Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich Romanoff was born in St. Petersburg on November 27, 1856. Member of the Imperial family, he is the son of the Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolayevich (born in 1831), and the nephew of Alexander II (the liberating Tsar who abolished serfdom in 1861). He is also related to the last Tsar of Russia, a great-uncle of Nicholas II, (1868-1918).
He is familiar to the Borzoi world for his breeding, the famous "Perchino" kennel. But hunting and breeding were for him mere a hobby. A man of very tall stature (1 m 98), intelligent, but known to be quite nervous, even choleric, he was above all a career soldier.
From the age of 20, he took part in the hostilities against the Turks and distinguished himself there. In 1884, at the age of 28, he was appointed commander of the Hussars Regiment of the Guard. Other important positions will follow each other between 1890 and 1905. During the First World War, he was appointed commander of the Russian armies in 1914-1915 and commander of the Caucasian front in 1915-1917. According to the narrators of the time, his popularity with the troops was great and "it was with a true mystical fervor that he was obeyed".
From his early youth, he is a passionate hunter. His first Borzoi is a black and white male named Oudar of the Voyekoff Hunt. Other Barzoïs were added over time to form a first crew of Barzoïs. All are characterized by their aggressiveness and a great grip of neck, that appreciates the Grand Duke who at this time only practices hunting wolves. When he is appointed Commanding Officer of the Hussars de la Garde Regiments, he no longer has enough time to devote himself to his hunt and renounces it. A large part of his dogs are then sold.
In 1887, he acquired the Perchino estate and installed the new founders of the breeding he had already begun to rebuild. While in his first hunt, the Grand Duke had focused all his attention on the aggressiveness of his greyhounds and chose his Borzois only on this criterion, thereby neglecting their aesthetics, he changed his selection mode from the time of Perchino, looking for a dog racy, well built, fast and consistent with the type of the Borzoi, with all the qualities of behavior that characterize the real Borzoi, that is to say, beauty, well constructed, passionate (fiery) and aggressive - essential elements in front of a game such as the wolf.
To achieve his goal, he did chose the best subjects of the best blood (breeding) of the time, and obtains, over the years (under the guidance of his kennel manager Dimitri Waltzolf), Borzois of great qualities both in beauty and hunting ... Perchino, by its splendor and its quality, is then the breeding "lighthouse" of Borzoi in Russia ...
During the Revolution, he retired to his property in Crimea in March 1917, then managed to escape the Bolsheviks by embarking in 1919 with his family and the people of his suite (including Artem Boldareff with family and the private secretary of his wife, Anastasia Nicolayevna ) on an English warship that takes them to Malta and then to Genua. But it is in France that he comes to take his definite refuge. He chosed to settle in the south of France, in Cap d'Antibes, but then moved to the Paris region to live in Choigny Castle (from 1923 to 1928). Sick, he returned to Cap d'Antibes with his brother Grand Duke Peter in October 1928 and died there on January 5, 1929 at the age of 72, due to pneumonia.
Author : Danielle Laurent-Faure
Translation from french : Dan Persson
Translation to Russian: Elena Gerasimova
- Historical research on the Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaievich "the Young", by Dominique-Patrick Faure
- "The Perchino Hunt", Dimitri Waltzolff