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The Great War
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Alexandra - A Passionate Tsarina
Robert K. Massie
"Alexandra was an Anglo-German whose mother died when she was six.

"She was brought up by her grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was really almost more English than German. She was very devout. She had a narrow European aristocratic education. She spoke languages, but she didn't really read widely in philosophy and European culture and literature. She was a passionate woman – as a young woman, and an older woman – and this showed in her beliefs. It showed in her love of her husband.

"Nicholas and Alexandra had a very passionate marriage, a very sexual marriage.

"She was a passionate mother. And all of this [passion] was poured into her son – when, after giving birth to four daughters, she finally had a son. Daughters couldn't inherit the Russian throne. You know, people didn't know that sex determination came from the male, not from the female, and she thought she had failed by giving birth to four daughters. Finally, she had this little boy, and when he was very small, they found that he had hemophilia. So everything that she had brought to Russia was focused on, and in, Alexis.

"It was her determination that he would become the Tsar – a Tsar as great as his father, maybe greater – a Peter the Great, an Ivan the Terrible. She was determined that the aristocracy would be passed on undiminished by Nicholas to his son. And that's why she was so upset when Nicholas abdicated.

"She was also very religious.

"She had a very hard time giving up her Lutheran faith to become Orthodox, which was necessary if she was going to marry the future Russian emperor. She did so, sort of, after a great struggles back and forth, she became Orthodox.

"And then the saying goes that converts are more, far more, passionate than people born into any faith. And that was the case with her. She became passionately orthodox, and she had this kind of European view of the Russian peasant, the Russian soul, and the Russian religion. She threw herself into that, whereas other Romanovs, other members of the Russian aristocracy, looked down on all of that. They thought this was all kind of primitive and simplistic. They looked to France, and to Europe, and to England, and so forth. They were much more sophisticated than she was.

"This kind of passionate simplicity? which Alexandra brought to the throne, to her husband ? was destructive.

"It tended to sort of exclude any awareness of what was really happening. As the system began to fly apart, Alexandra said to her husband: 'The real people are behind you. Ignore the advice of people who say you must liberalize; you must bring in more people to the government; you must give up some of the autocratic powers.'

"She had a great deal of influence on Nicholas. Nicholas was not a strong man, he was not decisive. Alexandra was a strong woman and very decisive, but her advice and her influence were exercised in a destructive way. Not because she intended it to be destructive, but because she thought she was doing the right thing.

"So, given that character, that personality, what did it mean to her to be suddenly imprisoned, as it were, in her own palace? What kind of a fall was this?"

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