Nicholas and Alexandra - WORLDS APART

WORLDS APART (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Film Geography History Social Studies Famous People World History Biographies

During World War I, while Russia's imperial family lived in splendor, peasants across the country were starving. Such individuals did not fare much better during the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution. This image depicts Russian peasants huddling close to a food shop. Image from the historical archives of LIFE Magazine. 


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 42.

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 (icons) 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 grandma, 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?

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Jan 10, 2015

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"WORLDS APART" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2003. Dec 15, 2019.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips