Tsar Mikhail Romanov?

Grand Prince Mikhail Romanov

Presumptive Tsar Mikhail Romanov

On December 4, 1878, Mikhail Alexanderovich Romanov, the last Tsar of Russia was born. He was the youngest son of Tsar Alexander III and brother of Tsar Nicholas II. He was the first, but not the last, Romanov to be murdered by the Bolsheviks.

Born into royalty, when he was born he was fifth in line to the Romanov dynasty. When his grandfather Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, he moved up to fourth. With the death of his father Tsar Alexander III in 1994 and the ascension of his brother Tsar Nicholas II, he became second in line behind his brother George. George died in an motorcycle accident in 1899 which made Mikhail the next in line. When Nicholas’s son Alexei was born, he was no longer next but because of the boys delicate health, having hemophilia, he was regarded as the likely heir should anything happen to his brother.

While most would think that being born into a family as wealthy as the Romanov’s would mean a life of luxury, it was not so with Mikhail and his siblings. Tsar Alexander III believed that the children should live a spartan life, sleeping on hard beds, and washing themselves in cold water. Still, life for them was far better than the majority of Russians of the time. Life changed dramatically for Mikhail as his father died when he was just 15 years of age. He was quickly enrolled in military school to prepare him for the potential to take over as Tsar should it come to that.

His love life began in controversy as he fell in love with his first cousin, Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their proposed marriage was denied by both the Russian Orthodox Church as well as his brother, Tsar Nicholas II. He reluctantly ended the relationship. Next up was a relationship that horrified the Tsar’s family as Mikhail fell in love with a commoner, Alexandra Kossikovskaya. Dina as she was known was never accepted by the family as they had her followed constantly by the Russian secret Police, the Okhrana.

Eventually, he met someone Natalia Sergeyevna Wulfert, the wife of a fellow military officer. The Tsar’s family was once again aghast at Mikhail. Eventually she would divorce her husband to marry Mikhail but much to the chagrin of his family, she gave birth to a boy George, before the divorce was finalized. The Romanov’s back dated the divorce to avoid further embarrassment.

When World War I began, Mikhail asked to return to Russia with his wife and child to help with the war effort. He served bravely in the war but he felt that it was a tragedy for the people. With the war going so poorly for the Russians, he was further dismayed when his brother Tsar Nicholas II decided to take over as Supreme Commander. His countless mistakes caused great suffering and terrible casualties among the brave Russian soldiers.

Mikhail believed that the people were beginning to oppose his brothers reign and told him so in a letter in 1916. By March 15, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, first giving his son Alexei the throne but after careful thinking, he changed his mind and gave up his throne to brother Mikhail. He wrote, “We have judged it right to abdicate the Throne of the Russian State and to lay down the Supreme Power. Not wishing to be parted from Our Beloved Son, We hand over Our Succession to Our Brother the Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich and Bless Him on his accession to the Throne.”

Mikhail was not told of the decree until the next morning. After careful deliberation and pressure from the Provisional Government, Mikhail conditionally declined the offer, effectively ending the Romanov Dynasty. Nicholas was very disappointed but had little choice in the matter.

On August 21, 1917, Mikhail was put under house arrest and while later released, the Bolsheviks, now in power, rearrested him. On June 13, 1918, Mikhail Alexanderovich Romanov, would become the first of the royal family to be murdered. It was an ignominious death of a man so close to the pinnacle of power as the presumptive last Tsar of Russia.

 

About Mark Schauss

Hi, I'm Mark Schauss and I an internationally known lecturer on environmental and nutritional health issues having spoken in North America, Asia, South America, Europe and soon in Australia. I also have a deep interest in history, especially Russian history because of my heritage through my mother's side of the family. Another large influence on my love of Russian History is my college professor the late Dr. Paul Avrich. His classes were always full and his passion for history was amazing. I wish he could have found out about my podcast before he passed away.

5 Responses to Tsar Mikhail Romanov?

  1. mark December 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    I thought that the Czar/Tsar couldn’t choose who to abdicate in favour of and the throne had to go to his eldest son.

    • Mark Schauss December 9, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      According to the rules from Paul I, you are right, the Tsar couldn’t. In this case though, because of Alexei’s hemophilia, it was thought that he would not be strong enough to rule and would not satisfy the populace.

      • Mark Adams October 24, 2014 at 1:57 am #

        I’m guessing his youth had something to do with it and may have allowed his father to make the decision for him.

  2. Fred Trainor September 22, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Mark;
    I am writing a fictional novel set in, and revolving around, the Romanovs. Where will I find conditions of Mikhail’s house arrest in Perm? I know how long he was there and what happened in the end but do you know the conditions of his detainment? How it was structured? How he passed his time? Would appreciate any help you could offer.
    Thank you,
    Fred Trainor
    Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

    • Mark Schauss October 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      Fred,

      Sorry for the delay in responding but the page was filled with spam and I finally weeded them out. Boy this is a tough one as I don’t know of anything about this. Wish I could help.

      Mark
      Mark Schauss recently posted…Russian Generals of the Napoleonic EraMy Profile

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