Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich Romanoff (By Danielle Laurent-Faure)


Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaïevitch Romanoff

Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaievitch Romanoff was born in Saint Petersburg on November 6, 1856. A member of the Imperial family, he is the son of Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaievitch (born in 1831), and the nephew of Alexander II (the liberating Tsar which abolished serfdom in 1861). Through kinship, he is also a great-uncle of Nicolas II, the last Tsar of Russia (1868-1918).

He is familiar to us by his still famous breeding of “Perchino“. But hunting and herding were a hobby for him. A man of very tall stature (1.98 m), intelligent, but known to be very nervous, even angry, 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 Hussar Regiment of the Guard. Other important positions will follow one another between 1890 and 1905. During the First World War, he was appointed commander of the Russian armies in 1914-1915, then commander of the Caucasus front in 1915-1917. According to the narrators of the time, his popularity with the troops was great and “it was with true mystical fervor that he was obeyed”.

From an early age, he was an avid hunter. His first Borzoi is a black and white male named Oudar de la Chasse Voyekoff. Other Borzois are added over time to form a first crew of Borzois. All are characterized by their aggressiveness and a great bite that the eagle owl appreciates because he only practices wolf hunting. When he was appointed Commander of the Hussar Regiments of the Guard, he no longer had enough time to devote himself to his hunt and gave it up. A large part of his dogs is then sold.

In 1887, he acquired the Perchino estate and installed the new crew there, which he had already begun to reconstitute. While in his first hunt, the Grand Duke had focused all his attention on the aggressiveness of his greyhounds and chose his breeders solely on this criterion, neglecting their aesthetics, he changed his selection mode from the Perchino period, looking for a dog that is racy, well-built, fast and conforms to the Borzoi type, and retains all the behavioral qualities that characterize the true Borzoi, i.e. passionate (spirited) and aggressive – essential elements when faced with game such as than the wolf.

To achieve his goal, he chooses the best subjects from the best bloodlines (breedings) of the time, and obtains, over the years (under the guidance of his kennel director Dimitri Waltzolf), subjects of great quality both in beauty than hunting… Perchino, by its splendor and its quality, was then the “flagship” breeding of the 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 his followers (including Artem Boldareff, the private secretary of his wife, Anastasia Nicolaievna ) on an English warship which took them to Malta and then to Genoa. But it is in France that he comes to take refuge definitively. He chose to settle in the south of France, in Cap d’Antibes, then left for the Paris region to reside at the Château de Choigny (from 1923 to 1928). Ill, he returned to Cap d’Antibes with his brother the Grand Duke Pierre in October 1928 and died there on January 5, 1929 at the age of 72, following pneumonia.

He is buried in the crypt of the Russian Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Cannes. The Grand Duke had no descendants. His ashes, along with those of his wife, were repatriated to Moscow on April 27, 2015.


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