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Encyclopedia
The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 to rule over Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, reigning from 1613 until the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 abolished the crown in 1917. The later history of the Imperial House is sometimes referred to informally as the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.

The Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
Holstein-Gottorp
Holstein-Gottorp or Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp is the historiographical name, as well as contemporary shorthand name, for the parts of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein that were ruled by the dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp. Other parts of the duchies were ruled by the kings of Denmark. The...

, who was himself a member of a cadet branch of the Oldenburgs
House of Oldenburg
The House of Oldenburg is a North German dynasty and one of Europe's most influential Royal Houses with branches that rule or have ruled in Denmark, Russia, Greece, Norway, Schleswig, Holstein, Oldenburg and Sweden...

, married into the Romanov family early in the 18th century; all Romanov Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

s from the middle of that century to the revolution of 1917 were descended from that marriage. Though officially known as the House of Romanov, these descendants of the Romanov and Oldenburg Houses are sometimes referred to as Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.

Origins



The Romanovs share their origin with two dozen other Russian noble families. Their earliest common ancestor is one Andrei Kobyla
Andrei Kobyla
Andrei Ivanovich Kobyla was a progenitor of the Romanov dynasty of Russian tsars and many Russian noble families.This boyar was documented in contemporary chronicles only once, in 1347, when he was sent by Grand Duke Simeon the Proud to Tver with the purpose of meeting Simeon's bride, who was a...

, attested as a boyar
Boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

 in the service of Semyon I of Moscow
Simeon of Russia
Simeon Ivanovich Gordyi was Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of Vladimir. Simeon continued his father's policies of supporting the Golden Horde and acting as its leading enforcer in Russia. Simeon's rule was marked by regular military and political standoffs against Novgorod Republic and...

. Later generations assigned to Kobyla the most illustrious pedigrees
Pedigree chart
A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance or phenotypes of a particular gene or organism and its ancestors from one generation to the next, most commonly humans, show dogs, and race horses....

. An 18th century genealogy book claimed that he was the son of the Prussian prince Glanda Kambila, who came to Russia in the second half of the 13th century, fleeing the invading Germans. Indeed, one of the leaders of the Old Prussian rebellion of 1260-1274 against the Teutonic order was named Glande.

Kobyla's origins may have been less spectacular. Not only is Kobyla Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 for "mare", some of his relatives also had as nicknames the terms for horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s and other domestic animals, thus suggesting descent from one of the royal equerries. One of Kobyla's sons, Feodor, a boyar in the boyar duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 of Dmitri Donskoi
Dmitri Donskoi
Saint Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy , or Dmitry of the Don, sometimes referred to as Dmitry I , son of Ivan II the Meek of Moscow , reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1363 to his death. He was the first prince of Moscow to openly challenge Mongol authority in...

, was nicknamed Koshka (cat). His descendants took the surname Koshkin, then changed it to Zakharin, which family later split into two branches: Zakharin-Yakovlev and Zakharin-Yuriev. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the former family became known as Yakovlev (Alexander Herzen
Alexander Herzen
Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen was a Russian pro-Western writer and thinker known as the "father of Russian socialism", and one of the main fathers of agrarian populism...

 being the most illustrious of them), whereas grandchildren of Roman Zakharin-Yuriev changed their name to Romanov.

Rise to power


The family fortunes soared when Roman's daughter, Anastasia Zakharyina, married Ivan IV
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

 in February 1547. When her husband assumed the title of tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

, which literally means Caesar, she was crowned the very first Tsaritsa
Tsaritsa
Tsaritsa , formerly spelled czaritsa , is the title of a female autocratic ruler of Bulgaria or Russia, or the title of a tsar's wife....

. Their marriage was an exceedingly happy one, but her untimely and mysterious death in 1560 changed Ivan's character for the worse. Suspecting the boyars of having poisoned his beloved, the tsar started a reign of terror
Oprichnina
The oprichnina is the period of Russian history between Tsar Ivan the Terrible's 1565 initiation and his 1572 disbanding of a domestic policy of secret police, mass repressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats...

 against them. Among his children by Anastasia, the elder (Ivan) was murdered by the tsar in a quarrel; the younger Feodor
Feodor I of Russia
Fyodor I Ivanovich 1598) was the last Rurikid Tsar of Russia , son of Ivan IV and Anastasia Romanovna. In English he is sometimes called Feodor the Bellringer in consequence of his strong faith and inclination to travel the land and ring the bells at churches. However, in Russian the name...

