Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by vivian. vivian Wonders, “who was anastiasa romanov” Thanks for WONDERing with us, vivian!

Today’s Wonder of the Day has it all. A royal family. A civil war. A decades-long mystery. That’s right—today, we’re learning about the story of Anastasia Romanov.

Who was Anastasia? She was the youngest daughter of the last czar of Russia. Her father, Nicholas II, ruled between 1894 and 1917. That made her a grand duchess, a title similar to that of princess.

People who knew Anastasia as a child say she was clever and mischievous. She had three older sisters and a younger brother. The children grew up in the Romanov royal palaces, which had belonged to the family for 300 years. 

Have you ever dreamed of living in a royal palace? Do you imagine feather beds, endless feasts, and servants to wait on your every whim? Well, it wasn’t quite like that for the Romanov siblings. Even as a grand duchess, Anastasia had chores. Like her siblings, she spent her days learning about subjects like literature and foreign languages with the help of tutors. At night, the Romanov children slept on cots. 

Raised by her mother, Czarina Alexandra, Anastasia was also part of the Russian Orthodox Church. She went to mass with her family often. She also learned about religion from her mother and tutors.

In 1905, another influence entered Anastasia’s life through her mother. His name was Grigori Rasputin, and he claimed to be a holy man. The Empress Alexandra believed Rasputin could heal her son, Alexei, who had hemophilia.

However, the people of Russia had a different opinion of Rasputin. Many believed he was a fraud. They said he had too much influence over the royal family. In 1914, Russia also entered World War I. Heavy loss of life plus food shortages led many to turn against the czar.

In February 1917, these problems reached a boiling point. The people of Russia revolted. They forced Nicholas II to step down as czar. The entire family, including Anastasia, was put under house arrest. Guards watched them constantly. 

Soon, though, the Russian people fought against each other in a civil war. On one side, the Bolsheviks kept Anastasia and her family captive in a house in the Ural Mountains. On the other side, the White Army sought to rescue the royal family. 

Eventually, the White Army did reach the house where the Romanovs were held captive. However, the royal family was nowhere to be found. They learned that the czar was likely assassinated. For years, though, many people hoped that other members of the family had survived.

And so began the decades-long mystery of the last ruling Romanovs. Over the years, many people came forward claiming to be one of the family members. Many women said they were Anastasia. They did so in an attempt to claim the Romanov fortune.

Among these, the most well-known was Anna Anderson. In the 1920s, she claimed to be Anastasia Romanov. She maintained this story until her death in 1984. In 1991, though, a grave was uncovered. It held the remains of most members of the Romanov family (Anastasia and Alexei were still missing). Anderson’s DNA was tested against these remains, and she was found to be unrelated to the Romanovs.

So, what happened to Anastasia? A second gravesite found in 2007 revealed that she, along with her brother Alexei, died with the rest of her family at the hands of the Bolsheviks. A Russian Orthodox church was built over the site where they were once imprisoned.

The story of Anastasia has captivated people for many years. Several movies and books have been made to spread knowledge about the Romanovs even further. This historical mystery has been solved. Still, many others remain. What event in history most interests you?

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.SL.4, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.R.10, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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