Author Topic: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated  (Read 305253 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline isabel

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #405 on: September 18, 2005, 12:42:19 PM »
I still beliving that it was because of political reasons that Alexander III and M F looked with disfavour the choice of his son and i still beliving that they were not informed about the risk of haemophilia.

Even if the Tsar was close to the Hessians ( he had been Alix´s godfather, and he himself was partly Hessian)...the tsarina toathed all things German, ever since Prussia had declared war on her father´s kingdom of Denmark. For me this is an important reason.

The rivality with her sister in law Gran Duchess Vladimir perhaps reinforced her views.

Alexander III and M F prefered Princess Helene daughter of the Comte de Paris (she agreed to change her religion), a marriage to her would strengthen the Franco-Russian pact.

Alix had made a bad impression on Russian society when visiting her elder sister, pathologically shy, clumsy and ill at ease at the court of St. Petersburg....anybody who looked less like a future Empress would be hard to imagine.

Finally Ali´x cousin, Emperor William saw that a Russo-Hessian marriage alliance would go some way towards counter balancing more politically negative aspects of the Franco-Russian treaty. He encouraged Nicky to marry her.


Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #406 on: September 18, 2005, 12:57:08 PM »
One gaping hole in this perfectly valid argument is Queen Victoria's approval of a proposed betrothal between Alix of Hesse and the heir of the heir, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.  

In 1889, when Alix was being actively promoted as a prospective bride - she strenuously declined this most 'glittering' of matches.   Surely had Victoria been aware of the hereditary implications of haemophilia, she would not have even considered Alix an option is the marriage stakes.   It was, afterall, her dynasty which really was at stake.

When Alix's sister, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in the face of the disapproval of their grandmother, actively canvassed support for a marriage between Alix and the then Tsarevich Nicholas - her husband's nephew - given the scenario proposed by Tsarfan, surely Grand Duke Sergei have intervened.   But no, instead, along with his wife, he was a firm supporter of the match.

These objections put forward against the match by Alexander III and Marie Feodorovna were shallow in the extreme, so why on earth did they not play this most fatal of fatal cards?

My feeling is Alexander and Marie were caught on the hop.   The Tsar's nephritic condition had already begun to manifest itself by the early months of 1894.  Although I do not think he believed for a moment he was going to die, I think the shock of his illness must have been devasting for a man who embodied strength and health - a strength which is legendary even today.   In this moment of weakness, they capitulated.

tsaria  

   
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by tsaria »

Offline Tsarfan

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1848
  • Miss the kings, but not the kingdoms
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #407 on: September 18, 2005, 02:28:45 PM »
I agree that Victoria's support of Alix's marriage to Albert Victor is problematic to my hypothesis.

There are at least five possibilities:

1.  I am completely wrong (certainly possible).

2.  No one could or would explain the situation to Victoria.

3.  Victoria determined to ignore the implications and press on with business as usual, relying on faith or chance to protect her line (much as Alexandra was later to do with Alexei).

4.  Victoria fully understood the risk and was simply willing to take it.

5.  Victoria recognized the issue of hemophilia but misunderstood the implications.  Remember that people by then knew that hemophilia passed from mother to son, but they understood very little else of the genetics of transmission.  Victoria might have thought that, once the disease was already in the bloodline, intermarriage would have had no further impact on the odds.  The reinforcement of recessive traits might have simply been beyond her ken and that of her advisors.

Someone e-mailed me to say that Victoria's correspondence with Milford-Haven indicates Victoria clearly understood the issues hemophilia posed for her family, but I haven't been able yet to inquire further.

However, all this goes only to what Victoria knew or cared to confront.  What Alexander and Marie might have known was something quite separate.  Remember that Marie, whom some have reported to be the more determined objector to the match, was likely to be getting "back channel" information about the British royal house from her sister, Alexandra.  Surely there were at least some in that house who were taking notice of the fact that Leopold, Frederick, and Waldemar had hemophilia.

