Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna

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Olgachair

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, 3/15 November 1895–17 July 1918

Grand Duchess Olga was the firstborn of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Aleksandra (Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine)’s five children. Like all four of her siblings, she was a very large baby, 10 pounds. She was named for the character Olga Larina in Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin’s classic novel Yevgeniy Onegin. Had she been a boy, she would’ve been named for the worthless, pathetic Tsar Pavel. The Tsar’s firstborn child had usually been a boy, but everyone figured there was always next time.

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Her parents were delighted with their pretty, charming little daughter, and somewhat glad she was a girl instead of a boy. A boy would’ve belonged to the Russian people, but a daughter belonged only to them. However, since no one had moved to amend the ridiculous, draconian House Laws created by Tsar Pavel, she was unable to inherit the throne. Pavel wanted to stick it to his mother, Catherine the Great, for having deposed his alleged father, Peter III, and so ruled women could never again rule Russia. Thus, the pressure was on to produce a boy.

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With her little sister Tatyana. They died in one another’s arms.

Olga was known to be the most intelligent of Nicholas II’s children, an inveterate bookworm, perhaps not best served by most of the tutors her parents hired. She was also very compassionate, and after she came into her trust fund at 20, she used much of her vast fortune to help those in need. Along with these positive traits, she was also moody, brutally honest, temperamental, and autocratic. Unfortunately, because she was so sheltered from the outside world and rarely went to court functions, she was quite naïve, and her mental age didn’t really match her chronological age. She and her sisters talked and acted like little girls.

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With her little brother. Olga was one of Aleksey’s several godmothers.

Though it was normal for Romanova women to be married in their late teens, the only marriage prospect Olga was ever offered was the sleazy Prince Carol of Romania. Romania’s Royal Family came for a visit to Russia in 1914, and then later that year, the Russian Imperial Family went to Romania. However, neither Olga nor Carol liked one another. She dodged a bullet, since he proved to be a lousy husband to his several wives, and an all-around serpent’s tooth, scumbag, and traitor.

Her parents had also been seriously considering her cousin Dmitriy Pavlovich, but their personalities weren’t exactly compatible. Dmitriy was too worldly and earthy for her, and then, of course, he was involved in Rasputin’s murder.

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With Tatyana, after both had started wearing their hair up

The outbreak of the Great War put a bit of a damper on Olga’s marriage prospects, but it’s still rather surprising her parents didn’t have her married off before then. She and Tatyana were a bit old to be unmarried, by European royalty standards of the era. Both kept falling in love with men of unequal rank, like the officers on board their yacht The Shtandart and the wounded soldiers they nursed in their hospital. They rarely interacted with men of equal rank, due to how their family almost never went to court functions.

During the war, Olga was a nurse just like Tatyana and their mother, though the emotional stress of treating wounded soldiers took its toll on her. She was already emotional and moody, and this led to some breakdowns. In October 1915, she received arsenic injections to try to heal her nerves and mood.

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In the uniform of her regiment, the 3rd Yelisavetgrad Hussars

In early 1917, all five Imperial children caught measles, and Olga was one of the worst affected, getting both pleurisy and encephalitis (because measles actually IS deadly, contrary to what the anti-science woonatics claim). During this time, their father illegally abdicated, and they fell under house arrest. In August, they were moved to Tobolsk, and in April 1918, the family were briefly separated when Nicholas, Aleksandra, and Mariya went to Yekaterinburg. Olga stayed behind with her other sisters and Aleksey, who was recovering from a serious hemorrhage in the groin.

In May 1918, the Bolsheviks decided, against obvious evidence, that the sickly Aleksey was suddenly well enough to travel, and they were forced to go to Yekaterinburg. Olga’s mood continued deteriorating, and she was in an even worse state after reaching Yekaterinburg.

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In my alternative history, Olga and her siblings are rescued, and she marries Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger, who had a crush on her in real life. They heal one another’s wounded hearts and souls.

Of the five Imperial children, I always felt a suprarational soul connection to Aleksey, but of the Grand Duchesses, I always was most drawn to Olga.

Déjà Vu Blogfest 2015—In Memoriam

Today’s my English birthday (eight days after my Hebrew birthday this year), and I think I’ve finally reached the age where I simply want to say I’m old enough instead of giving my true age. It’s not like anyone would believe me if I told them my true age anyway, since I don’t look a day over 25, if that. Though don’t worry I’ll be one of those people pretending to be turning 21, 25, or 29 every single year from now on!

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As in previous years, D.L. Hammons is once again hosting his Déjà Vu Blogfest, wherein participants repost something they felt didn’t get enough exposure, or their favorite post from the past year. Click on the button for more information and the list of participants.

