Russia,Rasputin,Revolution-The Romanovs!. These words hang in our conscience. We are mesmerized by both the life and brutal death of Russia's last imperial family. They weren't exactly Russian. Nicholas himself was the son of a Danish Princess, a not very wealthy Danish Princess, who nontheless had made a good marriage with the man who became Tsar Alexander III. Princess Dagmar or Empress Marie as she later became, was the Daughter of Christian IX of Denmark. Christian became known as the grandfather of Europe,no small feat and Dagmar was not the only daughter who married well. Her older sister,Alexandra, Alix to her family married Queen Victoria's eldest son, The Prince of Wales and Future King, Edward VII.
Alexandra was born Victoria Alix Helena Louise Beatrice.Princess of Hesse.Her father was Ludwig IV of Hesse, but her mother was Princess Alice of England,Queen Victoria's third child.Thus both Nicholas II and his wife were the first cousins of George V of England. Victoria was considered the 'Grandmother' of Europe. She reigned long and well. She gave her granddaughter 'Alicky' rank and prestige. She gave her something else to, the curse of Hemophilia.
Hemophilia is a disease where the blood fails to clot normally. It is probably as old as mankind. In Ancient Egypt,a woman was forbidden to bear further children if her first born son bled to death.Queen Victoria's youngest son Leopold was afflicted with the dread disease. Although he survived to adulthood,married and fathered children,he died at the relative young age of 31 from the effects of a minor fall. His sisters Alice and Beatrice were carriers. Through marriage the defective gene was transported into the royal houses of Germany,Russia, and Spain.
Nicholas and Alexandra,or Alix,as she was known to her family had both known their share of tragedy. Alix's brother Frederick 'Frittie' died at age three after a fall. She was only six when her younger sister Maria 'May' and her mother, died from diptheria. She was twelve when her Uncle Leopold died. It was also at about age twelve when she first met Nicholas.
Nicholas had a brother,Alexander who died as an infant of meningitis and another brother George who died as a young adult from Tuberculosis. In 1894, the year he married Alix,Nicholas was thrust unto the stage of history,when his father Tsar Alexander III died suddenly.Nicholas was unprepared for the responsibility.even though he was one of the best educated monarchs of his time.
In the ten years following their marriage, four healthy daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were born to the couple. Long last in 1904 the hoped for heir was born. Nicholas and Alexandra were overjoyed but their happiness was short lived. Their son Alexei had inherited hemophilia.
Less than fourteen years after the birth of Alexis, after many years of seeking a cure,after the doomed faith in The Mad Monk Rasputin, Nicholas would abdicate, his family would be arrested and eventually murdered. His youngest daughter,Anastasia,would become more famous than the Tsar himself, more famous than those who loved her,certainly more famous than those who killed her. Who can recall their names off hand? She would survive in movies,in books, in rumor and in the outlandish claims of imposters. Recently it was reported that the last of The Romanov's, Little Alexei and his sister. either Anastasia or Maria had been discovered. Regardless the theories will persist. Anastasia,(whose name in Greek, translates to 'She who will rise again')and through her all the Imperial family, will live forever. Our great grand children and their great grandchildren will probably be as intrigued as we are.