A tale of three portraits of Russia’s last tsar

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History has preserved thousands of photographs and dozens of portraits of Nicholas II. The most titled artists of their time were honoured to paint the tsar’s portrait. Among them were both Russian and foreign artists, such as Ilya Repin, Valentin Serov, Boris Kustodiev, Lauritz Tuxen – and many others. Each master captured his own vision of the emperor on canvas. This article explores three of the most famous portraits of Russia’s last emperor and tsar by two of Russia’s most famous portrait artists: Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov.

Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II by Ilya Repin (1895)

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The above portrait of His Majesty the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II was painted in 1895 by Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930) by order of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, mother of Nicholas. Up until 1917, the portrait hung in the Mariinsky Palace in St. Petersburg, in the very hall where meetings of the State Duma took place.

After the revolution, the painting was considered lost. It “surfaced” in the early 1980s in the collection of the famous St. Petersburg collector Nikolai Kozhevnikov. He claimed that he had found it during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) in a garbage dump.

It is believed that many other works of art from the Tsarist period believed to be “lost” have in fact been squirreled away by private Russian collectors, all of whom are well aware of their historic value. This offers a ray of hope that other Romanov treasures may have survived the ravages of revolution and war, including the missing Faberge Imperial Eggs. 

In his letters, Repin recalled: “Last week, three sessions took place, that is, on Monday, the 28th, – the first session, one and a half hours; Tuesday, – an hour and half; and an hour yesterday. I arrived at the palace an hour earlier. The emperor comes at two o’clock, the empress accompanies him every time and stays here all the time during work.” Later he added: “I finished the Sovereign’s portrait; there were a total of seven sessions. The sovereign posed poorly, however, everyone likes my portrait and do not criticize.” This portrait was painted shortly after Nicholas II ascended the Russian throne following the death of his father Alexander III.

This portrait of Nicholas II is now in the Collection of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II by Valentin Serov (1902)

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This portrait by Valentin Alexandrovich Serov (1865-1911), depicts the Emperor in the full uniform of Colonel-in-Chief (honourary head of the regiment) of the Royal Scots Greys. In 1902, Nicholas II ordered the artist Valentin Serov to paint the portrait as a gift to the regiment – one of the most famous in the United Kingdom.

Nicholas II was awarded this honour by Queen Victoria on the occasion of the wedding of her granddaughter Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine to the future Emperor of Russia. The portrait hangs in the Royal Scots Guards Regiment Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland. The ceremonial uniform is now in the Collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve.

Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II by Valentin Serov (1900)

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The artist Valentin Alexandrovich Serov (1865-1911) created the home portrait of Nicholas II, as a gift to Empress Alexandra Fedorovna in just two sittings with the emperor.

The original version of this portrait did not survive: the revolutionaries who stormed the Winter Palace destroyed the canvas with bayonets.

Thankfully, Serov, having just barely finished the portrait in 1900, immediately made a copy of it. He was worried about the fate of the painting, because the Empress did not like it very much. During his sessions with the Emperor, Alexandra Feodorovna closely watched the artist and generously distributed advice on how to “correct” the face of Nicholas II in the portrait. In the end, Valentin Serov could not stand it, handed the empress the palette with brushes and invited her to finish the work herself!

Some art historians believe that this portrait of Nicholas II looks incomplete: noting that it was painted with wide free strokes without subtle light transitions, the details of the canvas were not worked out. But the execution of the portrait itself reflects Serov’s vision, who (again) according to art historians wanted to depict a man who was tired in his service to Russia – although this remains highly unlikely. The canvas does not have the usual attributes of other royal portraits, which often include solemn interiors, ceremonial clothing, etc. Nicholas II is depicted in the jacket of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment, which he proudly wore every day.

The copy of the portrait is now part of the Collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

* * *

Nicholas II. Portraits by Paul Gilbert

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Published in 2019, this is the first book of its kind ever published! Nicholas II. Portraits by independent researcher Paul Gilbert explores a century of portraits of Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

It features beautiful colour covers, 140 pages, and richly illustrated with 175 black and white photographs, (many full-page), with detailed and informative captions.

This unique title features an introduction, as well as numerous short articles, including: Serov’s Unfinished 1900 Portrait of Nicholas II; A Nun’s Gift to Russia’s New Tsar. The Fate of a Portrait; Galkin’s Ceremonial Portrait of Nicholas II Discovered; and more!

Famous portraits and their respective artists are all represented, including Serov, Repin, Lipgart, Tuxen, Bakmanson, Becker, Bogdanov-Belsky, Kustodiev, among others.

The last section (28 pages) of the book is dedicated to the works of contemporary Russian artists, who have painted outstanding portraits of Nicholas II since the fall of the Soviet Union.

It is interesting to note that my research for this book was primarily from Russian sources, and I discovered portraits which were new, even to me!

Price: $25 + postage. Click HERE to order your copy of Nicholas II. Portraits

© Paul Gilbert. 5 July 2020

Program for Royal Days 2020 in Ekaterinburg

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The Church on the Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg

The Moscow Patriarchate and the Ekaterinburg Diocese have confirmed that the Royal Days [aka Tsar’s or Imperial Days] will be held from July 12 to 20, 2020.

A series of memorable ceremonial events symbolizing the unity of the Russian people in their understanding of the history of the Fatherland, the ongoing rehabilitation of the good names of the emperor and his family, and the unification of the Church of Christ and traditional values. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be held in compliance with all necessary safety and sanitary measures.

The main event will be held on the night of 16/17 July, when a Divine Liturgy will be performed at the Church on the Blood, where the lives of Emperor Nicholas II along with his family and four faithful servants tragically ended. The Divine Liturgy will be followed by a 21-km Cross procession to the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

On July 12th, the day marking the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the XIX Royal Days Festival of Orthodox Culture will begin.

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Pilgrims gather outside the Church on the Blood on 16th July 2018

XIX Royal Days Festival of Orthodox Culture

The XIX Royal Days Festival of Orthodox Culture in the Ural capital, will feature several dozen religious and secular events of various formats honouring the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

A cultural program has been planned, which includes cultural, historical, musical and educational events, museum and library exhibitions, concerts, lectures and meetings with Russian historians and writers.

The festival will be held in the conference hall and the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center, located in of the Patriarchal Compound on the grounds of the Church on the Blood.

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Pilgrim holds a portrait of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

The bell ringing festival “Evangelize, the Land of the Urals!” also opens on July 12th. A bell ringing concert will he held in the square in front of the Great Zlatoust Church, which features a magnificent bell tower. The concert will be attended by the ringer of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis, the choir of the Great Zlatoust Church; and poetry readings by priest Victor Yavich.

On the same day, July 12, an Open Gymnastics Championship will be held on the embankment of the city pond facing the Church on the Blood. The event is dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II – the founder of the Olympic movement in Russia.

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Thousands gather outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July

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Thousands gather outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July

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Thousands gather outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July

The main events of the Royal Days

The main events of the Royal Days will begin on July 15 when a Divine Liturgy will be performed in the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

Then culminating events will be held on July 16 and 17.

On July 16, at 13:00, a small daytime procession will be held along the Ekaterinburg Way of Sorrow to mark the arrival of the Royal Martyrs in Ekaterinburg from Shartash Station (149 Kuybyshev St.) to the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the Ipatiev House) on 30th April 1918 [Nicholas II, Alexandra and their daughter Maria arrived, Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and Alexei arrived several weeks later].

Then, at 15:00, Vespers will be held with the Akathist to the Holy Royal Martyrs in the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood,

At 16:30, an all-night vigil will begin on Ulitsa Tsarskaya, in front of the Church on the Blood.

At 17:00 there will be an all-night vigil in the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

At 23:30 the main service of the Tsarist days – the night Divine Liturgy will commence in front of the Church on the Blood on  Ulitsa Tsarskaya. The service will end in the early hours of July 17, after which at 02:30 Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye will lead the Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs – a journey of 21 km. This year’s procession is expected to attract tens of thousands of pilgrims from across Russia [As Russia’s borders are currently closed to foreigners, this year’s Tsar’s Days events will only be attended by Russian citizens]. Upon the arrival of the procession at Ganina Yama, a prayer service will be held for the Holy Royal Martyrs. 

The first Tsar’s Days was held in Ekaterinburg in 2001. In 2018, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the regicide in the Ural capital, attracted more than 100,000 Orthodox pilgrims, monarchists, among others from across Russia and around the world. In 2019, some 60,000 pilgrims took part.

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Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас!

Royal days in Alapaevsk

The Royal Days will continue with the Remembrance Days of the Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova and the *Alapaevsk Martyrs, which will be held in Alapaevsk – 148 km northeast of Ekaterinburg.

On July 17 at 17:00 an all-night vigil will begin in the Monastery of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church in the city of Alapaevsk.

On July 18, at 00:00, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in the Holy Trinity Bishop’s Metochion of Alapaevsk, and at 02:30 a prayer service will be held with the singing of an Akathist to the Holy Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Varvara.

At 03:30 at the end of the Liturgy, a procession will begin from the Holy Trinity Bishop’s Compound in Alapaevsk to the School and further to the Monastery of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, built on the site where the bodies of the *Alapaevsk Martyrs were dumped into the mine alive on the night of July 18, 1918.  At 05:30 and 09:00, two Divine Liturgies will be performed there.

*The Alapaevsk victims included: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann, Konstantine and Igor Konstantinovich, Prince Vladimir Paley (son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich), and two faithful servants:sister of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent Varvara (Yakovleva), and Fyodor Semyonovich (Mikhailovich) Remez, secretary of the Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich.

SOURCE: Ekaterinburg Diocese Press Release

© Paul Gilbert. 3 July 2020

Unknown writer defends Nicholas II against Western myths and lies

On 1st July 2020, I received a very interesting eleven-page letter from H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun – a person who up until yesterday I had never heard of. His open letter is addressed to Romanov historian and author Helen Rappaport and copied to the St. Martin’s Press, New York; Paul Gilbert, Editor Of The Journal Sovereign & Nicholas II Blog; Russian Historian, Dr. Peter Valentinovich Multatuli, Ph.D., who is considered as the country’s Leading Authority on the Life and Reign of Nicholas II; the Curator of the Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg; the Club Of Historians; and Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation among others.

I have known Helen Rappaport for many years, together we have shared a vast correspondence on all things “Romanov,” a subject of which we have seldom seen eye to eye on, particularly the reign of Nicholas II. Over the years I have sat back quietly as Dr. Rappaport has published books and articles, or appeared as a guest on televised interviews and documentaries in which she fervently clings to the popular held negative assessment of Russia’s last Tsar. I remain critical of much of her research, citing it as “stuck in the 1970s,” and one of the reasons why she was not invited as a speaker to the Nicholas II Conference which I organized and hosted in England in 2018. 

It is very important for me to emphasize that just because I disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s research does not mean that I hate her, not in the least! Having said that, however, I must also emphasize that as an independent researcher on the life, reign and era of Nicholas II, I have every right to challenge and dispute her research. As Dr. Rappaport recently noted on her Facebook page, she refers to any one who disagrees with her negative assessment of Nicholas II, as someone who views him with “rose coloured glasses” or “hagiographic“.

It is so refreshing to know that persons such as H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun support me in my mission, and not afraid to voice their own critical assessment of Western historians such as Helen Rappaport. I am sorry if reprinting this letter offends or hurts her in any way, but I cannot emphasize strongly enough that Dr. Rappaport is not being targeted, but she, like all of her Western contemporaries who continue to promote their anti-Nicholas propaganda are ON NOTICE! 

During my closing words at the 1st International Nicholas II Conference held in Clochester, England on 27th October 2018, I noted that I would be dedicating my time and resources to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar Nicholas II.

I am today leading an IMPERIAL MOVEMENT, a voice for the truth about Russia’s last Tsar, one which also acknowledges his reforms and many achievements. My supporters include Orthodox Christians, monarchists, historians, and other adherents of His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II and Tsar-Martyr – PG 

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Here is the text of H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun’s eleven-page letter, with several minor edits. Some of his text is repeated, however, I have left it unedited:

Helen Rappaport
Historian/Russianist
Key Contributor – Historical Consultant
Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian
Romanov Expert

Attention: Ms. Helen Rappaport

Subject: Tsar Nicolas II And Family

Greetings Ms. Rappaport,

Judging from your Contact Information, you are calling yourself a Historian/Russianist, Key Contributor, Historical Consultant, Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian and Romanov Expert. You also welcome hearing from readers with their queries about your work. My Colleagues and I seriously question your alleged wide ranging experience in public speaking, seminars and literary festivals and as a Historian/Russianist can offer talks on a variety of subjects. We are also questioning your alleged credentials as a Historian/Russianist, Key Contributor, Historical Consultant, Specialist Interviewee On Things Russian and Romanov Expert. We have more than sufficient cogent evidence that will prove otherwise. I have been very preoccupied in the past and it’s only now that I am able to address this matter.

On July 17, 2018, your article appeared in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Romanov Family Died A Century Ago – It’s Time To Lay The Myths About Them To Rest”, By Helen Rappaport. You state in your article, for a century the Romanov story has exercised a seductive power that has never ceased to fascinate. Now, with 100 years passed, the centenary offers an opportunity for that fascination to be refocused on the facts of what really happened to the last Tsar and his Family. We understand that you are the author of four (4) back-to-back books written about the Romanovs, the latest being “The Race To Save The Romanovs”, Published In The U.S.A. by St. Martin’s Press.

