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The Romanovs : 1613-1918
by Simon Sebag Montefiore and Simon Russell Beale

Overview -

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition.  Read more...



 

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More About The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore; Simon Russell Beale
 
 
 
Overview

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore's gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.
To rule Russia was both imperial-sacred mission and poisoned chalice: six of the last twelve tsars were murdered. Peter the Great tortured his own son to death while making Russia an empire, and dominated his court with a dining club notable for compulsory drunkenness, naked dwarfs and fancy dress. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband (who was murdered soon afterward), enjoyed affairs with a series of young male favorites, conquered Ukraine and fascinated Europe. Paul I was strangled by courtiers backed by his own son, Alexander I, who in turn faced Napoleon's invasion and the burning of Moscow, then went on to take Paris. Alexander II liberated the serfs, survived five assassination attempts and wrote perhaps the most explicit love letters ever composed by a ruler. The Romanovs climaxes with a fresh, unforgettable portrayal of Nicholas II and Alexandra, the rise and murder of Rasputin, war and revolution—and the harrowing massacre of the entire family.
Dazzlingly entertaining and beautifully written from start to finish, The Romanovs brings these monarchs—male and female, great and flawed, their families and courts—blazingly to life. Drawing on new archival research, Montefiore delivers an enthralling epic of triumph and tragedy, love and murder, encompassing the seminal years 1812, 1914 and 1917, that is both a universal study of power and a portrait of empire that helps define Russia today.


 
Details
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
  • Date: May 2016
 
Excerpts

From the cover
ACT I

THE RISE

SCENE 1

The Brideshows

CAST

THE LAST OF THE RURIKID TSARS

IVAN THE TERRIBLE 1547–84

Anastasia Romanovna Zakharina-Yurieva, his first tsarina

Ivan Ivanovich, their eldest son and heir, murdered by his father

FYODOR I, their second son, tsar 1584–98

Dmitri Ivanovich, Ivan the Terrible's last son, mysteriously killed. Identity assumed by three impostors, the False Dmitris

THE TIME OF TROUBLES: tsars and pretenders

BORIS GODUNOV, tsar 1598–1605

THE FALSE DMITRI, tsar 1605–6

VASILY SHUISKY, tsar 1606–10

Second False Dmitri, known as the "Brigand of Tushino"

Ivan Dmitrievich, the "Baby Brigand"

Marina Mniszech, daughter of a Polish nobleman, wife of the First False Dmitri, Second False Dmitri and Ivan Zarutsky, mother of the Baby Brigand, known as "Marinka the Witch"

Warlords

Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, hero of the resistance

Kuzma Minin, merchant of Nizhny Novgorod, leader of the resistance

Prince Dmitri Trubetskoi, aristocrat and leader of Cossacks

Foreign invaders

King Sigismund III of Poland

Prince Władysław of Poland, later king

Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden

THE FIRST OF THE ROMANOVS

Nikita Romanovich Zakharin-Yuriev, brother of Anastasia, first wife of Ivan the Terrible

His son Fyodor Nikitich Romanov, later the priest Filaret

Ksenia Shestova, later the Nun Martha, Fyodor's wife

Their son, MICHAEL, the first Romanov tsar, 1613–45

Ivan Romanov, Fyodor's brother, Michael's uncle, boyar

Anna Khlopova, Michael's first fiancée

Maria Dolgorukaya, his first wife

Eudoxia Streshneva, his second wife

Irina, tsarevna, daughter of Michael and Eudoxia

ALEXEI, son and heir of Michael and Eudoxia, tsar 1645–76

COURTIERS: ministers etc.

Fyodor Sheremetev, Romanov cousin, boyar and chief minister

Mikhail Saltykov, Romanov cousin, royal cupbearer and armsbearer

Prince Ivan Cherkassky, Romanov cousin of Circassian descent, boyar

Prince Dmitri Cherkassky, Romanov cousin of Circassian descent, boyar

Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, patriotic warlord, later boyar and chief commander

Prince Dmitri Trubetskoi, aristocrat and Cossack warlord, candidate for tsar

Michael was in no rush to proceed to Moscow, but Moscow was desperate for him to arrive. In the civil war, the contestants for supremacy—aristocratic magnates, foreign kings, Cossack chieftains, impostors and adventurers—had fought their way towards Moscow, hungry to seize the crown. But Michael Romanov and the Nun Martha were unenthusiastic. There has never been a more miserable, whining and melancholic procession to a throne. But the plight of Russia early in 1613 was dire, its trauma dystopian. The territory between Kostroma and Moscow was dangerous; Michael would pass through villages where dead bodies lay strewn in the streets. Russia was far smaller than the Russian Federation today; its border with Sweden in the north was close to Novgorod, that with Poland–Lithuania close to Smolensk, much of Siberia in the east was unconquered, and most of the south was still the territory of the khanate of the Tatars. But it was still a vast territory with around 14 million people, compared to about 4 million in England at the time. Yet Russia had almost disintegrated; famine and war had culled its population; the Poles were still hunting the boy-tsar; Swedish and Polish–Lithuanian armies were massing to advance into Russia; Cossack warlords ruled swathes of...

 
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