House of Romanov
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|Country||Tsardom of Russia
Kingdom of Poland
Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Oldenburg
Duchy of Holstein
|Founding||1613 — Michael I|
1917 — Nicholas II abdicated as a result of the February Revolution in favour of Grand Prince Michael Alexandrovich, who refused to accept the throne until it could be approved by the Russian Constituent Assembly
The House of Romanov (Russian: Рома́нов, IPA: [rɐˈmanəf], ro-MAHN-off) was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the 1917 overthrow of the monarchy during the February Revolution. The later history of the Imperial House is sometimes referred to informally as the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.
The Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, who was himself a member of a cadet branch of the Oldenburgs, married into the Romanov family early in the 18th century; all Romanov Tsars from the middle of that century to the revolution of 1917 were descended from that marriage. Though officially known as the House of Romanov, these descendants of the Romanov and Oldenburg Houses are sometimes referred to as Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.
The Romanovs share their origin with two dozen other Russian noble families. Their earliest common ancestor is one Andrei Kobyla. Attested as a boyar in the service of Semyon I of Moscow. Later generations assigned to Kobyla the most illustrious pedigrees. An 18th-century genealogy book claimed that he was the son of the Prussian prince Glanda Kambila, who came to Russia in the second half of the 13th century, fleeing the invading Germans. Indeed, one of the leaders of the Old Prussian rebellion of 1260-1274 against the Teutonic order was named Glande.
His actual origin may have been less spectacular. Not only is Kobyla Russian for "mare", some of his relatives also had as nicknames the terms for horses and other domestic animals, thus suggesting descent from one of the royal equerries. One of Kobyla's sons, Feodor, a boyar in the boyar duma of Dmitri Donskoi, was nicknamed Koshka (cat). His descendants took the surname Koshkin, then changed it to Zakharin, which family later split into two branches: Zakharin-Yakovlev and Zakharin-Yuriev. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the former family became known as Yakovlev (Alexander Herzen among them), whereas grandchildren of Roman Zakharin-Yuriev changed their name to Romanov.
Rise to power 
The family fortunes soared when Roman's daughter, Anastasia Zakharyina, married Ivan IV in February 1547. When her husband assumed the title of tsar, which literally means Caesar, she was crowned the very first Tsarina. Their marriage was an exceedingly happy one, but her untimely and mysterious death in 1560 changed Ivan's character for the worse. Suspecting the boyars of having poisoned his beloved, the tsar started a reign of terror against them. Among his children by Anastasia, the elder (Ivan) was murdered by the tsar in a quarrel; the younger Feodor, a pious and lethargic prince, inherited the throne upon his father's death.
Throughout Feodor's reign, the Russian government was contested between his brother-in-law, Boris Godunov, and his Romanov cousins. Upon the death of childless Feodor, the 700-year-old line of Moscow Ruriks came to an end. After a long struggle, the party of Boris Godunov prevailed over the Romanovs, and the former was elected new Tsar in 1599. Godunov's revenge on the Romanovs was terrible: all the family and its relatives were deported to remote corners of the Russian North and Ural, where most of them died of hunger or in chains. The family's leader, Feodor Nikitich Romanov, was exiled to the Antoniev Siysky Monastery and forced to take monastic vows with the name Filaret.
The Romanovs' fortunes again changed dramatically with the fall of the Godunov dynasty in June 1605. As a former leader of the anti-Godunov party and cousin of the last legitimate Tsar, Filaret Romanov was valued by several impostors who attempted to claim the Rurik legacy and throne during the Time of Troubles. False Dmitriy I made him a metropolitan, and False Dmitriy II raised him to the dignity of patriarch. Upon expulsion of Poles from Moscow in 1612, the Assembly of the Land offered the Russian crown to several Rurik and Gedimin princes, but all of them declined the honour of it.
On being offered the Russian crown, Filaret's 16-year-old son Mikhail Romanov, then living at the Ipatiev Monastery of Kostroma, burst into tears of fear and despair. He was finally persuaded to accept the throne by his mother Kseniya Ivanovna Shestova, who blessed him with the holy image of Our Lady of St. Theodore. It is little known that he was spirited to Moscow on the donation from the Stroganov family of Perm. Feeling how insecure his throne was, Mikhail attempted to emphasize his ties with the last Rurik tsars and sought advice from the Assembly of the Land on every important issue. This strategy proved successful. The early Romanovs were generally loved by the population as in-laws of Ivan the Terrible and innocent martyrs of Godunov's wrath.
