Miscellaneous Imperial Family photos

Because I’ve been singularly working on finishing my alternative history in time for its 17 July release, I didn’t have any time left to put together a proper post. Instead, here are some of my photos of Russia’s Imperial Family.

1922 engagement photo of Prince Nikita Aleksandrovich (grandson of Aleksandr III) and childhood friend Countess Mariya Vorontsova-Dashkova. Their oldest son, Prince Nikita Nikitich, appears in my alternative history, as one of the five princes held as ransom by the Eichmann–Kommando in Budapest.

Tsar Ivan V, Peter the Great’s very handsome halfbrother and initial co-Tsar. Though Ivan was very severely disabled, he had a wife and five healthy daughters, and Peter was always so compassionate towards him. He never excluded him from co-ruling, even knowing it was mostly symbolic.

Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich, second surviving son of the rival Vladimirovichi branch of the family. Though he was quite the womanizer and overspender, he was also known as an excellent host, very friendly and cheerful, with gourmet foods and wines by his tables. He and his little brother Andrey were let out of Bolshevik captivity when their captor recognized Boris as the one who’d bought some of his artwork when he was a struggling artist in France.

Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna (née Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine), known as Ella, Empress Aleksandra’s older sister, widow of Grand Duke Sergey Aleksandrovich, in 1887. She later became a nun, and was murdered by the Bolsheviks. In comparison to her sister, she was popular from the moment she arrived in Russia.

Prince Igor Konstantinovich, who marries Grand Duchess Mariya in my alternative history. They have eleven children, ten of whom survive. Had they both lived, he would’ve been a great husband for her, since she wanted so much to marry a nice Russian soldier and have a large family. Knowing she was a hemophilia carrier, and such a sweet person, I gave them eight girls and only three boys. Their second hemophiliac son survives into adulthood and plays a very important role in capturing Hitler alive near the end of the war. Their surprise youngest child, Oleg, is the healthy son they’ve long dreamt of.

Found this among a few blurry pictures while going through my downloads to free up space on my computer, prior to reinstalling and updating my OS. I really hope that photo isn’t what it looks like!

Prince Oleg Konstantinovich, Igor’s favorite brother, said to be the most intelligent of the Konstantinovichi siblings. His death in the war in 1914 devastated their father.

Prince Igor Konstantinovich and the Iverskaya Chapel

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Prince Igor Konstantinovich, 10 June 1894–18 July 1918

Prince Igor Konstantinovich was the sixth child and fifth son of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich the elder and Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Mavrikiyevna (née Princess Elisabeth Auguste Marie Agnes of Saxe–Altenburg). This large, close-knit family of eventually nine children (of whom eight survived into adulthood) stood in stark, welcome contrast to the decadent, dysfunctional antics of many other members of the extended Imperial Family.

Igor and his siblings were the first to be affected by a new law passed by Tsar Aleksandr III, dictating that, henceforth, only the children and male-line grandchildren of a Tsar merited the titles Grand Duke or Duchess and Imperial Highness. This law was meant to cut down on the amount of people getting salaries from the Imperial Treasury. These great-grandchildren and their descendants, thus, were simply to be known as Prince or Princess and Highness.

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Prince Igor (left of centre) during the war, developing into a rather handsome fellow

Igor and his siblings grew up in Pavlovsk, a St. Petersburg suburb. Like all Romanov males, he entered the Corps des Pages military school at a young age, and was taught at home by tutors. He was closest to his brother Oleg, who was killed in action in 1914. Their father, a man of letters, wrote poems and plays under the initials K.R., and founded several literary societies. Because he was so attracted to the old Russian traditions and customs, he gave his children old-fashioned, folksy names which weren’t in vogue in Imperial society, like Ioann, Tatyana, Oleg, and Igor. They represented a romantic ideal of Russia as it was.

Igor and his brothers Konstantin, Oleg, Ioann, and Gavriil served in the Izmaylovskiy Guards Regiment during the Great War. They served with distinction and became decorated war heroes, well-liked by their fellow soldiers. Igor earned the rank of captain. However, he fell sick with pleurisy and pneumonia in 1915, and still wasn’t well after he returned to the trenches.

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Prince Igor and Tsesarevich Aleksey at Stavka (military HQ) during the war

In April 1918, he fell into Bolshevik hands and was taken to the Urals along with his brothers Konstantin and Ioann; their cousins Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley and Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich; the Tsaritsa’s sister Ella and one of her nuns; and Grand Duke Sergey’s secretary. They initially were held in Yekaterinburg but denied communication with the Tsar’s family, and then taken to nearby Alapayevsk.

On 18 July 1918, a day after the Imperial Family’s murder, the Alapayevsk prisoners were blindfolded, had their hands bound, and were taken to an abandoned mineshaft in wagons. Only Grand Duke Sergey knew they were being taken to be murdered, and tried to resist. They were all thrown alive into the mineshaft, which was full of water. Not everyone died instantly, but they were all dead by the time the White Army reached the area and discovered what had happened.

In my alternative history, the Alapayevsk prisoners are rescued, and Igor becomes Grand Duchess Mariya’s husband.

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19th century view of the Iverskaya Gate and Chapel, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Iverskaya (Iberian) Gate, alternately called Resurrection (Voskresenskiye) Gate, is one of the historic entrances to Moskvá’s Red Square and Kreml. It’s surrounded by Red Square, Manezhnaya Square, Voskresenskaya Square, the State Historical Museum, and City Hall.

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Modern view of Iverskaya Gate and Chapel, Copyright Stoljaroff

Since 1669, Iverskaya Chapel has been home to a copy of the Panagia Portaitissa (Ikon of the Blessèd Virgin of Iveron), which according to legend was created by Saint Luke. The original ikon is resplendent in silver and gold. Tradition dictated everyone visit the chapel to venerate the ikon before entering Red Square, no matter how high or low one’s birth. Prisoners and outlaws could pray right beside the Tsar.

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Iverskaya Gate towers, Copyright Hons084Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The day before his coronation, the Tsar came to Iverskaya Chapel to venerate the ikon, just like any other worshipper. Coronations were held in Moskvá, the ancient capital, not St. Petersburg, the modern capital.

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Ikon of the Blessèd Virgin of Iveron

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:

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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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

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

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Sister Varvara Alekseyevna Yakovleva, born circa 1850

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

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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

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

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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

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

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

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

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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

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

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Sister Varvara Alekseyevna Yakovleva, born circa 1850

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

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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)

WIPpet Wednesday—Igor Comforts Mariya

Happy Wednesday! Now that the weather is mostly nice again, I’m able to regularly go to the pond near my apartment. I discovered a goose family in May, and it’s been so fun watching them grow up. Each time I see them, they’re a little bit bigger and look a little different. Sadly, I’ve had to watch them going from six to five to four.

This is how big they were when I met them:

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This is how big they are now:

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Tuesday also made 12 years since I got my left nostril pierced. I’d wanted it since I was 12 years old, and when I was an adult and had done a lot of research, I finally did it. I’ve never regretted it, and love how cute, flattering, and discreet it looks, as well as how it’s the side traditionally pierced in India. I’d rate it a 0 on the pain scale, since I didn’t feel anything except some strange pressure. My piercer really found my sweet spot!

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WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly bloghop hosted by K.L. Schwengel. The caveat is that excerpts must be related to the date in some way. I’m sharing 38 lines, since 24+6+2+0+1+5=38.

Prince Igor Konstantinovich (age 24) has come over to visit Aleksey, whom he previously spent a lot of time with at Stavka (military HQ) during the war. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Aleksey’s 19-year-old sister Mariya.

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Maríya came into the library, limping as she had since her discharge from the hospital.  Just as when she’d returned to the family in August, her large, saucer-like blue eyes were still drained of vivacity.  She barely glanced at their visitor before continuing on to a nearby shelf.

“How are you feeling, Maríya Nikoláyevna?” Ígor asked. “I didn’t get a chance to speak with any of you at your parents’ funeral, but I hope you don’t think it’s too late to convey my utmost sympathies and condolences.  Three years on, I’m still saddened by the loss of my dear father, and the loss of my dear brother Óleg haunts me four years later.”

Maríya pulled a book off the shelf and began limping out of the room.  When the book slipped out of her hand onto the carpet, she burst into tears, and Ígor jumped up to help her.

“Are you feeling alright?” Ígor turned away and coughed. “I’m sorry, my health hasn’t been the same since I had pleurisy and pneumonia three years ago.”

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“Life is just so meaningless and useless since my parents were murdered!  How can any of us go on living and pretending to be happy when there’s no more life for our dear parents?  I should’ve been killed too, not just shot in the leg and left with a limp.  It would’ve been even better had I died of measles last year, and been spared everything.  This palace feels so empty and melancholic without my parents, and I have nothing to do with myself anymore but read, crochet, knit, and go for walks.  I don’t even have much of an appetite, and have no heart to draw or paint.” She stumbled towards the nearest davenport and flung herself down, weeping so hysterically her entire body heaved.

Ígor trailed after her and had a seat on the davenport.  He timidly touched Maríya’s shoulder, then immediately removed his hand.

“Please forgive me, Your Imperial Highness.  I don’t know what I was thinking, just that I wanted to help you when you’re so upset.”

“You’re a family friend, not a stranger.  There’s no offense taken.” Maríya pulled herself up and wrapped her arms around Ígor, still sobbing.

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Ígor hesitated for a moment, then put his arms around her in return. “You were always so sweet, happy, and cheerful, even in the worst of times.  Is there anything that would make you cheer up and be as happy as you used to be, besides the impossible feat of bringing your parents back to life?”

“I was too sweet and happy.  Now I know what being too good got me, almost being murdered.  Nothing that made me happy before makes me happy now.”

“Sure you’ll be happy again.  With enough time, you won’t feel so sad all the time anymore.  If you still love children, maybe you can come over to my brother Ioannchik’s house to play with his two children.  And if you still like soldiers, I bet you could visit some hospitals for the fellows still recovering from their war wounds.  You’re old enough to be a real nurse now, not just have a hospital in your name.  Even if the war is over for us, there are still plenty of guys with serious injuries.”

She began to calm down a little bit.