A True History

Tales of the Sweet and Good-Natured Maria Romanov

Kind of keeping up with my mini trend of focusing on random people from History who didn’t get nearly as much attention as somebody else they lived with, I want to talk about Maria Romanov.

You’ve probably heard about Anastasia, the young Grand duchess of Russia who was believed to have survived her family’s assassination. She has multiple movies about her including an animated movie which spawned its own Broadway musical.

Want to hear a funny story? There were 2 bodies that were missing from the mass grave of the Romanov family’s assassination and neither of them were Anastasia’s. The bodies were of Maria Romanov and Alexei Romanov.

Obviously, they died too; they were just in a separate grave.

However, I always found it interesting that nobody ever latched onto Maria’s narrative like people did Anastasia’s. The curse of being the middle child, I suppose.

The Romanov children are a bit of a strange case because the four daughters were incredibly close to one another. The four sisters called themselves OTMA (based on the girls names; Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia) and the eldest girls were called The Big Pair while Maria and Anastasia were called the Little Pair. Each pair dressed alike, shared a room, and spent most of their time together so sometimes History looks at the four girls as a single unit and sometimes people tend to forget about the sisters outside of Anastasia altogether because they don’t have a cool story that is well known to the current public.

Maria was the undisputed sweetheart of all the children. Anastasia and Alexei were known for their pranks and had a tendency to err a bit on the cruel side while Maria followed behind them apologizing to anybody in their way. In the same vein, her older sisters had a tendency to take advantage of her good natured personality and kindness by teasing her and excluding her from games growing up. At one point, when Maria was ten and Olga was fourteen, Olga persuaded her to write a letter to their mother as a means to convince their parents that Olga should be given her own bedroom and permission to choose her own dresses. Maria not only agreed to write the letter, but she even attempted to convince her mother that the idea had been hers and hers alone.

Maria was also incredibly flirtatious and had a soft spot for soldiers. She constantly talked to soldiers and even wrote letters back and forth with a few of them. This didn’t stop when they were imprisoned in Ekaterinburg either. The guards in charge of watching the family were incredibly hostile, but that didn’t stop Maria and her easygoing nature and friendly conversations, she ended up befriending multiple guards who all spoke of her fondly and warmly. In the account of one guard, he claimed that he wished to rescue her from this life and marry her.

She was so flirtatious with the soldiers that on her 19th birthday, less than a month before her family was executed, a guard by the name of Ivan smuggled in a cake for her. I always thought that was so interesting because there are no accounts of the guards doing that for any other member of the family nor any of their friends that were imprisoned with them. Maria was such an easy person to talk to that she was able to charm everybody she met; guard accounts at the time claimed that it was because she didn’t carry herself with an “air of grandeur” the guards had come to expect. She was an incredibly down to earth woman with plenty of charisma and it’s truly a shame that her light was snuffed out at such a young age.