Romanov Book of the Year for 2019: ‘The Romanov Royal Martyrs’

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My personal choice for Romanov Book of the Year! – Paul Gilbert

Based on its comprehensive research and new information, The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal is my personal choice for the Romanov Book of the Year for 2019. If you read just ONE book on Nicholas II and his family, make sure it is this one! – Paul Gilbert

NOTE: The book is set to arrive in North America at the end of November, and distributed to readers throughout the United States and Canada. As a result, I have had to exercise great care in writing this review. As a courtesy to those who have not yet read the book, I did not want to give anything away, or publish any spoilers, therefore, I have used material from the publishers web page and added my own additional comments and notes to this review- PG

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The publication of the English edition of The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal is the crowning glory of a unique and comprehensive project of the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner of Mesa Potamos in Cyprus. Originally published in Greek in February 2018, the long awaited English edition was published in September of this year.

The book draws on letters, testimonies, diaries, memoirs, and other materials never before published in English to present an honest and unique new study of Nicholas II and his family. 

The work aims to present Nicholas II and his family through the prism of their spiritual grandeur and the purity of their souls. A lively portrait of the Imperial family emerges from their own personal writings and in the writings of those who lived very close to them. The result is a psychographic biography which explores the essential character of the Imperial family in a deeper and inspiring way.

Furthermore, the work brings to light a multitude of unknown and unrevealed facts, aspects and elements of history, which evince that many truths in regard to the life and martyrdom of the Imperial family remain silenced or distorted to this day. The book presents unvarnished factually sourced events, deriving all its material stringently from primary sources, which allow no grounds for questioning their legitimacy, gravity, and validity.

Thus, many major historical events, such as the 1905 revolution and Bloody Sunday, Russia’s involvement in World War I, the myth of the “Bread Revolution”, the February coup d’état of 1917, the plots and conspiracies to overthrow Nicholas II from his throne. the treachery, cowardice and deceit of the tsar’s ministers, generals and even members of his own family, the events relating to Nicholas’ II abdication, among others are set in their true proportions and presented through a proper perspective.

Since the publication of Robert K. Massie’s classic Nicholas and Alexandra in 1967, other Western historians have published their own assessments of Nicholas II, some of whom arrogantly arguing that their work is the “final word” – they were WRONG! Sadly, many people have blindly accepted these often negative assessments of Russia’s last tsar as the truth. With the publication of The Romanov Royal Martyrs, readers may be surprised by the facts surrounding the historical events noted above, because as noted, up to now these events have been presented in an inaccurate light.

In addition, this book presents the most accurate account of the murder of the Romanovs ever presented in a book. No fictional additions. The information used in The Chapter of Blood draws exclusively from the memoirs and depositions of the murderers and the guards, as well as from the official forensic investigations and studies of the remains. The chapter also includes unpublished material relating to the family’s imprisonment in Ekaterinburg. Of particular note are excerpts from the testimonies of the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg, who were taking provisions to the Imperial Family at the Ipatiev house, and from the testimonies of Ipatiev guards.

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Dr. Pytor Multatuli, Russia’s foremost expert on Nicholas II 

Among the historians who worked in the research team together with the fathers of the Mesa Potamos Monastery are Nicholas B.A. Nicholson, Helen Azar, Helen Rappaport, Sophie Law, and George Hawkins, all noted specialists in Romanov history.

A very significant member of the project team is Dr. Pytor Multatuli, and one whose contribution adds credibility to this publishing project. Multatuli is a renowned Russian author, journalist, historian, and Professor at the Moscow State Institute for Culture and Arts. He is recognized as Russia’s foremost authority on the life and reign of Nicholas II. His works on these subjects are unparalleled, yet sadly overlooked or ignored by his Western counterparts. 

I was delighted to read numerous quotes from the memoirs of General Alexander Spiridovitch (2 Vols.) and Semyon S. Fabritsky are included in this book. I am very proud to note that the first English translations of both were published by the publishing division of Royal Russia during the last decade. Both Spiridovitch and Fabritsky knew Nicholas II personally, their memoirs reflect their honest, eye-witness assessments of the last tsar and his family.

The Romanov Royal Martyrs is an impressive 508-page book is in three parts: Part I: In the Path of Love (4 chapters); Part II: In the Path of Blood (2 chapters); and Part III: In the Words of the Saints. 

It includes nearly 200 black and white photographs, and also features a 56-page photo insert, of more than 80 high-quality images of the tsar and his family, all of which have been colourised by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (aka Klimbim), and  appear here in print for the first time.