, a pious and lethargic prince, inherited the throne upon his father's death.

Throughout Feodor's reign, the Russian government was contested between his brother-in-law, Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov
Boris Fyodorovich Godunov was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles.-Early years:...

, and his Romanov cousins. Upon the death of childless Feodor, the 700-year-old line of Moscow Ruriks
Rurik Dynasty
The Rurik dynasty or Rurikids was a dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862 AD...

 came to an end. After a long struggle, the party of Boris Godunov prevailed over the Romanovs, and the former was elected new Tsar in 1599. Godunov's revenge on the Romanovs was terrible: all the family and its relatives were deported to remote corners of the Russian North and Ural
Ural (region)
Ural is a geographical region located around the Ural Mountains, between the East European and West Siberian plains. It extends approximately from north to south, from the Arctic Ocean to the bend of Ural River near Orsk city. The boundary between Europe and Asia runs along the eastern side of...

, where most of them died of hunger or in chains. The family's leader, Feodor Nikitich Romanov, was exiled to the Antoniev Siysky Monastery and forced to take monastic vows with the name Filaret
Patriarch Filaret (Feodor Romanov)
Feodor Nikitich Romanov was a Russian boyar who after temporary disgrace rose to become patriarch of Moscow as Filaret , and became de-facto ruler of Russia during the reign of his son, Mikhail Feodorovich.- Life :...

.

The Romanovs' fortunes again changed dramatically with the fall of the Godunov dynasty in June 1605. As a former leader of the anti-Godunov party and cousin of the last legitimate Tsar, Filaret Romanov was valued by several impostor
Impostor
An impostor or imposter is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often to try to gain financial or social advantages through social engineering, but just as often for purposes of espionage or law enforcement....

s who attempted to claim the Rurik legacy and throne during the Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history comprising the years of interregnum between the death of the last Russian Tsar of the Rurik Dynasty, Feodor Ivanovich, in 1598, and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. In 1601-1603, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third...

. False Dmitriy I
False Dmitriy I
False Dmitriy I was the Tsar of Russia from 21 July 1605 until his death on 17 May 1606 under the name of Dimitriy Ioannovich . He is sometimes referred to under the usurped title of Dmitriy II...

 made him a metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

, and False Dmitriy II raised him to the dignity of patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

. Upon expulsion of Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 from Moscow in 1612, the Assembly of the Land
Zemsky Sobor
The zemsky sobor was the first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The term roughly means assembly of the land. It could be summoned either by tsar, or patriarch, or the Boyar Duma...

 offered the Russian crown to several Rurik
Rurik
Rurik, or Riurik , was a semilegendary 9th-century Varangian who founded the Rurik dynasty which ruled Kievan Rus and later some of its successor states, most notably the Tsardom of Russia, until 1598....

 and Gedimin princes, but all of them declined the honour of it.

On being offered the Russian crown, Filaret's 16-year-old son Mikhail Romanov, then living at the Ipatiev Monastery
Ipatiev Monastery
The Ipatiev Monastery —sometimes translated into English as Hypatian Monastery—is a male monastery, situated on the bank of the Kostroma River just opposite the city of Kostroma...

 of Kostroma
Kostroma
Kostroma is a historic city and the administrative center of Kostroma Oblast, Russia. A part of the Golden Ring of Russian towns, it is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers...

, burst into tears of fear and despair. He was finally persuaded to accept the throne by his mother Kseniya Ivanovna Shestova, who blessed him with the holy image of Our Lady of St. Theodore. It is little known that he was spirited to Moscow on the donation from the Stroganov family of Perm. Feeling how insecure his throne was, Mikhail attempted to emphasize his ties with the last Rurik tsars and sought advice from the Assembly of the Land on every important issue. This strategy proved successful. The early Romanovs were generally loved by the population as in-laws of Ivan the Terrible and innocent martyrs of Godunov's wrath.

