Grand Russia
Grand Russia
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia was a son of Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia and a first cousin of Emperor Alexander III. He was a General in the Russian army in World War I. During the Russian Revolution, he was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks and shot by a firing squad, along with his brother, Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich, and his cousins Grand Dukes Paul Alexandrovich and Dimitri Konstantinovich.
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    FIFTIES
  • 1919
    Age 55
    Died on January 28, 1919.
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  • 1918
    Age 54
    During these months George Mikhailovich frequently managed to smuggle letters to his wife, the last one dated 27 November 1918.
    More Details Hide Details His wife unsuccessfully tried to buy out his freedom and that of the other three Grand Dukes for fifty thousand pounds through the Danish minister in St Petersburg. Grand Duke George wrote to his wife in England, “We were each given a cell, and later on were joined by Dmitry. I saw him arriving through the iron bars of my window, and was struck by his sad expression. The first twenty-four hours were hard, but after that, they luckily allowed us to have our camp beds and also our clothes. There is no one in the prison but we three”. He informed that they were guarded, by soldiers from the Baltic provinces. “They treat us like comrades, and have not locked our cells after the second day, while they allow us to walk in the small garden in the courtyard. Our food is brought from outside. ” While imprisoned, rumors of the tsar's assassination reached them; this seemed to indicate the worst and Grand Duke George was, of the three Grand Dukes, the more pessimistic. On 21 July, all of the exiled Grand Dukes in Vologda were again transferred back to Petrograd. In the former Imperial capital, the men were quickly imprisoned with six other detainees in a cell at Cheka Headquarters.
    On 3 April 1918, he was arrested and brought back to Petrograd under the escort of Red Guards.
    More Details Hide Details Initially he was just required not to leave the city. Because his palace had been occupied by the Red Army, he went to live in the house of his former secretary. The following month the Petrograd newspapers published a decree ordering all the Romanovs to report to the Cheka, the Soviet secret police. Grand Duke George went with his secretary and had an interview with Moisei Uritsky, one of the Bolshevik leaders of Petrograd. He was allowed to remain free, but shortly thereafter the Bolsheviks decided to send the members of the Romanov family, who had complied with the previous registration, into internal Russian exile. George was summoned again now to be sent to Vologda. When he arrived at Vologda, he was met at the station by a commercial agent in whose house he was to live. It was a tiny house and George felt in the way of his host who lived with his wife and four children. He found another house that belonged to a rich merchant and was well treated by the owner. He shared his exile with his brother Nicholas and with his cousin Dmitry Konstantinovich. They could move freely around town and visited each other frequently. On the morning of 14 July, two days before the murder of Nicholas II and his family, a car with four heavily armed men arrived and collected the Grand Dukes from their lodgings; they were arrested and interned in a small, walled village prison, where they could be more easily guarded.
    In January 1918, he was informed that Nicholas II and his family were sent as prisoners to Tobolsk.
    More Details Hide Details Eventually the situation took a turn for the worse in Finland. Desperate to escape and be reunited with his family after four years of separation, he made the mistake to ask for a new passport and permission to leave the country to the new Soviet government. This eventually sealed his fate.
  • 1917
    Age 53
    In the winter of 1917, he left Retierve because the house was too cold and went to live in Helsingfors.
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    In June 1917, he managed to get permission to go to Finland and rented a villa at Retierve, a small village.
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    With the fall of the monarchy he resigned from his military post on 31 March 1917.
    More Details Hide Details He wanted to go to England but the British government had forbidden the entrance of any Russian Grand Duke. Prince L'vov, the first post-imperial prime minister of Russia, refused George's request to let him leave the country. Three months after the fall of the Romanovs, George was allowed by the provincial government to leave for Finland, whence he hoped to escape to Sweden and find his way to his family in England.
  • 1916
    Age 52
    In 1916, convinced of the imminence of the Revolution, George tried to persuade Nicholas II of the need to grant a constitution.
    More Details Hide Details He was at Gatchina when Nicholas II abdicated.
    At the beginning of 1916, he returned to Russia by Vladivostok, and on his way back inspected the situation in the Far East.