My Friday posts generally don’t get many views, and this one has under 30 to date since its 17 July posting. It’s a memorial post for Russia’s last Imperial Family, with nothing more than their names, pictures, birthdates, and death dates. I felt that would convey the enormity of this loss of life far more than some overly graphic account of the murders. The Mourner’s Kaddish doesn’t once mention Death, and the Torah portion Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah) starts by talking about how Sarah lived, not that she died. In mourning Death, we celebrate Life.

I also avoided any discussion of the ongoing arguments over whether the Imperial Family (particularly Nicholas and Aleksandra) should’ve been canonized, or which people in particular. To make a long, heated story very short, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad canonized everyone but Fyodor Remez as New Martyrs (including two other servants murdered in September 1918), whereas the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia only canonized the immediate Imperial Family as passion-bearers, plus Aleksandra’s sister Ella and her nun Varvara as New Martyrs.

Originally published 17 July 2015:

In memory of the 19 souls murdered 97 years ago, victims of Bolshevik repression and now elevated to sainthood by the Russian Orthodox Church:

Murdered on 17 July 1918:

Tsarevich_Nicholas_Alexandrovich

Tsar Nicholas II (Nikolay Aleksandrovich), born 6/18 May 1868

Princess_Alix_of_Hesse_1890

Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna, née Princess Viktoria Alix Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 6 June 1872

Olgachair

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, born 3/15 November 1895

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Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna, born 29 May/11 June 1897

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Grand Duchess Mariya Nikolayevna, born 14/27 June 1899

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Grand Duchess Anastasiya Nikolayevna, born 5/18 June 1901

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Tsesarevich Aleksey Nikolayevich, born 30 July/12 August 1904

BotkinES

Dr. Yevgeniy Sergeyevich Botkin, born 27 May/8 June 1865

Anna_Demidova

Anna Stepanovna Demidova (lady-in-waiting), born 14/26 January 1878

Ivan_Mihaylovich_Haritonov

Ivan Mikhaylovich Kharitonov (cook), born 2/14 June 1870

Aloise_(Alexei)_Yegorovich_Trupp

Aloiziy Yegorovich Trupp (footman), born 5 April 1856

Murdered on 18 July 1918 (though most took several days to die):

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Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich, born 25 September/7 October 1869, and his secretary, Fyodor Remez

Elizaveta_romanova

Sister (formerly Grand Duchess) Yelizaveta Fyodorovna, née Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Luise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 1 November 1864

Varvara_Yakovleva

Sister Varvara Alekseyevna Yakovleva, born circa 1850

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Prince (né Grand Duke) Ioann Konstantinovich, born 23 June/5 July 1886

Prince_Konstantin_Konstantinovich

Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger, born 20 December 1890/1 January 1891

Prince Igor Konstantinovich

Prince Igor Konstantinovich, born 29 May/10 June 1894

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Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (really a Romanov), born 28 December 1896/9 January 1897

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a)

In Memoriam

In memory of the 19 souls murdered 97 years ago, victims of Bolshevik repression and now elevated to sainthood by the Russian Orthodox Church:

Murdered on 17 July 1918:

Tsarevich_Nicholas_Alexandrovich

Tsar Nicholas II (Nikolay Aleksandrovich), born 6/18 May 1868

Princess_Alix_of_Hesse_1890

Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna, née Princess Viktoria Alix Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 6 June 1872

Olgachair

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, born 3/15 November 1895

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Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna, born 29 May/11 June 1897

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Grand Duchess Mariya Nikolayevna, born 14/27 June 1899

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Grand Duchess Anastasiya Nikolayevna, born 5/18 June 1901

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Tsesarevich Aleksey Nikolayevich, born 30 July/12 August 1904

BotkinES

Dr. Yevgeniy Sergeyevich Botkin, born 27 May/8 June 1865

Anna_Demidova

Anna Stepanovna Demidova (lady-in-waiting), born 14/26 January 1878

Ivan_Mihaylovich_Haritonov

Ivan Mikhaylovich Kharitonov (cook), born 2/14 June 1870

Aloise_(Alexei)_Yegorovich_Trupp

Aloiziy Yegorovich Trupp (footman), born 5 April 1856

Murdered on 18 July 1918 (though most took several days to die):

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Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich, born 25 September/7 October 1869, and his secretary, Fyodor Remez

Elizaveta_romanova

Sister (formerly Grand Duchess) Yelizaveta Fyodorovna, née Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Luise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine, born 1 November 1864

Varvara_Yakovleva

Sister Varvara Alekseyevna Yakovleva, born circa 1850

Ioann_Konstantinovich_of_Russia

Prince (né Grand Duke) Ioann Konstantinovich, born 23 June/5 July 1886

Prince_Konstantin_Konstantinovich

Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger, born 20 December 1890/1 January 1891

Prince Igor Konstantinovich

Prince Igor Konstantinovich, born 29 May/10 June 1894

1916bis

Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (really a Romanov), born 28 December 1896/9 January 1897

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a)

WIPpet Wednesday—Lectured by another sister

Welcome back to WIPpet Wednesday, hosted by K.L. Schwengel, a weekly blog hop wherein participants share excerpts from their WIPs related in some way to the date. Twenty plus five is twenty-five, so I’m sharing twenty-five sentences.

