- Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg
Duke Alexander Petrovich Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg Spouse Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg Issue Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg Full name Alexander Friedrich Constantine von Holstein-Gottorp, Duke of Oldenburg House House of Holstein-Gottorp Father Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg Mother Princess Therese of Nassau-Weilburg Born 2 June 1844
St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died 6 September 1932(aged 88)
Burial Cimetière du Sabaou, Biarritz, France
Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg (2 June 1844 - 6 September 1932) was the second son of Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg and his wife Princess Therese of Nassau-Weilburg. Though he had a German title and ancestry, Alexander and his siblings were born and raised in St. Petersburg as the grandchildren of Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia.
Alexander served as Adjutant general to Alexander III of Russia, and also as commanding general of the Imperial Guard. Alexander was the Russian candidate submitted to succeed Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria, though this nomination failed to gain the support of the other great European powers. At the outbreak of World War I, Nicholas II of Russia appointed Alexander, a medical doctor, as supreme chief of the medical service of the military and naval forces.
Alexander and his wife Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg were noted for their philanthropy, establishing schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable organizations in Russia. During World War I, the duke famously invited wounded British and French soldiers to stay for free in a sanatorium he founded in the Crimea. When the Russian revolution broke out, Alexander was reported to have been one of the Imperial family killed by the newly emerged Bolshevik government, though this turned out to be only a rumor as the duke was able to escape and hide away in Finland and eventually to France, where he died at Biarritz on 6 September 1932.
Family and early life
Alexander's grandfather had married Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna, daughter of Paul I of Russia, and their descendants had been raised in Russia ever since and become completely "Russianized". Thus despite his German title, Duke Alexander, like his father before him, had grown up entirely in Russia, serving his military service for the czars. He was always considered a part of the Russian imperial family.
On 19 January 1868, Alexander married Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg, a daughter of Maximilian de Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg. Like his own family, Eugenia was also an offshoot of the Imperial family, as her mother was Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, a daughter of Nicholas I of Russia. She was entitled to the rank Imperial Highness, and was born and raised in St. Petersburg.
The couple had one son, Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg (21 November 1868 – 11 March 1924). Eugenia had a long-standing friendship with Empress Maria Feodorovna, and the two helped arrange the marriage of Eugenia's son to Maria's daughter Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna.
Military and professional career
Like his two brothers, Alexander served in the Russian army. He held the position of Adjutant-General to Emperor Alexander III. He was also the commanding general of the Imperial Guard. Alexander served on the State Council
In 1889, Alexander resigned the office of commanding general of the Imperial Guard, because of the increasingly anti-German tone pervading into Russian politics, and also because he wanted to remove barriers that would bar his succession to the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. Emperor Alexander refused his resignation, but gave the duke an eleven month leave of absence.
Alexander was one of the richest princes in Russia in both landed and funded property; this was also partly due to the wealth of his wife, whose inherited wealth, as the granddaughter of Nicholas I of Russia, was said to be enormous. Alexander was also second-in-line to the throne of Oldenburg, as Frederick Augustus II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg had only one young son, Hereditary Grand Duke Nikolaus; were he to die before his father, Alexander would have became heir presumptive. Because of this wealth, it was expected that Alexander and his family would remain in Russia and give up their claim to the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, were they to succeed to that particular territory.
Alexander was a doctor of medicine and undertook active management of the hospitals he helped in founding. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Emperor Nicholas II appointed Alexander to the post of supreme chief of the medical service of the military and naval forces. Though his selection as a royal duke was unusual to hold such a high medical-related position, there had been another precedent in another royal house, Prince Louis Ferdinand of Bavaria, who at that time was serving as surgeon general to the German army.
Candidate for Bulgarian throne
After Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria abdicated on 7 September 1886, various replacement candidates were proposed by the great European powers, particularly by the governments of Russia and Germany. Because of his Russian background, Alexander was recommended at his government's suggestion for the Bulgarian crown. Not only was he married to a Russian princess, and was himself the grandson of a Russian grand duchess, but he also held the positions of Adjutant-General to Emperor Alexander, and was the Commanding General of the Imperial Guard. It was also assumed that although he would lose much of his property if he succeeded to Oldenburg, he would be able to keep his wealth if he became the sovereign of Bulgaria because of Emperor Alexander's support.
