Author Topic: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?  (Read 51678 times)

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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #60 on: September 07, 2004, 05:25:07 PM »
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It was actually Lenchen's daughter, Marie Louise, who had married Aribert of Anhalt.  

Even in her memoirs she pretty much says that Aribert couldn't stand the sight of her.

Her Uncle Bertie said something like "Poor Marie Louise, she has returned the same as when she went..."  something like that anyway.

Yeah, Janet... she just didn't have a clue.


OK, that makes sense. I was about to ask about the confusion as Beatrice had one daughter (Ena) and Alfonso XIII was definitely a skirt-chaser. Yes, it was a shame about ML-she was an interesting woman who should've had a chance at a real marriage. At least Ernie & KR, regardless of where their orientation lay, were true husbands/fathers to their families and seem to have achieved great happiness. Aribert always struck me as a lout. And then to just unceremoniously give her the boot! I love QV just saying 'send my granddaughter home to me'. I don't know about Ducky confiding to Alix--it just strikes me as odd. Firstly, the 2 were never close. Secondly, you'd think that Alix would take Ernie's side in anything. Lastly, Alix was a virgin for God's sake--you weren't even supposed to discuss your wedding night back then. How much could Alix have been aware of then unless on that trip VMH gave her an earful. (Alix certainly seemed to enjoy that side of her marriage). I still can't imagine broaching such a delicate subject with an unmarried girl. I would've approached VMH if I were Ducky. And while it might've been unsatisfactory, they must've had relations somewhat frequently, I'd think. Ernie was well-aware of the need for a son and Ducky was pregnant a total of 3 times, I believe (Elizabeth, miscarriage, stillborn son) in less than 7 years of marriage. How enjoyable they were I wouldn't even hazard a guess. I think EL would've stood a better chance of acceptance in the more liberal climate of Darmstadt than in the Berlin court, but, as has been pointed out, there were several close associates of the Kaiser who were pretty well-known to be gay. The people of Darmstadt had such an affection for his family and they'd given so much.
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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #61 on: September 07, 2004, 05:31:36 PM »
Oops! Thank you, Ilana, you're absolutely right . . . it was indeed Marie Louise, one of the daughters of Prince and Princess (a.k.a. Helena, a.k.a. Lenchen) Christian.

Her autobiography, if I recall correctly  :-/ is My Six Reigns, and is very enjoyable.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Janet_W. »

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #62 on: September 07, 2004, 05:47:54 PM »
Here goes my faulty memory again  :P but I seem to remember reading that while Alix and Nicky were corresponding, prior to their marriage, Alix informed Nicky (or maybe I should say implied) that she knew a lot more than most young women her age, and that very little shocked her.

This may have been true, although there was probably no little bravado in her statement. All the same, I think it unlikely that Ducky would have gone so far as to have told Alix, in detail, the nature of her marriage's failure.  As Grandduchessella points out, the fact that Alix was as yet unmarried would have required Ducky to have used particular "delicacy" in relaying anything to Alix along these lines. And I'm sure Ducky knew that to convey anything as seemingly "impossible" as relations between two men would have resulted in monumental disbelief from her sister-in-law.

Offline Michelle

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #63 on: September 07, 2004, 06:09:42 PM »
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Michelle, I will say this again with all due respect. If you are going to continue persuing history as a career, or a hobby; if you are going to study Child Education, then you are going to have to open yourself up to differing opinions, lifestyles, and religions. If you continue to keep a closed, narrow-minded view of the world, wrapped in the bible, it will serve you no good. I'm not saying that believing in the bible is bad. What I'm saying is you will have to consider other venues to allow growth.

If you choose to work with small children, you will find that a child may have two mommies or daddies. You had better be open to recieve the child and the parents with an unbiased attitude. If not, then you have failed the child and eventually yourself.

You will also find in history that there are events that are unpleasant, and horrifing. You have to be open minded again, to put it into historical context. As you mature in life, you will find yourself meeting all kinds of people from the Jewish, Islamic, faiths, etc. You will work with and know atheists and religious converts. You will work with and know gay people, straights, bi's and transexuals. Again. if you do not open yourself to other's opinions, then my young friend you will lose a wonderful opportunity for a wealth of information and an enlightened view of the world.