My alternative history, And Aleksey Lived, is told in four acts (1918–19, 1922–?, 1929–31, and 1939–45), plus an Epilogue. It starts where the real-life story sadly ended, and depicts a much happier 20th century for Russia, with perhaps the unlikeliest ruler in history. So many books, both novels and non-fiction, focus on the four Grand Duchesses, but I always felt most drawn to Aleksey, for so many reasons. I don’t believe he would’ve automatically died young anyway or been too sick to rule in his own right.

The morning after he and his sisters were miraculously rescued just in the nick of time, he doesn’t have much of an appetite for the feast the soldiers prepared, amid the famine going on in Yekaterinburg. First 21-year-old Tatyana urges him to regain his health and think about his newfound responsibilities, and then 22-year-old Olga picks up where she left off. He’s not very happy at being told he has to scale back his active nature and live what he feels isn’t a normal life.

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“Maybe some other boys like that, but I don’t.  And I don’t want people to think I’m not a real boy.  I’m too old now to be happy with that.  The last thing I want is for people to think I’m not a real man when I’m older.”

“People will judge you as a real man by your deeper actions,” Ólga said. “A real man has quality of character, a noble heart, a generous spirit, and a kind nature.  You can participate in all the hunting, fishing, roughhousing, indoor sledding, and wood-chopping you want, and it won’t make you more of a real man if you don’t have a good character underneath.  Anyone who makes fun of you for spending your time with quieter pursuits isn’t anyone you need to be keeping company with, and their attitude says far more about them than it does about you.”

“But I want to do those things.  It’s boring to sit still all day, and it’s not fun to have to watch everyone else having fun and being normal.  I don’t always hurt myself when I act normally.”

“But you’ve hurt yourself enough times to have learnt your lesson by now.  Now that Mama and Papa are gone, you have to be the man of household and learn to properly take care of yourself.  We can’t take care of you forever and protect you from yourself.  Do you or don’t you want to live as long as you can?”

His eyes grew misty. “I want to live a long time, and not always have to wonder when my last sight of the clouds, the sky, and the birds will be.”

“And do you want a long life more than you want a typical boy experience?”

“I want to live more.  Even when I’m in pain and wish I could die to end my misery, I’m still scared of the thought of never seeing the beauty of nature again.  I don’t want to be dead and never know the beautiful world of the living ever again.”

“Then you’ll do whatever it takes to stay healthy and live as long as you can.  But don’t use that as an excuse to only sit about drawing, reading, and watching nature.  You should exercise your joints too, so they build up greater strength and become more resistant to slips and falls.  Mama and Papa would want you to survive and be strong for them.”

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In real life, Aleksey said something very similar to Olga when she found him lying on his back looking at the clouds, “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?”

WeWriWa—A beautiful, sincere heart

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m skipping a little ahead from last week’s, past Grand Duke Mikhail thanking Prince Vladimir for his show of support against a disrespectful servant and addressing the elephant in the room of hemophilia. Even in 1918, people understood it was passed on through the mother, which means all four of the Grand Duchesses might’ve inherited it and thus have a very real chance of having hemophiliac sons themselves.

Mikhail says he won’t hold anything against the princes if they find this prospect too frightening and take their leave, but Konstantin insists he doesn’t care about that.

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Prince Konstantin, right, and his younger brother Prince Igor

***

“I’m so old, and want my own family so badly, I don’t care if I might have some children who aren’t all perfect.  Whatever God wants to give me, I’ll want and love just as he is.  Life is so fragile and can so easily be taken away at any time.  Even a healthy, normal child can pass away at any time.  The most important thing is that I give any children of mine all the love I know how to give.”

“You have a beautiful, sincere heart and spirit,” Ólga said, smiling at him. “My family went to Romania four years ago to investigate the possibility of my marrying Prince Carol, but neither of us liked one another.  Then nothing serious was done about my marriage prospects ever again, though I really wanted to be married.”

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Of the four Grand Duchesses, I always felt drawn most to Olga, the oldest. She was the most intelligent and intellectual, an inveterate bookworm, and gave a lot of her inheritance to the less fortunate after she came into her trust fund. Olga is also one of my favorite Russian female names, in spite of how a lot of English-speakers deride it as ugly and musty. It sounds really beautiful with the Russian pronunciation, which has a rolled L.