Among the last Grand Duchesses, I have always been most attracted by Maria Nikolaevna. At first my reasons were perhaps rather superficial: I found her the pretties of the four girls, most beautiful of those four young women who are forever surrounded by aura of a world gone by. However with further information, collected bit by bit from various sources, my affection towards Maria found solid ground in her personality.
There can be no discussion about the fact that all the four sisters were delightful, pleasant creatures endowed with different gifts. In fact, from many reasons Maria may seem the least interesting, with Olga being the most intelligent and sensitive, Tatiana the regal and dutiful lady, and Anastasia never letting a moment go by without stealing attention of everybody around. Often Maria is dismissed as “the good one who wanted to be a mother”. Yet as one knows more, it becomes clear that Maria Nikolaevna, even though perhaps most uncomplicated in character, was no less complex a personality.
Stuck being one of “the Little Ones” for the longest time, she was forced to grow up in span of few short days in February 1917, during which she had nobody to lean on - quite the contrary she was the one to carry the burden of actual knowledge, unlike her siblings (considered too ill to be further troubled at the time). And as her mother was coming to terms with the situation, worrying endlessly about her father, it would not be far from the truth to say Maria Nikolaevna stood alone. The sole support, the moral boost. The February Revolution (and later her journey to Ekaterinburg) for me is truly where Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna steps out of history books as much more than a poor girl with eyes like saucers on her way to painful death.
Olga was intelligent, Tatiana caring, Anastasia mischievous. Maria Nikolaevna was called unselfish by many. For me, however, she stands mostly as something else: Brave.
Brave is a very good word. Selflessness is a word that often gets thrown around when her name is mentioned. Gilliard mentions it. So does Lili Dehn. Her murderers, including Yurovsky (who never missed a chance to insult Alexandra or even Olga who seemed “proud and stuck up”) mention she was the most well liked of the bunch. Cousins and acquaintances who only met the Romanovs in passing also had nothing but good to say about Maria. When the time came and her siblings were sick and she too was sick (though she didn’t know it), she stood with her mother in the cold night and went through each and every one of the soldiers stationed at Tsarskoe Selo to not abandon them at that moment. Maria, who knew the names and even the names of the families of seemingly everyone she came into contact with was the perfect person for this. And then she almost died. Literally. Contracting pneumonia like symptoms on top of measles. She survived to be Alexei and Alix’s “legs” because of her great physical strength and was the one chosen to go to Ekaterinburg with her parents. Even in the end she never gave up her optimism. She was happy to stay in Tobolsk despite being under constant guard, she showed people her photographs (she was the real photographer in the family, the one sibling who knew how to develop film and she was the photographer in most of the captivity photos which is why she’s not in them) and telling strangers of looking forward to living in England (we know how how that turned out - thanks George V!). She was brave to the end. It was either she or Anastasia who was the last one to die in the dirty cellar in Ekaterinburg after thirty minutes of butchery and watching her parents and siblings have bullets put through their skulls and she was the only one (according to the murderer’s themselves) who made a move to flee the cellar when the gunfire briefly stopped.
Brave, yes. But beautiful too. Not only on the outside but inside too. There’s a reasons she’s one of my favorite historical personages of all time. And she lived barely nineteen years.
"I don’t know who wrote this review "For anyone obsessed with the Romanovs, this is the best book you’ll ever find", but oh my God! This book has beloved, sweet Maria having SEX with a soldier who plans to rescue her (typical, ridiculously inaccurate old story repeated numerous times), but I flipped when I read “Olga was defiled on the Rus”. OLGA, TATIANA NOR ANASTASIA WERE DEFILED ON THE RUS THIS IS A LIE THAT WAS PURPORTED BY THE BOLSHEVIK GUARDS. DISGUSTING! Also, in the opening chapter the author writes Russia was praying for seven years prior to Maria’ birth for an heir; Nicky and Alix wed in 1894, Maria born 1899 - this speaks volumes to the historical veracity.
I think perhaps what upsets me most—besides Olga being sexually assaulted—was that writers think—consciously or unconsciously-a woman’s life story is not worth telling if she didn’t fall in love, or have sex, or make out. "Marie" writes she’s happy she wont die a virgin.It just makes me sad that a beautiful amazing story like Maria’s is water-downed in not only a bland characterization, but as girl almost wholly concerned about love and sex, as if that is what makes her a real woman. (also, wouldn’t the real Maria have been smart enough to know having sex can result in pregnancy and endanger the lives of her family? Not that the real Maria would (she wouldn’t!), but besides the impossibility of privacy at Ipatiev and Maria’s prim Victorian upbringing, there’s no way can see her risking her family’s lives or possibility of a pregnancy just so she wont die a virgin)
The author mentions Helen Rappaport and Greg King as sources. In Rappaport’s new OTMA biography, she omitted the mention of this unfounded salacious rumour of Maria being caught in a “compromising position” with a guard, after Rappaport wrote of the baseless rumour (she uses the word *”alleged”*)in her Ekaterinburg book. As if Maria was worrying she was going to die a virgin.. Also, Greg King and Penny Wilson’s book “The Fate of the Romanovs” talks of the Bolshevik allegations OTMA was sexually assaulted, but they themselves have said on APTM that in their research they found it UNtrue.
