SOVEREIGN to resume publication in January 2023

After an absence of nearly four years, I am pleased to announce that my semi-annual periodical Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II will resume publication next year. The next issue – the No. 12 issue – will be published in January 2023.

Between 2015 and 2019, I published a total of 11 issues of this unique publication, dedicated to the study of the life and reign of Russia’s last Tsar. The last issue, No. 11, was issued in February 2019, and the series was cancelled later that year.

Many readers could not understand, why I cancelled SOVEREIGN, so let me explain . . . I did not cancel the series because it was unpopular, on the contrary, I was forced to cancel the series due to the rising costs of printing this product here in Canada, in addition to Canada Post’s outrageous foreign shipping rates. For example, the rate to ship a single copy of SOVEREIGN to the United States was $12, while the rate to UK, Europe, and other international countries was a whopping $22!

Now, thanks to my publishing venture with AMAZON, I can resume publication, and make it available worldwide through AMAZON, while taking advantage of their much more affordable postage rates.

The No. 12 issue, which will be published in January 2023, will feature the following full-length articles – among others, that have yet to be announced:

[1] Mikhail Rodzianko: Gravedigger of the Russian Empire by Andrei Ivanov

[2] Nikolai Sokolov’s Report to Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on the Investigation into the Deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his Family

[3] Memorial Museums to Nicholas II in Post-Soviet Russia by Paul Gilbert

[4] They Were the Last to Help the Tsar’s Family in Ekaterinburg by Abbess Dominica (Korobeinikova)

[5] Loyal to Their Sovereign: Generals Who Did Not Betray Nicholas II in 1917 by Paul Gilbert

[6] Family Disloyalty: Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi by Paul Gilbert

SOVEREIGN No. 12 will be issued in the same 8-1/2″ x 11″ paperback format, 130+ pages, and richly illustrated, English text. The price of each new issue will be $20 USD – a savings of $5 over previous issues.

It is important for me to note, that the upcoming 2nd International Nicholas II Conference and the revival of SOVEREIGN, are both integral tools in my personal commitment to help clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar. Not only is the publication of this unique periodical, a project which is near and dear to my heart and soul, SOVEREIGN will continue to be a valuable resource for Western historians and researchers, and to those who share an interest in the life and reign of Russia’s last Tsar.

For those of you, who are unfamiliar with SOVEREIGN: each issue features first English translations of new works by a new generation of post-Soviet Russian historians. Since the opening of the Romanov archives in 1991, they have managed to unearth previously unknown historic diaries, letters and documents on the life and reign of Nicholas II. Their research is now helping to debunk the many popular held negative assessments of Nicholas II, which continue to endure in the West, more than a century after his death and martyrdom.

NOTE: the only remaining copies of back issues of SOVEREIGN, Nos. 1 to 11, can still be purchased from Amazon.com (United States) and Booksellers van Hoogstraten (The Hague, Netherlands).

© Paul Gilbert. 13 October 2022

October 12th marks the birth and death of a Romanov traitor

PHOTO: obituary notice on the death of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938)

On 12th October 1876, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich was born. Ironically, on 12th October 1938, he died in exile, aged 62.

Kirill was born on 12th October [O.S. 30th September] 1876, at the Vladimir Villa, the country residence of his parents at Tsarskoye Selo. He was the second of five children born to Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909) and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854-1920), born Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Kirill was a grandson of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) and a first cousin of Emperor Nicholas II. He was also the uncle of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906-1968) and great-uncle of Prince Michael of Kent (born 1942).

In the service of the Fatherland

After graduating from the Sea Cadet Corps and Nikolaev Naval Academy, in January 1904, Kirill was promoted to Chief of Staff to the Pacific Fleet in the Imperial Russian Navy. With the start of the Russo-Japanese War, he was assigned to serve as First Officer on the battleship Petropavlovsk, but the ship was blown up by a Japanese mine at Port Arthur in April 1904. Kirill barely escaped with his life, and was invalided out of the service suffering from burns, back injuries and shell shock.

From 1909–1912, Kirill served on the cruiser Oleg and was its captain in 1912. In 1913, he joined the Maritime Division of the Imperial Guard and was made Commander of the Naval Guards in 1915. He achieved the rank of rear admiral in the Imperial Navy in 1916, a position which he later abandoned.

PHOTO: Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna

An unholy alliance

During the festivities marking the Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, held in Moscow in May 1896, Kirill fell in love with his paternal first cousin, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1876-1936). They flirted with each other at the balls and celebrations, but Victoria Melita was already married to Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse (1868-1937), the only brother of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Victoria’s father was Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844-1900), the second eldest son of Queen Victoria. Victoria’s mother was Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (1853-1920), a daughter of Emperor Alexander II and Kirill’s paternal aunt. Victoria Melita scandalized the royal families of Europe when she divorced her husband in 1901.

On 8th October 1905, Kirill entered into an incestuous marriage [forbidden by the Russian Orthodox Church] with the divorced Victoria Melita. The marriage caused a scandal within the Russian Imperial Family, as well as in the Royal Courts of Europe and Great Britain.

The couple wed without the formal approval of Britain’s King Edward VII (as the Royal Marriages Act 1772 would have required), and in defiance of Emperor Nicholas II by not obtaining his consent. Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna wrote that she felt “responsible for having arranged the marriage of Ducky and Kirill,” a decision she regretted.

Nicholas II punished Kirill, by stripping him of his offices and honours, also initially banishing the couple from Russia. Together with their two daughters, the family settled in Paris before they were allowed to visit Russia. In 1910, they returned to Russia, whereupon the Emperor recognized Victoria Melita as Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna.

