No GNW (or “Peter goes South”)

Feel very weird that despite initial talk of Russia avoiding unnecessary Caucasus endeavors, they somehow ended up taking Circassia near the exact end point as OTL and basically resorted to the same strategy with little comment. Felt a bit shoved in there, and glossed over. I'm far from too attentive when it comes to the Caucasus events of this TL though, so I probably just missed something.

As the for Italian developments...not much to comment there. Pretty brief. Following the trend established of Hasburg failure. Mainly the last sentence of that second-to-last paragraph felt weird, just going 'VI ignored the treaty and united the peninsula'. Things are progressing still though, so good on that. Funny to hear all the military gafs though.
Feel very weird that despite initial talk of Russia avoiding unnecessary Caucasus endeavors, they somehow ended up taking Circassia near the exact end point as OTL and basically resorted to the same strategy with little comment. Felt a bit shoved in there, and glossed over. I'm far from too attentive when it comes to the Caucasus events of this TL though, so I probably just missed something.
Well, “unnecessary” is a key word. Russia already annexed Kabarda and the Caspian coast all the way to Baku because this was making economic and strategic sense so it is not as if it did not move into the region. The new acquisitions belong to the same category and are fitting the pattern.

As you may notice, the central parts of the region are not touched, relations with the OE are not spoiled and, unlike OTL, the conquest is limited to the economically and strategically important border areas while in OTL it started with getting pretty much useless areas in the center (pieces of Georgia and Armenia) and then spending more than a century trying to get a reasonably secure access to that center, getting into pretty much permanent conflict with OE.

As for the comment, I thought that I was quite clear: the Imamate was dangerously close to the extremely economically important RR from Baku and to the new oil fields just to the north of it. Imamate, being almost isolated, had been (in OTL and so it would ITTL) living off the looting expeditions which did not quite stop even during the Russian offensive: this was pretty much the only way for Shamil to maintain loyalty of his subordinate rulers (naibs and the leaders of vassal tribes) and as soon as this opportunity shrunk they had been easily bought by Baryatinsky. So the road would be raided and the only way to secure it is to eliminate source of the raids, the Imamate. In OTL conquest of Imamate happened well before the Baku oil became a serious economic factor and was just a pure conquest for the sake of conquest.

On the Black Sea side, it was land and security. The lands to the south of the Kuban were better than those to the north or some other Cossacks areas. And the Cossacks had been important to the regime. Plus, ITTL there are ongoing raids across the border and, among other factors, the RR mentioned above passes close to the border. Here is the chance to solve all these issues because the Sultan is eager to get rid of the formal overlordship and of the real ports which lost their economic value. Russia preserves the good relations with OE (actually, does Sultan a favor), gets a good land to reward the loyal Cossacks, eliminate expenses on maintaining the fortified border line, gets rid of the troublesome ‘natives’ and, potentially, opens one more reasonably convenient trade route with the OE. Why not grab the opportunity?

What other reasons do you need?

As the for Italian developments...not much to comment there. Pretty brief. Following the trend established of Hasburg failure. Mainly the last sentence of that second-to-last paragraph felt weird, just going 'VI ignored the treaty and united the peninsula'.

Actually, this is what he did in OTL. I saw no reason in reinventing Italian War for Independence. Except for shifted dates, different royal marriage and the name of the Emperor of France everything else is just the OTL history. So if you are interested in it, you can easily find this stuff on internet. Does not make sense to go deeply into the maneuvers and especially into the battles because they were seemingly along the lines “who is worse”. I tried to read through the description of Solferino and it is pages along the lines of the failed plans, screwed battlefield maneuvers, and bloody frontal attacks. I got lost somewhere in the middle and the main thing I got is that during the continued butchery the Austrians run out of the reserves and started retreat being helped by a thunderstorm.

What irritated me was that VE after rather pathetic performance of his troops at Solferino (not necessarily the soldiers but the commanders including himself) had a nerve to be pissed off with the fact that by the treaty he got only Lombardy. Was he expected that NIII was going to abandon his own interests for Piedmont’s sake? The war was not popular in France (changed) and Prussia was mobilizing (nothing came out of it but he could not know that) so of course he had to cut a deal ASAP.

In OTL VE was unhappy with NIII all the way to 1870 and ITTL I shortened the length of his tantrum: unlike NIII OI is doing it for free so one can’t ask for too much.

Things are progressing still though, so good on that. Funny to hear all the military gafs though.
As I already mentioned earlier, the real life can be funnier than the inventions.
“- Get me the best of the best!
- They are licking their wounds!
- Then get me the best of the worst!”

animated version of ‘Three Musketeers’ with dogs and cats
Dog in Boots, the classic. The titular Musketeers are the dogs, and the Cardinal is present on background as a human and is represented in the plot by Cardinal's Right Hand Cat.
No "pourboire"?
With Savoy and Nice already French, what Piedmont can offer?

Perhaps low import tariffs but it is not something that general public will appreciate so it is all just for honor and liberty. After all, the Russian Empire already produced an example of an unselfish help to the war for independence so there is a laudable precedent. 😂
  • risk would be welcomed. Fortunately, the occasion presented itself without him even trying.

With Savoy and Nice already French, what Piedmont can offer?
The map above confused me...
Imperial ballet
250. Imperial ballet

“How easily dancers assign themselves the title of "ballerina" and even "prima ballerina" without any right to do so.
Mathilde-Marie Feliksovna Kschessinska
«Балеты долго я терпел, но и Дидло мне надоел»
Пушкин, ‘Евгений Онегин’ [1]
“I was a ballerina Barbi!”
Debbie, ‘Addams family values’ [2]
“Ballet: art, popular largely due to the fact that married men can see a lot of women here who do not say a word throughout the evening.”
Robin Goodfellow
“From the police protocol: "He was throwing the swans bread crumbs disrupted the ballet Swan Lake.”
“The Choreographer asks the young dancer:- In the ballet "Giselle" you play the role of an innocent girl. Do you still have any experience in this regard?

