Then they repented of slandering the Tsar …

Historians and media sources continue to rehash revolutionary myths and slander about the Emperor Nicholas II. Meanwhile, many former revolutionaries and liberals who slandered the Tsar repented in the years which followed the 1917 Revolution.

With the exception of Fondaminsky, who died at Auschwitz in 1942, the men and women featured in this article – all of whom supported the overthrow of Nicholas II and the monarchy in Russia – died in exile.

Ivan Fedorovich Nazhvin (1874-1940)

Author of numerous novels in which he denounced the monarchical state system

“In the days of my youth, the role of a “conscious personality” and “struggle for the people” was demanded from every young man. At that time, not only representatives of the bourgeoisie, like me – we all know the names of the Ryabushinskys, Tretyakovs, Konovalovs, Savva Morozov, etc. – joined the ranks of these – alas! personalities, but also aristocrats, like Prince. P.A. Kropotkin, Count Leo Tolstoy, princes Shakhovsky, Khilkov, Chertkov, Chicherin, etc….

The red stupor grew by leaps and bounds; while the Russian man demanded for himself “the sky in diamonds”. I also suffered from this social disease. I also wanted the sky in republican and socialist diamonds. Entering public life as a writer, I did not hesitate, of course, that only the “leaders”, can steer Russia’s affairs, and everything that is alien to us is subject to anathema and must be thrown into the historical rubbish heap … The first revolution of 1905 cooled my revolutionary aspirations, and the second in 1917 completely extinguished them forever. But I was still possessed by the “old regime” and I looked upon its leaders with much dislike. To my great regret, Tsar Nicholas II was among them.

When I began to examine Russia’s past for my novels, I became more and more convinced that the Tsar was not at all “stupid or weak-willed”. He was “stupid” only because he did not share our delusions, and we imagined him to be “weak-willed” because he did not possess our main and serious vice – over self-confidence (“we know everything”), but on the contrary, he was infinitely modest. My frequent conversations with L.D. Korsakov, who observed the Tsar’s life at close hand, finally convinced me that we, “social activists”, were impassable mules and that we are responsible for the death of the unfortunate Imperial family, who had been persecuted by all of us.

I dedicated a whole volume to this terrible tragedy. But someday it will be published in our time of troubles! And death does not wait: I am already 65; and therefore, without postponing matters, I consider it my duty of conscience to repent of my gross and cruel social error now: it was not the Tsar who was to blame before us, but we before him, who suffered for us.

We suffered severely for our mistake, but still there is no suffering with which we could completely atone for our criminal frivolity and wash away the blood of our victims, the poor Emperor and his loved ones from our hands and souls.

I very much ask my readers, if they come across in my volumes harsh reviews about the deceased Tsar, Tsarina and their loved ones, to interpret these my sins in the light of this letter to “everyone”: I am guilty of this terrible mistake and am ready to atone for it again and again.”

25th April 1939

(Quoted from: “Sentinel”. 1951. No. 304; “Bulletin of the Temple-Monument”. 1981. No. 241)

Ilya Isidorovich Bunakov-Fondaminsky (1880-1942)

One of the leaders of the terrorist organization of the Socialist Revolutionaries

Moscow statehood rested not on strength and not on subjugation by the power of the people, but on the loyalty and love of the people for the bearer of power. Western republics rest on popular recognition. But no republic in the world has been so unconditionally recognized by its people as the autocratic monarchy. The left-wing parties portrayed tsarist power, as the Bolsheviks are now portrayed. They assured us that “despotism” led Russia to decline. I, an old militant terrorist, say now, after the lapse of time – it was a lie! No power can last for centuries based on fear. Autocracy is not violence, its basis is love for kings. After all, Russia is a state of the East. The monarchy was a theocracy. The Tsar is God’s Anointed One. And there were never any uprisings against the Tsar. Not during the Muscovy period, but also the imperial period – the Tsar was almost God.”

(From the speeches at the meetings of the newspaper “Days”, the society “Green Lamp” and the socialist immigrants in Paris in 1927-1929 – Quoted from: “The Two-Headed Eagle”. 1929. No. 25. S. 1186.)

***

Let us conclude this collection with the confessions of several prominent “Februaryists” for their anti-monarchist revolution. Their words refute the popular opinion of liberal democrats that the Bolsheviks “distorted the gains of progressive freedom-loving February.”

Sergei Petrovich Melgunov (1879-1956)

Member of the Organizing Committee of the People’s Socialist Party, appointed by the Provisional Government Commissioner for the survey of archives and the development of political affairs

“After everything that has now been published in recent years, the assessment of ​​Nicholas II has to be changed. Undoubtedly, the idea of ​​the completely exclusive political influence of the “Friend” [Rasputin] is also greatly exaggerated. The right-wing public menacingly instilled that tsarist power would be shaken and that Russia, torn apart by party strife, would perish. Alas! so far, this has largely turned out to be right, just as the Narodnoye resident [L.A. Tikhomirov] was right, after he wrote in his diary: “The monarchy is heading towards destruction, and without the monarchy an inevitable slaughter lasting 10 years will follow.”

No element can justify those who, in a revolutionary storm, have undertaken to navigate the state ship. At first, they all, consciously or unconsciously, indulged the elements and fanned the flames of the great bloodless revolution. The disorganized coup, not organized victory.”

(Melgunov S. On the way to the palace coup. Paris. 1931. S. 61-63, 225).

Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov (1861-1925)

First Minister-Chairman of the Provisional Government

Until the very end he [Lvov] blamed himself for everything: “After all, it was I who made the revolution, I killed the tsar and everyone … all because of me” … he said in Paris to his childhood friend Ekaterina Mikhailovna Lopatina-Yeltsova. ”

(Quoted from: Stepun F. The Past and the Unfulfilled. New York. 1956. Vol. II. P. 32).

