Grand Duke Myhaylo Romanov
Grand Duke Myhaylo Romanov, brother of
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, is perhaps most remembered
for the fact that he fell in love with and married a
divorced commoner, Nathalia (Natasha) Sheremetievskaja
(Wulfert), in 1911, and spent the remaining years of
his life battling for acceptance of their marriage.
Tsar Nicholas abdicated in Myhaylo’s favour on
28 March 1917, a year before both were murdered. Though
Myhaylo renounced the throne the following day, ostensibly
because the Russian people would never have accepted
his wife, some consider him to be the last Tsar of Russia.
|A fact that is most certainly less well
known about Myhaylo Romanov is that during the winter
of 1914-15, in the midst of the First World War, the younger
brother of the Tsar of Russia spent time in the modest
town of Tluste.
The story of Myhaylo and Natasha is chronicled
in a fascinating book published in 2001, entitled:
“Michael and Natasha: The Life
and Love of Michael II, the Last of the Romanov
for a description of the book's contents.
Austrians had managed to drive the Russian (Moskals)
from Halychyna, and the front line was on the Dniester
river, close to Zalishchyky, Ustechko and other towns
in the vicinity of Tluste.
A so-called “Wild Division” was sent there,
consisting of seven regiments of Caucasian nations.
Discipline among the volunteer soldiers was very poor,
and they were reputed to have murdered local Jews.
The commandant of this division was none other than Grand
Duke Myhaylo. His grand arrival in Tluste was recorded in
the photograph, below, preserved by the Gogol family. The
scene shows Myhaylo and his entourage in a horse-drawn carriage,
turning west onto what is today Hrushevskoho Street, having
passed through the centre of town from the north. The local
townspeople are lining the main street, and a brass band stands
at the ready, just as they pass over the bridge.
Duke Myhaylo is said to have occupied the best house in Tluste,
belonging to Baron Hirsh, some 50m down Hrushevskoho Str.,
and he used it as the headquarters of his division. The house
was destroyed during the war, and today there is a small park
and a monument to Bohdan Khmelnytskyy standing in its place.
At the time, no one could have predicted that this extraordinary
visitor to Tluste would have been given the chance, a couple
of years later, to become Tsar of Russia -- perhaps somehow
altering the course of the Bolshevik Revolution had he seized
the opportunity -- or that his life and the lives of so many
of his family, would end so dramatically in 1918.
Pawlyk, J. History of Tovste. Chortkiv, 2000. and pers. comm.
Description; last accessed on 7 May 2006.
Wikipedia (photograph): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duke_Michael_of_Russia
Encyclopedia Britannica 2003 Deluxe Edition CD-ROM.