A throne which ‘not for an instant might become vacant’: Law and Succession among the Romanov Descendants



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Russian Monarchy: Eighteenth-Century Rulers and Writers in Political Dialogue (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2003), 52–84, 92–118; Francis Oakley, Kingship (Malden, Mass., and Oxford; Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 132–57; and, generally, Michael Sonenscher, Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequity, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 121–72.


9 PSZ, series 1, 6:588, no. 17.910 (5 April 1797).


10 See Wortman, “The Russian Imperial Family as Symbol,” in Jane Burbank and David L. Ransel, eds., Imperial Russia: New Histories for the Empire (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998), 60–86. See also O. A. Omel’chenko, “Stanovlenie zakonodatel’nogo regulirovaniia prestolonaslediia v Rossiiskoi imperii,” Themis: Yearbook of the History of Law and Jurisprudence 7 (2006): 15–54.


11 See Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 56–68.


12 The eight executed grand dukes: Aleksei Nikolaevich (son of Nicholas II), Mikhail Aleksandrovich (brother of Nicholas II), Nikolai Konstantinovich (son of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich), Sergei Mikhailovich (son of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich), Georgii Mikhailovich (son of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich), Dimitrii Konstantinovich (the son of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich), Nikolai Mikhailovich (son of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich), and Pavel Aleksandrovich (son of Alexander II). The three executed princes-of-the-Imperial-blood: Igor Konstaninovich, Ioann Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich the Younger (the sons of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich the Elder). Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Palei, the son of Grand Duke Pavel Aleksandrovich, was executed by the Bolsheviks in Alapaevsk along with several of his Romanov relatives. Although counted as a “prince-of-the-blood by Massie (Romanovs: The Final Chapter, 255–57), he was born of an affair between his father and mother, Olga Valerianovna Pistohlkors (née Karnovich), and so was not a member of the Romanov House nor was he ever accorded the title prince-of-the-Imperial-blood.


13 The five executed grand duchesses: In addition to Nicholas II’s four daughters, Elizaveta Feodorovna (sister of Empress Alexandra and widow of Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich). See Massie, Romanovs: The Final Chapter, 255–57.


14 See PSZ, series 1, 24:587–89, no. 17.910 (5 April 1797); Svod uchrezhdenii gosudarstvennykh i gubernskikh. Chast’ pervaia. Osnovnye Zakony I Uchrezhdeniia Gosusarstvennyia (St. Petersburg: Tip. II Otdeleniia Sobstvennoi Ego Imperatorskogo Velikchestva Kantselarii, 1833), 3–64; Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 442–50.

15 On the title Curator (Bliustitel’), see: Stanislav Dumin, Romanovy: Imperatorskii dom v izgnanii (Moscow: Zakharov, 1998), 117. Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 65; Massie, Romanovs: The Final Chapter, 262; Mikhail Nazarov, Kto naslednik Rossiiskogo Prestola? 2d ed. (Moscow: Russkaia idea, 1998), 34. The title “emperor” was used only in relations with Russians. He retained his title “grand duke” for all interactions with non-Russians.

16 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 65.


17 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 65–66.


18 On Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich’s “election” as tsar by a Zemskii Sobor convened in the Far East, see: Nazarov, Kto naslednik Rossiiskogo Prestola? 77.


19 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 65.


20 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 45.


21 On the requirement that marriages of Romanov dynasts have the emperor’s permission: See Article 183: “Permission of the reigning emperor is necessary for the marriage of every Member of the Imperial House, and a marriage contracted without such permission is not recognized as lawful.”


22 Dumin, Romanovy: Imperatorskii dom v izgnanii, 65.


23 See Articles 135, 136, 137, and especially 142 of the Fundamental Laws. Kirill, his wife, and children were also entered into the court calendars. See, e.g.: Pamiatnaia knizhka Moskovskoi gubernii na 1909 god (Moscow: Gubernskaia tipografiia, 1908), ix-x; and Pamiatnaia knizhka Olonetskoi gubernii na 1910 god (Petrozavodst: Olonetskaia gubernaia tipografiia, 1910), 16–19.


24 Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution (New York: Knopf, 1990), 289. See also “Duke Cyril Prompt to side with Duma. Commander of the Naval Guard Offered Allegiance of Himself and His Men,” New York Times, March 17, 1917.