Despite the family reconciliation, the strained relationship which had already existed for many years between Nicholas and Alexandra with Kirill and Victoria, would remain strained and even hostile.

Revolution and betrayal

Even before Emperor Nicholas II’s abdication, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich was one of the first Russian officers to commit an act of betrayal to his oath of loyalty to the Sovereign and to his dynastic duty.

While commanding the Marine of the Guard, which was responsible for guarding the Empress Alexandra and her children at Tsarskoye Selo, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich with his tsarist monogram on his epaulettes and a red ribbon on his shoulders, under which the Marine of the Guard followed their commander, appeared on 1st March, at the State Duma, where he reported to Duma Chairman M.V. Rodzianko. “I have the honour of appearing before Your Excellency, I am at your disposal, as is the entire nation. I wish Russia only good.” Then he stated that the Marine of the Guard was at the complete disposal of the State Duma. Kirill then authorized the flying of a red flag over his palace on Glinka Street in Petrograd.

Prior to that, the Grand Duke sent notes to the chiefs of the military units at Tsarskoye Selo, with a proposal “to join the new government”, following his own example.

In June 1917, Grand Duke Kirill was the first Romanov to flee Russia, along with his pregnant wife and their two children. Not only was his desertion “illegal”, Kirill, who was serving as a rear admiral in active military service in a country at war, had thus abandoned his honour and dignity. It is interesting to add, that the Kirillovich were the only branch of the Imperial Family who managed to escape the Bolsheviks, without losing any family members.

In exile, on 8th August 8, 1922, Kirill declared himself “guardian of the Russian throne”. On 13th September 1924, he proclaimed himself “Emperor of All Russia” to the now non-existent Russian throne under the name of “Kirill I”. He became known as the “Soviet Tsar” because in the event of a restoration of the monarchy, he intended to keep some of the features of the Soviet regime.

In addition, is Kirill’s shameful infidelity—an affair which involved his behaviour or relationship far more sensational and unorthodox than a simple casual affair with another woman—a possible homosexual liaison perhaps?

Not only was Grand Duke Kirill a coward, he was clearly a man who lacked a moral compass and a traitor to his Sovereign and to Russia. His acts of treason and desertion, and later his support of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during his years in exile, thus deprived his descendants any rights to the Russian throne.

PHOTO: the tomb of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, in the Grand Ducal Mausoleum of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg

Legacy

Grand Duke Kirill was initially buried at the ducal mausoleum at Friedhof am Glockenberg, Coburg.  Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the remains of Kirill and Victoria were transferred from Coburg to the Grand Ducal Mausoleum of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on 7 March 1995 after negotiations and great expense, thanks to the efforts of his Spanish-born granddaughter Princess Maria Vladimirovna.

84 years after his death, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich remains one of the most despised members of the Russian Imperial Family. While some believe that he was a beacon for a restoration of the monarchy in Russia, his record of treason simply cannot be overlooked or swept under the rug, by those who work so diligently to whitewash his legacy.

During the 1920s until his death in 1938, his only adherants, were known as the Kirillists. Today, they are known as Legitimists – a small group of zealots – most of whom are American, and have no say whatsoever in the monarchist debate in modern day Russia. They work tirelessly to keep Kirill from falling from the pedestal, which this insignificant group of nutters has placed him on.

Despite what the Legitimists claim on their blog and social media, neither Kirill, nor his descendants Maria Vladimirovna and her pompous arrogant son George Mikhailovich, are very popular in post-Soviet Russia. Most Russians – including monarchists – dismiss their claims as “pretenders” to the non-existent Russian throne. Their activities in Russia attract a lot of media attention, in particular the wedding of George Mikhailovich to Rebecca Bettarini in St. Petersburg on 1st October 2021.

Under no pretext can we admit to the throne those whose ancestors belonged to parties involved in the 1917 revolution in one way or another. Nor can we admit those whose ancestors betrayed Tsar Nicholas II. Nor can we ignore those who ancestors openly supported the Nazis. Thus, without any reservations, the right to the succession to the throne of the Kirillovich branch should be excluded!

Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich is the subject of my forthcoming book ‘Traitor to the Tsar! Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Nicholas II‘, the first comprehensive study to examine the relationship between Grand Duke Kirill and his first cousin Tsar Nicholas II. It is based primarily on documents and letters retrieved from Russian archival and media sources, many of which will be new to the English reader.

My book was scheduled for publication this year, however, my cancer diagnosis, followed by surgery, recovery at home and six months of chemotherapy combined, put this new book project on hold. In recent months, I have acquired some new documents from Russian sources – at great expense, I might add! – which I am now having translated into English, in order to incorporate some of their findings in my book.

© Paul Gilbert. 12 October 2022

The Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II in Belgrade, Serbia

PHOTO: the main entrance to Russian House in Belgrade.
Note the images of Emperor Nicholas II and King Alexander I Karageorgievich

For nearly 90 years the Russian House, situated in the very heart of old Belgrade, has been a spiritual and cultural center aimed to promote Russian language and culture. The Neoclassical style building on Kraljice Natalije [Queen Natalia[1] Street], is regarded as one of the most beautiful locations in the Serbian capital. It is recognized as the oldest Russian cultural center in Europe, one of 44 Russian Cultural Centers worldwide.

During the early 20th century, the October Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Russian Civil War, each contributed to the mass resettlement of Russians in Serbia. In April 1919 and the early 1920s, the government of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes [2], welcomed tens of thousands of anti-Bolshevik Russian refugees.

The defeat of the White Russian Army under General Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel (1878-1928) in Crimea, resulted in a third wave of emigration (November-December 1920), of another 20,000 emigrants.