Books like this, “Tsarina’s Daughter” and “Anastasia’s Secret” portray Maria, Tatiana and Anastasia, respectively, as bland characters unlike in personality to their historical basis, having unprotected and thoughtless sex like a 21st century uneducated girl. Sex doesn’t bother me in ANY way as long as it’s legal and safe, but portraying OTMA like this is so inaccurate - and having Olga sexually assaulted is INSULTING to her memory!
Save your cash on better Romanov books i.e. this one about Maria!!: The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller —a virtually if not completely accurate retelling of OTMA, with NO fictionalizations, lauded as a great novel by Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist (the true voice of Maria is heard, the book is told alternately in each of Maria, Olga, Tatiana, and Anastasia’s voices! Miller vividly tells Maria’s unique tale of traveling across Siberia to Yekaterinburg).” (quote from a review)
NOTE: this author also STOLE Ally Kumari/Alenka’s ( imperial-russia) artwork to promote her book without crediting Ally or asking permission
You know the reason I really think the Romanovs haven’t gotten a TV series/mini-series out of any cable channel when families like the Tudors, the Borgias, even Mary, Queen of Scots on the CW (!) have is because of the lack of sex. Nicholas and Alexandra were faithful to each other throughout their marriage and the five children were (very) devout Orthodox Christians raised in a strict Victoria upbringing. They died virgins. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t regret that.
In today’s media culture at least (after all there are still millions of devout Orthodox teenagers in Russian and elsewhere) both of these facts are tough to wrap one’s head around and so they pretend its not true or its true but in their version its not true.
Also -c’mon much of what we know about the family in Ekateriburg came straight from the boastful notes/memories of their murderers after the fact who butchered them in a way that we would not hesitate to call them mass murderers or terrorists today. So I take ANYTHING they say with a grain of salt.
"The decision was not only expedient but necessary. The severity of the summary justice showed the world that we would continue to fight on mercilessly, stopping at nothing. The execution of the Tsar’s family was needed not only in order to frighten, horrify, and dishearten the enemy, but also in order to shake up our own ranks to show that there was no going back." - Leon Trotsky (1879 - 1940)
"With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of your servant where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering but life everlasting."
- A Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead, contained within the last Church service the Romanovs ever attended on Sunday July 14th 1918. The officiating priest, Father Storozhev, reported that the Tsar’s daughters had tears in their eyes as they said the prayer.
Those slaughtered on that terrible night were Nicholas II, the former Emperor of All the Russias, his German-born but British-educated Empress Alexandra, their four daughters, 23 year-old Grand Duchess Olga, 21 year-old Grand Duchess Tatiana, 19 year-old Grand Duchess Maria, 17 year-old Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the Emperor’s 13 year-old son, Alexei, who had things gone differently, might one day have reigned as Tsar Alexei II. Also killed on that night was the Imperial Family’s faithful physician, Dr. Botkin, the Tsar’s valet, Alexei Trupp, their cook, Ivan Kharitanov, and Anna Demidova, the Grand Duchesses’ maid.
I love to use that quote to those who think Trotsky was the “good” Communist as opposed to Stalin. Those who think “summary justice” included shooting a hemophiliac 13 years old three times in the skull while he is already crawling on the floor in a pool of his own blood or bayoneting his teenage sisters over and over again have something seriously wrong with them.
Dear Nicolai II of Russia,
Bad news: you and your entire family are going to be murdered in a basement in the Ural mountains.
This fate could have been avoided, however, you fool.
1) Don’t ignore everyone who wants a Constitutional Monarchy. Seriously, you hate ruling, so share the fucking…
I’d add instead of ignoring Wilhelm’s declaration of war (which he couldn’t) to just let Serbia twist in the wind. Yeah, they’re your Slav brothers and allies but the overreaching consequences of war is not something Russia can handle. Or the world for that matter. Communism, Nazism. You can prevent it all by just saying no.
It’s 1914, Russia has the largest growing economy and industrialization in the world at this point, work on modernizing your army and by 1920 you can take out the Kaiser if need by. Besides, guys in the govt of Serbia WAS behind the guys who killed Franz Ferdinand and they have been sabotaging stuff in Bosnia to make “Greater Serbia”. Imagine if the Romanians were doing stuff like that in Bessararabia.