Reading progress update: I've read 77 out of 349 pages.

Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia - Michael Farquhar

I've been working my way through this while also shooting my way through Mass Effect and it is a mark of the author's ability that this book has been winning. While more then once I've found myself tripping over the name of line of short-lived Tsars, the handy-dandy Timeline at the front of the book is perfect. Surprisingly, I'm keeping track of them better then I do English monarchy and I've worked hard at trying to remember them!

 

Time for Quotes and Notes!

 

p. 5

He mentioned the magic words: The Little Ice Age. One of the few documentaries on History Channel I've found educational lately takes an in-depth look at the various historical events that were influenced by this odd time in weather history. I've become quite fascinated by it particularly The Year Without a Summer and as the hypothesis for what causes Stradivarius violins to sound so beautiful. Apparently it visited seven years of famine on Russia which lead, by a long and bloody route, to the Romanov family coming to sit on the throne.

 

p. 70ish

I'm amazed at how many females leaders there have been and we've not even reached Cathrine (II) The Great. For a country that didn't allow the daughters of Tsars to marry or even leave basically a secular cloister, a fair handful of women rose to either Tsarina or at least regent for a young Tsar. The first Cathrine was a peasant, torn from her family and working as a servant or worse at times, but married Peter the Great and rule for two years!

 

p. 75

Elizabeth, Empress from 1741-1762 and daughter of Peter the Great, overturned the baby Tsar Ivan VI.

Taking the baby up to her breast, Elizabeth said to him, "You are not guilty of anything, little one!" She then handed him off to a horrible fate.

The horrible fate was to be imprisoned, isolated all but completely at four years of age, and kept that way through three reigns before finally being killed. He was so mistreated:

The extreme isolation to which Ivan was subjected over the years, being deprived of every childhood joy and mercilessly tormented by his guards, gradually made itself manifest in the boy, who began to show signs of mental damage...

It goes on to detail some of the issues that arose from this. I just can't get over saying something like that and then allowing so horrendous a life for a young child. I had to set this aside for awhile after that one. I thought some of the details from Peter the Great and others were difficult to read.