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In The Beginning: they were named from horses
The Romanovs held power in Russia for like 300 years but their own origins were distinctly horsey. Officially they were employed to look after the Tsar's stallions in Moscow back in the 15th century. There are suggestions that when the candles were snuffed out, some of the Romanovs slept with the horses. It was warmer in the stable and the Romanovs loved the horses. And the horses loved Romanovs. Soon some family members were preferred to walk about on their hands and feet and developed the buck toothed look associated with hicks in the Hillbilly Lands of Deliverance County.
So the Romanov ancestry links them with some folks named after particular horses, although their wives had a different explanation and a strangely smug look of satisfaction most mornings. Boyar Ivan, a grandchild of a man whose first name was Roman, changed the family patronym to Romanov, thus beginning of the great Imperial Romanov family. This may not be the most inventive of ideas but the alternatives; O'Roman was rejected as "too Irish", Romanich "sounds like we have genital warts", and Ivan FitzRoman "Makes me sound like a goddam faggot". Economic advisers also suggested that Romanov would make by far the best vodka brand. Rumors persist, however, of a Scotch still bearing MacRoman are still whispered around the lochs of Glen Beaich.
The Daughter of Roman
It was one of Roman's daughters called Anastasia Gymkhana who was noticed by Tsar Ivan IV jumping over fences in her back garden. At this stage Ivan wasn't yet terrible, merely generally irritable to extremely tetchy if his hot tea and vodka was not ready for him when he woke in the morning. Anastasia was crowned Tsarista and they made a happy picture, or rather icon, for the Russian people to look up to.
But Anastasia died when she broke her leg and had to be destroyed. For some reason Ivan thought she had been poisoned and grieved continually for a week. According to the "Chronicle of Mother Russia and all the little Russias" held at Kronstad University "Now ye Tsar was pissed, really pissed." It was at this point that he became Ivan the Terrible and took out his homicidal instincts out on everyone within reach including his eldest son, Ivan the Appalling, who got a fatal braining from his dad in an argument about whether he had ever been a good parent. Shortly 'the Terrible' was dead and his younger son Feodor the Feeble became Tsar but he was weak and addicted to home brewed cough mixture.
Time of Tribbles
Feodor took over the throne once his father had died, and he did pretty good considering his brother-in-law Boris Gudonov and his Romanov cousins were bitching about who would have the throne once he croaked. The sinister Boris also had Ivan the Terrible's youngest son, Dmitry (by another wife after Anastasia) done away so when Feodor died from a licking a dirty medicine spoon, Boris became Tsar. The Romanovs objected so Boris had them all exiled to Siberia to live in unheatable wooden shacks. Quite a few died there but enough survived as they hoped their political fortune would change.
Boris Gudunov was so unpopular that he was turned into an tragic opera and died when two fat ladies sat on him. A revolt was started in favour of an imposter claiming he was Dmitry (all grown up) and he took control of Moscow, killing Boris's son Feodor the Faucet. This was the Time of Tribbles when everyone wished for their own furry little animal and complete chaos in Russia. In amongst the confusion, the Romanovs slipped back to Moscow amongst them Feodor Nikitich Romanov, masquerading now as holy man called Filaret with a long beard and a bell. It got him the job of Patriarch of Moscow, a crucial post if you were in the business of icon kissing.
A succession of Tsars and imposters now claimed the Russian throne until one group suggested letting the Poles decide and invited them to Moscow. Fearing this would be the end of Russia, a rival gathering of nobles led by Filaret objected.Perhaps not thinking it wise to take the throne himself (it seemed a job that could shorten your life), the old rogue instead secretly pushed his son Mikhail forward instead. However catching wind of his activities, the Poles uncharitably imprisoned Filaret and took the bearded troublemaker to Warsaw as a hostage. But they overlooked his wife, the formidable, furry bikini clad Xenia the Warrior Matriarch. Tutting that it was now up to her to get little Mikky the throne, Xenia invited Russia's The Great, the Good and the Smelly (the latter description also applied to the other two groups) to the Ipatiev Monastery outside Moscow.
With a show of grubby hands at a sweaty meeting, Mikhail was proclaimed Tsar of All The Russias (i.e. Big Russia, Baby Russia and Little Ted Russia) and had a bowl of anointed holy water poured over his head. In later years, this elevation of the Boy Mikhail was put down to the blessing of God to the Russian people (according to the Russian imperial archives) but the unofficial story was that Xenia had also rolled out a few barrels of Mare's Milk (vodka mixed with equine sweat) to help out with the Divine Recommendation. ..
The branch that died out first
The dynastic father's brother, Homer never married. Although he did have many young nephews around, much to the confusion of Broman. These nephews all went by the name Homonov. No heirs were produced, so this line died out. Although in his fraternity days, Homer did some experimenting with fast wenches and barmaids, so Russian Royalists, patiently wait that a hitherto overlooked descendant could become the next Czar Vladimir Putin.
Rebirth of the Romanovs
Though he was officially the ruler of Russia, Mikhail allowed his father run the country. There were still pretenders knocking around who disliked the Romanovs. Those who didn't submit were killed and those who submitted were also killed (it saved on the paper work). However Mikhail was absolved of blame, he was still wearing short trousers but everyone on the payroll said he was like cool, this guy is nice. Michael didn't know anything and stayed sentimental, crying every time he was asked to make a choice between hot or cold Russian porridge. When his father died, Michael was obliged to make his own decisions but he would ask everyone including the palace cleaners before making a final decision.
