Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia


Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia

Infobox Russian Royalty|grand duke
name = Alexei Alexandrovich
title =Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia



imgw = 200px
caption =
spouse = Alexandra Vasilievna Zhukovskaya
issue = Alexei Alexandrovich
imperial house =House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
father =Alexander II of Russia
mother =Marie of Hesse and by Rhine
date of birth = birth date|1850|1|14|mf=y
place of birth = Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
date of death =death date and age|1908|11|14|1850|14|1|mf=y
place of death =Paris, France
place of burial=|

The Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov of Russia (St. Petersburg January 14, 1850 (January 4 O.S.) – Paris, November 14, 1908) was the sixth child and the fourth son of Alexander II of Russia and his first wife Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse). Destined to a naval career, Alexei Alexandrovich started his military training at the age of 7. By the age of 20 he had been appointed lieutenant of the Russian Imperial Navy and had visited all European military ports of Russia. In 1871 he was sent as a goodwill ambassador to the United States and Japan.

In 1883 he was appointed general admiral. He had a significant contribution in the equipment of the Russian navy with new ships and in modernizing the naval ports. In 1905, after the defeat in the Battle of Tsushima he was relieved of his command. He died in Paris in 1908.

Youth

The Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov of Russia was born in Saint Petersburg on January 14, 1850 (January 4 O.S.). He was the son of emperor Alexander II and empress Maria Alexandrovna. He was a younger brother of Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna, Tsarevich Nikolay Alexandrovich, Alexander III of Russia, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia and He was an older brother of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia and Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich. Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich was destined for a naval career since his childhood. At the age of 7 he received the rank of midshipman. The next year Konstantin Nikolayevich Posyet was appointed as his tutor. While the winters were dedicated to theoretical studies, during the summers he trained on Russian warships of the Baltic fleet stationed in Saint Petersburg harbour. The training was rough, but gave him the possibility of getting used to various sailing ships:
* in 1860 the yacht "Shtandart" on a cruise from Peterhof to Livada
* in 1861 – 1863 the yacht "Zabava" under the flag of counter-admiral Posyet in the Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia,
* in 1864 the frigate "Svetlana" in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea
* in 1866 the frigate "Oslyabya" during an extensive training cruise to the Azore Islands. Ю.Л.Коршунов - Последний генерал-адмирал (Великий князь Алексей Александрович) - [http://www.cruiserx.narod.ru/alexey.htm] ]

On September 18, 1866 Grand Duke Alexei was promoted lieutenant. He continued his navy career serving as officer aboard the frigate "Alexander Nevski" on a cruise in across the Mediterranean Sea to Pireaus, where he attended the wedding of his cousin Olga Konstantinovna.

In 1868 he went on a trip to southern Russia traveling by train from Saint Petersburg to Nikolaevsk, continuing by ship down the Volga to Astrakhan. He then boarded a military ship for a cruise on the Caspian Sea to Baku, [Petrovsk (now Makhachkala) and then to Iran. He then crossed the Caucasus and reached Poti where the "Alexander Nevsky" was moored. From there he sailed to Constantinople, Athens and the Azore Islands On the return voyage, on the frigate was involved in a shipwreck off the coast of Jutland during a storm on the North Sea. Though the ship was lost, the crew including Alexei Alexandrovitch was unhurt and could safely reach the shore.

In January 1870 Alexei Alexandrovich reached the age of majority according to Russian legislation. The event was marked by taking two oaths : the military one and the oath of allegiance of the Grand Dukes of the Russian Imperial House. In June 1870 Alexei Alexandrovich started the last part of his training. This included inland navigation on a cutter with a steam engine, on the route from Saint Petersburg to Arkhangelsk through the Mariinsk Canal system and the Northern Dvina River. After visiting the schools and industrial facilities of Arkhangelsk, he started his navigation training in arctic conditions, aboard the corvette "Variag". His cruise took him to the Solovetsky Islands, continuing through the White Sea and Barents Sea to Novaya Zemlya. The route continued to Kola Bay and the city of Murmansk, the ports of northern Norway and Iceland. He returned to Cronstadt at the end of September.

Love affair with Alexandra Zhukovskaya

In 1869/1870, Alexei had an affair with Alexandra Zhukovskaya, daughter of poet Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky, who was eight years older than him. They were parents to a son, Alexei, born on November 26, 1871. Tsar Alexander II was strongly opposed to this relationship.

Some historians claim that they were morganatically married and that the marriage was annuled by the Russian Orthodox Church [ Jacques Ferrand - Descendances naturelles des souverains et Grand-Ducs de Russie de 1762 à 1910, Paris, 1995] , [ Jacques Ferrand - Les familles comtales de l’Ancien Empire de Russie, Paris, 1999] because, according to the "Fundamental Laws of the Imperial House", this marriage was illegal. However, articles 183 and 188, which prohibited marriages without the consentment of the emperor, were included in the Fundamental Laws only by the 1887 revision under Tsar Alexander III. The rules valid in 1870 did not prohibit mornaganatic marriages, but simply exluded their offspring from the succession to the throne. [ 1797 Fundamental laws of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Официальный сайт Российского Императорского Дома [http://www.imperialhouse.ru/eng/dynastyhistory/dinzak3/427.html] ] There is no evidence either to the marriage or to the divorce. There is also no evidence that the Grand Duke even requested the permission to marry. As Alexandra Zhukovskaya, was not an aristocrat and, besides, the daughter of an illegitimate son of a Russian landowner and a Turkish slave, such a marriage would have been unthinkable.Stanislaw Dumin - Les Romanov et la république de Saint-Marin [http://www.geneacademie.org/San_Marin/055-SM.pdf] ]

Upset by his son's affair, Alexander II even refused to grant Alexandra Zhukovskaya a title, which would have officially recognized the Grand Duke's paternity, even if illegitimate. Other European courts also refused to grant her a title. As a solution of last resort, on March 25, 1875 Alexandra was able to secure the title of baroness Seggiano from the Republic of San Marino, with the right to transmit the title to her son Alexei and his firstborn male descendants. It was only in 1883, that Alexander III, the Grand Duke's elder brother, granted the baron Seggiano the title of count Belevsky, and in 1893 approved his coat of arms.