Unknown authors​

This will be about the Russian ballet, don’t look for any hidden meaning. BTW, when I started this TL I had no idea that I’ll make it to #250 (or beyond #10, to be truthful). 😜

First thing first. Terminology.
Nowadays, every dancing female is a ballerina (as in “ballerina Barbi” 😉). This was not the case in the XIX century Russian Imperial ballet.
In Russia, the artists were designated by categories:
  • The bottom was the corps de ballet
  • Then there were “corifeys” (корифейки) [3]
  • dancers of the 2nd category
  • dancers of the 1st category
  • soloists
  • ballerinas, the number of which was very limited, no more than 5-6 at the same time per theater.
  • Prima was only one per theater.
  • There was also prima ballerina absoluta designated personally by an emperor. Actually, there were only two of them:
    • Pierina Legnani

  • Matilda Kschessinska. Well, can’t judge if she was so well above everybody else as a dancer but she definitely was extremely intelligent (among other things).

Ballet and the imperial court

The imperial family traditionally patronized ballet, so people of noble origin certainly participated in dance performances that laid the foundation for the Russian choreographic theater. For example, when in the 1730s there were comedies with dances "Orpheus in Hell" or "Baba-Yaga" on the court stage, they were distinguished by costumes and graceful plasticity of Countesses Daria Vorontsova, Alexandra Apraksina, Ekaterina Bruce.

Paul I
In 1765 Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich, already deigned to dance in the court theater in the allegorical ballet ‘Galatea and Assis’, and did it quite tolerably, as he studied with Hilferding and demi-characteristic dancer Granger. The "female personnel" was presented by countess A. P. Sheremeteva, lady-in-waiting A. A. Hitrovo and Princess M. C. Khovanskaya. The heir surprised the audience with a noble and elegant performance of the role of Pygmalion. "From public clapping their hands during the dancing, His Highness got a little bit confused and made mistakes. The end of the ballet was danced again. It was better here. When it was over, his Highness was angry: ‘for which they beat his hands? I just got on the stage and they already applaud’," noted in his "Notes" for 1764-1765 the teacher and mathematics teacher of Tsesarevich A. Village Poroshin.
When he became an emperor, Paul ordered that the male parts must be performed only by the female dancers: “A male must be a warrior, not a dancer.” He was also getting very angry if somebody dared to mention his earlier dancing experience.

Alexander I


During the reign of Alexander I when the “romantic” manners and speech had been fashionable, the same was required from the ballet. The then ballet prima, Avdotya Istomina seemed to be an embodiment for freedom and happiness, which the critics who noted "perfectly expressed impulses" in the reviews could not pass by. Apparently, the delight overwhelmed all the audience. She was really replete with talent and beauty and skillfully used them to demonstrate urgent, pathetic gestures at that time. The audience met her dance with satisfaction, and especially the main viewer - Emperor Alexander Pavlovich, who considered Russian politics the theater of one actor - himself.


His generally theatrical behavior formed those cult social samples, which the artistic world of productions of the chief choreographer of the Bolshoi Theater Charles Didlot followed strictly. As eyewitnesses said, the master "created everything around him - and everything was excellent." The most important component of "everything" was Avdotya Istomina, on whose art the features of the era were projected. Taking advantage of the priority of tolerance, Didlot finished his ballets, of course, with a mandatory triumph of good, but with the help of means far from praying. Therefore, Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov) of Moscow wrote with alarm to Countess A. A. Orlova-Chesmenskaya, that actors are listened to and watched better than priests.
The key word of the time was “soul” (not “reason”) and the ballet jumped into the bandwagon. “Soulful flight" of "Russian Terpsichore" unfolded against the background of mechanically flying hordes of winged geniuses, cupids, silfs, who seriously frightened the faint-hearted ladies' audience. The "Half-bizarre" mystic emperor liked it when, for example, in "Amur and Psyche" the choreographer "chased pigeons." The effect was achieved with the help of elastic corsets attached to the wire, thanks to which bird dancers hovered over the stage. Didlo's delightful illusion of productions fueled the dreaminess of the public.

Cleomiza, Aminta, Cephysis, Frigon frolicked among the bucolic terrain. Faunas, graces, bacchantes and satires had fun with love pleasures. Naiads and nymphs splashed in streams. Small cupids swam on swans... The fantastic "Caliph of Baghdad" struck with Asian luxury, the courtly "Roland and Morgana" showed all sorts of magic... Thus, the ballet with its crowds of mythological characters invariably demonstrated loyalty to the monarch and encouraged his naive power dreams by its own means. Only the Olympic "seal of harmony" Apollo could personify Emperor Alexander I himself in the allegorical "table of ranks".
The choreographer Ivan Walberch, who knew his work, composed the ballets "The Crowned Goodness" and "Sacrifice of Gratitude" for the celebrations on the occasion of His Imperial Majesty's namesake. Of course, the modest author explained the extraordinary applause and brilliant success of his productions solely by "respect for the beneficial hero of the ballet", that is, adored by the sovereign's subjects. Before the audience there was a traditional pleasant valley, in the middle of which stood a temple with an inscription on the main facade: "Apollo - the patron of the arts." There were mandatory shepherds, shepherds, athletes, cupids performed by soloists, figurants [4] and pupils of the Theater School. At the end, thunder was heard, a cloud descended, on the scattering of which an inscription appeared:
“Where the sacrifice is clean, the fable disappears.
Not Apollo in the rays, but Alexander shines.”
The name of Alexander I appeared on the site of the statue of Apollo, and only the "Patron of Arts" remained on the temple. The choir (in a ballet!) rattled rejoicingly, everyone indulged in joy, happiness spilled abundantly from the stage into the auditorium. "When hearts breathe commitment and reverence for the subject of beneficial, the writer then contributes only to the outpouring of cute feelings," Walberch wrote. "In this case, I was an echo of the whole."

In the finale of Didlot’s play "Acis and Galatea" the appearance of the radiant god Apollo was perceived by the public unequivocally: his prototype is the ruler sitting in the royal box, the most beautiful of the beautiful.

Nicholas I
Nicholas I abolished the overly romanticized private life of his subjects. The scenery and mise-en-scene of the court "performance" directed by the new emperor turned out to be much less interesting and talented than his deceased brother. The important thing were parades and why the ballet should be exempted? Fantasies of the previous reign had to be forgotten.

The sovereign was very interested in the production of the ballet "Rebellion in the Seral", where the dancers had to represent various military evolutions. Life Guards’ non-commissioned officers were sent to teach all the techniques. At first it occupied the corps de ballets, but then they got tired, and became lazy. Upon learning of this, the sovereign came to the rehearsal and strictly announced to the theatrical Amazons: "If you do not do it properly, I will order you to be put for two hours in the cold with guns, in dance shoes." It was necessary to see how eagerly the frightened recruits in skirts got down to business. The emperor even made Smirnova and Obolenskaya the ensigns. Success exceeded expectations, and the ballet caused a furor.”