The Kingdom extended its hospitality as gratitude to Russia for the it’s intervention on the side of Serbia at the outbreak of WWI. Thus, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, became home for 40,000 exiles from the Russian Empire of Emperor Nicholas II. The mass exodus of refugees from war-torn Bolshevik Russia, promted the founding of the State Commission for the Arrangement of Russian Refugees in Belgarde.

Built and financed by Russian emigres

The pain of losing their fatherland and the illusory hope of returning had always lived in the souls of those who, by the will of fate, ended up in a foreign land. And in an effort to preserve their world – the Russian world – everything that was so dear and sacred, everything which closely connected them to their homeland, the Russian community put forward the idea of ​​​​creating its own cultural center in Belgrade.

The Serbian public warmly responded to this idea. The center was constructed mainly with the money donated and raised by the Russian community. In addition, significant funds were allocated by the Yugoslav authorities. The architect was Vasily Baumgarten (1897–1962), a military engineer, ex-chief of engineering supplies of the Denikin Volunteer Army[3].

The idea of ​​the Russian community to establish its own cultural center in Belgrade was fervently supported by King Alexander I, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Varnava (1880-1937), as well as many Serbian politicians and cultural workers.

In 1928, the Russian Cultural Committee was founded in Belgrade under the auspices of academician-Slavist Aleksandar Belic (1876-1960), who graduated from the Imperial Moscow University, and who later became the president of the Serbian Royal Academy of Sciences. One of the main directions in the activity of Belic’s committee was to help in the creation of the cultural center.

On 22nd June 1931, the foundation stone of the building was laid, less than two years later, on 9th April 1933, the Russian House named after Emperor Nicholas II was officially opened. A charter with words comemorating Russian-Serbian brotherhood and a dedication to Nicholas II, as well as words of gratitude to King Alexander I, were laid in the building’s foundation. In addition, two plaques were installed – one for the “protector of the Serbs” Nicholas II and the other for the “protector of the Russians” Alexander I.

The opening of the Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II was attended by members of the royal family, headed by Queen Maria of Yugoslavia[4], Prime Minister Milan Srskich (1880-1937), and prominent representatives of the Yugoslav intelligentsia.

Why was the Russian House named in honour of Russia’s last Tsar and Emperor?

The Serbs were not only grateful to Nicholas II for the assistance he provided in their struggle for freedom and independence, but also for coming to their aid against Austro-Hungarian aggression in 1914. The idea of ​​the canonization of Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov and the construction of a church in memory of the martyred emperor arose in Serbia in the 1920s, many years before his canonization by the Russian Orthodox Church. For many Serbs, Nicholas II is today recognized as the “greatest and most revered of all saints.”

The memory of Emperor Nicholas II’s life and reign is today honoured and celebrated throughout modern-day Serbia. On 7th May 2019, during the opening ceremony of the photo exhibition The Romanovs: the Tsar’s Ministry, in the Serbian Embassy in Moscow, Serbia’s Ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic stated: “I consider Nicholas II a great reformer and a patriot of his homeland. The challenges of the revolution were very tough, to which it was necessary to react harshly, but since the Russian emperor was a deeply religious man, he sacrificed himself and his family in order to save the Russian empire. Eternal memory to Nicholas II and eternal gratitude to him from Serbia and the Serbian people,” concluded Terzic.

Further reading: Click HERE to read my article Nicholas II through Serbian Eyes, originally published on 13th October 1920.

The Russian House in the post-war years, and during Nazi and Soviet occupation

During the interwar years, the Russian House became the center of cultural, scientific and religious life of the Russian emigrant community in Belgrade.

The monarchy, which had been established in Yugoslavia since January 1929, followed by the assassination of King Alexander I in October 1934, and the period of the regency of Prince Pavel Karageorgievich only strengthened the foreign policy vector of Belgrade. Up until June 1940, royal Yugoslavia took the side of the White Russian movement, and officially ignored the existence of Soviet Russia, a brave and noble political feat for which they must be honoured.

The situation changed, however, in March 1941 after a coup d’etat, a result of which a regency was set up under Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (1893-1976). After Paul declared Yugoslavia’s accession to the Tripartite Pact in late March 1941, a pro-British coup d’état deposed the regent and declared Peter II (1923-1970), who would reign as the last king of Yugoslavia and the last reigning member of the Karađorđević dynasty. In response, Axis forces invaded Yugoslavia ten days later and quickly overran the country, forcing the king and his ministers into exile.

After the capture and dismemberment of Yugoslavia by the Third Reich and its allies during the short-lived April War of 1941, Serbia came under Nazi occupation and the formal control of the puppet government of Milan Nedić (1877-1946). The occupying authorities installed the “Russian Trust Bureau” in the Russian House, to “protect the interests of the Russian diaspora”.

According to Monarchist General Mikhail Skorodumov, “the cellars in the Russian House, were filled with hungry Russian refugees. As a result, and with great difficulty, a free canteen was created, however, this did little to alleviate the problem…” Later, Skorodumov formed the Russian Security Corps for punitive operations against local communists with the prospect of sending the latter to the Eastern Front in the ranks of the Wehrmacht.

In 1944, the Russian House was badly damaged during fierce battles between the Red Army and the Belgrade Strategic Offensive Operation for the liberation of of the city from Nazi invaders. In addition, the Russian House library (created in 1920, and moved from the building of the Royal Academy of Sciences), lost almost all of its extensive pre-war collections: books, old newspapers and magazines from the library heated the boiler room of the Russian House during the cold months of the war.

