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‘In Russia the government is autocracy tempered by strangulation,’ quipped the French woman of letters Madame de Staël. It was a dangerous job. Six of the last twelve Tsars were murdered – two by throttling, one by dagger, one by dynamite, two by bullet. In the final catastrophe in 1918, eighteen Romanovs were killed. Rarely was a chalice so rich and so poisonous. Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Romanovs 1613-1918, 2016
An effective tsar could be harsh provided he was consistently harsh. Rulers are often killed not for brutality but for inconsistency. And Tsars had to inspire trust and respect among their courtiers but sacred reverence among the peasantry, 90 per cent of their subjects, who saw them as ‘Little Fathers’. They were expected to be severe to their officials but benign to their peasant ‘children’: ‘the Tsar is good,’ peasants said, ‘the nobles are wicked. ibid.
Entire Family Suffered Same Fate As Head. Telegram discovered at ‘House of Special Purpose’
The Imperial family was suddenly slaughtered in this room. The new Soviet government had decided they were too dangerous to be left alive. Great Crimes & Trials: The Massacre of the Tsar and the Royal Family
The autocracy of the Tsars was strongly upheld by the Russian Orthodox Church which was controlled by a government department. ibid.
The Tsar’s divorce from reality was made worse by the arrival at court of an illiterate holy man, Rasputin. He was a drunkard with a scandalous sex life. But the Tsarina became convinced that he could help control Alexander’s haemophilia. And he was soon her trusted adviser and closely involved with the family. ibid.
In July 1918 the last Tsar of Russia and his family who had been held captive for over a year by the leaders of the Russian Revolution vanished from their prison in Siberia. Eleven lives gone without a trace. Royal Inquest: The Remains of the Romanovs, 2009
In 1991 a discovery of three buried skulls re-opened a missing persons’ case that had captivated the world for most of the twentieth century. What was the fate of the Russian Royal Family, the Romanovs, last seen as prisoners early on the 17th July 1918? ibid.
In 1924 Nikolai Sokolov published findings he hoped would solve the mystery of what happened to the Romanovs after their disappearance six years earlier. He believed that the entire family had been murdered. But a woman in Berlin disagreed. She lived her life in a haze of mystery and rumour. She was demanding, tempestuous, mischievous, and above all regal. She called herself Anna Anderson. ibid.
Finally, after seventy-five years one of the biggest mysteries of the twentieth century had been solved. Almost. Nine sets of recovered remains had been identified. But two bodies were still missing. ibid.
In 1979 doctors had removed some of Anna’s intestines, and a standard procedure saved a sample ... On 5th October 1994 Dr Gill revealed the results ... ‘They did not match’. ibid.
After many decades the mystery was solved. And at long last the family could be reunited. ibid.
On 17th July 1918 these four girls in white dresses were brutally murdered in the bloody climax to the Russian revolution. The girls’ names may not be remembered but their alluring mix of beauty and innocence holds an enduring fascination. They are emblems of a world which vanished for ever in the revolution. Russia’s Lost Princesses I: The Gilded Cage BBC 2014
A surprisingly modern family ... Picture-perfect princesses. ibid.
After 1905 the imperial children rarely appeared in public. ibid.
The Tsarina turned to a mystical healer – Gregory Rasputin. ibid.
The Royal Family was imprisoned. Exiled to Siberia under house arrest in Yekaterinburg. But their popularity among the masses presented a problem for the fledgling Soviet administration. Romanovs: The Missing Bodies, National Geographic 2009
As the smoke cleared, the myth began. Could anyone really have escaped this carnage? ibid.
The dig revealed a shallow grave, skulls, bones, full skeletons, but something was missing. The Tsar, Tsarina, three of their daughters, and four attendants are identified. But two of the royal children aren’t among the dead. ibid.
Incredibly, eye-witness accounts agree that the duchesses seemed to be protected by jewelled corsets that acted like bullet-proof vests. ibid.
Anna Anderson’s claim is the most famous. She went to her grave claiming to be the last grand-duchess Anastasia ... DNA testing after her death revealed her true identity. She was not a Royal, but a former factory worker from Poland. ibid.
Finally, there is compelling forensic evidence that thirteen-year-old Crown Prince Alexei was executed along with the rest of his family, although not buried with them. ibid.
On July 17th 1918 Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children are reported to have been executed. But their bodies could not be found. Then in 1991 a grave is uncovered: two of the children are missing. Mystery Files: The Romanovs, 2010
In October 1917 the Bolshevik Party led by Vladimir Lenin seized power. The Czar and his family are taken to the Bolshevik stronghold of Yekaterinburg in the Urals, over one thousand seven hundred kilometres from their home. ibid.
One by one each of the children are gunned down at point blank range. In total a hundred and three shots are fired. ibid.
Yurovsky’s written accounts describe the terrible events that followed: to dispose of the remains and leave no trace the bloodied corpses are taken to remote woods ... Yurovsky and his men are afraid they will be spotted. Unceremoniously, the Romanovs are thrown into a pit, covered with acid and set alight ... For eighty years the two sites where the Romanovs are supposed to be buried are lost. ibid.
But when the five bodies are identified in 1991 two of the children are still unaccounted for. Speculation that they somehow escaped persists. The mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved. Then in June 2007 a second burial site in found just sixty meters from the first grave ... In February 2009 after two years of forensic investigations scientists confirmed the remains of the two missing Romanov children had been identified. ibid.
Citizen Romanov. Eighteen months of exile and house arrest. Days that Shook the World s1e5: Romanov Dynasty & Berlin Wall, BBC 2003
The Tsar had fallen. ibid.
His cousin George refuses to help. ibid.
If you’re fascinated by stories of royalty and royal power there’s nowhere better than this. Empire of the Tsars: Romanov Russia with Lucy Worsley I: Reinventing Russia, BBC 2017
In Russia for more than 300 years … the Romanov dynasty … the most powerful monarchs in modern European history. ibid.
When their end came it was astonishingly brutal. ibid.
Did Anastasia really escape one of the most tragic events of recent times? The Last Czars VI: The House of Special Purpose, Netflix 2019
In May 1918, a year after the revolution, the Bolsheviks sends Anastasia, Alexei, Tatiana and Olga to join the rest of the family in Yekaterinburg. ibid.
‘They are trying to trick them into an escape in which they can be killed.’ ibid. Montefiore
‘Things are getting darker and darker in the House of Special Purpose.’ ibid.
The sudden violence of the Russian revolution stripped the Czar of his power. The entire Royal Family was brutally murdered. A legend endures however that the Czar’s youngest daughter Anastasia escaped the massacre and is still alive today. In Search of s2e13 … Anastasia, 1978