Why was Tsesarevich Alexei's hemophilia a state secret?

Why was Tsesarevich Alexei's hemophilia a state secret?

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Alexei inherited hemophilia from his mother Alexandra, a condition that could be traced back to her maternal grandmother Queen Victoria. In 2009 genetic analysis determined specifically that he suffered from hemophilia B. He had to be careful not to injure himself because he lacked one of the clotting factors necessary to prevent him from bleeding to death. According to his French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, the nature of his illness was kept a state secret. His hemophilia was so severe that trivial injuries such as a bruise, a nosebleed or a cut were potentially life-threatening.

The question that puzzles me is: why was this such a secret? There was no shortage of male Romanovs for a succession so even if the Tsesarevich died of his illness the future of the dynasty would not be in jeopardy.

Was there a particular reason to keep this secret or was just the usual Russian preoccupation with secrecy?

Quoted from wikipedia.

This was kept a secret for the same reason that FDR "was careful never to be seen in [a wheelchair] in public. Great care was also taken to prevent his being portrayed by the press in a way which would highlight his disability" - the severely ill heir subverts trust in government. This is especially true of the Russian monarchy, which claimed divine right.

There was no shortage of male Romanovs for a succession so even if the Tsesarevich died of his illness the future of the dynasty would not be in jeopardy.

It was a very dangerous time for the Russian Aristocracy - the threat of assassination loomed large. See The Romanovs and others. So it seems quite sensible that Alexei's vulnerability should be kept secret: Assassination is generally not an easy thing to accomplish, but Alexei's disease made him an easy mark - a small cut or bruise could prove fatal:

In 2009 genetic analysis determined specifically that he suffered from Hemophilia B. He had to be careful not to injure himself because he lacked one of the clotting factors necessary to prevent him from bleeding to death. According to his French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, the nature of his illness was kept a state secret. His hemophilia was so severe that trivial injuries such as a bruise, a nosebleed or a cut were potentially life-threatening. Two navy sailors were assigned to him to monitor and supervise him to prevent injuries, which were still unavoidable.

Hemophilia B… In some moderate and most severe cases, bleeding symptoms may occur after a minor injury or spontaneously with no known cause.

Although there were other heirs, Alexei was the heir apparent, which made him a prominent target. Besides, even with other heirs available, the assassination of a crown prince and heir apparent would have been a painful and damaging blow. Why paint a bull's eye on Alexei's back?

Tsarevich Alexei and the Worst 10th Birthday Ever

July 30 (old style August 12, new style) marks the birth of the last heir to the Russian throne, Alexei, son of Nicholas II. This year, Alexei would have been 110 in 1914, as he turned 10, a political assassination had just escalated into the First World War.

If it hadn&rsquot been for the Russian Revolution, the Romanovs could have had one more tsar &ndash Alexei Nikolaevich, most likely to be remembered as Alexei II (Peter the Great&rsquos father, Alexei Mikhailovich, being the first). But as he was only 13 when the monarchy collapsed, Alexei never got to rule: ever the tsarevich, never the tsar.

Among Alexei&rsquos most famous traits was having hemophilia, like so many of his distant royal relatives. As a result, Alexei was routinely on the brink of death, as even minor bruises could result in unstoppable blood loss and hemmoraging. Saving the only heir to the throne from fatal internal bleeding was an important task, but doctors at the time had little to offer. Enter Grigori Rasputin, a religious figure who combined the traits of wise man, holy fool, and healer, all in one.

Did Rasputin actually alleviate Alexei&rsquos suffering? It certainly appeared so. Even a letter sent from miles away saying &ldquohe will not die&rdquo somehow coincided with an improvement in the tsarevich&rsquos health. But what was more important was that Alexei&rsquos mother, Empress Alexandra, saw Rasputin as not just a successful healer, but as the child's only hope. As mothers do, she was open to almost anything when it came to saving her son (who also happened to be the future of the Romanov dynasty).

The Russian public, however, disagreed.

A contemporary caricature depicting Rasputin's influence on the royal family

Alexei&rsquos disease was a state secret, so how were the discontents to know why Rasputin was so welcome in the imperial family? From the outside, it looked like an uneducated peasant was influencing imperial decisions through the empress, with rumors of an affair fueled by an unfriendly press. How much influence Rasputin actually had on the emperor is beside the point &ndash just the perception of his importance significantly discredited an already wobbly Russian monarchy.

