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The succession to the extinct Russian Imperial throne is another one hotly contested and is dependent on the interpretation of House Laws established by Czar Paul (1796-1801). These house laws dealt with the provisions and the legalities of the marriages for the members of the imperial family in order to retain their succession rights. All members had to receive the approval of the emperor and enter equal marriages. A morganatic marriage is a legal marriage between two people of unequal social rank. In this type of union the spouse would not share in her husbands titles or succession rights and children, although legitimate, would also not share in their father’s inheritance of titles and succession rights and were often not included as members of a dynasty.

The Russian monarchy came to an end in 1917 with the abdication of Czar Nicholas II after the February Revolution. The Czar was replaced by a Provisional Government under Georgy Lvov. The former Czar wanted to seek asylum in Great Britain at the court of his first cousin, King George V, but this offer was turned down fearing the Czar’s presence would cause an uprising during unstable times. In August of 1917, Alexander Kerensky, second Prime Minister of the Provisional Government, relocated the Czar and his family to Tobolsk in the Urals, in order to protect them from the rising tide of revolution. However, within months the Provisional Government also fell in the October Revolution which placed Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevicks at the head of the early forming of the Soviet state.

On July 17, 1918 in the early morning hours as the anti-Bolshevick forces were nearing Yekaterinburg where the Czar and his family were imprisoned, the Czar and Czarina, along with their five children and three servants were brutally massacred in the basement of the Ipatiev House.

In 1917 when Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne his first choice to succeed him was his son, Alexei, who was suffering from hemophilia. When told by doctors that young Alexei would not survive long without his parents should they go into exile, the Czar instead abdicated the throne in favor of his brother, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia. Grand Duke Michael said he would not accept the throne unless his succession was approved by a national assembly. This was rejected and Michael was never confirmed as Czar. Grand Duke Michael was also assassinated by the Bolshevicks in June of 1918.

The closest heir to the throne after the Czar and his brother was their first cousin, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia, and it was with Cyril some of the controversy begins over who had the legal right to the defunct throne of Russia and to act as the head of the Imperial house.

Come back tomorrow for part II.