In the post World War II period, the Socialist-Government of Yugoslavia handed over the building to the Soviet Union, whereupon the Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II was renamed the Home of Soviet Culture. In 1994, the building was officially renamed the Russian Center of Science and Culture — The Russian House.

In defiance of the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO forces in 1999, the Russian House remained open daily, despite the fact that some events had to be carried out then under extreme conditions, including the building being hit by shell fragments. On 24th May, when electricity was cut off throughout Belgrade, the celebration of the Day of Slavic Literature and Culture took place by candlelight – a tradition which continues to be held annually.

Today, the Russia House includes a theater, a 390-seat cinema and concert hall, a 2100 square foot exhibition and conference hall, a gymnasium, a sports hall, an elementary school, and even a house church named in honour of the Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. 

The center offers Russian language courses, a publishing center, the Matryoshka Children’s Studio of Russian Folk Dance, and the Sergei Rachmaninov School of Music. The center’s public library boasts a collection of 60,000 books, and is considered one of the largest Russian libraries in Europe. In May 2015, an electronic reading room of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, located in St. Petersburg was opened in the multimedia center of the Russian House Library.

The Russia House is also home to the Museum of Nicholas II [opened in June 1936], the Museum of the Russian Cavalry, the Society of Russian Writers, Artists and Musicians, and the Russian Scientific Institute (founded in 1928 and moved from the house of the former Embassy of the Russian Empire). The center receives over two thousand visitors a day.

It is interesting to note, that in 2022, an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Russians moved to Serbia, many of them opponents to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

PHOTO: Aleksandar Vasilevich Chepurin, who served as Russia’s ambassador to Serbia (from 2012-2019), at the unveiling ceremony of the bust to Nicholas II in the Russian House, Belgrade

In addition, the Russian House has exhibition material, which includes a vast collection of films and books. It is involved in the organization of various festivals, conferences and other cultural events in Belgrade and throughout Serbia. In recent years, the Russian House in Belgrade has hosted a number of exhibitions and government sponsored events honouring Russia’s last Tsar.

On 25th December 2013, a bronze bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in the foyer of the library in the Russian House with the participation of the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Nations. The bust was the work of the eminent Russian sculptor, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Klykov (1938-2006). The pedestal of was designed by the famous Serbian sculptor Miodrag Živković. The installation of the bust marked the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty and the 80th anniversary of the Russian House in Belgrade.

PHOTO: poster for the photo-exhibition Meeting the Russian Emperor (above), and opening day of the exhibit at Russian House in Belgrade, on 5th April 2017 (below)

From 5th April to 3rd May 2017, the Russian House hosted a photo-exhibition Meeting the Russian Emperor, dedicated to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918). The exhibition was a joint project prepared by the Russian Tsar Studio in Belgrade and the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow.

The exhibition was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the last Russian Emperor and his family, which took place in July 2018. The travelling exhibition, which during the first six months had been held in dozens of cities in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The exhibit showcased photographs to better acquaint the Serbs with the image of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and their pious and private family lives. 

The ceremonies marking the opening of the exhibition, were crowned by the Orlic Children’s Church Choir, under the direction of Elena Pavlovich, who performed several Russian spiritual songs, and closing with the Russian Imperial Anthem “God, Save the Tsar!” [refer to Video No. 6 in the playlist]

Upon its closing, the photo-exhibition reopened at the Memorial Museum of King Peter I Karađorđević, also in Belgrade.

PHOTO: on 15th May, the photo-exhibition reopened at the Museum of King Peter I Karađorđević

PHOTO: Serbian Patriarch Irinej and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill attending the unveiling and consecration of the monument to Nicholas II in Belgrade, on 16th November 2014

The Russian House is situated near Park Aleksandrov, bounded by the streets of Kralja Milana on the east, Kosovke devojke on the north and Kraljice Natalije[1] on the west. 

On 16th November 2014, a large monument to Emperor Nicholas II was installed in the park, on the site of the old Russian Empire[5]. The bronze monument, donated by the Russian Historical Society in Moscow, was sculpted by Andrey Kovalchuk and Gennady Pravotorov. The monument weighs 40 tons, and stands 7.5 m (25 ft) high, which includes a granite pedestal, the monument itself stands 3.5 m (11 ft).

The monument was jointly consecrated by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and the Serbian Patriarch Irinej (1930-2020), which was followed by a wreath laying ceremony. The unveiling ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić,

The inscription on the pedestal which marks the words of Emperor Nicholas II, reads: “All my efforts will be directed to preserving the dignity of Serbia and in any case, Russia will not be indifferent to the fate of Serbia”.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill addressed a multitude of people present with a brief homily, saying in particular:

“We are present at an event of historical significance – the blessing of the monument to the Holy Passion-Bearer, Tsar Nicholas II. Emperor Nicholas did so much to save Serbia and the whole Europe that it cannot be described in a few words. It is remarkable that the first monument in his honour outside of Russia has been erected here, in Belgrade.

“The Serbian people were cherishing the memory of Emperor Nicholas II even at the time when his name was forbidden to be pronounced aloud, at the time when one could only say something bad of him. However, the truth has a great power. Sometimes we see grass shooting through asphalt, life coming out in the open. The same is with the truth – it cannot be hidden under the asphalt or concrete; sooner or later it comes into life of next generations. The truth about the sacrificial heroic deed of Emperor Nicholas II has struggled through the ferroconcrete slab laid on his name.

“I would like to thank the people and the authorities of Serbia, as well as to all the compatriots who have done much to honour the memory of this great man in this remarkable monument.”