“Pay attention to the coryfeys," - wrote the novelist and playwright, court adviser R. M. Zotov. - “They are not beautiful, and, strangely enough, many of them have become very similar to each other, exactly poured out in one form. This similarity occurs in soldiers of one set and one company. Their faces are purely Russian - plump, fresh, snub-nosed! They dance, perhaps, not badly, but lifelessly, automatically, resembling puppets with movements.”

In the 1830s, the fashion for military ballets was established thoroughly. Fanatical adherence to the ceremonial order also spread to the ephemeral area of ballet. Knowledge of combat service, blind adherence to it testified to the reliability that the authorities appreciated and, in turn, encouraged by distributing ranks to obedient subjects. Romanticism was gone together with Didlot and Istomona.

The cold, emascated religion planted by the emperor needed an outlet - some sublime, perfect object of worship. And he did not hesitate to come: the "divine" Maria Taglioni came to Russia, nicknamed the "Christian" ballerina for her chaste manner of dance. Fashion has changed. Taglioni with all her appearance, from hairstyle to dance shoes, resembled a young lady brought out for the first time. Dancers were obliged to show a beautiful spectacle, a well-drilled parade of seductive beauties. Emperor Nicholas I's passion for the external order also extended to ballet, quite consistent with the Rissian saying «каков поп, таков и приход» [5].

Director of the Imperial Theaters A. M. Gedeonov believed that the mediocre beauty was very useful in the theater industry as "furniture". So a crowd of young, cute girls inhabited on the state stage among fake luxury. These creatures tempted the audience with their "charmes", which emphasized the "airiness" of romantic gas tunics in every possible way. Once at the performance of the ballet "Lake of Wizards" a light dress slipped off the figure of the beautiful Olga Schlefocht. Nicholas I was delighted. Usually only after the end of the performance he loudly clapped hands no more than three times, and on this occasion he clapped like a simple mortal.

Intermission. The last quoted paragraph misses the critically important point. It was Gedeonov’ firmly held and publicly expressed opinion that the main function of the girls graduating from the State Ballet School was to find a high-ranking “protector” immediately after the graduation. He was even providing them with a set of the expensive undergarments so that they will look presentable during the “first time” after which a “protector” will be picking up the expenses. If one keeps this in mind, it is quite clear that the dancing talent was not of a primary importance: an overwheming majority of these girls will stay in corps de ballet during they whole career and be quite happy about that:
  • The “protectors” will take care about their financial well-being.
  • Corps de ballet and even corifeys required much less rigorous exercises than the higher ranks.
  • Them being on the state service, there was a guaranteed pension at the end.
  • Having a VIP protector would not allow to raise in the ranks because the clear incompetence could be noticed by an Emperor with the negative consequences for everybody but it could prevent from being fired for mediocre performance or getting chubby (not too noticeable at the bottom of a totem pole).
On the other side of the equation:
  • The “protectors” had been happy to have an available pool of the young nice looking and well-mannered girls to chose from.
  • Gedeonov was happy because he maintained friends in the high places and because, thanks to the “system” he would not be pestered with the application for financial help like those regularly coming from the actors of the State drama theaters.

However, Nicholas was actually quite good to the actors. “We, the actors, should remember with special reverence Emperor Nicholas, who did so much good for us, loved us and treated us as his children. Indeed, during intermissions or rehearsals, the emperor liked to joke with artists. They were often invited to the palace to perform some "room comedy", after which they were treated to tea and a cold dinner.”

One of the most publicized episodes was his conversation with the famous actor Karatygin [6] in Gedeonov’s presence. Nicholas said that Karatygin is famous for his talent of impersonating people and asked to impersonate him. Karatygin assumed Nicholas-like stance and in his voice ordered Gedeonov to give actor Karatygin a premium of 50 (IIRC, anyway some considerable sum) rubles. Nicholas chuckled and commented: “sounds like me”. Karatygin got the money.

During intermissions, Nicholas I always took the stage accompanied by his younger brother, Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, whom he jokingly called "his shadow", and his sons did not allow to be there. The heir to the throne Alexander Nikolaevich was awarded this privilege only after the death of his uncle. The king emperor always stopped in the middle of the scene near the curtain in the same position: he held his right hand at his chest, laying his thumb at the bottom button of a double-breasted general's coat, and threw his left hand back, touching one of the buttons at the waist with his thumb. With his appearance behind the scenes, the usual noise subsided and tense silence reigned. Officials watched that someone accidentally did not jump out on stage. Once the sovereign was tired of such a subassistency, and he ordered not to be ashamed of his presence. This has only increased the hassle for officials. They began to carefully observe the dancers walking around the stage, who hoped to be graced with the royal attention. The Minister of the Court and the Director of the Imperial Theaters stood at a respectful distance, demonstrating their readiness to answer any question of the monarch. In the late 1840s and early 1850s, Nicholas I most often had conversationwith choreographer Jules Perrault and Gideonov's mistress dancer Alexandra Ryukhina. After the report of the head of the theater directorate about the imminent lifting of the curtain, he immediately went to his box so as not to detain the audience.

The emperor constantly took care of the choreographic theater, which was one of the components of the decorum of the Russian court for him. Prince Peter Dolgorukov rightly noted: "Nikolay Pavlovich's despotism extended to everything: he did not allow there could be a will in Russia that was not fully coordinated with his will." Therefore, ballet at that time was not just entertainment, but was an important part of a grand theatrical production, the purpose of which was glorification of the sovereign, who considered himself a genius in everything, including dance art.

Alexander II
After the death of the sovereign, nicknamed the Unforgetful, the ballet was slightly freed from the royal care. Empress Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander I, almost daily went to the Bolshoi Theater not only to maintain prestige, but also for entertainment. But other than that, in an absence of the clear indications of which way to go, there was certain confusion because choreographers had to rely upon such an unreliable thing as a public opinion. To some degree situation was saved by the invitation of the foreign stars who had been demonstrating a novel techniques. One of them was Carolina Rosati who was dancing in Russia in 1859-62.

She had a special role to play in the history of Puni's ballet "Pharaoh's Daughter" staged by debutant-choreographer Marius Petipa.

