Obituary: Zoya Iosifovna Belyakova (1932-2021)

I was deeply saddened to learn that Romanov historian and author Zoya Belyakova passed away nearly a year ago, but I am only learning of her passing today. According to the St Petersburg Literary Newspaper, she died on 9th December 2021, at the age of 90.

Zoya Iosifovna Belyakova [nee. Volnova] was born in Leningrad on 13th February 1932. In 1949 she entered the English department of the Faculty of Philology of Leningrad State University. In 1954 she her husband G. A. Goryshin, a graduate of the Faculty of Journalism, moved to Barnaul in the Altai region, where she taught English and German. Between 1962-1987 she worked as a guide-translator for Intourist, the primary travel agency for foreign tourists in the Soviet Union. Zoya traveled throughout the country, and often visited abroad, where she gained valuable impressions from meetings with political and public figures, scientists and writers in England and the USA (among them J. Updike, J. Cheever, Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Cartland, etc.). For many years she was a lecturer in advanced training courses for Intourist guides.

After retiring, she devoted herself entirely to the study of the history of the Romanov dynasty. Her reputation as a respected researcher and writer allowed her access to both Russian and foreign archives, including private collections of the descendants of members of the Romanov family. As an independent researcher, Belyakova lectured both in Russia and abroad at universities, museums and research centers (mainly in the USA). In 2005 she was admitted to the Writers’ Union of St. Petersburg. In 2012, by she was awarded a commemorative badge by the Romanov Family Association, for her “long-term service”.

Zoya Beliakova is the author of numerous books on the Romanovs in both Russian and English, including ‘Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Her Palace in St. Petersburg’ (1994); ‘The Romanov Legacy : The Palaces of St. Petersburg’ (1995); ‘The Romanovs: The way it was’ (2000), among others.

In the 1990s, Zoya was a regular lecturer for my annual Romanov Tour groups. One year, she was our guide and lecturer for two full days, in which she took us inside the many former palaces of the grand dukes and grand duchesses in St. Petersburg and along the Peterhof Highway.

On 8th December 2014, Zoya attended my first speaking engagement in Russia. My talk was held in the White Hall of the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library in St. Petersburg. My topic ‘Imperial Obsession. The West’s Fascination with the Romanov Legacy‘.

In the March 19th 2021 edition of ‘Moskovsky Komsomolets’, Zoya was asked to comment on the Kirillovich branch of the Romanov dynasty:

“The Tsarevich [George} is false. I am not at all a fan of the mother of the so-called Tsarevich. The fact is that Maria Vladimirovna, who pretends to be a Grand Duchess, is actually just a princess. This is a completely different title. Her grandfather, the cousin of the last Tsar Nicholas II, Kirill, was not anointed to the throne. The Russian Empire no longer existed at that moment, and to be Tsar, you need to be the Tsar of some state.”

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 2 December 2022

Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko 1970-2014

PHOTO: Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko (1970-2014)

On this day – 16th July 2014 – the great Orthodox artist Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko died in Moscow, at the age of only 44.

Russia’s hugely popular Christian, patriotic, monarchist painter Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko created more than 60 paintings depicting scenes from Imperial Russian history, particularly from the era of the Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II. Large-scale exhibits of his works have been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Kostroma among other Russian cities.

Pavel Ryzhenko was born at Kaluga, Russia on 11 June 1970. In 1982 he entered the Moscow Art School at the Surikov Institute. In 1990 he entered the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied in the historical and religious workshop of Professor Ilya Glazunov. From 1999, he taught at the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 2007, Pavel began working at the Ryzhenko Military Artists Studio, where he became one of the leading masters of diorama-panoramic art (during his life, he painted six large-scale dioramas). In 2012 Ryzhenko was awarded the title “Honored Artist of the Russian Federation.”

Sadly, Ryzhenko died on 16 July 2014. The famed Orthodox artist died, on the eve of the day of remembrance of the death and martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and just 5 days before his 44th birthday, the cause of death was a stroke.

Pavel Ryzhenko’s early death was a tremendous loss to Russia’s artistic and spiritual communities.

