Author Topic: The Education of the Heirs  (Read 8685 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Tsarina_Liz

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
  • Existence is not a predicate.  - Kant
    • View Profile
The Education of the Heirs
« on: November 18, 2005, 08:07:21 AM »
I searched the forums, and since I didn't find any topic discussing this I thought it safe to bring it up.

I for one am shocked by the education received by OTMAA, not so much by the younger three girls who had no real dynastic importance, but by the education received by Olga and Alexei.  

Alexei was the heir to the largest empire in the world and yet he received little in the way of valuable education.  I have read many books that always excuse his lack of proper education (i.e. that which would help him become a competent tsar) because he was an invalid much of the time.  But it always seemed that he had more than enough down time in which to study study study - those days spent in bed or cooped up in the palace were wasted.  Does anyone know why this little boy was not given the education he rightfully deserved and so desperately needed?  I understand that his parents felt bad for him, but at the same time Alexandra and the rest of the Romanovs were always complaining how little prepared Nicky was for the throne.  They saw that he was basically incompetent when it came to 'tsaring', why did they not try to prevent that in the next generation of tsars (Alexei)?  Why did Nicky not realize it, he a man who was more than aware of his own inadequacies?

Then there's Olga.  As the oldest daughter of the tsar, there was always the chance however slim that she might come to the throne.  After all, if Russian imperial history has taught us nothing it's expect the unexpected - particularly when it comes to women.  And yet no one seems to have thought of even trying to give her an appropriate education.  Furthermore, as the eldest daughter she would have most likely made the most politically important match and married the ruler of another country.  Why did no one seek to prepare her for the throne?  Did no one think that she could be Russia's voice in another country and therefore needed an education worthy not only of a queen but also a political figure?  

Anyone have any insights?
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline lilavanderhorn

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 93
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2005, 10:33:04 AM »
I believe Olga's education was appropriate for a young lady of her time and rank.  She learned languages, literature, history, dancing, music etc.  Quite suitable for a young grand duchess.  Of all the children, she seemed the one most interested in her education.

I agree they could have done more for Alexis, however, his episodes of being cooped up in bed were not always a good time for learning.  Can you imagine a child in bed wanting to do his lessons?  He was probably bored stiff and a difficult student.  They did attempt to give him a somewhat military education, with Nicholas taking him to the front, however that only went so far.

Offline Shvibzik

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 408
  • Bling it on
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2005, 05:37:18 PM »
Quote
Then there's Olga.  As the oldest daughter of the tsar, there was always the chance however slim that she might come to the throne.

Olga had no way to come to the Throne, except for MAYBE a regent, although that would have gone to GD Michael.  Tsar Paul I made a law declaring that women couldn't ascend to the Throne.  However, Olga would have probably been married off, but she wasn't necessarily ruling a country.  

I remember reading somewhere about the education, but I don't have time to look it up right now.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Shvibzik »

Offline Sainte-Claire1875

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 107
  • Ksenia Aleksandrovna, sister of Nicholas II
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2005, 11:30:47 AM »
As stated by Shvibzik, Olga would never have been able to be on the Russian throne because of Tsar Paul. But as for Aleksey, he received a better education to prepare him for his hopeful future than his father had been given. Nicholas had never been given any education or training for becoming tsar. He was given the standard education of a grand duke, not of a tsarevich, and that is mostly because his father had been perfectly fit and healthy up until shortly before his death, so he never really thought of himself as dying any time soon. Nicky wanted to make sure that didn't happen to Aleksey, and he did his best to educate him properly. But his illness interfered immensely with his education--his time in bed was not spent playing games--more often than not he was in terrible pain and thinking about his education was hardly on his mind--he and his family were thinking only of the tragedy of death which constantly hung over his head, leaving little time to brood over an education while he was laid up. And the tsarevich was not very attentive in class when he was there--as with most children, he could hardly wait until his studies were over and he could go outside to play.
'The Russian Revolution took almost everything from me but the Bolsheviks left me with one privilage--to be a private person.'--Grand Duchess Xenia Aleksandrovna.

