Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Birthday: June 18, 1901
Died At Age: 17
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova
Born in: Petergof
Famous as: Daughter of Tsar Nicholas II
Height: 1.57 m
father: Nicholas II of Russia
mother: Alexandra Feodorovna
siblings: Alexei Nikolaevich, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia, Tsarevich of Russia
Died on: July 17, 1918
place of death: Yekaterinburg
Cause of Death: Execution
Grand Duchess Anastasia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, who was executed along with the rest of her family by members of the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police, on July 17, 1918. While the bodies of some of her family members were found in the years following the killings, her body and that of her brother, Alexei Nikolaevich, were not conclusively identified. This gave rise to rumors that the duchess and her brother might have escaped the execution. There were many women who surfaced from different backgrounds, claiming to be the duchess. During the 1920s, one of these impersonators, a woman named Anna Anderson even fought to prove herself the rightful claimant of Anastasia’s inheritance. Decades later her suit was rejected but the mystery of the Grand Duchess Anastasia remained unsolved. Over the years the unknown fate of the duchess inspired a number of books, plays and movies. In the early 1990s, the mass grave holding the remains of the Tsar, his wife, and three of their daughters was revealed though Anastasia’s remains were yet to be found. The enduring mystery surrounding her was finally put to rest when a DNA analysis of another grave in 2007 conclusively identified her remains.
Childhood & Early Life
Anastasia was born on June 18, 1901, in Peterhof Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna as their fourth daughter. Her parents and extended family were disappointed that she was a girl as they were hoping for a boy. Their much awaited son was born a few years later.
In spite of belonging to the imperial family the children were raised as simply as possible. They were expected to perform household chores and tidy up their rooms themselves.
Anastasia grew up to be a vivacious and mischievous child. She was described to be short and chubby with blue eyes and strawberry-blonde hair. She did not like the restrictions of the school room according to her tutors Pierre Gilliard and Sydney Gibbes.
The naughtiest child in the family, she often got into trouble for her antics. She was known to kick and scratch her playmates during games and played pranks on the family servants and even tutors. She was adept at climbing trees and did not bother much about her appearance.
Even though she was an energetic child, her health was delicate. She suffered from painful bunions, which affected both of her big toes and had a weak muscle in her back. She also bled more than normal and was believed to be a carrier of the hemophilia gene, like her mother.
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World War I & Execution
The World War I began in 1914. During the war, Anastasia and her sister Maria visited wounded soldiers at a private hospital in the grounds at Tsarskoye Selo and tried to lift their spirits.
The royal family’s peaceful life came to an end when the soldiers began seizing royal property in March 1917. Her father Nicholas II agreed to abdicate the throne in hopes of preventing a Russian civil war.
However, the war could not be prevented. Bolsheviks led by Vladmir Lenin fought to replace imperial rule with a new Communist regime, and before long the Bolsheviks seized majority control of Russia. During this chaotic time Anastasia and her family were moved to the Ipatiev House, or House of Special Purpose, at Yekaterinburg.
The family spent several months in captivity and this took a toll on young Anastasia. Even though she tried her best to be optimistic, she became despondent and hopeless with time.
On July 17, 1918, the imperial family was awoken in the middle of the night and told to get dressed. They were informed that they were being moved to a new location to ensure their safety keeping in view the escalating violence in the area.
Yakov Yurovsky, commandant of the Special House of Purpose, led Anastasia and her family down to a small room in the house's sub-basement. There a group of executioners opened fire on Anastasia, her family and servants.
For several years following the family’s execution, rumors floated that Anastasia and her brother had somehow escaped the firing that killed the rest of her family. Many women came forward, claiming to be Anastasia, stating that they had survived the firing and managed to escape. Some of these women were Anna Anderson, Nadezhda Ivanovna Vasilyeva and Eugenia Smith. The claims of all the imposters were dismissed.
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad canonized Anastasia and her family as holy martyrs in 1981. In 2000, Anastasia and her family were canonized as passion bearers by the Russian Orthodox Church.
The mystery surrounding Anastasia’s death was finally solved in 2007 when a DNA analysis of the remains found in a grave near Yekaterinburg conclusively identified Anastasia and her brother’s bodies.
Grand Duchess Anastasia’s life story and the mystery surrounding her death inspired several films, plays and novels. One such film is the highly fictionalized ‘Anastasia’ (1956) starring Ingrid Bergman.