Before I continue, I will bring to table another matter involving your alleged knowledge about Tsar Nicolas II and Family. In an article written by Paul Gilbert on February 25, 2020, (see his credentials enclosed), he writes, “The era of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917) remains one of the most prominent in the history and development of Russia. Rapid economic development, the strengthening of the state’s defense, peace loving external initiatives, outstanding scientific discoveries, the successes of public education, advanced social policy for this period were all achieved in a short historical period. Thanks to the policies and reforms of Tsar Nicholas II, sophisticated state administration and the talents of statesmen, helped shape the necessary union which produced such brilliant results. Topics found in the new Russian Web Site include: Monetary, Agrarian, Military Reforms, Industrialization, Energy, Public Health, Scientific Breakthroughs, Russian Geographical Society, Constitutional State, Foreign And Domestic Trade, Religious And Church Life, Mail, Telegraph And Postal Services, Charity And Patronage, The Birth Of Russian Aviation, Foreign Policy and much more. Please note that this Russian/English Language Web Site is still under development and once complete, will also feature articles, news and videos.” On a personal note, I would like to add that this new Russian Web Site is of great importance. It allows us to reexamine what we have been led to believe is the truth on the era of Tsar Nicholas II. This can be achieved from the many books and documentaries produced over the past fifty years.

Many have been written by people who have failed to examine all the facts, especially those from Russian Sources. As an example, during a BBC Radio Program “Beyond Belief”, held on 20th August 2018, the programs’ host Ernie Rea was joined by four guests to discuss Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Among them was Andrew Phillips, Arch Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) and Rector of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Church in Colchester, England, who stated during the program that “Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar”. Fellow Panelist and Romanov Historian, Helen Rappaport did not comment on Father Andrew’s statement, however, she wasted little time in taking to Social Media to rebuke him. “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”, she argued during a discussion on Facebook with her “Romanov Circuit”. I also believe that Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar, the information presented in this new Russian Web Site providing the facts. Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s comments and her rebuke of Father Andrew’s comment alone raises a red flag. I have argued for years that researchers need access to new documents discovered in post Soviet archives in Russia. Perhaps this would help put an end to the obsessive rehashing by Western Historians of the tragedies which befell Nicholas II during his reign. It is time to begin focusing on his reforms and achievements.

Ms. Rappaport, Paul Gilbert is being much too kind in respectfully disagreeing with your comments when you state that, “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”. Paul Gilbert further states that your rebuke of Father Andrew’s comment alone raises a red flag. That’s it, that’s all the criticism you get, for “Big Time Foul-Ups”? Further to your July 17, 2018 article in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Romanov Family Died A Century Ago – It’s Time To Lay The Myths About Them To Rest”. This vindictive statement is very damaging. You state in your article, for a century the Romanov story has exercised a seductive power that has never ceased to fascinate. Now, with 100 years passed, the centenary offers an opportunity for that fascination to be refocused on the facts of what really happened to the last Tsar and his Family. As an alleged Expert on the Romanov Dynasty, you must have known what has been said about Tsar Nicolas II through the media and related publications. They depict Tsar Nicolas II as a weak incompetent ruler, making him out to be an unimaginative and limited man, he was suited neither by his abilities, nor temperament to rule during such turbulent times. He was chronically indecisive and not a progressive overlord, he firmly believed in his divine right to rule. As a Leader, Tsar Nicholas II knew few successes. When World War I came in 1914, Nicholas allegedly led his people into a conflict that would strain the nation’s resources and unfortunately cost many lives.

As a result of his reign, he was responsible for a series of events which led to the downfall of the Monarchy and Russian Empire. Imperial Splendor Nicholas was, however, a family man, he loved his wife, Alexandra and she loved him. His brutal execution, nor to that of his family members were unwarranted. Soon after his and his family’s deaths, all Personal Belongings, Palaces and Lands belonging to Tsar Nicolas II and Family were seized by Vladimir Lenin and Associates. The Decree on Land ratified the actions of the peasants who throughout Russia seized private land and redistributed it among themselves. The Bolsheviks viewed themselves as representing an alliance of workers and peasants and memorialized that understanding with the hammer and sickle on the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union. Other decrees:

– All private property was seized by the state
– All Russian Banks were nationalized
– Private Bank Accounts were confiscated
– The Church’s Properties (including Bank Accounts) were seized
– All Foreign Debts were unacknowledged
– Control of the factories was given to the Soviets

So what you are saying now Ms. Rappaport, is that the myths being that Tsar Nicolas II as a weak incompetent ruler, make him out to be an unimaginative and limited man, he was suited neither by his abilities, nor temperament to rule during such turbulent times. He was chronically indecisive and not a progressive overlord, he firmly believed in his divine right to rule. As a Leader, Tsar Nicholas II knew few successes. When World War I came in 1914, Nicholas allegedly led his people into a conflict that would strain the nation’s resources and unfortunately cost many lives. So just let “Sleeping Dogs Lie” and “Close The Book On Tsar Nicolas II” Ms. Rappaport, is that not correct? The following are some excerpts of new documents, letters and diaries discovered in Russian Archives since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Russia’s Last Emperor And Tsar Nicolas II Is One Of The Most Documented Monarchs In Modern History Who Have Endured To This Very Day

Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar Nicolas II is one of the most documented Monarchs in modern history who have endured to this very day. Contemporary Western Historians have been content to carry these negative myths and lies turning them into books, magazine articles and documentaries. They depict him as a weak incompetent ruler, who was responsible for a series of events which led to the downfall of the Monarchy and Russian Empire. New documents, letters and diaries discovered in Russian Archives since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 have aided a new generation of Russian Historians to address many of the myths and lies about Nicolas which challenge and dismiss those held by their Western counterparts. I am committed to clearing the name of Russia’s most slandered Emperor and Tsar. I am able to achieve this through much research and work. My research and work is followed by many people around the world, from all walks of life including Orthodox Christians, Monarchists and those who hold the Tsar-Martyr and his family close to their hearts. These are people who seek the truth. For nearly a century, the last Emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, has been maligned and slandered by Western Historians and Biographers. I often wonder, how have these historians and authors been mistaken about Tsar Nicholas II. Come to think of it, no one can prevent historical figures from being criticized, but one must distinguish objective criticism from slander and defamation. Both positive and negative assessments must be supported by evidence that emerges from the careful study and analysis of historical sources. We are all judged by the fruits of our actions.