25 The allegations appear in many publications, but a good summary is in Massie, Romanovs: The Final Chapter, 267–68.

26 Dumin, Romanovy, 118.


27 Dumin, Romanovy, 126–27.


28 Dumin, Romanovy, 125.

29 “Obrashchenie Imperatora Kirilla I po povodu opublikovannykh pisem Vdovstvuiushchei Imperatritsy Marii Feodorovny i Velikogo Kniazia Nikolaia Nikolaevicha, komentiruiushchikh priniatie Gosudarem Imperatorskogo Titula, 12/25 oktiabria 1824,” http://www.imperialhouse.ru/rus/history/foundations/dinzak3/237.html, accessed November 16, 2013; and in English translation: “Announcement of Emperor Kirill I concerning the Published Letters of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, Commenting on the Adoption by Kirill of the Title of Emperor,” http://www.imperialhouse.ru/eng/dynastyhistory/dinzak3/1111.html, accessed November 16, 2013.

30 Gary Marker, Imperial Saint: The Cult of St. Catherine and the Dawn of Female Rule in Russia (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2007), 218–19; Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy, 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995 and 2000), 1: 82, 87, 110-13, 171-72, 194, 199, 266-67, 272, 413, 2:19, 21, 23, 201-2, 340-41.


31 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 66.

32 On the usage of these titles and styles in the Statute on the Imperial Family, see Martin, “‘For the Firm Maintenance of the Dignity and Tranquility of the Imperial Family’.”


33 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 69.

34 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 70.


35 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 71.


36 Dumin, Romanovy, 126-27. Another of the brothers, Dmitrii Aleksandrovich, was in America in 1924 and so did not sign the letter, but he did recognize Krill’s assumption of the Headship of the Imperial House when he requested of him that his morganatic wife be granted the title Princess Romanovskii-Kutuzov, a power possessed only by the Head of the Imperial House.

37 For the official announcement of the marriage, see: http://www.imperialhouse.ru/rus/history/foundations/dinzak3/245.html, accessed November 16, 2013. For the official announcement of Mariia’s birth, see: http://www.imperialhouse.ru/rus/history/foundations/dinzak3/246.html, accessed November 16, 2013.


38 See Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 43 (Article 36), 49 (Article 188). See also Martin, “‘For the Firm Maintenance of the Dignity and Tranquility of the Imperial Family’; and Brien Purcell Horan, “The Russian Succession in 2013,” Royal Russia Annual 3 (2013): 34-59.


39 Vladimir had been asked the Infante Ferdinand of Spain about the equality of the match between his daughter, Infanta María de las Mercedes, a granddaughter to King Alphonse XII of Spain, and Prince Irakly Bagrationi-Mukhrani, the brother of Leonida. Vladimir’s statement reads, in part: “I consider it right and proper to recognize the royal status of the senor branch of the Bagration family, as well as the right of tits members to bear the title of Prince of Georgia and the style Royal Highness.” See Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 74-75.

40 For Alexander I’s decree, see: PSZ, series 1, 37:129-30, no. 28.208 (20 March 1820).


41 See Martin, “‘For the Firm Maintenance of the Dignity and Tranquility of the Imperial Family’.”

42 Sources that support, and sources that oppose.


43 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola, 75-77.


44 Nasledovanie Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Prestola,42.

45 See Massie, Romanovs: The Final Chapter, 269-70; Dumin, Romanovy, 258-60.

46 See their website: http://romanovfamily.org/.


47 See, for example, Alexander Bratersky, “Last Romanov Born In Russian Empire Dead At 95,” The Moscow Times, 25 May 2010; Marina Aleshina, “Stareishuiu iz Romanovykh pokhoroniat v Peterburge,” Izvestiia, 25 May 2010; and several reports on RIA Novosti (www.rian.ru), Vesti-Moskva (www.vesti.ru), and NewsInfo (www.newsinfo.ru). See also the webpage for the Russian Imperial House (www.imperialhouse.ru), which contains a collection detailed reports and letters of condolence in both Russian and English translation.


48 “’Ia veriu, chto v XXI veke Rossiia prodolzhit postupatel’noe razvitie,’ Otvety Glavy Doma Romanovykh na voprosy gazety Santk-Peterburgskii dnevnik, http://www.imperialhouse.ru/rus/allnews/news/2013/3591.html, accessed November 16, 2013.

49 http://www.imperialhouse.ru/rus/allnews/news/2007/698.html, accessed November 16, 2013.

50 “Otvety Glavy Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Doma, E.I.V. Gosudaryni Velikoi Kniagini Marii Vladimirovny na voprosy zhurnala Rossiiskaia Federatskiia segodnia, March 2013,” http://www.imperialhouse.ru/rus/allnews/news/2013/3494.html, accessed November 16, 2013.

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