The era of dynastic crisis 
Mikhail was succeeded by his only son Alexei, who steered the country quietly through numerous troubles. Upon his death, there was a period of dynastic struggles between his children by his first wife Maria Ilyinichna Miloslavskaya (Feodor III, Sofia Alexeevna, Ivan V) and his son by his second wife Nataliya Kyrillovna Naryshkina, the future Peter the Great. New dynastic struggles followed the death of Peter. His only son to survive into adulthood Alexei, who did not support Peter's modernization of Russia, had previously been arrested and died in prison shortly thereafter. Near the end of his life, Peter managed to alter the succession tradition of male heirs to allow him to name his own heir. Power then passed into the hands of his second wife, the Empress Catherine. Within five years, the Romanov male line ended with the death of Peter II.
The Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov Dynasty 
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The Holstein-Gottorps of Russia retained the Romanov surname and sought to emphasize their matrilineal descent from Peter the Great, through Anna Petrovna (Peter I's elder daughter by his second wife). Paul I was particularly proud to be great-grandson of the illustrious Russian monarch, although his German-born mother, Catherine II (of the House of Anhalt-Zerbst), insinuated in her memoirs that Paul's natural father had been her lover Serge Saltykov. Painfully aware of the hazards resulting from battles of succession, Paul established the house law of the Romanovs—one of the strictest in Europe—basing the succession to agnatic primogeniture and requiring Orthodox faith from the monarch, the dynasts, the consort of the emperor and from those of first heirs in line. Later, Alexander I, facing prospect of a morganatic alliance of his brother and heir, added the requirement that consorts of Russian dynasts had to be of equal birth (i.e., born to a royal or sovereign house).
Paul I was murdered in his palace in Saint Petersburg. Alexander I succeeded him on the throne and later died without leaving a male heir. His brother, crowned Nicholas I, succeeded him on the throne. Nicholas I fathered four sons and provided them with excellent education for the prospect of ruling Russia and successfully leading in military conflicts.
Alexander II, son of Nicholas I, became the next Russian emperor. Alexander was an educated, intelligent man, who held that his task was to keep peace in Europe and Russia. However, he believed only a country with a strong army could keep the peace. By paying attention to the army, giving much freedom to Finland, and freeing the serfs in 1861, he gained much popular support (Finns still dearly remember him). His family life was not so happy; his beloved wife Maria Alexandrovna had serious problems with her lungs, which led to her death and to the dissolution of the close-knit family due to his quick morganatic marriage to his longtime mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgoruki. His legitimization of his children by Catherine, and rumors that he was about to crown his new wife Empress, ending the morganatic status of his second marriage, caused great tension with the entire extended Romanov family. In particular, the Grand Duchesses were scandalized at the thought of being made permanently subordinate to Catherine Dolgoruki, since as an Empress she would have precedence over all of them. (She wouldn't have precedence over the next Empress Consort, however,as only those Dowager Empresses who were mothers of Emperors had precedence over the wife of the reigning sovereign . On March 13, 1881, Alexander was killed after returning from a military parade. Slavic patriotism, cultural revival, and Panslavist ideas grew in importance in the latter half of this century, drawing the dynasty to look more 'Russian'. Yet tighter commitment to orthodox faith was required of Romanovs. Several marriages were contracted with princesses from other Slavic monarchies and other orthodox kingdoms, and even a couple of cadet-line princesses were allowed to marry Russian high noblemen - whereas until 1850s, practically all marriages had been with German princelings.
Alexander II was succeeded by his son Alexander III. Alexander III, the second-to-last Romanov tsar, was responsible for conservative reforms in Russia. Never meant to be emperor, he was educated in matters of state only after the death of his older brother, Nikolai. This lack of extensive education may have influenced his politics as well as those of his son, Nicholas II. Alexander III cut an impressive figure. Not only was he tall (6'4" according to some sources), but his physique was proportionately large. Rumors spread about his incredible strength – a strength that was the size of his temper. In addition, the beard he wore hearkened back to the likeness of tsars of old, contributing to the aura of authority with which he carried himself.
Alexander, fearful of the fate which had befallen his father, strengthened autocratic rule in Russia. Many of the reforms the more liberal Alexander II had pushed through were reversed. Alexander, at his brother's death, not only inherited the throne, but also a betrothed - Danish princess Maria Fyodorovna. Despite contrasting natures and size, the pair got on famously, was the first time a Tsar didn't have a mistress, and produced six children.
