House of Romanov
The Romanovs was the imperial dynastic family that once ruled over Mother Russia. They are best known for being slaughtered by communists in 1918 to prevent them making a come back concert . Notable Members of the family included Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Anastasia the Fake.
In The Beginning: they were named from horses
The Romanovs held power in Russia for like 300 years but their own origins were distinctly horsey. Officially they were employed to look after the Tsar's stallions in Moscow back in the 15th century. There are suggestions that when the candles were snuffed out, some of the Romanovs slept with the horses. It was warmer in the stable and the Romanovs loved the horses. And the horses loved Romanovs. Soon some family members were preferred to walk about on their hands and feet and developed the buck toothed look associated with hicks in the Hillbilly Lands of Deliverance County.
So the Romanov ancestry links them with some folks named after particular horses, although their wives had a different explanation and a strangely smug look of satisfaction most mornings. Boyar Ivan, a grandchild of a man whose first name was Roman, changed the family patronym to Romanov, thus beginning of the great Imperial Romanov family. This may not be the most inventive of ideas but the alternatives; O'Roman was rejected as "too Irish", Romanich "sounds like we have genital warts", and Ivan FitzRoman "Makes me sound like a goddam faggot". Economic advisers also suggested that Romanov would make by far the best vodka brand. Rumors persist, however, of a Scotch still bearing MacRoman are still whispered around the lochs of Glen Beaich.
The Daughter of Roman
It was one of Roman's daughters called Anastasia Gymkhana who was noticed by Tsar Ivan IV jumping over fences in her back garden. At this stage Ivan wasn't yet terrible, merely generally irritable to extremely tetchy if his hot tea and vodka was not ready for him when he woke in the morning. Anastasia was crowned Tsarista and they made a happy picture, or rather icon, for the Russian people to look up to.
But Anastasia died when she broke her leg and had to be destroyed. For some reason Ivan thought she had been poisoned and grieved continually for a week. According to the "Chronicle of Mother Russia and all the little Russias" held at Kronstad University "Now ye Tsar was pissed, really pissed." It was at this point that he became Ivan the Terrible and took out his homicidal instincts out on everyone within reach including his eldest son, Ivan the Appalling, who got a fatal braining from his dad in an argument about whether he had ever been a good parent. Shortly 'the Terrible' was dead and his younger son Feodor the Feeble became Tsar but he was weak and addicted to home brewed cough mixture.
Time of Tribbles
Feodor took over the throne once his father had died, and he did pretty good considering his brother-in-law Boris Gudonov and his Romanov cousins were bitching about who would have the throne once he croaked. The sinister Boris also had Ivan the Terrible's youngest son, Dmitry (by another wife after Anastasia) done away so when Feodor died from a licking a dirty medicine spoon, Boris became Tsar. The Romanovs objected so Boris had them all exiled to Siberia to live in unheatable wooden shacks. Quite a few died there but enough survived as they hoped their political fortune would change.
Boris Gudunov was so unpopular that he was turned into an tragic opera and died when two fat ladies sat on him. A revolt was started in favour of an imposter claiming he was Dmitry (all grown up) and he took control of Moscow, killing Boris's son Feodor the Faucet. This was the Time of Tribbles when everyone wished for their own furry little animal and complete chaos in Russia. In amongst the confusion, the Romanovs slipped back to Moscow amongst them Feodor Nikitich Romanov, masquerading now as holy man called Filaret with a long beard and a bell. It got him the job of Patriarch of Moscow, a crucial post if you were in the business of icon kissing.
A succession of Tsars and imposters now claimed the Russian throne until one group suggested letting the Poles decide and invited them to Moscow. Fearing this would be the end of Russia, a rival gathering of nobles led by Filaret objected.Perhaps not thinking it wise to take the throne himself (it seemed a job that could shorten your life), the old rogue instead secretly pushed his son Mikhail forward instead. However catching wind of his activities, the Poles uncharitably imprisoned Filaret and took the bearded troublemaker to Warsaw as a hostage. But they overlooked his wife, the formidable, furry bikini clad Xenia the Warrior Matriarch. Tutting that it was now up to her to get little Mikky the throne, Xenia invited Russia's The Great, the Good and the Smelly (the latter description also applied to the other two groups) to the Ipatiev Monastery outside Moscow.
With a show of grubby hands at a sweaty meeting, Mikhail was proclaimed Tsar of All The Russias (i.e. Big Russia, Baby Russia and Little Ted Russia) and had a bowl of anointed holy water poured over his head. In later years, this elevation of the Boy Mikhail was put down to the blessing of God to the Russian people (according to the Russian imperial archives) but the unofficial story was that Xenia had also rolled out a few barrels of Mare's Milk (vodka mixed with equine sweat) to help out with the Divine Recommendation. ..