Tour of the United States

Voyage to the United States

After the official visit to Saint Petersburg of an American squadron under the command of Admiral David Farragut in 1867, a high level visit of the Russian Navy was envisaged by the Russian Government. After lengthy negotiations, it was decided that the Russian delegation would be headed by Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich. The official announcement of the visit was made on June 29, 1871 by Nikolay Karlovich Krabbe, Minister of the Imperial Russian Navy. [The Question settled. Confirmation of the Grand Duke’s visit to America – New York Times, June 30, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9802E4D71739E43BBC4850DFB066838A669FDE&scp=14&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

The Russian squadron, under the command of admiral Konstantin Nikolayevich Posyet on board the frigate "Bogalye" included the frigates "Svetlana" and "The Admiral General", the corvette "Ignatiev" and the gunboat "Abrek". The Grand Duke, was serving as lieutenant aboard the "Svetlana". Before reaching the United States, the Russian squadron was to be met by the frigate "Vsadnik" of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Though all ships were equipped with steam-engines, the squadron made the passage to America mainly under sail, so as to avoid making port on the route for coal supplies. Except for the Grand Duke’s personal staff, the crew included 200 officers and over 3000 sailors. The squadron set sail out of Kronstadt on August 20, 1871 [ Grand Duke Alexis. His Departure For America In August The Fleet Fitting Out At Cronstadt The Probable Programme. – The New York Times, May 16, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E01E5DF1639EF34BC4E52DFB366838A669FDE&scp=8&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [ Preparations for the American Tour of the Grand Duke. – The New York Times, June 19, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C02E5D81739E43BBC4152DFB066838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=Preparations+for+the+American+Tour+of+the+Grand+Duke&st=p] ] [Grand Duke Alexis. Departure of His Imperial Highness from Cronstadt. He is in Command of a Royal Squadron. – The New York Times, August 21, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9903E1DE113EEE34BC4951DFBE66838A669FDE&scp=9&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] .

The squadron first stopped in Copenhagen, where the Grand Duke paid a visit to King Christian IX of Denmark. In the English Channel the Russians were met by a squadron of the Royal Navy and escorted to Plymouth, where the Grand Duke was met by the Duke of Edinburgh Alfred of Saxe-Coburg. A visit to Balmoral Castle had been scheduled, but had to be canceled because the Prince of Wales was very sick and Queen Victoria extremely concerned. [Imposing Reception of the Grand Duke Alexis at Plymouth. The English Fleet Tender Him an Imperial Salute. Festivities at the Royal Navy Club-House. The Duke of Edinburgh Receives His Royal Cousin. Preparations at London for the Duke's Reception. – The New York Times September 18, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D01E2D81330EF34BC4052DFBF66838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=Grand+Duke+Alexis+at+Plymouth&st=p] ] The Russian squadron set sail from Plymouth on September 26. [ Departure of the Russian squadron for New York – The New York Times, September 27, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9503E5D61739E43BBC4F51DFBF66838A669FDE&scp=58&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] and, on route to New York, stopped for a few days in Funchal, (Madeira Islands), leaving on October 9. [The Russian Reception. Alexis Not Yet Arrived. Dates from Madeira – The New York Times, October 29, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D0DE7DD1439E43BBC4151DFB667838A669FDE&scp=2&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

The Russian squadron was met by an American squadron under the command of vice-admiral Stephen Clegg Rowan Port Admiral of New York hoisting his flag on the frigate "Congress". Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, commander of the North Atlantic Squadron attended on his own flagship, the "Severn". The other ships of the squadron were the "Iroquois" and the "Kansas", attended by several tugs. [ Official Reception of Prince Alexis Personals. – The New York Times, October 4, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9503EED61739E43BBC4C53DFB667838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=Official+Reception+of+Prince+Alexis+Personals&st=p] ]

A welcoming committee had been formed in New York, chaired by William Henry Aspinwall. Among the members of the committee were Moses H. Grinnell, general Irwin McDowell, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. rear-admiral S. W. Godon, John Taylor Johnston, Albert Bierstadt, Lloyd Aspinwall and others. [The Coming Reception of the Grand Duke Alexis. - The New York Times, April 27, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D0DE5D9103EEE34BC4F51DFB266838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=The+Coming+Reception+of+the+Grand+Duke+Alexis&st=p] ] After a short delay due to the weather, the Russian squadron anchored in New York harbor on November 21, 1871, where the Grand Duke was greeted by general John Adams Dix. [Honors To Alexis. A Cordial Welcome To The Russian Grand Duke. – The New York Times 22 November 1971 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A06E6DB1639EF34BC4A51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=A+Cordial+Welcome+To+The+Russian+Grand+Duke&st=p] ] A military parade took place in the city. The Grand Duke then attended a thanksgiving service at the Russian chapel. [ On Board the Mary Powell. The Grand Duke's Reception by the Committee – The New York Times November 21, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F00EEDC1639EF34BC4951DFB767838A669FDE&scp=44&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [On the Mary Powell. The Grand Duke’s Reception – The New York Times November 22 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B06E6DB1639EF34BC4A51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=On+the+Mary+Powell.+The+Grand+Duke%92s+Reception+&st=p] ]

Reception by President Grant

On November 22, the Grand Duke left for Washington by special train, placed at his disposal by the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company. The train had three cars: the "Commissariat" having all the modern improvements of a hotel, comprising store-rooms and pantry, the "Ruby", dining room car to accommodate 28 persons, with kitchen, ice boxes, and a sort of wine cellar, and "The Kearsarge" used as sitting, sleeping and reading room. [The Grand Duke. Departure from New-York for the National Capital. A Special Train at His Service Throughout the Visit. Enthusiastic Reception by the People of Baltimore. Safe Arrival of the Visitors in Washington. – The New York Times 23 November 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9901E5DB1639EF34BC4B51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=63&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

On November 23, the Grand Duke was received by president Ulysses S. Grant The president’s wife Julia Grant and his daughter Nellie Grant also attended. Most of the members of the cabinet were present at the meeting: Hamilton Fish United States Secretary of State, Columbus Delano United States Secretary of the Interior with his wife, Amos Tappan Akerman United States Attorney General with his wife, George S. Boutwell United States Secretary of the Treasury, George Maxwell Robeson United States Secretary of the Navy, general Frederick Tracy Dent (the president’s brother-in-law and military secretary), John Creswell Postmaster General of the United States as well as generals Horace Porter and Orville E. Babcock .

The Grand Duke arrived at 1 p.m. in company of minister Katakazi, admiral Posyet and other members of his suite. The president and the members of the cabinet received them in the Blue Room where the presentations were made. The president then escorted the Grand Duke to the Red Room where he was introduced to the ladies. The interview lasted only fifteen minutes, after which the Grand Duke left.

