Author Topic: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?  (Read 114166 times)

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Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #165 on: July 13, 2007, 09:03:28 AM »
Just a thought but since Alex knew that her girls carried the possibility of having male children with hemophilia, perhaps she did not think that they would ever marry.

I'm sure hemophilia must have been a concern, but I don't think it would have prevented Alix from marrying her girls off. There are a number of wartime letters where Alix mentions marriage (she hoped they would be able to marry for love) for her girls and possible suitors for the Big Pair in particular. The IF also took a trip in 1914 to Romania to introduce Olga Nikolaevna to Prince Carol as a possible match. According to Gilliard's memoirs, Olga herself understood the purpose of the trip quite clearly and proclaimed to her tutor that she would only marry a Russian: "I am a Russian and intend to remain a Russian" (or words to that effect).


The more interesting question IMO is whether OTMA themselves understood the possible impact of hemophilia on their own futures as wives and mothers. Were they aware of how the idsease was transmitted? After all, Maria Nikolaevna's dream was to "marry a soldier and have dozens of children."
« Last Edit: July 13, 2007, 09:06:38 AM by Sarushka »
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Offline Katherine The O.K.

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #166 on: July 13, 2007, 06:27:44 PM »
Certainly the girls were very sheltered, in a way that would today be thought of as almost abusive, I think- they were speaking like children as adults, and hardly had any friends aside from their immediate family. While not that unusual for the time, it was still excessive, even given their status. It is sad, in a way, that the children, in particular Olga who seemed to be such a deep thinker, were never allowed to 'grow up'. Granted, that seemed like the 'in' thing with the ruling Romanovs... Marie did the same with her kids.

But I'm sure they themselves rarely felt truly unhappy or really understood the world they were missing out on. I mean, ignorance is bliss, isn't it? And besides, Alexandra was a very controlling mother, so I doubt they ever put much thought into rebelling because they figured she would just shoot them down- kind of a 'why bother fighting with no chance of winning if it makes everyone miserable?"
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Offline Georgiy

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #167 on: July 14, 2007, 10:31:16 PM »
Having read the Grand Duchesses diaries and letters, I strongly disagree that they had sheltered, lonely lives. They seem to be constantly busy meeting people and doing things. In fact, working in the hospital would have exposed Olga and Tatiana to far more than they could normally have expected to have been exposed to in normal circumstances considering their rank.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #168 on: July 25, 2007, 11:10:14 PM »
I suppose part of this comes down to opinion, but before deciding this was the case, one might want to consider what these young women actually accomplished during their short lives.

I believe the evidence indicates to the contrary. Tatiana - as an example, started one of the first government committees to consider the problem of refugees.

Offline dmitri

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #169 on: July 26, 2007, 09:00:12 AM »
Yes Olga and Tatiana had their own regiments and of course worked as nurses during the war. I do think though they were a touch cut off from reality though. Can any of us really imagine their lives in the Alexander Palace? The revolution in 1917 must have been a complete shock to their previous existence. They went from being important personages to being prisoners after all. Digging the vegetable garden and doing physical labour must have been quite a challenge. The journey to Tobolsk might have been interesting given it was somewhere they did not know. The cold in Tobolsk would have been terrible and Ekaterinburg must have really been quite terrible. I guess the only comfort they had was being together. They must have realised things could not have got much worse than what they experienced there. It is so hard to imagine dying by whatever means at such a young age. I doubt any of us can contemplate such a horror as they all experienced. 

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #170 on: July 26, 2007, 05:27:14 PM »
I agree that the imperial children were cut off from reality to a certain extent, but I don't think they were strangers to physical activity.  Nicholas was a fresh-air fiend, very fond of physical exercise, and his children were accustomed to that lifestyle as well. They swam, walked, rowed, or rode their bicycles daily. As far as I know, none of the imperial prisoners were required by their captors to do any sort of physical labor. It was something they themselves craved. At the AP, the kitchen garden was planted on the IF's request as a form of entertainment and exercise, and in Tobolsk they obtained permission to chop wood for the same purpose.

