Author Topic: Alexander III  (Read 145096 times)

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Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #195 on: August 10, 2014, 04:29:06 PM »
Letter from Alexander Alexandrovich to King Christian IX and Queen Louise

Via Annouschka Przybylska

Looks like it was written a 2/3 days after the wedding. Can anyone translate what it says?

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #196 on: August 10, 2014, 04:52:11 PM »
It does not say a great deal, merely that "you can imagine how happy we are that the wedding day finally arrived. It was very exhausting, especially for my dear little Minny. The following day we visited the whole family and it was there I believe that Minny caught cold. Thankfully it is nothing serious and today she is already much better and I am sure that tomorrow..."
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 05:02:32 PM by Greenowl »

Offline Превед

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #197 on: August 10, 2014, 05:16:49 PM »
Letter from Alexander Alexandrovich to King Christian IX and Queen Louise

As you might know, many royals were not strong spellers. This letter page contains two spelling mistakes, as far as I can see:
....nous avons fais > fait
.... je suis sure > sûr

Lovely handwriting, though.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 05:19:10 PM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline wakas

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #198 on: August 10, 2014, 05:25:43 PM »
There is another one:
...immaginer > imaginer.
I like his handwriting too. It's very easy to read.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 05:28:18 PM by wakas »
After death, there is not death, but life.

Offline Превед

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #199 on: August 10, 2014, 05:34:17 PM »
There is another one:
...immaginer > imaginer.

Ô-la-la !

Wonder who would have fared worst in an imperial spelling bee like la dictée de Mérimée, Napoléon III or Alexander III?
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #200 on: August 10, 2014, 05:49:42 PM »
I wonder what a handwriting expert would say about his handwriting. To me it just doesn't match his pictures, its too pretty looking.


I believe Alexander III was a poor student and not very bright academically. His education was neglected by his parents who put all their attention into molding his older brother Nicholas. Even after Nicholas showed delicate health Alexander still only received the average education of a Grand Duke who would enter the military and nothing else.

They basically put all their eggs into one basket, and of course we all know how that ended.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #201 on: August 11, 2014, 04:56:37 AM »
I find it surprising that royal families routinely put their eggs in one basket, given the very high incidence of death in childhood, even among the apparently healthy who had made it through infancy.

The extreme example is, of course, Nicholas and Alexandra with Alexei's.

Ann

Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #202 on: August 11, 2014, 01:40:38 PM »
It really makes no sense at all. In "Little Mother of Russia" when baby Alexander passed away it was stated that every family, even in the upper class, were at risk of losing at least one child. That's part of the reason royal families had so many children, in case something happened there was always back up.

Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna were determined to educate Nicholas so he would share their liberal ideas, yet let their other children grow up to have completely opposite positions because they didn't bother nurturing them the same way. They really played favorites.

Wouldn't they have wanted all of their children to share their ideas? Were they keeping their other children limited so they wouldn't possibly outshine the first born? Didn't they want their eldest son to have the complete backing of his siblings when he became Tsar? An oath of loyalty can only get you so far, as was proven later on! Did they expect their other children to have zero role of importance during their brother's reign? The whole thing makes very little sense to me.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 01:43:17 PM by Maria Sisi »

Offline wakas

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #203 on: August 11, 2014, 02:23:56 PM »
Quote
Wonder who would have fared worst in an imperial spelling bee like la dictée de Mérimée, Napoléon III or Alexander III?

 I'd say Alexander III's main problem in French was not the spelling but a certain lack of vocabulary. In this letter he often repeats the same words and his sentences are very simple, while usually the French sentences must be more elaborated than that. Still I think he was rather fluent in this language.

I don't know about Napoléon III. I guess from what you said he wasn't very good at dictations :-)

Quote
I find it surprising that royal families routinely put their eggs in one basket, given the very high incidence of death in childhood, even among the apparently healthy who had made it through infancy.The extreme example is, of course, Nicholas and Alexandra with Alexei's.

I have another well-known striking example: Louis XVI. His education had been completely neglected because it was his elder brother, Louis-Joseph of France who was expected to become king. But he died at the age of nine and Louis Auguste (future Louis XVI) became the heir apparent. As he was frail, his parents thought he would die young too, so they concentrated their efforts of education on his younger brother. And so, when Louis Auguste became king he didn't have the knowledge required to ascend the throne.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 02:27:19 PM by wakas »
After death, there is not death, but life.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #204 on: August 11, 2014, 03:27:11 PM »
It really makes no sense at all. In "Little Mother of Russia" when baby Alexander passed away it was stated that every family, even in the upper class, were at risk of losing at least one child. That's part of the reason royal families had so many children, in case something happened there was always back up.

Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna were determined to educate Nicholas so he would share their liberal ideas, yet let their other children grow up to have completely opposite positions because they didn't bother nurturing them the same way. They really played favorites.

