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Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia : biography

14 January 1850 - 14 November 1908

Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia (St. Petersburg 14 January 1850 (4 January O.S.) – Paris, 14 November 1908) was the fifth child and the fourth son of Alexander II of Russia and his first wife Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse). Destined to a naval career, Alexei Alexandrovich started his military training at the age of 7. By the age of 20 he had been appointed lieutenant of the Russian Imperial Navy and had visited all European military ports of Russia. In 1871 he was sent as a goodwill ambassador to the United States and Japan.

In 1883 he was appointed general admiral. He had a significant contribution in the equipment of the Russian navy with new ships and in modernizing the naval ports. In 1905, after the defeat in the Battle of Tsushima he was relieved of his command. He died in Paris in 1908.

Early life

The Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov of Russia was born in Saint Petersburg on 14 January 1850 (4 January O.S.). He was the son of emperor Alexander II and empress Maria Alexandrovna. He was a younger brother of Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna, Tsarevich Nikolay Alexandrovich, Alexander III of Russia, Grand Duke Vladmir Alexandrovich. He was an older brother of Duchess Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich.

Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich was destined for a naval career since his childhood. At the age of 7 he received the rank of midshipman. The next year Konstantin Nikolayevich Posyet was appointed as his tutor. While the winters were dedicated to theoretical studies, during the summers he trained on Russian warships of the Baltic fleet stationed in Saint Petersburg harbour. Training exposed him to various sailing ships:

  • in 1860 the yacht Shtandart on a cruise from Petergof to
  • in 1861–1863 the yacht Zabava under the flag of counter-admiral Posyet in the Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia,
  • in 1864 the frigate Svetlana in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea
  • in 1866 the frigate Oslyabya during an extensive training cruise to the Azore Islands.Ю.Л.Коршунов

On 18 September 1866 Grand Duke Alexei was promoted lieutenant. He continued his navy career serving as officer aboard the frigate Alexander Nevski on a cruise in across the Mediterranean to Piraeus, where he attended the wedding of his cousin Olga Konstantinovna.

In 1868 he went on a trip to southern Russia traveling by train from Saint Petersburg to Nikolayevsk, continuing by ship down the Volga to Astrakhan. He then boarded a military ship for a cruise on the Caspian Sea to Baku, [Petrovsk (now Makhachkala) and then to Iran. He then crossed the Caucasus and reached Poti where the Alexander Nevsky was moored. From there he sailed to Constantinople, Athens and the Azore Islands On the return voyage, on the frigate was wrecked off the coast of Jutland during a storm on the North Sea. Though the ship was lost, the crew including Alexei Alexandrovitch except five men was unhurt and could safely reach the shore.

In January 1870 Alexei Alexandrovich reached the age of majority according to Russian legislation. The event was marked by taking two oaths : the military one and the oath of allegiance of the Grand Dukes of the Russian Imperial House. In June 1870 Alexei Alexandrovich started the last part of his training. This included inland navigation on a cutter with a steam engine, on the route from Saint Petersburg to Arkhangelsk through the Mariinsk Canal system and the Northern Dvina River. After visiting the schools and industrial facilities of Arkhangelsk, he started his navigation training in arctic conditions, aboard the corvette Variag. His cruise took him to the Solovetsky Islands, continuing through the White Sea and Barents Sea to Novaya Zemlya. The route continued to Kola Bay and the city of Murmansk, the ports of northern Norway and Iceland. He returned to Cronstadt at the end of September.

Military career

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Living octopus

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