Pavel Nikolaevich Milyukov (1859-1943)¹

Leader of the Cadet Party, Minister of the First Provisional Government

After his removal from the Provisional Government in the spring of 1917, he said in an address to his associates:

“In response to your questions, how I look at the revolution we have accomplished, I want to say that what happened, we certainly did not want. We believed that power would be concentrated and remain in the hands of the first cabinet, that we would stop the enormous devastation in the army quickly, if not with our own hands, then with the hands of the allies, we would achieve victory over Germany, we would pay for the overthrow of the tsar with only some delay in this victory. We must confess that some, even from our own party, pointed out to us the possibility of what happened next. Of course, we must acknowledge that the moral responsibility lies with us.

You know that we made a firm decision to use the war to carry out a coup soon after the start of the war, you also know that our army had to go on the offensive, the results of which would fundamentally stop all hints of discontent and cause an explosion of patriotism in the country and jubilation. You understand now why I hesitated at the last minute to give my consent to the coup, you also understand what my inner state should be like at the present time. History will curse the leaders of the so-called proletarians, but it will also curse us, who caused the storm.

What to do now, you ask. I don’t know, that is, inside we all know that the salvation of Russia lies in the return of the monarchy, we know that all the events of the last two months clearly prove that the people were not able to accept freedom, that the mass of the population, not participating in rallies and congresses, were disposed to the monarchy, and that many, many who voted for a republic did so out of fear. All this is clear, but we cannot admit it. Recognition is the collapse of the whole business, our whole life, the collapse of the entire worldview, of which we are representatives.”

(Quoted from: PN Milyukov’s letter of repentance // Russian Resurrection. Paris. 1955. April 17, p. 3).

Fyodor Avgustovich Stepun (1884-1965)

After the February Revolution, he was the head of the Political Directorate of the War Ministry

In his later memoirs, he describes how he, along with other revolutionaries, was placed in the rooms of the Grand Palace: “My soul was vague and unwell: I was ashamed being in the royal chambers, as if I had robbed someone and did not know how to hide stolen goods in order to forget about the theft … ” Whose fault before Russia is harder – ours, the people of “February”, or the Bolshevik – a difficult question … “.

(Stepun F. The Past and the Unfulfilled. New York. 1956. T. II. S. 154, 7).

Ariadna Vladimirovna Tyrkova-Williams (1869-1962)

One of the organizers of the Cadet Party, participant in the February Revolution

“When the crown fell, many noticed with amazement that it ended, the central vault of Russian statehood was supported on it. The cadets were unable to fill the devastation.”

(Quoted from: “Grani”. 1980. No. 130. P. 118).

Click HERE to read my article The myth that Nicholas II’s death was met with indifference by the Russian people, published on 19th June 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 24 September 2020

¹ On 1st November 1 1916, liberal politician and the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party (known as the Kadets) in the Russian Provisional Government, Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov delivered the famous speech in the State Duma, which, according to many historians, launched the dramatic process of the revolutionary demolition of the government in force at that time.

Judicial reforms of Emperor Nicholas II

PHOTO: Portrait of Nicholas II hangs in the District Court Hall.
Tver province, Kashinsky district. 1909-1911

As noted by Russian historian Sergei Viktorovich Kulikov: “It fell to Nicholas II to complete, as in the case of the agrarian reform, the judicial reforms of Alexander II.”

Indeed, judicial reform was the most liberal of all the great reforms of Emperor Alexander II. However, its implementation stretched over 35 years, during which the judicial statutes were adapted to the existing state and political system of the Russian Empire. Siberia was one of the last regions to which the judicial statutes of 1864 were extended. In December 1895, noted in a report of the Minister of Justice Nikolai Valerianovich Muravyov (1850-1908) Nicholas II wrote: “God grant that Siberia in two years will receive much-needed justice, on a par with the rest of Russia.”

By the middle of 1899, the Tsar’s wish was fulfilled: Judicial regulations were introduced in the Arkhangelsk and Vologda provinces, in the Steppe and Trans-Caspian regions, in Siberia and Turkestan. Thus, by the beginning of the 20th century. The judicial reforms were firmly established throughout the Empire. On 1st July, 1899, in a rescript addressed to Muravyov, the Sovereign pointed out: “Upon my accession to the throne, I paid special attention to the need to expand the scope of the Judicial Charters of Emperor Alexander II, so that in all, even the most remote areas of Russia, there would be speedy and impartial justice for all people. Today, within the Russian Empire there is no longer a locality which does not enjoy the benefits of the eternal principles of truth, mercy and equality of all before the law inherent in these Statutes.”

Nicholas II also contributed to the gradual humanization of the penitentiary system. In 1895 he transferred the Main Prison Administration from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. The Emperor especially thanked the Head of the Main Prison Administration Alexander Petrovich Salomon (1855-1908) “for the humane treatment” to students who participated in student riots in St. Petersburg and subsequently arrested. On 10th June, 1900, the Tsar abolished exile to Siberia, and between 1903-04, he abolished corporal punishment.

On 22nd March, 1903, the Tsar approved a new Criminal Code, which was considered one of the most advanced in the world. The new Criminal Code had been spearheaded by the outstanding Russian lawyer, criminologist and statesman Nikolai Stepanovich Tagantsev (1843-1923), who had been appointed a member of the Commission for the development of a new Criminal Code under the Ministry of Justice.

The Code provided a definition of a criminal act, a classification of the severity of a crime; for the first time in Russian legislation, the concept of age-related insanity, necessary defence, and attempt to commit a crime was introduced. The death penalty could not be applied to persons under 21 years of age or over 70 years of age. Also, the legislator introduced a ban on holding public office for persons sentenced to hard labour, exile or imprisonment in a correctional house. Juvenile convicts, from 14 to 17 years old, were held in general prisons, but separately from adults. Criminal punishment was introduced not only for a woman who had an abortion, but also for the doctor who performed it. Crimes against the Faith and the Church (blasphemy, sacrilege, being in dangerous heretical sects, etc.) were especially distinguished.