Offline Elisabeth

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2131
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2005, 01:24:40 PM »
I agree with you entirely, Tsarina Liz. (And welcome to the forum, btw!  :)). Alexei's education was woefully inadequate. And as much as people here like to bemoan the inadequacy of Nicholas II's education, he at least had a stellar, leading Russian intellectual as his tutor, Konstantin Pobedonostsev (yes, his views were indeed reactionary, but he was a real intellectual force in Russia and his overall brilliance and political influence should not be underestimated just because we might disagree with his views). The appointment of Pobedonostsev was fully in keeping with the age-old tradition of the emperor of naming leading Russian intellectuals and writers to the position of the tsarevich's governor. A tradition which Nicholas II, alone amongst the Romanov tsars, failed to fulfill.

Of course, Nicholas was very much like his father, Alexander III, in having a deep suspicion of intellectuals, but unlike his father (and grandfathers), he chose complete intellectual nonentities as the tutors of his children. No one outside of the imperial court had ever heard of Gilliard and Gibbes. Indeed, they were not worthy of any special notice. Not only weren't they intellectual geniuses, they weren't even Russian! - a point that needs to be emphasized. The only Russian tutor of the imperial children, Petrov, seems to have been an aging, easygoing layabout, well intentioned but hardly intellectually challenging to or demanding of his pupils... Even Gilliard admitted in his memoirs that Olga, despite her great intellectual promise, was unable to fulfill it, because of the inferior court milieu in which she lived. And remember, her formal education ended when she turned sixteen... in other words, she was given the traditional education of a young Russian provincial noblewoman, not that of a potential future ruler or regent of the empire. (And this is indeed interesting, given Alexandra's ambitions for her eldest daughter.)

Gibbes recalls in his memoirs that he was appalled by the tsarevich's lack of knowledge of English... Alexei did not seem to understand the native language of his mother and certainly could not speak it. He was also abominably spoiled (ordering a special pastry from the  kitchens and devouring it during his lesson!). I think you are absolutely right, Liz, to call our attention to the paltry educational efforts made by Nicholas and Alexandra on behalf of their children... too little, too late (if at all) seems to have been their motto. And I can't help but suspect that this had something to do with 1) Nicholas's own awareness of his intellectual mediocrity, and his desire to avoid people smarter than himself (e.g., his dislike of men of genius like Witte and Stolypin), and 2) Alexandra's ongoing illnesses, emotional and physical, which taxed her strength and made it difficult if not impossible for her to effectively oversee her children's education. 
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Offline RomanovFan

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 574
  • THE BIG PAIR, 1914
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2005, 11:36:20 PM »
Well, when Nicholas II was still tsarevitch, Alexander III didn't really do anything to prepare him to become tsar. This is evident from a testimony given by N II's youngest sister, Olga Alexandrovna. A III obviously was not expected to die so suddenly as he did, but he didn't even let Nicholas sit in court until he was at least in his twenties and he became tsar at age 26.

So Nicky and Alix didn't really have any idea on how to rule a country. So as a result they weren't very good rulers. Nicky was a soft spoken, "short" man, at least compared to his father and grandfather, Alexander II. He just didn't have the right education that a tsarevitch should've back then because his father basically wouldn't let him.
~LESLIE~

ROMANOV FAN SINCE 1997

Offline Tsarina_Liz

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
  • Existence is not a predicate.  - Kant
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2005, 05:52:38 PM »
Quote
A III obviously was not expected to die so suddenly as he did, but he didn't even let Nicholas sit in court until he was at least in his twenties and he became tsar at age 26


Aw... everyone's so nice!   ;D
Anyways.  So no one in the court bothered to speak up about letting Nicky into the court?  Was it like that with all tsareviches (sp?), that they do not have a right to sit in on the court and the proceedings unless expressly permitted to by the tsar?  I would think it would be seen as their right, and an encouraged right at that.  Or was it just that the tsarevich had no rights?
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline cimbrio

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
  • Für Ludwig II
    • View Profile
    • GonDan's Royalty Family Trees
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2005, 05:24:09 AM »
I think that the girls' education was average, that is, they spoke languages, played musical instrument, embroidered (their mother insisited that they ought to be kept busy and never be idle, thus they always had a bit of cloth to sew somewhere or other), knew basic mathematics, history, geography and evidently genealogy. To my mind, any other European princess of the time received a similar education, which doens't mean it was GOOD, it just mean it was normal, but I've read that the girls wreren't very interested in their lessons, particularly Maria and Anastasia Nikolaievna.

