DEATH: 17 July 1918 (aged 46)
Alexandra Feodorovna was born on June 6, 1872 at the New Palace in Darmestádio, then part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, vassal of the German Empire. The Duchy of Hesse was a relatively small territory, with permanent economic difficulties and without any political influence on the European stage.
Alice was the sixth child among the seven children of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and the Rhine, and of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, second daughter of Queen Victoria and her husband Alberto. Alice was the sixth child in the family. She had three sisters, princesses Victoria, Isabel and Irene, and two older brothers, princes Ernesto Luís, Grand Duke of Hesse and Frederico de Hesse and Reno. Almost two years after her birth, the couple's last daughter, Princess Maria de Hesse and Reno, was born.
In November 1878, Hesse-Darmestádio was hit by a wave of diphtheria. Alice herself, her sisters Victoria, Irene and May and Brother Ernie were affected. While her sisters and brother recovered, little 4-year-old May could not resist, eventually dying just before the end of the month. Meanwhile, her mother, now under the title of Grand Duchess of Hesse, was also affected after taking care of her son Ernie when he became ill. When little Alice was just six years old, her mother died on December 14, 1878.
Princess Alice became very close to her maternal grandmother, spending much of her childhood in the United Kingdom between the properties of Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Casa Osborne and the Isle of Wright. When she was younger, she had the nickname Sunny, but after the death of her mother and younger sister, she became more bitter and lonely. In 1892, when she was 20 years old, her father died and her brother, Ernesto Luís, succeeded him as Grand Duke of Hesse and the Rhine.
Nicholas and Alice had met in 1884, when their sister married the Tsarevitch's uncle and when she returned to Russia in 1889, they fell in love.
"My dream is one day to marry Alice. I have loved her for a long time, but with more feeling and strength since 1889 when she spent six weeks in St. Petersburg. For a long time I resisted, but I know that my dreams will come true", Nicolau wrote in his diary. Alice shared the same feelings.
Nicolau and Alice became engaged in April 1894. Alexander III died on November 1, 1894, which meant that Nicholas became "Czar of all Russia" at the age of 26. Alice changed her name to Alexandra when she converted to the Russian Orthodox Church. The wedding took place in the chapel of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg on November 26, 1894. It was a Victorian wedding, serene and proper on the outside, but based on an intense and passionate physical love. Alexandra's older sister, Ella, also became her aunt by marriage.
Alexandra Feodorovna became Empress of Russia on her wedding day, however the official coronation took place only on May 14, 1896 inside the Moscow Kremlin. The following day, the tragedy hit the coronation celebrations when the deaths of several thousand people became known. The victims died at Khodynka Camp in Moscow when they thought there would be no commemorative coronation gifts for everyone. When the police arrived, the field looked like a battlefield. That afternoon the city's hospitals were overcrowded with wounded and everyone knew what had happened. Nicolau and Alexandra were shocked and the new tsar declared that he could not go to the ball organized by the French ambassador, Marquis da Montebello that night. However, his uncles begged him to do so, otherwise he would offend the French. Tragically, as he would often do throughout his reign, Nicholas nodded and went to the ball with his wife.
It was a painful night. The empress appeared in great distress, her eyes red with tears, the British ambassador wrote to Queen Victoria. Many more superstitious Russians saw the disaster in the Khodynka camp as an omen that the reign would be unhappy. Others, more sophisticated or more vindictive, used the tragedy to expose the autocracy's lack of humanism and the complete superficiality of the young tsar and his "German woman".
Alexandra made few attempts to form bonds of friendship with the other members of the large Romanov family and, as a general rule, attended as few court occasions as possible. The empress was compared negatively to the tsar's mother, Maria Feodorovna.
In Russia, Maria Feodorovna, overshadowed her daughter-in-law, contrary to what happened in most European courts. Alexandra's stubborn attitude did not allow her to learn anything from her experienced mother-in-law, who could have helped her a lot. Maria Feodorovna had lived in Russia for 17 years before coming to the throne, while Alexandra had spent just over a month in the country before getting married.