The visit to Washington was overshadowed by President Grant’s discontent caused by the Russian government’s refusal to recall Konstantin Katacazi, minister plenipotentiary of Russia to the United States. The entire visit in Washington only one day. No formal entertainment was given in Washington to the Grand Duke, though for all other visits of members of royal families to the White House, formal dinners had been organized. Such dinners had taken place when President John Tyler received François d'Orléans, prince de Joinville, when Abraham Lincoln received Prince Napoleon Joseph Bonaparte and even when Ulysses Grant received Kamehameha V, king of the Sandwich Islands. [ White House - Royal And Titled Guests, 1908 [http://www.oldandsold.com/articles31n/white-house-history-38.shtml] ] The evening of the visit to the White House, the Grand Duke and his suite dined at the minister Katakazi’s residence, the only American official attending being general Porter. At his departure the Grand Duke was asked if he intended to return to Washington. Though he expressed his interest to return during a session of Congress, the uneasy diplomatic relations due to Minister Katakazi prevented this from happening. There had also been expectations that a military alliance treaty between the United States and Russia would be signed during the meeting; however this was not the case.

The next day, the Grand Duke left by train for Annapolis where he visited the Naval Academy, thereafter returning to New York. [The Grand Duke Pays His Respects to the President. - The New York Times, 24 November 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A05E3DB1639EF34BC4C51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=74&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [ White House - Royal And Titled Guests, 1908 [http://www.oldandsold.com/articles31n/white-house-history-38.shtml] ]

The East Coast

In New York, the Grand Duke visited the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Fort Wadsworth and the fortifications on Governors Island. He also reviewed the Fire Department at Tompkins Square. A highlight was the trip by steamer on the Hudson for the visit of the United States Military Academy, West Point.

Several balls were organized in his honor, the most important being the grand balls at the Navy Yard and at the Academy of Music. Alexei also attended opera performances of "Faust" and "Mignon" at the Academy of Music. He also went on a shopping spree, stopping at the A.T. Stewart and Tiffany stores where he bought some jewellery and bronze statues. [The City of Brooklyn.; The Grand Naval Ball. Honors to Grand Duke Alexis at the Brooklyn Navy-Yard – The New York Times, November 24, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=940DE3DB1639EF34BC4C51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=46&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [Arrival In This City. The Grand Duke Reaches This City at the Appointed Hour Programme for the Coming Week. – The New York Times, November 25, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?query=Alexis&srchst=p&d=&o=&v=&c=&sort=closest&n=10&dp=0&daterange=period&year1=1871&mon1=01&day1=01&year2=1872&mon2=12&day2=31&frow=70] ] [The Grand Duke Visits the Federal Military Fortifications. . – The New York Times, November 25, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E07E7DA1639EF34BC4E51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=64&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [A Quiet Sunday for the Grand Duke and His Party. – The New York Times, November 27, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D01E6DA1639EF34BC4F51DFB767838A669FDE&scp=73&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [ The Grand Duke. His Movements Yesterday- The New York Times November 28, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E0CE7DF1539E735A7575BC2A9679D946090D7CF&scp=1&sq=The+Grand+Duke.+His+Movements+Yesterday&st=p] ] [Prince Alexis. Yesterday's Festivities in Honor of the Grand Duke. – The New York Times, November 29, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=990CE3DA1639EF34BC4151DFB767838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=Yesterday%27s+Festivities+in+Honor+of+the+Grand+Duke&st=p] ] [ How Alexis Passed the Day A Shopping Excursion – The New York Times, November 30, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980DE2DA1639EF34BC4850DFB767838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=How+Alexis+Passed+the+Day+A+Shopping+&st=p] ] [ The Grand Duke's Visit. A Trip to West Point – The New York Times December 2, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C01E1D81330EF34BC4A53DFB467838A669FDE&scp=1&sq=Grand+Duke+West+Point&st=p] ] [ The Season of Opera – The New York Times, December 2, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980CE1D81330EF34BC4A53DFB467838A669FDE&scp=76&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

On December 2, 1871, a ceremony took place at the National Academy of Design, where the Grand Duke was received by Samuel F. B. Morse, William Stoddard, William Page, Albert Bierstadt and several other artists. The painting "Farragut in the shrouds of the Hartfort at the battle of Mobile Bay" by William Page was handed over to Grand Duke Alexei as a gift of the citizens of New York for Tsar Alexander II. General John Adams Dix presented the picture and the accompanying scroll, with a brief address in which he expressed the hope that it would further cement the union that existed between the United States and Russia. The painting was placed on-board the Russian flag-ship for transportation to Russia. [Grand Duke Alexis. How He Passed His Time Yesterday And Last Evening.Presentation Of Admiral Farragut's Picture – The New York Times 3 December 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A07EFDA1639EF34BC4B53DFB467838A669FDE&scp=16&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

On December 3, 1871, the Grand Duke Alexei left for Philadelphia where he was received by general George Meade and Admiral Turner. He visited Girard College, Baird Locomotive Works and the Navy Yard. He was particularly interested by the Methodist Fair at the Horticultural Hall, where the ladies presented him an Afghan Hound. [The Grand Duke: Reception at Philadelphia – The New York Times, December 5, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F02E6D91639EF34BC4D53DFB467838A669FDE&scp=3&sq=Grand+Duke+Philadelphia&st=p] ] . [ Return of the Grand Duke – The New York Times, December 6, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=940CE5D91639EF34BC4E53DFB467838A669FDE&scp=5&sq=Grand+Duke+Philadelphia&st=p] ]

From December 7 to December 14, Grand Duke Alexei stopped in Boston, Massachusetts where he stayed at the Paul Revere House. The landau which president Lincoln rode during his visit to Boston, was prepared for the Grand Duke. He was officially welcomed at the City Hall and the State House. During his stay, the Grand Duke visited Harvard University and the suburb of Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as different public schools in the Boston area, being extensively briefed on the American education system. Other highlights of were the battlefield of Bunker Hill and the visit to the shipyards of Charlestown, Massachusetts.

The Grand Duke also attended a Music Festival where 1,200 school childred composed the great choir. At the festival, a grand march of welcome, specially composed by Julius Eichberg and dedicated to “His Imperial Highness”, was presented [Duke Alexis in Boston – The New York Times, December 9, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9501E1D91639EF34BC4153DFB467838A669FDE] ] [Alexis Visits the Boston Public Schools He Asks for Statistics, Reports, and Rules and Regulations – The New York Times December 13, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E02E6D81639EF34BC4B52DFB467838A669FDE&scp=10&sq=Grand+Duke+Boston&st=p] ]

A ball in honor of the Grand Duke took place at the Boston Theatre. The audit of the expenses shows that the cost of ball was $14.678,58 (equivalent of $750.000 today), only $8.916,29 being covered by the sale of the tickets and other receipts [The Russian Prince -How He Passed His Second Day in Boston. Particulars Concerning the Ball – The New York Times, December 10, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E02E0D91639EF34BC4852DFB467838A669FDE&scp=9&sq=Grand+Duke+Boston&st=p] ] [Expense of Boston Ball in Honor of the Grand Duke – The New York Times, December 20, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=950CE4D71639EF34BC4851DFB467838A669FDE&scp=7&sq=Grand+Duke+Boston&st=p] ]

