Nicholas II was not the luckiest person in the world; nor did he ever seem to be blessed with enormous reserves of common sense. One of my professors at the University of Virginia always said that Nicholas reminded him of the cartoon character who always had a black cloud hovering over his head.
1. An unlucky
2. Bad wedding
Because the wedding took place so close to the funeral, Alexandra was called the "funeral bride."
3. Coronation ceremony bad omens
3. Khodynka Field
From the Memoirs of Maurice Paleologue, the French ambassador to Russia, (www.alexanderpalace.org/mpmemoirs/3_2.html, entry for Thursday, September 21, 1916.)
"The first occasion was during the celebrations attending his coronation at Moscow on May 18, 1896. A public fête had been arranged in Khodinsky meadow, near Petrovsky park. But the police arrangements were so bad that the crowd began to heave violently. Suddenly there seemed to be a panic and a general stampede ensued; there were four thousand victims, of which two thousand died. When Nicholas II heard of the catastrophe he did not display the slightest sign of emotion and did not even cancel a ball for that evening.
Nine years later, on May 14, 1905, Admiral Rojdestvensky's fleet was utterly destroyed; with it disappeared Russia's whole future in the Far East. The Emperor was just about to play a game of tennis when the telegram announcing the disaster was handed to him. He simply said: "What a horrible catastrophe!" and without another word, asked for his racket.
"If only his diary would
always contain such joyous entries . . . but on the evening of
May 18, a horrifying diary entry would pierce the pages: 'Till
this day, thank God, everything has been going quite smoothly,
but today a grave sin has befallen. The crowd who spent the
night in the Khodynskoye Pole (meadow) pending the giving out of
a dinner and a mug, pressed upon the wooden constructions, and
there was a terrible jam, and it's dreadful to add, about 1300
people were trampled down!"
4. Who was who?
5. Got to have a son
There were enormous pressures put on Alexandra to give birth to a son, especially after she gave birth to girl after girl after girl after girl. (See Robert Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra.)
Once Aleksei was born, "weeks after Alexis' birth, he began to bleed from the navel; it lasted two days and although the doctor applied all kinds of bendages (sic) and cures, the bleeding didn't stop. When the Tsarevitch began to walk and he tumbled, big swellings were formed under his skin and he cried out in terrible pain. Alexandra was shocked; it was evident that Alexis had haemophilia, the terrible blood disease transmitted by her family." (Source: www.geocities.com/jesusib/NicholasII.html)
This of course opened the door for Rasputin.
"Relating indirectly to Alexei's illness came a person who had great influence over the Tsar and Tsarina. Twice when Alexei was suffering a great deal as a result of his hemophilia and appeared to be on his deathbed, a man named Gregory Rasputin intervened to "save" him. Rasputin was an illiterate Siberian peasant supposed to have strange religious powers. Though it was never clear if it was indeed his prayers that saved Alexei and later the Empress's good friend Anna, Alexandra believed fully in his powers and adopted him as her friend, confidant and advisor. (Mazour 134, Massie 334)" (it.stlawu.edu/%7Erkreuzer/pstahl/nalove2.htm)
Unfortunately, the decision was made to keep Aleksei's illness secret; this led to all kinds of ugly rumors being circulated; it also did not generate any public sympathy or support.
This is one of the classic photos of the tsar with his family.
6. Not a good way to die
For details about their slaughter--no other real way to describe it--in 1918 at the hands of the Bolsheviks, see
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