The implementation of the Criminal Code was put into effect gradually, and was interrupted for a year during the revolution of 1905-1907. In the personalized Supreme Decree of 22nd March, 1903, it stated the following: “We are firmly convinced that this law, delimiting the area of ​​what is forbidden and what is permitted and counteracting criminal encroachments, will serve to maintain civil order and to strengthen the sense of legality among the people, which should be the permanent leader of everyone both in the circle of his personal activities, and in the aggregate composition of estates and societies.”

© Paul Gilbert. 22 September 2020

‘The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’ a film by Gleb Panfilov

“A legacy that defied Bolshevik and Soviet attempts of erasure”

More than a century has passed since the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family was carried out by the Bolsheviks who seized power over Imperial Russia following the abdication of the Emperor on 16th March (O.S. 3rd March) 1917. The Soviet Union is no more. But the grandeur of pre-Soviet, Tsarist Russia continues to occupy the imagination of people across the world and the last Russian Imperial family has entered the annals of cinema in many a memorable work of moving images.

Among the cinematic works created around the Romanov family who were brutally murdered by the Ural Soviet on 17th July 1918, is the historical drama film ‘The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’. The Russian made which was released in 2000 having premiered at the 22nd Moscow Film Festival. This film is a must watch not only for ‘Romanovophiles’ but also for history buffs and movie lovers who enjoy the historical drama genre. Directed by internationally acclaimed Russian film director Gleb Anatolyevich Panfilov, it is a Russian language movie with Russian actor Aleksandr Galibin as Emperor Nicholas II and British actress Lynda Bellingham as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The directorial craft of the movie brings to life the perceptions and perspectives of Nicholas II and his family during the last stage of their lives and shows how the imperial family perceived and responded to news of the turmoil in the country that was creating a tide of antipathy towards the monarchy. The narrative shows the humaneness of the Tsar and his family bringing to life their humanity which makes this an endearing film.

Contrary to what Soviet propaganda sought to perpetuate during the reign of communism in Russia, that the Imperial family were cold and uncaring towards the masses, Panfilov’s vision shows how the Romanovs were caring people with admirable humane qualities and talents which even their captors could not help but secretly appreciate.

The movie is quite compelling with a cast of good actors and a plot structure that drives forward the drama of events and action principally through the somewhat insular characters of the Imperial family. Galibin delivers a superb performance as His Imperial Majesty Tsar Nicholas. The character that is brought to life in Panfilov’s directorial vision is one who is much a human with his principal weakness being perhaps that he was torn between how to focus and devote himself and his efforts on being a good father while also being a good monarch and to win the love and respect of all.

The Tsar and Tsarina are shown as two loving humans who are solid in their spousal and parental love. The Imperial children are portrayed as children who feel emotions of sadness, fear, anger and love just like any other, and how they are made hapless victims of a political agenda that overawes all forms of governance and power that formed the old order of imperial Russia.

The revolution is not shown in prominence through extensive scenes of armed conflicts but as more a series of events brought to the knowledge of the Tsar and his family at various stages from February 1917 to the fated day of their massacre in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918. Their grasp of matters that near their unseen doom, as a gradual and coldly unnerving series of changes in their household brings to life the ‘psychological environment’ the Imperial family inhabited in their last days. The Tsar and his family are meant to endure suffering that is much more psychological than physical and thus the slow torment and torture of the Romanovs at the hands of the communist red army captors are brought to life.

The Ipatiev House, In what is called the ‘House of Special Purpose’ by the Bolsheviks, a residence located in Ekaterinburg in Western Siberia, the Imperial family is kept under guard, after the Tsar’s abdication and monarchical rule ends and the family finds themselves being political prisoners. However, the ‘House of Special Purpose’ becomes the slaughter house where the massacre of the imperial family and their remaining staff takes place past midnight on 17th July 1918. The murder carried out by the Bolsheviks brings the narrative of the Romanovs to an end. The scene which follows as the end of the film is documentary footage of the scene of canonization of the Romanov family in Russiain 2000.

The final scene is a strong message that one sees at the end of the film when reading it in context of post-Soviet Russia. The statues of Lenin who founded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) have been brought down with the end of the Soviet Union and his legacy now enjoys no glory among Russians. The Romanovs, however, have once again been reborn in their nation’s collective heart and soul, to remain adored in the Russian people’s memory.

The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’ is presented in this post in 13 x 10 minute videos, with ENGLISH subtitles.

This film presents the most historically accurate version of events available to an English audience to date. Unlike Massie’s ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’ (1971), Panfilov filmed entirely in Russia, with many scenes filmed inside the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Furniture was specially created for this film, which can be seen on display in the palace to this day. The recreation of the private apartments of the Imperial family in the Alexander Palace and the Tsar’s Imperial Train are truly remarkable.Overall, the film is visually stunning!

I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of your favourite wine, sit back, relax and enjoy ‘The Romanovs: An Imperial Family’ – PG

© Dilshan Boange / Paul Gilbert. 20 September 2020

Coming Soon! 2 NEW issues of ‘SOVEREIGN’

I am pleased to announce and if all goes according to schedule, I will publish 2 NEW issues of ‘SOVEREIGN‘ before Christmas of this year.

The publication of the No, 12 and No, 13 issues will bring my popular semi-annual journal dedicated to the life and reign of Nicholas II up to date.