Russia in the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II grew in population by 150% and its rate of economic growth was the highest in the entire world. Labour Laws in Russia were among the most progressive anywhere, which was acknowledged even by President Taft of the United States. The Great Russian Academic Dmitrii Mendeleev, the French Economist Edmond Teri and other researchers have written about the strength and development of Russia in these years and have shown that Nicholas II actually achieved a lot for his country during his reign. Some might say that because the reign of Nicholas II ended in Revolution, any accomplishments he may have had lose their value and meaning. But that’s not the right way to look at it. Emperor Nicholas II, like any human being or statesman, was not without sin and certainly did make mistakes. But he was a man of deep faith, a great patriot, an honourable, genuine and humane man, who with courage and integrity bore all the hardships that fate had delivered to him, both during his reign and afterward. In canonizing him as a Passion Bearer, the Holy Church affirmed that Emperor Nicholas II was one of the principal moral guides of our people. And I believe that this decision by the Hierarchy of the Church resonates in the hearts of my countrymen. Thus, while I certainly do not deny the right of historians to debate the correctness or mistakes on this or that decision made by Emperor Nicholas II, I cannot condone those who try to blacken his memory, or depict him as a dull and shallow minded man who cared only about his family. There is simply no substantiation in the historical sources for that view of him.

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The Rehabilitation Of The Tsar-Martyr Emperor Nicholas II By The Supreme Court Of The Russian Federation Is So Important For A Proper Understanding Of Russian History

Some misunderstand the meaning of the word “rehabilitation”, thinking that it connotes a kind of “amnesty”. In point of fact, however, the rehabilitation of the victims of political repression is a recognition that such people were the targets of illegal action perpetrated in the name of the government and that these actions be deemed formally by the government today as illegal and the victims be recognized as having being entirely innocent and have their honour, integrity and good name fully and legally restored to them. For the Russian Government today, the rehabilitation of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II, His Family, other murdered members of our House and their faithful physician and attendants, has an enormous legal and moral significance. The Russian Federation is the legal successor of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the RSFSR and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the USSR. A local governmental organ, which exercised full political authority at that time the Ural Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies passed a death sentence on the Emperor, His Family and their servants. The Supreme Governmental Organs of Soviet Russia, the All Russian Central Executive Committee and the Soviet of People’s Commissars recognized this decision as correct and approved it.

Until 2008, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation had not ruled on my family’s petition for the rehabilitation of the Royal Martyrs and so from a legal point of view the executions continued to be considered lawful and justified. Neither the canonization of the Royal Family by the Church nor the statements from various leaders of the country condemning the murders carried any legal weight. So we had a situation where the Church and the faithful considered Nicholas II and His Family Saints, many others of our countrymen considered them, if not Saints, at least as innocent victims of terror and the government. It saw them as criminals deserving of death. Of course, that was an absurd and unsustainable situation and a bloody burden from which the government needed to free itself. Thank God, the highest Court in the land concurred with the arguments my family presented and finally made the correct and legal ruling on the matter. I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, for his part in reaching this ruling. He delved deeply into the matter and put an end to this on going violation of the law. Before the ruling came down on October 1, 2008, rehabilitating the murdered members of the Imperial Family, we did not know him at all or what he thought about our legal arguments, or about us in general.

But he researched the question on his own and agreed with our petition on its merits, issuing his ruling “On The Rehabilitation Of The Victims Of Political Repression” entirely on the basis of the historical facts alone. This ruling on the rehabilitation of the Imperial Family, their relatives and faithful servants, all murdered by the atheistic and totalitarian Communist Regime, is perhaps one of the best pieces of evidence that Russia has undergone a colossal positive change in its understanding of the country’s past and has made important strides forward in the defense of human rights today. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been a growing interest in the Romanov Dynasty and their legacy in modern day Russia. Since that time, we have worked tirelessly to restore the name and the image of the Romanov Dynasty. It is so important for new generations of Russians to understand the contributions that the House of Romanov made to Russia’s History and Culture.

It is important not only to remember the contributions that our Dynasty has made, but also to know the history of our country, to glean lessons from its past, to offer an accurate moral evaluation both of the good that happened and the bad, to try to avoid the mistakes of the past and to use that past to chart a course for the nation moving forward. So, when I talk about my ancestors, it is not only to praise them. I do not idealize this history of the rule of our House. To the contrary, I always say that while there is much to be proud of in our past, there is also much to regret and so I do ask for forgiveness of the Creator and of my people on my own behalf and on behalf of previous generations of the Dynasty. None of my countrymen are my enemies. Whether it be those who vehemently disagree with me, or those who are on the other side of an ideological divide, or acid critics of everything I hold most dear all are my brothers and sisters. I stand ready at all times to meet and discuss the past, present and future with people of all views in order to find a way to work together to serve Russia.

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All Around Me I See Treason Cowardice And Deceit

“All Around Me I See Treason, Cowardice And Deceit”, are not only the words Emperor Nicholas II used to reproach his contemporaries for forsaking him, they express the agony he felt for them, “for they know not what they do”. Had he not felt this agony, the Sovereign’s daughter would not have written, “He forgave everyone”, which was the message of reconciliation he asked her to give everyone who had remained faithful to him. He also forgave us, only do we really “not know what we do”? After the toxic gas of the revolutionary propaganda evaporated, after the whole of Soviet historiography had insulted and spit in the face of the Royal Family, after the archives were opened for public perusal, after the letters, diaries, memoirs and eye witness accounts were published and after we became free to take sober account of the tragedy of the Royal Family’s murder, we suddenly hear from the television screens and from the incompetent historian, “The Empress was a idiot”. While another philosophizing TV anchorman, primping and preening, would say sneeringly, “I am not one of those who believes Nicholas II was a man of strong will”.

These people cannot “not to know”, they simply do not want to know. The world is quicker to defend its villains than its Saints. A few stalwartly souls would try to break their way into Tsarskoe Selo to defend the family to whom they had given their oath of allegiance. And these were not the high ranking Generals who unanimously advised the Emperor to abdicate from the Throne, who saw, like no one else in Russia, how much effort, mind and soul the Sovereign had invested in rectifying the situation in the Army. “Holding victory in his hands, he fell to the earth alive”, Winston Churchill wrote in his book ”World Crisis”, 1916-1918, London, 1927 Volume 1 – Page 476, about Emperor Nicholas II. This is how people fall when struck perfidiously from behind. One young Cornet was lucky enough to find his way into the palace. The abdication had been announced, but the Emperor was not at court. Fear for his life and the future of his children were growing with each passing hour. “With a single gesture, the Empress bade me to stand.

