Author Topic: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated  (Read 293805 times)

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Alixz

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #600 on: October 20, 2009, 08:18:43 AM »
Belochka - it is good to see you back.  You were not posting for a while and I among others missed you.

As to saying that she could have gotten off her "duff", I could have said "a**", but I didn't.

Alexandra is an enigma and always will be.  Most of us here have read the same books and some have read others in other languages (I am envious of those who can read the originals in Russian).  From what I can tell from my readings, Alexandra didn't want the job of Empress, but she did want it.  She didn't like what she had to do to be Empress and ignored that part.

She did cloister her children and if it weren't for their Aunt Olga and Grandmother, they would have had no social life at all.  Xenia and Sandro allowed the marriage of their only daughter to a man that no one was quite sure of (Felix) because they were in love, but Alexandra could not see anything but rank first and then love.  When considering Dmitri Pavlovich remember that he was Nicholas's first cousin not Olga's.

She did turn her daughters into her own care givers.  Her health was almost as important as Alexei's and every day turned on whether or not Alexei or Alexandra felt well.

It is too bad that my foremost image of Alexandra is of her lying in that over emphasized "mauve" room with yet another "illness" while she did not attend to her duties.  Then delegated her duties to her eldest daughters as they grew old enough to take on the responsibilities.

That is until the war and Alexandra's sudden "transformation" from invalid to nurse.  This transformation, to me, shows that she was never that sick to begin with.  Being a nurse is no lightweight job.  Not now and certainly not in the early 1900s during a war.  All of those "imagined" illnesses just disappeared and suddenly Alexandra is a tower of strength.

I know that Alexandra has her supporters and her detractors.  Personally, I have been on both sides, but I mostly come down on the detractor side as IMHO she was a hypochondriac who used her "illnesses" to get out of doing what she didn't want to do - mainly her job as Empress.  She wanted the title, the man and the living conditions, but she didn't want to have to pay her dues to the Russian people.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 08:20:14 AM by Alixz »

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #601 on: October 20, 2009, 08:52:51 AM »
Alixz

I agree, it is interesting that Alexandra's illnesses all vanished and she metaphorically leaped from her bed as the war began and she found a purpose in life. I wonder whether things would have worked out differently had she kept away from the business of government and confined herself strictly to nursing and organising relief works.

There are some people who 'enjoy' illness (consciously or not), whether their own or someone else's (usually their child's). They enjoy the fuss they get, whether as the sufferer or as the devoted mother of the invalid, and the exemption they get from ordinary responsibilities. I think Alexandra was one of these.

On a lighter and purely tangential note, I was initially puzzled by your use of the word 'duff', as in British English duff refers to a kind of suet pudding, usually wrapped in a cloth and boiled up (as in plum duff or figgy duff). A moment's vision of the regal Alexandra sitting on a suet pudding!

Ann

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #602 on: October 20, 2009, 10:29:40 AM »
 
Quote

....1913 was the low point of Alexandra's life in the sense that her  health completely collapsed after Spala; almost a form of PTSD.


Certainly that is a good point . It would be interesting to see other years diaries. 

Quote
I have always thought that she did see the need for her daughters to see others in the sense that she allowed them to go to these parties; her own health did to act as an excuse to prevent this happening, though she was in absolutely no state to host such things.


true on both counts....but she wouldn't have  the taste to do whatever her health. However perhaps all concerned were glad how it turned out the way it did. The girl's aunt and grandmother could  treat them and  spend  time with them.  And the girls  could  spend hours partying  free from worrying if AF was getting tired and what that cost them later. That concern would have been a cloud over a party hosted by AF , for sure.  No wonder after these parties Olga says,"  I was very, very happy ". ( it had to do with certain officers being there too! )

Quote
The girls lived lives rather separate from Alexei's; he spent most of his time with his tutors. I do agree with you though that she often expected the elder girls to assume a caring role towards her as they grew up.

Again insight can be gained when one remembers Alexandra  was raised a good deal in the English court where is was a  tradition
of turing at least one daughter into a lady in waiting...that is,  a care giver. One of Victoria daughter's was allowed to marry late in life only  if she kept her care giving role and  Queen Mary's daughter  was never allowed  to lmarry at all. Lucky for OTMA they were four and could spread the job around ! Marie was fully on board as a AF care giver by the end.
 