PHOTO: Pavel Ryzhenko’s grave in Zhdamirovskom Cemetery, Zhdamirovo

A memorial service for Pavel Ryzhenko was held on Sunday 22 July 2014 in the Church of All Saints in the village of Krasnoselsky District, Moscow. The funeral was held on the same day in Kaluga, followed by his burial at the Zhdamirovskom Cemetery, in the village of Zhdamirovo.

I had the great honour of attending an exhibition of his works during my first visit to Ekaterinburg in 2012. The exhibition was held in the Patriarchal Compound, which is situated across from the Church on the Blood.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

Below, are six of Ryzhenko’s canvases, in which the Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II is depicted:

The Farewell of the Tsar to His Troops: From the Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”. 2004

Wounded, the last Tsar on an inspection of a military hospital near the front in World War I

Imprisoned at Tsarkoye Selo: From the Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”. 2004

The Ipatiev House. The Morning After: From the Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”. 2004

A Photograph in Remembrance: From the Triptych “A Russian Century”. 2007

The Birth of Russian Aviation. 2007

To view Ryzhenko’s complete works of historical realism, please click HERE to visit his official web site.

© Paul Gilbert. 16 July 2021

Obituary: German Yuryevich Lukyanov (1961-2022)

On 19th May, the prominent Russian lawyer German Yuryevich Lukyanov, died in Moscow at the age of 60.

Lukyanov was born on 30th October 1961 in Saratov. In 1984 he graduated from the Saratov Law Institute (forensic and prosecutorial department). In 1984-1986 he passed military service in the Armed Forces of the USSR. From 1987 to 1989 he served as an investigator of the Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Moscow Air Defense District (PVO). He retired from the reserve with the rank of Senior Lieutenant of Justice. In 1990 he began practicing law, and in 2001 became a member of the Moscow Bar Association.

In 1995, he was appointed legal representative for Princess Leonida Georgievna (1914-2010) and later her daughter Princess Maria Vladimirovna, the latter of whom he continued to serve to the present day.

Lukyanov’s legacy is worthy of honouring, because he worked for years to achieve the exoneration of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and their four faithful retainers, who were all brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

German Yuryevich Lukyanov died on 19th May 2022, the day marking the 154th anniversary of the birth of Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar. Some time ago Lukyanov had developed a severe form of COVID-19, recovered and returned to work.

It is symbolic that the Lord called German Lukyanov to Himself on the birthday of the Holy-Martyr Tsar Nicholas II, whose memory he sacredly honoured.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 4 June 2022

Obituary: Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanoff (1923-2021)

PHOTO: His Highness Prince Andrei Andreevich (1923-2021)

On 28th November, the head of the Romanov Family, His Highness Prince Andrei Andreevich, died in Inverness, California, at the age of 98.

Prince Andrew Andreevich was born on 21 January 1923 in London, England. He is the third child and youngest son of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich (1897–1981) and his first wife Princess Elizabeth Fabricievna, née Duchess of Sasso-Ruffo and Princess of San-Antimo. His godfather was the future King Edward VIII.

Prince Andrew belongs to the fourth branch of the Mikhailovich line of the House of Romanov. He is the great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in a straight male line.

Through his grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (1875-1960), he is a great-grandson of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna. His grandfather was Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933). He was a grand-nephew of Emperor Nicholas II.

After Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in 2021, Prince Andrew became the oldest living descendant of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Andrei Andreevich was the last representative of the Romanov dynasty who received the traditional Russian pre-revolutionary education and knew the Russian language perfectly. Andrei Andreevich was the last of the descendants of the dynasty who met with the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1927. The Empress was also present at the christening of Andrei Andreevich in 1923.

On the birthday of her great-grandson, Empress Maria Feodorovna wrote in her diary: “I received a telegram from Andryusha [Prince Andrei]. His son was born. Everyone is very happy about this.” Later, the Empress was present at the baptism of the baby, as evidenced by another entry in her personal diary: “… At 2:30 Olga came to take me, Xenia and Zina to Andryusha’s car for the christening of his little son Andrew. The ceremony took place at their home, where only family and loved ones gathered. The child is very cute. During the christening, Dmitry and I held him in our arms. He hardly cried and fell asleep right after it was all over. Minnie and her husband were there as well, so after the ceremony we sat and talked together. I gave Andrew a small silver bowl for the baby, and Alix, who also became his godmother, sent his mother a brooch.”

Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanoff was the eldest male descendant of the Russian Imperial Family, and a member of The Romanov Family Association, founded in 1979. He was recognized by many as the Head of the Russian Imperial Family. Andrew, like most Romanov descendants never recognized the illegimate claims of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, Vladimir Kirillovich, nor Maria Vladimirovna, as “Head” of the non-existent “Russian Imperial House.”

PHOTO: Prince Andrei at his home in Inverness, California

Andrei Andreevich was the first of the Romanovs to visit Russia after the revolution – in December 1942 he served as a sailor on the British cruiser Sheffield and took part in the Arctic expeditions to deliver cargo to Murmansk [formerly Romanov-on-Murman].

In 1954, Andrei Andreevich received US citizenship. After retirement, he was fond of painting and photography. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he visited Russia several times, including the funeral for Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family at the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the reburial of his great-grandmother Empress Maria Feodorovna in St. Petersburg in 2006. The last time he visited Russia was in 2013, in the year marking the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov.

Prince Andrew married three times. He was married firstly in San Francisco on 9 September 1951 to Elena Konstantinovna Dourneva (5 May 1927, Tokyo – 31 May 1992, Oakland). She was the only daughter of Konstantin Afanasievich Durnev (1896–1970) and Felixa Stanislavovna Zapalsky (1903–2002). They had one son before divorcing in 1959.

He was married secondly to Kathleen Norris (1 March 1935, San Francisco – 8 December 1967, San Francisco) in San Francisco on 21 March 1961. She was a granddaughter of American authors Kathleen Norris and Charles Gilman Norris. She died after pneumonia at 32. They had two children.

He was married thirdly on 17 December 1987 in Reno, Nevada, to the American artist Inez Storer (née Bachelin; born 11 October 1933, Santa Monica, California). She is a daughter of Franz Bachelin and Anita Hirschfeld. The couple lived in Inverness, California.

In recent years, Andrew Andreevich lived in a nursing home in San Anselmo, California. Prince Andrew is survived by his wife, Inez, his three sons Alexis (1953), Peter (1961) Andrew (1963) his granddaughter, Natasha Romanov, and his half-sister, Olga Romanov.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

In 2017, I was presented with this copy of The Boy Who Would be Tsar. The Art of Prince Andrew Romanoff. It remains a treasured keepsake in my personal library. This 64-page autobiography is illustrated with family photographs and his artwork. Prince Andrew gives readers a glimpse life growing up in the guest house of Windsor Castle, where he spent his childhood with his sister and brother, granted to his family by King George V.

© Paul Gilbert. 29 November 2021

Obituary: French historian and author Marc Ferro (1924-2021)

PHOTO: French historian and author Marc Ferro (1924-2021)

Marc Ferro was born on 24th December 1924 in Paris. In 1941, he lived with his mother Oudia Firdmann and stepfather. Ferro was 5 years old when his father died. His mother was a designer at Worth, the first haute couture house in the French capital.

Ferro was a student at the Lycée Carnot. During the German occupation of Paris, he was the victim of the new Vichy regime’s rabid anti-Semitic policies, due to the Jewish origin of his mother. His philosophy professor, Maurice Merleau-Ponty recommended that Ferro and his classmates flee the occupied zone as soon as possible. Ferro took refuge in Grenoble as it was located in an unoccupied zone. His mother was deported and died on 28th June 1943 at Auschwitz.

Between 1948 and 1956, Ferro taught at the Lycée Lamoricière in Oran, in French-occupied Algeria. He was then appointed professor in Paris, at a number of higher learning schools. He later served as Director of studies at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. At the beginning of the 1960s Ferro specialized in Soviet history, focusing on the Russian Revolution of 1917 .

The popular French historian and author is probably best known for his books on early 20th-century European history, the Russian Revolution and Emperor Nicholas II.

PHOTO: English edition of Nicholas II: Last of the Tsars (1991)

In 1990, his book Nicholas II: Last of the Tsars, was published and translated into many languages. Sadly, Ferro like most Western historians paint Russia’s last emperor and tsar in a very poor light.