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The only criticism I have of the book are a number of errors which I found in the book. Many readers may not even recognize them, however, those who are familiar (particularly the purists) with Nicholas II and his family are sure to note. Perhaps some of the meanings were simply lost in translation? 

For instance, the use of some of the titles throughout the book, such as “crown prince” or “tsarevich”[1] when referring to Nicholas Alexandrovich and Alexei Nikolaevich, instead of the correct “tsesarevich”[1] * Please see my notes at the bottom of this review – PG

The widowed wife of Alexander III is referred to as the “widowed Queen Mother” instead of the correct “Dowager Empress.” Maria Feodorovna was never “Queen” of Russia, she was Empress!

Even referring to Nicholas II and his family as “royal,” instead of “imperial” is incorrect. I have to confess that I am also guilty of using “Royal Family” instead of the correct “Imperial Family”, and have been criticized over the past 25 years for naming my web site “Royal Russia” instead of “Imperial Russia”. 

On page 78, the translation of “Tsarskoye Selo” is incorrect. “Tsarskoye Selo was essentially a village, as it’s very name implied, which means “Royal Village.” The correct translation of the Russian spelling Ца́рское Село́ is in fact “Tsar’s Village”. The Russian word “Ца́рское” is quite often mistranslated and misused by Westerners as “royal”.

Another word that I would like to point out is on pg. 64: ” . . . Nicholas and Alexandra, under an imperial canopy . . .” The proper term for this “canopy” is baldachin. [2] * Please see my notes at the bottom of this review – PG

On page 136, I was distressed to read “Nicholas named his son in honor of his beloved ancestor, Tsar Alexis.” Sadly, this is an error often noted by many Western historians.

It was Robert K. Massie (among others), who have led us to believe that the only son of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, was named after Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (1629-1676) . . . this is incorrect.

The long-awaited son and heir to the Russian throne was named Alexei, in honour of St. Alexei of Moscow.

Saint Alexius (1296–1378) was Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia (from 1354). He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1448 and is revered as one of the patron saints of Moscow.

Also on page 136, “From Nicholas’ diary six weeks after the birth of Alexis . . . Alix and I were very concerned about the bleeding of little Alexei from his umbilical cord . . .”. It has generally been accepted that Alexei began bleeding from his navel at the age of six weeks . . . this is also incorrect.

Two noted Romanov historians Margarita Nelipa and Helen Rappaport both tell us otherwise, that Alexei’s bleeding was noted the day following his birth. Their claim is based on two separate, yet reliable sources.[3] * Please see my notes at the bottom of this review – PG

On page 151, Rasputin is referred to as a muzhik (a Russian peasant), when in fact he was a Strannik (a holy wanderer, or pilgrim).

On page 279, ” . . . they set out by boat from the village of Pokrovskoye . . .” this is also incorrect. The Imperial family arrived by train from St. Petersburg in Tyumen, where they continued their journey to Tobolsk by boat, passing Pokrovskoye. [4] * Please see my notes at the bottom of this review – PG

Despite my criticisms above, this should not in any way deter any one from reading this book, nor should they in any way diminish the extensive research that went into it, which at long last presents the TRUTH!

I personally applaud the monumental efforts that went into this book. It presents much new material which dispels the many myths and lies about Nicholas II. Finally, the reader learns the truth about the tragedies which befell the tsar during his 22+ year reign, and the evil gossip which flowed freely in the salons of the capital, not to mention the vitriol distributed by the revolutionaries, whose propaganda turned the Russian people against their sovereign.

I am often asked to recommend a book, which tells the true story of Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children. My answer was always the same, “It has yet to be written” – up until now!

The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Nature Could Not Conceal‘ can now be considered the definitive work on the Imperial Family. It puts to rest so many of the negative myths, held for more than a century, and rehashed over and over again in the last 50 years by so many so-called Western experts. At long last the truth has been told! If you read just ONE book on Nicholas II and his family, make sure it is this one!

I think so highly of this book, that it will be placed on a special shelf of books in my home library, books which inspire and guide me, and include the Holy Bible King James Version, The Orthodox Study BibleRussian Golgotha and Last Tsar. Nicholas II, His Reign & His Russia.

Based on its comprehensive research and new information, I do not hesitate in naming The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal as my personal choice for the Romanov Book of the Year for 2019! 

I pray that this review will inspire many others to buy this book, read it, and keep it’s words close to their heart. Click HERE to order your copy.