In several desperate attempts to prevent Russia from gaining control of Bulgaria however, the throne was offered to candidates who lacked Russian ties, such as a prince of Denmark or even the king of Romania. In the end, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was chosen, becoming Ferdinand I of Bulgaria.
Like his father before him, Alexander was well-educated and clever, and concentrated much of his time and energy to philanthropic works throughout Russia. He was president of several schools as well as the St. Petersburg-based Institute of Experimental Medicine. Alexander and Eugenia founded the Oldenburg Institute at Petrograd, where more than two thousands girls and boys received technical educations while being taught trades and given free lodging and food, all at the expense of the duke and duchess. Their extensive donations helped fund and found technical schools, hospitals, orphanages, as well as other philanthropic institutions all over Russia. As Alexander was a doctor, he was deeply involved in the management of these hospitals, taking charge of the sick and wounded on their departure from the field hospitals. In his position as chief of head of medical services for the Russian army and navy, Alexander invited hundreds of wounded French and British officers to stay free-of-charge in a sanatorium he founded in the Crimea. He also greatly improved the organization of wounded soldiers at the front.
While attending the opening of the Institute of Experimental Medicine as its main benefactor in January 1907, a prominent government official, General von Launitz, was assassinated before Alexander and Eugenia's eyes. The general was standing a few steps away from her husband, so that Eugenia, believing at first that Alexander had been the one killed, fell into a faint.
He and his wife's charitable exploits became so well-known that a newspaper declared in 1914 that because they devoted their lives and the greater portion of their wealth to philanthropy, "there are probably no two who are so universally beloved as the Duke and Duchess Alexander of Oldenburg".
In 1902, a mob of peasants burned Alexander's southern Russian estate of Ramon, which had been a gift from Eugenia's uncle Emperor Alexander II upon the couple's marriage. Acting out of labor unrest and what was incorrectly perceived as a fake pronouncement that the Emperor would take back land given to peasants, a mob of angry people traveled throughout southern Russia and caused extensive damage. The estate survived, but fifteen years later, it would be confiscated by the new Bolshevik regime, and turned into a barracks, school, hospital, and housing for a nearby factory.
By 1914, Alexander was almost an "invalid", traveling with the help of a nurse for his care. Later that year, while driving just outside of Wiesenthal in Baden with his valet and nurse, Alexander was in an auto wreck, sustaining very grave injuries. His gentleman-in-waiting and others who were traveling with the duke, either in his car or another driving behind them, were also injured in the crash, as it involved both vehicles. Alexander survived the wreck.
Despite his well-known charitable activities, a price was put on his head by the newly emerged Bolshevik regime, who also destroyed the institutions he founded. During the Russian revolution, Alexander was reported to have been one of the members of the Imperial family killed by the government. Further reports revealed however that Alexander had been in hiding in Finland ever since the revolution broke out, eventually turning up in Paris. As he left his property (and thus the main source of his wealth) in Russia, Alexander found himself relatively penniless in France. He died in exile at Biarritz on 6 September 1932. He was buried at Cimetière du Sabaou in Biarritz.
Titles, styles, honours, and arms
Titles and styles
- 2 June 1844 – 6 September 1932 His Imperial Highness Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg
- Order of St. Anna; 3rd class (30 August 1866), 1st class (7/1/1868)
- Order of St. Andrew (1 July 1868)
- Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (1 July 1868)
- Order of the White Eagle (1 July 1868)
- Order of St. Stanislaus, 1st class (7/1/1868)
- Order of St. Vladimir 3rd class (30 August 1870), 2nd class with swords (in contrast against the Turks under Filippolem 3-05.01.1878 city (4/8/1878)), 1st class (6/5/1900)
- Order of St. George 4th class ("For courage and bravery, rendered in multi-temporal affairs of the Turks in 1877"; 1 January 1878)
- Gold Sword for Bravery, for the transition through the Balkans (24 June 1878)
