Author Topic: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated  (Read 306304 times)

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #840 on: August 30, 2011, 04:01:55 PM »
Olga - had you lived then you would have been used to corsets and dress that go down to the ankle.  Every woman wore them from age 16 on.

I fact, I still have that "coming of age" thing engraved in my head even though I am not nearly so old and did not live in the 19th century.

Balls were her job.  Talking to people and being hostess was her job.

I agree with Selencia that both she and Nicholas wanted to "pick and choose' what parts of the job they wanted to do and what parts they did not want to do.  Being a good mother is, of course, a good thing, but being a bad Empress is not something she should have "chosen to do".

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #841 on: July 30, 2018, 05:23:44 AM »
This topic has fallen into oblivion for seven years, but I read it in full, and as it is still consulted and it has irritated me much I decided to relaunch it.

Why was the Empress hated by the imperial family and the Russian people?

1st: she was not hated by the Russian people but by "intelligentsia". She may have received false letters, but her travels were still appreciated outside St. Petersburg (Crimea, Novgorod, Pskov ...).

The Empress is a woman who:

- Dare openly to oppose the high orthodox clergy and its avarice

- Openly defended Jews and ethnic minorities (including the persecuted Tartars during the 1914 war)

- To criticize the casual and uninteresting life of the Russian aristocracy. Even Maurice Paleologue criticizes the "culture of boredom" of the Russian aristocracy. The Russian noble does nothing but enjoy himself, seduce and gossip.

- Dare to have friends who were not "normal". Yes, Madame Viroubova, Madame de Buxhoeveden, Rasputin ... were not rich, descendants of Rurik or owners of 300,000 dessiatines of land.

- Dared to take care of his family. I refer to a very nice anecdote of Xavier Paoli.

- Indicated, indirectly, to several members of the Romanov family that they were debauched or incapacitated. This is the case for many of them.

- Has engaged in social assistance in Russia. Reopening of the medical school for women in St. Petersburg, sanatoria (Halila, Crimea ...), sponsorship of university courses of Mrs. Stassova ...

- agreed to give up her beautiful dresses and pearls to treat war wounded. Who on this forum would have taken an arm cut in his hands without wavering?

Of course, she created enemies. She did that with:

- 5 very difficult pregnancies

- A child with hemophilia

- Serious health problems (even the Empress's enemies say she had blue hands, red blotches on her face and arms, drooping cheeks ...).

- The ill-will of the Russian imperial family. For example, Maria Feodorovna refused to abandon the presidency of the Russian Red Cross to the new empress, as is normally the rule.

The Empress had failings. It's not difficult, she admits herself. She was stubborn, irritable, shy, spoke poor Russian and not good French and she was conscious of not being very happy in public. One day she told Madame Viroubova that she was "a ruin". Alexander Spiridovich also says very just things about the Empress: she was very clumsy to show his gratitude to others. She gave a lot, but she was embarrassed to receive attention.

She had failings, but nothing bad. She was a very hard-pressed woman, very persecuted, but generous, altruist, respectful, faithful in friendship, brave, caring, intelligent. She was also funny (in her letters, her drawings ...) and I find full of "self-mockery". She was able to laugh on her own.

I do not say she had the ideal qualities to be a great sovereign. But it is unfair or ignorant not to love, at least a little, Alexandra Feodorovna.

She was the victim of prejudices, rumors.

She suffers = she is cold
She laughs = she is condescending
She says nothing = she is proud
She does not speak Russian = she is not Russian
She speaks Russian by making mistakes = people make fun
She speaks English = she has a "Teutonic" accent
She wears jewelry = she steals Russian wealth (she came from a very poor Grand Duchy)
She does not wear jewelery = she is not a real Russian empress
She defends the autocracy = it is an ultra-monarchist
She defends the Jews = she is too liberal
She refuses to abjure the Protestant faith = she is unloved in Russia
She is baptized in orthodoxy = she is hated in Hesse
She does not care for the wounded = she is indifferent
It deals with the wounded = it does not respect the dignity of its rank
She leaves too much freedom to her daughters = she prepares them badly for the life of court (and to be wives and mothers of big families)
She does not give them enough freedom = she is a possessive mother who suffocates her daughters

These are just some of the aberrations I read in my many readings. Until today I have read about 150 books of testimonies and memories written by contemporaries of the Empress (in French, Russian, English, Serbian, German) and about 5,000 press articles ( especially in French and English) written between 1890 and 1920. I read very few contemporary sources to avoid distortions.

I do not think I am a genius, but have read enough to say that the Empress was a woman who suffered much slander by ignorance or gratuitous wickedness.

I am not perfectly objective (I can not be so with the imperial family of Russia), but I have a PhD in history and the habit of not inventing or distorting the facts. If one must evoke the memory of a woman who can not defend herself, one must at least make the effort to read her writings and the testimonies of her contemporaries, especially the most "neutral".

Sorry if I made mistakes, I wrote a lot, things a little complicated, and I have the impression that some sentences are not very correct.