In 1862, the ballet for the benefit of his favorite Caroline Rosati was ordered by the director of the imperial theaters A. I. Saburov. The primiere has already been appointed to her benefit, and a contract has already been signed with her. And then, having cooled down to his passion, Saburov ordered to inform Petipa that the directorate has neither time nor money for such a fundamental production. The case ended when the ballerina, together with Petipa, personally went to the director's apartment in the early morning; the dignitary had just got up and met unexpected guests in a bathrobe. Confused, not having time to change clothes, Saburov first accepted only Petipa, repeating once again that the production will not take place, and the material damage will be compensated to the ballerina. Then Petipa offered the boss to explain his own decision to the waiting dancer. She came in with the intention of insisting on the production; the director stood his ground. In the heat of heated disputes, Saburov’s robe suddenly opened. He was so embarrassed by this incident that he immediately found money for the production, and the order to immediately start rehearsals was given. However, Saburov conceded "provided that the choreographer composes a five-act ballet in exactly six weeks. Probably, it was only out of despair that Petipa agreed. Unfortunately, he immediately quarreled with the composer, who destroyed the clavier in a surge of anger. However, Marius Ivanovich did not give in to despondency and began to stage without music - later it had to be "fitted" to almost ready-made dances. But this choreographer always believed that music existed for dancing, and dancing for a ballerina...

In 1870s-80s the “uncertainty” constantly put Petipa into the difficult situations: he did not “feel” the audience and ballerinas, despite everything, were obliged to dance, causing the delight of the public, who, after the occupation of the imperial stage by Italian primas, loved to count during the performances how much fuetes was performed by another visiting celebrity: 14, 28 or 32. The subjects of the ballets were getting more and more complicated and confused all the way to a complete gibberish. However, it was not necessary for the audience to read the libretto. The main thing was that the leading dancers of the troupe danced in the play - participants of the love triangle, soloists and corifeys depicting precious stones, silver dishes, lace, butterflies, insects, bride's girlfriends, fairies, representatives of the past, future and present times, and the male dancers of all stripes loomed behind at the back. When once again on stage the ballet hero threw a negative character into the abyss, there was a mandatory comment of a calculating viewer from the merchant class: "That's right. Fast, cheap, and no funeral costs are required."

The real success came to him later when for a music for a new ballet, libretto of which was written by then Director of Imperial theaters Ivan Vsevolozhsky, and is based on Charles Perrault's La Belle au bois dormant, he was saddled with a little-known composer who so far wrote a music for a single not very successful ballet [7] and in Petipa’s opinion did not have a clue about the ballet and needed a constant guidance. After much of exasperation the work was completed and the premiere of "The Sleeping Beauty" at the Mariinsky Theatre took place on January 3, 1890, and became not only the most beautiful, but also the most expensive production.

In 1895, "Swan Lake" was presented to the audience of the Mariinsky Theatre by Marius Petipa and his student and assistant Lev Ivanov. This version of the ballet became canonical, determining its further stage fate throughout the XX century.

[1] “I tolerated the ballets for a long time but got bored with Didelot” Pushkin, ‘Eugene Onegin’. Charles-Louis Didelot - a French dancer, the creator of the ballet shoes and a choreographer. Was a dancer and then choreographer of the Imperial Theater in 1801-30 delivering more than 40 full ballets, not counting dances and fragments in other representations and giving the Russian ballet an international reputation.
[2] Modern simplification of the terminology. 😂
[3] By the reason which totally escapes me, Google Translate made them “shorties”. I can understand how Hitrovo became Cunning (just a translation of the meanibg) but why “shorties”?
[4] The lowest of the low in a hierarchy: they are not dancing in a ballet or singing in an opera, just creating the necessary crowds on a background.
[5] The parish os the same as a priest.
[6] There were two brothers, a tragedy actor and a comedian. IIRC, this was the first of them.
[7] “Swan lake”. Premiere in 1877 went almost unnoticed and after 8 seasons it was removed from repertoire of the Bolshoi Theater.
Life is going on
251. Life is going on

“What will happen to Russia if the person who reigns over it is not able to control himself and allows his passions to command himself and cannot even resist them?”
Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, mother of AII
We talked about Sasha. He needs to have more strength of character, otherwise he will die... He is too in love and weak-willed and easily influenceable.”
Nicholas I
Revolution is a disastrous attempt to jump from Monday to Wednesday but an attempt to get back from Monday to Sunday will be equally disastrous.”
...When a sovereign talks to a smart man, he has an expression of a rheumatist standing in a draft.”
Fyodor Tyutchev

Russia from 1860
Alexander II was somewhat a mystery for pretty much everybody because, to paraphrase expression of the late Fieldmarshal Munnich, nobody could figure out if he a fish or meat. Unlike his father who, for good or bad, had a very strong personality and was an outspoken conservative, Alexander had very little in the terms of the personal convictions or a strong will and, in general, had been driven by a wish to maneuver between the conservatives and liberals. Which, of course, did not prevent him from being extremely cruel, as was the case with his “pacification” of the Caucasus. To be fair, this cruelty was generally well-received by a majority on both sides of the political spectrum: the liberals of that period tended to make a special case for the “barbarians” and “natives” considering cruelty as the regrettable but unfortunately only available method of bringing civilization to them. There were some minor unhappy noises domestically and abroad but, generally, it was accepted as a fact accompli with a part of the blame going to the Ottomans for not organizing their side of a process properly. Domestic excitement about finally closing this chapter greatly overweighted the negative voices.

Like his father, with his famous “basilisk stare”, he tended to play a role of an absolute ruler in public but, unlike his father, not too successfully. As wrote Tutcheva, his wife’s lady-in-waiting “His facial features were correct, but appearance was loose and not clear enough, his eyes were big, blue, but his gaze was not inspired; in short, his face was inexpressive and there was even something unpleasant in cases when he considered himself obliged to take a solemn or majestic look in public ... when he allowed himself to be himself, his whole face was illuminated by a kind smile that made him truly attractive.”