I also think the children were somewhat sheltered from the status of their positions. They were not fussed over by the servants in the AP, and the girls often helped their maids make their beds and tidy their rooms. In Yekterinburg, one eyewitness reported that the girls voluntarily helped the scrub-women wash their floors.
 Sophie Buxhoeveden recollected addressing Tatiana by her full title at a committee meeting and Tatiana was so embarrassed that she kicked Sophie under the table and whispered, "Are you crazy to talk to me like that?" So I don't think they would have keenly felt their loss of rank. In fact, there are a number of instances where the IF joked about their loss of rank -- Nicholas once referred to their dinner as an "ex-ham" for example, and one of the courtiers remembered the empress joking, "Pay no attention to me, I'm only an ex!"

That said, I do believe the revolution would have come as quite a shock to the imperial children in other ways. I think they were treated decently on the whole during their captivity and exile, but IMO the children would have been shocked to discover how hated their parents had become in the eyes of the public at large. I would also imagine it would have affected OTMAA deeply to hear some of the revolutionary soldiers jeer at their father and call him "Mr. Colonel" and "citizen Romanov." It's a subtle difference, but I think the children were probably affected *more* by the sudden decrease in the level of respect and courtesy in their lives than by the loss of their titles. Again, I don't think they were used to a great deal of fawning and deference, but they probably experienced a lot more indifferent and casual treatment than they were accustomed to, and I think that would have felt strange and unsettling.
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Offline dmitri

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #171 on: July 27, 2007, 06:26:57 AM »
I think the imperial children were hugely cut off from reality. Living away from the people in imperial residences was hardly reality. They hardly made a habit of visiting factories where people lived and died next to where they worked. Certainly some of them saw Stolypin murdered in the opera house in 1911. They really never went through the trauma like Nicholas II did of seeing his grandfather mutilated after the bomb attack that killed him or not at least until the bullets started being fired in the Ipatiev House cellar. They were largely cut off from reality. Courtiers did bow and scrape to them on a regular basis. Have a look at some of the film remaining of visits to the Kremlin or even when they arrived on the Standart and elsewhere. They knew their rank from an early age and must have felt the loss of their father's position and their own intensely and all the security of life that went with it. It is said that the older girls knew of the unpopularity of their parents before the revolution. Certainly the greeting the family received in St.Petersburg in 1913 for the tercentenary was hardly rapturous. After the revolution they knew they were prisoners and they were hassled in ways they could never have imagined even in the gardens of the Alexander Palace. They were no longer able to go where they pleased. Guards delighted in humiliating their father. They must have known of this. I truly do feel very sorry for them as their parents unwise rule was the cause of their deaths. The revolution and their early deaths would not have occurred under a wiser ruler. Russia needed reform or harsher rule. The Soviet Union certainly provided both and far harsher rule under Stalin than Nicholas. Nicholas was sadly completely out of his depth as Tsar and dragged his family and an entire empire down with him. It was all so tragic. Life for the imperial children after the revolution was hardly a picnic. There may have been occasional jokes. These however would have probably occurred in an attempt to break the hopelessness of their situation. Certainly Alexis was very much effected as his diary records. Staff in the Ipatiev House were ordered not to communicate with them. I wonder how any of us would feel to be shunned? I think they would have all realised how hated they were. Evidence is there of how the remaining children were treated on their arrival in Ekaterinburg from Tobolsk having to drag their luggage through the mud without assistance in pouring rain. That is hardly something they knew before the revolution. The monotony of the food served in the Ipatiev House would have been quite a come down from the imperial dining table. Their clothes and shoes were also falling apart. Could any of us really imagine any of this given the comfort of the western lifestyle in the early 21st century I wonder?     

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #172 on: July 27, 2007, 07:27:46 AM »
Certainly Alexis was very much effected as his diary records.

I've read Aleksei's 1916 diary in Tsesarevich, and some of his 1918 diary in Le Enfant Martyr -- are other sources available? I'd particularly like to see his 1917 diary.
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Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #173 on: July 27, 2007, 08:08:43 AM »
Courtiers did bow and scrape to them on a regular basis. Have a look at some of the film remaining of visits to the Kremlin or even when they arrived on the Standart and elsewhere. They knew their rank from an early age and must have felt the loss of their father's position and their own intensely and all the security of life that went with it.