Detour to Canada

On December 17, The Grand Duke left by train to Canada. [ Telegraphic Brevities – The New York Times, December 15, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=950CE1D81639EF34BC4D52DFB46738A669FDE&scp=75&sq=Alexis&st=p ] ] He first stopped in Montreal, where he had breakfast with the mayor of the city, and then visited Lachine, Quebec [The Grand Duke. Breakfast with the Mayor of Montreal – The New York Times, December 16, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9802EED81639EF34BC4E52DFB467838A669FDE&scp=54&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [The Grand Duke. Breakfast with the Mayor of Montreal – The New York Times, 16 decembrie 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9802EED81639EF34BC4E52DFB467838A669FDE&scp=54&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] He then passed through Ottawa and Toronto, finally reaching Clifton Hill (Niagara Falls) on December 22, 1871 by the Great Western Railway. On his way, the train stopped in Hamilton, Ontario where he received a telegram from Queen Victoria, notifying him that the Prince of Wales had recovered from his illness. From Clifton Hill the party left by sleighs for a visit to the Niagara Falls. After having dressed in oil-skinned suits for fishermen at sea, the party also went under the falls. The Grand Duke then crossed the Niagara River over new suspension bridge over new suspension bridge and then visited the United States part of the falls. [Royal Party at the Falls of Niagara. Telegram from Queen Victoria – The New York Times December 25, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9907E7D61639EF34BC4D51DFB467838A669FDE&scp=51&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

Visit to the Midwest

On December 23, Grand Duke Alexei left by train for Buffalo, New York, where he spent Christmas. On Christmas Day, he went to the opera to see the British Parepa-Rosa Opera Company. After the performance he sent soprano Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa a bracelet studded with turquoise and diamonds. On December 26, the Grand Duke arrived in Cleveland where he visited the iron mills and other factories in Newburgh Heights, Ohio. He then reviewed the Cleveland Fire Department and visited the National Inventors’ Exhibition. He then stopped in Detroit on his way to Chicago, where he arrived on December 30. [Reappearance of the Grand Duke Alexis from the Canadian Snows His Future Movements – The New York Times, December 23, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9501E0D71639EF34BC4B51DFB467838A669FDE&scp=13&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [Westward Progress of the Grand Duke of Russia – The New York Times, December 27, 1871 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F0CE5D61639EF34BC4F51DFB467838A669FDE&scp=2&sq=Alexis+Chicago&st=p] ] The city was recovering from the great fire. Joseph Medwill, mayor of Chicago, had written to the Grand Duke:

"We have but little to exihibit but the ruins and débris of a great and beautiful city and an undaunted people struggling with adversity to relieve their overwhelming misfortunes."

The Grand Duke visited the destroyed part of the city and was impressed by the rhythm of the reconstruction. He gave $5,000 USD (equivalent to $250,000 today) in gold to the homeless people of Chicago, Illinois. As an irony, the same day Grand Duke Alexei arrived in Chicago, a special Grand Jury indicted thirteen members of the city’s Common Council on charges of bribery. Grand Duke Alexei also visited the stockyards and a pork processing plant. As the Tremont House Hotel had been burnt to the ground, the Grand Duke was accommodated in the New Tremont House which had opened on Michigan Avenue, where he was awarded the "Freedom of the City". On New Year’s Day General Philip Sheridan initiated him into the American custom of making "New Year’s calls upon the ladies". [ Chicago – The Grand Duke and New Year’s Day – The New York Times, January 4, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9401E4DF1739EF34BC4C53DFB7668389669FDE&scp=78&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] From January 2 to January 4 Grand Duke Alexei visited Milwaukee, Wisconsin and on January 5 he arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, where he stayed for over a week.

In St. Louis, Grand Duke Alexis attended a burlesque show "Buebeard" in which Lydia Thompson, a 36-year-old actress was singing a tune "If Ever I Cease to Love". It is claimed that the Grand Duke was fascinated both by the actress and the song. Supposedly, she had also sung the number privately for the duke during a rendezvous. [About Carnival [http://www.nola.com/mardigras/about/index.ssf?/mardigras/about/content/stories/history.html] ] Lydia Thompson wasn't the only woman to catch the duke's eye; while in St. Louis, Alexei became particularly enamored of one of his dance partners, a lady called Sallie Shannon of Lawrence, Kansas. Norman E. Saul - Concord and Conflict: The United States and Russia, 1867-1914. – University of Kansas Press, 1996, ISBN 978-0700607549 ]

Finally on January 12 he arrived in Omaha, Nebraska [ The Grand Duke Alexis arrived at Omaha – The New York Times, January 13, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B0DE2DE1739EF34BC4B52DFB7668389669FDE&scp=69&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

Trip to the hunting grounds

Preparations for the hunt were extensive and had been carried out under the command of General Joel Palmer. Two companies of infantry in wagons, two companies of cavalry, the cavalry's regimental band, outriders, night herders, couriers, cooks had been mobilized for the event.

The Grand Duke in the company of General Philip Sheridan and General George Armstrong Custer, the latter having been selected to be Grand Marshall of the hunt, arrived at Fort McPherson on January 13, 1872, by a special train provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. They were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd, headed by William Frederick Cody (know as Buffalo Bill). After speeches, the Duke's party set out for the hunting grounds. [ The Hunt of the Grand Duke Alexis. [http://www.kancoll.org/books/cody/bbchap21.htm] ]

The Duke and General Sheridan rode in an open carriage, drawn by four horses. William Frederick Cody escorted the party with five ambulances, a light wagon for luggage, three wagons of "champagne and royal spirits" and fifteen to twenty extra saddle horses. A relay of horses was set up at Medicine Creek, about half way to the camp, where the party stopped for lunch. The journey then continued to they called "Camp Alexis" on the Red Willow Creek. The 2d Calvary band was in place and in tune; "Hail to the Chief" was played when the Grand Duke arrived. The entire trip covered about 50 miles and took approximately eight hours.

The camp consisted of two hospital tents (used as dining tent), ten wall tents and tents for servants and soldiers. Three wall tents were floored and the Grand Duke’s was carpeted with oriental rugs. Box stoves and Sibley stoves were provided for the tents.

Cody had discussed the hunt with Spotted Tail, chief of the Brulé Lakota, who had agreed to meet the "great chief from across the water who was coming there to visit him." About 600 warriors of different Sioux tribes, led by Spotted Tail, War Bonnet, Black Hat, Red Leaf, Whistler and Pawnee Killer, assembled to greet the grand duke at the hunting camp.They had been provided with ten thousand rations of flour, sugar, coffee, and 1,000 pounds of tobacco for their trouble - twenty-five wagon loads in all.

At the start of the party, Spotted Tail, dressed in a suit, which didn’t fit him, with an army belt upside down and an extremely awkward look was introduced to the Grand Duke. Then the Indian chief extended his hand, and greeted the Grand Duke with the customary "How."

For the amusement of Alexei the Indians staged exercises of horsemanship, lance-throwing and bow-shooting. Then there was a sham fight, showing the Indian mode of warfare, closing up with a grand war dance. It was noticed that Grand Duke Alexei paid considerable attention to a good-looking Indian maiden. Concerned that his mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, might receive reports of his flirtations, he wrote her from St. Louis: "Regarding my success with American ladies about which so much is written in the newspapers, I can openly say, that this is complete nonsense. They looked on me from the beginning as they would look on a wild animal, as on a crocodile or other unusual beast." .

However, a dispute broke out when general Custer, probably having drunk too much champagne, made crude overtures to Spotted Tail's pretty 16-year-old daughter. Alexei was able to calm down the fight with gifts of red and green blankets, ivory-handled hunting knives and a large bag of silver dollars. A formal council took place in Sheridan’s tens and a peace pipe was passed around. Spotted Tail seized the chance to press his demand for the right to hunt freely south of the Platte River and for more than one store in which to trade. [Buffalo Hunting by the Grand Duke – The New York Times 14 January 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D0CE7DE1F39E73ABC4C52DFB7668389669FDE] ] [Jean Day - Buffalo Hunting - The Red Devils Chapter 29 [http://www.greatwriting.co.uk/content/view/13190/85/] ]

The buffalo hunt

The big hunt took place on the Grand Duke’s on his 22nd birthday, 14 January 1872. For the hunt the Duke's dress consisted of jacket and trousers of heavy gray cloth, trimmed with green, the buttons bearing the Imperial Russian coat-of-arms. He wore his boots outside his trousers in the European way, which was unusual for his American hosts. Alexei carried a Russian hunting knife, and an American revolver, bearing the coats-of-arms of the United States and Russia on the handle, which he had recently received as a present. The hunting party approached buffalo herd several miles up the Red Willow Creek. The Grand Duke rode William Cody’s celebrated buffalo horse "Buckskin Joe", which had been trained to ride at full gallop with a target so that the best shot could be made. As soon as a herd of buffalo was seen, some two miles away, Alexei wanted to make a charge but was restrained by William Cody. The party moved to the windward and gradually approached the herd. Within a hundred yards of the fleeing buffalo, the Grand Duke, not accustomed to shooting from a running horse, fired, but missed. Cody rode up close beside Alexei, handed him his own famed .48-caliber rifle, "Lucretia," the one with which he claimed to have killed 4,200 buffalo and advised him not to fire until he was on the flank of the buffalo. When Alexei tried again, he brought down his game. The hide of the dead buffalo was carefully removed and dressed; the Grand Duke took it home as a souvenir of his hunt on the western plains. Twenty to thirty animals were killed on the first day of the hunt. The party returned early to camp, where there was a liberal supply of champagne and other beverages provided, and the evening was spent in frontier style.

The next morning Spotted Tail requested him to hunt by the side of Two Lance, chief of the Nakota Sioux tribe, so that he could see a demonstration of the Indian way of hunting. Coming up to a heard of buffalo, Two Lance demonstrated his skill by killing a large animal with one arrow which passed entirely through the body of the running buffalo. The arrow was preserved and given to Alexei. The Grand Duke killed two buffalo, one of them at 100 paces distance, with a pistol shot.

On the conclusion of the hunt, when returning to Fort McPherson, General Sheridan proposed that William Cody take the reins and show Alexei the old style of stage driving over the plains with the horses at full gallop. The heavy ambulance bounded over the rough prairie, while the occupants could hardly keep their seats. Grand Duke Alexei was pleased with his hunting trip. When he and Cody parted in Fort McPherson, he presented Cody with a fur coat and expensive cuff links.

From there the train continued to Denver where the Grand Duke arrived on January 17. While in Denver, he attended a honorary ball sponsored by the Pioneer Club and visited some mines. Alexei apparently loved the new sport he had just learned and hunted buffalo again near Colorado Springs, on his return trip from Denver through Kansas to St. Louis. However, the horses used to hunt in eastern Colorado were cavalry mounts and unaccustomed to buffalo; several hunters were injured during the resulting confusion. Alexei was unhurt and succeeded in killing as many as 25 buffalo. He even shot a few more from the train on its way across western Kansas toward Topeka, which was reached on January 22. [ Grand duke enjoyed Topeka visit - Topeka Capital-Journal, The, May 21, 2001 [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4179/is_20010521/ai_n11764546] ] It is claimed that, by the time they reached St. Louis, the party's supply of caviar and champagne had been exhausted. [ The Grand Duke Alexis [http://www.buffalocommons.org/docs/smenu1/dukealexis.html] ] [William F. Cody – The Adventures of Buffalo Bill – Cosimo Classics, 2005 ISBN978-1596056275 ] [Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska [http://www.kancoll.org/books/andreas_ne/lincoln/lincoln-p4.html] ] [Jean Day - Buffalo Hunting - The Red Devils Chapter 29 [http://www.greatwriting.co.uk/content/view/13190/85/] ] [Buffalo Hunt in Nebraska by the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia in 1872 [http://www.americahurrah.com/PRR/GrandDukeAlexis.htm] ] [ When a Romanov came a huntin' Grand Duke Alexis: Russian came to Kansas in 1872 to go after the buffalo - By Bill Blankenship [http://www.cjonline.com/stories/100602/nie_hunting.shtml] ] [ The Hunt fo the Grand Duke Alexis. [http://www.kancoll.org/books/cody/bbchap21.htm] ] [ Walt Sehnert - The Grand Duke Alexis - McCook Gazette, Monday, December 31, 2007 [http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1300873.html] ]

General Custer became one of the Duke's best friends. He continued to accompany the Duke and his entourage through Kansas, to St. Louis, and finally to Florida of the Prince, and they continues corresponding up to Custer’s death.