Family business.
His family life was fitting the general behavioral pattern. Empress Maria Alexandrovna was keenly interested in politics and at the startvof his reign was often present at reading diplomatic dispatches and military reports. It is not surprising that Alexander II willingly consulted with his wife, who was always aware of the reports of his ministers. However, the idyll of joint works for the benefit of the fatherland did not last long, such a pattern would look too good and implausible. The emperor's trust in his wife caused jealousy of his inner circle (in addition, it was too different from the relationship between Nikolai Pavlovich and Alexandra Fedorovna), and the courtiers began to whisper to him that there was a rumor that Maria Alexandrovna was leading him, and therefore is the co-ruler of the state. This whisper fell on the prepared soil, since childhood the assumption that he could be someone's "slave" was the most offensive for Alexander Nikolaevich. The rumor that he is "under his wife's heel" was offensive not only to the monarch, but also to any adult man (it does not matter whether such a rumor was fair or not). It is not surprising that Alexander soon stopped talking to the Empress about the state affairs and generally began to treat her quite coldly. From now on, if she wanted to worry about someone, she had to turn to the ministers, direct applications to her husband's caused only a sharp rebuachment.

A turning point, a certain watershed in their relations was, according to most contemporaries and researchers, the illness and sudden death of the heir to the throne, Grand Duke Nikolai Alexandrovich.

He fell ill either as a result of falling from a horse or from a blow to the corner of a marble table during a joking struggle with the Prince of Leuchtenberg. And at first, relatives did not pay much attention to the bruise of the spine, not noticing that the Tsarevich turned pale, lost weight, sometimes could not straighten his back and walked a little hunched. He only got the reproaches of others for deliberately "walking as an old man." Meanwhile, the disease was progressing and exhausted organism was not strong enough to resist. However, not only the Grand Duke's relatives, but also the medical specialists who observed him were not attentive enough. They treated Nikolai Alexandrovich from rheumatism or some other neuralgic ailment, while the disease began to keep the heir in bed, first for weeks, then for months. Only after that he was advised to go for treatment in Nice, where French doctors made a fatal diagnosis - spinal tuberculosis. In the spring of 1865, the condition of the heir became critical, and the royal couple with their sons Vladimir and Alexei arrived in the south of France. The Tsar's train crossed Europe at an unprecedented speed for those years, in just 85 hours.

It's hard to believe, but even here, during the deadly illness of the beloved eldest son, decency dictated their will to Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna. The Empress visited the Grand Duke every day after a mandatory drive in an open carriage. But one day Nikolai Alexandrovich felt worse and to started going to rest during his mother's usual visit hours. As a result, they did not see each other for several days and Maria Alexandrovna shared with one of the ladies-in-waiting her annoyance at this circumstance. "Why don't you go at another hour?" lady-in-waiting was surprised. "No, it's uncomfortable for me," the Empress replied, unable to disturb the established order even when it came to the life of her beloved son.

Alexander Nikolaevich was haunted by the suspicion that maybe it was he who became the unwitting cause of Tsarevich's disease. As a child, the heir was a fragile, too pampered child, and in order to correct this deficiency, his father ordered him to exercise hard, which led, albeit accidentally, to a sad outcome. Which was actually true. Alexander’s attempt to do the best went along the traditional Russian lines “wanted as better and ended up as always”. The curriculum was extremely taxing including not only the rigorous physical exercises (mandatory military drill which started at the age of 4 and at 6 he was already participating in the military parades, riding, dancing, etc.) but also very broad an intensive academic program which Tsesarevich was taking quite seriously. The personal qualities of Nikolai Alexandrovich began to manifest themselves in the training. It was restless, curious (interested in everything up to soothsayers and turning tables!), fast, hasty - could not even listen to the teacher's question - a cheerful boy who was "polite, friendly and well-mannered, observant and cautious in words and actions." His younger brother was more sustained and not quick in his decisions, having a habit of slowly thinking about the answer from all sides. Somewhat of a dissonance from a general chorus of excitement was opinion of his teacher of Law, Pobedonostsev, who said that he actually is not seriously interested in the studies. [1] Nicholas was not very strong and, like his father, he had “eager to please” character and never objected or complained. Eventually, his health was deteriorating to a noticeable degree and the program was somewhat scaled down but the damage already had been done. The physical trauma came as a last straw.

On April 11, 1865, Alexander Nikolaevich was woken up at six o'clock in the morning and reported that "tsesarevich is weakening." On the same day, Nikolai Alexandrovich died, and on April 16, the coffin with the body of the heir was transferred to the frigate "Alexander Nevsky", which arrived in St. Petersburg on the 28th of the same month.

Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich was declared heir to the throne and soon had been forced to marry to his late brother’s fiance, Princess Dagmara of Denmark (Maria Feodorovna). [2]


The new Tsesarevich, whose education was so far “taken easy”, had been put through the crash course of the studies deemed necessary for his new position and soon enough there was a first signal that he has his own views, which are not necessarily fit into the prevailing liberal orthodoxy. When being lectured by his professor of economics on the virtues of free trade he objected that in its present state Russian manufacturing is not, yet, ready for a free competition and will be destroyed by the foreign imports.

State Affairs.


Shrunk as it was into almost statistical insignificance, a serfdom was formally there and there were increasingly louder voices demanding its formal abolition while, OTOH, the landowners who still hanged to it had been equally vocal about retaining it and, while not being numerous, they were not insignificant politically because quote often they were forming the most active and energetic groups in the provincial noble assemblies. Plus, administrative apparatus of the Russian Empire included both supporters and opponents of this reform and bureaucrats were the empire’s true ruling force. And, as an additional factor, there were serfs themselves: some of them held a “legalistic” view regarding the land ownership (I already mentioned this earlier) but some expected that they’ll get all land of their owners for free.

Take, for example, the estate of L. H. Tolstoy [3] Yasnaya Polyana. It was mortgaged in a bank for 20 thousand rubles a long time ago, and Tolstoy paid a significant part of his income to repay the debt. K. H. Kavelin advised him to gather his peasants and agree with them on the conditions for liberation from serfdom and the further functioning of the estate. In June 1857, Lev Nikolaevich proposed to the village assembly to release its members on the following terms: the landlord provided each family with several acres of arable land, and in payment for land and freedom he received 20 rubles a year from each family for thirty years. Of these, 4 rubles were to go to the bank to pay the debt, and the rest - to the residence of the lord's family. The Serfs did not agree to Tolstoy's proposal, because according to their firm conviction they should have received freedom and land from the Emperor free of charge.

