Author Topic: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures  (Read 167187 times)

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Offline Vassili_Vorontsoff

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #135 on: April 09, 2006, 12:28:01 PM »
The mistery is ended !

According to the phtograph of the member liljones1968 on the page dedicated to Zenaide Youssoupova (which is the zoom of the serie of photographs that I've posted)we can assert that mine really represented Zenaide in Arkhangelskoie...!

and to see it easily:http://img387.imageshack.us/my.php?image=zenaidainherbedroom0qx.jpg
http://img387.imageshack.us/img387/6675/zenaidainherbedroom0qx.jpg][/url]

Thanks to all of you,
Vassili
« Last Edit: May 27, 2009, 07:53:11 AM by Svetabel »

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #136 on: April 09, 2006, 12:37:01 PM »
Dear dp 5486,
As far as I remember when I read the book Lost splendour in the french version(Mémoires du prince Youssoupov)it was Zenaide's son:Félix who hides- with the help of a faithfull domestic-all treasuries of the family...His mother since the beginning of the revolution was in Crimea...
Nothing was really precised for every object:the stradivarius,eggs...But some was hidden under the downstairs in a stair I believe...(poor memory!)

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Offline Johnny

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #137 on: June 06, 2006, 12:49:51 PM »
She would have been happier with KR or Sandro? Given what Sandro and KR turned out to be, I am not sure if she would have been any happier with them instead of her own husband. Sandro could never stay faithful to his wife. And KR, although a wonderful man, father and an artist, suffered all his life fighting with his own homosexual tendencies. I have a friend (rather an ex-friend) who is married to a beautiful woman, but secretly visits gay bath houses every week. The sad thing is that most people think their marriage is perfect. The same way, it would have been so unfair to her if KR had married her, even if she never found out about his tendencies.
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Offline Annie

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #138 on: June 06, 2006, 08:47:46 PM »
Quote
She would have been happier with KR or Sandro? Given what Sandro and KR turned out to be, I am not sure if she would have been any happier with them instead of her own husband. Sandro could never stay faithful to his wife.

And she was not faithful to him. In her diaries she tells of an affair with a man called "F". Perhaps they were not a good match. They were actually very close, second cousins but Sandro was one of Nicky's best friends so maybe they became like brother and sister as years went by. Perhaps if Zenaida had married Sandro, they both would have been happier. I think the main reason she didn't was because Sandro was 5 years her junior, so she was ready to marry at 20 and he was only 15. Felix was 25.

Quote
And KR, although a wonderful man, father and an artist, suffered all his life fighting with his own homosexual tendencies. I have a friend (rather an ex-friend) who is married to a beautiful woman, but secretly visits gay bath houses every week. The sad thing is that most people think their marriage is perfect. The same way, it would have been so unfair to her if KR had married her, even if she never found out about his tendencies.

I have some things to say about this too. First, there are rumors, even a thread here, that 'Old Felix' was gay too. Whether or not he was, it seems they were not lovey dovey as years went by, each doing their own thing (very common in marriages) and sleeping in their own beds. Personally I doubt they had relations much if any at all after young Felix was born, because in his book he describes how she wanted a girl as if it were her last chance and her last try. I had assumed her biological clock was running down, but I discovered she was only 25 when she had him and I wondered why she didn't try again. She'd had 4 sons in 5 years (2 died as babies) and I guess she was done with breeding and wanted to get back to dancing and dressing up and had made up her mind Felix would be her last. This combined with the separate bedrooms leads me to believe it's very possible they quit having sex, and if he wanted it, he went elsewhere with another woman (or man)

As far as KR goes, I think he was more her type because he was a poet, and she was into the arts. Old Felix hated art, theater, etc. and even had the theaters closed off in the palaces. Felix himself said he felt his mother would have been happier with 'a different sort of man.' KR was more her type IMO. The homosexuality is not even a factor. KR had a very large family with his wife in spite of it, and Felix Y. and Irina had a child and a very long and happy marriage though he was gay. Of course if KR had been Felix's dad, he'd have been a different person, and who knows if we'd have had his exciting Rasputin story to tell today!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Annie »