Again, I definitely agree that the imperial chldren were cut off from reality. However, I'm still reluctant to believe that they encountered a lot of bowing and scraping on a daily basis. From crowds at their public appearances, yes. But at home? I'm not so sure. I don't think people like Botkin, Vyrubova, Buxhoeveden, Eagar, and Dehn fawned over them. According to the memoirs I've read, it seems that the people who were with the imperial family on a regular basis treated the children as normally as their position permitted. I recall a scene from a documentary in which the girls arrive on the Standart as youngsters. They do indeed file down a line of sailors who kiss their hands, but it's very...how do I describe it...perfunctory? When they've made it through the line, all four of them dash away down the deck to play, and the feeling I get watching them is, "Ok, that's over with, let's go have some fun!"

So yes, people bowed to OTMA and kissed their hands. They had to, and there's no way arpund it. But there's a difference between a long bow from the waist or a sweeping curtsey and a perfunctory nod or dip of the knees. I don't see a lot of exaggerated adulation when I watch the films of the IF in private or on their yacht.

The question is, did OTMA realize all this bowing and hand-kissing was unusual? Did they themselves bow to their parents the way Queen Elizabeth's children and grandchildren bow to her? In public, did they feel that the public's cheers and bows were directed at them as well as their parents? Did OTMA consider themselves important in their own right, or simply accessories to their parents and their brother the heir? I don't know if it's possible to answer those questions with any degree of certainty, but they're interesting to think about.
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Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #174 on: August 05, 2007, 04:33:07 PM »
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this may be a minor point, but i've always felt the whole identical dresses etc might have been rather unhealthy.   while it may have been considered "cute" by their parents, it may, very well, have been an outward sign of similar treatment on a more personal level.   dressing children in virtually identical clothing (be they identical twins or otherwise) does tend to suppress a child's individuality & personal identity, while exerting distinct control & the power of the parents.   although the girls appeared outwardly normal & seemed to function well within their family unit, had they lived, we might have seen a certain amount of dysfunction once they ventured into the greater world.  they knew how to perform their duties as grand duchesses, what, & what not, to say, etc, but only time would have shown how well they would have functioned on an interpersonal level with people other than their parents & siblings.    it's also very possible the girls would never have married, while Aleksei would have been "gnawing at the bit" to get away.   sheltering a child as Aleksei was sheltered, involves much more than mere protection from accidents, even if it begins as fear for the child's safety, it may easily become a pathological means of control.

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click on image for larger version
(i know these images are rather common & well known,
but i thought some might like them in a larger size...)





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« Last Edit: August 05, 2007, 04:42:08 PM by brnbg aka: liljones1968 »
"when i die, i hope i go like my grandfather --
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like the passengers in his car."

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Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #175 on: August 05, 2007, 05:23:28 PM »
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click on image for larger version

Anastasia, Marie, Tatiana & Olga


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"when i die, i hope i go like my grandfather --
peacefully in my sleep; not screaming & in terror,
like the passengers in his car."

-- anonymous
.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #176 on: August 05, 2007, 10:11:03 PM »
this may be a minor point, but i've always felt the whole identical dresses etc might have been rather unhealthy.   while it may have been considered "cute" by their parents, it may, very well, have been an outward sign of similar treatment on a more personal level.   dressing children in virtually identical clothing (be they identical twins or otherwise) does tend to suppress a child's individuality & personal identity, while exerting distinct control & the power of the parents.   although the girls appeared outwardly normal & seemed to function well within their family unit, had they lived, we might have seen a certain amount of dysfunction once they ventured into the greater world.  they knew how to perform their duties as grand duchesses, what, & what not, to say, etc, but only time would have shown how well they would have functioned on an interpersonal level with people other than their parents & siblings. 

