Russia at the Turn of the Century Impressions of a Dowager Empress

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This book is devoted to the Russian Empress Maria Fedorovna (Marie Sophia Frederika Dagmar), who was the last but one of her line. She was the wife of Emperor Alexander III and mother of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, who was slain along with the rest of his family in the bloody events of 1918. Despite the many recorded contemporary diaries, and memoirs by persons close to the imperial court, and other leading lights of the Petersburg salon, Kudrina’s book is a work of exceptional interest. The author works her way through an immense amount of archive material, and using diary entries and notebooks kept by Maria Fedorovna (mainly in Danish) throughout her 52 years spent in Russia, she traces the course of a lengthy and complex period in Russian history. Maria Fedorovna’s archives contain letters to her husband, her son, the Emperor Nicholas II, and a huge correspondence with members of the Danish house: her father King Christian IX, her mother Queen Luisa, her brothers Frederik, Waldemar, and Wilhelm who became the King of Greece under the name of George I, and her sister Alexandra, wife of the Duke of Cumberland.
The first part of the book covers the last years of Alexander II and the start of Alexander III’s reign. Using archive material, Kudrina shows how Empress Maria Fedorovna’s public activity, natural intelligence and political flair, impinged on affairs of state, and played an identifiable role in Russian political and economic life. Her romantic devotion to her husband the Emperor Alexander III, her maternal affection for her children, and her personal charm as Empress, are all described.

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