Many people contact us with questions about the Romanovs. Rather than emailing people back individually, we are capturing the questions and answers on this page. This is a living document, meaning that new questions and answers will be added to it all the time!
|Who was the first Romanov Tsar?|
|Where there Tsars before the Romanovs?|
|Is it true that the Romanov line died out with Peter III?|
|Have any Romanovs become consorts of monarchs?|
|How did Tsarevitch Alexei get hemophilia?|
|How did scientists identify the remains of Nicholas II and his family?|
|Did Grand Duchess Anastasia survive?|
|Are Nicholas II and his family saints?|
|Who is the current claimant to the Romanov throne?|
Who is the current claimant to the Romanov throne?
Q: Who was the first Romanov tsar?
A: In 1613, sixteen year old Michael Feodorovich Romanov was elected tsar by the Boyar Duma, a council that advised grand princes and tsars of Muscovy. It was the beginning of the 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia.
Q: Were there tsars before the Romanovs?
A: Around 1480, the rulers of Muscovy (Grand Duchy of Moscow) started to use the title tsar. In 1547, Ivan IV (the Terrible) was the first ruler to be crowned Tsar of Russia.
Q: Is it true that the Romanov line died out with Peter III?
A: Peter III, grandson of Peter the Great, succeeded his aunt, Empress Elizabeth, in 1762. In 1745, Peter had married Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst who took the name Catherine upon her conversion to Russian Orthodoxy. The marriage was unsuccessful mostly due to Peter’s impotence and emotional immaturity. Catherine had affairs with Sergei Saltykov and Stanislaw Poniatowski. In her memoirs, Catherine strongly hinted that her son Paul was the son of Sergei Saltykov although Paul did bear some resemblance to Peter III. After a reign of only six months, Peter III was overthrown by his wife who went on to reign Russia as Catherine the Great. If her son Paul was the son of Sergei Saltykov, then Peter III was the last tsar with Romanov blood.
Q: Have any Romanovs become consorts of monarchs?
A: Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, daughter of Tsar Paul I, married King Willem III of the Netherlands. The current Dutch royals are her descendants.
Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna, granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I, married King George I of Greece. Among her descendants are the current Greek royals, Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, his children and grandchildren, the Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent, Princess Alexandra of Kent, their children and grandchildren.
While not a queen consort, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, daughter of Tsar Alexander II, married Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria.
Q: How did Tsarevich Alexei get hemophilia?
A: Tsarevich Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, inherited hemophilia from his mother who was born Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt. She was a daughter of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom. Princess Alice inherited the hemophilia gene from her mother Queen Victoria. Most experts think a mutation caused the appearance of the disease. Queen Victoria’s son Prince Leopold was a hemophiliac and two of her daughters, Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice were carriers. Princess Beatrice had two hemophiliac sons. Her daughter Princess Victoria Eugenie married King Alfonso XIII of Spain and brought hemophilia into the Spanish royal family. Princess Alice’s son Prince Frederick was a hemophiliac and her daughters Princess Irene and Princess Alix were carriers. Princess Irene married her first cousin Prince Henry of Prussia and brought hemophilia into the Prussian royal family.
To learn more see “Hemophilia: “The Royal Disease” at http://www.sciencecases.org/hemo/hemo.asp and “Haemophilia in Queen Victoria's Descendants” at http://www.btinternet.com/~allan_raymond/QV_Descendants_Haemophilia.htm
Q: How did scientists identify the remains of Nicholas II and his family?
A: Forensic experts used DNA testing to identify Nicholas II and his family. Tests on mitochondrial DNA, handed down by mothers, showed genetic links between the bodies of four females (Alexandra and three of her daughters) and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, who is related to Empress Alexandra. Prince Philip’s maternal grandmother and Empress Alexandra were sisters. Mitochondrial DNA tests also linked the body of an adult male (Nicholas) to the exhumed body of Nicholas' brother George. Both had a rare mutation that left them with two forms of mitochondrial DNA. Finally, nuclear DNA tests connected two adults (Nicholas and Alexandra) and the three young women (three of their daughters) to each other.
Q: Did Grand Duchess Anastasia survive?
A: When the remains of the bodies were recovered, it was discovered that two bodies were missing - Tsarevich Alexei and one of the two younger daughters. American forensic experts felt Anastasia was missing and Russian forensic experts felt Maria was missing. In 1998, when the family was buried, all indications were that it was Maria who was missing. Many historians feel that no one could have survived the assault in the basement of the Ipatiev House and that the bodies of the two missing children were burned. Nevertheless, some people still hold out hope that the children somehow survived.
Anna Anderson was the most famous person purporting to be Grand Duchess Anasatasia. In 1979, Anna Anderson had undergone an operation at the Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia and a specimen had been preserved. This specimen underwent DNA testing in 1994 and the results showed she was not Anastasia. Further DNA testing showed that Anna Anderson was factory worker Franziska Schanzkowska who had abruptly disappeared in 1920.
Q: Are Nicholas II and his family saints?
A: Nicholas II and his family were canonized as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1981. In 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia canonized Nicholas II and his family. In addition, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, has also been canonized. For more information see “The Royal Martyrs of Russia” at http://www.serfes.org/royal/index.htm
Q: Who is the current claimant to the Romanov throne?
A: Prince Nicholas Romanov, born in 1922, and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, born in 1953, can be considered rival claimants.
Prince Nicholas Romanov’s descent from Tsar Nicholas I:
Tsar Nicholas I of Russia married Princess Charlotte of Prussia > Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich married Princess Alexandra of Oldenberg > Grand Duke Peter Nikolaievich married Princess Militsa of Montenegro > Prince Roman Petrovich married Countess Prascovia Cheremeteva > Prince Nicholas Romanov
Prince Nicholas Romanov is the President of the Romanov Family Association. To learn more about him, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Romanov and the Romanov Family Association site at http://romanovfundforrussia.org/family/
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna’s descent from Tsar Nicholas I:
Tsar Nicholas I of Russia married Princess Charlotte of Prussia > Tsar Alexander II married Princess Marie of Hesse > Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch married Princess Marie Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin > Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovitch married Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh > Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich married Princess Leonida Bagration-Moukhransky > Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
To learn more about Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchess_Maria_Vladimirovna_of_Russia and the Russian Imperial Union-Order site at http://www.riuo.org/