The Fall of the Romanovs
Train to St. Petersurg
The train from Kiev to St. Petersburg, Russia took off much later than scheduled. Eleanor Schmidt and her two little sons were in their compartment room when a well-dressed man of peasant appearance managed to get in the room. He was acting importunate and increasingly impudent. Eleanor felt uneasy and eventually got scared, especially in light of latest events. It was September 1911 and Russia was at shock after the assassination of prime minister Pyotr Stolypin at the Kiev Opera, in the presence of Tsar Nicholas II. Stolypin died four days later at hospital and his murderer anarchist Bogrov was hanged within ten days later by the order of Nicholas II.
Eleanor asked the conductor to remove her and her children to another room to get rid of the troublesome guest. In St. Petersburg, while looking through a magazine, one of the kids pointed at the picture of the man who looked like the one they met in the train. Eleanor and her husband looked at the picture and Eleanor confirmed it was the man who disturbed them. Under the photograph it said ‘Grigory Rasputin’. That Eleanor was my husband’s great-great-grandmother.
I found this accout from my husband very interesting and decided to write a little about the Romanov's and their fall from power.
Healer or Crazy Man?
While other countries experienced revolutions throughout the 17th and 19th centuries and had established parliaments to limit the power of their monarchs (France was the only non-monarchist country in Europe), at the start of 20Thcentury the Russian Romanov's were one of the last absolute monarchs in Europe, that is, their will was equaled to the law. Tragically it was their historical weakness: avoiding to delegate some power to the people, the monarchy was increasingly isolating itself from the population, getting the people build up with their thirst for reforms and rule into various political forms – from anarchism to socialism. So when Emperor Nicholas II reluctantly agreed to establish a parliament in 1905, amidst nationwide violence, strikes and the defeat at a war, it was historically too late. The parliament needed time, decades, if not a century to find constructive ways how to cooperate with Tzar's, and Tzar's to cultivate an understanding of a parliamentary institution. Yet there was little time to adjust to each other. As if fate didn’t want to give any chance to the Romanov's, at that very time the Imperial family got a messenger from hell in the form of a person by the name of Grigory Rasputin who submitted the Court to his influence. He was known as a healer of sorts and Alexandria the Tzar's wife was influenced by him because she thought he was able to help her son, who was a hemophiliac;unfortunately it turns out that his influence would soon be their downfall.
The Fall From Grace
Ministers and politicians had to deal with Rasputin rather than the Emperor, thus isolating him even from the aristocracy. That isolation was visible to all political parties. It is not hard to believe then that there were people that wanted Rasputin killed namely Prince Yusupov, who did just that in December 1916. Much has been said of the death of Rasputin as it took four attempts to actually kill the man before he finally met his demise. But it didn’t save the Romanov's or Russian Empire. Three months later new strikes began, amidst a new war. This time Tsar Nicholas didn’t have anything to offer his people like he did in 1905 when he agreed to a parliament. He was alone politically. To save his nation from chaos, his only way out was to abdicate. The new government, power-thirsty and righteous, arrested the former ruler of The Russian Empire on the premise of a trial investigation of the errors of the Tsarist governments. In honesty, the new provisional government and its leader Alexander Kerensky didn’t know what to do with the Tsar and his family; they had an idea that Nicholas’s cousin, the British Emperor George V, might take his family to England; but Britain didn’t exhibit any enthusiasm for that idea. Eventually, when the provisional government was seized by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the fate of the Emperor was in their hands. The Bolsheviks and their leader, Lenin, avidly detested the Romanov dynasty (it’d be worth to mention Lenin’s brother was executed for assassination of Nicholas’ father, Tsar Alexander III).
The Royal Family
The Bolsheviks launched power-seizure throughout Russia. Immediately they were opposed by anticommunists who started to collect armies against the Bolsheviks. Russia’s first and only Civil war began. Cities and villages were changing their rulers every month: from the Reds (Bolsheviks) to Whites (pro-monarchists) and from Whites to Reds. It was that turmoil that Nicholas Romanov and his family found themselves in July 1918 in Yekaterinburg. The city had been barely taken over by the Red Army and already the White Army was approaching. The decision to kill the Tsar and his family was made quickly; if the White Army were to get hold of the Tsar, it would give them more validity, power and the very symbol to fight for, despite Nicholas’s low prestige. The Reds would never give them that chance;in a war where even schoolboys were executed for any pro-Tsar and pro-white sympathy, no one was to spare. So it would be. On July 17, 1918, Nicholas, his wife, their daughters and son, were shot and then buried in the nearby swamps.
Anastasia and the Crown Prince Alexei
There have been several people who have claimed to be the Tzar's daughter Anastasia and it has been the topic of many books and movies, however nothing was ever proven for many years. However in the 70's, bones were found that were scientifically proven by Russian and American scientiest to be the bones of some of the royal family, and everyone was accounted for except for two children, one being Anastasia and the other her brother Alexei. So it was then that the bones that were found were given their proper burials and are laid to rest in the place that they belonged, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Additionally in 2007 two more graves were found that were scientifically proven to be two of the missing children, Alexei the crown prince and his sister, whom is believed to be Anastasia, which finally puts to rest the theories of her existence. Once The Russian Orthodox Church accepts the scientific evidence of Alexei and Anastasia, then the bones will be buried alongside their family and they will finally get the burial that they deserve.
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