Click HERE to review the Holy Royal Martyrs web site, which includes excerpts from the book, photos, videos, articles and more 

© Paul Gilbert. 18 November 2019

NOTES:

[1] English sources often confused the terms Tsarevich and Tsesarevich, both distinct words with different meanings. Tsarevich (Russian: Царевич) is a Slavic title given to tsars’ sons. Under the 1797 Pauline house law, the title was discontinued and replaced with Tsesarevich (Russian: Цесаревич) for the heir apparent alone.

[2] “The procession of Emperor Nicholas II from the Assumption Cathedral on 26 May (Old Style 14 May, 1896), “was rich and imposing beyond the reach of exaggeration. The baldachin under which the Emperor walked was richly covered with velvet and cloth of gold, surmounted by plumes of ostrich feathers in three colours—–black, white, and yellow. This was supported at intervals by lances of ebony and mother of pearl, and held firmly by golden cords. The baldachin and cords were carried and held respectively by sixteen aides-de-camp generals of the highest rank in the imperial service.”

Source: Gilbert, Paul (Editor). The Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. Published by Gilbert’s Books. 2012 (see page 36)

[3] “One day after Alexei’s birth, Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich (1854-1931) came to congratulate the sovereign and stayed for lunch. Upon his departure, the sovereign mentioned the presence of “blood on the diapers”. Returning to his Znamenka estate (in Alexandria), he repeated this detail to his wife who telephoned Nikolai II (before visiting Alix later that evening). During their conversation, he said that the doctors had confirmed that the atypical bleeding was indeed due to haemophilia.”

Source: ‘Alexei. Russia’s Last Imperial Heir: A Chronicle of Tragedy’ by Margarita Nelipa. Published by Gilbert’s Books in 2015

[3] Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich and his wife Grand Duchess Militza Nikolaevna (1866-1951) had driven over to the Lower Dacha the day Alexei was born . . . as their son Prince Roman Petrovich (1896-1978) later recalled in his memoirs [published in Danish].

‘When they returned in the evening to Znamenka, my father remembered that . . . the Tsar had told him . . . That the doctors were concerned about the frequent splatters of blood in his swaddling clothes. . . .”

Grand Duke Peter telephoned the palace, “When the Tsar answered that they had hoped that the bleeding would soon stop, my mother took the receiver and asked if the doctors could explain the cause of the bleeding. When the Tsar could not give her a clear answer, she asked him with the calmest of voices she could manage: ‘I beg you, ask them if there is any sign of haemophilia’ . . . The Tsar fell silent on the phone for a long time and then started to question my mother and ended by quietly repeating the word that had staggered him: haemophilia.”

Source: ‘Four Sisters. The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses’ by Helen Rappaport. Published in 2014

[4] From the diary of Nicholas II, 4th August 1917. We got over the Ural Mountains and felt the cold air. The train passed Yekaterinburg in the small hours of morning. It dragged on and on incredibly slowly, so that we arrived in Tyumen only at 11:30 pm.

The train pulled in almost to the quay and the only thing we had to do was to board a ship. 

Then the reloading of cargo began and it went on all through the early morning. We departed from Tyumen by the river at around 6 am.

Pierre Gilliard noted in his memoirs: “We passed the native village of Rasputin, and the family, gathered on the deck, were able to observe the house of the staretz . . . “

 

Exhibition Catalogue: ‘The Children’s World of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II. OTMA and Alexei’

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A richly illustrated catalogue Детский мир семьи императора Николая II. ОТМА и Алексей (The Children’s World of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II. OTMA and Alexei), has been published to coincide with forthcoming exhibition to be held in Moscow later this year.

The catalogue, prepared by the Moscow State United Museum-Reserve and the State Hermitage Museum, publishes (for the first time) photographs of the personal items – costumes, accessories, toys – that belonged to the children of Emperor Nicholas II. These items from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, will be presented at the exhibition, which will be held in the Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve in Moscow from 13th November 2019 to 16th February 2020.

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In addition, many archival documents will be displayed – including excerpts from letters, diaries, notebooks, memoirs and photographs provided by the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF), the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve, the Peterhof State Museum Reserve, and the Pereslavl Museum.

The catalogue features articles researched and written by the exhibition curators Yu. V. Plotnikova (GE) and A. V. Sabenina (MGOMZ). Based on memoirs and archival documents, their works take a look at the education and upbringing of the August children, including the personalities, the growing and development of each of the five children.

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The catalogue contains 200 pages, and richly illustrated with colour and black & white photographs.  ISBN: 978-5-91353-059-2. RUSSIAN TEXT ONLY!