Her magnificent eyes were even more sunken from sleepless nights and anxiety and expressed the unbearable torment of her long suffering heart. What unearthly beauty and stateliness emanated from this eminent Imperial figure”! But Alexandra Feodorovna did not feel sorry for or try to comfort herself. “I am very grateful that you have come to see me and not abandoned me on this difficult and dreadful day! I would really like you to stay with me, but that, to my immense regret, is impossible. I know and understand how hard this is for you. I ask you to please take off my insignia, because I could not bear it if some drunken soldier tore them away from you in the street! I believe that you will continue to wear them in your heart”, she said to the Cornet, comforting him. Her Majesty, was simply a woman in the true meaning of this word, was being called an “idiot” throughout the country. Why? Well, you see, Count Witte had once been summoned to Her Majesty, whereby she compassionately expressed her surprise that there were so many poor and impoverished people in Russia and almost demanded that he stop this disgrace. “Oh! What naivety”? Yes, what treasured naivety! While filming a movie about Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the film crew worked in Darmstadt, the home town of the two Imperial Sisters. Everyone was amazed at the attention Alix and Elizabeth’s Family gave to the impoverished, orphans.

Especially to all the needy citizens in this modest duchy of their father, the size of which could, naturally, in no way compete with Russia’s expanses. Of course, the Grand Duchy of Hesse was a European Province. At first, the Empress could not and I think, was unable her entire life to reconcile herself to that fact that what could be done in her former homeland was impossible in her new, boundless homeland, which she came to love with all her heart. Who can reproach her for this? “I love those who yearn for the impossible”, said the great Goethe. Incidentally, Alexandra Feodorovna received the Cornet wearing a white nurse’s gown. From the very beginning of the war, she and her daughters had been caring for the wounded and the entire family had donated large sums of their own money to set up hospitals, equip hospital trains and purchase medication, equipment and clothing for the front line soldiers. On the eve of the war, no other European Government did more to defend peace than the Government in St. Petersburg. In November 1921, at the Washington Naval Conference, the U.S. President would say that the proposal to limit arms by reaching an agreement among the nations was nothing new. It was enough to recall the noble strivings expressed 23 years ago in an Imperial Rescript from His Majesty the Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russia’s. This was followed by an extensive quote from Nicholas IPs note, in which he appeals to the whole world to convene an International Conference in order to curb the arms race and develop mechanisms for preventing wars in the future.

The world was surprised that this proposal did not come from a weak, defenseless state, but from a vast and omnipotent Empire. All the great powers ignored this proposal. Kaiser Wilhelm II said that in practice he would continue to rely only on God and his sharp sword. England, which had the strongest navy in the world, refused to go for any reductions. Japan, which was hatching its own plans in the Far East, ignored the Russian note. Russian Foreign Minister Count Muraviev figuratively noted that the people reacted enthusiastically and the governments distrustfully. Anyone else would have given up, but Nicholas II continued his efforts. A repeat note followed and the Hague Peace Conference was indeed convened in 1899 under the chairmanship of the Russian Ambassador to London. A whole series of extremely important decisions was made, including on the non use of poison gases and explosive bullets. Conditions were drawn up regarding the upkeep of prisoners of war, as well as principles for peacefully settling conflicts and the International Court that functions to this day in The Hague was founded. Were these not rather too many achievements for a “weak willed” and “weak minded” Czar, before the perseverance and foresight of whom stubborn Europe was bowing? The main ideas of the Russian initiative were more fully realized in the creation of the League of Nations, which later passed the baton on to the United Nations. It is no accident that the original document calling on the states to take part in The Hague Peace Conference of 1899 signed by Nicholas II is exhibited in the UN building in New York.

Alexandra Feodorovna, as we know, was the granddaughter of British Queen Victoria. In his letters, the heir to the Russian Throne wholeheartedly called her “my dearest grandmother”, since she played an important role in their marriage. After breaking the resistance of his father, about the “staunch will” of whom the entire world had no doubt and who was not in favor of the heir marrying a Darmstadt Princess, the enamored Crown Prince came up against another obstacle. The protocol demanded that the future Empress convert to Russian Orthodoxy. This created a serious bone of contention for the young couple and it was Queen Victoria who managed to persuade her granddaughter to agree to this step. Nicky’s letters were full of genuine warmth and gratitude toward his “dearest grand mother” for her inestimable service. However, in one letter she scolded the young Czar with respect to the anti-British articles that appeared in Russian Newspapers. To which she received the following reply, “I must say that I cannot prohibit people from openly expressing their opinions in the press.

Don’t you think I have not been upset myself by the rather frequent unfair judgments about my country in the English newspapers? Even the books I am constantly being sent from London give a false account of our actions in Asia, our domestic policy and so on”. Several months later, the young couple expressed their joy over Queen Victoria’s consent to be godmother to their first child, Grand Princess Olga. Being accustomed to the European sound of the Royal Family’s names, Queen Victoria was evidently rather puzzled over the Russian Emperor’s choice of name for his daughter. “We chose the name Olga, because it has already been used several times in our family and it is an age old Russian name”, Nicky wrote in November 1895. But in the very next letter sent from Darmstadt, Queen Victoria, his “dearest grandmother”, was in for a rude awakening when she tried to put pressure on Nicky in the interests of British policy in the East. “As for Egypt, dear Grandmother, this is a very serious issue that affects not only France, but also all of Europe.

Russia is very interested in its shortest routes to Eastern Siberia being free and open. Britain’s occupation of Egypt is a constant threat to our sea routes to the Far East. It is clear that whoever controls the Nile valley also controls the Suez Canal. This is why Russia and France do not agree with Britain’s presence in this part of the world and both countries wish for real integrity of the canal”. March, which saw the murder of Alexander II and the abdication of Nicholas II, was a fateful month for the Romanov Dynasty. “Perhaps when we throw them the Romanov Crown, the people will have mercy on us; General Headquarters, Commander in Chief Alexeev and the Generals have long been in favor of the idea of a state coup”, mumbled Alexander Guchkov, Duma’s Chairman, “deathly pale with a trembling chin”, in those days to a handful of frightened State Duma Deputies. So, whose side are we on? On their side, or on the side of he who, after removing his Crown, said, “If Russia needs a sacrifice for its salvation, I will be that sacrifice”!

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The Presentation Of The New Web Site -The Russian Empire In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II Took Place In The Multi-Media Museum Russia My History

The Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg was the venue for the event on 16th February 2019, Historian Peter Multatuli, Ph.D., arrived in the Urals to present a unique project. Multatuli, who is considered the country’s Leading Authority on the Life and Reign of Nicholas II, talked with local historians about the myths surrounding Russia’s last Tsar. He taked especially about his achievements and reforms in particular. The presentation of the new Web Site “The Russian Empire In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II” («Российская империя в эпоху правления императора Николая Второго») took place in the Multi-Media Museum “Russia My History” in Ekaterinburg. The event was hosted by the Club Of Historians, a joint project of the St. Catherine Foundation and the History Park. The St. Catherine Foundation took part in the Tsar’s Days events held in Ekaterinburg in July 2018 and the presentation of this new Web Site is the completion of the Imperial Year. 