Offline Johnny

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #139 on: June 07, 2006, 05:23:47 PM »
Annie,
I see your point and I find most of your speculations rather plausible.
I also know that many, if not the majority of, princely couples kept separate bedrooms.
Nicholas and Alexandra's practice of sleeping in the same bed every night was sort of frowned upon.
I have also been to the Moika Palace and seen Zinaida's bedroom which had a private wooden staircase leading into Felix Senior's bedroom (it used to be made of glass, but Zinaida found it too dangerous because slippery, so it was replaced).
I believe I read somewhere that Zinaida stopped haing children because her later pregnancies were quite difficult and she had been cautioned by the doctors against further ones.
It seems thier relationship was similar to my parents relationship (although unlike my parents' it started as a love match.) Very incompatible and distant, but had their occasional fun in bed and in public kept up appearances.
I am sure Felix Senior didn't care much for the arts. On the other hand, I don't think he closed the theater becuase of his dislike for the arts. It was simply because he didn't find it appropriate for his wife and son to appear on stage, even if privately. Nicholas II who loved arts, music and opera, hated the idea of Alexandra taking voice lessons. In fact, according to Vyrubova, Alix had to do all her practicing in the opposite wing of the palace, because Nicky just found it unbearable.
And I have this innate opposition to men with homosexual tendencies to marry women. Even if the woman never finds out about it and is happy with her husband, and even if the husband never acts upon it. I know back then things were different and every man was supposed to marry. Perhaps I have to take off my 21st century western glasses off and look at the situation again. But I am just too sensitized because of my friend fooling around behind his wife's back. The more beautiful and eligible a woman is the more unfair I find such marriages to be to her. Otherwise, she is never fully appreciated as a woman. On the other hand, what's more important? Being understood and cared for or just being enjoyed sexually? So who knows, maybe you are right about it!
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Offline Annie

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #140 on: June 07, 2006, 06:17:43 PM »
I know plenty of women whose straight husbands cheat on them or grow distant and don't spend time with them. It commonly happens as time goes on, it's sad, but I am skeptical that a true love match for life really exists.

Offline Linnea

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #141 on: June 10, 2006, 04:08:37 PM »
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Valmont,

Where can I find the biography by Greg King on Zenaida Yusupov?


I didn´t know that there is a biography on Zenaida around - what´s the title?

Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #142 on: June 10, 2006, 07:17:09 PM »
Quote
Quote
Valmont,

Where can I find the biography by Greg King on Zenaida Yusupov?


I didn´t know that there is a biography on Zenaida around - what´s the title?



i'm 99% sure there isn't one.      it is possible that there is one in the works, but i doubt it.

but i'll ask him (greg) anyway.    


i'm wondering, though, if Almedingen was thinking greg's biography of Feliks jr. was a bio of Zenaïde?

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Offline Annie

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #143 on: June 10, 2006, 08:22:59 PM »
I think what you're thinking of is the bio Greg wrote of her on this site. It's in the time machine section.

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #144 on: June 11, 2006, 04:25:06 AM »


  

    Zenaide Yusupov

    by Greg King

    Of all the aristocratic families that comprised the Russian Court, the wealthiest and most important was, without doubt, the Yusupovs. They traced their descent from ancient Tartar khans who had murdered, raped and pillaged their ways to power. In the 16th Century, Khan Yussuf made an uneasy alliance with Ivan the Terrible, forging the first link in a chain of service to the Russian Crown that bound the family to the Romanov Dynasty until the end of the Empire. They were created Princes of Russia and awarded the title of Yusupov after an ancestor, Abdul Mirza, converted to Orthodoxy, a bold and clever decision that probably saved the family from obscurity.

    Princess Zenaide Yusupov was born in 1861, the second daughter of Prince Nicholas Yusupov, Grand Master of the Ceremonies at the Court of Alexander II, and Countess Tatiana Ribeaupierre. The unexpected death of the eldest daughter, Princess Tatiana, left the young Zenaide sole heir to the largest private fortune in Imperial Russia. Tall and slender, with an "exquisite, rose-leaf complexion, luxuriant black hair, and cornflower blue eyes," the young Princess soon became the toast of St. Petersburg Society. Vivacious, even-tempered, intelligent, and exquisitely refined, Zenaide captivated all of those whom she encountered; with her enormous private fortune, she quickly found herself courted by eligible scions from noble families across Europe. Members of the Romanov Dynasty, too, were drawn to her quiet, introspective nature. Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich was one of her early admirers, and dedicated several of his love poems to her in an effort to win her hand. But rather than making a grand match, she instead fell in love with the poor and socially unimportant Count Felix Sumarakov-Elston, an officer in the Chevaliers Guards.

