Once upon a time, there was a crown prince. This wasn’t just any crown prince, but a very special crown prince who was born after four girls in a row. Because the inheritance laws of his empire dictated women could only inherit the throne unless all male dynasts were dead or disqualified, his parents had been trying and longing for a boy for almost ten years.
Their desperate prayers were finally answered when their only son was born, a very robust baby of 11.5 pounds who could already hold his head up. A further good omen was when he raised his hand and extended his fingers at his baptism, as though blessing the people. The entire empire rejoiced at his birth, after waiting so long for an heir to the throne.
But unbeknownst to anyone outside of the immediate family, the newborn crown prince was very sick. He was born with a fatal flaw in his blood, a sickness originating with his maternal great-grandmother and passed along to quite a few reigning houses. Because of this illness, the already disastrous reign of his parents headed into an even more troubling trajectory. Though the crown prince had many miraculous recoveries and showed promise of living at least until his twenties if he continued being lucky and careful, the Fates had other ideas, and he was murdered a few weeks shy of his fourteenth birthday.
But what if history had turned out differently?
My A to Z posts will feature people, places, and things from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, a story about the greatest Tsar who never ruled, the hemophiliac prince who became a great hero against all odds. Because of the miraculous last-minute rescue which opens the book, there’s a much happier 20th century. My A to Z posts are dedicated in memory of Aleksey Nikolayevich Romanov (30 July/12 August 1904–17 July 1918).
You’ll learn about:
The Winter Palace, the beautiful, immense official home of the Imperial Family until 1905.
Aleksey’s loyal spaniel Joy, the only member of the Imperial Family who survived in real life.
Why you want to use the word Tsesarevich, not Tsarevich.
Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, a morganatic grandson of Tsar Aleksandr II and a very talented, sensitive young poet.
Nevskiy Prospekt, the beautiful, historic shopping thoroughfare of St. Petersburg.
How Easter was celebrated in Imperial Russia.
Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich, Aleksey’s uncle, guardian, and Regent, who has a miraculous rescue of his own.
The Fyodorovskaya Ikon of the Mother of God, the House of Romanov’s patron ikon.
The Lower Dacha of Peterhof Palace, Aleksey’s birthplace.
Grand Duchess Xenia (Kseniya) Aleksandrovna, Aleksey’s aunt.
Several posts have two or three topics, but I kept each post between about 400–800 words, and loaded each with plenty of pictures. All the non-public domain photographs are properly credited.
On my names blog, I’ll be featuring names from The Divine Comedy. Many of the names will thus be Italian, but there are also names from mythology and other regions. As some readers might remember, the opening 12 lines of this timeless work of literature were what inspired the title of my third Russian historical, and the titles of each of the four Parts:
Midway life’s journey I was made aware
That I had strayed into a dark forest,
And the right path appeared not anywhere.
Ah, tongue cannot describe how it oppressed,
This wood, so harsh, dismal, and wild, that fear
At thought of it strikes now into my breast.
So bitter it is, death is scarce bitterer.
But, for the good it was my hap to find,
I speak of the other things that I saw there.
I cannot remember well in my mind
How I came thither, so was I immersed
In sleep, when the true way I left behind.