The price of the catalogue is 1300 rubles ($20 USD) and can be purchased in Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve in Moscow, or through a Russian bookseller online.

© Paul Gilbert. 25 September 2019

‘Ten years in the Imperial Yacht Standart’ by Nikolai Sablin

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Since the fall of the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, there have been hundreds of new Russian language books published on the life, reign and era of Emperor Nicholas II.

Sadly, very few of these titles will ever be translated into English. The reasons are many, but most importantly are the cost of translations (which can cost thousands of dollars), and a limited English language market. These two factors alone make such publishing endeavours economically unfeasible.

One interesting fact about the Russian publishing, is that the number of copies printed is indicated in each book. For instance, only 3000 copies of the title listed below were published in Russian. This is also an indication of the limited market such books have even in Russia.

In the years leading up to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty in 2013, and the 100th anniversary of the death of Nicholas II and his family, a plethora of new titles were published in English. Sadly, the number of new titles are becoming fewer and fewer, and it may be the specialty publishers such as my own publishing business – which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year – who will be left to carry on the tradition.

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Commander of the Imperial yacht ‘Standart’ Nikolai Pavlovich Sablin (1880-1937)

One of the many books which I would like to see an English edition is ‘Десять лет на императорской яхте Штандарт‘ (Trans. ‘Ten years in the imperial yacht Standart’) by Nikolai Sablin

These are the memoirs of Nikolai Pavlovich Sablin (1880-1937), who served as commander of the Imperial yacht ‘Standart’ of Emperor Nicholas II. The author describes events between 1906-1914, of which he was a direct witness and participant. His memoirs reflect the last decade, not yet overshadowed by the horrors of the First World War and revolutionary upheavals, which also became the last years of the prosperity of the Russian Empire.

The memoirs of N.V. Sablin acquaints the readers with details of the private life of the imperial family and their immediate environment, as well as little-known aspects of state affairs. The book contains interesting information about the official visits of Nicholas II while sailing on the ‘Standart,’ meetings with the heads of state and representatives of the reigning houses of Europe, gala receptions hosted on board the imperial yacht, and the important political decisions made during these voyages.

The episodes of yachting life, the mood of the officers of the fleet and society in general, subtly noticed by Sablin, convey a bygone era. His observations and humour make his personal memoirs a very interesting story, yet another page from the life and reign of Nicholas II, which has been sadly neglected by Western historians. The 382 pages of text is accompanied by more than 200 photographs, many of which were taken by Sablin himself and are published for the first time in this book.

© Paul Gilbert. 27 August 2019

‘The Russian Imperial Award System 1894-1917’ by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm

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One of the perks of my job over the past 25 years, is that I receive a copy of each new book published on the Romanovs and Imperial Russia. This is just one reason why my personal library is as large as it is – over 2,000 volumes.

One of the gems of my collection is The Russian Imperial Award System 1894-1917 by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, published by the Finnish Antiquarian Society in Helsinki (2005)

It is a massive heavy book: it measures 8-1/2” x 11″ x 1-1/2” in diameter, weighs over 2 kg., 566 pages, more than 160 colour and black & white photos, with extensive notes and bibliography. Text is in ENGLISH!

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Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm

Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, Ph.D., is the great-granddaughter of the St. Petersburg goldsmith Alexander Tillander, a leading supplier to the Imperial Russian Court of Nicholas II. She has been researching the oeuvre of Russian jewellers for many years. Her doctoral dissertation was on the labrinthe and intriguing award system of Imperial Russia. Her work takes her around the world: lecturing, consulting for art exhibitions and writing in exhibition catalogues and for art publications. She has published several books on her speciality, the art of the jewellers of Imperial St. Petersburg.

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Arja-Leena Paavola offers the following review of this book in the Spring 2006 issue of Universitas Helsingiensis the quarterly of the University of Helsinki:

The practice of rewarding citizens for good work and loyalty proved an efficient way of strengthening the bonds between subject and monarch. In many respects the system was defined by the service hierarchy created by Peter the Great known as the Table of Ranks. Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, Ph.D., who defended her doctoral dissertation in the field of art history in October, examined the Russian imperial award system during the reign of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II.

“A decree of 1898 defined twelve award categories, over half of which were decorations, titles, expression of the emperor’s favour, grants of money, and gifts made of precious materials. For over one hundred years, the system was also in use in the Grand Duchy of Finland, whose subjects were entitled to the same honours as any other individual in the service of the empire,” says Tillander-Godenhielm.