With Alix's brother and her sister's first son already dead from hemophilia, how could anyone who knew the barest facts of the situation not have entertained the worry that Alix was sitting smack dab in the bulls-eye?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #408 on: September 18, 2005, 02:58:34 PM »
But what about Grand Duchess Elizabeth, moreso, Grand Duke Sergei both active proponents of the match?   Ella was an intelligent, aware woman.   Nonetheless, I can understand there may have been strong personal reasons why she wished to have her sister closer.   But HE was equally enthusiastic about the match between his nephew and his sister-in-law.   Would Sergei, had he been appraised of the disastrous implications which lay in this union, really have been prepared to see his own family and the Romanov Dynasty jeopardised?  

Also, it is difficult to imagine that Marie Feodorovna compartmentalised her life to the extent that she did not share such overwhelmingly important information passed to her by her sister, with her husband.   This is not a sufficiently strong reason to attribute Marie's oppostion to the marriage.   There was a personality clash between Marie and Alix from the word go.   They did not have a single iota in common.

It would be fascinating to learn more about the Queen Victoria/Milford Haven correspondence.

tsaria  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by tsaria »

Offline isabel

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 197
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #409 on: September 18, 2005, 03:51:37 PM »
Yesterday i suggested that Alix was proposed to marry Eddy, Prince of Wales, and that for me it was a reason about the  subjet we were discussin.(I thougth i was discussing too)

Nobody commented my suggestion, today it has been commented when tsaria has posted the same reason than me.

Perhaps my english is not understanding (for me is an effort to express me ) Or perhaps the reasons i am posting are wrong, but i would like to know if they are valids or not.

Does someone appart me think, that maybe political reasons were the reason of the disagrement of Alexander III and M F about Alix?


Offline Tsarfan

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1848
  • Miss the kings, but not the kingdoms
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #410 on: September 18, 2005, 03:59:40 PM »
(Sorry, Isabel.  Your above message came up while I was composing the following post.  I think it perhaps addresses your earlier points.  I find your English quite understandable.)

I didn't mean to imply that Marie would not have told Alexander everything she heard.  I was suggesting that Marie might have taken medical risks and the advice of doctors more seriously.  (Consider the wide variation today in how people react to the risks to their own health of smoking.)

I'm not a particular fan of Alexandra but, when you take hemophilia out of it, I really cannot see why she would have seemed such an unsuitable match in the early 1890's.

Yes, she was a bit reserved and socially awkward.  And yes, she and Marie were oil and water.  But she came from a major royal line and lived in the close orbit of one of the four principal monarchs of the era.  I have trouble accepting that this array of plusses and minuses would have led Alexander and Marie to deny Nicholas a match he desperately wanted and to saddle him with one he abhorred.

And, as I said earlier, I cannot buy the stated political reasons -- Alexander's dislike of things English or his desire to foster the Franco-Russian alliance.  His sister-in-law was in waiting to become the Queen of England.  And his committment to a French alliance was opportunistic and fraught with an underlying suspicion of republicanism.  I seriously doubt whether he would have saddled his son with a life-long marital committment in furtherance of a diplomatic alliance which he viewed with trepidation.  (Remember, Alexander was not a proponent of Romanov males marrying in one direction and then dallying in another.  I think he would have attended seriously to Nicholas' desires regarding marriage, up to a point.)  Even so, marrying into the line of Bourbon pretenders was hardly an effective device for exercising decisive influence over French political affairs.

I really don't know what to make of Serge's and Ella's support of the match.  Perhaps supporting Alexander's and Marie's objections -- if they were, in fact, privately grounded in hemophilia -- would have implied an admission that their own marriage had been foolhardy in risking the introduction of the disease into the Romanov bloodline.

I do know that Ella knew both she and Alix had lost an uncle, a brother, and a nephew to hemophilia.  From that I conclude that she, if no one else in Russia, must have understood that Alix risked bringing the disease into the direct line of succession if she married the tsarevitch.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #411 on: September 18, 2005, 04:10:19 PM »
Isabel - on the contrary your English is excellent - my Spanish is non-existent, I am sorry to say.   Additionally to be able to write English on a subject as complex and as potentially inflammatory as this, shows a remarkable understanding of a foreign language.   I salute you.

I used the example of Queen Victoria's approval of a possible marriage between her grandson and granddaughter, purely to make the point that I believe the Queen would not wished to have damaged the British crown and leave such a tragic and negative legacy which would forever implicate herself.