For his biography, Ferro researched extensively in Russian archives to illuminate Nicholas II’s character. Ferro paints a portrait of “a reluctant leader, a young man forced by the death of his father into a role for which he was ill-equipped”.

“A conformist and traditionalist, Nicholas admired the order, ritual, and ceremony identified with the intangible grandeur of autocracy, and he hated everything that might shake that autocracy – the intelligentsia, the Jews, the religious sects”.

Ferro documents Nicholas II’s reign, as “one of continual trouble: a humiliating war with Japan; the 1905 revolution that forced Nicholas to accept a constitutional assembly, the Duma; the international crisis of 1914, leading to World War I; and finally the Revolution of 1917, forcing his abdication”.

The French historian believes that the Tsar was “utterly opposed to change and to the ferment of ideas that stirred his country, who felt it was his duty to preserve intact the powers God had entrusted in him”.

Ferro also provides an intimate portrait of Nicholas’s personal life: his wife Alexandra; his four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia; his son and heir Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia; and the various figures in the court, most notably Rasputin, whose ability to revive the frequently ailing Alexis made him indispensable to the Tsaritsa”.

Perhaps most intriguing is Ferro’s chapter on the fate of the Tsar and his family, examining all the rumours and contradictory testimony that swirl around this still popular conspiracy theory. Ferro concludes that Alexandra and her daughters may have survived the revolution, and the woman who later surfaced in Europe claiming to be Anastasia may well have been so.

PHOTO: La Vérité sur la tragédie des Romanov (2012)

In 2012, Ferro published a second book La Vérité sur la tragédie des Romanov [The Truth about the tragedy of the Romanovs], in which he explores even further his belief that the Empress and her daughters survived the bloody regicide.

Ferro never believed the official version of the deaths of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918. He questions the murder of the Romanovs, based on a series of documents, allegedly discovered in the Vatican archives. The sudden death or execution of judges or witnesses, truncated documents, stolen investigation files, controversial DNA tests, put Ferro on the trail of a sacrilegious hypothesis: that the Empress and her four daughters were saved thanks to to a secret agreement between the Bolsheviks and the Germans. According to Ferro’s book, only the fate of the Tsarevich, Alexei, remains unknown, due to lack of “reliable” sources.

PHOTO: La Vérité sur la tragédie des Romanov DVD (2018)

In 2018, a French-language documentary was released in DVD format. The 1 hour 26 minute film presents a series events surrounding Nicholas II’s reign based on Ferro’s research: Bloody Sunday 1905, the February 1905 Revolution, the abdication of the Emperor, the coming to power of Lenin, the Tsesarevich’s haemophilia, Rasputin, the Empress’s alleged political influence over Nicholas. Among those interviewed in the documentary are actor Pierre Carbonnier who quotes Pierre Gilliard, and the participation of historians Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Orlando Figes, Jean-Jacques Marie, historian of photography Daniel Girardin and Pierre-Frédéric Gilliard, nephew of Pierre Gilliard .

Marc Ferro died due to complications of COVID-19, on 21st April 2021, at the age of 96, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines), surrounded by his family.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 April 2021

Obituary: Ivan Sergeevich Artsishevsky (1950-2021)

PHOTO: Ivan Sergeevich Artsishevsky (1950-2021)

The former Director of the Romanov Family Association in Russia, died today in St. Petersburg, at the age of 71. He may be best known as the head of the working group on the reburial of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in 1998.

Ivan Artsishevsky was born in 1950 in China into a family of the first wave of Russian emigrants who fled Russia following the 1917 Revolution. In 1953, the Artsishevsky family moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where, at the age of 7, he attended a Brazilian school, where teaching was conducted in Portuguese, which at the time, he spoke better than Russian.

In 1967, the Artsishevsky was allowed to enter the USSR, to Chelyabinsk, and receive Soviet citizenship. Later, the family moved to Riga, where Artsishevsky graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of the University. After moving to Leningrad, he worked for Intourist, a Russian tour operator, founded in 1929 and served as the primary travel agency for foreign tourists in the Soviet Union.

In 1991, he held the first Congress of Compatriots in Leningrad.