Ancestors of Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg 16. Prince Georg Ludwig of Holstein-Gottorp 8. Peter I, Grand Duke of Oldenburg 17. Princess Sophie Charlotte of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck 4. Duke George of Oldenburg 18. Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg 9. Duchess Frederica of Württemberg 19. Margravine Friederike Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt 2. Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg 20. Peter III of Russia 10. Paul I of Russia 21. Catherine II of Russia 5. Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia 22. Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg 11. Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg 23. Margravine Friederike Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt 1. Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg 24. Charles Christian, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg 12. Frederick William, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg 25. Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau 6. William, Duke of Nassau 26. Wilhelm Georg, Count of Sayn-Hachenburg, Burgrave of Kirchberg 13. Burgravine Louise Isabelle of Kirchberg 27. Princess Isabella Auguste Reuss of Greiz 3. Princess Therese of Nassau-Weilburg 28. Ernest Frederick III, Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen 14. Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg 29. Princess Ernestine of Saxe-Weimar 7. Princess Louise of Saxe-Hildburghausen 30. Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg 15. Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 31. Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt
- ^ a b "OLDENBURG". Royalty Guide. http://www.royaltyguide.nl/families/oldenburg/oldenburgdukes1.htm. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
- ^ a b c d Lundy, Darryl. "The Peerage: Alexander Friedrich Constantine von Holstein-Gottorp, Duke of Oldenburg". http://thepeerage.com/p11050.htm#i110494. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
- ^ a b c d e f g "Alexander of Oldenburg", The New York Times, 3 October 1886
- ^ a b c d e "Russia and Bulgaria", The Manchester Guardian, 7 September 1886
- ^ a b c d e "Princess A Philanthropist", The Washington Post, 13 February 1907
- ^ a b c d "Duke Victim of Auto Wreck", The Washington Post, 9 July 1914
- ^ a b c d e "Europe's Famous Royal Surgeons", The Washington Post, 1 October 2010
- ^ a b "The Czar's New Brother-In-Law", The Washington Post, 6 April 1901
- ^ Vassili, Paul. Behind the Veil at the Russian Court. p. 246. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KoOHT68PYMkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=Leuchtenberg+princess+grand+duchess+maria&ots=nVW2nQKjYJ&sig=qxAno3KeKBODQdal1fvXPViBb0Q#v=onepage&q=Leuchtenberg&f=false.
- ^ a b "Current Foreign Topics", The New York Times (St. Petersburg), 31 August 1889
- ^ a b c d e f g h "Duke Alexander Not Slain By Bolsheviki; Safe in Paris", The Washington Post, 21 April 1919
- ^ Louda, Jiri; Michael Maclagan (1981). Lines of Succession. London: Orbis Publishing Ltd. p. 297. ISBN 0460045199.
- ^ a b Radziwill, Catherine (1915). Memories of Forty Years. London: Funk & Wagnalls Company. p. 236. http://books.google.com/books?id=uiwNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA235&dq=Leuchtenberg+princess+grand+duchess&hl=en&ei=O8C4TOGnBMm6ngfVh-HSDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=snippet&q=Leuchtenberg&f=false.
- ^ Vassili, Paul. Behind the Veil at the Russian Court. p. 128. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KoOHT68PYMkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=Leuchtenberg+princess+grand+duchess+maria&ots=nVW2nQKjYJ&sig=qxAno3KeKBODQdal1fvXPViBb0Q#v=onepage&q=Leuchtenberg&f=false.
- ^ a b c "German Prince Opens Hotels To Wounded British Officers", The Washington Post, 18 July 1915
- ^ a b "The Oldenburg Estate at Ramon". Royal Russian News. http://www.angelfire.com/pa/ImperialRussian/news/ramon.html. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- ^ "Russian Mob Burns Another Chateau", The New York Times (St. Petersburg), 2 May 1902
- ^ "Russian Affairs", The Independent (St. Petersburg), 8 May 1902
The generations are numbered from the ascension of Frederick August I as Duke of Oldenburg in 1774 and remain unchanged even when its ruler became Grand Dukes. 1st GenerationWilliam I 2nd GenerationAugustus I · Duke George 3rd Generation 4th GenerationDuke Nikolaus Petrovich* · Duke Alexander Petrovich · Duke Georg Petrovich · Duke Konstantin Petrovich* · Frederick Augustus II · Duke Georg Ludwig 5th Generation 6th Generation 7th GenerationDuke Friedrich August · Duke Christian · Duke Nikolaus · Duke Georg Moritz · Duke Paul Wladimir · Duke Konstantin Nikolaus 8th GenerationDuke Christoph · Duke Georg · Duke Alexander · Duke Oscar · Duke Philipp · Duke Anton Friedrich · Duke Kirill · Duke Carlos · Duke Paul all Dukes were also by right Princes of Holstein-Gottorp
*may have lost his title due to an unequal marriage
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