I agree Marie Feodorovna had no great love for the various German royal houses and certainly little for her sister-in-law, Maria Pavlovna, but that was family politics.
 
The situation was very complex and lying at its very heart was the resolute love of, the young, Tsarevich Nicholas for Alix of Hesse.

If Tsarfan's hypothesis is correct and all the participating families - Windsor, Hesse and Romanov - were fully aware of the potentially disastrous implications for the Romanov Dynasty which this marriage represented, ALL of them were blind, ALL of them were reckless, EACH and EVERYONE of them IS culpable.

tsaria
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by tsaria »

Offline grandduchessella

  • Global Moderator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 13039
  • Getting Ready to Move to Europe :D
    • View Profile
    • Facebook page
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #412 on: September 18, 2005, 04:13:46 PM »
There was discussion about hemophlia by the 1890s within the family.

QV wrote to VMH about a possible match between Maud & Ernie but then worried that Maud could be a carrier. Obviously  it wasn't known yet that Maud couldn't be (at least through the QV link) but she was worried about Maud's general weak health and the first cousin connection. It's ironic that she didn't worry about this when promoting the Alix/Eddy match when the circumstances were similar and Alix had a chance of being a carrier due to Frittie's condition as well as Irene's son Waldemar. Henry Jr was born (and died) before Alexei was born (both in 1904 so perhaps not the death) but after Alix & Nicholas married.

I believe I did read that AIII & MF had concerns regarding the hemophilia issue as well as the general health of Alix. Mostly though it seems that they just didn't care much for her. She didn't make a favorable impression on her visits to see Ella and at other gatherings. Plus she wasn't considered English but German and, despite the Hesse/Romanov as well as the Hesse/Danish connection, MF did not care for Germans. Also the religious issue. MF had been in Russia long enough to know the importance of this and with Alix so unwilling to convert, she couldn't have foreseen that Alix would later become very devout. QA apparently disliked the potential match with Eddy for much the same reasons--German, personality, etc... I'm sure the 2 sisters consulted each other.

As for any rolling of the dice, that's true to an extent. I think it's true for anyone who carries a hereditary disease. Even today with great medical technology, there are some diseases passed on to children that are fatal. Anyone looking to marry and have children are faced with the same choices. Alix & NII loved each other and took the chance. It ended badly but Alexei had a chance of not being infected--even Irene had a non-hemophiliac son. It wasn't a 100% guarantee. Plus the Romanovs fathered a great number of sons--Alix's troubles both with her pregnancies and NII fathering so many daughters couldn't have been foreseen. There was probably every reason to believe that even if a son had hemophilia, there would be other sons who were healthy. That might sound cold-blooded but the 'heir and a spare' applied for a reason. As was pointed out, MF lost 2 of her sons before Alexei was born--illnesses and accidents could strike at any time.

By 1905 when Ena married Alfonso of Spain it was certainly discussed. Later when hemophilia took such a toll on their family, Alfonso would bitterly complain that he had been 'deceived' whereas in reality he had been informed that Ena's brother Leopold was a hemophiliac and took the chance. He chose to believe that because Ena had 2 other brothers and looked the picture of health that all would be fine. He had an even more important need for a son. NII at least had 2 brothers (at least until 1899) who could inherit and numerous cousins (like them or not). If AXIII died without a male heir, the throne would go to another branch of the family.

Alexandra would have good reasons to keep Alexei's illness a secret. One was the superstitious nature of Russia. She had always been regarded with some suspicion after she arrived in Russia 'behind a coffin'. As Ena (who also married into a very religious, superstitious country) found out, all kinds of rumors could start. In Spain it was rumored that a soldier had to be sacrificed each day so that his blood could be given to the Prince of the Asturias. Also, and going back to the original topic, AF was surrounded by enemies. If I had so personal a torment, I wouldn't want people who hated me to know about it. HOw much sympathy would she have gotten? If just would've been more for them to chew on--look AF can't produce a son, look she finally does and he's 'deficient', AF is such a bad Empress and now she's fallen down on her primary duty. Miechen would've started planning Kyril's succession then and there--Michael nonwithstanding. As suspcious as she was, AF could very well have figured Alexei's life may be in danger of ambitious relatives.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by grandduchessella »
They also serve who only stand and wait--John Milton
Come visit on Pinterest--http://pinterest.com/lawrbk/

Offline Tsarfan

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1848
  • Miss the kings, but not the kingdoms
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #413 on: September 18, 2005, 04:28:33 PM »
We should be mindful of a key difference between Britain and Russia when comparing Victoria's possible concerns about hemophilia to Alexander's and Marie's:  women could ascend the throne in Great Britain, but not in Russia.  Hemophilia was of more consequence in Russian dynastic affairs.