Each issue will feature NEW articles by independent researcher Paul Gilbert, plus First English translations of works by Russian historians and experts based on research, more than 100+ pages and richly illustrated throughout. Each issue also features SOVEREIGN NEWS, compiled from Russian media sources by Paul Gilbert

Below is a list of just some of the articles featured in each respective issue:

^No. 12 – Spring 2020. ISBN: 978-1-927604-42-7

MIKHAIL RODZIANKO
Grave Digger of the Russian Empire
by Andrei Ivanov

THE IMPERIAL RAILWAY PAVILION AT TSARSKOYE SELO
by Paul Gilbert

CHEKA IN THE URALS
What did Nicholas II and Lenin’s cousin have in common?
by Sergei Konstantinov

RUSSIAN MUSEUMS IN MEMORY OF EMPEROR NICHOLAS II
by Paul Gilbert

“THEY WERE THE LAST TO HELP THE TSAR’S FAMILY”
by Report Abbess Domniki at the conference “Church. Theology. Story”

LOYAL TO THEIR SOVEREIGN
Generals who did not betray Nicholas II
by Paul Gilbert

FAMILY DISLOYALTY
Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi
by Paul Gilbert

IMAGES OF A BYGONE ERA
Autochromes of the Alexander Palace
by Paul Gilbert

*No. 13 – Autumn 2020 – ISBN: 978-1-927604-51-9

MARIA FEODOROVNA
Mother of the Last Russian Tsar
by Yulia Kudrina and Paul Gilbert

THE IMPERIAL TRAIN
The Fate of Nicholas II’s Palace on Rails
by Paul Gilbert

DENTISTS OF NICHOLAS II
by Igor Viktorovich Zimin

FROZEN IN TIME
Photographic Memories of Russia’s Last Emperor and Tsar
Album in memory of the stay of Emperor Nicholas II with the August Family in Yalta. 1911

THE SECRET FORCES OF THE EKATERINBURG ATROCITY
by Pyotr Multatuli

NICHOLAS II IN ITALY
by Paul Gilbert

*NOTE: the articles listed for each respective issue are subject to change without notice

© Paul Gilbert. 17 September 2020

The History and Restoration of Nicholas II’s Moorish Bathroom in the Alexander Palace

The Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II as it looked in the 1930s

The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve have announced that the restoration of the Moorish Bathroom – one of the most unique interiors in the private apartments of Nicholas II in the Alexander Palace – is nearing completion.

The Moorish (also called the Emperor’s Toilet, Basseinaya) acquired its original appearance in 1896-1897 when the interior was redesigned by the Russian architect Count Nikolai Ivanovich de Rochefort (1846-1905). The most famous project of Count Rochefort is the Bialowieza Palace, an imperial hunting residence, built in Poland between 1889-1894. His innovative interior included a bathroom with a small bathing pool, which served as a model for designing the Moorish Bathroom for Nicholas II in the Alexander Palace.

The interior harmoniously combined bright oriental-style tiles that adorned the fireplace and walls around the pool, metlakh tiles, which were used for the floor in front of the pool, a coffered ceiling, an openwork maple partition and a Japanese reed mat on the walls. The floor was covered with a colourful carpet. Masters of the Meltzer Trading House made the furniture for the bathroom, which included a sofa upholstered in leather, with pillows and bolsters, two types of Oriental style stools, a table with a trellis, a washbasin on the underframe, a horizontal bar for gymnastic exercises, and stands for walking sticks and hunting rifles.

The main part of the Moorish Bathroom was a bathing pool that could hold 7 thousand buckets of water, and lined with white tiles, which gave the second name to the interior – Basseinaya. Its design in the Alexander Palace featured Charcot shower jets for massage.

For the functioning of the pool, the architect created a complex engineering system, it consisted of water and waste pipes, a water-heating boiler with accessories, three water tanks located in a special room on the ground floor of the palace, located directly under the Basseinaya.

There was also a toilet located outside the door at the edge of the corridor wall.

The Moorish Bathroom’s interior decoration was lost during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). In the summer of 1997, a permanent exhibition was opened in the eastern wing of the palace dedicated to the imperial family. The former bathroom was used as an exhibition space with parquet floors, painted walls and a white ceiling. Therefore, the restoration of the Moorish Bathroom began practically from scratch.

Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

In 2017, when dismantling the room, craftsmen discovered the Tsar’s bathing pool under the floor, and in it – a significant number of fragments of ceramic wall tiles, Metlakh tiles, belonging not only to the decoration of the Moorish, but also to other interiors of the residential half of the palace. The fragments provided restorers with the colour schemes of the interior decoration, which were reconstructed from black and white photographs taken in the 1930s. Thanks to this remarkable discovery, the restorers were able to recreate the wall cladding of the with the utmost precision.

Several fragments of the original tiles have been incorporated in the reconstructed Moorish Bathroom’s decoration; while the bathing pool and the steps leading into it have retained some of their historic tiling.

Also found during the restoration, several small fragments of the original frieze were revealed, which made it possible to clarify the colour scheme of the decorative painting, the drawing of which was determined from the black and white pre-war photographs.

In 2018–2019, the architectural elements of the interior decoration were recreated: wooden wall panels and ceiling cladding, wall tiles, a Moorish-style fireplace with decorative niches (they originally contained Faberge lamps, which were transferred to the Russian Museum in 1956), and a carved partition. The decoration of the toilet room has also been recreated. Curtains and a large carpet were made according to the historical documents and photos.

Thanks to the assistance of the Japanese Consulate General in St. Petersburg, an original mat similar to the one that adorned the walls of the Moorish Bathroom will soon be purchased in Japan.

At the moment, on the basis of existing museum inventory descriptions of 1938-1940, the design of non-preserved pieces of furniture and plumbing equipment (taps and mechanisms for introducing water into the pool) is currently underway.

Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve


Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve


Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve


Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

Click HERE to read my article Reconstruction of Nicholas II’s bathroom in the Alexander Palace + 13 PHOTOS, published on 16th June 2019

* * *

The Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II is one of eight interiors to open in the eastern wing of the palace, scheduled to open in December 2020. The other interiors include: the Reception of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Imperial Bedroom, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, and the New Study of Nicholas II.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2022.

