Happy Easter, everyone! I am taking a small break from stuffing myself with Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs (the most perfect food in the world) to take a look at another heroine, the vivacious and courageous Dowager Empress Marie of Russia (owner of the gorgeous Winter Egg).
I took off my slippers and my silver embroidered robe and felt the body of my beloved next to mine... How I felt then, I do not wish to describe here. Afterwards we talked for a long time
Welcomed by her new win-laws, the new Grand Duchess quickly made herself very popular in Russia. Pretty, outgoing, fashionable, she became a leader of Society as well as renowned for her charitable activities (especially the founding of new hospitals and orphanages, as well as patronizing the arts), she was exactly what the country wanted. She also quickly did her foremost duty of heir-producing. Nicholas was born in May 1868, followed by Alexander in 1869 (who died in infancy), George, Xenia, Michael, and Olga (1882). She proved a loving if slightly commanding mother (much like her sister Alexandra).
In March 1881, tragedy struck. Her father-in-law, Alexander II, was assassinated, leaving Marie with sharp, lifelong anxieties for her family--Our happiest and serenest times are now over. My peace and calm are gone, for now I will only ever be able to worry about Sasha.
But it wasn't one that last as long as she would have liked. By 1894, it was clear that the formerly robust tsar was very ill, The choice of wife by their son Nicholas also had them worried. Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was beautiful, but also shy, retiring, and in poor health most of the time, not strong enough for the challenges of life in Russia. But Nicholas was in love, and reluctantly his parents agreed to the engagements. Marie would never have much in common with her daughter-in-law, and often disapproved of her behavior, but the couple were married a week after Alexander's funeral.
I love Marie for her energy, style, and level-headed intelligence, and also feel heartbroken for her in all the sorrow she had at the end of her life.
A great source for more about her is Coryne Hall's Little Mother of Russia: A Biography of Empress Marie Feodorovna (2006)