Subsequent generations have often created an image of a system of unsurpassed luxury and opulence that catered exclusively to the elite of the country. In reality, the value of an award could not exceed an individual’s yearly salary. In addition, there were many awards designed specifically for the lower echelons, including factory workers. Each of the twelve categories had an internal hierarchy. A young man who started his career at the lowest rung of the hierarchical ladder, through diligent service, could earn for himself the highest honours the empire had to offer.

Tillander-Godenhielm points out that the gift items bestowed were not merely symbolic tokens but were in fact a subtle means of remuneration. These gifts were luxurious and often quite elaborate. While they did speak of one’s importance and position within Russia’s service hierarchy – which consisted of fourteen classes, or ranks – they also were a means of augmenting an individual’s wages, which were frequently low. A general, for example, could not always support the lifestyle his position demanded on his official salary. If this was the case, he had the option of returning his gift to the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty for its full value in cash. In fact, over sixty percent of gifts presented to ranks five and lower were sold back in this way. The widows or children of the original recipients could also return them; thus, they served as a kind of pension or life insurance.

“A fine silver or gold pocket watch was a typical gift. When travelling by sea to Finland, the Russian emperors would present watches to the pilot boat captains, and when travelling by train, every station manager along the way would receive one, as would the policemen responsible for the safety of the imperial family.”

Tillander-Godenhielm is herself a fourth generation member of a goldsmith family with Russian connections. Several Finnish goldsmiths were employed as suppliers by the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty, and Tillander-Godenhielm’s grandfather was one of them. While working in the family business, she became interested in Russian gold and silver objects, many of which have remained in Finland, some still in the possession of the original recipient’s family.

Sometimes orders for multiples of the same gift item were placed. “Archival research has revealed account books showing requests for ten silver cigarette cases decorated with a double-headed eagle of a specific design, or twelve rings set with specific gemstones. This type of gift was destined for lower-ranking servitors. The more valuable gifts intended for higher ranking officials were all unique in design.”

Coveted investments

The Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty had inspectors to ensure that the gold and silver objects it received were of the highest quality. Many of these items were bestowed upon foreign dignitaries and thus served as a means of showcasing the skill of Russian craftsmen. During state visits, these valuable gifts were written about in papers and put on public display.

These award items – especially those with a known provenance – have increased steadily in value since the Revolution and nowadays can fetch astronomical sums. For example, a table portrait of Nicholas II presented to the French prime minister René Viviani in 1914 sold at Sotheby’s last year for £350,000. As a result, however, they have become the object of numerous forgeries.

A substantial number of the surviving objects made for the Russian imperial award system are today in museums or in the private collections of various European monarchs and American millionaires. In the 1930s, Stalin had many of these items sold in the West in order to obtain much needed foreign currency.

Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm has had the privilege of personally handling many of the items she discusses in her dissertation. “You cannot really study objects such as these without examining them up close.

A known provenance of course greatly in-creases the interest of an object. Those pieces really make my heart skip a beat. Fortunately, Russian archives have now been opened up to researchers and it has become possible to trace the origins of many of these items.”

The real story uncovered

In the 1930s, all kinds of stories were concocted in order to increase the value of these objects and boost sales. “The empress gave her obstetrician, Professor Ott, a monogrammed snuffbox for every child he helped deliver. Many of these have been sold in the United States as gifts from the emperor to the empress. “But who would seriously believe that a man would give a snuffbox to his wife for giving birth to their baby?” Tillander-Godenhielm chuckles. “I think true stories about the real officials and servitors of the time are much more interesting.”

It is not, after all, that long ago. While in St Petersburg, Tillander-Godenhielm discovered that a hospital built by Dr. Ott was still in operation. “When visiting the hospital, I was asked if I would like to meet the great-granddaughter of the good doctor, who as chance would have it works as an obstetrician there. I met this young woman who told me a great deal about her great-grandfather. The family no longer possessed any of the awards he had been given, so she was delighted when I showed her pictures of two of the thirteen snuffboxes Dr. Ott had received for his services.”

Tillander-Godenhielm’s study has raised interest all over the world, and for once, a dissertation has proved to be a “best seller”, but only 1,200 copies of her book were published.

“A great deal has been written about the Russian nobility and Russian orders and decorations in isolation. My study examines these subjects within the context of the larger system of which they were but one part.”

© Arja-Leena Paavola & Paul Gilbert. 24 August 2019

 

NICHOLAS II 2020 CALENDAR

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LIMITED PRINTING OF ONLY 200 COPIES!

I am pleased to offer copies of my 2020 calendar, dedicated to Emperor, Tsar and Saint Nicholas II, with a limited printing of only 200 copies!

