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Home: The Toast

Already know if you’re a Meg, a Jo, a Beth, or an Amy? A Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, or Samantha? Now you can find out which of Nicholas II of Russia’s daughters you are!

Russian names are infamous for declining into an endless variety of nicknames. However, your family favors euonyms just as much. Which embarrassing title would they call you?

  1. Fat Little Bow-Wow, because not even you take yourself seriously.
  2. Governess, because you know what’s best for everyone.
  3. Imp, because you’re a genius of mischief.
  4. Little Empress, because you have strong instincts and the entitlement to match.

Your education has been checkered, because your family is so focused on the health of your brother, the hemophiliac heir to the throne. Still, you have tutors in many subjects, including English, French, and religion. How would they describe your approach to academics?

  1. You’ve never been a focused student, in part because you pour energy into your artistic or athletic talents, but your sweet temper means you’re pleasant to teach.
  2. You don’t always feel inspired by your studies, but you’re a conscientious worker–it wouldn’t really occur to you to be otherwise–and have a gift for languages.
  3. Your tutors can’t get you to sit still through a single lesson. You’re a cut-up and a ham and a general pain to teach. Some suspect you’re secretly a genius.
  4. You love to read and write in your free time, but you can be stubborn when asked to study something you don’t care about.

You were born into the wealthiest ruling family in Europe, but because of gross patriarchal traditons, you’ll sleep on a camp cot and take a cold bath every morning until you’re married. Luckily, your bathwater is scented with your favorite flower to mitigate this indignity. Which sounds dreamiest?

  1. Lilac.
  2. Jasmine.
  3. Violet (but you’d be just as happy with dirt).
  4. Rose.

Your mother trains as a nurse and converts a spare palace into a hospital to serve Russian soldiers wounded in World War One. (This is a controversial decision, as many Russians prefer to see the empress as untouchable and glamorous, not as someone who touches bodily fluids.) How do you help out your countrymen?

  1. You love to build relationships, so you visit the soldiers every day to chat about their lives at home. By the time they leave the hospital, you know all their children’s names.
  2. You train as a nurse alongside your mother, proving yourself amazingly efficient–you’re not squeamish, and though you sympathize with the patients, you keep your sense of self.
  3. You are great at lifting people’s spirits, so you play cards and tell jokes with the patients, and even plan an amateur concert (starring you, of course!) to raise morale.
  4. You try to nurse, but you have a hard time compartmentalizing and find yourself overwhelmed. Also, you keep falling in love with the soldiers. So you do administrative tasks instead.

Your mother is in bed (again) because of her chronic pain and anxiety about your brother’s health. How do you cheer her up?

  1. Sketch or take pictures with her.
  2. Read to her.
  3. Do a mean and very on-point imitation of a lady-in-waiting.
  4. Write her a poem.

You are one of the most eligible princesses in Europe, but your betrothal plans keep falling through. (And sometimes you sabotage them, like the time you and your sisters purposely got sunburnt before meeting Prince Carol of Romania so he wouldn’t fall for any of you.) What do you think about love and marriage?

  1. You’re warm, you love kids, and you’re an incorrigible flirt. You declared at an early age that you were going to marry a Russian soldier and have twenty children.
  2. Vulnerability is scary for you. Also, you’re super attractive. This means that people find you alluring and mysterious, which is both a blessing and a curse.
  3. You are more invested in worm farming than romance at the moment.
  4. You fear losing your identity if separated from your family and country. You get intense crushes on inappropriate people and sulk about them in your journal.

You’ve finished your lessons early and you have some downtime. What are you reading?

  1. Fairy tales.
  2. Shakespeare.
  3. Not reading anything, but you’re writing an excellent skit.
  4. Victor Hugo.

You have an amazingly cozy and close-knit family, considering that your parents are the absolute monarchs of an empire. Still, you get anxious about the part you play in it. What scares you?

  1. Being forgotten about because you’re so low-maintainance.
  2. Not being strong enough to take care of those you care about.
  3. Not being funny enough to bolster the family.
  4. Being separated from your loved ones.

Even though you’re a grand duchess, you’re not perfect! What was the most deviant thing you did as a child?

  1. Once you stole a single cookie. Everyone was shocked.
  2. Acting eerily self-posessed at all times.
  3. Something puckish but violent, like throwing a rock at your sister and knocking her unconscious.
  4. Saying creepy things. Like, you once suggested that Joseph’s older brothers were justified in selling him into slavery, because he got privileges they deserved.