Serbian Patriarch Irinej pointed out that this was a great day for Belgrade, Serbia and the Serbian people in the country, in Serbian lands abroad. As he emphasized, the monument in King Milan Street was not just a monument, but also an image of a holy martyr. According to his words, one of those tragic links uniting our tow peoples was the fate of Tsar Nicholas and his family.

PHOTO: view of the Russia House in Belgrade, the oldest Russian cultural center in Europe

© Paul Gilbert. 12 October 2022

NOTES:

[1] Natalija Obrenović (1859-1941), known as Natalie of Serbia, she was Princess of Serbia from 1875 to 1882 and then Queen of Serbia from 1882 to 1889 as the wife of King Milan I of Serbia (1854-1901). A celebrated beauty during her youth, she was later regarded as one of the most beautiful queens in Europe.

[2] The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state in Southeast and Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1941. The preliminary kingdom was formed in 1918 by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (itself formed from territories of the former Austria-Hungary,

From 1918 to 1929, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but the term “Yugoslavia” (literally “Land of South Slavs”) was its colloquial name due to its origins.

The state was ruled by the Serbian dynasty of Karađorđević, which previously ruled the Kingdom of Serbia under Peter I from 1903 (after the May Coup) onward. Peter I became the first king of Yugoslavia until his death in 1921. The official name of the state was changed to “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” by his successor King Alexander I on 3 October 1929.

[3] The Volunteer Army was formed by Anton Ivanovich Denikin (1872-1947), a Russian Lieutenant General in the Imperial Russian Army (1916), who later served as the Deputy Supreme Ruler of Russia during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922.

His volunteers served as part of the White Army, who were active in South Russia during the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1920. The Volunteer Army fought against Bolsheviks on the Southern Front and the Ukrainian War of Independence. In 1919 it was made part of the Armed Forces of South Russia, becoming the largest force of the White movement until it was merged with the Army of Wrangel in March 1920.

[4] Maria of Yugoslavia (born Princess Maria of Romania: 6th January 1900 – 22nd June 1961), her parents were Princess Marie of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen – future Queen Marie and King Ferdinand of Roumania.

Known in Serbian as Marija Karađorđević, was Queen of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Queen of Yugoslavia, as the wife of King Alexander I from 1922 until his assassination in 1934. She was the mother of Peter II, the last reigning Yugoslav monarch. Her citizenship was revoked, and her property was confiscated by the Yugoslav communist regime in 1947, but she was “rehabilitated” in 2014.

[5] The old Russian Embassy was constructed in 1919. The embassy was initially used by the Russian deputy Vasiliy Nikolayevich Strandman (1873-1963), who represented the White Guard government, under the leadership of General Kolchak. In 1924, when the Russian mission was closed by the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the embassy building became the headquarters of the Delegation for the Protection of the Interests of Russian Refugees, and Strandman became the head of the Delegation. Nevertheless, the state flag and coat of arms of the Russian Empire remained on the facade of the embassy building until September 1939.

During the battle for the liberation of Belgrade in the Second World War, in October 1944, a German bomb severely damaged the embassy building. After the war, the building was completely demolished and a park built in its place.

God, Save the Tsar! Боже, Царя храни!

SONY DSC

Imperial Anthem of the Russian Empire

God, Save the Tsar! (Russian: Боже, Царя храни!; transliteration: Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!) was the national anthem of the former Russian Empire. The song was chosen from a competition held in 1833 and was first performed on 6th December (O.S. 23 November) 1833. The composer was violinist Alexei Lvov, and the lyrics were by the court poet Vasily Zhukovsky. 

In 1833, Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855) ordered Count Alexey Fyodorovich Lvov (1799-1870), the violinist and army general who was his court composer and aide-de-camp, to compose new music to replace the air that since 1816 had served as the music for the Russian Empire’s Anthem God Save the Tsar, namely Henry Hugh Carey’s God, Save the King. The lyrics of “God Save the Tsar” (Bozhe Tsarya Khranii) date from 1815 and came from Prayers of the Russian People by Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky (1783-1852), an officer and poet who served as tutor to the Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolayevich, the future Tsar-Liberator Alexander II.

After some initial creative difficulties, the melody that would serve as the anthem of the Russian Empire for the remainder of its existence came to Lvov in the course of a single night’s inspiration; he succeeded in creating a work of majesty and power that was suitable for the army, the church and the people – indeed, for the entire realm. None other than the great Alexander Pushkin himself reworked Zhukovsky’s verses to adapt them to Lvov’s new hymn. It was the first national anthem in Russian history to feature music and lyrics by Russian authors.

Upon hearing its beautiful strains for the first time, Nicholas I ordered the work repeated several times. At the close of the final rendition, the Tsar – a stern and military-minded ruler who was to be vilified by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as the “Gendarme of Europe” for his crushing of the forces of revolution wherever they appeared – clasped the composer’s hand with tears in his eyes and uttered the single word: “Splendid!”

The public premier of God, Save the Tsar took place on 6 December (O.S. 23rd November) 1833 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, where it was performed by a choir of one hundred singers and two military bands. At Christmas that same year, by the Tsar’s personal order it was performed by military bands in every hall of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. A week later, the Emperor issued a decree declaring the anthem a “civil prayer” to be performed at all parades and official ceremonies. As was the case with the Preobrazhensky March, the most widely-used arrangement for military band of God, Save the Tsar was created by Ferdinand Haase; it was the shortest anthem in the world at eight lines.

During the Coronation of Tsar Alexander II in 1855, Lvov led one thousand singers and two thousand musicians in a rendition of God Save the Tsar, the first performance of the anthem at a coronation. As Lvov directed the choir and orchestra, he, by means of galvanic batteries, set off forty-nine cannons, one by one, sometimes on the beat. At the conclusion, hundreds of Roman candles and rockets soared into the sky.