The next tsar was Mikhail's son Alexei. Like his dad he became Russia's ruler when he was still an awkward, spotty teen and was equally unimpressive. Alexei enhanced his family's reputation with some military success against the Poles and took Kiev off them when they ran away. Alexei celebrated this success by naming a dish Chicken Kiev as a memorial for this great victory. It was rumoured that his constant activities in the bedroom wore out one wife Miloslavskaya (13 children) and when no one else was willing to step forward, Alexei organised a competition You Too Can Become A Tsarina! which was won by Nataliya and added another three to the imperial nursery including the future Peter the Great. It seemed a good idea to seed bed as many Romanovs as possible but the quarrels and hatred between the descendants of his two wives would split Russia for the next 90 years.
Peter and His Son
So everyones heard of Peter the Great. Yea. All that beard cutting stuff, hard drinking and trying to make furniture whilst drunk in a Dutch shipyard. Peter also won wars against the Turks, The Swedes, the Poles and the Saxons. He also decided Moscow was too backward and had bad internet connections so moved the capital to his new city St.Petersburg. It was built on a swamp and looked like a vast prison camp but Peter said it was the right place to locate a city. Only fools argued with that Peterine logic and they were the first to be hired to build the city with their bones. Nearly a century later the Americans imitated Peter by building Washington D.C on a smelly lagoon. What is it with swamps and tyranny?
Peter then died too. His only son, Alexei,  had died in prison a few years earlier for refusing to eat his borscht so Peter's second wife, an ex-barmaid called Catherine became Empress of Russia. She died two years later and was replaced by Alexei's son Peter II. The young boy looked just like his grand daddy and political experts in Russia predicted a long and glorious reign. Peter died after a reign of three years and that was the end of the male Romanovs. The girls were to be around a bit longer but Russia's imperial family had to contract out to find new recruits.
Really Confusing Part
Death of Little Pete now left the ownership of the title of Tzar between the children of Ivan V and Peter the Great. Anna Ivanova In Der Clova come to the fore. She was more like her Uncle Pete than her old father when it came to Russian caviar balls. Anna was cruel and liked crude jokes. Those who fell out of her favour were exiled stark naked inside ice palaces cut from the frozen River Nerva in St.Petersburg. When she died from the old bucket trick on the door frame trick, she gave Russia to her great nephew Ivan VI. If the world was a baby cot, Ivan would have remaind Tsar. He was instead deposed and imprisoned by his cousin who became Tsar Elizabeth.
Daughter of the Tsar Catherine, Elizabeth promised she would carry on her father's reforms. She also hated Prussians, especially Frederick the Great. Elizabeth also became a pen pal with Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria and both women promised each other that if one of them killed Frederick, they would send half that king's body to the other. Why Elizabeth said she hated Frederick so much was that he got none of her jokes.
Elizabeth had no children so chose the son of her sister to become the new Tsar. He was Peter, Duke of Holstein-Pils-Schleswig-Bud-Lite. Elizabeth supplied Peter with a regular subscription of Degrees of Separation: Stick the boot in first.
Things get really confusing here but one guy is really proud to be a descendant of the Romanovs, but he gets murdered in his palace, sorry dude. Then Alexander I succeeded him and was succeeded by Nicholas I. Nicholas I had four sons and one of them Alexander II succeeded him. Well Alexander II had a wife with lung problems and she died, but thats okay because he got to marry his mistress, way to go! Things get confusing here but he is then succeeded by his son Alexander III. Well Alexander III was not expected to be the next ruler and the family had only bothered to teach his older brother about ruling a country. He passed this lack of knowledge down to his son, "Way to go, dad!" So Alexander III had a really bad temper and wasn't the greatest ruler either, and why is it those two go together so often? He got a cool Danish wife and it was the first time that a Tsar didn't have a mistress.
This guy was the downfall of the Romanov family, that and his wife. He married a German, and when he left to go fight in WWI he left her in charge of the country. She was a wreck. Things got pretty bad with her in charge. You have a German ruling over you and your country is at war with Germany? Yea, right, no way that'll work.
The Romanovs are murdered. First Nicholas, then the women, but the girls were hard to kill because the jewels on their clothing protected them. But they did die too. The End.
The Moral of The Story
Do not become an Imperial ruler if your family's names used to be horse names. You will die. Also do not have your German-born wife rule the country while you are away fighting against Germany. You will die. Long live the dead kings of Romanov!
Outside the family
Non Romanovs were crucial in Romanov history. Had non Romanovs not killed the last of the Romanovs there would be no Grand Opera Carlota. Outside influences of the Romanovs include:
- Rasputin - the mad monk with the huge wang and magic powers
- Theodore J Vodka - Master distiller of potato water
- Lenin - Leader of the revolution that allowed the Romanovs to get their rings. The bells of Lenin are still ringing.
- I, Clvadivs - sold Broman, his first horse.
Romanovs in popular culture
- ↑ Later known as Super Nun Martha by the Russian church
- ↑ (No a different one. Yes, I know there was another only son by the name of Alexei. Just read on and forget about it.)