Russia History Romanov Letters Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna to Tsar Nicholas II Letter from Maria Fyodorovna to Nicholas II from Kiev on 13 September 1916

Letter from Maria Fyodorovna to Nicholas II from Kiev on 13 September 1916

My dear Nicky!

Sandro is leaving for you today, and he will bring you these lines. I am very sad that I hear from you so rarely, but I know, of course, that it is hard for you to write. My thoughts are always with you, and I live in spirit with our valiant forces. God grant them happiness and victory.

Yesterday there was a grand Trabala [1] for the Japanese Kan’in, [2] and I received him graciously and treated him to a large dinner. He himself is very nice, but his suite is simply echappés de jardin zoologique, [3] so ugly. He brought me beautiful presents from the Mikado [4] and read a little speech. [5] He spoke a lot about you and Alexis, and tried to be as nice as possible. But I cannot help shuddering whenever I look at them, je ne puis encore oublier tout le mal qu’il nons ont fait dix ans de sela! [6]

I continue to be very happy here, and have fallen in love with Kiev. I see many interesting things and am often in different hosp[itals]. Poor young Kaznakov [7] is better, but one eye has been completely lost, and he can hardly see with the other, although there is still some small hope that his vision has not been totally impaired. Please God! He is lying in my hospital. His aunt is with him and says that he is wonderfully patient. What on earth has happened to poor Count von der Pahlen? [8] I was terribly upset, reading in the news[papers] that he had been stripped of son uniforme de cour! [9] He is so devoted and un homme si noble et avec de vrais bons prinsipes monarchiques traditionnels etant le fils de nat excellent nte Pahlen, [10] que je ne puis comprendre de quoi on a pu l’accuser. En tout cas on a du bien le noircir à tes yeux et sela me fait énormément de peine connaissant toute cette honorable famille depuis 50 ans! Enfin ne connaissant pas la raison je ne puis pas juger. Je suis seulement contente que son cher vieux Pere n’a pas eu ce chagrin de voir son fils tellement puni. [11]

We have marvellous weather again, it is quite warm. Baby Olga sometimes goes for a ride with me when she is free, and [we] go to the wonderful forest.

Kiss darling Alexis from me, he must be so happy to be with you. I hug you tenderly, my dear Nicky!

God protect you! Deeply loving you

Your old Mama.



1. Court term for a grand reception with much pomp and ceremony.

2. Prince Kan’in (Kotohito) (1865–1945): Japanese military attaché, fieldmarshal (12 December 1919). Son of Prince Fushimi Kuniye, adopted by Emperor Komei (father of Emperor Meiji). Visited Russia in September 1916 after the signing of a Russo-Japanese agreement. Nicholas II met Prince Kan’in in Kiev on 11 September.

3. “Escaped from a zoo” (French).

4. Emperor Taisho (Yoshihito I Taisho) (1879–1926): 123rd emperor of Japan, third son of Emperor Mutsuhito.

5. Text in italics in English in the original.

6. “I simply cannot forget the evil that they caused us ten years ago” (French).

7. Possibly refers to the son of General Nikolai Nikolaevich Kaznakov (1856–1929), commander of the XII army corps (from 30 March 1916).

8. Count Pavel Konstantinovich von der Pahlen (1862–?): Steward of the imperial household, senator, governor of Vilnius (from 1902).

9. “His court title” (French).

10. Count Konstantin Ivanovich von der Pahlen (1833–1912): Secretary of state, member of the State Council. Governor of Pskov (1864), deputy minister of justice (1867), minister of justice (autumn 1867). Master of ceremonies at the coronation of Alexander III (1883) and marshal at the coronation of Nicholas II (1896).

11. “Such a noble person, with such traditional monarchic principles. He is the son of the excellent Count von der Pahlen. I cannot comprehend what he could be accused of. Whatever the case, he must have been greatly besmirched in your eyes, which upsets me greatly, for I have known his honourable family for fifty years! Oh well, I cannot judge, not knowing the true reasons. I am just glad that his old father was not fated to see his son chagrined in this way” (French).

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