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Offline mcdnab

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #603 on: October 20, 2009, 11:15:15 AM »
I don't know so much about the tradition at the English Court - certainly Alexandra (as in Queen Alexandra) had a tendency to treat all her children as children long after they were grown adults very similar to how her parents treated all their children and how her sister Marie Feodorovna treated hers. Victoria certainly expected her younger daughters to remain with her but they did marry. Victoria herself expressed concerns to Bertie about her granddaugthers and their marriages Bertie agreed with her though expressed an opinion that he didn't believe Toria inclined to marriage and marriage for the others didn't stop either Marie F or Alexandra expecting all their daughters to dance attendance.
Queen Mary's only daughter Princess Mary The Princess Royal married Lord Lascelles later Earl of Harewood and had two sons - Queen Mary was a very differnet style of mother to her mother in law.

To be fair i think in some families it is often common particularly with many families where an older matriarch dominates - my own mother was expected to do a great deal for her mother (most of it willingly i would add) whereas her brother was never exepected to share in any of that.

From my own point of view - Alexandra's isolation from society and what that meant for her children is in many ways what I find hard to forgive or understand. A happy close family is one thing but even as children and with the threat of violence and assasination Nicholas II and his siblings regularly played with the children of court officials and carefully chosen children from within society.
As to her health I am sure that the worry over her son added to her problems and I suspect both made each other worse - her worry transferring to her son when he was ill (hence the success of Rasputin's hypnotic peace calming both of them). Her ability to take up nursing probably reflects her own sense of duty.
I've always found the nursing odd and distinctly un royal - funding hospitals (as her female relations did), touring them and offering comfort would have been far more appropriate and would perhaps have done much for her reputation. Instead she chose direct nursing surrounded by her immediate family and rather isolated yet again.


Offline PAVLOV

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #604 on: October 21, 2009, 07:16:06 AM »
Yes, it is amazing how she suddenly "perked" up in 1914. Almost Biblically miraculous.
 
She grew up in a Victorian atmosphere, where health, illness and death were almost part of daily entertainment. Their letters contain plenty of references to their own and other family members health issues. Death almost seemed cause for celebration, with minute and exact descriptions of the illnesses, death bed scenes and funerals.

Could this all have had an effect on Alexandra ?

Queen Victoria shrank into virtual obscurity after Alberts death, also to the detriment of the Royal family, and had to be coaxed out by the prime Minister. For a long time she neglected her duties totally. I think she felt very sorry for herself, long after she started to recover after Alberts death. And she never allowed anyone to forget how much she was sufferring, and for how long ! A bit unnatural I think. She certainly was not one to "move on".

Could it be that many of Alexandra's illnesses were hypochondriac in nature, and that she "enjoyed" being ill, as it gave her an excuse to avoid people and situations, and thus her duties as Empress ?

Or was she just sorry for herself, because her son was ill ? Her Grandmother perhaps set the example. If one looks at Queen Victoria's family and personal history and everything as a whole, she was a bit of a "Drama Queen" I think.

I dont mean it in a bad or insulting way. She was the greatest Queen of England possibly.

Could her attitude have had a detrimental effect on some of her descendants ? IE Alexandra ?

They also look so miserable in all the family photographs. I know Royalty were not supposed to look " jolly " when having their pictures taken, but they all look positively, desperately, depressed.

Alexandra never smiled. How many photographs do we have of her smiling ? I think I have seen one, somewhere here.
   

Alixz

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #605 on: October 21, 2009, 08:55:09 AM »
We all know that taking a photo in Victorian times could be a long a tedious process and that holding a smile that long would be almost impossible.

However, with the invention of the Kodak Brownie, exposure took much less time and smiles were captured as evidenced in "Anastasia's Album" and other photo histories.

It is the intrinsic sadness in Alexandra's eyes, even in her engagement pictures that has always made me wonder about her character.  Nicholas does not look sad in these pictures, but Alexandra does.  Even in pictures and portraits taken of Alexandra before Alexei was born, she always looks either sad or wistful, never composed or self assured.