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing elsewhere. A month before Alexei&rsquos tenth birthday, on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. The "July Crisis" ensued, and we all know what happened next. The end result was, one hundred years ago, a nasty sequence of events:

  • July 28 - Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.
  • July 29 - Russia ordered partial mobilization in support of Serbia.
  • July 30 - Germany fully mobilized, and demanded Russia demobilize within 12 hours or face war. Russia said it was willing to negotiate terms of a demobilization. Germany refused to negotiate.
  • August 1 - Germany declared war on Russia.
  • August 2 - Germany attacked Luxemburg.
  • August 3 - Germany declared war on France.
  • August 4 - Belgium, vowing neutrality, refuses to allow German troops to pass through Belgium en route to France. Germany declares war on Belgium. Britain declares war on Germany.

Not the best environment for a birthday party. And the icing on the birthday cake: August 12, on Alexei&rsquos actual birthday, the world presented him with the start of the Serbian campaign, as Austria-Hungary crossed the Dvina into Serbia.

The last known photograph of Alexei and his sister Olga, en route to Yekaterinburg

At the baptism of Alexei, he was brought to the baptismal font by his mother’s Mistress of the Robes. Her name was Maria Mikhailovna Galitzine, and due to her advanced age, she took extra precautions to make sure she wouldn’t drop the child: she wore rubber shoes to the ceremony.

Alexei was a member of the Romanov royal family, which had ruled Russia since 1613! They had taken charge of Russia after the downfall of the Rurik dynasty and were only the second dynasty to rule Russia as emperors (or Tsars, if you prefer).

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, died 28 March 1884 — Victoria’s son

The youngest son of Victoria, he was understandably fragile due to the condition, spending much of his younger years confined to bed, often unable to walk due to the severe joint pain the disease would cause him. Leopold’s life was a constant struggle, due in part to the disease, but also due to his overly protective and controlling mother, yet his short life was somewhat of a triumph in overcoming adversity and accomplishment in spite of it all.

As her other children grew up and left home to get married, Victoria expected Leopold to always stay with her in the family home, working as her secretary and staying close where she could keep an eye on him. But Leopold was an intellectual boy, and although he was aware of his condition and the limitations it imposed on him, he dreamed of independence. Becoming stifled at home with his overbearing mother, he went to university and became a patron of chess, the arts, and literature. Due to his illness, Leopold had much difficulty finding a wife, and his meddling mother rejected many of his choices, reluctantly agreeing to help when it became clear that he may marry outside of royalty if she didn’t.

Leopold married Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont in 1882 and the following year, had their first child together, whom they called Alice after Leopold’s sister, and who would become a carrier of the haemophilia gene herself. In 1884, while in Cannes receiving treatment, and while Helena was pregnant with their second child, Leopold slipped and fell, banging his knee and head, dying shortly afterwards aged 30.


The Tsarevich was less than a month shy of his fourteenth birthday when he was murdered on 17 July 1918 in the cellar room of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg. The assassination was carried out by forces of the Bolshevik secret police under Yakov Yurovsky. According to one account of the murder, the family was told to get up and get dressed in the middle of the night because they were going to be moved. Nicholas II carried Alexei to the cellar room. His mother asked for chairs to be brought so that she and Alexei could sit down. When the family and their servants were settled, Yurovsky announced that they were to be executed. The firing squad first killed Nicholas, the Tsarina, and the two male servants. Alexei remained sitting in the chair, "terrified," before the assassins turned on him and shot at him repeatedly. The boy remained alive and the killers tried to stab him multiple times with bayonets. "Nothing seemed to work," wrote Yurovsky later. "Though injured, he continued to live." Unbeknownst to the killing squad, the Tsarevich's torso was protected by a shirt wrapped in precious gems that he wore beneath his tunic. Finally Yurovsky fired two shots into the boy's head, and he fell silent. [34] Rumors of Alexei's survival began to circulate when the bodies of his family and the royal servants were located. Alexei's was missing, along with that of one of his sisters (generally thought to be Maria or Anastasia). As a result of this, there have been people who have pretended to be the Tsarevich these people are Alexei Poutziato, Joseph Veres, Heino Tammet, Michael Goleniewski and Vassili Filatov. However, scientists considered it extremely unlikely that he escaped death, due to his lifelong hemophilia. The missing bodies were said to have been cremated, though scientists believe it would have been impossible to completely cremate the bodies given the short amount of time and the materials the killing squad had to work with. Numerous searches of the forest surrounding Yekaterinburg up until 2007 failed to turn up the cremation site or the remains of Alexei and his sister. [35]

