When I was a kid in the 80s, I remember watching a made for TV movie about the well known Anastasia imposter Anna Anderson. This sparked an interest in the fall of the Romanov Dynasty. In junior high, I read Massie’s masterpiece Nicholas and Alexandra. In 10th grade, my World History teacher showed us the movie in class.This was shortly after the Russian’s announced the discovery of the first grave with 9 bodies. Over time, I branched out and studied other areas of Russian History as well, particularly their role in the Great Patriotic War. I even began to study the language. I remember waiting with much excitement the results of the DNA testing done on the first set of remains and on the second set found in 2007. At last, we had a final ending to the story and I’m glad it happened in my lifetime.
I am not a monarchist by any means. I abhor the idea of a nobility where one man is better than me by virtue of his birth. However, I cannot help but feel pity for the children of the Tsar given the horrible manner in which they died. No matter the alleged “crimes” of their father, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei did not deserve their fate. But one of the daughters has held a special place in my heart from when I first saw the above photo many years ago.
Maria Nikolaevna Romanova. My wife (aka The Redhead) says I have a history crush on Maria, perhaps because I keep a photo of her on my desk. Given the fact that The Redhead has not one but two photos of Manfred von Richthofen on her desk (she’s German, so…..), she has no room to criticize. And who knows? Maybe she’s right. Maybe I do have a bit of a history crush. But it isn’t just that. For some reason, in the photos Maria looks as though she’s looking straight into my eyes, and perhaps my soul. All of Nicholas’ daughters were beautiful young ladies, though each in their own way, but Maria speaks to me the most.
I’m not Russian Orthodox. I’m Irish Catholic. As such, things such as icons are frowned on officially (though we are allowed our candles…..I guess that is “different”). However, I have an icon of the Romanov Family (Holy Martyrs/Passion Bearers) on my wall. As a former police officer, Saint Michael is my homeboy. I wear a medal with his likeness on a chain and I speak to him daily. Before I leave the house each morning, I repeat “Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle….etc”. But I also speak to Maria Nikolaevna. I tell her of my hopes and fears, and of my battles with disease and injury. I ask her to intercede on my behalf, and I like to think she does.
One day I’ll get to meet her, after my body final gives up the fight. Perhaps my spirit will travel back in time so I can dance just one waltz with her at a ball in Saint Petersburg. After that, I have other places to go and people to visit, but she’s the one I’d like to meet first. So maybe it is a history crush. Or maybe it is just a profound respect.