I truly wish you well, and I harbour no ill feelings towards you. I hope you look upon the past couple days as a learning experience in acceptance of all people, know matter who or what they are.

In keeping with discussing GD Ernie, I wonder what his reaction would have been had his family shunned him for being bi or gay? What would have been the outcome? Yes we know that Ducky had possible ill feelings towards him, but then she was his wife at the time.

What would have been the outcome if the people of Darmstadt had ostrisized Ernie for being either bi or gay? Would the artistic/enlightened era had flourished?

Many questions to ask yourself, Michelle.

Louise



Sorry about not reducing the quote size. :(  I have no doubt that Ernie was a great guy.  I don't know a whole lot about him, but I don't hold it against him that he was gay.  I just don't like it when people flaunt it, because there's no need.  I have the same view of straight people flaunting it.  Just save it for your own home because some people don't care to see it--there's no reason.  I'm glad that you don't hold it against me, Louise, that I have different views than you and everyone else on this board.  I'm obviously a black sheep. ::)  Your previous post was I'm sure meant in the nicest way, and I appreciate that. :)  I believe the Bible IS the enlightened way, but no one else here does, and I except that.  I'm just sick of arguing.  It's not good for this board or it's users.  I know I've been having high blood pressure the past few days (or at least I'm assuming LOL), and no doubt I'm sure some of you have also been that angry.  And that's definitely not healthy.  

I hope no one takes this post as another comeback or what have you, because it's not.  I simply want peace.  :)

Offline JM

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #64 on: September 07, 2004, 06:21:09 PM »
I like the Bible! It was actually very enlightening, maybe even revolutionary, when it first went on sale. Jesus actually talked to women. :o

I must add that it remains enlightening. :)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jmentanko »

rskkiya

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #65 on: September 07, 2004, 07:32:29 PM »
Please -- lets stay on topic!

Ernst, not religion


R.

Offline masha

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #66 on: September 07, 2004, 09:36:41 PM »
To pick up on Janet's comment about Alix knowing more at a young age than most girls - I suspect that she and her sisters may have been aware of more than meets the eye - especailly Ella, when she mentions to Ernie in one of her letters to him (I beleive well after GD Sergei's death when she was already a nun) that he, her brother was several rungs higher on the ladder of redemption than she. As when ever she got up a few notches she was soon too fall back down to the bottom again.
I recall reading that passage a few times over the years with curiosity to the underlying reason for such a statement....well, perhaps I'm reading too much into it by thinking that Ernie had been successfully fighting off temptation - in whatever form - with his marriage to Onor.

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

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #67 on: September 07, 2004, 11:08:13 PM »
Hm, that's interesting (the letter Ella wrote). I don't think that Alix and her sisters were aware of too much of 'that' side of life when they were young girls, but as grown women--especially those living (like Ella did) amongst St Petersburg society-would probably have their eyes opened pretty quickly. I think if Alice had lived they probably would've been less sheltered than other girls their age, but I don't image QV encouraged Louis to delve too much into intimate matters with his daughters. Re: Ella's quote about redemption--could she just have been speaking of her own (real or perceived) failures? She was awfully devout and as she looked over her life, probably felt she had much to atone for--her treatment of Marie & Dmitri, her love of jewels and other 'shallow' behavior in her younger years, flightiness, any perceived failing in her relationship with her husband or family...etc. Maybe she felt that Ernie was climbing the ladder faster because of his involvement with bettering the lives of Hessians every day through charitable & artistic endeavors, whereas she had to make up for years of 'neglect'. Plus, he had been a successful father to 3 children who loved him, where she had failed in raising Dmitri & Marie; had succeeded at marriage the 2nd time whereas she'd had a troubled marriage; maybe felt he was a better sibling than she? All just speculation of course.  ;)  I find the letter very interesting.
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Offline Martyn

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #68 on: September 08, 2004, 04:36:27 AM »
Fascinating points.  I don't really buy the idea of Ducky confiding too deeply in Alix for all the reasons previously stated.
As married women, I think that they probably did have an idea of what did happen between the sexes (same or otherwise)
We may possibly be  making too much of Ernie's (alleged) sexual activities.  I asked the question earlier as to what we think his attitude might have been towards any suggested same sex activity.  I would hazrd a guess that his approach would be purely recreational and possibly several steps down in importance from any encounters with local ladies.  Just a thought (probably a daft one).......
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bookworm85715836758701

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #69 on: September 08, 2004, 08:16:12 AM »
Maybe Ernie thought of himself as a typical man who slept with the ladies -- "I married twice. I fathered children!" but also occasionally indulged in his quirk with the stable lads. Maybe for him the one didn't have anything to do with the other?