Alexandra's inability to generate an heir to the Russian throne in her first four attempts was a source of great disappointment. Alexandra was fervently protective of her husband's role as a tsar and actively supported her right to govern in an autocratic way. She defended her divine right and believed it was unnecessary to think about other people's approval.
The tsarina, like her husband, was very dedicated to her family. Since her childhood she had been very shy, a trait that she shared with her grandmother Vitória. She hated public appearances and avoided them, appearing only when absolutely necessary. Alexandra preferred to retire behind the action, offering the way to her mother-in-law. This shyness and desire to be alone, had a great impact on her five children and the empire. She never strove to be loved by the Russian people. Almost a year after their marriage, Alexandra gave birth to the couple's first daughter, a girl named Olga Nikolaevna who was born on November 15, 1895.
Olga could not rise to the throne due to the São Paulo laws implemented by Tsar Paulo I. Olga it was a cause for joy for their own parents who even claimed that they preferred to have a girl because, if they had had a boy, he would have belonged to the Russian people and thus had their daughter to themselves.
Sometimes, Alexandra had difficulties with her eldest daughter, perhaps due to the fact that she is closer to her father. Olga was shy and submissive and impressed people with her kindness, innocence and the strength of her private feelings. When she got older, Olga read a lot, both fiction and poetry, often taking her mother's books before she read them. You have to wait and see if this book is right for you, Mom.
Alexandra was much closer to her second daughter, Tatiana. Both in public and in private, Tatiana surrounded her mother's attention. If a favor was needed, all the imperial children agreed that Tatiana must ask for it. During the last months of the family, Tatiana helped her mother move from place to place, walked her around the house in her wheelchair and tried to cheer her up.
Anastasia, the youngest and most famous daughter, was known as "shvibzik" (little devil). She climbed trees and refused to go down unless she was specially sent by her father. Her aunt and godmother, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, later recalled an occasion when Anastasia was speaking in such a rude manner that she had to snap.
When they were children, Alexandra dressed her daughters in pairs, the two oldest and the two youngest wore similar dresses. When Olga and Tatiana grew up, they began to play a greater role in public appearances. Although, in private, they call their parents "Mummy" and "Daddy", in public, their children called them "Emperor" and "Empress." Nicolau and Alexandra understood that their eldest daughters should make their presentations to society in 1914 when Olga was 19 and Tatiana was 17, but the outbreak of the First World War spoiled the plans. In 1917, the four sisters had flourished and turned into young women whose talents and personalities, as fate has decreed, would never be fully revealed.
Alexandra adored her daughters, however, the czarina focused all her attention on the only boy in the family, Alexei.
At first, the baby looked healthy and normal, but with just a few weeks, it became evident that when he fell or hit anything, his stains did not heal and his blood took a long time to stop. It was soon discovered that Alexei suffered from hemophilia, which could only have been transmitted by the maternal family.
Being an incurable disease and a constant threat to life, suffered only by male heirs, the decision was made to keep Alexei's state of health hidden from the Russian people. As a carrier of the hemophilia gene, Alexandra did not suffer from the disease, but it is likely that she had a lower clot than normal. Her carrier status, added to her concern for her son's health, may have been one of the reasons for her supposedly poor health.
Alexandra was totally devoted to her son. The children's tutor, Pierre Gilliard, wrote, Alexei was the center of this close-knit family, the center of all hopes and affections. His sisters worshiped him. He was the parents' pride and joy. When he was well, the palace was transformed. Having to live with the knowledge that she had passed on her blood disease, Alexandra was obsessed with the idea of protecting her son and always kept an eye on him all the time, consulting a large number of doctors until she turned to mysticism with Rasputine , a Siberian monk who, according to some reports, managed to cure the tsarevich during his crises.
When Alexei's serious state of health was finally announced to the public in 1912, Alexandra became an even more hated figure among her people. Her German origin would cause her popularity to decline further during the First World War.