Granduchessella's last paragraph, above, brings us back full circle.  I think hemophilia lay near the core of the imperial family's resentment of Alexandra.  And I think Alexandra and Nicholas knew it.  And I think that knowledge played a key role in the extended charade they played about preparing Alexei to rule.  They felt they could yield no ground without ceding the war.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #414 on: September 18, 2005, 04:35:57 PM »
Yes Ella, Alix of Hesse's attitude towards changing her religion certainly would not have endeared her to the Orthodox Tsar of Orthodox Russia.

Ella, may I ask, where did you learn of Alexander and Marie's awareness of the haemophilia factor and its possible existence in the genes of Alix of Hesse?   Did they appreciate it probably disastrous results?

Nicholas II's sister, Xenia produced one daughter followed by five sons.   It is ironic that the one sibling of Alexander and Marie who managed to produce four daughters and then one, sadly, compromised son was their heir.  

An 'heir and the spare' - now, I wonder where I've heard that before.

Has there ever been a satisfactory explanation as to why Alexandra had no other children after Alexei?  

As a woman in 2005, I abhor the very notion of any member of my sex being used as a 'womb', but the Empress of Russia was in very different situation.  

Was it that she was, understandably, physically and emotionally, exhausted after bearing five children + miscarriage(s) and a phantom pregnancy?   I know there is evidence that the Imperial pair did practice contraception (outwith the laws of their Church), but there seems to have been no impetus on their part to produce a spare to their heir.

Tsarfan touches on another interesting thought.   Apart from Helene of Orleans, what other 'suitable' princesses were available on the royal marriage market at the time?

tsaria

 
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by tsaria »

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #415 on: September 18, 2005, 04:44:57 PM »
Quote
There was discussion about hemophlia by the 1890s within the family.

QV wrote to VMH about a possible match between Maud & Ernie but then worried that Maud could be a carrier. Obviously  it wasn't known yet that Maud couldn't be (at least through the QV link) but she was worried about Maud's general weak health and the first cousin connection. It's ironic that she didn't worry about this when promoting the Alix/Eddy match when the circumstances were similar and Alix had a chance of being a carrier due to Frittie's condition as well as Irene's son Waldemar. Henry Jr was born (and died) before Alexei was born (both in 1904 so perhaps not the death) but after Alix & Nicholas married.

I believe I did read that AIII & MF had concerns regarding the hemophilia issue as well as the general health of Alix. Mostly though it seems that they just didn't care much for her. She didn't make a favorable impression on her visits to see Ella and at other gatherings. Plus she wasn't considered English but German and, despite the Hesse/Romanov as well as the Hesse/Danish connection, MF did not care for Germans. Also the religious issue. MF had been in Russia long enough to know the importance of this and with Alix so unwilling to convert, she couldn't have foreseen that Alix would later become very devout. QA apparently disliked the potential match with Eddy for much the same reasons--German, personality, etc... I'm sure the 2 sisters consulted each other.

As for any rolling of the dice, that's true to an extent. I think it's true for anyone who carries a hereditary disease. Even today with great medical technology, there are some diseases passed on to children that are fatal. Anyone looking to marry and have children are faced with the same choices. Alix & NII loved each other and took the chance. It ended badly but Alexei had a chance of not being infected--even Irene had a non-hemophiliac son. It wasn't a 100% guarantee. Plus the Romanovs fathered a great number of sons--Alix's troubles both with her pregnancies and NII fathering so many daughters couldn't have been foreseen. There was probably every reason to believe that even if a son had hemophilia, there would be other sons who were healthy. That might sound cold-blooded but the 'heir and a spare' applied for a reason. As was pointed out, MF lost 2 of her sons before Alexei was born--illnesses and accidents could strike at any time.