    The Elstons, according to family legend at least, were descended from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia through an illicit affair. The King supposedly fell in love with his sister's maid-of-honor who soon found herself pregnant. When she gave birth to a son, the child received the name of Felix Elston, derived from the French expression for astonishment. Felix Elston later married Countess Helen Sumarakov, the last of her line, and received Imperial permission to assume her surname and title. Their son-and Zenaide's future husband-Felix Felixovich, Count Sumarakov-Elston, was born in 1856. Educated at the famous Corps des Pages, he entered the Odessa Lancer Regiment of the Imperial Guard as Cornet in 1876 and two years later took part in the Russo-Turkish War before joining the Chevalier Guards. Tall and handsome, with a dashing cavalry mustache and blue eyes, he cut an attractive figure in St. Petersburg's drawing rooms, and Zenaide fell hopelessly in love. Prince Nicholas Yusupov strongly objected to the proposed union, urging his daughter to find a husband of more suitable rank, but the young woman was determined and, on 4 April 1882, the pair was married in the Chapel of the Chevalier Guards Regiment in St. Petersburg.

    The marriage between Zenaide and Felix was an unlikely one. Renowned for her beauty and grace, she was without prejudice and believed absolutely in the aristocratic ideal of noblesse oblige. She loved society, dinners, and balls, and used her vast fortune to assist struggling painters, sculptors, composers, and singers. Count Felix cared little for such things; with a reputation for eccentricity and a mind fixated on his military career, he stood in bold contrast to his refined wife. Many of those who knew him kindly dismissed the Count as an unimaginative bore, and he was never happier than when attending a military review. Despite the differences, however, Zenaide and Felix managed to create a stable and lasting marriage, and remained touchingly devoted to each other for all of their lives.

    Prince Nicholas Yusupov died in 1891. At the time, he had applied to the Imperial Senate for special dispensation that would allow his son-in-law to assume the Yusupov name, which would otherwise die out on his daughter's death. It took two years before Alexander III finally interviewed and issued an Imperial Ukase granting the surname Yusupov to Count Felix and any of his children. Through this measure, the Yusupov Family was once again saved from oblivion.

    Selflessly, Zenaide abandoned her own pleasures and interests and centered her life round her family. She and her husband had two sons, Prince Nicholas, born in 1882, and Prince Felix, born in 1887, who lived to adulthood. Both boys adored their mother, but relations with their domineering father were usually strained and always formal. Their morning ritual consisted solely of kissing his hand in greeting as he arrived at the dining table. He took absolutely no interest in their lives, asked no questions, and Nicholas and Felix, in turn, never confided in their father, turning to their mother for both love and acceptance.

    Zenaide's life was one of unparalleled privilege and luxury. The family fortune was incalculable: one pre-Revolutionary estimate of her real estate holdings alone placed the figure at $350 million. The family had invested wisely through the years, owning racing studs, industrial works, mineral and oil reserves, real estate, and one of the world's  pt1

james_h

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #145 on: June 11, 2006, 04:26:12 AM »
greatest private art collections. Even the Romanovs considered themselves poor in comparison with their Yusupov subjects.(Vorres, 98)

The Princess owned an impressive number of palaces and estates. There were three mansions in St. Petersburg; villas at nearby Tsarskoye Selo and at the Krasnoye Selo Army Camp; a Moscow house which had once been the hunting lodge of Ivan the Terrible; a country estate near the former capital; two estates in central Russia; and three different houses in the Crimea. There were other holdings, rarely visited by the family but prized for their financial contributions to the Yusupov fortune. One of their estates in Caucasus stretched for 125 miles along the shores of the Caspian Sea: so much oil came from this land that it literally soaked the ground, and peasants used it to grease the wheels of their carts and wagons. Zenaide and her family visited these holdings each year by private railway carriage, coupled to an ordinary passenger train. This carriage was itself a miniature palace, complete with an aviary, drawing and dining rooms and bedrooms, not only for the family but for their servants as well. It even contained its own kitchen, lest the family be forced to dine on the fare offered by the railway. A similar private carriage always sat at the Russian border with Germany, for continental holidays.