The era of dynastic crisis


Mikhail was succeeded by his only son Alexei, who steered the country quietly through numerous troubles. Upon his death, there was a period of dynastic struggles between his children by his first wife (Feodor III
Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III Alexeevich of Russia was the Tsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682....

, Sofia Alexeevna, Ivan V
Ivan V of Russia
Ivan V Alekseyevich Romanov was a joint Tsar of Russia who co-reigned between 1682 and 1696. He was the youngest son of Alexis I of Russia and Maria Miloslavskaya. His reign was only formal, since he had serious physical and mental disabilities...

) and his son by his second wife Nataliya Kyrillovna Naryshkina, the future Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

. New dynastic struggles followed the death of Peter. His only son Alexei, who did not support Peter's modernization of Russia, had previously been arrested and died in prison shortly thereafter. Near the end of his life, Peter managed to alter the succession tradition of male heirs to allow him to name his own heir. Power then passed into the hands of his second wife, the Empress Catherine. Within five years, the Romanov male line ended with the death of Peter II
Peter II of Russia
Pyotr II Alekseyevich was Emperor of Russia from 1727 until his death. He was the only son of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, son of Peter I of Russia by his first wife Eudoxia Lopukhina, and Princess Charlotte, daughter of Duke Louis Rudolph of Brunswick-Lüneburg and sister-in-law of Charles VI,...

.

The Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov Dynasty


The Holstein-Gottorps of Russia retained the Romanov surname and sought to emphasize their matrilineal descent
Matrilineality
Matrilineality is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality is also a societal system in which one belongs to one's matriline or mother's lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.A matriline is a line of descent from a...

 from Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

, through Anna Petrovna (Peter I's elder daughter by his second wife). Paul I
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

 was particularly proud to be great-grandson of the illustrious Russian monarch, although his German-born mother, Catherine II
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg...

 (of the House of Anhalt-Zerbst
Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst
Anhalt-Zerbst was a principality located in Germany. It was established for the first time in 1252 following the partition of the principality of Anhalt. The capital of the state was located at Zerbst. Anhalt-Zerbst ceased to exist in 1396 when it was partitioned between Anhalt-Dessau and...

), insinuated in her memoirs that Paul's real father had been her lover Serge Saltykov
Serge Saltykov
Count Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov was a Russian officer who became the first lover of Empress Catherine the Great after her arrival to Russia....

. Painfully aware of the hazards resulting from battles of succession, Paul established the house law
House law
House law or House laws are rules that govern a royal family or dynasty in matters of eligibility for succession to a throne, membership in a dynasty, exercise of a regency, or entitlement to dynastic rank, titles and styles...

 of the Romanovs—one of the strictest in Europe—basing the succession to agnatic primogeniture and requiring Orthodox faith
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 from the monarch, the dynasts, the consort of the emperor and from those of first heirs in line. Later, Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, facing prospect of a morganatic
Morganatic marriage
In the context of European royalty, a morganatic marriage is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage...

 alliance of his brother and heir, added the requirement that consorts of Russian dynasts had to be of equal birth (i.e., born to a royal or sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 house).

Paul I
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

 was murdered in his palace in Saint Petersburg. Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 succeeded him on the throne and later died without leaving a male heir. His brother, crowned Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

, succeeded him on the throne. Nicholas I fathered four sons and provided them with excellent education for the prospect of ruling Russia and successfully leading in military conflicts.

Alexander II, son of Nicholas I, became the next Russian emperor. Alexander was an educated, intelligent man, who held that his task was to keep peace in Europe and Russia. However, he believed only a country with a strong army could keep the peace. By paying attention to the army, giving much freedom to Finland, and freeing the serfs in 1861, he gained much popular support (Finns still dearly remember him). His family life was not so happy; his beloved wife Maria Alexandrovna had serious problems with her lungs, which led to her death and to the dissolution of the close-knit family due to his quick morganatic marriage to his long time mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgoruki. His legitimization of his children by Catherine, and rumors that he was about to crown his new wife Empress, ending the morganatic status of his second marriage, caused great tension with the entire extended Romanov family. In particular, the Grand Duchesses were scandalized at the thought of being made permanently subordinate to Catherine Dolgoruki, since as an Empress she would have precedence over all of them. (She wouldn't have precedence over the next Empress Consort, however,as only mothers of Emperors had precedence over the wife of the reigning sovereign . On March 13, 1881, Alexander was killed after returning from a military parade. Slavic patriotism, cultural revival, and Panslavist ideas grew in importance in the latter half of this century, drawing the dynasty to look more 'Russian'. Yet tighter commitment to orthodox faith was required of Romanovs. Several marriages were contracted with princesses from other Slavic monarchies and other orthodox kingdoms, and even a couple of cadet-line princesses were allowed to marry Russian high noblemen - whereas until 1850s, practically all marriages had been with German princelings.
Alexander II was succeeded by his son Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

