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Lucy Worsley concludes her history of the Romanov dynasty, investigating how the family's grip on Russia unravelled in their final century. She will show how the years 1825-1918 were bloody and traumatic, a period when four tsars tried - and failed - to deal with the growing pressure for constitutional reform and revolution.
Lucy will find out how the Romanovs tried to change the system themselves: in 1861, millions of enslaved serfs were freed by the Tsar-Liberator, Alexander II. But Alexander paid the ultimate penalty for opening the Pandora's Box of reform when he was later blown up by terrorists on the streets of St Petersburg. Elsewhere, there was repression, denial, war, and - in the case of the last tsar, Nicholas II - a fatalistic belief in the power of God: Nicholas's faith in the notorious holy man Rasputin was a major part in his undoing. Lucy also details the chilling murder of Nicholas and his family in 1918, and asks the question: could all of this horror have been avoided?
Lucy will also show how there was a growing movement among the people of Russia to determine their own fate. She traces the growth of the intelligentsia, writers and thinkers who sought to have a voice about Russia. Speaking out came with a risk after Ivan Turgenev wrote about the appalling life of the serfs in 1852, he was sentenced to house arrest by tsar Nicholas I. Lucy also shows how anger against the Romanov regime created a later generation of radicals committed to overturning the status quo. Some would turn to terrorism, and finally, revolution.
As well as political upheaval, there is private drama, and Lucy explains how Nicholas II's family life played into his family's downfall. His son and heir Alexei suffered from haemophilia; the secrecy the family placed around the condition led them into seclusion, further distancing them from the Russian people. It also led them to the influence of man who seemed to have the power to heal their son, and who was seen as a malign influence on Nicholas: Rasputin.
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