The Path of the Tsar’s Family: “Evil will not conquer evil, but only love”

I am publishing this post, with the hope that one of the numerous Orthodox publishing houses in the United States, will consider translating and publishing an English-lanaguage edition of this book, compiled by Sergey Milov in 2018, to mark the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

This gift book tells about the life and accomplishments of the Holy Royal Family – the martyrs – the last Russian Emperor-Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their children – Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Tsesarevich Alexei. More than a century has passed since the tragic death and martyrdom of the Imperial Family, however, their veneration by Orthodox Christians continues to increase every year.

The contents include a foreword; individual chapters on the Emperor, the Empress, the Grand Duchesses and the Heir Tsesarevich; feats of the Imperial Family; their house arrest at Tsarskoye Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg; questions about the Ekaterinburg remains; and their glorification by the Russian Orthodox Church.

This book was published in Russian in 2018 by Letopis Orthodox Publishing House (Moscow). It is available in a small 9 x 13 cm [3-1/2″ x 5″] hard cover format, perfect for carrying in your pocket. The book features 256 pages, with illustrations. A total of 10,000 copies were published.

Copies of the Russian-language of this title can be purchased from Knigomania (Canada); Vasha-Kniga (United States) or Ruslania (EU).

© Paul Gilbert. 7 October 2022

Emperor Nicholas II tests new uniforms for the soldiers of his army in 1909


Emperor Nicholas II tests new uniforms for the soldiers of his army. Livadia 1909
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

This series of photographs depict Emperor Nicholas II wearing the uniform of a private soldier in Livadia. The Tsar made it his duty to run tests on new uniforms for the soldiers of his army.


Emperor Nicholas II tests new uniforms for the soldiers of his army. Livadia 1909
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

In 1909, Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov (1848-1926) the Minister of War was at work on an important reform, the determination of the type of clothing and equipment to be worn and carried in future by every Russian infantryman. When considering the modifications proposed by the Minister, the following provides a convincing proof of the extreme conscientiousness and sense of duty which inspired Nicholas II, as head of the Russian Imperial Army. The Tsar wanted full knowledge of the facts, and decided to test the proposed new equipment personally.


Emperor Nicholas II tests new uniforms for the soldiers of his army. Livadia 1909
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

The Emperor told only Alexander Alexandrovich Mossolov (1854-1939), who served as Minister of the Court and the Commander of the Palace of his intention. They had the full equipment, new model, of a soldier in a regiment camping near Livadia brought to the palace. There was no falang, no making to exact measure for the Tsar; he was in the precise position of any recruit who was put into the shirt, pants, and uniform chosen for him, and given his rifle, pouch, and cartridges. The Tsar was careful also to take the regulation supply of bread and water. Thus equipped, he went off alone, covered twenty kilometres out and back on a route chosen at random, and returned to the palace. Forty kilometres — twenty-five miles — is the full length of his forced march; rarely are troops required to do more in a single day.


Emperor Nicholas II tests new uniforms for the soldiers of his army. Livadia 1909
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

The Tsar returned at dusk, after eight or nine hours of marching, rest-time included. A thorough examination showed, beyond any possibility of doubt, that there was not a blister or abrasion of any part on his body. The boots had not hurt his feet. Next day the reform received the Sovereign’s approval.


Emperor Nicholas II tests new uniforms for the soldiers of his army. Livadia 1909
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

The Tsar regarded himself as a soldier — the first professional soldier of the Russian Empire. In this respect he would make no compromise: his duty was to do what every soldier had to do.

Excerpted from At the Court of the Last Tsar by A.A. Mossolov. English edition published in 1935


PHOTO: bas-relief depicting Emperor Nicholas II
testing new uniforms for the soldiers of his army

© Paul Gilbert. 5 October 2022

His Imperial Majesty’s Suite during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, 1894 to 1917

PHOTO: the retinue of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Nicholas II, Tsarskoye Selo, 1916. From left to right: Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich; Admiral Konstantin Dmitrievich Nilov; Count Alexander Nikolaevich Grabbe; Colonel Anatoly Alexandrovich Mordvinov; Colonel Kirill Anatolievich Naryshkin; Major General Vladimir Nikolaevich Voeikov; Emperor Nicholas II; Count Vladimir Borisovich Frederiks; Prince Vasily Alexandrovich Dolgorukov; and Sergey Petrovich Federov

* * *

His Imperial Majesty’s Suite was a retinue unit of personal aides to Emperor Nicholas II, who reigned for 22+ years, from the death of his father on 2nd November (O.S. 20th October) 1894 to his abdication on 15th (O.S. 2nd) March 1917.


According to the Table of Ranks, established by decree of Emperor Peter I on 24th January 1722, the title of Adjutant General of the Russian Empire was originally a military rank. The title of His (Her) Imperial Majesty ‘s Adjutant Wing, was introduced in 1775 by Empress Catherine II.