Well, AII wanted the thing done and he proceeded the traditional way that historically rarely produced any results: in 1861 he ordered his Minister of Interior, S.S.Lanskoy, to assemble all materials on the subject. Lanskoy was, in general, supportive of his liberal subordinates but at the same time, he listened attentively to the emperor's opinion, not wanting to get ahead of him or lag behind the monarch's plans. The old dignitary perfectly understood how dangerous both the first and the second could be for the case. Special Secret Committee had been created and Alexander expressed a naive opinion that within six months everything will be done. Taking into an account that his father was actively involving him in the state affairs, this was not a naïveté but plain stupidity [4]. When Lanskoy died in 1862 the work was still “in progress”. Being pissed off with the delays (and also being pushed by his aunt, Grand Duchess Helen Pavlovna, the most progressive member of the imperial family with the exception of Constantine who was away in Hungary), Alexander created a new Editorial Commission with the explicit goal to write a reform. Unlike the Secret Committee, it involved elected representatives of the nobility and had been chaired by Count V. N. Panin, a former Minister of Justice of Nicholas I. Count’s most remarkable feature was a complete absence of a backbone when it was coming to communication with a sovereign. On his own he was a conservative but this did not matter because, as he wrote about himself:

«Whatever my personal beliefs, I consider it my duty first of all to subordinate them to the emperor's will... If in any way, directly or indirectly, appears that the sovereign looks at the matter differently from me, then I have a duty to immediately retreat from my beliefs and act completely contrary to them even with more energy than if I were guided by my own beliefs..

Addresses written by noble deputies can be conditionally divided into three groups. The first stated that the liberation of peasants means the complete ruin of their owners and cannot but affect the very foundations of the state. The authors of another group of addresses agreed to grant peasants freedom, but at the same time proposed to create an economic and administrative department common to all classes and based on elective principles in order to conduct the transition period without shocking the foundations. Still others demanded the convening of commissioners from the nobles, who, under the leadership of the emperor, would create a new reform project.

Besides garbage, the addresses contained reasonable and even prophetic ideas. Some deputies saw in the draft Editorial Commission an open desire of the authorities to remove the nobility from any influence on the peasantry. Anticipating a sharp strengthening of the bureaucracy as a result of the government-style reform, the deputies warned the emperor that the transformations in the village should be accompanied by mandatory changes in the political structure of Russia. Public control over the activities of officials is really necessary, but was Russian society ready to act in the national interest? On the other hand, the abolition of only private serfdom and the preservation of the full dependence of all classes on the throne created a dangerous distortion in relations between society and the state.
The addresses and their conclusions got Alexander extremely irritated. He declared that nothing is going to deter him from the chosen course and that the only question is (such a trifle 😉) how to complete it. Which meant: should it been done by the state or should the society play certain role as well? Choice of Panin was actually indicative of an answer: he was a bureaucrat and AII had all reasons to think that when push comes to shove he will be able to force bureaucracy to do what he wants. And reactionary part of nobility will be powerless. The final document had been composed with a rather “creative approach” to the proposals and in 1865 the resulting document sent to the State Council, which task had been made clear by the statement made by Alexander on the opening session: “I demand from the State Council that it [peasant business] was over in the first half of February... I repeat, and it's my indispensable will to make it over now...” The time table was obvious: Alexander wanted to celebrate the 5th anniversary of his reign with some major legislative act. [5] The voting went paragraph by paragraph with neither side getting obvious advantage but this did not matter because the Emperor had a decisive voice. The “reactionaries” managed to get something by leaving 20% of the agricultural land [6] in the hands of landowners, the serfs had been saddled with the release payments and some temporary obligations toward the owners. But the main thing was unchanged - serfdom in Russia formally came to an end. On February 19, 1865, Alexander II wrote on the first page of the adopted law: "To be therefore", and the chairman of the State Council Count D. H. Bludov assured with his signature the authenticity of the highest resolution.

Manifest was written by Metropolitan Philaret and distributed throughout the empire for reading in public. In St.Petersburg Alexander did this personally. The extraordinary security measures in Moscow and St.Petersburg proved to be unnecessary.

Dissatisfied with the reform reproached it for not being radical enough, although it turned out to be very decisive for its time. Critics' reproaches are based on the assertion that the reform did not meet the aspirations of the peasants. But it could not meet them, because the peasants sought utopia, to build a society without superiors at all levels, for pre-state structure, but with the tsar at the head of a society that shares landlords' lands, inventory, bread, etc. among its members. Was it possible to build something real on this basis? Another thing is that the conditions of the reform required corrections prompted by the course of their specific application (which, in general, was embedded in the draft by its authors, but then safely forgotten by the authorities).


Russian army was periodically reorganized and rearmed and so far its performance in the major and minor conflicts was quote good. However, there were hidden problems which, so far did not fully revealed themselves, mostly because the last big war had been fought more than a decade ago (and was not really too big) and since then there were no visible examples of a better organization. Some of the proven practices of the earlier wars had been abandoned based upon the experiences of small-scale Caucasus operations and overly advertised French practices.

System of the military districts, which was supposed to produce the ready armies at the time of war did not quite work out and the reason was predictable. The corps and army level staffs had been eliminated and the highest level military units in the time of peace were infantry and cavalry divisions, artillery and engineers brigades unrelated to each other and directly subordinated to the commanders of military districts. During a war these disjoined units had been united in the ad hoc corps and armies commanded by the former division commanders and their, again, ad hoc assembled staffs composed after mobilization started out of the officers unknown to each other. The system ended up being similar to the French system of the “marshalattes” and was relatively OK for the Caucasus with its ad hoc small units but it did caused certain problems during the Hungarian War even if the Russian army had enough time to accomplish preparations without a rush. The arguments in favor of this system were:
  1. Saving money.
  2. Abolishing “extreme centralization” of the military.
  3. Argument that the corps units were too big to be used in their entirety at the time of war.
This argument was missing two important points:
  • Army corps, unlike division or brigade, is a combination of all types of troops (infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers) and its main purpose is to provide a coordinated deployments of all these troops in a battle which can be achieved only by a constant training during the time of peace because learning it at the time of war proves to be truly expensive.
  • Besides the small-scale local wars Russia may find it necessary to fight a major war in which experience of the small-scale conflicts will not be applicable.
System of the military districts had a purpose to unburden Ministry of War from the issues of raising the troops, supplies, placement and medical services. Commanders of the districts and their staffs did not have any wartime functions and were not expected to get the frontline appointments during the war, they’d just keep performing their usual duties. As a result, the district commanders were essentially military administrators and there was no mechanism for getting prepared top level wartime commanders.

