Smithsonian Russian Revolution Series: Russia’s February Revolution Was Led by Women on the March

Skobelev Square during the February Revolution by Aleksandr Gerasimov, 1917

My latest article in my monthly Russian Revolution series in Smithsonian Magazine is about the February Revolution, which precipitated the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. Women played a key role in this political unrest.

“In the country’s urban centers, with men on the battlefield, women took on new roles in the workforce, as they did throughout Europe during the war. Between 1914 and 1917, 250,000 more women began working outside the home for the first time. By the outbreak of the February Revolution, close to one million female workers lived in Russia’s cities, but were paid half the wages of men and endured substandard living conditions. The journalist Ariadna Tyrkova wrote, “Day by day, the war has changed attitudes about woman. It has become increasingly clear that the unseen effort of a woman and her labour often support the entire economy of a country.””

Click here to read “Russia’s February Revolution Was Led by Women on the March” in Smithsonian Magazine 

Click here to read all my articles in the Smithsonian Magazine Russian Revolution series. 

Sources and Further Reading:

The quotation at the beginning of the article is from The Lower Depths, a play written by Maxim Gorky in 1901-1902, which became especially popular following the Russian Revolutions of 1917.

The letter to King George V from Czar Nicholas II quoted in the article is reprinted in A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story. For more information about the relationship between King George V, Czar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II during the First World War, see George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter.

Czar Nicholas II’s abdication manifesto, the telegrams from the Czar’s generals requesting his abdication, correspondence between Nicholas and Alexandra in February and March 1917 and documents concerning the Provisional Government’s assumption of power are available in The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution (Annals of Communism Series)

The description of women persuading the workers at the Nobel Engineering works to go on strike is reprinted in Women in Russia, 1700-2000 by Barbara Alpern Engel, p. 134.
Excerpts from the writings of journalist Ariadna Tyrkova are available to read in Russian Women, 1698-1917: Experience and Expression, An Anthology of Sources

An excellent book about Russian women’s lives prior to the Russian Revolutions of 1917 including legal status, political influence, fashion and daily life is Women in Russian History: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Century by Natalia Pushkareva

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Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg begins at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies on March 14, 2017

Peter the Great in 1698

In March, April and May 2017, I will be teaching one of my most popular courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies: Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg. Click here to register

When Peter became czar in 1682, Europe had become quite foreign to Russia. Fascinated by the West, Peter was determined to transform Russia into a great European power. In this course, we’ll discover the traditional Russia of Peter’s childhood, his Grand Tour of Europe and his subsequent dream of building St. Petersburg, a new city to match his vision of the country.

With images of the city and accounts of his drive to create it, we’ll see how the city emerged as a symbol of his power and of Russia’s hopes. We will look at the lasting impact of his reign, and find out how and why Russian president Vladimir Putin takes Peter as a role model. Join us for a discussion of the architectural and political legacy of one of the world’s most influential figures.

19th century portrait of Peter the Great interrogating his son, Alexei

What You’ll Learn:

  • Explore the rise of Russia as a world power in the 18th century.
  • Understand the impact of Peter the Great on Russia’s past and present.
  • Follow the founding of St. Petersburg as capital of Imperial Russia.
  • Examine the role of St. Petersburg in Russia’s relationship with the West.
  • Appreciate its influence on Russian culture and society.

Click here to register for Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

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Today Interview: Queen Elizabeth makes history with 65 years on the throne

Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. June 2, 1953

February 6, 2017 is Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee. The Queen is the first British monarch to celebrate a 65 year reign though there have been longer reigns elsewhere in the world. (King Louis XIV of France reigned for 72 years, the longest reign in European history so far). As I discussed with Eun Kim at Today, the Queen plans to mark this historic date quietly as it is also the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death.

Click here to read Queen Elizabeth II Makes History with 65 Years on the Throne

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Quartz Article: The hit Netflix series “The Crown” [and Victoria on PBS] expose all our 21st-century anxieties about powerful women

Claire Foy and Matt Smith as the Queen and Prince Philip in the Netflix series, The Crown

My article in Quartz  discusses how women in power are portrayed on two hit TV shows: The Crown on Netflix and Victoria on PBS. Both Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and Queen Victoria in Victoria appear as young women who are mentored or challenged by the men who surround them and experience frequent moments of self doubt. In fact, both queens had been trained for their future roles since childhood and were confident queens who were both extremely popular when they first succeeded to the throne. The portrayals of Elizabeth II and Victoria on TV today reflect current anxieties about women in power.

Click here to read “The hit Netflix series “The Crown” exposes all our 21st-century anxieties about powerful women” at Quartz

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Advance Reader Reviews of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

Readers who received advance review copies of my forthcoming book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting are sharing their reviews on goodreads. Raising Royalty will be published by Dundurn Press in Canada in April 2017 and in the USA and UK in May 2017.