The center of Zenaide's world was her palace at No. 94 Moika Canal in St. Petersburg. Spreads over three floors were drawing rooms, reception rooms, and art galleries. A Moorish Room, complete with a central fountain, had been copied directly from an apartment in the Alhambra. Zenaide's bedroom, hung with watered blue damask, contained long rows of cabinets filled with her priceless collection of tiaras, necklaces, earrings, and brooches. The furniture in her boudoir had belonged to Marie Antoinette; above swirled a chandelier of rock crystal, taken from Madame de Pompadour's bedroom at Versailles. Paintings by Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Fragonard, Bouchier, Watteau, and Robert graced the walls; the furniture was carved and gilded with gold and inlaid with ormolu; and the tables held bowls of uncut diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, used as mere decorations. At one end of the palace, separated by a series of galleries, was a private Louis XV-style theatre, in cream and gold.

In these elaborate surroundings, Zenaide held court on a scale equaled only by the Imperial Family themselves. Orchestras and ballet companies were hired for evening entertainments, and a thousand guests might dine on solid gold or silver plate, lulled into a state of enchantment by the perfection of the setting. Infanta Eulalia, aunt of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, recalled one such evening: "The Princess was a most lovely woman, whose marvelous beauty stands out... She lived in extraordinary luxury in a setting of unsurpassed splendor, surrounded by works of art of the purest Byzantine style... The magnificence and luxury of Russia, blended with the refinement and distinction of France, reached its culminating point in the Yusupov Palace... The Princess wore a court gown studded with the finest diamonds and pearls. Tall, exquisitely beautiful, she wore a kokoshnik set with enormous pearls and equally large diamonds worth a fortune. A dazzling array of fantastic jewels from the East and the West completed her costume: ropes of pearls, massive gold bracelets of ancient design, pendants of turquoise and pearls, multi colored glittering rings... All these gave to Princess Yusupov the majestic splendor of a Byzantine empress."

james_h

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #146 on: June 11, 2006, 04:26:44 AM »
Zenaide's country estate of Arkhangelskoye, on the Moscow River outside the former capital, bordered Ilinskoye, home to Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich and his wife Elizabeth Feodorovna, and ties between they and the Yusupovs were close and warm. In 1886, Count Felix had been appointed Adjutant to the Grand Duke and, when Serge Alexandrovich was posted to Moscow as Governor-General, the couple followed them. Zenaide and Elizabeth became especially close confidants, a relationship cemented when the Princess spent hours helping the Grand Duchess with her conversion to the Russian Orthodox Church. The two women spent long days together, taking carriage rides through the surrounding forests and picnicking along the banks of the wide, flat river. Prince Felix, Zenaide's youngest son, came to love the Grand Duchess, as he later recalled, as "a second mother," and repeatedly turned to her for advice throughout his life in Russia.

Zenaide was keenly aware of the inequities of the Imperial system and used her position and money to alleviate the suffering she saw around her. At Arkhangelskoye, she built schools, hospitals, new houses, a church, and even a theater, all for the use of her servants and those who lived on the estate, and she took a great interest in their lives. Her son Felix later recalled that no one who ever came to her with a request or favor was ever turned away, and her generosity won her many admirers. While many aristocrats took such paternalistic care of those on their estates, the Princess's dedication to improving the lives of these simple people was starkly at odds with the life of privilege into which she had been born. The French painter Francois Flameng was so impressed by her concern that he once declared: "Promise me, Princess, that when my artistic career is over you will allow me to become the honorary pig of Arkhangelskoye." Such far-sighted attitudes and enlightened benevolence also deeply impressed Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, and played no small part in her later dedication to the less fortunate.

Zenaide's wealth and power could not, however, protect her from the tragedies of life. In 1907, her eldest son, the tall, dashing Nicholas, fell in love with Countess Marina Heyden, a woman of fiery temperament and undoubted beauty but who had deliberately cultivated an aura of sexual intrigue about her. At the time, the Countess was engaged to Baron Arvid Manteufel and, despite his repeated protests, she engaged in a dangerous game, playing one lover against the other. Nicholas, determined to marry her, appealed to his mother, who was horrified that he would even consider such a scandalous union. Against her will, the Countess married Manteufel, but Nicholas refused to let the affair die, pursuing her on her honeymoon and quickly rekindling their liaison. Disaster was inevitable. One early July morning, Nicholas and Manteufel faced each other across a deserted, dew-covered meadow on the outskirts of St. Petersburg: shots rang out and Prince Nicholas, twenty-five, fell dead.