© 16 September 2020. Paul Gilbert

Nicholas II and the Boer War

PHOTO: Postcard depicting Transvaal President Paul Kruger and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia

I am wholly preoccupied with the war between England and the Transvaal,” Nicholas II wrote to his sister Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna at the outbreak of the Boer War. “Every day I read the news in the British newspapers from the first to the last line . . . I cannot conceal my joy at . . . yesterday’s news that during General White’s sally two full British battalions and a mountain battery were captured by the Boers!”

Britain’s hold on South Africa was significant for the Russians partly because the route to India lay via the Cape, and as Governors of the Cape were only too aware, Russia had its own designs on India. In 1896, President Paul Kruger (1825-1904), sent the Russian émigré financier Benzion Aaron to represent the Transvaal at Nicholas’s coronation in Moscow, which led Russia to establishing diplomatic relations with the Transvaal.

Nicholas was, in fact, quite carried away. ‘You know, my dear,’ he told his sister Xenia Alexandrovna, ‘that I am not arrogant, but it is pleasant for me to know that I and I only possess the ultimate means of deciding the course of the war in South Africa. It is very simple – just a telegraphic order to all the troops in Turkestan to mobilize and advance towards the [Indian] frontier. Not even the strongest fleet in the world can keep us from striking England at this her most vulnerable point.’ Such was Nicholas’s ‘dearest dream’ but it came to nothing.

For their part the British made some effort to accommodate Russia. On 31st August 1899 London agreed to accept a Russian consul in Bombay, thus for the first time permitting official access to India which the British had preserved so carefully from Russian influence.

Xenia replied from Ai-Todor [Crimea] on 11th October 1899: “We are terribly interested in the war in the Transvaal, and are right behind the Boers and wish them every success in the war. I think there can be no one (except the English!) who isn’t on their side!.”

The Boer War found Nicholas and his mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna taking different sides.

In a letter written to her son from Bernstorff Palace [Denmark] on 7th November, 1899, Maria writes: “We are following the news of the war in the Transvaal with great interest here. It does seem more than surprising that the English had so little information about the Boers being so well prepared for war: for a long time ago, four years, they ordered 150,000 rifles of the best pattern from Krupps, and many guns as well. The losses of the English are terrible, and the position they’re in is most depressing. What a terrible deathroll! How awful it all is! I am sure there is not one family in England which has not lost one or several of its members. What a sad place it must be now! And what sorrow for poor Queen Granny at the end of her days!”

Nicholas replied from the Alexander Palace [Tsarskoye Selo] on 9th November, 1899: “The Anglo-Boer War interests me terribly; I wish all possible success to those poor people in this unequal and unjust war. Almost unbelievable sympathy is shown all over Europe to the Boers, even ordinary folk take the greatest interest in their fate.”

The enthusiasm of the Russian public for the Boer cause knew no constraints. Books, articles, poems, plays and pamphlets about the Boers poured out, orchestras played ‘Transvaal, Transvaal, My Country’ over and over again, money was collected and sent, prayers were offered up in church for a speedy victory against the British and pictures of the Boers were everywhere.

Russian conservatives were pro-Boer not only for the usual nationalist, anti-British reasons but because they thought the Boers were like the best sort of Russians – conservative, rural, Christian folk resisting the invasion of their land by foreign (especially Jewish) capitalists. ‘The deep historical meaning of this war,’ wrote one conservative Moscow paper, ‘is that faith, patriotism . . . the patriarchal family, primordial tribal unity, iron discipline and the complete lack of so-called modern civilization have . . . become such an invincible force that even the seemingly invincible British have begun to tremble.’ 

PHOTO: Russian Boer general Lt Col Yevgeny Maximov
on his return from the Anglo-Boer War

Several hundred Russians – including some Russian aristocrats and two medical units – came out to fight for the Boers. One of the most famous was ‘the Russian Boer General’, Lt-Col. Yevgeny Maximov (1849-1904), who seems to have had such extraordinary influence with Kruger and his generals that he is thought to have arrived in South Africa on a secret mission from the Russian Government. And even after Kruger was exiled to Holland after the war, he remained in touch with Maximov, thanking him for his bravery. Maximov was the real thing: a professional soldier, a wonderful horseman, an almost miraculously good shot (on one occasion he shot a springbok at 800 metres from a moving train) – the sort of man who fought on despite his wounds when most of his unit had been wiped out. (He returned from that engagement a hero and was personally thanked by Smuts.) Like most of the Russians, he left via Mozambique once it became clear that the Boer cause was lost.

On 22nd May 1901, Nicholas wrote to King Edward VII of Great Britain: “Pray forgive me for writing to you upon a very delicate subject, which I have been thinking over for months, but my conscience obliges me at last to speak openly. It is about the South African war and what I say is only said as by your loving nephew.

“You remember of course at the time when war broke out what a strong feeling of animosity against England arose throughout the world. In Russia the indignation of the people was similar to that of the other countries. I received addresses, letters, telegrams, etc. in masses begging me to interfere, even by adopting strong measures. But my principle is not to meddle in other people’s affairs: especially as it did not concern my country.

“Nevertheless all this weighed morally upon me. I often wanted to write to dear Grandmama [Queen Victoria] to ask her quite privately whether there was any possibility of stopping the war in South Africa. Yet I never wrote to her fearing to hurt her and always hoping that it would soon cease.

“When Misha [Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich] went to England this winter I thought of giving him a letter to you upon the same subject: but I found it better to wait and not to trouble you in those days of great sorrow [death of Queen Victoria on 22nd January 1901]. In a few months it will be two years that fighting continues in South Africa—and with what results?

“A small people are defending their country, a part of their land is devastated, their families flocked together in camps, their farms burnt. Of course in war such things have always happened and will happen, but in this case, forgive the expression, it looks more like a war of extermination. So sad to think that it is Christians fighting against each other!