. Alexander III, the second-to-last Romanov tsar, was responsible for conservative reforms in Russia. Never meant to be emperor, he was educated in matters of state only after the death of his older brother, Nikolai. This lack of extensive education may have influenced his politics as well as those of his son, Nicholas II. Alexander III cut an impressive figure. Not only was he tall (6'4" according to some sources), but his physique was proportionately large. Rumors spread about his incredible strength – a strength that was the size of his temper. In addition, the beard he wore hearkened back to the likeness of tsars of old, contributing to the aura of authority with which he carried himself.

Alexander, fearful of the fate which had befallen his father, strengthened autocratic rule in Russia. Many of the reforms the more liberal Alexander II had pushed through were reversed. Alexander, at his brother's death, not only inherited the throne, but also a betrothed - Danish princess Maria Fyodorovna. Despite contrasting natures and size, the pair got on famously, was the first time a Tsar didn't have a mistress, and produced six children.
The eldest, Nicholas, became Tsar upon his father's sudden death (due to kidney disease) at age 49. Unready to inherit the throne, Nicholas reputedly said, "I am not ready to be Tsar...." Though an intelligent and kind-hearted man, lacking any preparation to rule, he continued his father's harsh polices. His Tsarina, the loving German princess Alexandra Fyodorovna, was also a liability. Like the Tsar, she was not a ruler. When the Tsar took control of the army in the front lines during World War I, he left his wife in charge of Russia for he trusted only her. Like Nicholas, she failed at ruling. She was indecisive and did not trust anyone's advice. She was not intuitive in the ways of politics and not competent in this area. The fact that she was a German also lessened the Russian people's faith in her.

Constantine Pavlovich
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Constantine Pavlovich was a grand duke of Russia and the second son of Emperor Paul I. He was the Tsesarevich of Russia throughout the reign of his elder brother Alexander I, but had secretly renounced his claim to the throne in 1823...

 and Michael Alexandrovich
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia was the youngest son of Emperor Alexander III of Russia.At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather was still the reigning Emperor of All the Russias. Michael was fourth-in-line to the throne following his father and elder brothers Nicholas and...

, although sometimes counted among Russian monarchs, were not crowned and never reigned. They both married morganatically, as did Alexander II with his second wife. Six crowned representatives of the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov line include: Paul (1796–1801), Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 (1801–1825), Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

 (1825–55), Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

 (1855–81), Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

 (1881–94), and Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 (1894–1917).

Downfall



All these emperors (except Alexander III) had German-born consorts, a circumstance which damaged their popularity during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Nicholas's wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, although devoutly Orthodox
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, was particularly hated by the populace, largely because of her German origins.

Alexandra was a carrier of the gene for hemophilia, which she inherited from her maternal grandmother
Haemophilia in European royalty
Haemophilia figured prominently in the history of European royalty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Britain's Queen Victoria, through two of her five daughters , passed the mutation to various royal houses across the continent, including the royal families of Spain, Germany and Russia. Victoria's...

, Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

. Her only son, the long-awaited heir to the throne, Alexei inherited the gene and developed hemophilia. Nicholas and Alexandra also had four daughters (Olga
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia ; , November 16 after 1900 – July 17, 1918) was the eldest daughter of the last autocratic ruler of the Russian Empire, Emperor Nicholas II, and of Empress Alexandra of Russia....

, Tatiana
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia , , was the second daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia, and of Tsarina Alexandra...

, Maria, and Anastasia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna....

).