By 1905 when Ena married Alfonso of Spain it was certainly discussed. Later when hemophilia took such a toll on their family, Alfonso would bitterly complain that he had been 'deceived' whereas in reality he had been informed that Ena's brother Leopold was a hemophiliac and took the chance. He chose to believe that because Ena had 2 other brothers and looked the picture of health that all would be fine. He had an even more important need for a son. NII at least had 2 brothers (at least until 1899) who could inherit and numerous cousins (like them or not). If AXIII died without a male heir, the throne would go to another branch of the family.

Alexandra would have good reasons to keep Alexei's illness a secret. One was the superstitious nature of Russia. She had always been regarded with some suspicion after she arrived in Russia 'behind a coffin'. As Ena (who also married into a very religious, superstitious country) found out, all kinds of rumors could start. In Spain it was rumored that a soldier had to be sacrificed each day so that his blood could be given to the Prince of the Asturias. Also, and going back to the original topic, AF was surrounded by enemies. If I had so personal a torment, I wouldn't want people who hated me to know about it. HOw much sympathy would she have gotten? If just would've been more for them to chew on--look AF can't produce a son, look she finally does and he's 'deficient', AF is such a bad Empress and now she's fallen down on her primary duty. Miechen would've started planning Kyril's succession then and there--Michael nonwithstanding. As suspcious as she was, AF could very well have figured Alexei's life may be in danger of ambitious relatives.


What an excellent post in terms of addressing the issues involved. I also think that it makes sense that Victoria RI may have clung to a hope that Alix was NOT a carrier, but even so --- no one could have foreseen the four daughters coming before the only son. It might have been forgivable for Alix to have had one sickly son among three, as Marie Feodorovna herself did.

As far as other royal princesses available for Nicholas, would Toria of Wales have been a viable candidate?
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #416 on: September 18, 2005, 04:49:38 PM »
Same problem, Louis_Charles - HAEMOPHILIA

tsaria

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #417 on: September 18, 2005, 04:52:51 PM »
Right you are. Although if it was known to pass through the mother as opposed to the father, they might have thought she wasn't a carrier.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Louis_Charles »
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline grandduchessella

  • Global Moderator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 13039
  • Getting Ready to Move to Europe :D
    • View Profile
    • Facebook page
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #418 on: September 18, 2005, 04:52:55 PM »
Tsaria--I think the reference was in one of the modern biographies on either Alix or MF. I don't have my books in front of me until I move into the new house though.  :(  (I hate that)

I think the consensus is that between the hemophilia and the difficulties Alix had with her health, that's why they didn't have more children. Each pregnancy wore on her so much--what if they'd tried for another one, severely damaged her health and the children was either a girl or another hemophiliac. It's just my opinion, but I've always had an image of NII being decisive for once and putting his foot down over it--his devotion to AF overriding anything else.
They also serve who only stand and wait--John Milton
Come visit on Pinterest--http://pinterest.com/lawrbk/

Offline ChristineM

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2882
    • View Profile
Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #419 on: September 18, 2005, 05:06:23 PM »
Thanks Ella (welcome back, its the first time we've met since the hurricane - I'm glad all's well).

Living out of packing cases is no joke.   When you have a young family, I suppose Mummy's books are low in the list of priorities.   Anyway, even though we will have moved beyond this point, I would be very grateful if you'd be kind enough to give me your source.

Like Louis_Charles I agree, you have eloquently summed things up in your closing para.   You also display Nicholas as a man of considerable light given his time and his position.

However, I do still see Nicholas and Alexandra as 'victims'.   Both victims of their respective parenting.   They were a young couple deeply in love.  

Perhaps given her resolute determination not to change her religion, Alexandra was the most perceptive of all the principles.   Perhaps SHE knew the inherent danger she represented, but at the end of the day, she allowed her heart to rule her head.

I still assert that the Windsors, the Hesses, the Romanovs and, given his role in their betrothal, Cousin Willi - were, in the beginning, and at the end CULPABLE.

tsaria