In the United States, the hunt is remembered as "The Great Royal Buffalo Hunt". Starting from the year 2000, the Hayes Center, Nebraska organizes each year the "Grand Duke Alexis Rendezvous" featuring a reenactment of the buffalo hunt. [Grand Duke Alexis Rendezvous [http://www.granddukealexis.com] ]

Grand Duke Alexei received as a gift from chief Spotted Tail an Indian wigman and a bow and arrows. The Grand Duke took them back to St. Petersburg. At present they are kept at the museum in Tver. In memory of his adventures in the America, the Grand Duke organized every year a special entertainment. The actors arrived to a village of tents in old carriages drawn by heavy horses. On the palaces lake there were "Indian" pirogues. Men with sword and tomahawks danced with women dressed in long old skirts. The performance was supposed to give the attendance an image of the American Old West. Артем Кречетников Царская охота в прериях Небраски [http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/russia/newsid_6271000/6271138.stm] ]

The southern states

While in St. Louis, the Grand Duke made a short visit to Cincinnati, Ohio on January 26 [ The Grand Duke Alexis. Cincinnati Redeeming its Character for Courtesy. – The New York Times. 29 January 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F03E6DC1739EF34BC4151DFB7668389669FDE&scp=1&sq=Grand+Duke+Cincinnati&st=p] ] On January 28 he left by train for Louisville, Kentucky, where he visited the Mammoth Cave [The Grand Duke going to Louisville, Ky – The New York Times January 28, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A06E7DC1739EF34BC4051DFB7668389669FDE&scp=1&sq=Grand+Duke+Louisville&st=p] ] [ The Grand Duke Alexis. – The New York Times January 30, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A04E4DC1739EF34BC4850DFB7668389669FDE&scp=2&sq=Grand+Duke+Louisville&st=p] ] [ Movements of the Grand Duke Alexis – The New York Times. 2 February 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A03E3DB113EEE34BC4A53DFB4668389669FDE&scp=37&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] He continued his trip by steamer, arriving on February 2, 1872 in Memphis Tennessee aboard the "Great Republic". After visiting the city he left on February 8 aboard the "James Howard" and after a stop in Vicksburg [ The Grand Duke Alexis was at Vicksburg yesterday – The New York Times 11 February 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E03E0DA113EEE34BC4952DFB4668389669FDE&scp=70&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] he finally arrived in New Orleans

Visit to New Orleans

In New Orleans Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich attended the 1872 Mardi Gras celebrations, where he was guest of honor reviewing the inaugural Rex parade. [Arrival of the Grand Duke at the Crescent City. – The New York Times 13 February 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E02EEDA113EEE34BC4B52DFB4668389669FDE&scp=1&sq=Arrival+of+the+Grand+Duke+at+the+Crescent+City&st=p] ]

There are many legends related to the Grand Duke’s visit to New Orleans. Though it has been claimed that local business leaders had planned the first daytime parade to honor the Grand Duke, but this was not true. New Orleans was struggling to recover from the lingering effects of the civil war. At the same time, many city leaders saw the need to bring some order to the chaotic street parades of Mardi Gras day. They had planned the parade all along and took the opportunity to capitalize on the Grand Duke’s visit. A new krewe of prominent citizens was formed, calling itself the School of Design and its ruler was to be Rex (the organization is now known as the "Rex Organization"). The group of young men who founded the Rex Organization hoped not only to entertain the Grand Duke, but also to create a daytime parade that would be attractive and fun for the citizens of the city and their guests. They selected one of their members, Lewis J. Salomon, the organization’s fund-raiser to be the first Rex, King of Carnival. Before he could begin his reign, he had to borrow a crown, scepter, and costume from Lawrence Barrett, a distinguished Shakespearean actor who was performing "Richard III" at the Varieties Theater.

At the same time, Lydia Thompson’s tour had reached New Orleans and the Bluebeard burlesque was staged at the Academy of Music on St. Charles Avenue. Rumours of the courtship between the Grand Duke and the actress had reached New Orleans and were amplified mainly to ensure a full house. The Duke had already seen the performance and was a no-show, hanging out at the Jockey Club. Besides, the Grand Duke’s preferences had shifted and he was captivated by the diminutive actress Lotta Crabtree who had one of the main roles in the play "The Little Detective". Though the encounter was brief, Alexis sent her a bracelet of diamonds, opals and pearls in Memphis, her next stop after New Orleans.

The Duke however attended the Rex parade. According to legend, the song "If Ever I Cease to Love", was chosen as anthem of the Rex parade, because it was claimed to be the Duke’s favorite tune. Actually, the silly song had been written by George Leybourne and published in London in 1871. The song was popular in New Orleans long before the first Rex parade in 1872. the local adaptation of the lyrics was likely done local journalist E.C. Hancock whose newspaper had already published a spoof of the song in 1871. [ Errol Laborde - Mardi Gras.- History 2: The First Bathurst [http://www.geocities.com/mardichild/history2.html] ] The lyrics of the song were adapted to the occasion and changed to:
"May the Grand Duke Alexis
Ride a buffalo in Texas
If Ever I Cease to Love"
The Grand Duke never rode a buffalo in Texas, but Nebraska doesn’t rhyme with Alexis.

It is also claimed that the Grand Duke was also given the honour of selecting the official colours for Mardi Gras, and using the heraldic traditions, selected purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The claim that these were the colors of the Romanov family is however incorrect. [History of Mardi Gras in New Orleans – [http://carlnivale.theatricana.com/history6.html] ]

The parade which the Grand Duke attended, bears little resemblance to present day parades. Rex rode a horse, not a float and the parade that followed was made up largely of the informal maskers and marchers. There were however bands who stopped and played the Russian national anthem in honor of the Grand Duke. But many traditions such as the selection of Rex, the King of the Parade, the Rex anthem, the parade’s colors date back to the Grand Duke’s visit. [Ned Hémard - New Orleans Nostalgia "She Was Only the Stable Master’s Daughter" [http://www.neworleansbar.org/documents/ENews070214StableReplacement.doc] ] [Rex King of Carnival [http://www.rexorganization.com/History/ ] ] [ Renee Kutcher - Krewes [http://www.miniature.net/smallstuff/mardigras3.htm Mardi Gras ] at www.miniature.net ] [ New Orleans Know-It-All [http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2002-02-19/blake.html] ]

The Russian fleet set sail from Pensacola, Florida of February 22, 1872. [Discovery of the American West [http://memory.loc.gov/intldl/mtfhtml/mfdiscvry/mfdsaw.html] ] It is claimed that hundreds of pounds of iced buffalo meat were carefully stowed aboard.

While Libbie Custer, general Custer's wife, believed the grand duke was more interested in "pretty girls and music" than the country he was passing through, Alexei did spend most of his time trying to get an understanding of the country.