In 1827, Emperor Nicholas I formally created the Retinue of His (Her) Imperial Majesty was established. From 1843 it was part of the Imperial Main Headquarters, an organization within the military administration of the Russian Empire that was tasked with carrying out the personal military commands from the Emperor.

The aides to the Tsar generally consisted of officers of the Army or the Guards units. The retinue consisted of persons granted the highest honors, who enjoyed the special confidence of the reigning Emperor. They were assigned the honorary title of Adjutant; used in parallel with the existing personal military, court or civil rank as defined in the Table of Ranks.

Emperor Nicholas I introduced a title of Major General of the His Imperial Majesty’s Suite. In 1841, a special title of Ajdutant General of the Emperor’s Person was created.

His Imperial Majesty’s Suite during the reign of Nicholas II

From 1894 to 1914, His Imperial Majesty’s Suite included the following number of aides:

  • 51 x adjutant generals to His Imperial Majesty;
  • 64 x Retinues of His Majesty Major General and Rear Admiral;
  • 56 x adjutant wing of His Imperial Majesty

Adjutant generals of the Russian Empire in as of 1894-1917 wore the following distinctive insignia on their retinue uniform:

  • gold general’s epaulettes (and later shoulder straps ) with the monogram of the reigning emperor;
  • gold aiguillettes of the adjutant general;
  • a white sheepskin hat with a red bottom and gold galloons located crosswise on the bottom (during the reign of Alexander III and Nicholas II ).

His Imperial Majesty’s Suite also included Grand Dukes and Princes of the Imperial Blood[1] of the Russian Imperial Family, each of whom served as aides to Emperor Nicholas II. Among these, included the Emperor’s brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, and his first cousin Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, the latter who committed an act of treason against the Emperor during the February 1917 Revolution.

In addition, His Imperial Majesty’s Suite included notable figures, many of whom will be familar to persons who are more acquainted and well-read on the reign of Nicholas II, including:

Count Pavel (Paul) Konstantinovich Benckendorff; Emir of Bukhara Sayyid Mir Muhammad Alim Khan; Vladimir Nikolaevich Voeikov; Alexander Nikolaevich Grabbe; Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky; Prince Vasily Alexandrovich Dolgorukov; Count Fyodor Arturovich Keller[2]; Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim; Duke Georg Alexander of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; Alexander Alexandrovich Mosolov; Huseyn Khan Nakhchivanski[2]; Konstantin Dmitrievich Nilov; Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg[3]; Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov; Prince Felix Feliksovich Yusupov, Count Sumarokov-Elston; Count Ilya Leonidovich Tatischev; and Dmitri Feodorovich Trepov; among others.

Their duties included carrying out special assignments of the Emperor (for example, investigating civil unrest), escorting foreign monarchs and delegations, and being on duty with the Emperor. In the middle of the 19th century, each retinue officer had an average of one watch every two months. The retinue title came with a number of privileges: the right of free passage to the Imperial residence, the right to file reports addressed to the Emperor, etc.

The Revolution and the end of His Imperial Majesty’s Suite

The ranks of adjutant generals, generals of the retinue and adjutant wing were abolished by order of the military department of the new Provisional Government on 21st March 1917.

Many of these men were noble and honourable, who remained faithful to Emperor Nicholas II, while others were self serving and traitors. Many of them managed to escape Bolshevik Russia, while others lived out their remaining years in Bolshevik and Soviet Russia. Sadly, for some of these men, their loyalty to their Sovereignwere tortured and subsequently exectuted, their crime in the eyes of their murderers, was .

© Paul Gilbert. 3 October 2022


[1] Under the new Family Law promulgated in 1886 by Emperor Alexander III, only the children and male-line grandchildren of a Tsar would be styled Grand Duke or Grand Duchess with the style of Imperial Highness—great-grandchildren and their descendants would be styled either “Prince” or “Princess of the Imperial Blood” with the style of Highness. The revised Family Law was intended to cut down on the number of persons entitled to salaries from the Imperial treasury.

[2] Commander of the Third Cavalry Corps of the Russian Imperial Army, General Count Fyodor Arturovich Keller (1857-1918) and Commander of the Guard Cavalry Corps Huseyn Khan Nakhchivanski (1863-1919), were the only two Tsarist generals, who remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox emperor Nicholas II and refused to swear allegiance to the Provisional Government.

[3] Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg (1868-1924), was the first husband of Nicholas II’s sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960). The couple married on 27th July 1901 in the Gatchina Palace Church. In 1915, the couple separated; Olga had no children from her first marriage. On 27th August 1916, Emperor Nicholas II approved the definition of the Holy Synod, which recognized her marriage to Prince of Oldenburg dissolved