“How many thousands of gallant young Englishmen have already perished out there! Does not your kind heart yearn to put an end to this bloodshed? Such an act would be universally hailed with joy.”

On 26th November 2019, a plaque (above) commemorating the sacrifice of more than 270 Russians who fought with the Boers in the Anglo-Boer War against the British was unveiled at the Green Point Common Memorial at Fort Wynyard [Cape Town, South Africa]. The event was attended by Russian Ambassador to South Africa Ilya Rogachev and members of the Russian Navy who were participating in military exercises in the region.

Rogachev, along with members of the Cape’s Russian community and military veterans, laid wreaths at the plaque in memory of the Russian lives lost in the war that stretched from 1899 to 1902.

© Paul Gilbert. 16 September 2020

“As if the door had just closed behind them” – Anastasia Timina on the restoration of the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: Studio 44 architect-restorer Anastasia Timina

Any museum restoration and reconstruction requires the expertise of specialists: researchers, curators, architects and designers. In particular is the restoration of the iconic Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, which began in the autumn of 2015 and is not expected to be completed no earlier than 2022.

Anastasia Timina, an architect-restorer of the Studio 44 architectural bureau, a graduate of the Stieglitz Academy, and leading architect of the Alexander Palace restoration project.

What is the difference between an architect and an architect-restorer?

The work of an architect mainly affects modern buildings and structures, but we are dealing with history, with monuments of cultural significance which need to be preserved, reconstructed and at the same time treated with the utmost care. This involves certain restrictions and additional responsibilities.

The architects of our bureau are developing a project for the reconstruction of the Alexander Palace as a multi-museum complex for modern use, filling it with modern engineering networks and communications. The main task of the bureau’s restoration department is to reconstruct the interiors of the private rooms of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and to restore their historic interiors.

The restoration of the lost interiors is almost complete. At the moment, our department is engaged in the design of free-standing pieces of furniture for the restored interiors of the Alexander Palace based on historical photographs, descriptions and surviving samples. Fortunately, a table from the Mauve Boudoir and a chair from the Imperial Bedroom have survived, which have become standards for the manufacture of other items.

How long have you been working on the project to recreate the interiors of the Alexander Palace?

My participation began in 2014 from the stage of a detailed design. At that time I came to Studio 44 from the oldest design and restoration organization in St. Petersburg – Lenproektrestavratsiya.

The project for the reconstruction of eight interiors, which I was assigned to work on, included detailed drawings for wall decoration, built-in wall furniture, as well as sketches for the recreation of curtains for window and doorways.

The development of design documentation is divided into several stages: first, a draft design is created, showing the development of a general view and the main concept, followed by a detailed design – this is the most detailed documentation, including types of products, fragments, details, nodes at a scale of 1:1, specifications taking into account the volume and nature of the materials used.

In 2013, a draft design was completed, but having studied all the iconographic material in detail, I came to the conclusion that the working documentation required significant changes. I worked as part of a large team of architects-restorers, under the leadership of Oleg Arnoldovich Kuzevanov – the chief architect of the restoration project of the Alexander Palace. From 2016 to the present, I have been supervising the recreation of the interiors.

PHOTO: The eastern wing of the palace (highlighted on the left)
will become the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family

It is clear that this is a very complicated process. What is the most difficult task?

The most difficult task is to recreate an interior “from scratch”, to work on the project only on the basis of black and white historical photographs, often of poor quality. In the pictures, only part of the room can be seen, a complex angle is taken, there are no frontal views of the walls and interior details. Based on these images, it is necessary to understand how the space in the photograph is distorted, and to calculate the real dimensions and proportions of the projected objects. In such work, any genuine detail that has survived to our time helps, for example, fragments of fabrics. Having measured the size of the rapport and the details of the drawing, we can scale the photo and calculate the dimensions of the interior details surrounding the fabric.

Of course, we would be happy to have more historical photographs at our disposal, but we try to use all available interior images. For example, to a non-specialist, the image of the Empress against the background of a fragment of a chair (possibly out of focus), a table or curtains will seem useless from a restoration point of view, but we can visualize the necessary detail that is hidden in photographs of the interior. Even if a photo is blurry, of poor quality, and seems useless, it can, oddly enough, also be of invaluable design help. By the way, in our work we are also utilizing items from the Alexander Palace, which have been kept in the Pavlovsk Palace Museum-Reserve since the 1950s.

When restoring lost interiors, there is nothing more important than complete information and a large number of historical images in order to achieve maximum authenticity. Therefore, when new details (photos, inventories) and even small details appear, it is necessary to correct the project. We do this all the time.

What discoveries and interesting finds took place during the restoration work?

The most significant discovery is the original pieces of interior decoration found under the flooring of the Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II.

This is a very complex interior full of different elements, including Metlakh tiles on the floor, a tiled fireplace and tiles covering the walls and sides of the pool. In this interior, there are more than 40 different types of tiles that do not repeat in pattern, relief, and most importantly, in colour. But neither the inventory nor the archival data gave us a detailed idea of ​​the colour scheme of the interior. All historical photographs are black and white, the only assistant was a watercolour by the architect Bezverkhny. During the construction work, when opening the floors of the first floor, genuine fragments of ceramic tiles and Metlakh tiles, marble were found in the layers of construction dust. A large bathing pool was also found with preserved tiles and two steps leading to the pool. Until this moment, we had no idea it had survived.

This discovery in September 2016 was a real miracle for us. We have revised and supplemented the project documentation, we have already restored the missing fragments of the tile pattern from historical photographs. In addition, small fragments of ceramic tiles for the fireplace facings in the Working Study of Nicholas II and the Maple Drawing Room were also found.

The second significant discovery concerns the found fragments of alfrey painting. During the clearing of the Soviet plaster layer, a historical plaster layer was discovered on the lime mortar with traces of tempera painting. A picturesque frieze ran along three sides of the Moorish Bathroom, but, unfortunately, only small, but still very valuable fragments of it have survived, as they display to us the true color scheme – both for the frieze and for the smoothly painted wall. Fragments of the murals on the walls of the lobby of the eastern wing were also found.

