Czar & Czarina
Nicholas Romanov was born at Tsarkoe Selo on May 19, 1868. His parents were Marie Feodorovna, a Danish princess and Tsar Alexander III. He was the first born child of 6 children and lived a simple life sleeping on an army cot and taking cold baths.
His father wanted him to be tough but his personality was the exact opposite. He was a gentle person which showed particularly in his eyes. Sydney Gibbes, who later became tutor to the Romanov children said of Nicholas, "He had a 'presence' that was second to none, so full of quiet and assured self-possession and dignity...I think the reason for this was his eyes...Of the most delicate shade of blue, they looked you straight in the face with the kindest, tenderest, the most loving expression..."
Nicholas wasn't trained in being a tsar or the duties that came with it so when his father died in 1894, he was unprepared for his new role. At the time of his father's death, he was engaged to Alix of Hesse, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. They were married on November 26, 1894.
Between 1895 and 1901, Nicholas and Alexandra had 4 daughters, Olga(1895), Tatiana(1897), Maria(1899), and Anastasia(1901). They had longed for a son to inherit the Russian throne and at the birth of each of the girls, they began to worry if they would have the son they wanted. On August 12, 1904, the heir to the throne was born. He was named Alexei.
Nicholas and his family kept a secret from the Russian people that began to signal their unpopularity. The secret was that Alexei had hemophilia and they didn't want the people to know because they felt that it cause the public to lose faith in the Imperial regime. Introducing Rasputin to the court to heal the Tsarevich was a mistake because it fueled the dislike that the Russians had for Nicholas and his family.
In August 1914, Russia declared war on Germany and Austria. The popularity of Nicholas grew when the war started but as it went on, his popularity began to drop because of the heavy casulties. Nicholas decided to go to the front to boost the soldiers' morale. At home, the country was moving towards a revolution. On March 15, 1917, Nicholas was forced to abdicate his throne and he was then taken home to be put under house arrest with the rest of his family.
He and his family were moved from their home to Siberia and Ekaterineburg, where they were put in the Ipatiev House. On July 16, 1918, Nicholas and his family were led down to the cellar and shot to death. He was 50 years old at the time of his death.
Alexandra (Alix) was born on June 6, 1872 in Darmstadt, Germany. Her parents were Louis IV, grand duke of Hesse-Darmstadt and Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. She had reddish-blonde hair and blue eyes and as a child, she had the nickname "Sunny" because of her sunny disposition but she become more somber after her mother died of diphtheria in 1878.
She first met her future husband at her sister's wedding in 1884 when she was twelve. They spent a lot of time together exchanging flowers and talking. It would be another 5 years before they would meet again. When Alexandra was seventeen, she went to St. Petersburg to visit her sister Ella and brother-in-law, Serge. Nicholas and Alexandra saw each other often and by the time she had to go back home, they had fallen in love with each other. Nicholas proposed to Alexandra at the wedding of her brother, Ernie. She refused at first but she finally accepted.
Nicholas and Alexandra were married on November 26, 1894. While they were preparing for the wedding, they were also in mourning for Nicholas' father, Tsar Alexander. Alexandra wrote of her wedding, " Our marriage seemed to me a mere continuation of the masses for the dead, with this difference, that now I wore a white dress instead of black." After their wedding, they decided to make the Alexander Palace their home.
In 1895, Alexandra became pregnant with her first child. On November 16, 1895, she gave birth to a girl, whom they named Olga. She later gave birth to 3 more daughters, Tatiana (1897), Maria (1899), and Anastasia (1901).
Even though she loved her daughters very much, she wanted to give birth to a son to inherit the Russian throne. On August 12, 1904, the heir to the throne was born. He was named Alexei and he seemed very healthy and happy. The family later found out that Alexei had hemophilia, a blood disorder that causes the blood to not clot. An attack can cause intense pain and can lead to death because of internal bleeding. The disease was transmitted through the mother and Alexandra was heartbroken at the news.
She became very religious and prayed constantly for a miracle to heal Alexei. She sought out healers and mystics to see if they could provide a cure for her son but their attempts failed. When a Siberian monk named Rasputin managed to heal Alexei of his hemophilic attacks, Alexandra thought she had found her savior. The presence of the monk in the family's inner circle made Alexandra unpopular with the Russian people because they believed that she was involved in improper activity with Rasputin, which were all untrue.
When World War I broke out, Alexandra became even more unpopular because she was born German and the Russian people thought she was spying for Germany. Towards the end of the war in 1917, Russia was in the middle of a revolution and Alexandra and her family were imprisoned in their home. In July 1918, she and her family were shot to death by their Bolshevik guards. She was 46 years old at the time of her death.