History, traditions

The Last Tsar, a basic understanding for the Non-Russian

The reign of the last Tsar is filled with contradictions, innuendos, fabrications, scandals and conceit. 
There was also a very heavy side order of inept, bad decisions, conceit, and apathy. 

When Nicolas assumed the thrown, he admitted he was the wrong man for the job.  He was handed a Russia that was filled with turmoil, strife, and starvation far beyond what he could ever hope to comprehend for he was not close to his subjects and his own country. He had not been prepared for leadership. 

Nicolas had met the young Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt of Austria years before.  Alexandra was a grand daughter of Victoria, Queen of England.  It was love at first sight. Nicolas and Alexandra corresponded back and forth, and one month after being crowned, Nicolas and Alexandra were married.  If there ever was a finer example of two people completely devoted to each other it was Nicolas and Alexandra. 

Not many thought the marriage was a match made in heaven.  Alexandra is not as out going as a leader s wife should be.  But to Nicolas, she was his rock for she believed in the absolute rule of the monarchy.  They loved each other, loved seclusion and privacy.   Neither of them wanted social change in Russia western influences proved to be too much for them. 

Asking for advice from his counselors was not part of Nicolas's agenda because his wife thought it would make him look weak. A fatal flaw in his and Alex s logic and this would prove to be disastrous. 

Together, Nicolas and Alexandra had 4 wonderful daughters, but no heir apparent a son. This presented a serious problem for the royal line of the Romanov family.  But, hope sprung eternal for in August 1094, Alexei was born to the royal couple. Unfortunately, their hopes were equally dashed when they discovered Alexei had hemophilia a recessive gene from the Queen Victoria side of the family.  Alexei could not expect a long life. 

Anya Vyrubova, a close friend of the Tsarina, had been involved in an accident when a train derailed.  Her doctors did not expect her to survive.  Somehow, a mysterious monk by the name of Rasputin found his way into the medical facility, took Anya s hand, and while she was in a coma, he kept calling her name.  Her eyes opened and all concerned felt that this was the work of God through Rasputin. 

When Alexei suffered his first of many bleeding episodes, Rasputin was summoned to the royal residence immediately.  Here, again, Rasputin looked like he performed another miracle for Alexei s bleeding had stopped.  Rasputin became firmly entrenched in the royal household much to Nicolas s chagrin. 

Rasputin loved three things. Lying through his teeth, drinking, and his sexual appetite not necessarily in that order either.  He used his relationship with the Tsarina to his full advantage. 

Soon, all of St. Petersburg was abuzz with rumors of the mad monk.  Climbing into bed with every high society woman did not help his cause.  Nor did his drunken episodes in the high society restaurants of St. Petersburg exactly further his claims of being a holy man.  There was supposed to have been a pretty ugly scene where Rasputin, in a drunken state, got up on a table at a high fashion restaurant, dropped his pants for the entire world to see, and loudly proclaimed that he did this at the royal household all the time.   

Nicolas went off to war as commander in chief of the Russian military during World War One, leaving a Tsarina, a family, and a mad monk hovering over them like a bad fungus. 

The Tsarina was supposed to have written several intimate letters to Rasputin, as close friends do, but taken out of context, those letters painted a Tsarina cheating on her husband, their daughters falling spell to Rasputin's sexual energy, and an unsuspecting Tsar bravely fighting at the front.    

Rasputin s reputation with other women was called into play and that made the matters even worse.  The rumors grew and were no longer whispered.  The press had a field day with it all.  The Tsarina's letters were published or what was claimed to be penned by the Tsarina things got pretty ugly after that. 

To the Russian population, this was betrayal at the highest level.  The Tsarina was hated, more so than Rasputin. She was the object of contempt.   

Russia was at war with Germany and Austria the Tsarina was from Austria.  Now the word treason and treachery entered into the rumors. As the rumors gained momentum, the royal family became more secluded and reclusive, which only fanned the fires of malcontent, mistrust, and hatred. 

Prince Felix Yussupov, in a last ditch effort of damage control, conspired with several of his friends, to put an end to Rasputin once and for all.   Felix started playing up to Rasputin and it all culminated when Felix invited Rasputin over to meet his wife, Irina.   

On evening of December 16, 1916, Rasputin accepted the invitation to dinner and arrived at Youssoupov palace.   

Rasputin was shown to a lower room, complete with a table covered with sweet pastries and he was told Irina would be down shortly. All the pastries were laced with deadly cyanide.  

After some time had passed the conspirators went down to the room and found the pastries had been eaten and Rasputin very much alive. One of the conspirators grabbed a gun and shot Rasputin point blank a wound that would have killed most men, Rasputin was still alive and trying to flee.  As he got out on to the grounds, another conspirator shot him more than once.  The three of them started clubbing Rasputin until it appeared life departed his rather messed up body. 

Rasputin appeared to be dead and the threesome tied him up in a carpet, took him to the Neva River, and threw him in.   

When Rasputin s body was pulled from the icy waters and an autopsy was done, water was found in his lungs which mean Rasputin, after poison, gun shots and a rather full force beating, had still been alive when he was thrown into the river.  