It's hard to say what Alix knew or didn't know. If she knew anything about Ernie's life, I'd say it was later and she may have been the type to blame Ducky for not reforming him. If she'd been a good woman, Ernie wouldn't need to indulge himself with men!

I think Ella may have known something of Ernie's life, particularly after she lived with Sergei, who some also said was gay. I thought Felix Youssopov's account of his conversation with Ella, who was quite close to him growing up, was interesting.

To paraphrase from the conversation in Greg King's book about Youssopov, she said she knew more about Felix's life than he thought she did and that knowledge actually encouraged her, because someone with the capacity for such wicked things was also capable of great good. At that point Felix made a habit of cross-dressing and going about town, probably had affairs with young men and spent money wildly on frivolous things.

Ella told him that she regarded physical sins as less serious in nature than sins of the soul -- not loving others, not caring for others, rejecting God. This is, in some ways, reminiscent of the creed preached by the Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church and even to what Rasputin believed. Ella had an interesting approach to religion, a real blend of east and west. I can only guess that her brother and husband both had some impact on her belief system as well. And she did turn Felix into a do-gooder. He continued to be a real sinner, but he ALSO gave and gave and gave, even when he didn't have much to give after the Revolution.

Offline Helen

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #70 on: September 08, 2004, 11:38:48 AM »
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It's hard to say what Alix knew or didn't know. If she knew anything about Ernie's life, I'd say it was later and she may have been the type to blame Ducky for not reforming him. If she'd been a good woman, Ernie wouldn't need to indulge himself with men!
Bookworm, I know from earlier threads on this board that Ernie and Alix can hardly do any good in your eyes. Could you please give us conclusive evidence that Alix blamed Ducky for Ernie's said homosexuality?! If you can't, please try not to malign them by nasty insinuations. None of us has known Alix or Ernie in person. You don't really know "the type of woman" Alix was - or "the type of man" Ernie was - so please treat them with proper respect.  
"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 Robert_Hall

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #71 on: September 08, 2004, 12:39:54 PM »
Well now, it was and is quite common to blame the wife for the husband's strying- gay or hetero straying. It is totally wrong to do so, I believe, but it does happenFor obvious reasons, I am curious about is what sort of relationships [gay, that is] Ernst did have? Nothing long term it would seem, no one taken under his patronage [unlike Luwig II of Bavaria for example].  No staff, aides or otherwise court figures.
It would seem to me his interest was pretty typical as "just a good time" and not to be taken too terribly seriously, as has been described in various ways here.
Early photographs of obviuos male bonding are fairly easy to find, I have several volumes of them myself. But, all the editors and commentators take pains to note that the photographs DO NOT neccessarily imply a sexual relationship, it was simply very coomon for men to have a closer bond with their male friends than hteir own wives. One can see it even today, particularly in men's somewhat obbsessive interest in sports- where homosexuality is still quite taboo [but of course exists anyway].
So, who were Ernst "lads"?  
I have always been a bit sceptical about a "stable boy in the palace bedroom " story, that would an unlikely rendezvous, just asking to be discovered. In the stable perhps....but not in the palace.
As has been clearly demonstrated in todays royal carry-ons, such behavior is still quite common, and a lot remains hidden, in spite of what does  leak out, if that is a proper way of describing  "shouting it from the rooftops" [media].  
We will most likely never know the truth about all this, it not the material for love poems or even nasty widespread gossip.
Ernest's reputation can be done no harm, his achievements, like Ludwigs overshadow any small "scandal".
Cheers,
Robert
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bookworm85715836758701

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #72 on: September 08, 2004, 02:26:12 PM »
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Bookworm, I know from earlier threads on this board that Ernie and Alix can hardly do any good in your eyes. Could you please give us conclusive evidence that Alix blamed Ducky for Ernie's said homosexuality?! If you can't, please try not to malign them by nasty insinuations. None of us has known Alix or Ernie in person. You don't really know "the type of woman" Alix was - or "the type of man" Ernie was - so please treat them with proper respect.  



