Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse)

Maria Alexandrovna (Marie Of Hesse)

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Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse)

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Marie of Hesse and by Rhine (8 August 1824 – 8 June 1880) was a princess of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and, as Maria Alexandrovna (in Russian Мария Александровна), Empress consort of Alexander II of Russia. She was born at Darmstadt, the capital of the Grand Duchy, and died at Saint Petersburg. The Mariinsky Theatre and the city Mariehamn in Åland are named after her.

Early life

Marie was the youngest of seven children born to the Grand Duchess Wihelmine of Hesse (1788–1836), the youngest sister of the Russian Empress Elizaveta Alexeievna. The younger four were likely the biological children of Baron August von Senarclens de Grancy, but to avoid a scandal, Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse acknowledged Alexander and Marie as his own children; the other two had died young.

Marriage

When in 1838, the Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich toured Europe to find a wife, he fell in love with the 14-year-old Marie. He married her on 16 April 1841, even though he was well aware of the "irregularity" of her birth. His mother Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna objected, but Alexander insisted.

As she was very shy, she was regarded as stiff, austere, and with no taste in dress, no conversation, no charm. The damp climate of Saint Petersburg did not agree with the delicate chest Marie had inherited from her mother, so that she had a racking cough and recurring fever. Nevertheless, she became the mother of eight children. These pregnancies together with ill health...
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