Author Topic: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad  (Read 276044 times)

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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #630 on: January 05, 2010, 11:45:33 AM »
Mcdnab

This, is, I think, a very fair summary. I wonder whether part of the problem for the Romanovs in general during the war was that few had much of a 'public service profile' before 1914.
Contrast Russia, where the Imperial Family were distant and barely known. The younger Grand Dukes, if they made an impression on the public at all, were known as a bunch of wastrels. Then, as I said yesterday, they did not appear to have much involvement in the war effort, and here appearances were important. There's a nice picture on another thread of three of the Konstantinovichi boys together in East Prussia (must have been shortly before Oleg was killed). If that had appeared in the newspapers, it would only have helped the image - if, of course, the populace had heard of them previously. Of course, the Empress, the two elder girls, Olga Alexandrovna and Marie Pavlovna (younger) all nursed, but to what extent was this publicised?  

If I had been handling imperial PR in 1914, I'd have had Olga and Tatiana visiting hospitals with just a lady-in-waiting, Marie and Anastasia being photographed knitting sweaters. Obviously, there was the problem in Russia that you didn't have in Britain, of a vast illiterate or barely literate population - had a popular press got going at that time?

Ann

While I agree with what both and you and Mcdnab say in your insightful posts, I want to point out that the Romanov grand Dukes had very much a "public service role" before 1900 - with the obvious proviso that Russia was not a constitutional monarchy. The role they were raised to fulfill was one of absolute loyalty and political service to the Tsar. Many of them held very senior positions in Army, Navy and government - regardless of ability in some instances - and they were certainly seen insofar as anyone was seen. In Nicholas's reign, his uncles Serge and Alexei (and to an extent, Vladimir) played this role; along with their cousins Konstantin Konstantinovich and Alexander Mihkailovich, who was also the Tsar's brother-in-law. Even as late as the war, Alexander and his brother Serge - as well as Nikolai Nikolaevich - were in senior roles in army and navy still.  By this stage none of these roles reflected much credit on the Romanovs or the autocracy, since - almost regardless of ability - the Grand Dukes were attacked in the expanding press by their personal enemies (witness Alexander's claim that Witte used underhand means to get at him when he was Minister of the Marine, and Alexnader's subsequent passionate interest in libel laws to shackle the press!).

From Kiril downwards - and Paul as well, though he was a few years older - the Grand Dukes failed to take on such a role, often because they were more interested in indulging their whims and this often resulted in exile or disgrace. This was an almost inevitable consequence of the expansion of the imperial family - the further from the centre they were, the less close the service ties that bound them. The very able Konstantin Nikolaivich was absolutley loyal to his wekaer elder brother Alexander II and helped him in every way he could; but the likes of Kirill Vladimirovich did not feel that they owed such loyalty to a cousin they thought rather stupid, and whose mother their mother was feuding with from the start.

Nicholas and Alexandra were both conscious of the role of the press - she perhaps because of her upbringing in Britain and Germany; he because of his training by Pobedonotsev and Alexander III (the first Emperor ever to give an interview) and she at least shows a keen interest in which family films might be shown to the public; how "bad" it looks to have the Grand Dukes "hanging around" Headquarters instead of doing anything constructive (she, I think, would have been happy to see them resume their old-fashioned role as senior servants of the state; several times she urges Nicholas to think how he might make use of Paul). The newsreel of charity bazaars in the Crimea is another example of the way they were using the press to develop exactly the sort of image which western Empresses made for themselves - and, incidentally, the sort of work she was allegedly criticized for in "society". And, has been noted a great deal in recent studies, Nicholas was not slow to use the image of his children to promote his regime, in exactky the way Prince Albert did in Britain two generaions before (or Nicholas I in Russia three generations before, come to that - or his mother-in-law Luise did in Prussia, for that matter)
But Nicholas and Alexandra were also preoccupied by what they saw as a specifically Russia phenomenon - that is to say, of associating themselves with displays of popular religion, and this you see in events like the canonization of Serafim of Sarov, and Alexandra's visit  to the holy woman Maria Mikhailovna during the war, both of which events A was anxious to see publicized. And there have been whole essays on he way Nicholas's own image was used as religious object by the far right (encouraged by Nicholas and Alexandra, as it happens).