2007 remains found and 2008 identification of remains Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_section_7

On 23 August 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced the discovery of two burned, partial skeletons at a bonfire site near Yekaterinburg that appeared to match the site described in Yurovsky's memoirs. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_151

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. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_152

Anastasia was seventeen years, one month old at the time of the assassination, while Maria was nineteen years, one month old. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_153

Alexei was two weeks shy of his fourteenth birthday. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_154

Alexei's elder sisters, Olga and Tatiana, were twenty-two and twenty-one years old, respectively, at the time of the assassination. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_155

Along with the remains of the two bodies, archaeologists found "shards of a container of sulfuric acid, nails, metal strips from a wooden box, and bullets of various caliber." Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_156

The bones were found using metal detectors and metal rods as probes. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_157

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. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_158

On 30 April 2008, Russian forensic scientists announced that DNA testing had proven that the remains belong to the Tsarevich Alexei and to one of his sisters. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_159

DNA information, made public in July 2008, that was obtained from the Yekaterinburg site and repeated independent testing by laboratories such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School revealed that the final two missing Romanov remains were indeed authentic and that the entire Romanov family lived in the Ipatiev House. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_160

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. Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia_sentence_161

Queen Victoria first royal to carry devastating disease which led to family heartbreak

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Queen Victoria: Celebrating 200 years since her iconic reign

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Victoria is the longest reigning British monarch in history, aside from the current sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. Her reign not only heralded in a new age of prosperity through the Industrial Revolution, but saw Britain strengthen its international ties with its European neighbours. She and her husband Prince Albert cultivated an image of harmonious family life over the years and they used this to their advantage.


She married her children off to the other nearby royal families, earning her the nickname of &lsquothe Grandmother of Europe&rsquo.

However, while seemingly an excellent move in diplomacy, this had unforeseen consequences for the health of Europe&rsquos royals and led to the formation of the &ldquoroyal disease&rdquo.

Victoria was a carrier of haemophilia, a disease which prevents the blood from clotting and can result in greater blood loss from injury than usually expected &mdashand can lead to permanent damage.

While much easier to treat nowadays, during the Victorian era the disease would often prove fatal.

Queen Victoria was the first royal to carry the haemophiliac disease (Image: Getty)

Victoria established a dynasty across Europe through her nine children (Image: Getty)

Victoria&rsquos daughter Princess Alice inherited the disease from her mother.

She married a minor prince who would go on to become Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse &mdash a duchy which existed in western Germany until the end of the German Empire in 1918 &mdash and unfortunately her youngest son would go on to die from haemophilia complications at just three years old.

He fell 20 feet from a window, and although survived and soon regained consciousness, his internal bleeding could not be stopped.

Princess Alice&rsquos daughter Princess Irene was a carrier of the disease too, and passed it to two of her three sons, Prince Waldemar of Prussia and Prince Henry of Prussia.

Queen Victoria became known as the Grandmother of Europe (Image: Getty)

Related articles

Henry died aged four from a minor fall, while Waldemar died in adulthood due to a lack of blood transfusion facilities in Bavaria.

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, also known as Princess Alix of Hesse, was Princess Alice&rsquos fourth child &mdash she was a hemophiliac carrier too.

Her marriage meant the disease entered the Russian royal family, as she wed the last Tsar Nicholas II.

She passed it to her youngest child and son, Alexei Nikolaevich, who was the only male heir to the Russian throne.

His parents famously tried to cure him of the illness through the controversial healer Rasputin, while trying to keep his poor health a state secret.

The Romanovs were killed in the 1918 Russian Revolution (Image: Getty)

Victoria with her son Edward (R), Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra (Image: Getty)

Yet, Alix&rsquos faith in Rasputin helped to eradicate her popularity and by 1918 she and her family had been executed by the Bolsheviks.

Queen Victoria&rsquos eighth child Prince Leopold was the first member of the royals to display symptoms of the illness.

He died at the age of 30 after a minor fall, but passed the disease on to his only daughter who was just a toddler at the time of his death.

Princess Alice of Albany also one of Victoria&rsquos grandchildren, then passed it onto her son Prince Rupert of Teck.

Victoria's genes meant the haemophiliac mutation was passed among European royals (Image: Getty)

Related articles

He went on to die at the age of 20, after bleeding to death following a car accident.

Victoria&rsquos favourite and youngest daughter Princess Beatrice inherited the gene carrying the disease too.

Her marriage to Prince Henry of Battenberg saw her third son, Lord Leopold Mountbatten, die at the young age of 22, unmarried and without any children during a knee operation.