The branch that died out first
The dynastic father's brother, Homer never married. Although he did have many young nephews around, much to the confusion of Broman. These nephews all went by the name Homonov. No heirs were produced, so this line died out. Although in his fraternity days, Homer did some experimenting with fast wenches and barmaids, so Russian Royalists, patiently wait that a hitherto overlooked descendant could become the next Czar Vladimir Putin.
Rebirth of the Romanovs
Though he was officially the ruler of Russia, Mikhail allowed his father run the country. There were still pretenders knocking around who disliked the Romanovs. Those who didn't submit were killed and those who submitted were also killed (it saved on the paper work). However Mikhail was absolved of blame, he was still wearing short trousers but everyone on the payroll said he was like cool, this guy is nice. Michael didn't know anything and stayed sentimental, crying every time he was asked to make a choice between hot or cold Russian porridge. When his father died, Michael was obliged to make his own decisions but he would ask everyone including the palace cleaners before making a final decision.
The next tsar was Mikhail's son Alexei. Like his dad he became Russia's ruler when he was still an awkward, spotty teen and was equally unimpressive. Alexei enhanced his family's reputation with some military success against the Poles and took Kiev off them when they ran away. Alexei celebrated this success by naming a dish Chicken Kiev as a memorial for this great victory. It was rumoured that his constant activities in the bedroom wore out one wife Miloslavskaya (13 children) and when no one else was willing to step forward, Alexei organised a competition You Too Can Become A Tsarina! which was won by Nataliya and added another three to the imperial nursery including the future Peter the Great. It seemed a good idea to seed bed as many Romanovs as possible but the quarrels and hatred between the descendants of his two wives would split Russia for the next 90 years.
A couple of more cretinous Tsars
Alexei's eldest son Feodor III was the next rule of All the Russias. Like his regnal namesakes before him, he was a feeble and sat down a lot. His sister Sophia then stepped in and supported her brother Ivan V. Another sad sack but were an active sex life which produced four daughters and no sons. An army revolt moved Sophia into a nunnery with no exit doors. Ivan V stayed but he got a new imperial colleague.
Peter and His Son
So everybody has heard of Peter the Great. All that beard cutting stuff, hard drinking and trying to make furniture whilst drunk in a Dutch shipyard. Peter also won wars against the Turks, The Swedes, the Poles and the Saxons. He also decided Moscow was too backward and had bad internet connections so moved the capital to his new city St.Petersburg. It was built on a swamp and looked like a vast prison camp but Peter said it was the right place to locate a city. Only fools argued with that Peterine logic and they were the first to be hired to build the city with their bones. Nearly a century later the Americans imitated Peter by building Washington D.C on a smelly lagoon. What is it with swamps and tyranny?
Peter then died too. His only son, Alexei,  had died in prison a few years earlier for refusing to eat his borscht so Peter's second wife, an ex-barmaid called Catherine I became Empress of Russia. She died two years later whilst pulling a pint (old habits died hard) and was replaced by Alexei's son Peter II. The young boy looked just like his grand daddy and political experts in Russia predicted a long and glorious reign. Peter died after a reign of three years and that was the end of the male Romanovs. The girls were to be around a bit longer but Russia's imperial family had to contract out to find new recruits.
Death of Little Pete now left the ownership of the title of Tzar between the children of Ivan V and Peter the Great. Anna Ivanova In Der Clova come to the fore. She was more like her Uncle Pete than her old father when it came to Russian caviar balls. Anna was cruel and liked crude jokes. Those who fell out of her favour were exiled stark naked inside ice palaces cut from the frozen River Nerva in St.Petersburg. When she died from the old bucket trick on the door frame trick, she gave Russia to her great nephew Ivan VI. If the world was a baby cot, Ivan would have remaind Tsar. He was instead deposed and imprisoned by his cousin who became Tsar Elizabeth.
Daughter of the Tsar Catherine, Elizabeth promised she would carry on her father's reforms. She also hated Prussians, especially Frederick the Great. Elizabeth also became a pen pal with Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria and both women promised each other that if one of them killed Frederick, they would send half that king's body to the other. Why Elizabeth said she hated Frederick so much was that he got none of her jokes.
Elizabeth had no children so chose the son of her sister to become the new Tsar. He was Peter, Duke of Holstein-Pils-Schleswig-Bud-Lite. Elizabeth supplied Peter with a regular subscription of Degrees of Separation: Stick the boot in first. She has also arranged he married a pudgy German princess from Saxe-Anhalt. Known as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, she seemed the perfect partner for Pete. Elizabeth insisted on a name change - though as Sophie was a perfectly acceptable name for the Orthodox Church, it was changed to Catherine. The couple somehow managed to produce a son who was called Paul but he was taken away from Catherine by Elizabeth in case the kid 'turned into a little kraut'.