Russia gets awfully cold in winter. The Alexander Palace has very wide hallways with waxed floors. One of your sisters suggests that riding your velocipedes around indoors could be a novel winter diversion. Will you do it?

  1. Sure! You’re happy to be included.
  2. You are busy reading, but agree to be on-call for first aid if necessary.
  3. “One of your sisters”? That was your idea.
  4. Why not? Sounds like a good way to burn off some nervous energy.

If you answered mostly As, you are MARIA.

Born June 13/26, 1899: Maria, Marie, Mashka, or “Fat Little Bow-Wow” (sigh). You are exceptionally sweet-tempered and easygoing, not unlike a golden retriever (or the Russian equivalent). You have a touch of middle-child syndrome and sometimes fear being lost in the shuffle, but your observant nature translates into artistic gifts, and your strength–both physical and emotional–is a great source of comfort to the people close to you. Don’t fear being forgotten, and don’t let your older sisters bully you into sweet-talking your mother on their behalf.

MARIA FACTS:

  • Maria tripped when she entered her debutante ball and fell into a visiting dignitary. Instead of fleeing in horror, she plopped down on the floor and laughed.
  • Maria’s eyes were known in the family as “Mashka’s saucers.”
  • Maria was physically the strongest of all her sisters, and good-naturedly lugged their little brother Alexei around as often as he requested.

If you answered mostly Bs, you are TATIANA.

Born May 29/June 11, 1897: Tatiana, “The Governess”

“Regal Bearing” should be your middle name (or maybe not, because you’d say that that’s silly). Of all your sisters, it’s said, you are the one who looks and acts like a tsar’s daughter 24/7. This isn’t just because your clothes and hair are always perfect (even though they are). You also have a cool head and a deep well of compassion that serve you–and the projects you care about–well. It probably wouldn’t hurt you to let loose every once in a while, though!

TATIANA FACTS:

  • Though her sisters teased her by calling her The Governess, Tatiana’s self-posession meant that she was the one they relied on to ask their parents for favors.
  • Tatiana, along with Olga and their mother, worked as a Sister of Mercy during World War One. Many of the other nurses they worked with observed that Tatiana was a born caretaker. (A few were also surprised that she was so willing to cover her pretty hair with a wimple.)
  • Tatiana had a French bulldog named Ortino that she took with her into captivity.

If you answered mostly Cs, you are ANASTASIA.

Born June 5/18, 1901: Anastasia, Nastasia, Nastia, or Shvybzik [“Imp”]

You are the family clown and you take this role very seriously! From an early age, you impressed onlookers with your control over your features, your sharp mimicry, and your iron will–you never do anything you don’t want to do, but when you care about something, you care completely. And despite your tendency to take a joke too far, your ability to cheer anyone up makes you a valuable presence.

ANASTASIA FACTS:

  • Anastasia liked to push herself physically and once almost drowned during a family beach trip because she insisted on swimming out too far. Her father rescued her–by catching her hair!
  • Anastasia had a dog named Shvybzik. Yes, she named a dog after herself.
  • A diary entry that must be poetry, because it can’t be summarized: “…I am in Tatiana’s room. Tatiana and Olga are here… I am sitting and digging in my nose with my left hand. Olga wanted to slap me but I ran away from her swinish hand…” (May 18, 1913.)

If you answered mostly Ds, you are OLGA.

Born November 3/15, 1895: Olga, “The Little Empress”

According to former tutor Claudia Bitner, you love “solitude and books,” and there’s not a thing wrong with that. As the eldest, you have a sense of responsibility to your siblings, which can feel like a burden. In general, you form deep attachments, and you’ll push yourself past your breaking point for the people you love. Try going a little easier on yourself, and you might find that going easy on others comes more naturally.

OLGA FACTS:

  • Olga was named after her father’s sister, Olga Alexandrova, who was similarly bookish and occasionally goofy.
  • Ever contrary, Olga seems to have been the one cat person in a family of dog lovers.
  • Olga was not above a pun in English, which she and her sisters spoke fluently (though she and Tatiana spoke with Scottish burrs picked up from a tutor). She referred to her nose as her “humble snub.”

ImageGrand Duchess Anastasia, Grand Duchess Olga, Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarevich Alexei, Grand Duchess Tatiana, and Grand Duchess Maria visiting a Kuban Cossack regiment during World War I. Romanov Collection, General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

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Ramona Joan Riecke is a writer and museum educator in Chicago, IL. She held the door for Toni Morrison once.

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