In 1998, he served as head of the working group on the reburial of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and servants. Thanks to his dedication and hard work, five members of the Imperial Family – Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, three of their five children: Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, as well as their four faithful retainers were buried in the St. Catherine’s Chapel [a side chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral] in St. Petersburg. Some 50 Romanov descendants, from all corners of the world attended the historic ceremony. The only members of the Romanov family who did not attend, were Maria Vladimirovna, her son George Mikhailovich and her mother Leonida Georgievna. At the time, they collectively refused to recognize the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, a position which Maria and her son hold fast to this day.

He then became the Director of the Romanov Family Association in Russia, a position he held until his death. At the same time, he was appointed head of the state protocol department of the St. Petersburg administration (committee for external relations), where he was responsible for organizing and conducting numerous visits of heads of state and government to our city. Received letters of gratitude from French president Jacques Chirac, US president George W. Bush, British prime minister Tony Blair among others.

In 2006, Ivan Artsishevsky organized the School of Protocol and Etiquette, the first licensed institution of its kind in Russia, one which reflected the growing interest in the topic of the culture and business communications.

PHOTO: Artsishevsky with Prince Dimitri Romanovich 1926-2016

Artsishevsky was recognized as one of Russia’s leading etiquette and protocol experts. As representative of the Romanov Family Association in Russia, he organized their visits and accompanied members of the Dynasty on protocol trips. He was a member of the International Club of Petersburgers and the Union of Russian Nobles in Paris, gave popular lectures and conducted webinars. From 2015 he also collaborated with the Russian National Library. In recent years, he served as Vice-President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia.

Artsishevsky devoted his whole life of service to the Motherland and St. Petersburg. His deep knowledge of history, cultural traditions and diplomatic talent greatly served the government of St. Petersburg for many years. In the sphere of state etiquette, “he had no equal,” said the governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, expressing his condolences to the family and friends of Artsishevsky.

On a personal note, I would like to add, that it was Ivan Sergeevich Artsishevsky who made it possible for me to attend the funeral of Emperor Nicholas II in St. Petersburg, on 17th July 1998. For that, I will always be grateful – PG

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 7 April 2021

OBITUARY – Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov (1926-2020)


Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov (1926-2020)

It is with a deep sense of sadness for me to announce that Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky-Romanov died yesterday (1st May 2020) at the age of 94.

In 1986 she married Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky (1917-1993) – the son of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) and Colonel N.A. Kulikovsky (1881-1958).

Olga Kulikovsky’s father, Nikolai Nikolaevich Pupynin was a hereditary nobleman of the Tambov province, a military Cossack officer of the Imperial and White armies, and participant in the famous Ice campaign.

Her mother, Nina Konradovna Kopernitskaya was an artist and sculptor, educated in Warsaw and Munich. From 1920, the family was in exile: first in Yugoslavia, after World War II in Venezuela.

Olga Kulikovsky (nee Pupynina) graduated from the Mariinsky Don Institute of Noble Maidens (Smolny branch), who were evacuated from Novocherkassk during the Civil War to Bila Tserkva, Yugoslavia. During the Second World War, she was interned in Germany (Stuttgart), where she worked in a factory and survived the barbaric bombing of civilians by British and American aircraft. Subsequently, she moved to South America, received a medical, commercial, architectural education, and learned seven languages. After moving to Canada, she worked as a translator in government agencies.


Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov praying at Ganina Yama in July 2018

Over the years Olga Kulikovsky participated in public activities in Russia, transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church some shrines preserved in the Kulikovsky family associated with the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, she did a lot to popularize the artistic work of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. From 1991, she headed the Foundation named after her mother-in-law.

Despite her age, she worked tirelessly to help clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar and his family.

The cause of death has not yet been specified. She was found dead at her home in Balashikha, Moscow Region, where she lived. She will be buried with her husband Tikhon, and her mother-in-law at York Cemetery in Toronto, Canada.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 2 May 2020

Tribute to Robert K. Massie, 1929-2019


On 2nd December 2019, Robert K. Massie, best known as author and historian of pre-Revolutionary Russia, passed away at his home in Irvington, New York at the age of 90. The cause of death was complications associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Life, Education and Career

Robert Kinloch Massie III was born in Versailles, Kentucky on 5 January 1929. He later grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, graduated from Yale University, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University where he read Modern History. For four years, he served as an air intelligence officer aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. 