“This Web Site is not about the Tsar’s Family, it is about the many achievements of the Russian Empire during the reign of the last Russian Sovereign”, noted Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation. “It was one of the greatest epochs of reforming the country” added Peter Multatuli, “the country that the Emperor accepted in 1894 and the country which he was forced to give up in 1917, were very different countries. Everything was not perfect, however, more reforms were carried out in Russia under Emperor Nicholas II, than that undertaken by either Peter the Great and Alexander II”. The new Web Site is based on the calendar, “Russia In The Era Of The Reign Of Emperor Nicholas II”, released last year. It has fact filled sections detailing the essence of reforms under Nicholas II, as well as debunking the many myths which exist to this day about his reign. “We realized that we needed a more complete source of information and launched a Web Site which details the achievements and reforms during the reign Nicholas II”, added Balanchuk. The Web Site became part of a large project organized by the St. Catherine Foundation, in conjunction with the Multi-Media Museum Russia My History, outdoor events, as well as work shops and lectures on late 19th and early 20th Century Russian History. The Web Site was launched in September 2018 and aroused great interest among a wide audience of more than six hundred (600) thousand people. Peter Multatuli, Candidate of Historical Sciences, gave a presentation lecture at the Saturday event.

He noted, that “myths are designed to ignore facts and to defame the last Russian Tsar”. For example, the events of 9th January 1905 (Bloody Sunday) were not a planned punishment of the “insidious ruler over the unhappy workers”. Multatuli went on to state that “although the city at the time of the execution of the Romanovs bore the name of St. Catherine, in fact it already belonged to Yakov Sverdlov”. “Yekaterinburg was the patrimony of Sverdlov and his devoted killer henchmen, including Yakov Yurovsky and Filipp Goloshchekin. These were Sveredlov’s devotees during 1905-1906, when he organized a revolutionary gang that engaged in looting, murder and expropriation”, said Multatuli. Speakers also talked about the importance of preserving the historical names of cities. According to Tatyana Balanchuk, Project Manager of the St. Catherine Foundation, “the topic of preserving names and toponymy is very relevant now”. “Russian cities were often named in relation to what was produced in a city, such as in honor of the heavenly patron or in honor of a river, which flows nearby and et-cetera”, said Multatuli. “Many names which reflected the Tsarist era were changed after the 1917 Revolution. Many streets named after prominent figures of Russian History are forgotten, instead they reflect those from the Soviet period”. The historian noted that the original names, which were assigned to the streets at the time of their creation at one or another period of history, could tell a lot about the history of this place.

History needs to be studied in order to educate a citizen in a person who will be responsible for his country. The era of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917) remains one of the most prominent in the history and development of Russia. Rapid economic development, the strengthening of the state’s defense, peace loving external initiatives, outstanding scientific discoveries, the successes of public education, advanced social policy for this period were all achieved in a short historical period. Thanks to the policies and reforms of Nicholas II, sophisticated state administration and the talents of statesmen, helped shape the necessary union which produced such brilliant results. Topics found in the new Russian Web Site include: Monetary, Agrarian, Military Reforms, Industrialization, Energy, Public Health, Scientific Breakthroughs, Russian Geographical Society, Constitutional State, Foreign And Domestic Trade. Also, Religious And Church Life, Mail, Telegraph And Postal Services, Charity And Patronage, The Birth Of Russian Aviation, Foreign Policy and much more. Please note that this Russian/English Language Web Site is still under development and once complete will also feature articles, news and videos. On a personal note, I would like to add that this new Russian Web Site is of great importance. It allows us to reexamine what we have been led to believe is the truth on the era of Nicholas II, from the many books and documentaries produced over the past fifty years. Many have been written by people who have failed to examine all the facts, especially those from Russian Sources.

As an example, during a BBC Radio Program Beyond Belief held on 20th August 2018, the programs’ host Ernie Rea was joined by four guests to discuss Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Among them was Andrew Phillips, Arch Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR) and Rector of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Church in Colchester, England. They stated during the program that “Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar”. Fellow Panelist and Romanov Historian, Helen Rappaport did not comment on Father Andrew’s statement, however, she wasted little time in taking to Social Media to rebuke him. “The assertion by Father Andrew that he [Nicholas II] was a Reforming Tsar, took it too far”, she argued during a discussion on Facebook with her “Romanov Circuit”. I also believe that Nicholas II was a Reforming Tsar, the information presented in this new Russian Web Site providing the facts.

We all totally disagree with Dr. Rappaport’s comments and her rebuke of Father Andrew’s comments.

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© H.I.H. Baron Alexander Alexis von Braun. 2 July 2020

The Truth About Nicholas II

donations 2020

ANNUAL SUMMER APPEAL

I am reaching out to friends and supporters for donations to help support me in my research on the life and reign of Nicholas II, and my personal mission to clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar.

There are many web sites, blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the Romanovs. However, I work very hard searching Russian archival and media sources on a daily basis to bring something new to the table every day. This includes articles researched by a new generation of Russian historians; news on the Romanovs, their palaces, exhibitions, etc; photos, videos and more.

Your donation helps support my work and research, the cost of translations, maintenance of my news blog: Nicholas II. Emperor. Tsar. Saint, the organization and promotion of the 2nd International Nicholas II Conference scheduled to take place at the at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York on Saturday 15th May 2021, among other events!

If you enjoy all the articles, news, photos, and videos, please help support my work in the coming year ahead by making a donation.

Click HERE to make a donation by CREDIT CARD or PAYPAL

Click HERE to make a donation by GOFUNDME

Click HERE to make a donation by PERSONAL CHECK

Donations as low as $5 are much appreciated, and there is NO obligation!

Thank you for your consideration.

Paul Gilbert. 1 July 2020

Nicholas II in the NEWS – June 2020

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PHOTO: Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II in the uniform of colonel of the Austro-Hungarian 5th Uhlan regiment, painted in 1899 by Artist: Ernst Friedrich von Liphart (1847-1932)

From the Collection of the Hrvatski povijesni muzej / Croatian History Museum in Zagreb, Croatia

At the end of each month I will post links to noteworthy articles about Nicholas II from English language media sources, complemented with photos and videos.

Please click on the titles (highlighted) below to read each respective article:

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On the Russian Revolution and Today (Do not be a Robert Service) by John Mark N. Reynolds. Published in Patheos on 29th June 2020

John Mark N. Reynolds writes probably the most honest assessment to date of what has to be one of the WORST books ever written about Nicholas II.

I am referring to ‘The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution‘ written by the “Sovietologist” Robert Service and published in 2017 by Macmillian..