A very valuable find – a fragment of a historical plaster layer with a plastered “rose” molding that once adorned the walls and the archway, found during the opening of the historic opening connecting the mezzanines of the Empress’s Maple Drawing Room and the New Study of Nicholas II. This allowed us to restore the stucco decoration, and the true color of the walls.

Is the restoration of interior decoration carried out using traditional materials or with the help of modern technologies?

The problem is precisely how to achieve historical similarity using modern technologies.

Of course, when restoring interiors, traditional materials are used – precious woods (walnut, rosewood, maple, oak), lime mortar plaster, oak parquet flooring, etc. Ceramic tiles are made by hand and in ovens. In the preserved interiors (the New Study and the Reception Room of Nicholas II), restoration work is carried out in compliance with the restoration methods.

The situation is more complicated in the restored interiors. More than a hundred years have passed, technologies have greatly advance, but, unfortunately, the skill of manual labor has almost been lost, finishing materials (varnishes, enamels, glazes) have changed significantly, wooden carved parts are made on CNC machines, only slightly modified by hand.

The Alexander Palace is the favorite home of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II and his family, a place with a special energy. Do you feel a special responsibility?

The responsibility is colossal. It is quite clear that this is not a private, closed residence, but a museum, in which thousands of visitors will want to visit. I wanted to create a unique atmosphere for the presence of representatives of the Imperial family, to convey the spirit of a lost era. As if the door had just closed behind them.

The first eight interiors are now scheduled to open at the end of 2020.

© Paul Gilbert. 9 September 2020

Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi’s

PHOTO: Nicholas II with Aunt Miechen (Maria Pavlovna)

One hundred years ago today – 6th September 1920 – Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna died in exile.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder (née Duchess Marie Alexandrine Elisabeth Eleonore of Mecklenburg-Schwerin;), was born in Ludwigslust Palace on 14 May 1854,

On 29 August (O.S. 16 August) 1874 Duchess Marie married the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in St. Petersburg. The couple had 5 children: Grand Duke Alexander (1875-1877), Grand Duke Kirill (1876-1938), Grand Duke Boris (1877-1943), Grand Duke Andrei (1879-1956), Grand Duchess Elena, Princess of Greece and Denmark (1882-1957).

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna escaped Russia in late February 1920, she died at Contrexeville, France in September of the same year. She was the last Romanov to leave Russia and the first Romanov to die in exile.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder is the great-grandmother of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, I note the following from the official web site of the current Russian Imperial House:

“She was critical of some aspects of the official political course, but she always retained her loyalty and loyal love for Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. She was subjected to slanderous persecution by the court intriguers, who sought to sow discord in the Imperial Family.”

What utter nonsense!!

Following her marriage to Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in 1874, Maria Pavlovna became a prominent hostess in St Petersburg, she was known as the “grandest of the grand duchesses.” Socially ambitious, the German born Maria Pavlovna saw herself as the “Second Empress” holding her own “Court” at the sumptuous Vladimir Palace, situated on the Palace Embankment on the Neva River in Sr. Petersburg. 

Known as “Miechen” or “Maria Pavlovna the Elder,” she was well known for her acid tongue and spiteful demeanour, responsible for spreading much malicious gossip about both Emperor Nicholas and his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

She was also very crafty, she remained Lutheran throughout most of her marriage, but adopted Holy Orthodoxy in April 1908, believing it would give her son Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich a better chance at the throne.

The power hungry Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna had an open rivalry with both her sister-in-law the Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Alexander III) and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Nicholas II), the latter of which Maria Pavlovna was notorious for plotting against and spreading malicious gossip at her “powerful Court” which tended to influence all of St. Petersburg’s high society.

The treachery and deceit which emanated from the Vladimir Palace was not restricted to the senior grand ducal couple, but also to their eldest son Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and his wife Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. Maria Pavlovna along with her sons were even plotting to overthrow Nicholas II, and have Alexandra sent to a convent.

It is widely speculated that along with her sons, Maria Pavlovna contemplated a coup against the Emperor in the winter of 1916–17, that would force the Tsar’s abdication and replacement by his son Tsesarevich Alexei, with her son, Grand Duke Kirill or Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, as regent.

During the February Revolution of 1917, Kirill marched to the Tauride Palace at the head of the Garde Equipage (Marine Guard) to swear allegiance to the Russian Provisional Government, wearing a red band on his uniform. He then authorized the flying of a red flag over his palace on Glinka Street in Petrograd. It is probable that he had hoped that by ingratiating himself with the Provisional Government he would be declared regent or tsar after Nicholas II was forced to abdicate.

“All around me I see treason, cowardice and deceit”

Please take a few moments to listen to my interview ‘The Conspiracy Against Nicholas II,’ on YouTube, in which I talk about the members of the Imperial family who were plotting against Nicholas II, including the Grand Dukes Nicholas Nikolaevich and Nicholas Mikhailovich, and the Vladimirovich branch of the family, led by the power hungry Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.

Watch for my forthcoming article ‘Family Disloyalty: Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi’ in which I discuss the often hostile relationship between Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duke Kirill and his wife Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna towards Emperor Nicholas II, to be published in the No. 12 issue of ’Sovereign’ later this year.

© Paul Gilbert. 6 September 2020

The fate of the royal servants Anastasia Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider

PHOTO: Ekaterina Schneider and Anastasia Hendrikova

Today – 4th September 2020 – marks the 102nd anniversary of the murders of two faithful retainers, who followed the Imperial family into exile. Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova (1888-1918), maid of honour to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Ekaterina Adolfovna Schneider (1856-1918), were both murdered by the Bolsheviks in Perm on 4th September (O.S. 22nd August) 1918.

