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Autocracy is a superannuated form of government that may suit the needs of a Central African tribe, but not those of the Russian people, who are increasingly assimilating the culture of the rest of the world. That is why it is impossible to maintain this form of government except by violence. Tsarina Alexandra to husband
‘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
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’
I did more for the Russian serf in giving him land as well as personal liberty, than America did for the Negro slave set free by the proclamation of President Lincoln. I am at a loss to understand how you Americans could have been so blind as to leave the Negro slave without tools to work out his salvation. In giving him personal liberty, you have him an obligation to perform to the state which he must be unable to fulfil. Without property of any kind he cannot educate himself and his children. I believe the time must come when many will question the manner of American emancipation of the Negro slaves in 1863. The vote, in the hands of an ignorant man, without either property or self-respect, will be used to the damage of the people at large; for the rich man, without honour or any kind of patriotism, will purchase it, and with it swamp the rights of a free people. Alexander II, emperor of Russia, interview Wharton Barker, Pavlovski Palace 17th August 1879, cited Barker’s ‘The Secret of Russia’s Friendship’
Incredible. I have a son. Nicholas & Alexandra 1971 starring Michael Jayston & Janet Suzman & Laurence Olivier & Tom Baker & Timothy West & & Jack Hawkins & Brian Cox et al, director Franklin J Schaffner, Nicholas
God meant me to rule. He put he here. ibid.
There will be no victory. Only strikes and riots. ibid. sidekick
You are about to see the birth of the Bolshevik Party. ibid. Lenin
I am the voice of God. ibid. Rasputin
I’ll agree to anything that gives us power. ibid. Lenin
Give me Rasputin back! ibid. Alexandra
Damn them all. You help them and they kill you for it. You give them Dumas and they give you bombs. ibid. Nicholas
I can’t stop the revolution. But until it comes let’s have some fun. ibid. son of Tsar
England won’t accept you. ibid. guard
The government has fallen. We shall now begin to construct the socialist order. ibid. Lenin
A few days ago I received a peasant from the Tobolsk province. He made a remarkably strong impression on Her Majesty and me. Tsar Nicholas II
It makes me sick to read the news! Nothing but strikes in schools and factories, murdered policemen, Cossacks and soldiers, riots, disorder, mutinies. But the ministers, instead of acting with quick decision, only assemble in council like a lot of frightened hens and cackle about providing united ministerial action … ominous quiet days began, quiet indeed because there was complete order in the streets, but at the same time everybody knew that something was going to happen – the troops were waiting for the signal, but the other side would not begin. One had the same feeling, as before a thunderstorm in summer! Everybody was on edge and extremely nervous and of course, that sort of strain could not go on for long … We are in the midst of a revolution with an administrative apparatus entirely disorganized, and in this lies the main danger. Tsar Nicholas II, letter to mother
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 s1e16: The Massacre of the Tsar and the Royal Family, BBC 1993
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.
These fairytale princesses seemed to live a charmed life. But behind the happy family photographs their childhood was far from idyllic. Russia’s Lost Princesses II: The World Turned Upside Down
The Tsarina seemed oblivious to rumours which made a mockery of her much vaunted morality. ibid.
Nicholas’s own mother allied herself with her son’s opponents and agreed that her wayward daughter-in-law should be banished. ibid.
King George V had offered his cousin Nicky asylum in Britain … By the time the children recovered, cousin George had had second thoughts. 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 2010
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.