Certainly Alexandra had plenty of attention in her life and did not need to be "ill" to get more.

But I think you are right about one thing.  Being ill sometimes does relieve a person from their day to day responsibilities and when that person feels over whelmed illness is sometimes the only way to get people to leave them alone.  And that illness can be an illness they have or that their child has.  It is called Munchausen Syndrome and in the case of the illness of a child, Munchausen by Proxy.

I don't believe that adults consciously fall into Munchausen, but when one is on sensory and emotional overload, it is quite easy to slip into it without even knowing that it is happening.

Alixz

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #606 on: October 21, 2009, 08:56:12 AM »
Alixz

I agree, it is interesting that Alexandra's illnesses all vanished and she metaphorically leaped from her bed as the war began and she found a purpose in life. I wonder whether things would have worked out differently had she kept away from the business of government and confined herself strictly to nursing and organising relief works.

There are some people who 'enjoy' illness (consciously or not), whether their own or someone else's (usually their child's). They enjoy the fuss they get, whether as the sufferer or as the devoted mother of the invalid, and the exemption they get from ordinary responsibilities. I think Alexandra was one of these.

On a lighter and purely tangential note, I was initially puzzled by your use of the word 'duff', as in British English duff refers to a kind of suet pudding, usually wrapped in a cloth and boiled up (as in plum duff or figgy duff). A moment's vision of the regal Alexandra sitting on a suet pudding!

Ann

LOL -  Ah the variances of our "common" language.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #607 on: October 21, 2009, 09:59:15 AM »
Alixz

'But I think you are right about one thing.  Being ill sometimes does relieve a person from their day to day responsibilities and when that person feels over whelmed illness is sometimes the only way to get people to leave them alone.  And that illness can be an illness they have or that their child has.  It is called Munchausen Syndrome and in the case of the illness of a child, Munchausen by Proxy.'

Yes, Alexei really was ill, but Alexandra's reactions to this were extreme. I think Munchhausen's Syndrome and Munchhausen's Syndrome by proxy technically involve fabricated illness (there was a case in Britain last week where a mother had kept her 8-year-old son in a wheelchair for most of his life, with oxygen and being fed through a tube, when there was absolutely nothing wrong with him (she had managed to fool a lot of doctors as well as the boy's father). She pleaded guilty to child cruelty and is awaiting sentence.

Alexandra didn't fabricate Alexei's illness, but (to use an expression of my mother's) she wallowed in it, and wallowed in her own. Alexei's illness was essentially her purpose in life. Once again, I would like to know more about Irene of Prussia and how she coped with two haemophiliac sons.

Ann

Rodion_Felix

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Why did she isolate her children
« Reply #608 on: October 21, 2009, 12:59:25 PM »
That is what i am asking

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #609 on: October 21, 2009, 02:49:56 PM »
Alixz


Alexandra didn't fabricate Alexei's illness, but (to use an expression of my mother's) she wallowed in it, and wallowed in her own. Alexei's illness was essentially her purpose in life. Once again, I would like to know more about Irene of Prussia and how she coped with two haemophiliac sons.

Ann

She at least used her own illness  as a wand of tremendous power over the family  and she ran a very tight ship...seemingly they were all terrified of her. You only had to say, " Alexandra  Feodorovna has a bad headache"  to have the Tsar of all the Russias go deathly pale.

Alexandra had " the terrible strength of the weak " to quote an old proverb. I 've known a good number of care givers who go to the grave well before the supposedly weak care taker. ( isn't funny how we say " care taker"  to mean the one who is giving the care? .... "care taker " should be for the one taking it! )

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Alixz

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #610 on: October 21, 2009, 03:05:38 PM »
Care taker meaning the one who takes the care.  Care giver meaning the one who gives the care.

But you are right, we use care taker for the one who takes the care from the care giver.  In other years, the care taker would be the one like the castle care taker who took care of the castle.


Another (totally off topic example) is the use of over sight.  That used to mean over looked as in "I didn't see the mistake, it was an over sight on my part."  Now oversight is used for those who are over seeing a project as in the "oversight committee".

There also used to be no such word as over fly.  By now jets do it all the time.  It used to be fly over.  It still should be as in the jet flew over the town.  Not the jet participated in a fly over.