PHOTO: Anastasia Hendrikova under house arrest in Tobolsk 1917-18

Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova (1888-1918)

Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova was born on 6th July (O.S. 23rd June) 1888. Although she was born to the nobility, she was very simple in her way of life from early youth, she dressed very modestly, even old-fashioned and, unlike most noble girls, never participated in balls and entertainments. She was distinguished by her deep piety, nobility, selflessness and in the most difficult circumstances retained her faith in God.

In 1910, Countess Hendrikova became the personal maid of honour to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Nicknamed “Nastenka,” the Empress, the Grand Duchesses, and the courtiers loved her for her kindness, affability, meekness, simplicity and openness in communication.

In February 1917, Countess Hendrikova, at the insistence of the Empress, went to a seriously ill Sister of Mercy in Kislovodsk, but when she arrived there she learned that the Emperor had abdicated the throne. Anastasia Vasilyevna hurried back to Tsarskoye Selo. It is known that at that time the majority of courtiers and servants, under different pretexts, took leave of the Tsar’s family, basically everyone cared only about their own well-being. Anastasia Vasilyevna could have remained in Kislovodsk where she would have been safe, but she, unlike the other courtiers, overcame all obstacles and returned to the Imperial family. A few hours after she arrived at the Alexander Palace, the former Imperial residence became a prison for all who voluntarily wished to remain in it. That evening, she wrote in her diary: “Thank God, I managed to arrive on time to be with them.” Her presence was a great support for the royal prisoners. Always happy, meek, smiling, she cheered everyone up.

“Poor, Anastasia Vasilievna,” S.N. Smirnov wrote in his memoirs about Hendrikova, “I remember the sweet smile of this young girl, her friendliness, her funny walk …”

PHOTO: Ekaterina Schneider under house arrest in Tobolsk 1917-18

Ekaterina Adolfovna Schneider (1856-1918)

Ekaterina Adolfovna Schneider was born on 20 January 1856, in St Petersburg to a Baltic Germanfamily, she was also the niece of the former imperial physician Dr. Hirsch. From the day of her birth, she lived with her parents in an apartment on Liteiny Prospect in the Imperial capital.

Known as “Trina,” a courtier remembered her as “infinitely sweet tempered and good hearted.” Schneider was also primly Victorian. She once refused to permit the four grand duchesses to put on a play because it contained the word “stockings.”

In 1884, she was hired to teach the Russian language to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. Apparently, Ms Schneider managed to find a common language with her student, earning herself a good reputation. After the engagement in 1894 of the heir-Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich to Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, Schneider was summoned to London to teach the Russian language to the bride. Alix’s studies with Schneider continued for several years. In a letter dated 4th February 1895 to her older sister Princess Victoria of Battenberg, Alexandra Feodorovna wrote that “Schneiderlein” (as she called her teacher) lived in the Winter Palace, and that “the other day she turned 38 or 39. She comes every morning, and we study hard. She also reads to me an hour before dinner.”

Schneider did her job well: most of the Empress’s contemporaries who regularly communicated with her often complemented the Empress on her command of the Russian language. In addition, Schneider was able to make friends with her student, and they were connected for life. Even after her services as teacher were no longer required, she became the Empress’s confidante and lived in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.

PHOTO: Graves of Anastasia Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider;
later destroyed by the Bolsheviks

Faithful to the End

On 1st August 1917, Anastasia Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider followed the Tsar’s family into exile to Tobolsk. Before leaving, Hendrikova wrote in her diary: “I can not leave here without thanking God for that wonderful peace and power that He sent me and supported me for all these almost five months of arrest. I close my eyes, give myself completely, without questions or murmurings into the hands of God with confidence and love. “

In May 1918 Anastasia Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider arrived in Ekaterinburg with four of the Tsar’s children, however, they were not admitted to the Ipatiev House, but were instead transferred to a Perm prison. They, prayed fervently and tried to remain cheerful, although both were exhausted by the illnesses and burdens of imprisonment.

On the night of 4th September 1918, Anastasia Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider were awakened and taken with a group of prisoners outside the city where they were killed. According to the Whites investigation at the time, they were both shot at point blank range followed by a strong blow to the back of the head. Only a few months later, after the arrival of the White Army, the bodies of the dead were discovered, and they were buried in the cemetery in Perm.

The bodies of Hendrikova and Schneider were recovered by the Whites in May 1919, and were reburied in the Yegoshikha Cemetery. However, their graves were later destroyed when the Bolsheviks regained control of the city.

PHOTO: Memorial cross to Countess Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider
in the Yegoshikha Cemetery, Perm

In October 2012, thanks to the efforts of a group of parishioners from churches in the city, and with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Perm and Solikamsky Methodius, a new cross was erected at the site where their remains were believed to have initially been buried.

A memorial service with prayer is performed for Hendrikova and Schneider, every year on 4th September, at the burial site in the Yegoshikha Cemetery, which is situated near the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Perm.

PHOTO: Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Perm

Canonization

In October 1981, both Hendrikova and Schneider were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). Schneider was canonized in spite of the fact she was a Lutheran, however, she has not been canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate due to her faith.

On 16th October 2009, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation decided to rehabilitate 52 persons of the Imperial family and their retainers who had been subjected to repression, including Hendrikova and Scheider.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 September 2020

Bust of Nicholas II established in Kalach

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Bust monument to Emperor Nicholas II by local sculptor Viktor Grishchenko

On Saturday, 29th August, 2020, a new bust monument to Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled and consecrated on the grounds of the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in the town of Kalach, Voronezh region. According to local historian Pavel Popov, this is the only monument to the emperor in the region.

In addition to the monument made by local sculptor Viktor Grishchenko, a granite icon depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs was also consecrated, to be mounted on the monument at a later date.

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Archpriest Evgeniy Bey consecrates the bust monument to Emperor Nicholas II

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Granite icon depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs 

© Paul Gilbert. 2 September 2020