Hemophilia: The Royal Disease - PowerPoint PPT Presentation is a leading presentation/slideshow sharing website. Whether your application is business, how-to, education, medicine, school, church, sales, marketing, online training or just for fun, is a great resource. And, best of all, most of its cool features are free and easy to use.

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If hemophilia is mild, it may not be diagnosed until surgery or injury bleeding occur.

Obviously the sufferer suffers from haemophilia if he is too many and too long bleeding symptoms inclines. With only a small wound, the blood seems to exit the wound without stopping, which can turn out to be a major problem for large or deep injuries.

If the care or the medical care is not given immediately, the body can lose so much blood in such a short time that on the one hand the consciousness of the affected person is disturbed and on the other hand important body and circulatory functions can not be maintained to the extent it the normal case estimated.

Less problematic in the shallow stages, but nevertheless become omnipresent to those suffering from hemophilia spontaneous bleeding which, however, heal quickly and sometimes even almost unnoticed. Despite the occurrence of symptoms of possible hemorrhages on the whole body, the joints in those affected show as the primary indicator of such genetic disease.

After an accident or trauma, there is often an initial bleeding in the areas of the large joints. To stabilize this body region, the body compresses that site with more vascular systems. Actually counterproductive for the future, this measure proves to be a strong potential for further joint bleeding.

Wounds & hematomas

at lacerations, but also at Scraping and cutting wounds, is to register a cover by the platelets in the first moments. In the course of apparent healing, however, blood breaks through the crust again and again and thus maintains the flow of effusion and prevents the healing – the pressure in the blood vessels pulsates the blood repeatedly through the newly formed protective layer and is noted as striking permanent tearing.

Close-up of a hematoma
Shutterstock / Stephane Bidouze

This process is also followed by another feature of the disease – the hematoma. Even without external action, this pressure on the wound or in the case of non-open injuries of the small capillaries can cause subcutaneous or intramuscular bruising. These are now increased in the body of those affected and often seen.

In addition, as a result of this dysfunction there is a risk of internal bleeding, so that obstruction of the urinary tract due to thrombi or renal bleeding can be diagnosed with concomitant colic.

According to the stages It can lead to simple hemorrhages, hematomas with concomitant pain or even above-average nosebleeds. In particular, female patients could also complain of greater menstrual bleeding or the increased formation of bruises – especially in so-called medical trivial and especially in childbirth these signs are correct to interpret.

at children the carry-over of the coagulation cascade can be noticed, especially in developing age, by joint bleeding or apparently suddenly broken wounds.


Furthermore, the symptoms also leave on the Von Willebrand disease or that Owren syndrome conclude – a test for hypoproacelioma should also be considered.

Due to regular bleeding – and in addition usually accompanying inflammation – it can lead to significant joint stiffness. Because this form of osteoarthritis – one speaks of hemarthrosis – may be related to surgery on the elbow, knee, shoulder or ankle.

In addition, it can be more dangerous if the areas of the skull are integrated into the bleeding character – here urgent medical advice must be sought.

10. I Smell a Crown in Your Future

A large man in both personality and stature, King Francis I of France was also known for his “big” personal parts. That’s right: his nose. One of his many nicknames was “François du Grand Nez” or “Francis of the Large Nose.” It’s not the most creative name, but at least it was accurate.


Rasputin II: A Miracle at Spala

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, it can lead us to believe that we are smarter than the greatest minds in politics, history, and sports. Hindsight can lead us to call the brightest minds and most celebrated figures of history stupid, incompetent, and inept.

“How could the Romanovs fail to see Rasputin for what he was?” students of history will ask as they page through the fall of the Russian Imperial family, the Romanovs, and their association with the “Mad Monk” Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. “All the signs were there. Why did they ignore, or fail to grasp the totality of what Rasputin was on about?”

There may be some moments in their brief history together, when a student of history sympathizes with the Romanovs, but for the most part, they will key in on those moments when the Romanovs proved most vulnerable to the “Mad Monk’s” displays of “other worldly” powers of healing to launch himself into a powerful, and influential, position in the Russian Empire and say, “All right, but I wouldn’t have fallen for that.”

As stated in the previous entry Rasputin I: Rasputin Rises, most historical figures are “right place, right time” opportunists defined by their ability to take advantage of windows of opportunity in their era, and for those who would go on to achieve infamy, the ability to take advantage of people in their most vulnerable moments. Adolf Hitler, it could be said, never would’ve risen to power were it not for the vast vulnerabilities in Germany, in the aftermath World War I and The Depression, and an illiterate peasant from Pokrovskoye, named Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, may never have risen to historical status were it not for a sick, young child.

