DEATH: 17 July 1918 (aged 19)
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia better known as Maria Romanov was the third daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. Her murder following the Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in her canonization as a passion bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.
When Maria was born, her father, Tsar Nicholas II, wrote in her diary: "A happy day: the Lord sent us a third daughter - Maria, who was born safely at 12:10! Alix barely slept during the night , and in the morning the pains got worse. Thank God it all ended quickly! My baby felt good all day and fed the baby herself ... the afternoon was wonderful ".
In order to have a succession to the throne, the family needed an heir which made Maria's birth a certain disappointment as the Tsar's sister Xenia Alexandrovna wrote;
"What a joy that everything ended well, and the anxiety of waiting has finally ended! But it was a disappointment that I am not a son. We, of course, are delighted anyway - whether it be a son or a daughter!"
Contemporaries described Maria as a pretty, flirtatious girl, broadly built and with the great strength of her grandfather Alexander III of Russia. She had light brown hair and large blue eyes that were known in the family as "Marie's saucers".
Her French tutor and photographer Pierre Gilliard said Maria was tall and well-built, with rosy cheeks.
Maria had a special admiration for her father and it was common to run away from the playroom to "go to daddy". When he became ill with Typhoid in Crimea in 1901, the little Grand Duchess became disgusted and tried every opportunity to escape the playroom to go to Nicholas II.
Maria and her youngest sister, Anastásia, were known in the family by the "Little Pair" for being the younger sisters, the two shared the room and spent much of their time together. Maria and Anastasia were dressed similarly on special occasions when they wore variations of the same dress.
She was also known as "the angel of the family" for being so nice and kind.
Maria had a talent for drawing and drawing cartoons and always used her left hand, but was generally uninterested in her schoolwork.
Maria was very seductive and had many passions for new Russian soldiers with whom she met in the palace and during family holidays. She loved children and had the dream to marry a Russian soldier and have 20 children.
Maria and her three sisters could be like the mother, potential carriers of the hemophilia gene, however when only the bodies of the whole family were discovered, through DNA it was proved that only the youngest daughter Anastasia carried the gene.Despite this, Maria had a major hemorrhage in December 1914 during an operation to remove the tonsils, according to her aunt, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, who was interviewed later. The doctor who performed the surgery was so nervous that he had to be ordered to continue by Maria's mother, the czarina consort Alexandra Feodorovna. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna believed that all four nieces were bleeding more than normal and that they had the same hemophilia gene as their mother.
During the first world war, Maria and her sister Anastasia for being too young compared to Olga and Tatiana who were older became nurses to help the soldiers, the youngest played chess and billiards with the soldiers and tried to cheer them up. them. Maria and Anastásia also helped in the hospital by teaching soldiers to read and write.
During the war, Maria and Anastásia also visited the nursing school and helped to take care of the children. When they wanted to take a break during the war, Maria, her sisters and mother sometimes visited her father and brother Alexei when they were at headquarters in Mogilev. During these visits, Maria began to be attracted to Nikolai Dmitrievich Demenkov, a headquarters officer. When they returned to Tsarskoye Selo's palace, she often asked her father to send her greetings to Demenkov and even signed the letters she sent to the Tsar as "Mrs. Demenkov".
In the spring of 1917 a Russian revolution broke out in St. Petersburg, at that same time Maria's sisters and Brother Alexei fell ill with measles. The Tsarina remained reluctant to send her children to their safe residence in Gatchina, which was occupied by Danes, even though she was advised to do so. Maria was the last of the five brothers to fall ill, followed by violent pneumonia. Over the days, her health condition became more complicated than expected and artificial help was needed to breathe because her lungs were blocked. During her illness, Maria used to have nightmares where unknown soldiers killed her family. It was due to her serious state of health that the Russian Provisional Government did not insist that, at least the children, quickly leave the country. the family's opportunity to escape the Bolsheviks was fatally compromised.
Maria managed to spend the night and began to recover in the days that followed. It was only when she was almost completely recovered that she received news of her father's abdication. By this time, the Russian Provisional Government was beginning to lose its influence to the Bolsheviks and it was too late for the family to leave the country.
The family ended up in exile, first at their home in the Tsarskoye Selo palace and later in Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg, Siberia. Maria tried to be friendly to the guards at both locations and quickly learned their names and details about their wives and children. Maria commented in Tobolsk that she would be happy if she lived there forever if at least they were allowed to walk around the garden without being accompanied by the guards continuously.
In April 1918, the Czarina and The Czar had to leave Tobolsk and were only allowed to take one daughter, the others would take care of little Alex who suffered from a serious hemophilia crisis, Maria was chosen, only after a month. they all gathered in Ekaterinburg, their fatal destination.
Mary always tried to help her family, always trying to think positively, as this letter she wrote to her brothers shows: "It is difficult to write about something happy, because there are very few happy things here. On the other hand, God will not abandon us. Sun shines, birds sing, and this morning we hear the bells ringing their matins ... "
In the letters she sent to the sisters in this new phase, Maria spoke of her concern about the new restrictions to which the family was subjected. She and her parents were searched by the guards at Casa Ipatiev and warned that further inspections would emerge while they were there. A fence was also built that limited the view to the street. "How complicated everything is now, he wrote on May 2, 1918. We lived so peacefully for 8 months and now it started all over again."
In Ekaterinburg an old sentry recalled that Maria was often taken away by her mother with "stern and angry murmurs", apparently because she was too friendly with the guards. In Tobolsk we always had something to do. I already know! Try to guess the name of this dog! The teenagers passed the sentries, whispering and laughing in a way they considered "seductive".
When one day one of the guards told the Tsar's daughters an obscene anecdote, leaving Tatiana very upset, Maria looked him in the eye and said, "Why don't you feel disgusted with yourself when you use these shameful words? Don't you think they can offend a woman well born with them and set her against you? Have more respect and then we can all get along ".
Ivan Skorokhodov, another housekeeper, managed to bring a birthday cake to celebrate Maria's 19th birthday on June 26, 1918. Maria left the group with him for a private moment and they were discovered by two of her superiors who decided to make a surprise inspection to the family. Skorokhodov was removed from his position shortly afterwards and for maintaining a friendship with a prisoner. In their memoirs, several guards said that both the Tsarina and her sister Olga looked angry at Maria in the days after the incident.
On the night of 16 July 1918, the whole family was executed in the basement of Casa Ipatiev, however what really happened to Maria and her sister Anastásia remained one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century that was only very recently unveiled. Only in 2007 were the remaining bodies of the Romanov family discovered, after 8 months of intensive examinations complicated by several times due to the advanced state of deterioration of the remains, on April 30, 2008, it was announced during a press conference that the bodies they belonged to Alexei and Maria, thus ending one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.
In 2000, Maria and her family were canonized as Bearers of the Passion for the Russian Orthodox Church. The family was previously canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church abroad as Neomártires. The bodies of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and three daughters were finally buried in the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg on July 17, 1998, eighty years after her murder.