The eldest, Nicholas, became Tsar upon his father's sudden death (due to kidney disease) at age 49. Unready to inherit the throne, Nicholas reputedly said, "I am not ready to be Tsar...." Though an intelligent and kind-hearted man, lacking any preparation to rule, he continued his father's harsh polices. His Tsarina, the loving German princess Alexandra Fyodorovna, was also a liability. Like the Tsar, she was not a ruler. When the Tsar took control of the army in the front lines during World War I, he left his wife in charge of Russia for he trusted only her. Like Nicholas, she failed at ruling. She was indecisive and did not trust anyone's advice. She was not intuitive in the ways of politics and not competent in this area. The fact that she was a German also lessened the Russian people's faith in her.
Constantine Pavlovich and Michael Alexandrovich, although sometimes counted among Russian monarchs, were not crowned and never reigned. They both married morganatically, as did Alexander II with his second wife. Six crowned representatives of the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov line include: Paul (1796–1801), Alexander I (1801–1825), Nicholas I (1825–55), Alexander II (1855–81), Alexander III (1881–94), and Nicholas II (1894–1917).
All these emperors (except Alexander III) had German-born consorts, a circumstance which damaged their popularity during World War I. Nicholas's wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, although devoutly Orthodox, was particularly hated by the populace, largely because of her German origins.
Alexandra was a carrier of the gene for haemophilia, which she inherited from her maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria. Her only son, the long-awaited heir to the throne, Alexei inherited the gene and developed hemophilia. Nicholas and Alexandra also had four daughters (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia).
The February Revolution of 1917 resulted in abdication of Nicholas II in favor of his brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. The latter declined to accept the crown, terminating the Romanov dynasty's rule over Russia. (Many believe that the crown did not technically pass to Michael, as Tsarevich Alexei would have automatically succeeded his father, Nicholas II. Thus Alexei would have been the only one who could renounce the crown, Michael could not abdicate, and the crown would still be in the Romanov name.)
After the February Revolution, Nicholas II and his family were placed under house arrest in the Alexander Palace. Several members of the Imperial Family, including Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia, managed to establish good relations with the interim government and eventually fled the country during the October Revolution.
Execution of Tsar and Family 
On July 17, 1918, Bolshevik authorities acting on Yakov Sverdlov's orders in Moscow and led locally by Filip Goloschekin and Yakov Yurovsky, shot Nicholas II, his immediate family, and four servants in the cellar of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
The family was told that they were to be photographed to prove to the people that they were still alive. The family members were arranged appropriately and left alone for several minutes, the gunmen then walked in and started shooting. The girls did not die from the first shots, because bullets rebounded off jewels that were sewn into their corsets. The gunmen tried to stab them with bayonets, which also failed because of the jewels. The gunmen then shot each girl in the head at close range.
Ironically, the Ipatiev House has the same name as the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma, where Mikhail Romanov had been offered the Russian Crown in 1613. The large memorial church "on the blood" has been built on the spot where the Ipatiev House once stood.
After years of controversy, Nicholas II and his family were proclaimed passion-bearers by the Russian Orthodox church in 2000. (In orthodoxy, a passion-bearer is a saint who was not killed because of his faith like a martyr but died in faith at the hand of murderers.)
Execution of extended family 
On July 18, 1918, the day after the killing at Yekaterinburg of the last Tsar, Nicholas II and family, members of the extended Russian royal family, the Romanovs, including a nun, and servants met a brutal death by being killed near Alapayevsk by Bolsheviks. They included: Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia, Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Igor Konstantinovich of Russia and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, Grand Duke Sergei's secretary Varvara Yakovleva, and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Grand Duchess Elizabeth had departed her family after the death of her husband in 1905 and donated all her wealth to the poor and became a nun, but was nonetheless killed. In January 1919 revolutionary authorities executed Prince Dmitriy Konstantinovich, Prince Nikolai Mikhailovich, Prince Pavel Aleksandrovich, and Prince Georgiy Mikhailovich who had been held in the prison of Sts. Peter and Paul Fortress in Petrograd.