    More Details Hide Details Later, he was sent to visit German and Austrian prisoners of war. Early in 1917, he was sent to visit the Russian army corps in Bessarabia and Romania; on his way he visited Empress Maria Feodorovna in Kiev and in Bucharest, Queen Maria of Romania, whom he had once wanted to marry. He came back to Mogilev, the headquarters of Nicholas II. He was in St Petersburg at the start of the revolution.
  • 1915
    Age 51
    In March 1915, George Mikhailovich was appointed patron of the 4th Kabansky Sentry Battalion.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year, he was sent in a mission to Japan, then an ally in the war against Germany. First, he visited Korea and from there, he took a ship to Japan.
    In 1915, he was appointed as aide-de-camp to the commander in chief and Nicholas II employed him as supervisor of operations.
    More Details Hide Details In this position, he had to report to the Emperor about the general situation on the front. He found terrible disorganization in all levels, particularly at the rear of the army, he exposed a lot of corruption, making some enemies with his reports. To help with the war effort, he also organized a private hospital in his palace in St Petersburg.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1900
    Age 36
    The wedding took place only four years later and at her insistence on Greece soil, in Corfu on 12 May 1900.
    More Details Hide Details The couple spent their honeymoon in Italy and after visiting Austria they settled in Russia. They spoke French to each other. George and his wife lived for six years in apartments at the Mikhailovsky palace outside St Petersburg, the residence of his father Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia. They had two daughters: Princess Nina in 1901 and Princess Xenia in 1903. In 1905, the family moved to a newly built small palace in the Crimea. Constructed in English style, they gave the property a Greek name, Harax. For nine years the Grand Duke and his wife led a quiet life. George was a devoted father, but his marriage was a failure. Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna never liked Russia and eventually became estranged from her husband. In June 1914, Maria took her two daughters to England on the pretext of improving her daughters’ health; in reality, she wanted to be separated from her husband. When the war broke out a month after her arrival, the Grand Duchess did not rush back to Russia and later it was too dangerous to attempt a return. Grand Duke George never saw his wife or daughters again.
  • 1896
    Age 32
    In April 1896, he arrived in Athens and asked her hand in marriage.
    More Details Hide Details She would have wanted to remain in Greece but she had been forbidden to marry a commoner she had fallen in love with and ultimately decided to accept Grand Duke George proposal instead of her other suitor, Prince Aleksandar Obrenović of Serbia. Their courtship took place during the Olympic Games in Athens, but she made clear she was not in love with him; it was a marriage of convenience.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1892
    Age 28
    In 1892, he wanted to marry Princess Marie of Edinburgh, but her mother promptly arranged her marriage to Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania.
    More Details Hide Details Eventually, George became interested in Princess Maria of Greece and Denmark, the youngest daughter of King George I of the Hellenes and Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia. Maria of Greece was neither beautiful nor interested in marrying him, but he persevered.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1863
    Born
    Grand Duke George Mikhailovich was born at Bielyi-Kliutsch, in the Tiflis Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Georgia) on 23 August 1863, the third son and fourth child of the seven children of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia and his wife Grand Duchess Olga Fyodorovna, born Princess Cecily of Baden.
    More Details Hide Details Known in the family as “ Gogi”, he grew up in Georgia when his father was the Governor-General of Russian provinces of Transcaucasia. He received a Spartan upbringing that included sleeping in army cots and taking cold baths and was educated at home by private tutors. His father occupied in military and governmental endeavors remained a distant figure. His mother was a strict disciplinarian and the dominating force in the family. Like his brothers, George Mikhailovich was destined for a military career. Just after his baptism, he was appointed patron of the 3rd battalion of the Life Guards cavalry and granted the rank of adjutant general. He started his career in the Caucasus and continued it in Saint Petersburg where his family moved when he was 18 years old. He was very tall, about six-foot four, had brown eyes, no beard, but a large mustache. At an early age, he became bald. In his youth, he fell into the typical lifestyle of the rich noble Russian: drinking parties, gambling, and women. He also had an intellectual bend and was a painter of some ability. His interest in the Arts eventually led him to serve as curator of the Alexander III Museum, today the Russian Museum, in St Petersburg, a position he held for many years. In 1898, he was appointed chairman of the Russian genealogical society.
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