The First World War was a burden that the Russian Empire was unable to bear both economically and politically. The lack of essential goods and waves of hunger have become commonplace everyday situations experienced by millions of Russians. 15 million men were diverted from agriculture to fight in the war, and the railways were almost all reserved for use by the war, thus preventing the transport of the few resources from the countryside to large cities. Inflation was on the rise and, combined with the lack of food and little effectiveness of the Russian military in the war, generated a climate of great tension among the population of St. Petersburg and other cities.
The Tsar's decision to personally command troops against the advice of his ministers turned out to be disastrous, since he was directly to blame for the defeats. The fact that he was away from the government and left it in the hands of his wife, helped to destroy the prestige of the dynasty. The severe winter of 1916-17, basically, was the final blow to the Russian Empire with great waves of hunger originated by the lack of food in the warehouses. Bad governance and defeats in the war ended up turning soldiers against the tsar.
The First World War was a burden that the Russian Empire was unable to bear both economically and politically. The lack of essential goods and waves of hunger have become commonplace everyday situations experienced by millions of Russians. 15 million men were diverted from agriculture to fight in the war, and the railways were almost all reserved for use by the war, thus preventing the transport of the few resources from the countryside to large cities. Inflation was on the rise and, combined with the lack of food and little effectiveness of the Russian military in the war, generated a climate of great tension among the population of St. Petersburg and other cities. The Tsar's decision to personally command troops against the advice of his ministers turned out to be disastrous, since he was directly to blame for the defeats. The fact that he was away from the government and left it in the hands of his wife, helped to destroy the prestige of the dynasty. The severe winter of 1916-17, basically, was the final blow to the Russian Empire with great waves of hunger originated by the lack of food in the warehouses. Bad governance and defeats in the war ended up turning soldiers against the Tsar.
The provisional government, formed after the revolution, kept Nicholas, Alexandra and their children confined to their residence at Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, until they were moved to Tobolsk on August 1, 1917, a decision taken by the Alexander Kerensky government with the aim of keeping the family away from the capital and from danger. From Tobolsk, Alexandra managed to send a letter to her sister-in-law Xenia Alexandrovna who was in Crimea,
"My dear Xenia, My thoughts are with you, I imagine that, with you, everything is magical, good and beautiful - you are the flowers. But it is indescribable how painful everything is here, I cannot explain it. I am happy for you that you are reunited with your family from whom you were separated. I would like to see Olga (the Tsar's sister married during the family's exile) in her new happiness. Everyone is healthy, but I have had unbearable pain in my face for the past 6 weeks because of my jaw. Very stormy ... We live quietly. We are well settled even though Tobolsk is very, very far from everyone, but God is merciful. He gives me strength and comfort ... ".
Alexandra and her family remained in Tobolsk until after the October Revolution, but were eventually moved by the Bolsheviks to the city of Yekaterinburg in April 1918. Alexandra and Nicolau ended up making the trip first with their daughter Maria and arrived to Casa Ipatiev on April 30, 1918.
For the Romanovs, life at Casa Ipatiev was a nightmare of uncertainty and fear. The imperial family never knew whether they would continue there the next day, whether they would be separated or even killed. The privileges they were allowed were few. For an hour in the afternoon, they could exercise in the dead garden always under the close watch of the guards. Alexei was still unable to walk after another hemophilia attack, so it was his sailor Nagorny who was carrying him. Alexandra rarely joined the family in these activities. Instead, she spent most of her time in the wheelchair reading the Bible or the books of St. Seraphim. At night, the Romanovs played cards or read.
Tuesday, July 16, 1918, dawned hot and dusty. The day passed normally for the family. At four in the afternoon, Nicholas and his daughters took their usual walk in the garden. In the late afternoon, Yurovsky dismissed 15-year-old kitchen assistant Leonid Sedinev, saying that an uncle wanted to see him. At 7 am, Yurovsky summoned all the men from Czech to his room and ordered them to collect all the revolvers from the guards outside. With 12 weapons lying on the table, he said, "Tonight we are going to kill the whole family. All of them".
The Tsar and Tsarina and his whole family, including Alexei, seriously ill, as well as some loyal servants, were executed by the Bolsheviks in the basement of Casa Ipatiev in the early hours of July 17, 1918.