Who comes up with these things?  Those with bad English skills?  I wonder if these things happen in other languages as well.

But back on topic and back to Alexandra. 

As to Irene and Henry, we need some information from someone who has researched and/or read about their lives.  After all, they were not as famous as N&A or as Ena of Spain and her husband.

Alixz

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Re: Why did she isolate her children
« Reply #611 on: October 21, 2009, 03:30:11 PM »
I am moving this question to "Alexandra - Slandered and Hated"  This topic is being covered there.

Alixz

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #612 on: October 21, 2009, 04:32:17 PM »

I have been concentrating on Alexandra's upbringing of Alexei, as it was there that the inadequacies showed. Yes, royal and aristocratic parents paid other people to look after their children, but ultimately discipline was a parental responsibility - certainly a paternal responsibility in the case of boys. Look at George V and all those summonses to the library! Maybe Nicholas should have been stricter with Alexei, but I can't help thinking that he wanted a quiet life and wasn't going to come into potential conflict with Alexandra on this one.

Ann

I have seen evidence that Alexandra was concerned at Alexei's behaviour, whether it be asking his father to correct him at Stavka; remarking on one occasion that his sister should have corrected him at table; and urging him in letters "Be a good boy!" I have never seen any evidence that Nicholas attempted to be more strict. Rather, it would seem that he was proud of his son's obstreperous spirit as he was proud of Alexandra's. As I have commented in another thread, Nicholas seemed to go through life with a sense that others did not treat him with the respect he was due as autocrat. The evidence for this is in his words to his cousin Sandro - Alexandra being the only person he trusted - and in the snide tone of his comments on this who opposed him, in a variety of sources ranging form letters to his mother to letters to Alexandra.

Again, though, I am going in circles.

Incidentally, taking up a point you made in earlier post, while parents may chide any child about table manners, I wonder how many normal kids actually listen? I know I was described aged eight as "eating like a barbarian" - my father's words; so does this mean my parents were to blame if I acted up?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 04:56:28 PM by Janet Ashton »
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #613 on: October 21, 2009, 04:37:31 PM »


Again insight can be gained when one remembers Alexandra  was raised a good deal in the English court where is was a  tradition
of turing at least one daughter into a lady in waiting...that is,  a care giver. One of Victoria daughter's was allowed to marry late in life only  if she kept her care giving role and  Queen Mary's daughter  was never allowed  to lmarry at all. Lucky for OTMA they were four and could spread the job around ! Marie was fully on board as a AF care giver by the end.
 

It would probably be over-stating it in my opinion to say she expected them to act as "care-givers" in the way that Beatrice or Olga A or Toria were expected to act as "care-givers" who waited on their mother. But she expected them to be to care as needed as they grew up; and don't forget that the role was reciprocated, e.g. when they were sick.
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few.

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Alexandra - Slandered and Hated
« Reply #614 on: October 21, 2009, 04:53:41 PM »
Yes, it is amazing how she suddenly "perked" up in 1914. Almost Biblically miraculous.
 

   

I'm replying to you, though several here have said the same thing, so it's a proxy for the several of you. The war undoubtedly revived Alexandra's spirit, but it is quite wrong to state that her health changed. A survey of her own correspondence will tell you that.

Ultimately, because we don't have her medical records and wouldn't 100% trust the Edwardian doctors of we did, we don't know whether Alexandra's problems were caused by organic disease or by being overwhelmed by her life - not "wallowing in Alexei's illness" (again, the actual evidence of their correspondence suggests that the children were almost an incidental part of the daily schedule, rather than overwhelming it) but being psychologically crushed as people can be by the events they have lived through. Probably, as Alexandra suggested herself, it was a combination of the two. But I am curious as to why so many people have trouble accepting that idea that the illness MIGHT have been organic? And why is it seen as a stain on her character if it was not?
I could be wrong, but all these references to "illnesses" and biblical miracles are far from dispassionate in tone, and this is where I am inferring the  condescension which scares people off responding in opposition to the consensus view you all seem to have here.   There are people on this board who have done rather more than "read all the same books", yet somehow most of them seem to fight shy of this thread.
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few.