Wouldn't they have wanted all of their children to share their ideas? Were they keeping their other children limited so they wouldn't possibly outshine the first born? Didn't they want their eldest son to have the complete backing of his siblings when he became Tsar? An oath of loyalty can only get you so far, as was proven later on! Did they expect their other children to have zero role of importance during their brother's reign? The whole thing makes very little sense to me.


Couldn't agree with you more Maria Sisi. Ditto that Ann.

I too always found it strange that Nicholas was being set up as the one and only true heir to the Alexander II legacy. This in spite of the fact that the Tsar produced six male children. Alexander III and Nicholas were only a year apart in age much like Olga and Tatiana Nikolaevna. But unlike the latter pair of Grand Duchess's who were essentially raised and educated together the Tsarevich and future Tsar seemed comparatively distant.

Had the sons of Alexander II been much younger when their father died or, perhaps, had they been separated more in terms of age I could possibly understand why their upbringing and political views would have been different. But neither is the case. The three eldest sons of Alexander II were all in their 30s when the Tsar was killed and all six of them were adults (all over the age of 20). What's more the two eldest sons, as previously mention, were only a year and a half apart in age. Alexander III was less than two years older than Vladimir who was less than three years older than Alexei. Four sons born within a mere 76-months of each other.

It would seem a combination of bad luck and bad decisions plagued the last three Tsar's of Russia regarding their respective heir's. Alexei of course was the only son of Nicholas II and unfortunately a sick child at that. Nicholas II meanwhile was poorly prepared for the role Tsar. Unforgivable when you consider the current Tsar's (Alexander III) own father was killed before his eyes. Alexander III on the other hand, while certainly a capable (if controversial) Tsar, surely was not the successor to his legacy that Alexander II must have wished for.  

Side question...How much of the ideological split between Alexander II/Nicholas and the Tsar's other five sons can be attributed to the emotions of their mother Marie Alexandrovna? It was said that Nicholas's death in 1865 was a tremendous blow that she never fully recovered from. At the same time she was dealing with the emotional effects of her unfaithful husband, something that I would imagine scarred her emotionally. Having put so much effort into Tsarevich Nicholas only to see him die suddenly in his early 20s might have zapped her of the strength necessary to be as attentive a mother towards Alexander. Of course by this point Alexander was an adult, so it doesn't explain why his parents didn't do more to shape the views of he and his brothers beginning at a young age.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #205 on: August 11, 2014, 04:27:21 PM »
Alexander III on the other hand, while certainly a capable (if controversial) Tsar, surely was not the successor to his legacy that Alexander II must have wished for.
 

Well Coryne Hall constantly mentions in "Little Mother" how the split between father and son ideologically and personally seem to grow with every year. Alexander II didn't trust his heir with any real purposeful duties that would help him in his future. He did get to sit on some committees but wasn't allowed to do much else. Alexander II being pro-German while Alexander III being anti-German hurt their relationship a lot too. It became two rival courts that didn't share the same political philosophy and nothing was done to bridge the gap. Instead of becoming his father's partner and learning from him like he should have he was taking his political cues from Konstantin Pobedonostsev. The rest is history.  

When Nicholas died not only did AII abandon his wife he also kind of abandoned his children from her as well. By the late 60s/early 70s he was already playing house with Yekaterina Dolgorukova. The family got together when they had to and that was it. Alexander III was a married man and Vladimir and Alexei were making their own military/navy careers as well. Sergei was 8 when Nicholas died so I'm not sure how he ended up so conservative but apparently Paul did have more liberal leanings. It didn't help that his favorite Maria Alexandrovna came of age and was on the verge of getting married herself around that time too.


Side question...How much of the ideological split between Alexander II/Nicholas and the Tsar's other five sons can be attributed to the emotions of their mother Marie Alexandrovna? It was said that Nicholas's death in 1865 was a tremendous blow that she never fully recovered from. At the same time she was dealing with the emotional effects of her unfaithful husband, something that I would imagine scarred her emotionally. Having put so much effort into Tsarevich Nicholas only to see him die suddenly in his early 20s might have zapped her of the strength necessary to be as attentive a mother towards Alexander. Of course by this point Alexander was an adult, so it doesn't explain why his parents didn't do more to shape the views of he and his brothers beginning at a young age.

Maria Alexandrovna's health was already poor even when Nicholas was alive. She was constantly outside of Russia taking some cure and getting away from the poor weather in St Petersburg. Nicholas's death just turned off the switch inside of her and she just let herself get worse, she pretty much just completely gave up. And of course her husband's affairs only made her suffering worse. By the 70s she was never really healthy enough to do her own duties as Empress let alone try and guide her surviving children towards liberalism. It's a real shame because her children apparently worshiped her, so perhaps she could have possibly convinced her son that his growing conservatism was not the right way.    

I have much sympathy for MA but very little for AII. Losing a child is terrible but it isn't an excuse to completely abandon your family and start a new one. The whole empire suffered because of it.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 04:31:53 PM by Maria Sisi »

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #206 on: August 12, 2014, 05:34:45 AM »
Maria Sisi

I agree with what you say, particularly the last paragraph. Plenty of rulers lost at least one child without doing as Alexander II did. Having an wife who gave herself up to illness and despair cannot have been easy, but he abandoned his legitimate children as well.