The death of Rasputin did little good, except the murder of a mad monk who had further misaligned a royal family from the very subjects they ruled over.  The peasantry of Russia had pinned their hopes on Rasputin to help the royal family to hear of their plight. The upper class had fleeting hopes that Rasputin would help their control of the peasants who worked on their lands. 

The high class society of St. Petersburg were, once and for all, finally rid of the obnoxious, slithering, and foul smelling nemesis that crashed head long into their society and embarrassed not only themselves, but the entire power structure of Russia. Gone was the outlander who boasted that it was he who ruled Russia from the hidden crevices behind the Russian throne. 

Within three months of Rasputin s death, the end of Tsarist Russia fell like the leaves from a might oak and blown far away by the wind of change unleashed by Lenin and to a larger degree by Nicolas himself. 

The royal family was arrested and moved from one location to the other frequently.  In 1918, the royal family was moved to a house in Yekaterinburg, located in the Urals.  On a grim evening, the family was awaken, taken downstairs and were shot to death 

Nicolas died instantly.  The women had jewelry sewn inside their dresses and the bullets bounced off them they were bayoneted.  

It is not even certain who made up the members of the execution squad, or who actually ordered the deaths although such an order could have come from only one person and that was Lenin.   

The stories get confusing.  One story said the bodies were thrown down a mine shaft and left there.  One story says a pit was dug the bodies were thrown in there and soaked with acid.  One story combines all the elements mine shaft, later brought up and thrown in a pit with acid. 

In 1991, archeologists working in Yekaterinburg found the remains of the royal family, minus two of the children - Anastasia and Alexei.  To this day, no one knows what happened to missing children or their bodies.  Alexei would not have lived long as his hemophilia would have killed him.  Anastasia remains a mystery. 

A woman surfaced in Berlin about 2 years after the revolution this woman apparently tried to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge in Berlin. She survived the jump and was taken to a Berlin hospital. The woman had no identification, but someone thought she looked like Grand Duchess Tatiana, our mystery lady stated she was not the Duchess.  She was given a list of the Tsar s children and she was quick to point out that she was Anastasia.   

The woman started calling herself Anna Anderson and tried to convince a skeptical world that she was the missing Anastasia.  She had similar features and talked a good line.  She d been to court several times trying to claim the estate of the last Tsar as her own.  The verdict was always inconclusive she could not prove she was Anastasia; on the other hand nobody could disprove it either. 

Anna Anderson died in 1984.   

After the bodies of the royal family were found, tissue samples from Anna Anderson were broken down to obtain her DNA.  Anderson s DNA was compared to the bodies found Anderson was not related to the Romanov family. 

Anastasia still remains a mystery that may well never be resolved.  Anastasia is bigger in death than she was in life and somehow it seems more romantic and very appropriate to let it remain that way. 

Nicolas is a hard to understand person.  He knew he was not right for the throne, but insisted it was God's will that put him there.  He chose to rule as a solitary monarch rather than relying upon his cabinet to help him lead the country.  He distained the fast life and wanted only the simple pleasures of a quiet family life but still with all the trappings that usually go with being a monarch. 

He isolated himself from his subjects and ignored their pleas.  After he abdicated the throne, and the Duma was formed, Nicolas still chose to meddle with, and create confusion in, the affairs of government, even though he was no longer part of it. Nicolas had an attitude that God put him there to lead the Russian people and by gosh he was going to do just that. 

His wife can be best compared to Lady Macbeth, who pushed her husband time and time again, and into the very jaws of defeat. 

Rasputin s place in history cannot be under stated, nor over stated.  He was a parasite in the steady pace of time and change. 

What would have happened had the Tsar and his family left Russia when Nicolas abdicated the throne?  Many of his cousins who ruled other countries had extended the invitation.  Would Stalin have reached out and assassinated him like he did with Trotsky? In all probability he would have, either that or it would have been Lenin who ordered the assassination.  For the revolution to come to fruition, the Tsar had to die to insure there was no turning back.  There had to be no safety net.  

The Tsar and his family could have been deported, and then the press informed that he had been killed that would have worked quite well, for a while. 

It is possible that had the Tsar let the Duma rule the country, and he left it at that, the revolution never would have happened, and Russia would still have a monarchy like that of England. But Lenin was also Germany s secret weapon to get Russia out of the war and to that end, Germany succeeded. 

Or, had the age of the Tsars finally come to its logical conclusion?  A Tragic end, but the end no less.  Alexei would have died from his illness, and the House of Romanov would have ended. 

Hind sight is subjective, but in the case of the Tsars, perhaps a document such as the British Maga Carta should have been imposed on the monarchy years before. A country ruled by Parliament, and a show case monarchy whose sole job was to sit there and look nice. Britain and Sweden love it. 

If Russia wanted to have a Tsar, certainly an heir could be found.  Would this help heal a century old wound?  Would it provide some degree of continuity to a country that has been ripped apart by the change of three governments in less than 100 years?  Would it bring back the entire former splendor, with all the pomp and circumstance, to a country struggling very hard to understand any of it?  

That is a decision best left to Russia.   But, I wouldn t try it without having a pretty detailed job description written out. Represent our best, and none of our faults. 

Michael Berglin