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #842 on: July 30, 2018, 05:28:22 AM »
A mistake:

"She deals with the wounded". My brain has gone into confusion!

Offline edubs31

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #843 on: July 31, 2018, 09:57:39 PM »
As we see time and again in politics the perception of our leaders (or those closely associated with them such as Alexandra) can turn on a dime as a situation deteriorates. People want scapegoats when times are hard. In the midst of a losing war, bread lines, a rising socialist revolution, and controversies surrounding Rasputin & royal intrigue it's not hard to imagine how N&A went from beloved to reviled by a majority of the Russian people within a few short years.

George H.W. Bush's approval rating stood at 89% after the success of the first Gulf War in early-1991. A year later his rating had plummeted into the 30s and he failed to win reelection in November of 1992. Why? As Bill Clinton once said, "It's the economy stupid!" The US fell into recession, the debt/deficit ballooned, urban plight & crime rates soared, and before long the good feelings surrounding Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War and the Soviet's throwing in the towel on the Cold War dissipated.

Churchill's conservatives got thumped in a shocking defeat to Clement Atlee's Labour Party in the 1945 parliamentary elections in the UK. It would have been hard to find a Brit more popular or respected than Churchill upon the end of WW2 and Allied victory. Yet a majority of British voters didn't think he or his party were the right people to lead England through the post-war rebuild and peace the way they were relied upon to win the War.

My point is that attitudes can change rapidly even when a country isn't in crisis. Considering the state of affairs in Russia after 1914 it's not hard to see why the population would have turned so viciously against an Empress who was never beloved in the first place.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Diotima

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #844 on: November 10, 2018, 02:45:26 AM »
I think it's possible today to understand how easy and comfortable it was for everybody to blame the Empress Alexandra - as if she could have done anything to stop the antagonism against Tsarism that was growing over many decades. A more popular empress like her mother-in-law couldn't have stopped it - her popularity in court circles wouldn't have charmed revolutionaries, intellectuals or political organizers. It's always easy to put the blame on a woman who doesn't conform to expectations. Marie Antoinette is a point in case. Reading Antonia Fraser's biography, it becomes clear how evil the slander against her was.

Alexandra was an introvert, had health problems, and probably didn't totally understand the difficulty of the role of the Russian empress. She wanted to fill this role the way her cousins in Victorian England filled their roles, and the way her mother had done in Darmstadt: by nursing, support for social work and charities. That's actually a much more modern idea than her mother-in-law embodied. She might have succeeded in re-defining the role of the Empress successfully if her first childi had been a healthy son. Or if the government had changed the law to make Olga the heir. After all, Russia had had empresses before. That would have taken pressure from Alexandra.

I count her and Marie Antoinette among the most misunderstood and slandered persons in history. By exaggerating their options of taking actions, they are blamed by their critics for developments that were not in their power to stop. And that exonerates the many actively responsible people around them.

Offline TimM

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #845 on: November 28, 2018, 05:56:12 PM »
I count her and Marie Antoinette among the most misunderstood and slandered persons in history.

All the tragic parallels these two women had in their lives.
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Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #846 on: May 03, 2019, 07:03:51 PM »
Someone needs to write a new updated bio of Alexandra like Douglas Smith did for Rasputin and go back to original sources. Why because some authors have a habit of blaming her for everything. This includes Smith.

Kokovtsov the Prime Minister has Alexandra saying "You are taking too much trouble to honor the memory of your predecessor and you're giving him too much importance." On Stolypin after he was Assassinated.
Buxhouveden in her book "Before the Storm" page 279 has Alexandra writing to her sister Victoria "his Loss is an irreparable one" on Stolypin assassination

On her patients Maria P in her book "Education of a Princess" has her being unable to connect with the patients at the hospital she was working.

Buxhouveden in her books "Before the Storm" and "The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorvna Empress of Russia" has getting along well with them.
griffh on his post on her war relieve work says she received a lot of thank you letters.

Offline James_Davidov

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #847 on: April 29, 2020, 05:15:46 AM »
It is as simple as this.

Alexandra was a contributing factor, especially her disastrous interference during the Home Front period.  But it was a minor factor, compared to the historical issues plaguing Russia, which predated her birth, let alone her marriage into the Imperial Family!

Pick up any serious book on the Russian revolution, and more weight will be given to the reforms of Alexander II, the Duma, and Witte, than the neurosis of the Empress Alexandra.

Perhaps what was a bigger factor was that she was a crowned female figure, in a revolutionary society... and those societies have a tendency to fetishise them, and demonise them, and it helps their cause! Marie Antoinette, Empress Alexandra, Empress Farah, maybe even more recently Grace Mugabe? ... they were all pretty innocent, and had a much smaller impact compared to what the revolutionaries believed them to have... I suppose this is probably connected to some deeper psychology of the patriarchy, who knows?

If I was to write a recipe for a revolution however, the two most important factors on the ingredient list would be...

1 x cup of a weak, ineffective leader, who inherited a dysfunctional state
2 x cups of a strong willed consort, who is vulnerable to be scapegoated by the opposition, because of her lifestyle, origins and associations are a cause célèbre.

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