God, Save the Tsar! remained the Russian Empire’s national hymn until the February Revolution of 1917, after which the Worker’s Marseillaise was adopted as the new national anthem until the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government in October of the same year.

Sources: Brandenburg Historica; Scenarios of Power (Wortman, Richard S.)

215c

LYRICS

Русский

Боже, Царя храни!
Сильный, державный,
Царствуй на славу, на славу нам!

Царствуй на страх врагам,
Царь православный!
Боже, Царя храни!

English translation

God, save the Tsar!
Strong, sovereign,
Reign for glory, For our glory!

Reign to foes’ fear,
Orthodox Tsar.
God, save the Tsar!

Below, are a selection of videos which present a variety of renditions of God, Save the Tsar! Боже, Царя храни!, performed by Russian Orthodox and professional choir ensembles – courtesy of YouTube:

1. Beautiful rendition of God, Save the Tsar! with vintage newsreels of the Imperial family. Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds

2. Performed by the Kuban Cossack Choir. Duration: 1 minute, 38 seconds

3. Performed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Orchestra and Choir.
Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

4. Performed by Varya Strizhak. Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

5. Performed by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and the State Academic Choir.
Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

6. Performed by the Orlic Children’s Church Choir (Serbia).
Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

7. Performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Duration: 1 minute, 4 seconds

8. Performed by the Columbia Military Band in 1914.
Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

215b

© Paul Gilbert. 11 October 2022

The fate of Anna Kuzminykh, a servant in the Ipatiev House

PHOTO: Anna (right) with her mother and son Ivan in 1916

NOTE: the publication of this article has been met with both great interest and some skepticism. As Anna “Anyuta” Vasilievna Kuzminykh (1890-1954), did not leave any paper trail, which documented her brief period in the Ipatiev House, there is much to her story which allows for speculation, therefore, her story – as told through her niece and historian many years later, should be taken with a cautionary view – PG

Thanks to the research of a Russian historian, we now have a better understanding of the fate of Anna Vasilievna Kuzminykh (1890-1954), one of the lesser known servants in the Ipatiev House, during the summer of 1918.

According to the Kambarka (Udmurt Republic in Russia) historian and archivist Razif Mirzayanov, shortly before the murder of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg, the Tsar ordered Anna Kuzminykh, to leave the Ipatiev House, and thereby saved her life.

“I learned about the fate of Anna Kuzminykh in 1999, from her niece Zoya Grigoryevna Zhizhina” – says Mirzayanov. Anna herself was no longer alive by that time – she had died in 1954. The historian added, that Anna had not told anyone about her brief period as a servant in the Ipatiev House, during the summer of 1918, except for her niece Zoya Grigoryevna.

Anna was born on 9th February 1890, in the village of Kambarsky Zavod (now Kambarka), into the family of a local tailor Vasily Michkov. She married Yegor Kuzminykh, when the First World War broke out, who was ordered to the Front in 1914. Following the February 1917 Revolution, Anna left Kambarka the following year to work in Ekaterinburg, leaving behind her young son Ivan and mother. By some miracle, Anna was able to get a job at the Ipatiev House, the mansion requisitioned by the Bolsheviks and renamed the “House of Special Purpose”, where Emperor Nicholas II and his family were held under house arrest from April to July 1918. Anna was entrusted with the care of two cows, which provided milk for the prisoners.

PHOTO: in 2017, Razif Mirzayanov, Chairman of the Society of Historians and Archivists of the Kambarsky District, was awarded a medal in honour for his research on the Romanov’s

THE TSAR CALLED HER ANYUTA

One day, after having milked one of the cows, Anna went up to the house with a full bucket of milk, only to be rebuffed by the Empress herself: “Anna, once again, you milked both cows in one bucket. The milk will turn sour!” “What are you talking about,” Anna replied, “this bucket is from one cow that gives so much milk.” After straining the milk, Anna returned to the barn to milk the second cow. Then, pouring flour into a bucket for a mash to feed the cattle, she heard someone’s footsteps enter the barn.

Looking around, Anna saw Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna standing before her. “Now I understand why cows are milked in buckets,” said Nicholas. One of the cows reached out to him with her muzzle, which was covered in flour, the Tsar gently stroked the animal. “Don’t you feel sorry, Anyuta, for using so much flour?” he asked the servant. “Yes, there is a lot of it, but it will be enough for a long time,” she replied briskly. From then on, the Tsar called her Anyuta.

Since there were few servants, Anna also had to work in the kitchen, helping the cook to prepare and serve meals, says Mirzayanov. She later recalled that the guards present in the dining room during lunch, often helped themselves to the food prepared for the Imperial Family.

PHOTO: the house in Kambarka, where Anna lived with her family. Her descendants still live here

THANKED FOR HER WORK AND ORDERED TO LEAVE

“On a hot summer day in early July 1918, a search was conducted in the Ipatiev House,” Razif Mirzayanov continues his story. A band of Chekist thugs examined the personal belongings of the Imperial Family, even roughly leafing through books and rummaging through linens. The captives and their faithful servants stood in silence while they carried out their work. Anna stood frightened in the doorway of the room where the Tsar knelt before a kiot with icons and prayed. He never turned around or stood up while the search was going on. One of the Chekists, while turning out suitcases, cursed and swore filthy obscenities at the Tsar. In one of the suitcases, the Chekist found a long black lace shawl. Turning it in his dirty hands, he angrily threw it to Anna and shouted: “Take it, it will come in handy for you, while you are still young!”