Short Pete, Long Kate
Peter III succeeded his aunt in 1762. Russia was then in a war to crush Prussia with Austria and France but Peter adored Frederick the Great. So he changed sides and moved his armies to take up battle stations against the Austrians. Catherine was by then out of favour but had already found a few toy boys to amuse her on the side. They came up with the idea to make her empress and so Peter was deposed, imprisoned and strangled with his bedsheets.
Catherine the Great as she became then ruled Russia for the next 35 years. A succession of lovers were maintained and rivals eliminated, including the former baby Czar Ivan who was strangled with his own hair. So eager to keep the throne herself, her reputed son Paul by Peter was excluded from having a hand in running the empire. Since he suggested he would avenge his father's killers, those who back Catherine had no wish to see him as emperor. Catherine also thought of 'skipping' a generation and bypassing Paul for his eldest son Alexander. In the end Paul did succeed his mother - only to be deposed and bumped off in much the same way as his father.
Things get really confusing here but one guy is really proud to be a descendant of the Romanovs, but he gets murdered in his palace, sorry dude. Then Alexander I succeeded him. He was the Czar Tolstoy goes on about in War and Peace. Seems to have been a touch over sensitive. Met Napoleon on a rafting holiday on the Tilsit. They apparently got on very well and Napoleon asked if there were any Russian princesses he could marry. Alexander refused, said Napoleon was too common and Corsican to marry into his family. Napoleon invaded Russian in a pissed off mood and burnt Moscow. Alexander won in the end - the Russian army reached Paris in 1814 so who was laughing now. Alexander later went barmy, resigned his imperial post and retired to a a hut and lived on boiled urine.
He was succeeded by his brother Nicholas I. He thought Alexander had been a big softie and ruled Russia with ruthless relish until he got unstuck in the Crimean War against the French and British. Everyone blundered - just the Russians blundered more than their enemies. Nicholas died before the war finished so it was left to his son Alexander to clear up the mess.
Nicholas I had four sons and one of them Alexander II succeeded him. Well Alexander II had a wife with lung problems and she died, but thats okay because he got to marry his mistress, way to go! Alexander is the ruler who released all the serfs from bondage, handcuffs and duct tape in 1861. He also sold Alaska to the Americans for ready cash. He could have sold it to the Canadians but a recent memory of a brutal hockey match against the Canucks swung it the Yankee way. The Americans were always good it buying other people's land from people who didn't really own it (see Louisiana Purchase. Alexander thought he was wildly popular but died when a gang of Russian nihlists lobbed a bomb in his open top carriage and blew him into the River Narva in St.Petersburg.
Things get confusing here but he is then succeeded by his son Alexander III. Well Alexander III was not expected to be the next ruler and the family had only bothered to teach his older brother about ruling a country. He passed this lack of knowledge down to his son, "Way to go, dad!" So Alexander III had a really bad temper and wasn't the greatest ruler either, and why is it those two go together so often? He got a cool Danish wife and it was the first time that a Tsar didn't have a mistress.
The last Romanov ruler was Nicholas II. He didn't have a mistress or much common sense either. This guy was the downfall of the Romanov family, that and his wife. He married a German-British princess Alexandra, and when he left to go fight in WWI he left her in charge of the country. She was a wreck. Things got pretty bad with her in charge. You have a German ruling over you and your country is at war with Germany? Yea, right, no way that'll work. It didn't.
The Romanovs are murdered. First Nicholas, then the women, but the girls were hard to kill because the jewels on their clothing protected them. But they did die too. The End.
The Moral of The Story
Do not become an Imperial ruler if your family's names used to be horse names. You will die. Also do not have your German-born wife rule the country while you are away fighting against Germany. You will die. Long live the dead kings of Romanov!
Outside the family
Non Romanovs were crucial in Romanov history. Had non Romanovs not killed the last of the Romanovs there would be no Grand Opera Carlota. Outside influences of the Romanovs include:
- Rasputin - the mad monk with the huge wang and magic powers
- Theodore J Vodka - Master distiller of potato water
- Lenin - Leader of the revolution that allowed the Romanovs to get their rings. The bells of Lenin are still ringing.
- I, Clvadivs - sold Broman, his first horse.
Romanovs in popular culture
- Later known as Super Nun Martha by the Russian church
- (No a different one. Yes, I know there was another only son by the name of Alexei. Just read on and forget about it.)