But, for all this, I should note that George V still feared revolution in 1917 and afterwards - however popular he may have thought his family to be. And Nicholas's family were not saved by their own self-publicity either - because, by then, no-one believed it.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 12:02:25 PM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline PAVLOV

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #631 on: January 08, 2010, 02:18:43 PM »
The British Royal family has managed over the years despite everything, to become a British institution.  They identified themselves with the man in the street, and earned the respect of their subjects. This has been very hard work, but the recipe works, obviously the ingredients have to change to suit the times. A prime example was the change of name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. ( And Battenburg to Mountbatten )

The Russian Imperial family never embraced change of any kind. They hardly ever spoke their own language. Alexandra spoke English to her husband and children, and German to most of the servants.
Although Queen Victoria was actually German, and married a German, she managed to represent and embody everything that was British.

Alexandra did not embody anything that was Russian. If she tried, her efforts bore no fruit, poor woman.   

The British Royal family realised after WWI, maybe before, that their position was not God given, but that it was a position that must be earned, and the only way to remain, was to work very hard, like everyone else. They still do.
Service and loyalty. Not divine right.

I think that the Imperial Family of Russia, and their almost slavish attitude toward Religion, constant visits to monastries, observance of hundreds of religious holidays, icons and chapels everywhere, fasting etc etc, was a bit unbalanced, and may have led to the belief that God put them where they were, and that he would never desert them. ( Read Alexandra's letters ) I think she became confused, and perhaps believed that the Autocracy and her position was an extension of the Russian Orthodox religion.  She could therefore do no wrong, and nobody had the right to question or criticise her. She became a living martyr during her life time.

Maybe a bit of hospital and orphanage visiting, trips to country villages to smell the manure, and talk to the ordinary people etc, would have been a healthy alternative and balance to all that praying and fasting.

The opinions expressed in the other posts are all very valid, taking all the factors into consideration, also given the times they lived in, and the different attitudes which existed. However I do think Empress Alexandra should have given more, and expected less.

Religion in moderation is a good thing, like everything else, but not to the level to which Alexandra carried it. Her letters from the Ipatiev house to Ana Vyrobova and others were virtual mini sermons, and quite fanatical in a way.

One cannot compare her with Ella, who was more sensible and intelligent in many ways, however, I think they shared the same inborn preoccupation with religion, and their own interpretation of it.

My apologies if this offends anyone, but Ella also carried on a bit too fanatically after Serge's death, running around in those robes, giving everything away, and becoming a nun. All a bit weird I think.   
From what I have read, she cared more for clothes and jewellery. Perhaps she lost it a bit after his death. Not a very nice man by all accounts.   
   
Princess Andrew of Greece ( Phillips mother ) did the same, following Ella's example. But it didnt work out too well for her. 

I am not being irreligious, judgemental, or disrespectful, just wondering what it was with the nun thing ?
I think, given half a chance Alexandra would have done exactly the same.

I think Alexandra's attitude towards religion and the Russian Orthodox religion was excessive, and may have given her comfort during trying times, but in the end had a negative effect as a whole.
 
   
 
     



Offline Teddy

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #632 on: January 09, 2010, 04:46:13 AM »
Maybe, The Empress Alexandra was not perfect, but I can't get enough of her. I simply love her!!! :)[/color]

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #633 on: January 10, 2010, 07:07:19 AM »
Janet and Pavlov

What you both say is very interesting and full of insights.

By 1914 I think Alexandra was damned in the eyes of the Russian aristocracy and intelligentsia whatever she did or didn't do. Some of her problems and poor public image were caused by circumstances outside her control (such as coming to Russia effectively as Empress from the beginning as almost an unknown and without any 'apprenticeship' as the wife of the heir such as contemporary consorts had). However, she neither took on the traditional public role of a Eussian Empress nor developed any new one. This was partly the result of circumstances but to a considerable extent the result of Alexandra's own personality - in particular her sense that she was always right, she knew what the Russians wanted, and her refusal to take advice.