The bodies were recovered from the mine by the White army in 1918, who arrived too late to rescue them. The bodies were placed in coffins and were moved around Russia during struggles between the White and the opposing Red Army. By 1920 the coffins were interred in a former Russian Mission in Beijing, now beneath a parking area. In 1981 Princess Elisabeth was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and in 1992 by the Moscow Patriarchate. In 2006 representatives of the Romanov family were making plans to reinter the remains elsewhere. The town is a place of pilgrimage to the memory of Elizabeth Romanov.
Remains of the Tsar 
In 1991, the bodies of Nicholas II and his wife, along with three of their five children and four of their servants, were exhumed (although some questioned the authenticity of these bones despite DNA testing). Because two bodies were not present, many people believed that two Romanov children escaped the killings. There was much debate as to which two children's bodies were missing. A Russian scientist made photographic superimpositions and determined that Maria and Alexei were not accounted for. Later, an American scientist concluded from dental, vertebral, and other remnants that it was Anastasia and Alexei who were missing. Much mystery surrounded Anastasia's fate. Several films have been produced suggesting that she lived on. This of course has since been completely disproved with the discovery of the final Romanov children remains and extensive DNA testing that connected these remains with those of Nicholas II, his wife and three children.
After the bodies were exhumed in June 1991, they sat in laboratories until 1998, while there was a debate as to whether they should be reburied in Yekaterinburg or St. Petersburg. A commission eventually chose St. Petersburg. The remains were transferred with full military honor guard and accompanied by members of the Romanov family from Yekaterinburg to St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg the remains on the imperial family were moved by a formal military honor guard cortege from the airport to the Sts. Peter and Paul Fortress where they (along with several loyal servants who were killed with them) were interred in a special chapel in the Peter and Paul Church near the tombs of their ancestors. President Boris Yeltsin attended the interment service on behalf of the Russian people.
Empress Maria Fedorovna 
In September 2006, Empress Maria Fedorovna, the consort of Alexander III, was buried in the church of Sts. Peter and Paul beside her husband. Having fled Russia from the Crimea in 1919, she spent her remaining years in exile firstly in the United Kingdom with her sister, Queen Alexandra and later in her native Denmark mainly at Villa Hvidore. She was buried in 1928 on her death in Roskilde Cathedral, the burial site of members of the Danish Royal Family. The transfer of her remains in 2006 was accompanied by elaborate ceremonies, including at St. Isaac's officiated by the Patriarch Alexis II. For monarchists, the reburial of the Empress in the former Imperial capital, so many years after her death, further underscored the downfall of the dynasty. Princes Dmitri and Prince Nicholas Romanov were present at the ceremony, along with Princess Catherine Ioannovna of Russia, daughter of Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia. Other members of the Imperial Family present included the descendants of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna including Prince Michael Andreevich of Russia the senior direct male descendant. Princess Catherine who was 90 years old at the time, and died in Montevideo Uruguay the following year, was the last member of the Imperial Family to be born before the fall of the dynasty, and was ultimately to become the last surviving uncontested dynast of the Imperial House of Russia.
Late summer of 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced a discovery by one of his workers. The excavation discovered the following items in the two pits which formed a "T": (#1) remains of 46 human bones fragments; (#2) bullet jackets from short barrel guns/pistols; (#3) wooden boxes which had deteriorated into fragments: (#4) pieces of ceramic which appear to be amphoras which were used as containers for acid; (#5) iron nails; (#6) iron angles: (#7) seven fragments of teeth; (#8) fragment of fabric of a garment. The area where the remains were found were near the old Koptyaki Rd. under what appeared to be double bonfire sites about 70 km from the mass grave in Pigs Meadow near Yekaterinburg. The general directions were described in Yurovsky's memoirs owned by his son, although no one is sure who wrote the notes on the page. The archaeologists said the bones are from a boy who was roughly between the ages of ten and thirteen years at the time of his death and of a young woman who was roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three years old. Anastasia was seventeen years and one month old at the time of the murder, while Maria was nineteen years and one month old. Alexei would have been fourteen in two weeks' time. Alexei's elder sisters Olga and Tatiana were twenty-two and twenty-one years old at the time of the murder. The bones were found using metal detectors and metal rods as probes. Also, striped material was found that appeared to have been from a blue-and-white striped cloth; Alexei commonly wore a blue-and-white striped undershirt.
