Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley

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His soul with tired wings
Will fly up, murdered, to the Creator.

All that used to interest me formerly, those brilliant ballets, those decadent paintings, that new music—all seems dull and tasteless now. I seek the truth, the real truth, the light, and what is good…

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Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, 28 December 1896/9 January 1897–18 July 1918

Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley was the firstborn child of his parents’ relationship, though each had children from previous marriages. His father, Grand Duke Pavel Aleksandrovich (a son of Tsar Aleksandr II), was married to Princess Alexandra of Greece and had a girl and a boy, Mariya and Dmitriy. “Greek Alix,” as his first wife was known, died shortly after Dmitriy’s premature birth, but miraculously, Dmitriy survived without any apparent health issues.

Prince Vladimir’s mother, Olga Valerianovna Karnovich, was married to Erich Gerhard von Pistohlkors, and had four children, Aleksandr, Olga (died in infancy), a second Olga, and Marianna. In 1893, Olga and Grand Duke Pavel became acquainted, and they began an affair while she was still legally married to her first husband.

The ridiculously out of touch Nicholas II typically refused to approve their morganatic marriage (since the draconian House Laws crafted by an inept Tsar in 1797 were working out SO well for the Imperial Family), so they moved to Paris. Vladimir, called Volodya, was born in 1896, and his sisters Irina and Natalya were born in 1903 and 1905, respectively.

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Young Volodya, far right, with his parents and sisters

In 1902, Olga and Grand Duke Pavel married in Livorno, Italy, and in 1904, Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria created Olga and Vladimir Countess and Count of Hohenfelsen. Grand Duke Pavel was severely punished for marrying for love and not kowtowing to the House Laws, and was removed from all his military commissions, had his assets and properties seized, and lost custody of his older two children to his brother, Grand Duke Sergey (the anti-Semitic governor of Moskvá, who was later assassinated).

At age thirteen, Volodya became a poet, and showed great talent, skill, depth, and creativity. Everything spoke to him in poetry, no matter how seemingly silly or insignificant, like the scent of a flower or the way the sunlight fell across the grass. He loved Nature, and transmitting that love into poetry. Volodya was also very gifted in music, art, and languages. He published volumes of his poetry in 1916 and 1918, wrote several essays and plays, and translated The King of the Jews, a play by Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich the elder, into French.

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Eventually, the family got permission to return to Russia, and in 1915, Vladimir and his mother were created Prince and Princess Paley, with the style Serene Highness. His little sisters were also created princesses. Though he was really a Romanov, he was forbidden to use his own family name because his parents’ marriage was morganatic.

Volodya entered the esteemed Corps des Pages military academy attended by most other male Romanovs, and in December 1914 entered the Emperor’s Hussars regiment. He served bravely in the Great War, and his poetry turned to the ugliness, suffering, devastation, and destruction of war, the deaths of his friends, and the kindness of the nurses. Volodya became a lieutenant and was decorated with the Order of St. Anne.

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Volodya as a baby, 1898

He and his family were briefly under house arrest in summer 1917, after he wrote a poem about Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerenskiy. Then, in March 1918, he fell into Bolshevik hands. Volodya could’ve been spared because he was morganatic, but he bravely, wordlessly refused Bolshevik orders to deny his belovèd father. During his captivity, he lost interest in all the things he’d previously enjoyed, like ballet, music, and art, and focused only on his faith and the real things in life.

Volodya was initially held in Yekaterinburg and then moved to nearby Alapeyevsk, along with Princes Ioann, Igor, and Konstantin Konstantinovich; Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich and his secretary; and the Tsaritsa’s sister Ella and one of her nuns. On 18 July 1918, the day after the Imperial Family’s murder, the Alapayevsk prisoners were taken to an abandoned mineshaft full of water, blindfolded and hands bound, and thrown in alive. Most of them died of starvation and their injuries.

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After the White Army came too late to Alapayevsk and discovered the bodies, Volodya and the others were buried in an Orthodox cemetery in Beijing. Sadly, the cemetery was bulldozed during the Cultural Revolution, and now a parking lot is on top of it. Only Ella and Sister Varvara were spared this fate, having been moved to Jerusalem.

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Volodya, second from right, with his family, about 1914

In my alternative history, the Alapayevsk martyrs are rescued, and Volodya becomes Grand Duchess Tatyana’s husband.

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

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

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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

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

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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)

WeWriWa—Employ terminated

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. The snippet this week comes right after last week’s, as Grand Duke Mikhail, the Regent, asserts his authority over a footman attempting to ruin an arranged meeting with the two oldest Grand Duchesses and their potential suitors. The footman has gotten bolder in his disrespect for Mikhail, creating a very uncomfortable situation for Princes Konstantin and Vladimir.

Prince Vladimir, the product of a morganatic marriage, is Tatyana’s intended.

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“This footman will be collecting his belongings under armed guard and vacating the palace immediately following a thorough interrogation.  His employ is terminated effective immediately, and his final salary will be sent to the temporary address he should alert us to as soon as he’s procured new lodgings, provided the interrogation doesn’t turn up any evidence of something like revolutionary associations.”

The footman clenched his teeth and stormed off to his quarters, flanked by several guards.

“What an uppity servant,” Vladímir said. “He really didn’t know his place.  If you really want to know, I don’t condemn you for having married a commoner.  My own mother is a commoner, and she and I were only created a princess and prince after a long time of existing in that morganatic state.  To be honest, I feel like more of a commoner than a prince.”

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Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, 28 December 1896–18 July 1918, was a grandson of Aleksandr II and a very gifted writer and poet. He was also excellent with languages, art, and music. Vladimir was born when his mother was still legally married to her first husband. Though he was a Romanov, he wasn’t allowed to use his rightful family name because his parents’ marriage was morganatic. In 1915, he and his mother were created Prince and Princess Paley.

Volodya could’ve been spared the fate of his other Imperial relatives if he’d obeyed Bolshevik orders to deny his father, but he bravely refused. He’d by and large lived the life of a commoner, but he wouldn’t hear of denouncing his belovèd father.