Tsar Aleksey II

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When I’m Tsar, there must be no one poor or sad.  I want everyone to be happy.

I enjoy the sun and the beauty of summer as long as I can. Who knows whether one of these days I shall not be prevented from doing it?

I am beginning to see the truth.  At Tsarskoye everyone lied to me…If I become Tsar no one will dare to lie to me.  I will make things right in this country.

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His Imperial Highness Sovereign Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Prince Aleksey Nikolayevich Romanov, now Holy Royal Martyr Tsesarevich Aleksey, 30 July/12 August 1904–17 July 1918

This year, my A to Z posts are about people, places, and things from my alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, about the greatest Tsar who never ruled, this unlikeliest of all heroes. For the last 21 years, I’ve felt this suprarational soul connection to that boy, an obligation to give him the happy ending he was cheated out of in real life. My A to Z posts are lovingly dedicated to his memory.

Alexei_Nikolaevich,_1904

Like his four older sisters, Aleksey was a rather large baby, 11.5 pounds (in the days before that was considered worthy of an automatic C-section). As with all Imperial births, there was a cannon salute across the Neva River in St. Petersburg, 301 blasts for a boy. He was named after Peter the Great’s father, even though a 17th century prophecy had said the dynasty would end with an Aleksey as heir. At his baptism, he raised his hand and extended his fingers, as though blessing the people. This was interpreted as a very good omen for his future rule as Tsar.

Though the story goes that something odd was first noticed about his health at six weeks old, it really happened when the umbilical cord was cut. It took two days for the doctors to bring the bleeding under control. He’d seemed so robust at birth, but the evidence was undeniable.

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The hemophilia attacks were more serious and frequent in early childhood, as is common. He got bruises and hemorrhages as he learnt to crawl, and when he was old enough to stand and walk, he received injuries from falling down. A child that young doesn’t have the cognizance to understand he has a serious disease, and how to safeguard against the worst attacks.

Alexei_Nikolaievich_of_Russia_as_a_toddler

Aleksey had long golden curls as a baby and toddler, but as he got older, the curls turned straight, and the blonde hair was replaced by a lovely shade of auburn with coppery highlights. His eyes were a beautiful blue-grey inherited from his mother. Many people felt he was the most beautiful of the five Imperial children, and indeed he developed into a very handsome young man. Unfortunately, he didn’t smile in many pictures, because he felt very self-conscious about the gap between his front teeth. Corrective dental work was out of the question, for obvious reasons.

Alexey6

It’s well-known he was a bit of a spoilt brat and holy terror when he was younger, but a lot of folks make far too much of that. The most important thing was that he eventually grew out of it, as most children do. In particular, the gigantic health emergency at Spała in 1912, and the year or so it took to fully recover, really matured him. He was frequently remorseful, and it may have been caused by frustration, constantly forbidden to do things before he could understand why. And what kid won’t get a bit of a big head from practically being worshipped as the heir to the throne?

Brattiness wasn’t the only thing about him. He was also described as golden-hearted, sensitive to others’ suffering, intelligent, empathetic, kind, pious, and strong-minded.

Tsesarevitch1

He was so eager to grow up and become a man, and finally left the childish sailor suit behind for a military uniform when he stayed at military HQ with his father during the Great War. By the final few years of his life, he’d become much healthier and stronger, with attacks fewer and further between. His health only deteriorated at the end because he didn’t exactly have access to the best doctors and medical care in captivity. In normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have been so bored he rode a sled down a staircase. He’d also had measles in 1917, which is notorious for weakening the immune system for about three years afterwards.

Alexei_Nikolaevich_of_Russia

So many things went wrong when Nicholas II illegally abdicated. The Russian people loved their heir, and preferred him to his inept father. Many contemporaries felt he would’ve been a much better Tsar, since he had more empathy, sensitivity, and intelligence, got appropriate experience from a young age, and personally knew what suffering was like.

It would’ve been such a happier 20th century if he’d been allowed to rule, even if he hadn’t lived long into adulthood. He would’ve ruled with love, fairness, kindness, and sensitivity to the suffering of the Russian people. Ruling with sensitivity doesn’t automatically mean being a spineless pushover. I’d like to believe that in some alternative universe, he got the chance to prove himself instead of condemned to be forever thirteen.

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15 comments on “Tsar Aleksey II

  1. shanjeniah says:

    Such a beautiful baby, little boy, bigger boy, and young man. That last picture gets me – there’s something in his eyes that reminds me of my 14 year old son. A level maturity in the way he’s looking out at the world, I think.

    A tragic loss, and I love that you’re giving him a happier ending. I’ll be back for more! =D

    Boldly Going Through the Alphabet!
    @shanjeniah from
    shanjeniah’s Lovely Chaos

    Like

  2. jazzfeathers says:

    I have heard, of course, of this boy’s unhappy destiny. He really sounds like a very likable person, and one wonders what might have been, indeed.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

    Like

  3. I know so little about Russian history. This was a fascinating read. I can see why this historical figure is so intriguing for a book. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    Like

  4. Tarkabarka says:

    This theme is just starting out and I am already deeply invested in this boy’s story. And I am impressed with the amount if research you have done!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

    Like

  5. Riding a staircase in a sled is probably not a good idea when you’re a bleeder. I’m sure he just wanted to be a normal kid.

    Like

  6. Ooh, an alternate reality where he gets to rule! That sounds like a story that needs to be told (and one I’d love to read…and review).

    Andrea Lundgren
    Into the Writerlea Blog

    Like

  7. lgkeltner says:

    I’m here as one of Stormy’s Sidekicks!

    You’ve hooked me! The photos and the way you described him have me deeply invested. I want an alternate reality where he got his happy ending!

    Like

  8. Nilanjana Bose says:

    I know zilch about Russian history and you’ve got me interested! He looks such a handsome baby and boy and man, and has such compassionate eyes. Glad you’ve given him a happy ending.

    Best,
    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

    Like

  9. I’m intrigued by alternative history. It just be fun to write it – playing at the nebulous borders between what was and what could have been. Fascinating start to the challenge!

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-is-for-anchor-nancy-drew-investigates.html

    Like

  10. Melfka says:

    Great post! I can see how Aleksey’s story inspired you to write an alternative version of the history. You’re right, things might have been very different if he got a chance to rule.

    Like

  11. miladyronel says:

    He sounds like a great character to write about. Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

    Like

  12. He saw so much in his young life and suffered a great deal. It’s hard to understand anyone who sees children as the enemy.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    Like

  13. Veronica Martinez says:

    Always had an interest in Russian history and love this idea. Have fun with the challenge and looking forward to the rest.

    Like

  14. I’m constantly mesmerized by the history of the Romanov family — the love, the trials and tribulations, all the tragedy. And much speculation continues to this day. Very interesting post of the young Tsar. Thank you.

    Like

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