Reynolds writes: “Service thinks the last Tsar mentally inflexible . . . but Service does nothing to prove this is so” . . . Nicholas II was “intellectually inflexible, but Robert Service does not prove that fact” . . . etc., etc.

Reynolds rightly notes that ‘The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution‘ is a “throw away book”, and I could not agree more!

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Alex Webber visits Carska

Tsar Trek by Alex Webber. Published in THEfirstNEWS on 25th June 2020

Alex Webber writes in the Polish-English language newspaper THEfirstTIMES about Nicholas II and his former hunting palace Białowieża.

While the hunting palace has not survived, the former elegant private station for the Imperial family has! A visionary benefactor has revived the rotting station as a Tsarist-themed hotel named Carska.

Perched on a disused railway siding sit four saloon wagons, each lovingly reinvented as an opulent suite. [It is important to note that these are NOT part of the Imperial Train, the last wagons of which were destroyed at Peterhof in 1941 – PG]

“The magical world of Carska is not unlike waking up trapped in the pages of a novel by Tolstoy,” says Webber. “This is not a hotel, I think to myself, but a portal to another time.”

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The cross procession in Ekaterinburg is held annually on 17th July

Church Hopes to Hold Annual Royal Martyrs Procession in Ekaterinburg Despite Coronavirus. Published in Orthodox Christianity on 24th June 2020

Preparations are underway in the Ekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church for the annual Royal Days celebrations in honor of the holy Royal Martyrs, who were brutally murdered in Ekaterinburg on the night of July 16-17, 1918.

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Monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in Zlatoust

Tsar Nicholas II Monument Defaced on Cathedral Grounds in Urals. Published in Orthodox Christianity on 18th June 2020

It seems that the toppling and vandalizing of monuments has become the “norm” in today’s society.

A monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in the Russian city of Zlatoust is the latest target

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VIDEO OF THE MONTH: Laying the Foundation Stone Ceremony and Feast of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo on 2 September (O.S. 20 August) 1909

Much of this historic newsreel is new to me! Please take a few moments to watch Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family laying foundation stones for the cathedral which served as the family church during their residency in the nearby Alexander Palace.

At 2:05 we see the Emperor greeting dignitaries and other guests, presenting each with a small icon.

From the Russian State Documentary Film & Photo Archive (RGAKFD). Duration: 3 minutes, 5 seconds

© Paul Gilbert. 30 June 2020

Nicholas II: Recommended CDs

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For those of you who share an interest in Russia’s last emperor and tsar, I highly recommend these CDs, both of which feature music honouring his life and reign.

The first, God Save the Tsar. Military Band Music of Imperial Russia (2013) features 25 archival recordings from 1900 to 1912. Of particular note are 2 versions of ‘God, Save the Tsar!’ assorted regimental marches which include ‘Tsesarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich March of 6 May 1892’, among others.

This CD includes an illustrated 36 page booklet, which includes the following 3 essays: The Last Tsar; Military Music in Imperial Russia; Russian Military Music in the Reign of Nicholas II; as well as notes on each of the 25 recordings featured on this excellent CD.

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The second, Царь Николай / Tsar Nikolai (1999) features 12 recordings by the prominent Russian singer and folk musician. Zhanna Bichevskaya (born 1944).

Her voice, her words touch one’s soul. Some critics have dubbed her the Russian Joan Baez. Her unique style of music is often described as Russian country-folk. She performed a series of White Guard officer’s songs, as well as a series of patriotic, monarchist and religious songs, including songs dedicated to the Romanov Holy Martyrs. One does not need to understand Russian to be touched by these beautiful songs.

NOTE: this CD can also be ordered from online shops that specialize in CDs imported from Russia, some of which are located in the United States.

Of particular note on this CD is the haunting title track Царь Николай (Tsar Nikolai) – click on the video below to listen to his beautiful melody. The video features vintage film footage of Nicholas II and his family.

© Paul Gilbert. 29 June 2020

Faithful to the End: Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev 

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Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny (left). and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev (right)

Today – 28th June 2020, marks the 102nd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev. 

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev selflessly served the Tsar’s children. Nagorny in particular, lay the great responsibility of protecting the Tsesarevich, even the slightest injury could put the heir to the Russian throne in danger, due to his hemophilia. Alexei was very fond of Nagorny, who in turn showed complete devotion to the Tsesarevich, faithfully sharing with him all the joys and sorrows.

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Nagorny and Tsesarevich Alexei in Tsarskoe Selo, 1907

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev voluntarily stayed with the Tsar’s family during their house arrest in Tsarskoe Selo, and then followed them to Tobolsk, where Nagorny shared a room with the Tsesarevich, serving him day and night. Together with the Imperial family, Nagorny also attended all the divine services, and the only member of the family’s retinue who was a member of the choir organized by the Empress: he sang and read for the Imperial family during services held in the house church.

In the spring of 1918 Nagorny and Sednev once again, voluntarily followed the Imperial family to Ekaterinburg. They spent only a few days in the Ipatiev House, and then were separated from the Imperial prisoners. They were arrested and imprisoned, their sole crime had been their inability to hide their indignation on seeing the Bolshevik commissaries seize the little gold chain from which the holy images hung over the sick bed of the Tsesarevich.

On 28th June 1918, they were shot in the back by the Bolsheviks, in a small wooded area behind the Yekaterinburg-2 railway station (modern name – Shartash). Nagorny and Sednev were “killed for betraying the cause of the revolution” – as indicated in the resolution on their execution. The murderers left their bodies unburied.

When Ekaterinburg was occupied by the Whites, the the half-decayed bodies of Nagorny and Sednev, were found and solemnly buried near the Church of All the Afflicted (demolished). Witnesses at the funeral recall that the graves of the former sailors of the Imperial Yacht Standart were strewn with white flowers. Their graves were not preserved – they were destroyed when the Soviet authorities built a city park on the site of the cemetery.

Both Nagorny and Sednev were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 14 November 1981, and both rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2009. They have yet to be canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. 

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

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Sednev and Alexeei Nikolaevich, in the Finnish skerries, 1914 

Nagorny, Klementy Grigorovich (1887—1918) – from 1909, he served on the Imperial yacht Standart and appointed as a footman to the imperial children. He received the Court title Garderobshik (wardrobe keeper) in 1909 and accompanied the Imperial family on every tour. In November 1913, he was appointed assistant dyadka to guard the Imperial children. He travelled with the Tsesarevich Alexei to Mogilev during 1914-16. After the Tsar’s abdication, he lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

Sednev, Ivan Dmitrievich (1881—1918) – was recruited into the Russian Imperial Navy in 1911, where he began as a machinist on the Imperial Yacht Polyarnaya Zvezda (Polar Star) then transferred onto the Imperial yacht Standart. By invitation he became a Lakei (liveried footman) to the Grand Duchesses, and subsequently to the Tsesarevich. Ivan lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 28 June 2020

The myth that Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference by the Russian people

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Revolutionaries burning the Tsar’s portrait in 1917. Artist: Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov (1869-1947)

Contemporary historians have led us to believe that news of Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference among the Russian people. Rather than conduct their own research on the matter, they choose instead to rehash the popular Bolshevik version of events – this is in itself is not the sign of a good historian.