Good Will Mission to Japan

The voyage to the Far East

On its way home the Russian squadron first stopped in Havana, Cuba, which it reached on February 29. [Arrival of the Grand Duke Alexis in Havana – The New York Times, 1 March 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=990CE2DC1739EF34BC4953DFB5668389669FDE&scp=49&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [Arrival of the Grand Duke and Suite at Havana State Dining. – The New York Times March 1, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=940CE2DC1739EF34BC4953DFB5668389669FDE&scp=26&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] At that time, Cuba was still a Spanish colony and in the middle of the Ten Years' War against the insurgents, who had attempted to declare the island’s independence. Though fighting was still going on the western part of the island against the rebels under the command of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes , [Cuba: The Progress of the War - The New York Times, March 3 1872] the hostilities did not prevent governor Blas Villate, count of Valmaceda to receive the Grand Duke with full honors. During his stay in Havana, balls were organized every evening. Alexei also attended the operas "Crispino e la Comare" and "Martha" at the Great Theatre of Havana where, at the beginning of the play, the opera choir sang the Russian national anthem. The Grand Duke also visited the works of the Canal de Vento (now called Acueducto de Albear) for the water supply of the city, saw a cock fight in the city of Marianao and a corrida in the "Plaza de Torros" of Havana. In the following days he also went to the Yumurí River valley and to the city of Matanzas [Alexis The Grand Duke in Havana-His Arrival and Reception – The New York Times, March 11, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A02E7DC163DE43BBC4952DFB5668389669FDE&scp=1&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [ Alexis.; The Grand Duke's Sojourn In Havana--The Ball At The Palace--A Sunday Cock-Fight--A Trip To Matanzas--At The Theatre--A Festive Week. The Palace Ball. Trip To Matanzas. At The Theatre. A Bull-Fight. The Duke's Departure. – The New York Times, March15, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=950CEEDB1739EF34BC4D52DFB5668389669FDE&scp=3&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

The Russian squadron then stopped in Rio de Janeiro where it arrived on June 3, 1872. The Grand Duke entertained emperor Pedro II of Brazil and the imperial court aboard the "Svetlana". The Braziliam emperor awarded him the Imperial Order of Dom Pedro I. The Grand Duke looked slightly disappointed and said that he had hoped for the Imperial Order of the Rose, a lower order, because he had never seen a more beautiful order. Pedro II graciously awarded him both orders. [The Alexander Palace Time Machine [http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=3308.0] ] Thereafter, he spent several days in Brazil, leaving on June 9. [ Brazil - The New York Times, July 23, 1872 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E0CEFDC1E38EF34BC4B51DFB1668389669FDE&scp=116&sq=Alexis&st=p] ]

Sailing to the Far East, the squadron stopped in Cape Town, Batavia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai [ Arrival of the Grand Duke Alexis at Cape Town. - The New York Times, August 24, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B01E1D71E38EF34BC4C51DFBE668389669FDE&scp=18&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [South Africa: The Grand Duke Alexis' Visit to Cape Town Ended - The New York Times, September 6, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9806E5DF1F38EF34BC4E53DFBF668389669FDE&scp=40&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [ -Arrival of the Grand Duke Alexis at Hong Kong. -The New York Times, September 18, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9407EFDD1F38EF34BC4052DFBF668389669FDE&scp=22&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [China: Movements of the Grand Duke Alexis. - The New York Times October 13, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A04E5D61F38EF34BC4B52DFB6678389669FDE&scp=2&sq=China%3A+The+Grand+Duke+Alexis+&st=p] ] [China: The Grand Duke Alexis -The New York Times, November 16, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C05E5DF163BEF34BC4E52DFB7678389669FDE&scp=3&sq=China%3A+The+Grand+Duke+Alexis+&st=p] ]

Tour of Japan

On October 15, 1872 the Russian squadron cast anchor in Nagasaki harbour, where he was greeted by the governor. The program of the Grand Duke included a ceremonial dinner in his honour, visits to the surrounding countryside and a tournament of 60 best wrestlers of Japan. On October 22 Alexei and his staff visited a little village Inasa where a Russian colony lived. The Russians delegation visited two hotels named "Kronstadt" and "Moscow" as well as the Russian cemetery.

The Russian squadron left Nagasaki on October 24, the next port of call being Kobe, where the Grand Duke was again greeted by the provincial governor. The Russians were surprised by the jinrikshas which they saw for the first time. They used rickshaws for their trip to the Nunobeki water falls in the proximity of the city. Grand Duke Alexei also attended a performance at the local theatre in Kobe.

On November 1 the Russian squadron set sail for Yokohama. The Grand Duke was met by Prince Arisugawa Taruhito, the Daijō daijin (Chancellor of the Realm) who escorted him to Edo Castle. At the castle Alexei met Soejima Taneomi Head of the Gaimushō (Department of foreign affairs). who made the arrangements for the accommodation and the entertainment of the Russian delegation. On November 5, the Grand Duke was officially received by Japanese Emperor Meiji.

Emperor Mieji, presented his portrait a gift for the Tsar, the first time ever a Japanese emperor’s portrait was given to a foreigner, and asked for a portrait of Alexander II in return. [ Imperial Russian State Council, 1902 [http://chomun.uchicago.edu/com/gg_ru_bios.pdf] ] The Great Prince Alexeis promised to send the portrait as soon as he got back to St.-Petersburg, and, as soon as he came on-board the "Svetlana", sent his own portrait to thank the Mikado. The exchange continued and, the next day, the Emperor sent over the portraits of his spouse and mother.

On November 9, Alexei and the Mikado viewed the parade of the Japanese armed forces, and upon his return to the palace, he was introduced to the Empress Masako. After a few days, the Mikado at the invitation of the Grand Duke, the Mikado went to Yokohama to see the Russian squadron. Following the Grand Duke’s intervention, 34 Japanese Christians were pardoned by the Mikado and released. [Japan: Reception of the Grand Duke Alexis - The New York Times, December 17, 1872 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9507EED71330EF34BC4F52DFB4678389669FDE&scp=21&sq=Alexis&st=p] ] [ А.И. Барковец - Визиты В Японию Великого Князя Алексея Александровича [http://www.rosizo.ru/life/exhibitions/2002/japan-tsar.html] ]

On November 26 the Russian squadron set sail for Vladivostok reaching the base of the Russian Pacific Fleet on December 5 nearly a year and a half after it had left from Kronstadt. He then returned to St. Petersburg across Siberia [ Алексей Александрович [http://www.rulex.ru/01010267.htm] ]

Palace of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich

After his return from America, Grand Duke Alexei was concerned about an appropriate residence. He purchased an older building located at 122 Moika River Embankment in Saint Petersburg. The building was completely redesigned and rebuilt by architect Maximilian Messmacher having a total surface of 9,200 sq.m. It is considered one of the most interesting examples of Saint Petersburg’s eclectic architecture. The architect used a different style for each façade. The wrought iron and stone fence surrounding the palace and its gardens is also an interesting feature. The central gates are still ornamented with the Grand Duke’s monogram, the meaning of which was overlooked by the Soviet authorities. In 1910 part of the gardens were sold for the construction of a candy factory. Though the palace was declared a national landmark in 1968, it is at present in disrepair and requires major restoration. [Palace of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich [http://www.fabergearts.org/spc/Grand_Duke_Palace.pdf] ]

Military career

In 1873, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich he was appointed head of the Imperial Naval Guards. He was also appointed member of the section for shipbuilding and naval artillery of the Russian Naval Technical Committee.