As to the peasantry, Alexandra seems to have had a very idealised view of them and their 'devotion' to the Imperial Family. As a consequence of this, she seems to have assumed that she had no need to make any effort in relation to them. She also thought that the peasantry embodied the 'real' Russian spirit, and so saw no need to make any effort in relation to other groups either, most obviously the industrial workers. Iwonder what would have happened if Alexandra, at an early stage in Nicholas's reign, had financed a chain of medical clinics in the industrial areas of St Petersburg, paid regular visits to them, and so on.

Ann

Offline historyfan

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #634 on: January 10, 2010, 08:02:18 PM »
Ann, I honestly don't think anything she had or hadn't done, would have saved Alexandra once WWI broke out.  She was a German by birth.  End of story.  Spy-mania would've kicked in, and she would have had to have been THE most popular thing going in order to deflect it.  Not escape - there will always have been rumours.

As popular as Maria Feodorovna was, she, too, would've been subject to rumour, innuendo, and intense scrutiny, had she been born in Germany instead of Denmark.

Offline Helen

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #635 on: January 11, 2010, 12:14:07 AM »
As to the peasantry, Alexandra seems to have had a very idealised view of them and their 'devotion' to the Imperial Family. As a consequence of this, she seems to have assumed that she had no need to make any effort in relation to them. She also thought that the peasantry embodied the 'real' Russian spirit, and so saw no need to make any effort in relation to other groups either, most obviously the industrial workers. Iwonder what would have happened if Alexandra, at an early stage in Nicholas's reign, had financed a chain of medical clinics in the industrial areas of St Petersburg, paid regular visits to them, and so on.
Most charitable organisations were, and remained, under the patronage of the Dowager Empress when Alexandra came to Russia. If Alexandra had tried to finance a chain of medical clinics, she could very well have come into collision with the Dowager Empress, like the tension with regard to Alexandra's hospital trains.

Sophie Buxhoeveden wrote that Alexandra was adviced to start a brand-new foundation, and that's what she did: she financed and was actively involved in 'Help by Work', an organisation that established so-called workhouses for the poor all over Russia, as well as creches to make it easier for women to combine family and work life. She also initiated, among other things, an orthopaedic institute for children and established a school/training centre for nurses modelled after a similar school under the patronage of Princess Helena in London. She won't have visited all workhouses, but she certainly popped in regularly at this school.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 12:17:58 AM by Helen »
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline PAVLOV

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #636 on: January 12, 2010, 11:33:46 AM »
I suppose most of you have read the Helen Rappaport book by now.

It was interesting to read that Dr Botkin regularly prescribed Morphine and Cocaine for Alexandra, mainly for menstrual pain. He also prescribed Veronal, which I was surprised existed at that time. Alexandra is described as being "soaked" with Veronal. Both the Tsar and Alexandra also made use of hashish.

Interesting. I wonder to what extent all these medications affected their lives and judgement ?

Offline PAVLOV

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #637 on: January 12, 2010, 01:05:53 PM »
For those of you who are not familiar with Veronal. It was the first commercially marketed barbiturate / hypnotic and appeared on the market in 1903 and was prescribed mainly for insomnia.  It was taken off the market in the 1950's.
Perhaps Alexandra was hooked on her sleeping medication. Veronal together with cocaine, morphine and hash must have made quite a cocktail.

This could be the reason why Empress Alexandra could not perform her duties. She was too high to get off her sofa !         
 

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #638 on: January 19, 2010, 03:24:33 PM »

I think that the Imperial Family of Russia, and their almost slavish attitude toward Religion, constant visits to monastries, observance of hundreds of religious holidays, icons and chapels everywhere, fasting etc etc, was a bit unbalanced, and may have led to the belief that God put them where they were, and that he would never desert them. ( Read Alexandra's letters ) I think she became confused, and perhaps believed that the Autocracy and her position was an extension of the Russian Orthodox religion.  She could therefore do no wrong, and nobody had the right to question or criticise her. She became a living martyr during her life time.

The opinions expressed in the other posts are all very valid, taking all the factors into consideration, also given the times they lived in, and the different attitudes which existed.