While the elation exhibited by the revolutionaries is indeed true, it did not reflect the heartfelt sentiments of millions of Orthodox Christians, monarchists and others in the former Russian Empire.

Patriarch Tikhon (1865-1925), openly defended the Imperial family, by condemning the Bolsheviks for committing regicide.

When the tragic news of the murder of the Tsar’s family came, the Patriarch immediately served a memorial service at a meeting of the Council; then served the funeral Liturgy, saying that no matter how judged the policy of the Sovereign, his murder after he abdicated and who did not make the slightest attempt to return to power is an unjustified crime, and those who committed him should be branded as executioners.

On July 17/30 the Patriarch said: “But we, to grief and shame, survived until the time when a clear violation of God’s commandments are not only not recognized as sin, but justified as legitimate. So, a terrible thing happened: the former Tsar Nikolai Alexandrovich was shot … We must, in obedience to the teaching of the Word of God, condemn this action, otherwise the blood of those shot will fall upon us, and not just on those who committed it … Let them call us counter-revolutionaries, let us be imprisoned, let us be shot. We are ready to endure all this in the hope that the words of our Saviour are also referred to us: “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). “

Eugenie Fraser, born and raised in Russia writes about her years in Petrograd and news of the tsar’s death: “In August, filtered through from Siberia, came the news of the slaughter of the Royal family by the sadistic thugs of the Bolshevik party. Horror and revulsion touched every decent thinking citizen in the town. To execute the Tsar and his wife in this barbaric fashion was bad enough, but to butcher the four young girls and the helpless boy was the work of mindless criminals. In churches people went down on their knees and openly wept as they prayed for the souls of the Tsar and his family.”

“Even in all this turmoil and confusion, and even among those with little sympathy for the abdicated tsar, the brief five-line announcement in July 1918 of the execution of Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg caused a terrible shock,” writes Serge Schmemann. He further notes “Prince Sergei Golitsyn recalled in his diary how people of all levels of society wept and prayed, and how he himself, as a nine year old boy, cried night after night in his pillow.”

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox further noted in his memoirs: “An old soldier . . . breathed into my ear that the Emperor was a good man, and fond of his people, but was surrounded by traitors.”

It is important to recall that it was in the summer of 1918, when Lenin unleashed the first Red Terror. People lived in fear of punishment from the thugs and criminals of the new order, for showing any sympathy for the murdered tsar. Many hid their framed portraits of the tsar, and kept their grief and monarchist sentiments to themselves.

This post is an abridged excerpt from my forthcoming book Nicholas II: A Century of Myths and Lies – scheduled for publication sometime in 2021

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© Paul Gilbert. 19 June 2020

The Emperor on Vacation – Set of 3 Albums

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Tucked away for decades in the Yalta Historical and Literary Museum in Crimea, are three little known photograph albums of the family of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The albums were found in Livadia and confiscated by the regional Soviet after the Imperial residences were nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1917.

I was made aware of the existence of these albums during my visit to Yalta and Crimea in 2000, however, it was not possible to view them at the time.

The albums were published last year by the N. Orianda Publishing House in Simferopol, Crimea under the title Император на отдыхе / The Emperor on Vacation in three handsome hard cover volumes. Each album is filled with photographs of the Imperial family during their stay in Crimea in 1902, 1912 and 1913 respectively. The albums are packaged in a handsome slip case. Text and captions are in Russian.

This collection of photographs are indeed special, as there are no staged portraits, they reflect the private, home life of the Imperial family: walks, picnics, excursions, family and friendly meetings – all set against the backdrop of picturesque Crimean nature, and the region’s historical and architectural monuments. Also included are a few images taken during official meetings and parades.

These albums will be indispensable to historians and any one interested in the life of Russia’s last tsar and his family. The photographs have not been published in any of the pictorials published by Western publishers over the past decades – they are new to us! What makes these albums even more unique and valuable is that only 100 sets were printed! The price is 10,000 rubles ($150 USD).

Volume I (1902) Августейшие дачники / August Summer Residents

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Volume II (1912) Земной рай Романовых / Romanovs Earthly Paradise

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Volume III (1913) Царский альбом в стиле репортажа

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Published by the N. Orianda Publishing House in Simferopol, Crimea.

ISBN: 9785604293164. Click HERE to order your set of these magnificent albums!

© Paul Gilbert. 16 June 2020

Monument to the Imperial Family established in Tyumen

A new monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs was established last month in the Siberian city of Tyumen. The monument depicting Emperor Nicholas II and his family was erected in the garden of the Mother of God-Nativity Convent, which is under the administration of the Tobolsk Diocese. The sculptor Irina Makarova posted a video (above) on YouTube on 31st May, which captures the process of production and installation of the monument. She noted that the Tobolsk Diocese had requested the order. The monument was made last summer in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow.

“We took as a basis an existing monument to the royal family which was established in 2017 at the Holy Trinity-Saint Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery. On the initiative of the head of the Tobolsk Diocese Vladyka Demetrius, an old Russian boat was added to the monument – this is a symbol of Tyumen. Inscribed on the side of the boat is “Русь“ (Rus) This is no coincidence as Nicholas II and his family were taken from Tyumen to Tobolsk  on the steamboat Rus,” said the sculptor.

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According to Makarova, the monument was planned to be erected in Tobolsk, where the Romanov family were held under house arrest from August 1917 to April 1918, however “the locals were against it.” Therefore, they decided to install the monument on the grounds of the monastery, next to the former Tura railway station, where the Imperial family arrived by train from Tsarskoye Selo. The Royal Pier Museum now stands next to the place from where the Imperial family were sent into exile to Tobolsk

She added that they had planned to open the monument on 8th June of this year, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the official opening and consecration has been postponed indefinitely. The monastery notes the possibility of opening on 17th July, the day marking the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his familyy.

In August 1917, two trains arrived at the Tura station in Tyumen, carrying Nicholas II, his family, servants and other retainers, all of which were accompanied by Red Army soldiers. Here the last Russian emperor made a stop on his way into exile. The Imperial family did not spend long in the city, and on the morning of 5th August they set off on the steamer Rus to Tobolsk, where they lived under house arrest until April 1918. It was then that they were moved to the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. Nicholas II along with his family and four faithful retainers were shot on the night of 16/17 July 1918 in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 10 June 2020