors Aleksander I through Nikolai II from changing the line of succession defined in the Fundamental Laws was their desire not to break the Coronation Oath. They were however free to break the oath without legal concequence if they so desired since they were the Sovereign Autocrat.

The Vladimirovichi, in all their previous Russian glory, were not ennobled enough or ennabled to perform, even with the trappings of a coronation and support of the throne, the change in the law of succession which was firmly in place since his Paul's accession.

A very odd paragraph to me. The Vladimirovichi Branch was never enobled since they were born of the purple cloth, that is in more common parlance born, into an imperial family rather into a noble family. Emperors or kings in exile never have coronations. Grand Duke Kyril Vldimirovich was in exile when it became known that his senior male line cousins were all dead and that he was thus the head of the Russian Imperial House. A proper coronation according to imperial traditions could not have been staged at the Moscow Kremlin as it was occupied by Lenin and his henchmen.

The better question to ask here might be if a non-reigning head of the imperial house has the legal ability to change the laws of succession to an abolished Throne?

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« on: December 05, 2008, 02:15:17 PM »
My reference to the Biedermeier era was regarding the middle class family values that it spawned in 19th century Germany. While these values were fine for persons of that social station, that were not positive when held by a Russian Empress.

What seems to be missing from the discussion is the understanding that Nikolas II was just barely able to function in the role of Sovereign Autocrat and that a wife who could fill in some of his short comings would have been much preferable to a wife that magnified or complicated his weaknesses.

Alexandra of Hesse would have made a perfect wife for a British or Dutch prince but not for the Russian Emperor.

Your references to accomplished women (who did not hold sway over millions of lives) are hardly relevant here. Alexandra was not important in her own right but rather because of whom she married and the position that she held because of that marriage.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« on: December 04, 2008, 12:54:17 PM »
Actually it is one of the eldest traceable Protestant ruling Houses in the world, descending directly from Emperor Charles the Great as well as from St Elisabeth of Thuringia - related to Emperors and Kings of all Europe.

I am quite aware of the splendid genealogy of the House of Hesse but that does not address the real life importance of the dynasty in the second half of the 19th century when the Grand Duchy found itself under the thumb of the Kingdom of Prussia and later under the suzereignty of the German Emperor.

What you are calling "bourgeoise" is actually a strong trace of modern liberalism which additionally distinguised that family in a particular way. Alexandra Feodorovna did certainly not approve superficial aspects of courtlife - she prefered achievements on the charity section for the poor and wounded. Many modern terms of medicine were adopted in Russia exclusively due to her work (esp. during the War).

But this trait and the corresponding Biedermeier culture was not what was expected of the Russian Empress. It was foreign and incompatable to the members of the Imperial House.

In my opinion Prussia and Denmark provided nothing more than fashinable "dancing Queens" - in the real sense of the word. If this is what you prefer to see in the role of an Empress: than you might be right...

In the eyes of contemporary Russians, they were successful Empresses.

As regards the "healthy male heir": this was certainly not Alexandra's fault or shall I send you a book on Mendel, Mr Pritchard?

I never said that it was her fault but nothing was done by Nikolas II to correct this problem. He could have married a more appropriate woman without this genetic trait, divorced Alexandra for another royal lady or retained Alexandra, maintained the Grand Duke Michael as the primary heir; publicly disclosed the health problems of his son. The facade of Aleksei's health was destabilising. My views about Alexandra have very little to do with her as a person but rather the impact of her on a large empire and the millions of people who were reliant upon the Emperor to make well thought out decisions regarding their future.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« on: December 03, 2008, 10:14:58 PM »
Snobbish or sensitive ? Is this really the question that we should be asking?  Appropriate choice or inappropriate choice as a future Russian Empress is the question that I am inclined to ask.

Unfortunately Alexandra never made the transition from her early life in a minor and impoverished royal family with strong bourgeois tendencies to the role of spouse of an Autocrat of a world super power with an opulent Court. If we were to look at earlier Empresses, we would see that more prominent countries, Denmark and Prussia for example, had provided more prepared and worldly spouses for earlier 19th century Russian Emperors. After the obligation of providing a healthy male heir, the Empress' active and successful participation at Court and Russian society was her most important obligation. In both these roles, Alexandra of Hess failed. I do not fault her here but rather Nikolas II in not making an appropriate marriage based on the needs of the Empire rather than personal love.

The Imperial Family / Re: Romanovs and Faith/Orthodox Religion
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:55:27 PM »
I believe than in Orthodox parlance that Emperor Nikolas II and his immediate family are referred to as Holy Martyrs rather than saints, that is believers who were murdered for their faith. On the other hand I believe that Grand Duchess Ella (and please correct me if I am wrong) is a both a Holy Martyr and a Saint with documented miracles.

Russian Noble Families / Re: von der Osten-Sacken
« on: December 02, 2008, 04:48:01 PM »
Karl was born the son of a colonel in the Hesse-Cassel army. Karl served as a diplomat for Saxony/Poland in Stockholm and Saint Petersburg. He was created a Count of the Holy Roman Empire by Francis II as well as serving as a Senior Chamberlain and a States Minister in the Privy Council. He was granted the Order of Saint Andrew the First Called and the Order of Prince Saint Al;eksandr Nevskogo by Catherine the Great. The Prussian king, Frederick the Great made Karl a Prince of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1786.

He must have been a very crafty diplomat as he collected honors from many different countries.

Russian Noble Families / Re: von der Osten-Sacken
« on: December 02, 2008, 01:51:56 PM »
Baron Fabian-Gotlieb von der Osten-Sacken b. 1752; d.1837 (known in Russian as Fabian Vilgelmovich) created Count of the Russian Empire in 1821, General-Feldmarshal in 1818 (replacing Prince Barclay-de-Tolay upon his death that year) and Prince of the Russian Empire in 1832. He held the Order of Saint Andrew the First Called and the Order of Saint George 2nd Class. No wife is indsicated so he must have have died unmarried and thus without legitimate heirs if any.

There was a time when the possibility of changing the succession to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlivich (the ward of the Emperor) upon his marriage to Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaievna was discussed. I am sure that the middle class and backward views of Empress Aleksandra put an end to this discussion as she saw Dmitri as much to worldly for her over-protected and personally useful daughter. This would have been the best solution for the preservation of the monarchy.

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