During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) he was promoted commander of the Russian Naval Forces on the Danube. On January 9, 1878 he was distinguished with the Order of St. George – Fourth Degree for "tireless and successful management of the naval forces and equipment on June 14, 1877 for the construction and maintenance of the pontoon bridges and crossings at Zimnicea, Pietroşani and Nikopol and for the successful measures for protecting these crossing from destruction by enemy forces."

In 1880 he was promoted general adjutant. In 1882 after the accession of Tsar Alexander III to the throne, Alexander III, Alexei was appointed head of the Naval Department, replacing Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaievich. In 1883 he was also appointed General Admiral of the Russian Imperial Fleet.Though his control over the day-to-day affairs of the military is limited, Alexei is involved in naval and military planning. His influence over the Tsar gives him a powerful say in strategic decision-making. [ Imperial Russian State Council, 1902 [http://chomun.uchicago.edu/com/gg_ru_bios.pdf] ]

Besides being the head of Russia’s fleets, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich was also in command of the naval cadet corps, the Moskow guard regiment, the 37-th Ekaterinburg infantry regiment, the 77-th Tenginsk infantry regiment, and the 17-th Eastern Siberian infantry regiment.As commander in chief of the navy, the Grand Duke's main concern was the constant modernization of the fleet, taking into account the rapid technological progress. During his tenure he ensured a five-fold increase of the navy's budget. He was able to launch a series of pre-dreadnought battleships which were replacing the old ironclad ships. Thus he was instrumental in the equipment of the Russian navy with several battleships of various classes:

* The Peresviet class, inspired by the British battleship HMS Centurion.
* The Borodino class, based on a French design by the shipyards in La Seyne-sur-Mer
* The Petropavlovsk class designed at Galerniy Yard, St. Petersburg,
* The Navarin class, on the British Trafalgar class battleship

He also had older ironclads of the Imperator Aleksandr II class reconstructed by the Fench La Seyne yard. He also put new cruisers in service (among which the cruiser Aurora).

The Grand Duke was instrumental in the modernization of the Russian navy. reconstructed and developed of the military harbours of Sevastopol, Alexander III in Livada (now Liepāja, Latvia) and Port Arthur, increased of the number of navy yards and extended the dry-docks in Kronstadt, Vladivostok and Sevastopol. He also reorganized the navy, defining the conditions for different naval qualifications, drafting of rules for rewarding long-time service of first and second rank ship captains, restructuring of the corps of mechanical engineers and naval engineers, increasing the number of officers and crew. [ Алексей Александрович [http://www.rulex.ru/01010267.htm] ]

When tensions mounted in the Far East, Grand Duke Alexei ordered the transfer of additional ships to Port Arthur, including the battleship Petropavlovsk.

Russian academician and naval engineer Alexei Nikolaevich Krylov shows that, despite these achievements, there were severe drawbacks in the Grand Duke’s activity. There was no strategic planning and ships were not built based on their intended role within the fleet. There were too many ships of different types. Ships were designed mainly by copying the ones of foreign navies, and were therefore technologically 6-7 year old when they were launched. Their armour and equipment was often inadequate.

The Grand Duke seems to have become aware of some the these deficiencies. He decided to have more battleships of a single type and to have them designed abroad to meet the needs of the Russian navy. However, though the Grand Duke was an admirer of the British navy, the new battleships were conceived in France and had a poor design. The new Borodino class battleships had tumblehome hulls and were instable, having a high center of gravity. The drawbacks proved to be fatal for the Russian navy.

At the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, in 1904 the Russian First Pacific Squadron was able to resist the Japanese attack during the Battle of the Yellow Sea. However, the squadron was destroyed during the battle for Port Arthur, and the Baltic Fleet, sent for reenforcement was completely defeated in the Battle of Tsushima. On June 2, 1905 O.S., Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovitch was relieved of his command and retired. [Pepsi Nunes The Evolution of the Imperial Russian Navy and the Grand Dukes 1850-1917 – Atlantis Magazine, Vol.2, 2001 Nr3-4., Vol.3 2002, Nr.1 ]

Life at the Russian court

His critics talked of Alexei' life as consisting of "fast women and slow ships," referring to his womanizing and the defeat of the Russian navy by the Japanese. [ Walt Sehnert - The Grand Duke Alexis - McCook Gazette, Monday, December 31, 2007 [http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1300873.html ] ] This statement is not justified, because, despite any drawbacks, his contribution to the modernization of the Russian Navy was outstanding. However it is claimed that he was a womanizer and that he spent his vacations in Paris or in Biarritz, each time in the company of a different lady.

Besides his military duties, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich also was chairman of the Imperial Commission for the Promotion of Ballet.

In 1904, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich was one of the godparents of Tsarevich Alexei, the other godparents being the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, King Christian IX of Denmark, Grand Duke Ernest Ludwig of Hesse, Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna, Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaievna. Besides, all soldiers serving in the military during the Russo-Japanese War were declared godfathers to Alexei. [Romanovs of Russia [http://www.freewebs.com/romanovsofrussia/tsarevichalexei.htm] ]

Death

Being disgraced, the Grand Duke spent most of this time either in the Crimea or in France. He died in Paris on November 27 (November 14 O.S.) 1908. His death was said to have devastated Tsar Nicholas II, his nephew, who reportedly claimed Alexei as his favourite uncle.

Popular culture

The Grand Duke's western hunt is alluded to in the film version of Maverick, starring Mel Gibson. In the film, the Duke is hustled, after he has grown bored with hunting animals, into thinking he has killed a Native American.

He is also described by Boris Akunin in his novel "The coronation or the last romanov" (Коронация, или Последний из романов) where he is presented as the character Georgi Aleksandrovici.

Notes

Ancestry

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1= 1. Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia
2= 2. Alexander II of Russia
3= 3. Marie of Hesse and by Rhine
4= 4. Nicholas I of Russia
5= 5. Charlotte of Prussia
6= 6. Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse
7= 7. Wilhelmine of Baden
8= 8. Paul I of Russia
9= 9. Sophie Dorothea of Württemburg
10= 10. Frederick William III of Prussia
11= 11. Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
12= 12. Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse
13= 13. Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
14= 14. Charles Louis of Baden
15= 15. Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
16= 16. Peter III of Russia
17= 17. Catherine II of Russia
18= 18. Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg
19= 19. Friederike Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt
20= 20. Frederick William II of Prussia
21= 21. Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
22= 22. Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
23= 23. Friederike Caroline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt
24= 24. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
25= 25. Karoline of Zweibrücken
26= 26. Georg Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt
27= 27. Luise of Leiningen-Heidesheim
28= 28. Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden
29= 29. Karoline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt
30= 30. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
31= 31. Karoline of Zweibrücken


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