Each month features an iconic full-page black and white photograph of Russia’s last monarch, printed on quality glossy stock.

Nearly 70 major holidays in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Russia are featured, with room to write in your own special dates and events.

ALL net proceeds from the sale of each calendar will go into my research, including the cost of translating articles and news from Russian archival and media sources.

The price of each calendar is $10 + postage (rates are noted on the order page, link below). I can ship to any country by Canada Post

NOTE: the postage rates quoted are for SINGLE copies ONLY! If you want to order more than one calendar, then please contact me by email at royalrussia@yahoo.com

Payment can be made securely online with a credit card or PayPal or by personal check, money order or cash – click HERE to download and print a mail order form

Thank you for your support of my research and dedication to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar

© Paul Gilbert. 21 August 2019

In memory of Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov (1944-2019)

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Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov (1944-2019)

Russian historical science has suffered an irreparable loss. On 14th May 2019, the eminent Russian historian Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov died after a long and serious illness.

Bokhanov was a Professor of History, a specialist in 19th and 20th century Russian history. A graduate of Moscow University, he is a leading scientific researcher of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he began to adhere to monarchical views. 

He was the author of 30 books and nearly 200 articles – in Russian. For Westerners, he is best known as one of the contributing authors of The Romanovs. Love, Power and Tragedy, published in the UK in 1993.

Alexander Bokhanov was the first historian in post-Soviet Russia to write an impartial biography of the last Russian Emperor and Tsar Nicholas II. The book’s publication marked the beginning of his professional study of the life of the slandered Tsar, the rich, tragic and still little-studied era of his reign. 

In September 2013, Alexander Bokhanov suffered a double stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. The memory of Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov will remain forever in the hearts of admirers of Russian history. Вечная память.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 May 2019

Sovereign No. 10 Spring 2019 – NOW IN STOCK!

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I am pleased to announce that SOVEREIGN No. 10 SPRING 2019 – is now available from the ROYAL RUSSIA BOOKSHOP.

Our TENTH issue features 130 pages, with 8 full-length articles, including 5 FIRST ENGLISH translations of works by Russian historians, plus 3 additional articles + 119 black and white photos:

1. Nicholas II in the Words of His Contemporaries by Pyotr Multatuli. Translated by William Lee 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

2. Nicholas II in the Historical Memory of the Kuban Cossacks by O.V. Matveev. Translated by William Lee 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

3. The Wardrobe of the Imperial Family: The History of the Alexander Palace Collection by A.S. Rognatev. Translated by William Lee 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

4. Investigator Sokolov: “The Tsar’s Suffering Is Russia’s Suffering” by Y.Y. Vorobyevsky. Translated by Elizabeth S. Yellen 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

5. Novonikolayevsk: Born of the People’s Ambition and the Tsar’s Beneficence, Emperor Nicholas II and the City of Novosibirsk: Parallels Between Past and Present by E. Tsybizov. Translated by Elizabeth S. Yellen 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

6. Memorandum to Tsar Nicholas II by Pyotr Durnovo

7. My Mission to Clear the Name of Russia’s Last Tsar by Paul Gilbert

8. Nicholas II in Moscow. Photographic Memories of Russia’s Last Emperor

and Sovereign News – featuring news highlights from Russian media resources

Launched in 2015, a total of 12 will be in print by the end of this year, including 3 Special Issues. Click HERE For more information on our journal Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II

© Paul Gilbert. 13 May 2019

Last Tsar. Nicholas II, His Reign & His Russia by S. S. Oldenburg (1939)

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4-volume edition of Last Tsar. Nicholas II, His Reign & His Russia by S. S. Oldenburg (1975) 
Photo © Paul Gilbert

I have been collecting books on Nicholas II now for decades, and there is nothing I enjoy more than a good book hunt! The title which I wanted most to complete my library was the English language 4-volume edition of Last Tsar. Nicholas II, His Reign & His Russia by the noted Russian historian and journalist Sergei Sergeiivich Oldenburg (1888-1940). This title has been out of print for many years now, however, several years back, I was able to track down a set in mint condition, through a Dutch bookseller for €75. This is the only study of Russia’s last emperor and tsar that I would recommend to any serious student of the life and reign of Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

It was the Supreme Monarchist Council[1], a monarchist organization created by Russian émigrés in 1921, who commissioned Oldenburg to write a comprehensive history of the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. The first volume which appeared in Russian, was published in 1939 in Belgrade (Serbia), and the second was not published until a decade later, and posthumously in 1949 in Munich (Germany). The first Russian edition published in Post-Soviet Russia was in 1991. Numerous reprints have been issued since.