DNA Proof 
On April 30, 2008, Russian forensic scientists announced that DNA testing proves that the remains belong to the Tsarevich Alexei and to one of his sisters. DNA information, made public in July 2008, that has been obtained from Yekaterinburg and repeatedly subject to independent testing by laboratories such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA, and reveals that the final two missing Romanov remains are indeed authentic and that the entire Romanov family housed in the Ipatiev House, Yekaterinburg were executed in the early hours of 17 July 1918. In March 2009, results of the DNA testing were published, confirming that the two bodies discovered in 2007 were those of Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters.
Research on mitochondrial DNA was conducted in the American AFDIL and in European GMI laboratories. In comparison with the previous analyses mtdna in the area of Aleksandra Fyodorovna, positions 16519C, 524.1A and 524.2C were added. The repeated analysis mtdna Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wasn't carried out. Thus writer Michael Kirk (Great Britain) in 1998 put forward the version that Prince Philip wasn't the son of the mother, so mtdna couldn't be used in the comparative analysis for identification of the remains of Aleksandra Fiodorovna and her children. Some experts suggest to carry out the analysis of other relatives on the female line, in particular the Spanish Queen Sofia or her brother, the deposed king of Greece Konstantin the Second. As the repeated analysis of blood from Prince Philip wasn't carried out, there is a difference between his genotype and a genotype of the estimated remains of the queen and her children, and, so while repeated or other analysis on Prince Philip won't be carried out, legal identification of the remains of the Tsarina and her children will not be complete.
Romanov family jewelry 
On August 28, 2009, a Swedish public news outlet reported that Romanov family jewelry, found in 2008 in the archives of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, was returned. The jewelry was allegedly turned over to the Swedish embassy in St. Petersburg in November 1918 by Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to keep it safe. The jewelry's worth was estimated to 20 million SEK (about 2.6 million US dollars).
Contemporary Romanovs 
There have been many theories regarding the possible survival of members of Nicholas II's family. However, recent research shows that all of the Czar's children, including Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Anastasia who had been thought to have escaped the Bolshevik attack, were killed.
Some relatives survived, including Nicholas II's two sisters, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia. Xenia's and Olga's descendants survive to this day. Cyril Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia, a descendant of Alexander II of Russia, claimed the title Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias in 1924 and his descendant retains such claims. In addition the Romanov Family Association exists for most descendants of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Both branches of the Romanov family are feuding with one another over the question of succession. Other close family relatives include Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was a great-nephew of the last Tsarina. Prince Philip's DNA was used by forensic scientists to identify the body of the last Tsarina and her children.
|The Imperial Arms of the House of Romanov, which were restricted in use to the Emperor and certain members of the Imperial Family.|
See also 
- Ancestors of Nicholas II of Russia
- Line of succession to the Russian Throne
- List of Grand Duchesses of Russia
- List of Grand Dukes of Russia
- Tsars of Russia family tree
- List of films about the Romanovs
- Article 59, Fundamental State Law of the Russian Empire, 1906 edition
- http://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01004169063#page13?page=13 «Родословная книга Всероссiйскаго дворянства» составилъ В. Дурасов Часть I. градъ Св. Петра 1906 г. // "Genealogy Book of Russian nobility" V. Durasov V. Part I. Sank-Peterburg 1906
- "Books: Death at Ekaterinburg - TIME". TIME magazine. 1935-04-22. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- Nicholas and Alexandra, The Last Imperial Family of Tsarist Russia, 1998, Booth-Clibborn, London
- "The Representative of Romanov family in the Russian Federation does not exclude the possibility of transferring from China to Russia the remains of Alapaevsk martyrs.". Orhodox News China. 2005-06-23. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- (Swedish) [dead link]
- "DNA proves Bolsheviks killed all of Russian czar's children". CNN. March 11, 2009.
- "Mystery Solved: The Identification of the Two Missing Romanov Children Using DNA Analysis". March 11, 2009.
- Encyclopedia of Genetics by Eric C. R. Reeve, Isobel Black, page 829
— Royal house —
House of Romanov
Founding year: 15th century
House of Vasa
|Tsardom of Russia
Became Russian Empire
|New title||Russian Empire
House of Poniatowski (elect)
|Kingdom of Poland
House of Poniatowski (elect)
|Grand Principality of Lithuania
|Grand Principality abolished|
House of Holstein-Gottorp
|Duchy of Holstein-Gottorp
House of Oldenburg
House of Oldenburg
|Duchy of Oldenburg
House of Holstein-Gottorp
|Sovereign Military Order of Malta
House of Holstein-Gottorp (Swedish line)
|Grand Principality of Finland
|Grand Principality abolished|