More generally, the death rate for children was so high (about 1 in 5 or 6) that it was unusual for couples not to lose at least one child. There was then a much higher incidence of death in young adults than today - particularly from TB and, in the case of women, death in childbirth. My paternal grandmother was one of 10 born to middle-class parents in Liverpool between 1877 and 1892. One brother died at seven, a sister at two, and another sister died in childbirth in her early 30s. My grandmother's elder son then died of TB at 26.

Ann

Offline edubs31

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #207 on: August 12, 2014, 09:29:54 AM »
Pretty wild Ann but I realize all too typical of the common family experience back then.

I have the conversation with people from time to time about life expectancy. There's a common perception that because it was so much lower in centuries past than today that no one, unless very lucky, could expect to live long. In reality it was more the prevalence of young deaths that were so much more common weighing down the average. But if you were able to clear a few hurdles and live healthy into your 30s or 40s you had an excellent chance of reaching into your 70s and beyond. Nowadays if someone does in the early-70s it seems almost premature, and for good reason. My father just turned 70 in July and I would be shocked if he didn't make it at least another 15-20 years.

If you take the averages of a random poll of ten people from a century ago and compare it to today it would often look something like this...

Age at death - 1914
5, 10, 25, 75, 75, 80, 80, 80, 90, 90

Age at death - 2014
25, 75, 75, 80, 80, 80, 80, 90, 90, 90

The average of the 1914 crowd is significantly younger, 61 years, than their 2014 counterparts, 76.5. But that's largely because you have a 5 year old who died from TB, a 10 year old from meningitis, and a 25 year old mother during child birth. 70% of the group still managed to live to at least 75 years of age, and the average of that 75+ crowd is nearly identical a hundred years ago to today.

All that said families needed to be well aware that their "heirs" had a frighteningly good chance of not living (or not living long) into adulthood. I wonder sometimes, as we see in many cases, if the power and money possessed by these royals clouded their perspective. A sort of, "it couldn't possible happen to our child" mindset.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #208 on: August 12, 2014, 09:46:35 AM »
Erik

I agree entirely with what you say. Still with my grandmother's family, two of her sisters lived into their late 80s (I can just remember meeting one of them) and one brother past 80. My grandfather on that side also had two sisters who lived well past 80.

It was less common for people to live past 80 before, say, 1950, but plenty of people reached their 70s. After all, Lloyd George introduced the first British old age pension, for those over 70, in 1909, and there was no shortage of takers.

I'm not a parent, so cannot quite understand the mindset that 'my child can't possibly die', especially as death in childhood happened so frequently as to be quite routine, and bearing in mind that Alexei was haemophiliac, and Louis XVI's elder brother had a degenerative disease which showed itself quite early in life.

Ann

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Alexander III
« Reply #209 on: August 12, 2014, 02:51:31 PM »
My understanding is that Nicholas's disease showed up fairly late on - he wasn't especially sickly as a child and young adult and his sudden deterioration came as a shock to his family.  With regard to his education compared to that of his brothers, I don't think Nicholas was educated so much in liberal views as he was especially prepared for his role, and in this royal families to the present day have continued to give special training to the heirs - as Queen Elizabeth II was given lessons in constitutional history and other aspects of her future role which I am not aware were given to her sister. Indeed, Nicholas's special training was in contrast to many contemporary heirs to the throne, such as Edward, Queen Victoria's heir, and Frederick, the heir of Christian IX of Denmark, who weren't given any particular preparation or responsibilities at all.  It therefore seems to me unsurprising that Alexander III's education should not have been especially attended to in light of future responsibilities until those were a reality.  And in fact, Alexander II was in advance of many of his contemporaries in that he actually gave his new heir any preparation at all, though clearly Pobedonostsev was a mistake if he wanted a liberal influence on his second son.  But Nicholas was only 21 when he died, so his actual involvement in government can hardly have been very great at that point, so it's not so very strange that Alexander didn't rush to give his new heir responsibilities which he would not have been fit to undertake.  And their later divergence of opinions would have discouraged the father giving his son further involvement in the work which it was clear he didn't support - which was pretty much in line with most contemporary rulers who gave their heirs very little to do.

As for liberal views, Alexander II and Maria Feodorovna no doubt brought their children up in the expectation that they would follow their general example and guidance, but I can't see that their second son's more limited education would somehow have been solely responsible for his repudiation of his father's policies.  Alexander II had rejected his father's political policies, after all, and he was brought up by caring parents who no doubt educated him in a far from liberal outlook and an expectation that he would follow in his father's footsteps.  He made his own choices about the way he wished to take Russia forward, and his son Alexander III did the same.  One only has to look at the careful liberal education and family background Frederick and Victoria of Prussia gave their son William, to see that education has very little to do with the political path which an heir might decide to take.  I don't really feel that it was a sort of parental neglect which influenced Alexander III to reject his father's policies, but a very real feeling he had a better way.