Death of a Tsar: Romanov Execution - WORLDS APART

WORLDS APART (Illustration) Civil Wars Biographies Famous People Social Studies World History Russian Studies

This Russian image depicts life in the town of Vladimir where day-to-day living was not easy.  People in the town—known as Vladimirec—lived like other people in provincial towns: They traded, married, had their children baptized and rarely rebelled about anything. Although lacking wealth, they were generally quiet, calm and peace-loving people. Life for the Romanovs, however, was very different from the people whom the Tsar ruled.


By all accounts, Nicholas II was a good man with a tragic past. Born into a loving family, his parents were Alexander III and Empress Marie (formerly Princess Dagmar of Denmark). His grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, had been brutally assassinated and his father died young, at age 49.

Members of the Imperial Family belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church. (Follow this link to an awesome example of a Russian church - Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg.) Any outsider (like Princess Dagmar) who married a Romanov had to convert and take a Russian name.

The royal family (like other Russian families) greatly treasured ikons of saints. Rows of ikons (called an ikonostasis ) were venerated by royals and commoners alike. (This link is to a church in the ancient town of Suzdal which is located northeast of Moscow.) The difference was the Imperial Family owned ikons; commoners merely saw them in church.

Nicholas never wanted to be Tsar, but it was his duty. He fell in love with a beautiful princess from Germany, Alix (later changed to Alexandra) of Hess, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. (Follow this link to a photograph of Alexandra and her sisters with their grandmother, Queen Victoria.)

Alexandra's mother, Victoria's daughter Alice, died young. At age 35, her son was suffering from diphtheria. To comfort him, Alice kissed her child, thereby fatally contracting the disease herself.

After her mother's death, Alexandra was primarily raised in Darmstadt (Germany), but she also spent time in England. Later, when Russia was at war with Germany, most Russians forgot Alexandra was half-English. Most folks just knew her as "that hated German."

When Nicholas asked Alexandra to be his wife (follow this link to their engagement picture), his parents were concerned. Alexandra did not have the kind of dynamic personality a Russian Empress needed.

On the other hand, this couple was in love. Members of European royal families usually married each other to protect their power, but Nicholas was different. No one could have predicted Nicholas - whose family had reigned for more than 300 years - would be the last Tsar of all the Russias.

Who could have realized the opposing worlds of Russia - the world of wealth and privilege and the world of poverty and despair - would collide with such colossal force? Who could have anticipated Nicholas and his family would be crushed in the middle?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jan 27, 2016

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"WORLDS APART" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2001. Jul 16, 2018.
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