Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Tsar Takes His Son to Work

Father and Son, Tsar and Heir

It's lonely being the commander-in-chief of an army.  About a month after Tsar Nicholas II appointed himself to field command, he summoned Tsarevich Alexei to join him. Naturally, this displeased the Empress to no end. Alexei, however, had a wonderful time. Issued a private's uniform, he accompanied his father everywhere. The staff, officers, and enlisted men alike all enjoyed him. Away from his mother's smothering and his sisters' protectiveness, he got over much of his shyness and even became something of a prankster.

Unfortunately for both him and Russia, his hemophilia caught up with him in December. Panicked when the military doctors were unable to arrest a nosebleed, the Tsar packed the boy off to his mother Petrograd.  She  – predictably – called in her old adviser Rasputin, whose reputation had been on the wane. He exerted his calming powers on Alexei, the lad recovered, and the monk's status at court returned to its previous level. In 1916, his regular visits to Alexandra at the palace as events went badly would cause resurgent rumors, helping to undermine the nation's war effort and promote domestic instability. That's a story to be told elsewhere, though.

At a Review

Shared Sleeping Quarters

The Empress Visits Army Headquarters

Photos from the Alexander Palace Time Machine Website

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