Grand Duke Michael of Russia Handwritten Cover to Ferdinand Thormeyer 1908
Rare cover handwritten by Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia (4 December [O.S. 22 November] 1878 – 13 June 1918), to Ferdinand Thormeyer, sent from Russia in 1908.
He was the youngest son of Emperor Alexander III of Russia. At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather (Alexander II of Russia) was still the reigning Emperor of All the Russias. Michael was fourth-in-line to the throne following his father and elder brothers Nicholas and George. After the assassination of his grandfather in 1881, he became third-in-line, and in 1894 after the death of his father, second-in-line. George died in 1899, leaving Michael as heir-presumptive to the throne.
The birth of Nicholas's son Alexei in 1904 temporarily moved Michael back to second-in-line, but Alexei inherited the blood-clotting disorder haemophilia and was not expected to live. Michael caused a commotion at the imperial court when he took Natalia Sergeyevna Wulfert, a married woman, as a lover. Nicholas sent Michael to Orel, to avoid scandal, but this did not stop Michael, who travelled frequently to see his mistress. After the couple's only child, George, was born in 1910, Michael brought Natalia to St. Petersburg, where she was shunned by society. In 1912, Michael shocked Nicholas by marrying Natalia, in the hope that he would be removed from the line of succession. Michael and Natalia left Russia to exile abroad in France, Switzerland and England.
After the outbreak of World War I, Michael returned to Russia, assuming command of a cavalry regiment. When Nicholas abdicated on 15 March [O.S. 2 March] 1917, Michael was named as his successor instead of Alexei. Michael, however, deferred acceptance of the throne until ratification by an elected assembly. He was never confirmed as Emperor, and following the Russian Revolution of 1917, he was imprisoned and murdered.
The cover which is dated 1908 is embossed on the back flap with the Grand Duke's initials in Russian surmounted by a royal crown with his red wax seal of an imperial Russian double headed eagle, is addressed to his beloved tutor Ferdinand Thormeyer (1848-1944). He wa known as Siocha to the imperial family. He was appointed French tutor to the children of Alexander III in 1886, when he was 28.
He stayed with them until 1899 and remained close to them, and to Russia, in spirit and through letters for the rest of his life.
Monsieur Ferdinand Thormeyer
Size: 10.5 x 8.5 cm approx