Tsarista Alexandra Fedorovna was born Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice, Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt on 6 June 1872.
She was the favorite granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. She first met the handsome young Tsarevitch Nicholas when she was 11 during the wedding festivities of her sister, Ella, to Nicholas' uncle, Sergei. They met again when she was 17 and he was 21, an age when people are naturally thinking about love. Tsar Alexander III and his wife Empress Marie Fedorovna were against the match with the shy and unpopular girl even though she was their God Daughter.
Undaunted, Nicholas pursued Alix at the wedding of her brother Ernest and her cousin Victoria Melita in Coburg Germany in April 1894. Both were unquestionably in love with each other, however Alix felt strongly about not changing her religion from Lutheran to Russian Orthodoxy (a Russian law states that the Emperor must marry of equal rank and she must be Russian Orthodox at the time of the marriage).
She had been refusing him for many years, and tearfully so. Everyone at the wedding was aware of Nicholas' desire for Alix to be his bride and did much to encourage Alix to consent. Ella, Alix's older sister, having already converted and moved to Russia, was a strong voice for Nicholas as was cousin Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. He favored a match between Germany and Russia for a strong alliance between the two countries.
The day after the wedding and 3 days after Nicholas' 2 hour plea, Alix joyfully agreed when he asked again! Perhaps it was the romance of the wedding festivities, or the fear of her true love returning to Russia never to ask again, that the years of Alix's refusal to consider conversion to Orthodoxy melted away overnight. After she accepted the proposal the European branch of the family, who had been anxiously awaiting this engagement, rejoiced. Even Queen Victoria, who origianally favored Alix for the Prince of Wales in England, sent Her dragoon guards to play under Nicholas' window the next morning in honor of the engagement.
Although very much in love, Alix wanted to learn the Russian language before the wedding so that she could understand the ceremony. They parted reluctantly, however, happily, she to go to England with her grandmother and he to Russia. They reunited again in June in England. Nicholas brought with him Yanyshev, an orthodox priest to instruct Alix in her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy. Nicholas stayed in England for more than a month. He again, reluctantly returned to Russia. They would not see each other again until October of 1894. However, things turned bleak as Tsar Alexander III's illness worsened and exactly 10 days after Alix's arrival in Russia, Tsar Alexander III died. Less than 3 weeks later and after hundreds of love letters exchanged, Nicholas II and the now Alexandra Fedorovna were married on 15 November 1894(OS).
Alexandra remembered the wedding to be a continuation of the funeral ceremonies, except she wore white that day. Their love carried them through many difficulties, especially the birth of 4 daughters who were ineligible to inherit the throne. The lack of a male heir to the throne may have been the stressor Alexandra faced in 1902 when she experienced a phantom pregnancy the doctors attributed to anemia. (Paul I detested his mother, Catherine the Great so much he eliminated females from the line of succession to the throne back in the late 1700's early 1800's.) After 4 beautiful daugthers, Alexandra bore a son on 30 July 1904(OS). Through his paternal grandfather Alexander III, Nicholas II made Alexei heir to one of the most vast and powerful empires in the world. Through his maternal great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, Alexandra made Alexei a hemopheliac. Joy in the palace was shattered when a week after the boy's birth, he bled profusely from the naval. Alexandra was devastated. She had lost her brother as a toddler to hemophelia when she was young, her younger sister, May, and mother from diphtheria shortly thereafter when she was 6. Her father did not live to see her engagement and now she feared she could most likely lose her long-awaited and cherished son.
Criticized by the Russian Court for so long in not producing a male heir, she was now to ''blame'' for making him an ''invalid.'' The illness was kept a state secret.
Many doctors were summoned to find a cure, but as today, nearly 100 years later, there is none.
Alexandra was a passionate woman as evidenced by her published diary. She used flowery descriptions of emotions, people, and even the weather. This passion turned to obsession when it came to Alexei. When doctors could not help, she turned to a mystical starets named Rasputin, who had a reputation for being a healer. Rasputin, with his hypnotic eyes, would pray at the foot of the boy's bed. Miraculously, Alexei appeared healed, much to the disbelief of doctors. Thus, Alexandra felt that Rasputin was key to the health of her beloved son and subsequently to the future of the Romanov dynasty and Russia herself. Because Alexei's condition was a state secret, the people of Russia did not understand why a filthy, over-sexed, verbally abusive alcoholic (who would defame the name of the Empress herself in public) was permitted to be so close to the Tsar and Tsarista. This increased the hatred of the misunderstood woman, who was accused of betraying Russia and the Tsar.
Nicholas |Olga | Tatiana | Marie | Anastasia | Alexei
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