Religion in moderation is a good thing, like everything else, but not to the level to which Alexandra carried it. Her letters from the Ipatiev house to Ana Vyrobova and others were virtual mini sermons, and quite fanatical in a way.

One cannot compare her with Ella, who was more sensible and intelligent in many ways, however, I think they shared the same inborn preoccupation with religion, and their own interpretation of it.

My apologies if this offends anyone, but Ella also carried on a bit too fanatically after Serge's death, running around in those robes, giving everything away, and becoming a nun. All a bit weird I think.   




I don't particularly see Ella as "more sensible and intelligent" - I don't know how you judge these things - but I completely agree with the rest of what you say. There was NO difference between Ella and Alexandra in this - if anything, Ella was the far more extreme in her devotion to the Church; Alexandra always searching and tinged by doubts.

But there was no "confusion" on their part in the issue of the monarchy and the Orthodox Church - Alexandra, Nicholas, Ella, Serge - ALL these people believed - or trained themselves to believe - that their position was  an intrinsic part of the their religion; and the Church encouraged them to. Any "Tsar martyr" website you come across these days says the the same thing still. Nicholas inherits sainthood by virtue more or less of who he was. It has been very interesting to study this idea.
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #639 on: January 19, 2010, 03:41:44 PM »
Had Russia had a different system of Government it might not have caused her problems but unfortunately she alienated the people who were traditionally the Crown's most loyal supporters and a general air of dislike is soon diseminated to a wider audience.

I am not sure I agree with this bit. Maria Feodorovna may have been popular amongst this class of people, but it did not stop her being hated in the country at large - and that's no exaggeration; she required particular protection from assassination attempts because for the first ten years at least she was perceived as behind most of Nicholas's policies. The days when the aristocracy were "opinion leaders" were past. Nicholas and Alexandra's error was not in alienating some of these people but in failing to make strong bonds with anyone else, despite their efforts with the press and the church. The aristocracy did not lead the revolution, nor could they prevent it, and their support for the crown was greatly compromised firstly by the Great Reforms and then by the agricultural/industrial policies which Alexander III initiated and pursued in the eras of Vyshnegradsky and Witte. Stolypin's land reforms compromised things further, and it takes too narrow a view of things, in my opinion, to lay this at Alexandra's door for her failure to hold parties...some years!
IMHO, Alexandra's unpopularity with these people was a result of the monarchy's decline in support among the aristocracy, not the reason for it.
Note that the Dowager Empress opposed the land reforms, of course - and so many on this forum find her admirable!!!!!!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2010, 03:44:51 PM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline PAVLOV

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #640 on: January 21, 2010, 09:33:07 AM »
Although Nicholas and Alexandra's was a love match, his parents and many others ( Including Queen Victoria ) were not keen on the match. Queen Victoria hated everything Russian.
In the end they  gave in to their sons constant "whining' about her, and allowed the marriage. 
In hindsight ( which is a wonderful thing  ) they should have influenced the situation more practically. In those days marriages were largely arranged among the Royal Families of Europe. If they fell in love somewhere along the way it was a bonus.
I think Nicholas's parents were very much to blame for the disasters that followed their sons marriage.
Although for N and A it was a good marriage, she was also marrying Russia. They should have realised which was more important. Their sons happiness by marriage a shy blushing arrogant young girl from a minor German family, or her suitability as a future Empress of Russia.
After all, they had years to " check ' her out properly.
Marie Feodorovna realised very early on that Alexandra was unsuitable. This fact is documented extensively.
Her character and personality was totally unsuited, from every aspect, and they knew it.
Also they must have known that she came from a branch of the British Royal family who carried the haemophilia gene.

They should not have approved the marriage. They had the power and influence to do so. Yet they allowed it.
 
I wonder if MF ever regretted this as she watched the disaster unfolding around her ? I think her letters, and those of other Romanov relatives  attest to the fact that she did. Very much.

I think MF was largely a very sensible person, and one wonders what her regrets were in the last years of her life ?

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #641 on: January 21, 2010, 10:12:55 AM »
Pavlov

I agree with much of what you say, but i think Nicholas's parents' decision to approve the marriage had a lot to do with his father's serious illness and approaching death. It would have been only human nature for Alexander not to want to go to his grave in anything less than harmony with his heir, especially as he seems to have been a very family-orientated and kind-hearted man.