This black lace shawl was kept for a long time in the Kuzmin family: Anna’s daughter-in-law sometimes wore it to church, and many parishioners noted it’s beautiful workmanship, none even suspecting that it had once belonged to one of the female members of the Imperial Family.

After the search, the guards in the house were completely changed – and this detail of Anna’s story is also confirmed by historians. On 4th July 1918, Yakov Yurovsky was appointed commandant of the “House of Special Purpose”, instead of Alexander Dmitrievich Avdeev (1887-1947), the first commandant of the Ipatiev House, who was considered unreliable.

Shortly thereafter, the Tsar approached Anyuta, he thanked her for her work, and told her that his children had fallen in love with her, – says Razif Mirzayanov. He then told her to leave the Ipatiev House and never come back. He ave Anna a souvenir photo on a passe-partout, which depicted the Imperial Family, taken in 1913. With tears in her eyes, Anyuta said goodbye to the Imperial Family and left, concealing the photo and black lace shawl.

A few days later, on the night of 16/17 July, the Bolsheviks woke the Imperial Family in the middle of the night and ordered them to dress and go downstairs. The Emperor and Empress with their five children, along with four retainers: the doctor, the cook, the valet and the maid went to the basement of the house. At the request of Alexandra Fedorovna, two chairs were brought for her and her ailing son, the rest stood along the wall. Then Yurovsky brought in a firing squad, read out the verdict and gave the command to shoot every one – there were no survivors of the regicide.

PHOTO: the Emperor presented Anna with a copy of this famous photograph – taken in 1913 – as a keepsake. The Russian caption “Царь назыбал ее Анютой” translated reads “The Tsar called her Anyuta”.

COOKED “ROYAL DISHES”

There is no evidence to suggest that the Imperial Family could have guessed their captors plans to murder them in such a violent manner that fateful night, however, Anna Vasilyevna was sure that it was thanks to Nicholas II’s request that she leave the Ipatiev House that saved her life.

“After leaving the Ipatiev House, and her conversation with the Emperor, Anna went home. Her husband who had been a German prisoner of war, returned home to Russia, some 11 years after leaving for the front. Soon they had another son, Sergei, who then participated in the Great Patriotic War,” – says Razif Mirzayanov.

Subsequently, Anna Vasilievna often recalled her life in Ekaterinburg, but only her niece Zoya knew the details of her story. She didn’t keep any records, as it it was too dangerous during the Bolshevik and Soviet years. Zoya, however, remembered how Anna Vasilievna came to visit her with unusual dishes – for example, fried pike stuffed with grains and onions. “Such a dish was prepared for the Tsar’s table,” she said. The photograph of the Imperial Family – gifted by the Emperor – Anna carefully kept in a chest, but after her death, the picture was placed on a chest of drawers, and in 1970 it disappeared.

© Paul Gilbert. 9 October 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Gilbert. 7 October 2022

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

251e

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

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

251a

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

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

251b

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

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

251c

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

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

251d

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

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

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

1909

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

© Paul Gilbert. 5 October 2022

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

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

* * *

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

History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Gilbert. 3 October 2022

NOTES:

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

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

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

Nicholas II in the news – Autumn 2022

Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar continues to be the subject of news in Western media. For the benefit of those who do not follow me on my Facebook page, I am pleased to present the following 12 full length articles, news stories and videos published by American and British media services, in addition, are several articles about Nicholas II’s family and faithful retainers.

Below, are the articles published in July, August and September 2022. Click on the title [highlighted in red] and follow the link to read each respective article:

How Moscow lit up on Nicholas II’s coronation day + PHOTOS

“Light with no fire” and a little sun – those were the names Russians first gave with astonishment to electrical lighting appliances. It hadn’t even been a quarter of a century since the appearance of the first light bulb in Russia when electricity sparked interest in the Winter Palace.

Source: Russia Beyond. 22 September 2022

The last Tsar: How Russia commemorates the brutal communist murder of Emperor Nikolai II’s family + PHOTOS

An RT correspondent learned the story of this extra judicial massacre and talked to pilgrims about their attitude to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in Russia today.

Source: Russia Today. 14 August 2022

The newest saints of the Russian Orthodox Church + PHOTOS

After the collapse of the USSR the resurgent Orthodox Church, among its other actions, canonized new saints. By and large, these were individuals who had suffered for their faith at the hands of the Communists – but not exclusively. Among them are Patriarch Tikhon, John of Kronstadt, Nicholas II and his family, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna . . .

Source: Russia Beyond. 29 August 2022

The Russian Empire’s largest ‘EXPO’ + 21 PHOTOS

In 1896, the biggest industrial and art exhibition in the history of Tsarist Russia was held in Nizhny Novgorod, the country’s main trading city. Here is what it was like.

Source: Russia Beyond. 20 August 2022

Betrayed by All and Blessed by God. A Homily for the Feast of the Royal Martyrs

July 17th is a special, extraordinary day for all of us. It is on this day, that we glorify a man who was slandered, debased, subjected to scorn, misunderstood, and betrayed like none other in all of Russian history.

Source: Orthodox Christian. 26 May 2022

‘The Heart of a Saint: Holy Royal Martyr Elizabeth Feodorovna’ by Sophie Law

Letters have always been a mirror to the hearts of the saints, especially when these letters are addressed to people close to them. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna’s correspondence with Tsar Nicholas II are very revealing.

Source: Orthodox Christian. 20 July 2022

‘Those who remained faithful’ by Oksana Garkavenko

July 17th is the feast of the holy Royal Martyrs—the family of the last Russian Emperor St. Nicholas II. While commemorating them, let us remember those who walked the path of the Cross with them and remained faithful in the days when betrayal became the norm.