As to Alexis's education as a amle and heir, if you look at books on other Grand Dukes, most were trained from a very early age military skills and even went to live in barracks, fought in wars etc. I doubt, ahd he lived, that Alexis would have led a military life at all, and I imagine that any rank he achieved in the army or the navy would have been honorary. This was, of course, due to his hemophilia, but we musn't forget that he died aged 13, so his own life was merely starting, let's say that he had no time to have enough education for us to study, and that's why perhaps we have the impression that his education was less thorough than other European heirs'. My two cents ;)

Offline Jackswife

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 83
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2005, 06:32:35 AM »
 Outside of Grand Duke Sergei and GD Vladimir, were any of the Romanovs considered "well-educated" in the Western sense? Naturally at the time royal ladies throughout Europe, not just Russia, were not expected to be intellectual achievers, so perhaps OTMA merely received the typical training of royal daughters, but it seems with the Romanov men, with few exceptions, there was a real dearth of educational attainments. I suppose a university education would have been unthinkable in many ways, but even at the elementary levels there does not seem to have been much attention paid to the value of a good curriculum for future heirs. It seems the norm today for heirs and  heiresses to be much more educated than predecessors which I think is all to the good.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jackswife »

Offline cimbrio

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
  • Für Ludwig II
    • View Profile
    • GonDan's Royalty Family Trees
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2005, 06:45:10 AM »
I think some of the most intellectual Grand Dukes were Nicholas Mikhailovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich (KR) and Vladimir Alexandrovich... I don't think any of the women were particularly brilliant in the academic sense...

Offline Tsarina_Liz

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
  • Existence is not a predicate.  - Kant
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2005, 10:52:08 AM »
Quote
I think that the girls' education was average, that is, they spoke languages, played musical instrument, embroidered (their mother insisited that they ought to be kept busy and never be idle, thus they always had a bit of cloth to sew somewhere or other), knew basic mathematics, history, geography and evidently genealogy.

As to Alexis's education as a amle and heir, if you look at books on other Grand Dukes, most were trained from a very early age military skills and even went to live in barracks, fought in wars etc. I doubt, ahd he lived, that Alexis would have led a military life at all, and I imagine that any rank he achieved in the army or the navy would have been honorary.


Well, if that was the girls education than I am as prepared as they are - and I know I could not rule a country!

So do you think that even though university education for royals became increasingly popular in the twentieth century, Alexei and the girls would not have been permitted to attend?  Did any of the Romanovs attend university at all?  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarina_Liz »
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline cimbrio

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
  • Für Ludwig II
    • View Profile
    • GonDan's Royalty Family Trees
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2005, 04:20:11 PM »
I know Nicholas Mikhailovich wanted to go to University (if memory serves me right) but the idea was poo-pooed by his father... To my knowledge, none of the Romanovs born during the time of the monarchy (well, Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses anyway) ever attended university. I don't know about those who left Russia... i.e., those who at the tiem of the revolution were still quite young and their academic education hand't yet finished...

Offline lostfan

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 225
  • lille prins christian
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2006, 09:37:03 PM »
I remember reading somewhere that heirs to the throne were not allowed to attend any sort of school, and it was almost a requirement they have tutors at home.
Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we're gone and wonder who we were? How bravely we fought? How fiercely we loved?

Offline Tsarina_Liz

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 569
  • Existence is not a predicate.  - Kant
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2006, 01:57:32 PM »
At home schooling, a great and proven way to create a good ruler  ::)  It's a shame.  All of the Royal children showed considerable promise and it was practically undeveloped.  
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline imperial angel

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 4608
    • View Profile
Re: The Education of the Heirs
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2006, 10:16:13 AM »
I think they always had tutors, and did not attend schools with other royals or nobles etc, not that I am sure there were that many. And no, I don't think any of them attended university, although some of them were real intellectuals like the one who was a historian, or KR, the poet. Tutors were traditional for all royalty until the 20th century, because of many reasons, although foreign royals did sometimes attend university. Royalty traditionally lived a life apart, and having tutors was the tradition, and then the press in some countries did not  bother them, as well. Often the tutors were very well chosen, but sometimes they were not, there are examples of this in royal history, that I could bring up if anyone is interested. I think the tutors of otmaa were perhaps not the most stellar out there, but they were not as bad as some. For different reasons, Czar Nicholas and Tsarvitch Alexei were not always given what they perhaps needed to govern well, such as training in Nicholas's case.