Then, there was a problem with the General Staff. Or rather its absence as a meaningful organization doing a strategic planning of the future wars and providing strategic leadership during a war. Russian General Staff was organization with not quite clear functions totally subordinated to the Minister of War instead of other way around (as in Prussian army). It was not doing planning of a future war, it was not assessing potential opponents and as a result could not create the proper plans of the Russian mobilization, assess the needed resources and organize the effective deployment. The General Staff, following the French model, was completely separated from the army and consisted exclusively of the officers holding staff and administrative positions. The laudable intention of AII and his Minister of War, Milutin, to promote military science and education ended up as most of other good intentions: majority of the high military positions (from division commander and up) had been held by the well-educated and even academically-distinguished generals with a minimal experience of the independent command of the military units [7]. Some of them could be the good staff officers but a field commander must have different qualities from those of his chief of staff and the Imperial Military Academy was not producing the field commanders.

Then, there was a social problem. While in Prussia a person who did not serve in the army could not held an administrative or elective position, in Russia people with the university education had been exempt from the military service. The intentions, again, were good (faster deployment of the educated people in their professional areas) but the byproduct was army’s separation from a society all the way to a complete alienation and mutual hostility (which could easily result in a sympathy to all types of the anti-government organizations). Another byproduct was a shortage of the reserve officers.

There was also an argument that during a big war Russia is going to end up with a big army of the ill-prepared soldiers and too few experienced ones.

Well, for a while none of the above was an obvious problem because there was no obvious reason to anticipate a major war with any European power and Alexander embarked upon the task he accomplished quite well, modification of the military uniforms. They were made more comfortable and care had been taken of the good winter clothes.

However, the supply organization remained quite terrible. Or rather it was adequate for a time of peace but for a war, except for the rather minor local operations, it was really bad with its heavy reliance upon the private contractors and the General Staff’s unwillingness or inability to fully figure out importance of the railroads and to create a comprehensive plan for their war time usage.

The navy.
Development of a modern navy caused a lot of the ideological debates regarding the Russian military doctrine. Should it be more aggressive in the terms of ocean-based operations or should it be more concentrated upon protection of the Russian coasts? Taking into an account that Russian Empire did not have the oversea colonies and was not planning to have ones the second course was chosen as the more prudent (and cheaper) one, at least for a near future. It was decided to build the heavily armored ironclads with a powerful artillery but not necessarily a long operational range for the Baltic, Black and White seas with the supporting lighter ships of all types and to have some fast armored long range steam frigates for operations, if necessary, on the ocean communications. In the case of war, they would be augmented by the armed steamers of the otherwise commercial Dobroflot.

The first ironclad (monitor-cruiser) for the Baltic fleet was completed by 1869 [8], “Peter the Great”. The armament consisted of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns with a barrel length of 20 calibers, placed two each in the end towers. In addition, six 87-mm (4-pound) guns were installed on the ship, as well as spaces were provided for the installation of two 9-dm (229 mm) mortars. Armored belt in the middle part 365-297 mm, at the ends 254-203 mm, parapet 365 mm, towers 356 mm. Speed up to 14 knots, crew 440.

On the Black Sea, “Chesma”, the 1st of the series of 4 ironclads had been completed in 1872. This was a full steel ship and experience of “Peter the Great” was taken into the account. The armor belt was extended to the whole length of the ship and the main artillery was 6 12 inch guns placed in 3 2-guns barbettes. These guns had barrel length 30 calibers and could penetrate much thicker armor than the guns of “Peter the Great”, There were also 7 152 mm guns, 10 small guns and 7 torpedo tubes. Speed was up to 15 knots and the crew 633. the maximum distance was 1,100 nautical miles.

Pacific was somewhat more complicated because of a need to secure a long defensive perimeter stretching from Vladivostok and Sakhalin to Kuril and Aleutian islands and then to Alaska. The RAC, which was losing money for the last few decades, was abolished and instead of the furs (this task switched to protecting their depleted sources against the poachers) the important factor became the Alaska coal, which will be used to supply the Russian shipping on the Pacific together with the Sakhalin coal which was extracted on the island’s western coast since 1853.

On Alaska it was mined by RAC since 1855 and reasonably easily accessible. Not of the best quality but good enough for the steamships. The center moved from Novo-Archangelsk to the Fort of St. George and Paul’s Harbor (on Kadyak) where the new fortified naval base was created. The fur hunters and merchants had been moved to the sidelines by the naval personnel, miners, and all other types of people including even few farmers who managed to grow potatoes and some vegetables. The grain still had to be shipped mostly from Nickolaevsk-on-Amur augmented by the produce from the Fort Ross farms, which had been permitted to remain in California by the Mexican government: these farms had been producing some surplus but most of the supplies had been bought from the locals and shipped from San-Francisco with Fort Ross serving mostly as a business center. Mexican government did not mind and why would it? Besides buying the agricultural produce, Fort Ross was also arranging acquisition of the valuable manufactured goods, especially those called “firearms” (after purchasing certain empty territories on the North certain neighbor had been seemingly friendly but who knows for how long).

Back to the point, the Pacific fleet had to be able to protect the settlements on both sides of the Pacific, patrol the “perimeter” and to be able to provide protection, if needed, of the trade routes to Japan, China and Philippines. The task was ambitious but as of now the newly established ports of Nikolaevsk and Vladivostok had been only on the early stages of building up the supporting infrastructure and communications with the manufacturing centers of Eastern Siberia were mostly by the Amur. Construction of the regional railroad looked as a long-term project due to the very difficult terrain. As the first step there was a slowly progressing construction of a reasonably good land road built by the convicts. So for a while the Pacific Fleet was going to consist of the light cruisers and smaller ships plus few monitors of a coastal defense and some river monitors and cannon boats patrolling the Amur.