The English language edition was published in 1975 by Academic International Press in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Of particular note is the 18-page introduction Searching for the Last Tsar by Associate Professor of History Patrick J. Rollins (now deceased) of Old Dominion University (est. 1930), a public research university in Norfolk, Virginia. As Rollins notes in the study’s preface:

“Oldenburg’s [ Last Tsar. Nicholas II, His Reign & His Russia] is a major document in modern Russian historiography. The final contribution of a Russian nationalist historian, it provides uniquely sensitive insights into the character, personality, and policies of Russia’s last tsar. It has no rival as a political biography of Nicholas II and is without peer as a comprehensive history of his reign.”

His comprehensive study of Nicholas II is apologetic in nature. Oldenburg substantiates that the revolution interrupted the successful progressive economic development of Russia under Nicholas II: “in the twentieth year of the reign of Emperor Nicholas II, Russia had reached a unprecedented level of economic prosperity”.

Oldenburg was able to undertake such a study of Russia’s last tsar, having had access to a unique collection of documents. These included copies of authentic historical acts of the Russian Empire held in the Russian Embassy in Paris on Rue Grenelle. Long before the First World War, duplicates of the originals had been made as a precautionary measure, and sent to the Russian Embassy in Paris for storage. In October 1917, the Provisional Government appointed Vasily Alekseyevich Maklakov (1869-1957), to replace Alexander Izvolsky as Russia’s Ambassador to France. 

When he arrived in Paris, Maklakov learned about the takeover by the Bolsheviks. Regardless, he continued to occupy the splendid mansion of the Russian embassy for seven years, until France found it necessary to recognize the Bolshevik government. Fearing that the Embassy’s archival documents would fall into the hands of the Bolsheviks, Makloakov packed them up, including Oldenburg’s manuscript, the Okhrana archives, among other items and arranged for their transfer to the Stanford University.

Oldenburg’s fundamental historical research on the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II, is sadly overlooked or simply ignored by Western historians.

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Sergei Sergeiivich Oldenburg was born on 29 [O.S. 17] June 1888, in the town of Malaya Vishera, Russia. His father Sergey Fedorovich Oldenburg (1863-1934), was a famed academician (1900), and Orientalist specializing in Buddhist studies. He served as permanent secretary of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (from 1904), Russian Academy of Sciences (from 1917), USSR Academy of Sciences (1925-1929), and Minister of Public Education (July — September 1917). His mother Alexandra Pavlovna Oldenburg (nee Timofeeva), was a graduate of the Mathematics Department of the Pedagogical Courses. She died in 1891.

He graduated from the law faculty of Moscow University, and later worked as an official in the Ministry of Finance of Russia.

Unlike his father, who adhered to liberal political views, Sergei from a young age adhered to right-wing views, a member the Union of October 17[2].

In 1918 Oldenburg went to the Crimea, where he joined the White movement. In the fall of 1920, he was unable to evacuate with the Russian Army, headed by General Baron P.N. Wrangel, because he was sick with typhoid . Having recovered, with fake documents, he travelled from Crimea to Petrograd, where he met his father, who helped him to emigrate. 

He crossed the border into Finland, settling in Germany and then Paris, France, where he lived in poverty. Sergei Sergeiivich Oldenburg died at the age of 51, in Paris on 28 April 1940.

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Russian language editions of Oldenburg’s study of Nicholas II have been issued since 1991 

NOTES:

[1] The First Monarchical Congress, was held between 29th May to 6th June 1921, in the Bavarian restort town of Reichengal. The international congress of Russian monarchists in Germany, was intended to organize the activities of of monarchists both in emigration and in Russia (now the Soviet Union). 

The congress was attended by 100 delegates from 30 countries, Metropolitan Anthony (Honorary Chairman), Archbishop Eulogius, Archimandrite Sergius, five senators, two army commanders, five members of the State Council, eight members of the State Duma, fourteen generals and many other statesmen. The chairman of the congress was Alexander Nikolaevich Krupensky (1861-1939).

During the Congress, the question of succession was declared untimely, since the possibility of saving the Imperial family was not ruled out. At the congress, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna was recognized as the undisputed authority among Russian monarchists.

[2] The Union of October 17, commonly known as the Octobrist Party, was a political party in late Imperial Russia, firmly committed to a system of constitutional monarchy.  