Of course, Alexander and Marie Feodorovna had had the expereince of an arranged marriage (with Alexander as second choice and substitute at that) which turned out extremely happily.

Ann

Offline mcdnab

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #642 on: January 21, 2010, 03:52:05 PM »
Janet I was perhaps being too oversimplistic for space (I'd already waffled on quite a bit). I certainly wasn't intending to imply that MF was everyone's darling at all.

I think though it is important to appreciate a few facts:
The power and prestige of the Russian Aristocracy (particularly the minor country nobility) had been severely damaged by two things - growing industrialisation and the reforms of the 19th Century. They on the whole and unlike many of their western contemporaries had failed to adapt to changing circumstances. However to say they no longer led society is not strictly true in terms of culture, fashion and art they certainly did still lead and politically they still made up the vast majority of the Empire's administrators and after 1905 they still wielded considerable influence (whatever side they came down on) within the new Duma. Alienating many of them was certainly not an ideal way to proceed HOWEVER there was certainly a considerable section of the higher aristocracy who beleived the game was up and were looking after number one. It's arguable whether a different Consort would have made any difference.

I tend to prescribe to the view that the damage was done before Nicholas succeeded - although a different man with a different wife might have been able to salvage something. Depending on which historian is flavour of the month a general view of RUssia prior to First World War and after the failed revolution of 1905 was a state improving certainly in terms of industrial production and in terms of gaining some kind of political stability - many exiled leftists for example bemoaning the situation believing falsely that the time had come and gone.
Of course that's a false picture because the left within Russia hadn't given up at all and were still subject to the rigours and restrictions of life in what was still essentially an autocratic state.
But Russia wasn't like other countries she had a limited but growing intelligentsia and small middle class and a vast peasant class that really didn't care a great deal about anything beyomd the immediate need to survive (and for most of them life changed very little between Nicholas, Lvov, Kerensky and Lenin). The vast majority of the revolutionary movement was based within Russia's growing industrial sector and was lead by people many of whom would due to their professions have held minor noble status. The Russian Revolution was no peasant uprising.

Your correct Alex alienated the aristocracy and did little to attract the affection and loyalty of the great mass of the Russian population - she believed (as did Nicholas) in the great Russian myth of the distant Tsar as a benevolent god like landowner who cared but was so remote as to be useless that might still have held some worth amongst some sections of the population but had no meaning to those peasants forced from the land to work in the new factories in Moscow, Petrograd or Kiev where conditions were truly appalling even by the standards of the time.

The reason the Russian Monarchy collapsed in on itself was that no-one including many of the Romanovs cared that much for it anymore.

As to Marie Feodorovna - certainly she was subject to the same threats as many fo the family from revolutionaries again she is difficult to read because she wasn't a very clever woman although not as stupid as her sister (and i don't mean that unkindly) - she tended to be more pro reform when in the company of her relations and when in Denmark and far less pragmatic when back in Russia. Nicholas certainly did listen to her - but on the whole her support of certain ministers in the first few years was fairly sound (men such as Witte for example) and your right even the British left wing described her as the "evil genius" of Nicholas II's reign when she arrived in Britain in exile after the revolution. However her influence in the later years had faded considerably to the point where some in the family believed any intervention she made would end badly. She was on the whole reasonable (described as eminently sensible by one recent historian) tended to listen to both sides even when she personally vehemently disagreed, more importantly she had a far more practical and pragmatic approach, she had no obscure mystical view of religion but within her own family was a stickler for the correct form and behaviour. Her biggest failing - the appalling education she and her husband gave all their children which probably permanently destroyed any independent thought or consideration of veering from tradition.

Had Russia had a different system of Government it might not have caused her problems but unfortunately she alienated the people who were traditionally the Crown's most loyal supporters and a general air of dislike is soon diseminated to a wider audience.