I think it is an excellent point. The girls did appear content and seemed to function well within their family, but I do suspect they were somewhat sheltered socially and might have displayed a bit of awkwardness in social situations -- perhaps in the way many homeschooled children today do when they enter public schools for the first time. That said, because of OTMA's rank and position, I'm not sure how often any social disfuction would have been visible. As grand duchesses, they would rarely (if ever) have had the opportunity to interact with others young people on equal footing. They were likely very comfortable with their intimate friends and courtiers, they functioned well at official engagements, but because of their station they really didn't have any peers, and they were never just part of a crowd. In any social situation, they would always be seen as 'the tsar's daughters.' I'd be willing to argue that because of who they were, the contexts that would have put OTMA's social development to the test simply didn't exist.


Quote
click on image for larger version
(i know these images are rather common & well known,
but i thought some might like them in a larger size...)



That pose was new to me -- thanks so much!  8)
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Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #177 on: August 06, 2007, 05:21:07 AM »
this may be a minor point, but i've always felt the whole identical dresses etc might have been rather unhealthy.   while it may have been considered "cute" by their parents, it may, very well, have been an outward sign of similar treatment on a more personal level.   dressing children in virtually identical clothing (be they identical twins or otherwise) does tend to suppress a child's individuality & personal identity, while exerting distinct control & the power of the parents.   although the girls appeared outwardly normal & seemed to function well within their family unit, had they lived, we might have seen a certain amount of dysfunction once they ventured into the greater world.  they knew how to perform their duties as grand duchesses, what, & what not, to say, etc, but only time would have shown how well they would have functioned on an interpersonal level with people other than their parents & siblings. 

I think it is an excellent point. The girls did appear content and seemed to function well within their family, but I do suspect they were somewhat sheltered socially and might have displayed a bit of awkwardness in social situations -- perhaps in the way many homeschooled children today do when they enter public schools for the first time. That said, because of OTMA's rank and position, I'm not sure how often any social disfuction would have been visible. As grand duchesses, they would rarely (if ever) have had the opportunity to interact with others young people on equal footing. They were likely very comfortable with their intimate friends and courtiers, they functioned well at official engagements, but because of their station they really didn't have any peers, and they were never just part of a crowd. In any social situation, they would always be seen as 'the tsar's daughters.' I'd be willing to argue that because of who they were, the contexts that would have put OTMA's social development to the test simply didn't exist.

that's a very good point, as well.    given their status, their social opportunities would, indeed, have been limited and any ldysfunction would likely not have been evident.   however, what i had in mind as i was writing were their spousal relationships (if any), relations with in-laws (if any) and the relations with their children (if any).    it would have been interesting to see what sort of stress they encountered with the "switchover" from their parental & filial group, into a marital group.    i suspect any spouse would have fallen far short of their expectations.     serious disenchantment would likely have seen a mad dash "home".     Olga had already expressed a determination not to marry outside of Russia & her parents acknowledged they would (probably) never force her to marry anyone she didn't want to marry.   one might ask if she was, in actuality, asserting herself or simply (and unknowingly) expressing pathology.    all 4 girls would have understood, the "flirtations" & "romances" with the various officers, were those their parents allowed them.   they, likewise, would have understood precisely what the limits & limitations were.         it's all pure conjecture of course, but i can't help but wonder if any husband the grand duchesses chose would, ultimately, have been (or could have been) anything more than gruesome version of prince Henry of Battenburg (ie: the husband of queen Victoria's youngest daughter Beatrice).

however, it's also very possible (although, in Olga's case, unlikely) the children would have left their "cozy little family" as soon as a marriageable prospect hove into view.     that type of "cozy" can be suffocating..... it can also be lethal.

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« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 05:42:14 AM by brnbg aka: liljones1968 »
"when i die, i hope i go like my grandfather --
peacefully in my sleep; not screaming & in terror,
like the passengers in his car."

-- anonymous
.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #178 on: January 06, 2008, 01:14:53 AM »
I think it's equally possible that the grand duchesses were quite happy with their parents and their lives together. It's also possible that they would have all married in time had war, revolution and their deaths not occurred. My sister and I often dressed alike by the way - our family is quite close - and neither of us had trouble establishing independent identities or separate happy homes.

Offline Dominic_Albanese

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Re: The Imperial children "sad,sheltered" life?
« Reply #179 on: January 06, 2008, 09:00:22 AM »
I've never read anything but that they were happy in their lives - especially before being imprisoned - after all, what else did they know?