Source: Orthodox Christianity. 19 July 2022

The Romanovs: The Last Chapter (VIDEO)

The Russian Imperial Romanov family, Nicholas II of Russia, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei, were shot and bayoneted by Bolshevik revolutionaries under Yakov Yurovsky on the orders of the Ural Regional Soviet in Yekaterinburg on the night of 16–17 July 1918.

Source: The Romanov Royal Martyrs Project. 16 July 2022

‘About the Imperial Family’ by Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)

Vladyka Basil (1915-1999) recalls his memories of Fr. Nicholas (Gibbes), tutor to Nicholas II’s children, who later converted to Orthodoxy and was tonsured a monk with the name of Nicholas, in memory of His Majesty the Emperor.

Source: Orthodox Christianity. 16 July 2022

Remembering the Romanov Girls (VIDEO)

This account about the four Romanov girls was written by Lili Dehn, a close friend of the last Empress of Russia, Alexandra Feodorovna. She witnessed many of the most important events, of the sunset years of the Romanov Dynasty. Her words consist an intimate first-hand account, from the perspective of a palace insider, and close friend of Alexandra.

Source: The Romanov Royal Martyrs Project. 15 July 2022

Crown Jewels: The Romanov Children (VIDEO)

The Romanov children were extraordinary in their ordinariness. Despite being born in one of the highest and most enviable positions in the world, and having access to all possible worldly goods, they lived and were brought up like ordinary children. Even more amazingly, despite being surrounded by a court environment made up of the entirely secular and godless aristocracy, the children grew up to be God-fearing and endowed with all manner of Christian virtue.

Source: The Romanov Royal Martyrs Project. 6 July 2022

Archimandrite Nicholas Gibbes: From the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile to the Moscow Patriarchate by Nicolas Mabin

An archive-based study of Charles Sydney Gibbes (1876-1963), a figure well-known as a tutor to Tsesarevich Aleksei Nikolaevich, but quite obscure in his capacity of a ROCOR clergyman.

Source: ROCOR Studies. February 2020

For MORE articles, please refer to the following links:

Nicholas II in the news – Spring 2022
7 articles published in April, May and June 2022

Nicholas II in the news – Winter 2022
6 articles published in January, February and March 2022

Paul Gilbert’s Romanov Bookshop on AMAZON – UPDATED with NEW titles!!

I have published 30 titles to date through AMAZON – featuring one of the largest selections of books on Nicholas II, the Romanov dynasty and the history of Imperial Russia.

Please CLICK on the BANNER or LINK above to review my current selection of titles in hardcover, paperback and ebook editions. Listings provide a full description for each title, pricing and a Look inside feature.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 September 2022

French Savonnerie carpet in the Corner Reception Room of the Alexander Palace

View of Empress Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, in the Alexander Palace
PHOTO © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum have released some beautiful new photos of the Empress Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, situated in the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace.

The room is decorated with a luxurious 100 square meter woolen carpet. The central includes griffins, dolphins, masks, and cartouches. The carpet was made at the French Savonnerie manufactory at the beginning of the 19th century and purchased specifically for the Billiard Room (later the Corner Reception Room) of the Alexander Palace. At that time, the carpet was spread out only during the Highest Presence of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The room was sometimes used for family breakfasts and lunches, at which a “waterproof canvas” was placed over the carpet, in order to protect it from spillage.

The pre-history of the Savonnerie manufactory lay in the concerns of King Henri IV to revive the French luxury arts. When Savonnerie appeared in France in the 17th century, it was considered the most prestigious European manufactory of knotted-pile carpets of its time. It was established in a former soap factory (French savon) on the Quai de Chaillot district of Paris in 1615. Under an eighteen year patent, a monopoly was granted by Louis XIII in 1627 to Pierre DuPont and his former apprentice Simon Lourdet, makers of Turkish-style carpets. Until 1768, the products of the manufactory remained exclusively the property of the Crown. Not only did Savonnerie carpets adorn the rooms of the Louvre and Versailles, they were also among the grandest of French diplomatic gifts.

Detail of the Savonnerie carpet in Empress Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room
PHOTO © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

Detail of the Savonnerie carpet in Empress Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room
PHOTO © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

The formation of the individual style of the manufactory was influenced by classical oriental patterns and ornaments, to which elements of European art of different eras were added: luxurious baroque, exquisite rococo, and sophisticated classicism. Drawings of carpet products produced by Savonnerie manufactory are full of various floral ornaments, compositions of vignettes, bouquets and wreaths, decorated with images of heraldic medallions, and zoomorphic motifs.

Carpets were made mainly of wool with the addition of natural silk, which emphasized the beauty of a complex, detailed pattern. It took several months to create a sketch, from which some two hundred to four hundred colours and shades were used in the production of a single carpet.

By the end of the 18th century, the Savonnerie manufactory was producing not only carpets, but also screen panels and tapestries. The decline of the manufactory began during the years of the French Revolution. In 1825, the company experienced financial difficulties and became part of the Manufactory of Tapestries (later the Manufactory of National Furnishings), which resulted in the loss of its once privileged status at the French Court and the aristocracy.

View of Empress Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, in the Alexander Palace
PHOTO © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

It is nothing short of a miracle, that the luxurious woollen carpet in the Corner Reception Room of the Alexander Palace, survived the ravages of 20th century Russia, which included two revolutions, a civil war, two world wars, and more than seventy years of Soviet dogma. We are indeed fortunate, that it is once again on display, for all to see, in the reconstructed and restored interiors of the private apartments of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, in the eastern wing of the palace.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 September 2022