[1] … and that he was too liberal. But it is quite possible that Pobedonostsev was considering Nicholas too superficial: by using the phenomenal memory of the Romanov family he could easily memorize the material and fire off the answers without thinking even before the question was completed if the teachers were looking for a knowledge of the material and not an ability to analyze it. Who can tell now?
[2] He had a different idea but was overruled. Nonetheless, unlike his father who married for love and ended up starting a second family while his wife was still alive, he ended up being a faithful husband.
[3] Yes, the famous one even if he was not, yet, famous at that time. As you may notice, he was not offering free cookies.
[4] Actually, Nicholas’ opinion about the mental capacities of his heir was not extremely high.
[5] The OTL signing happened in 1861 by this exact reason.
[6] The forests and other potentially usable lands remained in landowners possession.
[7] In OTL by 1914 out of 5 army commanders promoted from being the General Staff officers only one had a longer experience of the troops commander than some other duties. Well, even that one was Rennenkampf.
[8] In OTL its construction started in 1869 and completed in 1877. But ITTL we can do better than that. 😜
[9] 1889 and was second of the series. But how ITTL would I get a ship called “Catherine II”? 😢
Also rip the Tsarevich

Besides putting him through One Punch Man levels of exercise I think another thing that the Ol' Tsar messed up here was his relationship with his wife, because I mean having one's parents loathing each other probably didnt do wonders for their son's health and besides that if they were in good terms that accident could perhaps have been butterflied away, but I doubt he's thinking about that and its a good thing he isnt because that amount of guilty isnt good for his health too :openedeyewink::'(

I do understand why he felt the need to push his wife away, Nicholas II can attest he didnt set a good precedent for overcontrolling wifes = success IOTL, but mutual cooperation is always better than doing everything on your own when it comes to royal couples I believe and all he got with this move was a metaphorical divorces and his wife overcompensating by listening too much to his ministers & advisors ~

Oh, Silly monarchies ~ what do we do with them
RIP Tsarevich. Let's hope the new one screw things less this time around.

Well, I’m not a big fun of a theory that AIII was the major “screwer”. His father screwed things fundamentally and he unscrewed some of them but then his son came and … Actually, reign of NII was not all bad but his two fundamental screwups overshadowed everything else.

Anyway, expectation that to be counted as a good ruler AIII had to avoid all mistakes and disasters is completely unrelated to the Russian history. He did his share of screwing (IMO the only Russian ruler who did not was Ivan VI) but kept country in peace and in a process of industrialization, which is more than can be said about most of his predecessors and his successor. He surely was a reactionary but what do you expect after the reign and assassination of his father? That he would decorate Zeliabov, Perovskaya and Co, and abdicate after declaring that starting next Monday Russia is officially turned into the peasants’ paradise? 😜

Comparing to Lenin, Stalin &Co his methods of dealing with the political opposition were quite mild and inefficient. His antisemitism was quite repulsive but keep in mind that at this time it was prevailing in Russia. Even Witte, who argued that the Russian Jews have to get the full rights (or be drowned in the Black Sea, he was accepting both options) and was married to a Jewish woman, wrote about unpleasant characteristics of the “Jewish race”. Notice that AII relaxed the system but did not abolish it either.

And let's hope Alexander II reforms continúe to pass
Which ones?
Scope of the emancipation is scaled down ITTL making it more or less a token event and minimizing a fundamental screwup of the economics which it caused in OTL.
Industrialization is already in a full swing by the time he came to power and even free trade (not decided on this, yet) would not screw it up on OTL level.
RRs are going on along the lousy OTL lines but at least are using the domestic production.
Army is in OTL situation with all minuses and pluses except having the better weapons. In OTL conclusions were not made based on the war of 1877-78 (it would hurt Milutin’s ego) and this war does not happen ITTL and the Prussian experience is not going to be as impressive as it was so…
Social reforms? Zemstvo is already there and IIRC I already added trial by jury somewhere along the line. AII was not planning anything else.

Not getting into the idiotic military adventures and somehow minimizing the political terrorism would be a great achievement.
Also rip the Tsarevich

Besides putting him through One Punch Man levels of exercise I think another thing that the Ol' Tsar messed up here was his relationship with his wife, because I mean having one's parents loathing each other probably didnt do wonders for their son's health and besides that if they were in good terms that accident could perhaps have been butterflied away,

There are two versions of an accident and neither had obvious link to his parents’ relations. The health was seemingly not very good to start with and excessively stressful curriculum did hurt it but, again, how was this related to the family attitudes? He was loved by both parents and they were not yet on a loathing stage: IIRC, affair with Dolgorukova started later.
but I doubt he's thinking about that and its a good thing he isnt because that amount of guilty isnt good for his health too :openedeyewink::'(

I do understand why he felt the need to push his wife away, Nicholas II can attest he didnt set a good precedent for overcontrolling wifes = success IOTL, but mutual cooperation is always better than doing everything on your own when it comes to royal couples I believe and all he got with this move was a metaphorical divorces and his wife overcompensating by listening too much to his ministers & advisors ~

Oh, Silly monarchies ~ what do we do with them
Yeah, they are problems prone but so are the alternatives…
how was this related to the family attitudes
I just meant odds
Like falling from a horse or beating your back on marble in a play fight are very possible but not particularly likely things to happen on your daily basis, so a different relationship with his parents could butterfly it away, not meaning that it caused the accident in the first place mind you
He was loved by both parents and they were not yet on a loathing stage
My mistake then, the narration led me to believe they were already on the "I hate you" stage where often children are neglected
Its nice to know they were loving to him till the end
He surely was a reactionary but what do you expect after the reign and assassination of his father? That he would decorate Zeliabov, Perovskaya and Co, and abdicate after declaring that starting next Monday Russia is officially turned into the peasants’ paradise? 😜
I'd do that but then again Im not particularly responsible and all I'd want at this point would be to throw the country into c h a o s to spite everyone

Guess they got the least destructive Alex :p
Yeah, they are problems prone but so are the alternatives…
Wholeheartedly agreed
I just meant odds
Like falling from a horse or beating your back on marble in a play fight are very possible but not particularly likely things to happen on your daily basis, so a different relationship with his parents could butterfly it away, not meaning that it caused the accident in the first place mind you

IIRC, fall from the horse happened during steeplechase and participation in it was a routine prestige thing and a fall was a quite common event except that he fell flat on his back. This could be attributed both to a bad lack and to the generally weakened physical condition. Or to something else, which has nothing to do with his parents.

Mocking wrestling with his relative also was not uncommon: AFAIK, children of the imperial family and their friends had been routinely playing that type of the games but he was, IMO, slightly too old for a horseplay. Or perhaps not.

Medicine was still one of the mid-XIX century with no Xrays and other modern diagnostics tools (which still do not prevent people from dying of the seemingly curable diseases) so the rest should not be too surprising. After all, the doctors could not cure AIII either.
My mistake then, the narration led me to believe they were already on the "I hate you" stage where often children are neglected
Its nice to know they were loving to him till the end
You are talking about the imperial court. The care and neglect are rigidly framed by etiquette and may look weird to the normal people.