Mr. Massie was on the staff of Newsweek from 1959 to 1962, where he was a book reviewer, foreign news writer, and United Nations Bureau Chief. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, and other publications. Over the years, he worked as an historical adviser to, and has made frequent appearances on, a number of national television programs and documentaries.

Massie was married twice. His first wife, Suzanne Rohrback (from 1954 to 1990), an author whose books about Russian culture (Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia in 1980 and Pavlovsk: The Life of a Russian Palace in 1990),  brought her to the attention of Ronald Reagan and into international politics.  The couple had a son and two daughters. In 1992, Massie remarried his literary agent Deborah Karl. The couple had a son and two daughters.

Books: Nicholas and Alexandra

Robert K. Massie, spent almost half a century studying Tsarist Russia, his personal interest in the last Imperial family was triggered by the birth of his eldest son Robert Jr., who was born with hemophilia, a hereditary disease that also afflicted Tsar Nicholas II’s son, Alexei.

His first book, Nicholas and Alexandra (1967), which remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for 46 weeks, was translated into seventeen languages, and made into a film that was nominated for numerous Academy Awards. Though nearly 1,000 pages long, it sold more than 4.5 million copies and is regarded as one of the most popular historical studies ever published. Praised in The New York Times as a long-needed and balanced account of the last tsar and his family. In his study, Nicholas comes across not as the “stupid, weak or bloodthirsty” monarch, as he is often been portrayed by his Western counterparts.

Nicholas and Alexandra made Massie a celebrity, phoned by strangers who invited him for lunch, and a magnet for relatives and alleged relatives of the Romanovs. He discussed hemophilia with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and with Earl Mountbatten of Burma, a grandson of Queen Victoria.

It was Massie’s now classic study of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, which presented the most comprehensive study of Russia’s last Imperial family in a whole new light, but it was far from perfect.

During his research for Nicholas and Alexandra, Massie did not have complete information because the Soviet government would not permit him access to the Romanov archives. During the Soviet years, access to these files were restricted solely for propaganda purposes only. It was only in 1991, when the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Romanov archives were open, did Massie complete their story, writing a continuation, The Romanovs: The Final Chapter (1995)

Film: Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)


In 1971, Massie’s bestseller was made into a British biographical film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, written by James Goldman, and starring Michael Jayston as Emperor Nicholas II and Janet Suzman as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Janet Suzman), Best Cinematography, Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Picture.

Despite the detailed production design, photography and strong performances from the cast, Nicholas and Alexandra failed to find the large audience it needed to be a financial success.

It is interesting to note that aside from its historical inaccuracies, not a single scene was filmed in Russia. This of course is due to the fact that in 1971 Russia was still the Soviet Union, and the discussion or promotion of the last tsar was still taboo. Instead, the film was shot entirely in Spain and Yugoslavia.

Other Books


Massie penned two additional books on the Romanov dynasty: Peter the Great: His Life and World (1981), which won a Pulitzer Prize. His biography led to the production of Peter the Great (1986) which became a major network miniseries, winning three Emmy Awards.

Two decades later he wrote, Catherine the Great (2011), which was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction by the American Library Association.

And we cannot forget two additional pictorials for which Massie wrote the introductory text: Last Courts of Europe: Royal Family Album, 1860–1914 (Vendome Press, 1981) and The Romanov Family Album (Vendome Press, 1982), the latter of which is highly sought after by collectors to this day.

His other works include Journey (1975), Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War (1991),  and Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the Winning of the Great War at Sea (2004), among others.

While Massie’s books have sold more than 6 million copies, however, he will always be remembered for Nicholas and Alexandra, which captivated a whole new generation with detailed accounts of Nicholas II and his family. For many it was Massie’s now classic study which launched their personal interest in the Imperial family, leading them on a quest for for accurate and truthful information. For that alone, we owe Robert Massie an immense debt of gratitude.

Robert K. Massie is survived by his second wife Deborah Karl, their son, Christopher, and two daughters Sophia and Nora Massie; and his son Bob Jr., and two daughters, Susanna Thomas and Elizabeth Massie, from his first marriage; as well as seven grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 4 December 2019

In memory of Alexander Nikolaevich Bokhanov (1944-2019)


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