Founded in late October 1905, from 1906 the party was led by the industrialist Alexander Guchkov (1862-1936) who drew support from centrist-liberal gentry, and businessmen, who shared moderately right-wing, anti-revolutionary views. They were generally allied with the governments of Sergei Witte in 1905-1906 and Pyotr Stolypin in 1906-1911.

With the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, moderate political parties became moribund in Russia. By 1915, the Octobrists all but ceased to exist outside the capital, Petrograd. Several of its prominent members, particularly Guchkov and Mikhail Rodzianko, continued to play a significant role in Russian politics until 1917, when they were instrumental in convincing Nicholas II to abdicate during the February Revolution and in forming the Russian Provisional Government. With the fall of the Romanovs in March, the party became one of the ruling parties in the first Provisional Government.

Some members of the party later participated in the White Movement after the October Revolution and during the Russian Civil War (1918-1920), becoming active in White émigré circles after the Bolshevik victory in 1920. By that time, the October Revolution had given the term “Octobrist” a completely different meaning and connotation in Russian politics.

© Paul Gilbert. 26 March 2019

‘NICHOLAS II. PORTRAITS by Paul Gilbert NOW IN STOCK!

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO ORDER YOUR COPY!

I am pleased to offer copies of my new book, Nicholas II. Portraits, which explores a century of portraits of Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

The first book of its kind ever published, Nicholas II. Portraits explores a century of portraits of Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

Beautiful colour covers (front and back), 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 PortraitGalkin’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!

Nicholas II. Portraits is the first of a two-volume set. The second volume Nicholas II. Monuments will be published in the summer of 2019.

© Paul Gilbert. 25 March 2019

Tsar Nicholas II by Major-General A. Elchaninov (1913)

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Back in the 1990s, I was fortunate to track down a copy of this rare book. I then issued a new edition, and after several reprints is now out of print. The text of Elchaninov’s biography on Nicholas II, was published in the premiere issue of SOVEREIGN in 2011.

This unprecedented authorized account of Emperor Nicholas II, by Major-General Andrei Georgievich Elchaninov (1868-1918) was released in early 1913, to coincide with the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. It was originally published in excerpts or installments in many major newspapers during and after the tercentenary events.

The Russian edition was issued in 1913, followed by English (titled The Tsar and His People) and French (titled Le rèine de S.M. l’Empereur Nicolas II) editions in 1914. The latter was translated by Princess Paley (nee Olga Pistolkors), the wife of the Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, “so that foreigners, and especially the French, had a correct idea of Russia and her tsar, a country that is a friend and ally.”[1]

While many contemporary biographers claim that Nicholas II was not fit to rule Russia, the author of this work claims otherwise, writing from first-hand experience. The first few chapters show Nicholas to be a caring, devoted and loving father and husband while the remaining chapters focus on his relationship with his government, the church, the army, the Russian people and on the policies which he pursued in his first eighteen years as tsar which he firmly believed were steering Russia towards a better future.

According to Richard S. Wortman, “Elchaninov organized his text to permit the broadest possible dissemination in newspapers.”[2] He notes that the book presents “a unique statement of how Nicholas himself understood his office and wished himself to be perceived.”[3]

Elchaninov gathered considerable material for the twelve brief chapters about Nicholas’s personal life based on observations and impressions of “all those, who standing in close proximity to the throne, have honoured me with their confidence . . .”.[4]

Written before the First World War and the Russian Revolution, Elchaninov writes in glowing patriotic language, portraying Nicholas II as an indefatigable “imperial worker” in the service of Russia’s best interests and the “sovereign father” beloved by the Russian people.

Nicholas reviewed and corrected the proofs himself in January 1913. He made changes to the text, and requested the removal of sentences describing the Tsesarevich Alexei’s illness.

The author, was a member of the emperor’s suite, and a professor of military art in the General Staff Academy in St. Petersburg.

According to the memoirs of Tatiana Evsseva Alexina, Времена не выбирают (Time Does Not Choose) in which she writes about the fate of the Russian noble family Elchaninov, her ancestor Major-General Andrei Georgievich Elchaninov was arrested by the Bolsheviks after the Revolution. He was placed on a raft along with other officers of the Imperial army and drowned in the River Neva in 1918.

Now, more than a century after its’ publication, rare copies of the English and French translation of his book on Nicholas II are highly sought after by collectors, selling for large sums in antiquarian book fairs in the United States, Great Britain and Europe.

NOTES:

1. Wortman, Richard S., Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy, Vol. II. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press, 2000. pg. 489
2. Ibid, pg. 489
3. Ibid, pg. 490
4. Ibid, pg. 490

© Paul Gilbert. 19 March 2019