I don't think that it's inappropriate speculation at all based on what is known about these people.

  A. Various bios state that Ducky was Alix's least favorite cousin, that she didn't like Ducky, etc.
  B. Various bios -- and family letters -- said that Alix was appalled at the divorce between Ernie and Ducky and she opposed the marriage of Cyril to Ducky. She didn't want her brother's ex-wife to become a Russian Grand Duchess.
  C. Alix did love her brother and would naturally take his side.
 D. It was the Victorian era. Look at the attitudes of Alix's grandmother, who largely raised her, and about and towards women in that era. I don't think it would be at all unusual for a woman of that class and upbringing to believe that it was a wife's job to make a good man out of her husband. Whether or not she knew anything about Ernie's sexual preferences (if they existed) is unknown. If she did, I think it was in the vaguest possible sense, but I think she would have taken Ernie's side and put the lion's share of the blame on Ducky. Note that I didn't say this was fact -- just that I think she might have reacted this way, based on bios, letters and stories I have read about her. It probably wasn't an unusual response in that era. It wouldn't make her evil -- just a woman of her time.
  E. I don't recall saying anywhere that Ernie and Alix could do no right. I do think they delayed too long in notiifying Ducky that Elizabeth was ill. I have said elsewhere that I see them as people with flaws and virtues, like anyone else. They certainly both had admirable qualities.
   Please don't put words in my mouth.
 

Offline Helen

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #73 on: September 09, 2004, 01:02:00 AM »
Bookworm, I don't put words in your mouth. It's just that, to me, you come across as a person who is rather negative about Ernie and Alix and quite willing to interpret their behaviour in a negative way, whereas you appear to be far less willing to do the same when it comes to Ducky and her behaviour. Alix may not have liked Ducky very much and she may have been appalled by this divorce, but that may have been for reasons you and I know nothing about (sanctity of marriage?). She may have had reasons for not wanting Ducky to marry Cyril that had nothing to do with her blaming Ducky for not "reforming" Ernie. We simply don't know her private thoughts. Than why suggest that she may have blamed Ducky? You may not mean it to sound negative, but it does to me. And that may be because, based on the bios, letters and stories I have read, I have a different impression of Alix. I tend to think that Alix was not the type of woman who would have blamed Ducky.

By the way, the fact that a lot of her contemporaries would have blamed "the wife" doesn't mean that Alix did. Attitudes and opinions differ. The attitude of a majority is just that, the attitude of a majority, not the attitude of every single person in a group or class. I think the heated discussion on contemporary attitudes towards homosexuality in this thread is a fine example of that. It clearly shows that one should be very careful with extrapolating "common" attitudes to individuals.
"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"

bookworm85715836758701

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Re: Was Grand Duke Ernst really gay/bisexual?
« Reply #74 on: September 09, 2004, 09:11:00 AM »
And I read the same bios and journals and accounts of her behavior elsewhere and think that's her most likely response. Alix comes across as a very rigid individual, one who wanted control of her family and her friendships. She created her own vision of the world and ignored evidence to the contrary. She was straight-laced, moral, treated people who disagreed with her with contempt, whether it was government officials or her own sister Elizabeth.

Some of her judgements were accurate; her love for her family and friends was real. I think history conspired against her. She was shy, but she wasn't given a real chance to make a place for herself at court before she was Tsarina. Alexei's hemophila was a great blow. The political situation was volatile. But Alix's own faults sometimes aggravated the situation. Yes, I do think I can add up her personality as described by contemporary witnesses, her own letters and journal entries, and come to the conclusion that she would have blamed Ducky for the breakup of the marriage.

By the way, Ducky also had her faults similar to her cousin's -- intolerance, arrogance, rigidity, unwillingness to forgive, flightiness in her younger years. She was not a good grand duchess of Hesse. She was probably not always a very good mother to Elizabeth. But she was 17 when she married and apparently confronted with a husband who was completely incompatible with her. That husband didn't notify her in time for her to see her daughter on her death bed.

I sympathize with both of them.

And I'll reiterate that I said nowhere that Alix and Ernie were not capable of doing right as well as wrong.