I am not sure I agree with this bit. Maria Feodorovna may have been popular amongst this class of people, but it did not stop her being hated in the country at large - and that's no exaggeration; she required particular protection from assassination attempts because for the first ten years at least she was perceived as behind most of Nicholas's policies. The days when the aristocracy were "opinion leaders" were past. Nicholas and Alexandra's error was not in alienating some of these people but in failing to make strong bonds with anyone else, despite their efforts with the press and the church. The aristocracy did not lead the revolution, nor could they prevent it, and their support for the crown was greatly compromised firstly by the Great Reforms and then by the agricultural/industrial policies which Alexander III initiated and pursued in the eras of Vyshnegradsky and Witte. Stolypin's land reforms compromised things further, and it takes too narrow a view of things, in my opinion, to lay this at Alexandra's door for her failure to hold parties...some years!
IMHO, Alexandra's unpopularity with these people was a result of the monarchy's decline in support among the aristocracy, not the reason for it.
Note that the Dowager Empress opposed the land reforms, of course - and so many on this forum find her admirable!!!!!!

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #643 on: January 24, 2010, 10:07:40 AM »

As to Marie Feodorovna - certainly she was subject to the same threats as many fo the family from revolutionaries again she is difficult to read because she wasn't a very clever woman although not as stupid as her sister (and i don't mean that unkindly) - she tended to be more pro reform when in the company of her relations and when in Denmark and far less pragmatic when back in Russia. Nicholas certainly did listen to her - but on the whole her support of certain ministers in the first few years was fairly sound (men such as Witte for example) and your right even the British left wing described her as the "evil genius" of Nicholas II's reign when she arrived in Britain in exile after the revolution. However her influence in the later years had faded considerably to the point where some in the family believed any intervention she made would end badly. She was on the whole reasonable (described as eminently sensible by one recent historian) tended to listen to both sides even when she personally vehemently disagreed, more importantly she had a far more practical and pragmatic approach, she had no obscure mystical view of religion but within her own family was a stickler for the correct form and behaviour. Her biggest failing - the appalling education she and her husband gave all their children which probably permanently destroyed any independent thought or consideration of veering from tradition.



I agree with you - she is very hard to read, not least because she tends to be remembered by the "high points" of her career, which took place at historically significant moments, such as her urging Nicholas to give in to demands for reform in 1905. But only a year earlier she - along with Serge Alexandrovich and Witte - actively opposed any such thing and ensured the defeat of proposals tabled by Mirskii (another minister who was a friend and associate of hers) at a time when the government had the initiative. Later, the reforms were effectively forced from them by defeat and the 1905 revolution, and although she was by then desperate for Nicholas to make them, by 1906 she was back on the sidelines once more urging Nicholas to hold fast to his title of autocrat in his restatement of the Fundamental Laws. Thus he created the confusion that pertained thereafter as to the exact status of the Duma.

In the end, Nicholas always did as he felt his conscience dictated, regardless of the views of Mama, Wify or anyone else, but the Dowager Empress was never slow with her views, and many of her suggestions (ranging from using state funds to bale out her friends to giving Russia's military support to any relative who found themselves in bother on the international stage - viz. George of Greece in Crete) were far from sensible. By and large it seems to me that her decisions and views were always propelled by emotion. At times, this means she can be seen as pragmatic under duress where Nicholas was stubborn, but there are plenty of other instances where her actions seem unwise at best.
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Alexandra's Personality Traits - Good & Bad
« Reply #644 on: January 25, 2010, 04:44:01 AM »
... In the end, Nicholas always did as he felt his conscience dictated, regardless of the views of Mama, Wify or anyone else, but the Dowager Empress was never slow with her views, and many of her suggestions (ranging from using state funds to bale out her friends to giving Russia's military support to any relative who found themselves in bother on the international stage - viz. George of Greece in Crete) were far from sensible. By and large it seems to me that her decisions and views were always propelled by emotion. At times, this means she can be seen as pragmatic under duress where Nicholas was stubborn, but there are plenty of other instances where her actions seem unwise at best.

Janet I agree with your assessment regarding M. F.

Had her son, Nikolai II maintained the same ruling as had AIII -  that she should keep herself to other matters and not become embroiled in political intrigue, many of the difficulties we are discussing here, would not have come to pass. IMO she skillfully polarized society and most of her family to Alexandra Fyodorovna's detriment.

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