History/ OnThisDay: 8 August 1831 : Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (the elder) of Russia

On 8 August 1831, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia was born
in the Tsarskoye Selo at Saint Petersburg, then a part of the Russian Empire.



Family

Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia was the son of Tsar
Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia.

His paternal grandparents were Tsar Paul I of Russia and Sophie Dorothea
of Württemberg.

His maternal grandparents were King Frederick William III of Prussia and
Louise of Mecklenburg Strelitz.

He and his family were members of the House of Romanov.



Career

Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, the father of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich
arranged a career in the army for him. On the day he was born, he was
already appointed honorary colonel in the Life Guard Lancers and enlisted
into the Life Guard Sappers battalion.

Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich was first in active service during the
Crimea War. He took part in the Battle of Inkerman (1854).

In 1856 he was appointed as general Inspector of engineers and in 1864
he became commander of the Imperial Guard.

In 1873 he accompanied his brother Tsar Alexander II to Berlin during a
meeting of the three emperors: Russia, Germany and Austria.

Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich also participated in the Russo-Turkish
War (1877-1878). Then he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the
Russian armies of the Danube, although the Grand Duke was removed
from actual command.

Later he received several promotions from his brother Tsar Alexander II.



Love and Marriage

On 6 February 1856, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich married his
second cousin Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna formally known as
Princess Alexandra of Oldenburg. Her maternal grandmother was a
daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia.

Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich was an incredible womanizer. He loved
all women except for his wife.

However they had two children together:

- Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (the Younger);
- Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich of Russia.

This marriage was in trouble from the beginning and a few years later the
Grand Duke developed a permanent relationship with a dancer from the
Krasnoye Selo Theater called Catherine Chislova. They had 5 children
together.



Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich lived openly with his mistress. In 1881
his wife left him forever and moved to Kiev, but the Grand Duchess refused
to grant the divorce that he would have wanted. The couple's adult sons
took their mother's side in the family break up.

On 13 December 1889 Nicholas' mistress, Catherine died. He went mad,
he had oral cancer that spread to his brain. He also was convinced that all
women were in love with him. During one ballet performance, the Grand
Duke even attacked a  young male dancer that he took to be a woman.

In 1890 Nicholas Nicolaievich was declared insane and kept locked indoors
in Crimea.



Death

On 25 April 1891, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia died
in Alupka, Crimea.



Source pictures: Wikipedia

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