The February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 of 1917 resulted in abdication of Nicholas II in favor of his brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. The latter declined to accept the crown, terminating the Romanov dynasty's rule over Russia. (Many believe that the crown did not technically pass to Michael, as Tsarevich Alexei would have automatically succeeded his father, Nicholas II. Thus Alexei would have been the only one who could renounce the crown, Michael could not abdicate, and the crown would still be in the Romanov name.)

After the February Revolution, Nicholas II and his family were placed under house arrest in the Alexander Palace
Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that...

. Several members of the Imperial Family, including Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia
Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia
Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia was a member of the Russian Imperial Family. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the deaths of Tsar Nicholas II and his brother Michael, Cyril assumed the Headship of the Imperial Family of Russia and later the title Emperor and Autocrat of all the...

, managed to establish good relations with the interim government and eventually fled the country during the October Revolution.


Murder of Tsar & Family


On July 17, 1918, Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 authorities, led by Yakov Yurovsky
Yakov Yurovsky
Yakov Mikhaylovich Yurovsky was an Old Bolshevik best known as the chief executioner of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II and his family in 1918, during the Russian Civil War.- Early life :...

, shot Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, his immediate family, and four servants in the cellar of the Ipatiev House
Ipatiev House
Ipatiev House was a merchant's house in Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, his family and members of his household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution...

 in Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District with a population of 1,350,136 , making it Russia's...

, Russia.

The family was told that they were to be photographed to prove to the people that they were still alive. The family members were arranged appropriately and left alone for several minutes, the gunmen then walked in and started shooting. The girls did not die from the first shots, because bullets rebounded off jewels that were sewn into their corsets. The gunmen tried to stab them with bayonets, that failed, because of the jewels, the gunmen then shot each girl in the head at close range.

Ironically, the Ipatiev House has the same name as the Ipatiev Monastery
Ipatiev Monastery
The Ipatiev Monastery —sometimes translated into English as Hypatian Monastery—is a male monastery, situated on the bank of the Kostroma River just opposite the city of Kostroma...

 in Kostroma
Kostroma
Kostroma is a historic city and the administrative center of Kostroma Oblast, Russia. A part of the Golden Ring of Russian towns, it is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers...

, where Mikhail Romanov had been offered the Russian Crown in 1613. The spot where the Ipatiev House once stood has recently been commemorated by a magnificent cathedral "on the blood
Church of All Saints, Yekaterinburg
The Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land is a Russian Orthodox church in Yekaterinburg built in 2000-2003 on the site where the former Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and several members of his family and household were executed by the Bolsheviks following the...

."

After years of controversy, Nicholas II and his family were proclaimed passion-bearers by the Russian Orthodox church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 in 2000. (In orthodoxy, a passion-bearer is a saint who was not killed because of his faith like a martyr but died in faith at the hand of murderers.)

Murder of Extended Family


On 18th July 1918, the day after the killing at Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District with a population of 1,350,136 , making it Russia's...

 of the last Tsar, Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 and family
Shooting of the Romanov family
The shooting of the Romanov family, of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov, and those who chose to accompany them into exile, Dr. Eugene Botkin, Anna Demidova, Alexei Trupp, and Ivan Kharitonov, took place in Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918 on the orders of Vladimir Lenin, Yakov Sverdlov, and the...

, members of the extended Russian royal family, the Romanovs, including a Nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

, and servants met a brutal death by being thrown down a mineshaft near Alapayevsk
Alapayevsk
Alapayevsk is a town in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Neyva and Alapaikha Rivers. Population: 44,263 ; 50,060 ; 49,000 . The local church is named Saint Catherines....

 by Bolsheviks. All except Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia
Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia
Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia was the fifth son of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaievich of Russia and a first cousin of Alexander III of Russia. He followed a military career and served as General Inspector of the Artillery with the rank of Adjutant General during World War I...

 survived the fall, hand-grenades were thrown down after them killing Grand Duke Sergei's secretary, Fyodor Remez. Other victims died a slow death including Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia
Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia
Prince John Constantinovich of Russia , sometimes also known as Prince Ioann, Prince Ivan or Prince Johan, was the eldest son of Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia by his wife Elisaveta Mavrikievna, née Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg...

, Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Igor Konstantinovich of Russia
Prince Igor Konstantinovich of Russia
Prince Igor Constantinovich of Russia , was the sixth child of HIH Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia by his wife Elisaveta Mavrikievna née HH Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg....

 and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley
Vladimir Pavlovich Paley
HSH Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley was a Russian poet.Prince Vladimir was born Vladimir von Pistohlkors in Saint Petersburg, Russia...

, Grand Duke Sergei's secretary Varvara Yakovleva and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Grand Duchess Elizabeth had departed her family after the death of her husband in 1905, she donated all her wealth to the poor and became a Nun, she was shown no mercy.

The bodies were recovered from the mine by the White army in 1918, who arrived too late to rescue them. The bodies were placed in coffins and were moved around Russia during struggles between the White and the opposing Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. By 1920 the coffins were interred in a former Russian Mission in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, now beneath a parking area. In 1981 Princess Elisabeth was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and in 1992 by the Moscow Patriarchate. In 2006 representative of the Romanov family were making plans to reinter the remains elsewhere. The town is a place of pilgrimage to the memory of Elizabeth Romanov.

Remains Of Tsar


In 1991, the bodies of Nicholas II and his wife, along with three of their five children and four of their servants, were exhumed (although some questioned the authenticity of these bones despite DNA testing). Because two bodies were not present, many people believed that two Romanov children escaped the killings. There was much debate as to which two children's bodies were missing. A Russian scientist made photographic superimpositions and determined that Marie and Alexei were not accounted for. Later, an American scientist concluded from dental, vertebral, and other remnants that it was Anastasia and Alexei who were missing. Much mystery surrounded Anastasia's fate. Several films have been produced, including the full length animated feature Anastasia
Anastasia (1997 film)
Anastasia is a 1997 American animated musical film produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. It was the first feature film to be released by Fox Animation Studios....

 by Twentieth Century Fox, suggesting that she lived on.

After the bodies were exhumed in June, 1991, they sat in laboratories until 1998, while there was a debate as to whether they should be reburied in Yekaterinburg or St. Petersburg. A commission eventually chose St. Petersburg, so they (along with several loyal servants who died with them) were interred in a special chapel in the Peter and Paul Cathedral
Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were...

 near the tombs of their ancestors.

Empress Marie Fedorovna


In September 2006, Empress Marie Fedorovna, the consort of Alexander III, was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral beside her husband. Having fled Russia at the time of the Revolution, she had spent her remaining years in exile in her native Denmark, where she was initially buried in Roskilde Cathedral
Roskilde Cathedral
Roskilde Cathedral , in the city of Roskilde on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark, is a cathedral of the Lutheran Church of Denmark. The first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick, it encouraged the spread of the Brick Gothic style throughout Northern Europe...

. The transfer of her remains was accompanied by elaborate ceremonies, including at St. Isaac's
Saint Isaac's Cathedral
Saint Isaac's Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor in Saint Petersburg, Russia is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city...

 officiated by the Patriarch. For monarchists, the reburial of the Empress in the former Imperial Capital, so many years after her death, further underscored the downfall of the dynasty. Princes Dmitri
Prince Dimitri Romanov
Prince Dimitri Romanovich Romanov is a Russian prince, philanthropist and author. He is also the heir to the prerogatives of Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia a claimant to headship of the Imperial House of Russia....

 and Nicholas Romanov were present at the ceremony, along with Princess Catherine Ioannovna of Russia, daughter of Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia
Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia
Prince John Constantinovich of Russia , sometimes also known as Prince Ioann, Prince Ivan or Prince Johan, was the eldest son of Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia by his wife Elisaveta Mavrikievna, née Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg...

, Prince Nikita Kepta Romanoff, son of Kristina Tasha Romanova. Other members of the Imperial Family present included the descendants of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna including Prince Michael Andreevich of Russia
Prince Michael Andreevich of Russia
Prince Michael Andreevich of Russia was a descendant of the House of Romanov which ruled Russia from 1613 to 1917. He was a great nephew of Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia.-Early life:...

 the senior direct male descendant. Princess Catherine who was 90 years old at the time, and died in Montevideo Uruguay the following year, was the last member of the Imperial Family to be born before the fall of the dynasty, and was ultimately to become the last surviving uncontested dynast of the Imperial House of Russia.