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #147 on: June 11, 2006, 04:27:27 AM »
Zenaide had feared the worth, and implored her youngest son to intercede with his brother when she first heard hints of a duel, but Felix maliciously aggravated the situation and unwittingly played a pivotal role in the events that brought it about. He later remembered that morning when his brother's body was carried into the Moika Palace, his father tearful and Zenaide collapsed over the stretcher, screaming over and over again, "Nicholas! Nicholas!" The tragedy nearly broke the bereaved mother; she could not bring herself to even attend his funeral, and spent the next few years lost in a haze of tears, finding comfort only in the care and counsel of her friend Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.

Nicholas's death left his twenty-one-year-old brother Felix as sole heir to the family fortune. Felix was a curious young man, tall, handsome, and cultured, with a pronounced eccentricity and a well-earned reputation as a dissolute, decadent aristocrat. As a child, he had gone through a rapid succession of nannies and tutors, frightening them all away with his uncontrollable behavior; desperate, his parents finally sent him to a military school before he finished his education with a degree from Oxford University. When he returned to Russia at the end of his three years abroad, he was quieter and more mature, but his dissolution had grown to encompass opium and alcohol, along with his indiscrete affairs with both men and women.

By 1913, Felix's reputation was such that Zenaide insisted he marry, an ultimatum supported by Empress Alexandra. In February of 1914, Zenaide watched, "a look of ineffable sadness in her still lovely cornflower blue eyes," as one guest recalled, as Felix wed Princess Irina Alexandrovna, only daughter of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, in the chapel of the Anichkov Palace. After the brief honeymoon, Felix's parents joined the newly married couple on a trip to Europe. They were in Bad Kissingen in August of 1914, when the First World War erupted. The group traveled to Berlin, hoping to join the staff of the Russian Embassy on a train bound for St. Petersburg, but they found themselves prisoners in their hotel suite on the orders of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Irina contacted Crown Princess Cecile of Prussia, asking that she intercede with her father-in-law, but Wilhelm was unwilling to release the Yusupovs; instead, he offered them their choice of one of three country estates for the duration of the War, assuring them that they would be comfortable and protected. Patriotically, however, the group continued to push for their return to Russia; in a few days, and under pressure from the Spanish Ambassador, the Kaiser relented and declared that the Russians were free to leave. They made their way to Anhalter Station, only to find it ringed by an angry mob that pelted their motorcar with rocks; Zenaide and her family barely managed to board the train without injury and, with relief, set off for Russia.

In the first months of the War, Zenaide financed several private hospitals for wounded officers and soldiers, and turned the elegant drawing rooms of the Moika Palace into common wards. She gave generously to the Red Cross, funding a number of trains bound for the German Front, and established an organization to assist families left behind in their financial needs. In March of 1915, she became a grandmother when Irina gave birth to a baby girl, called Irina by her parents.

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #148 on: June 11, 2006, 04:27:58 AM »
It was one of the few bright spots in a life increasingly clouded with sorrow. Nicholas II appointed Count Felix Governor-General and Chief of the Moscow Military District, positions that demanded his presence in the former capital. With reluctance, Zenaide abandoned her son and daughter-in-law and took up residence in Moscow, where she found the population growing increasingly agitated by both the military setbacks of the War and by the common belief that the Empress, under the sway of Rasputin, was somehow involved in a shadowy conspiracy against their country and held strong pro-German sympathies. The issue came to a head in June of 1915, when anti-German riots broke out in Moscow. A large mob gathered in Red Square, calling for Rasputin's murder, the imprisonment of the Empress, the overthrow of Nicholas II, and the installation of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich as Emperor Nicholas III. The military, under the control of Count Felix, was unable to disperse the mob, which eventually gravitated to the Convent of St. Mary and St. Martha, founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna after her husband's assassination in 1905. Here, they resumed their attacks, pelting the Convent with stones and calling for "the German woman" to appear; to quiet them, Elizabeth Feodorovna bravely faced down the mob, only to be met with accusations that she was hiding her brother Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse und Bei Rhein. Only the arrival of a second contingent of armed police prevented violence.

As Governor-General and Chief of the Moscow Military District, Zenaide's husband was charged with maintaining order in the city, and the riot not only served as a visible demonstration of the growing discontent against the Dynasty but also underlined his impotence in the face of opposition. When she learned of this, Empress Alexandra was understandably angry, and demanded that her husband force his resignation. The Emperor, however-knowing that such outbreaks were taking place all over the country-was loathe to confront the Count. Instead, he waited until autumn before summoning Zenaide's husband to an uncomfortable meeting at Tsarskoye Selo. It began pleasantly, but when the Emperor demanded explanations, Count Felix replied frankly that, given the conditions in the country, such displays were to be expected. Then he went further, speaking out against the continued influence of Rasputin-a bold move that sealed his fate. Nicholas II demanded his resignation and the Count, glad to be free of the onerous responsibilities, immediately resigned.

