Ruin of the Ro­manovs

The last Tsar of Rus­sia led a fab­u­lous life­style while his sub­jects starved, says JAMES HAWKINS

EDP Norfolk - - Valuations -

Through­out bit­ter win­ters, when Rus­sia was struck by famine, the Ro­manovs con­tin­ued a very priv­i­leged and os­ten­ta­tious life­style

THIS MONTH wit­nesses the cen­te­nary of the Rus­sian revo­lu­tion and the bit­ter end of the last Rus­sian em­peror. Niko­lay Alexan­drovich Ro­manov was born into the Hol­stein-Got­torp-Ro­manov dy­nasty; fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s death he be­came Tsar of Rus­sia on Novem­ber 1, 1894 and took the ti­tle of Tsar Ni­cholas II or Niko­lai II, ruler of the en­tire Im­pe­rial Rus­sian Em­pire.

Through­out bit­ter win­ters, when Rus­sia was struck by famine, the Ro­manovs con­tin­ued a very priv­i­leged and os­ten­ta­tious life­style. They spent lav­ishly and com­mis­sioned the great­est trades­men of the gen­er­a­tion to make spec­tac­u­lar jew­ellery, or­na­ments and sil­ver ob­jects, while their sub­jects starved.

Niko­lai’s reign wit­nessed some of the em­pire’s most vi­o­lent and bloody bat­tles and the worst de­feats known to the Rus­sian Em­pire. A se­ries of catas­tro­phes saw the Rus­sian mil­i­tary hu­mil­i­ated by much smaller en­e­mies. The an­ni­hi­la­tion of the en­tire Im­pe­rial Rus­sian Baltic fleet at the bat­tle of Tsushima brought an end to the Russo-Ja­panese war.

Tsar Niko­lai, re­ferred to in some cir­cles as Bloody Niko­lai due to his dis­re­gard for the loss of life and the num­ber of Rus­sian ca­su­al­ties, per­son­ally signed the or­der for the ex­e­cu­tion of those he viewed as re­spon­si­ble for the de­feat. But the com­mon Rus­sian man was out­raged that such a rout was al­lowed to hap­pen and their anger ul­ti­mately sealed the fate of the Tsar and his fam­ily.

He also acted against his gen­er­als’ ad­vice dur­ing the vi­o­lent sup­pres­sion of the 1905 Revo­lu­tion, while smaller de­feats in Manchuria and Korea re­sulted in the ex­pan­sion of Ja­panese in­ter­ests in the South Sakhalin province. The An­glo-Rus­sian En­tente, de­signed to counter the Ger­man in­flu­ence in the Mid­dle East, ended un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously.

Fi­nally Tsar Ni­cholas approved the Rus­sian mo­bil­i­sa­tion on July 31, 1914, much to the dis­ap­proval and de­spite ad­vice from his se­nior ad­vi­sors and gen­er­als. The Im­pe­rial Army’s se­vere losses and the High Com­mand’s in­com­pe­tent man­age­ment of the war ef­forts led to Ger­many declar­ing war on Rus­sia the fol­low­ing day.

It is es­ti­mated that around 3.3 mil­lion Rus­sians were killed in a se­ries of de­feats in WWI. These calami­ties, along with the lack of food and other sup­plies on the home front, were the lead­ing causes of the fall of the Ro­manov dy­nasty.

Fol­low­ing the Fe­bru­ary Revo­lu­tion Tsar Niko­lai II was forced to ab­di­cate on March 15, 1917, im­me­di­ately end­ing the line of suc­ces­sion and end­ing the Ro­manov Rus­sian dy­nasty. The Ro­manov fam­ily was im­pris­oned.

In the spring of 1918, Niko­lai was handed over to the lo­cal Ural Soviet; with the ap­proval of Lenin, Niko­lai and his fam­ily were ex­e­cuted by the Bol­she­viks on the night of July 16/17, 1918. Their re­mains, ex­humed in 1991, were fi­nally re-in­terred in St Peters­burg in 1998.

We have sev­eral im­pres­sive items of pre-rev­o­lu­tion­ary ex­am­ples for sale at Juels’ Lim­ited and we are very in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing any Rus­sian jew­ellery, sil­ver­ware or or­na­ments from this pe­riod.

Above: Tsar Niko­lai II in ex­ile in the for­est in 1917

Left: The Ro­manovs com­mis­sioned fab­u­lous jew­els while their peo­ple starved to death

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