Alexei


Late summer of 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced the discovery by one of his workers.
The excavation discovered the following items in the two pits which formed a "T": (#1) remains of 46 human bones fragments; (#2) bullet jackets from short barrel guns/pistols; (#3) wooden boxes which had deteriorated into fragments: (#4) pieces of cermanic which appear to be amphoras which were used as containers for acid; (#5) iron nails; (#6) iron angles: (#7) seven fragments of teeth; (#8) fragment of fabric of a garment. The area where the remains were found were near the old Koptyaki Rd. under what appeared to be double bonfire sites which is about 70 km from the mass grave in Pigs Meadow near Yekaterinburg. The general directions were described in Yurovsky's memoirs owned by his son, although no one is sure who wrote the notes on the page. The archaeologists said the bones are from a boy who was roughly between the ages of ten and thirteen years at the time of his death and of a young woman who was roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three years old. Anastasia was seventeen years, one month old at the time of the murder, while Maria was nineteen years and one month old. Alexei would have been fourteen in two weeks time. Alexei's elder sisters Olga and Tatiana were twenty-two and twenty-one years old at the time of the murder. The bones were found using metal detectors and metal rods as probes. Also, striped material was found that appeared to have been from a blue-and-white striped cloth; Alexei commonly wore a blue-and-white striped undershirt.

DNA Proof


On April 30, 2008, Russian forensic scientists announced that DNA testing proves that the remains belong to the Tsarevich Alexei and to one of his sisters. DNA information, made public in July 2008, that has been obtained from Ekaterinburg and repeatedly subject to independent testing by laboratories such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA, and reveals that the final two missing Romanov remains are indeed authentic and that the entire Romanov family housed in the Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg were executed in the early hours of 17 July 1918. In March 2009, results of the DNA testing were published, confirming that the two bodies discovered in 2007 were those of Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters.

Romanov family jewelry


On August 28, 2009, a Swedish public news outlet reported that Romanov family jewelry, found in 2008 in the archives of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Sweden)
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for Swedish foreign policy.Current ministers:*Carl Bildt Head of Office and Minister for Foreign Affairs.*Ewa Björling as Minister for Foreign Trade...

, was returned. The jewelry was allegedly turned over to the Swedish embassy in St. Petersburg in November 1918 by Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to keep it safe. The jewelry's worth was estimated to 20 million SEK
Swedish krona
The krona has been the currency of Sweden since 1873. Both the ISO code "SEK" and currency sign "kr" are in common use; the former precedes or follows the value, the latter usually follows it, but especially in the past, it sometimes preceded the value...

 (about 2.6 million US dollars).

Contemporary Romanovs


There have been many theories regarding the possible survival of members of Nicholas II's family. However, recent research shows that all of the Romanovs, including Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Anastasia who had been thought to have escaped the Bolshevik attack, were killed.

Many relatives survived, including Nicholas II's two sisters, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia was a daughter of Tsar Alexander III of Russia and the elder of Tsar Nicholas II two sisters. She married her cousin Grand Duke Alexander Mikailovich of Russia, with whom she had seven children....

 and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia was the youngest child of Emperor Alexander III of Russia. Her older brother was Tsar Nicholas II....

. Xenia's and Olga's descendants survive to this day. Cyril Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia, a descendant of Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

, claimed the title Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias in 1924 and some of his descendants retain such claims. In addition the Romanov Family Association
Romanov Family Association
The Romanov Family Association, Obyedineniye Chlenov Roda Romanovykh , is an organization for male-line descendants of Emperor Paul I of Russia...

 exists for most descendants of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Both branches of the Romanov family are feuding with one another over the question of succession
Line of succession to the Russian Throne
The Monarchy of Russia was abolished in 1917 following the February Revolution, which forced Emperor Nicholas II to abdicate. The issue of who is the current Pretender is open to debate.-Line of succession in March 1917:...

. Other close family relatives include Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

, who was a great-nephew of the last Tsaritsa. Prince Philip's DNA was used by forensic scientists to identify the body of the last Tsaritsa and her children.

Heraldry

The Imperial Arms of the House of Romanov, which were restricted in use to the Emperor and certain members of the Imperial Family.

See also


External Links


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