Rather than return to Petrograd, Zenaide and her husband retired to their estate of Koreiz in the Crimea, where they lived quietly for the next eighteen months. In the fall of 1916, Zenaide had an urgent letter from her friend Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in which she outlined the current situation as she saw it, and angrily denounced her sister Alexandra's influence and continued reliance on Rasputin. She begged Zenaide to go to Tsarskoye Selo and speak to the Empress, saying that she herself had been all but cut off from their former relationship for several years. With some reluctance, Zenaide agreed, and boarded a train for Petrograd. The Empress received her in the Maple Room of the Alexander Palace and, from the first, the meeting was uneasy. At the first mention of Rasputin, Alexandra asked the Princess to leave, but Zenaide refused, urging the Empress to listen to the growing discontent and abandon the peasant. It was all to no avail: after a few minutes, Alexandra rose, gave the Princess a hard look, and said coldly, "I hope never to see you again!" When Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna arrived and tried to raise the issue, her sister-as she later complained to Zenaide-"dismissed me like a dog!"

james_h

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Re: Princess Zenaida Yusupova - discussion and pictures
« Reply #149 on: June 11, 2006, 04:28:56 AM »
It was one of the few bright spots in a life increasingly clouded with sorrow. Nicholas II appointed Count Felix Governor-General and Chief of the Moscow Military District, positions that demanded his presence in the former capital. With reluctance, Zenaide abandoned her son and daughter-in-law and took up residence in Moscow, where she found the population growing increasingly agitated by both the military setbacks of the War and by the common belief that the Empress, under the sway of Rasputin, was somehow involved in a shadowy conspiracy against their country and held strong pro-German sympathies. The issue came to a head in June of 1915, when anti-German riots broke out in Moscow. A large mob gathered in Red Square, calling for Rasputin's murder, the imprisonment of the Empress, the overthrow of Nicholas II, and the installation of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich as Emperor Nicholas III. The military, under the control of Count Felix, was unable to disperse the mob, which eventually gravitated to the Convent of St. Mary and St. Martha, founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna after her husband's assassination in 1905. Here, they resumed their attacks, pelting the Convent with stones and calling for "the German woman" to appear; to quiet them, Elizabeth Feodorovna bravely faced down the mob, only to be met with accusations that she was hiding her brother Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse und Bei Rhein. Only the arrival of a second contingent of armed police prevented violence.

As Governor-General and Chief of the Moscow Military District, Zenaide's husband was charged with maintaining order in the city, and the riot not only served as a visible demonstration of the growing discontent against the Dynasty but also underlined his impotence in the face of opposition. When she learned of this, Empress Alexandra was understandably angry, and demanded that her husband force his resignation. The Emperor, however-knowing that such outbreaks were taking place all over the country-was loathe to confront the Count. Instead, he waited until autumn before summoning Zenaide's husband to an uncomfortable meeting at Tsarskoye Selo. It began pleasantly, but when the Emperor demanded explanations, Count Felix replied frankly that, given the conditions in the country, such displays were to be expected. Then he went further, speaking out against the continued influence of Rasputin-a bold move that sealed his fate. Nicholas II demanded his resignation and the Count, glad to be free of the onerous responsibilities, immediately resigned.

Rather than return to Petrograd, Zenaide and her husband retired to their estate of Koreiz in the Crimea, where they lived quietly for the next eighteen months. In the fall of 1916, Zenaide had an urgent letter from her friend Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in which she outlined the current situation as she saw it, and angrily denounced her sister Alexandra's influence and continued reliance on Rasputin. She begged Zenaide to go to Tsarskoye Selo and speak to the Empress, saying that she herself had been all but cut off from their former relationship for several years. With some reluctance, Zenaide agreed, and boarded a train for Petrograd. The Empress received her in the Maple Room of the Alexander Palace and, from the first, the meeting was uneasy. At the first mention of Rasputin, Alexandra asked the Princess to leave, but Zenaide refused, urging the Empress to listen to the growing discontent and abandon the peasant. It was all to no avail: after a few minutes, Alexandra rose, gave the Princess a hard look, and said coldly, "I hope never to see you again!" When Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna arrived and tried to raise the issue, her sister-as she later complained to Zenaide-"dismissed me like a dog!"