A Sick, Young Child

In Joseph T. Fuhrmann’s book Rasputin: The Untold Story, we learn that Rasputin’s window of opportunity occurred when Tsar Nicholas II’s son Alexis suffered a serious attack of hemophilia that began at a hunting preserve in a Russian village called Spala on October 2, 1912.

“This particular attack,” Fuhrmann writes, “was not life-threatening, and Rasputin never “cured” or “healed” the Tsarevich (son of the Tsar) of his hemophilia on this, or any other, occasions. The Tsarevich Alexis Romanov had hemophilia the day he was born, until the day he died.”

In the space of all of the men of medicine attempting to alleviate Alexis of the pain of the symptoms of this particular attack, however, a peasant from Pokrovskoye stepped forward and did something to provide the boy some temporary relief, and that something that he did would eventually enshrine the name Rasputin in history.

As the author writes numerous times throughout the book, it’s impossible to know with absolute certitude what that something was. We can speculate from accounts witnessed and recorded by friends of the empire, and we can sort through the accounts put forth by family members, and others in the empire, but for the most part we are left to speculate, because the Romanovs were so isolated from even the surrounding communities of the Empire, that all historical accounts of this era can only be characterized as speculative. The very idea that Alexis was sick was a state secret that the Romanov family kept hidden from the rest of the country. It is the speculation of what Rasputin did, however, that has made the story of Rasputin so intriguing for so many, for near one-hundred years.

How Did He Do it?

Did Rasputin drug the young Tsarevich to health? Was it an hypnosis technique that Rasputin is purported to have studied throughout the course of his life? Was there some form of auto-suggestion that Rasputin used to manipulate Alexis’ mind in a manner that no one in the age knew, so they assigned supernatural, and/or mystical qualities to Rasputin’s actions? Or, did he, in fact, possess those mystical powers that he claimed to have since childhood, and that he ended up using on the young Tsarevich?

Some claim that Rasputin may have had a friend inside the empire who administered drugs to the young Tsarevich, and that Rasputin knew enough about the effects of the medicine to have its effects coincide with Rasputin’s arrival.

Some claim that an auto-suggestion technique employed by Rasputin, calmed the notorious nerves of the mother, Alexandra, and that she conveyed such assurances to her son Alexis, who then calmed to a degree that his blood calmed and the issue temporarily passed. Modern science also talks about how the power of prayer, the placebo effect, and meditation can calm a person and lead to the patient, like the Tsarevich, to believe that they are healing. If Alexandra believed Rasputin could cure Alexis, and she conveyed this belief onto Alexis, Rasputin’s ability to heal Alexis could prove to be greater than those of all the other doctors involved.

Others suspect that Rasputin benefited from some other form of incidental coincidence, or intended coincidence. Those that suspected Rasputin of intentional coincidence, claim that he may have known more about the illness hemophilia than anyone else in the empire, doctors included, and that he knew the precise time to make an appearance in accordance with a lessening of pain to have “the cure” attributed to his presence.

Others claim that the time Rasputin spent mourning the death of his cousin Dmitry led him to ostracize himself from those in his village, and that he sought the comfort of horses. While gaining the favor of horses, and their owners, Rasputin learned what we now call horse whispering techniques to calm horses, and that he employed these tactics to calm the Tsarevich Alexis, and thus relieved him from some of the more painful symptoms of hemophilia.

For his part, “Rasputin never claimed to have worked miracles on the boy.” He kept what modern readers would term a political distance from self-aggrandizement, and he allowed those around the incident to fill in the blanks for him. “He claimed that God, alone, could perform miracles. He insisted that his healings were nothing more than manifestations of God’s will,” and by saying such things Rasputin remained in good stead with the Tsar Nicholas and his wife, Alexandra, who never stated that Rasputin was a saint, or anything more than human, but they did believe that he had spiritual gifts that were made apparent during the miracle at Spala. They also, we can assume, asked the question what’s more important engaging in the debate of Rasputin’s role in the health of their son, or the health of their son? The one thing they knew was that when Rasputin was near their son, he suffered less.

Why was Rasputin Chosen?

The Romanovs met Rasputin on a number of occasions prior to the incident at Spala, and as Fuhrmann points out they were afforded a number of opportunities to see “the real” Rasputin firsthand. If that’s true, why did they keep him around? Why was Rasputin afforded the chance to “heal” or “cure” Alexis in the first place? If there were that many men vying for the position of Holy Fool in the Empire, how did a semi-literate peasant from Pokrovskoye rise to the top? Some speculate that by the time that the incident at Spala occurred, the Romanovs reached a point of desperation, and that they viewed Rasputin as their last, best hope. Then, when Rasputin proved to be a healing agent in the years that followed, they felt they had little choice but to keep him in the empire and close to the young Tsarevich.

As stated in the previous entry Rasputin I: Rasputin Rises, Rasputin was characterized as an illiterate to semi-literate peasant, with no formal attachments to religion, or formal education, and some would suggest that these characteristics would forever lead Rasputin and the Romanovs down separate paths. Others would suggest that it was these very characteristics that led Rasputin to gain entrance into the Empire.

As with every aspect of this story, some of the answers of why the Romanovs continued to have some faith in Rasputin lies in conjecture, some in speculation, but knowing human nature the way we do, we can speculate that a “more normal” citizen of St. Petersburg, with “equivalent mystical powers” but a more sensible haircut, and a normal temperament, may not have been regarded for this particular position in a serious manner. We can assume that the Romanovs wanted someone who had a mysterious air about them, someone who looked a little more bedraggled, and wild. They wanted someone who fit their perceptions of what it took to fit the role of Holy Fool in the empire.

Rasputin, as witnesses suggest, often smelled like a goat, his hair was famously unkempt, he did not bathe often, picked his nose in polite company, criticized and seduced women in public, and often had food in his beard, but he also had a “Blazing gaze in his magnetic light colored eyes,” and people stated that he could dilate his eyes at will. Rasputin, it could be said, fit the mold of the “Holy Fool” the Romanovs sought, as if by central casting.

One can also guess that the Romanovs chose Rasputin to stick around, to “heal” their son based on the same unintended condescension that leads some to believe that the uneducated are superior in spiritual mediums, and more in tune with God than those focused on more formal training. The Romanovs were given to the very natural speculation that those not attuned to standardized measures of intelligence, are attuned to something different, something greater, and something their more normal citizens would never be able to understand. One can also guess that some degree of privileged guilt caused Alexandra, and Rasputin’s eventual followers, to assign superhuman, spiritual qualities to Rasputin in the same manner the modern day American attaches exotic and spiritual characteristics to children, the indigent, and those with characteristics deemed foreign to our experience. It’s an unintended form of condescension that derives from the guilt of the haves when dealing with the have nots, and if the have nots play it in a strategic manner, as Rasputin did, the process can provide benefits to both parties involved.

Fuhrmann provides the impression that had Tsar Nicholas II been in total control of the interaction between Rasputin and the empire, Rasputin may never have achieved influence he did in the Empire. Nicholas’ philosophy of life, Fuhrmann writes, was guided by the “Classic Russian acceptance of fate (sudba), God’s will, or the force that ruled the cosmos.” Nicholas saw to it that Alexis’ fate was not unnecessarily precipitated, but Nicholas was not one to believe that he, nor any other human, could control fate in any manner. Tsarista Alexandra, however, was not guided by the same beliefs. She was more prone to believe in what she saw as proactive measures. She believed that fate could be controlled, and altered, through prayer, and she believed that what God needed to work his miracles was a spiritual conduit, in the manner she believed a illiterate, bedraggled peasant could best provide, and it was probably Alexandra’s belief that Rasputin fit this somewhat unintended, unspoken, and condescending mold.

Most readers who have had a near-death experience with their child will find some sympathy with Alexandra’s desperation to save, or at least relieve her only son of pain. Readers might extend further sympathies when they learn that Alexandra knew her genes caused her son, the Tsarevich Alexis, the heir to the throne, this severe case of hemophilia. They might further sympathize with Alexandra’s desperation after the Empire’s doctors informed her that there was little they could do to ease her son’s suffering. They might sympathize with Alexandra’s desire to keep Rasputin around after the “Miracle at Spala”, and they might forgive her for being so grateful to the man for what she believed he did for her son that she ended up allowing Rasputin to influence her mind on matters of grave importance in the empire to the point that she allegedly shared Rasputin’s opinions with Tsar Nicholas II and compelled him to follow through with them. There will be great sympathy for the Romanov family when the reader finds out how their story turned out, but when it comes to the subject of Rasputin, they will still say, “All right, but I wouldn’t have fallen for that.

Fuhrmann, Joseph T. Rasputin: The Untold Story. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. 2013. Print.


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