Here are excerpts from some of the reader reviews:

“Raising Royalty is a comprehensive study of how…Kings and Queens have raised their children. Twenty families with their widely varying parenting approaches from Anglo-Saxon times to the present are studied.
While the book is a thoroughly researched subject by a scholar, it is a joy to read. It provides a clear picture of how parenting in the rarefied atmosphere of castles and palaces has evolved and, perhaps more importantly, why. Boys were brought up to fight and rule, and girls for dynastic/political marriages. Princes and princesses had no choice one thousand years ago and, one also sympathizes, today their futures are still fixed in stone but with a little more leeway.
Carolyn Harris, the author, has done an excellent job of writing this book for general readership and it will open eyes with the detail and surprises. Recommended for history buffs and royal watchers.” — Julie Ferguson

“I was expecting the book to be entirely be about English royalty, but was pleased to find that it covered enough of Europe to give it some diversity.
Filled with a lot of interesting facts and written in a way that held my attention.
Both well researched and written.” — MissyLynne

“I was expecting a list of “advice” and “lessons” and was pleasantly surprised.
Ms. Harris presents a HUGE amount of history in this book and her skill at writing in a way that keeps the reader engaged and interested is refreshing.
Anyone with any interest in royal families will love this book. It’s a great read. ” — Michelle Griswold

Click here to view all reader reviews for Raising Royalty on goodreads

Click here to pre-order your copy of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

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New York Post Interview: Thank queen of ‘Victoria’ for this Oval Office centerpiece

Portrait of the nineteen year old Queen Victoria on her coronation day in 1838.

Portrait of the nineteen year old Queen Victoria on her coronation day in 1838.

My thoughts about Queen Victoria and her opposition to women’s suffrage have been quoted in the New York Post as part of a list of facts about the famous Queen, who is currently being portrayed by Jenna Coleman in the Victoria TV series on PBS. The quotes are an excerpt from a longer interview with the University of Alberta Faculty of Law blog about Queen Victoria, her family and women’s rights.

Click here to read Thank queen of ‘Victoria’ for this Oval Office centerpiece in the New York Post.

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CBC News Interview: Now Victoria comes to TV: Why Queens are ‘dramatic dynamite’

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria

The ITV series Victoria premieres on PBS on January 15 at 9pm ET. My interview with CBC.ca discusses Queen Victoria, the Netflix series The Crown and why the Stuart queens Mary II and Anne would be ideal candidates for a dramatic treatment of this kind.

Click here to read “Now Victoria comes to TV: Why Queens are ‘dramatic dynamite'”

For more information about Queen Victoria, click here to read my article about Queen Victoria and Canada in the Queen’s Alumni Review and my profile of Queen Victoria in the Canadian Encyclopedia 

My forthcoming book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting includes a chapter about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and how they parented their nine children.

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Canadian Press Interview: B.C. spent more than $600K on royal tour; overall cost likely more than $3M

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive in Canada

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive in Canada

A partial breakdown of the cost of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 2016 Canadian tour was released today. I discussed the expenses of the royal tour with the Canadian Press, noting the differences between William and Kate’s 2011 and 2016 tours of Canada and the positive impact of their presence for Canadian charities, institutions and environmental initiatives.

Click here to read “B.C. spent more than $600K on royal tour; overall cost likely more than $3M” from the Canadian Press

 

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Globe and Mail and Mashable Interviews about “The Crown” TV series on Netflix

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh kneeling before his wife, the Queen at her coronation in 1953 as portrayed by Claire Foy and Matt Smith in The Crown on Netflix.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh kneeling before his wife, the Queen at her coronation in 1953 as portrayed by Claire Foy and Matt Smith in The Crown on Netflix.

In the past few weeks, I have had a couple more interviews published about the portrayal of the young Queen Elizabeth II in season 1 of “The Crown” on Netflix.

I discussed the Queen’s image with Elizabeth Renzetti at the Globe and Mail. In addition to “The Crown,” Queen Elizabeth II has been the subject of numerous works of fiction from novels such as Mrs Queen Takes the Train and The Uncommon Reader to films such as The Queen and Royal Night Out  and plays such as The Audience.

One of the reasons why Elizabeth II appeals to novelists, screenwriters and playwrights is that her appearance and demeanor is known to the world but as an impartial constitutional monarch, she is expected to remain above politics. Fictional portrayals of the Queen are opportunities to speculate about what she is really thinking when performs public engagements or meets with her Prime Ministers.

One of the key themes in “The Crown” is conflict between the young Queen Elizabeth II’s position as sovereign and the prevailing gender roles in Britain in the 1950s. I discussed how “‘The Crown’ is a low-key guide to outfoxing the men in your way” with Rachel Thompson of Masahable.com. Although women over 30 had been able to vote in Britain since 1918 and all adult women received the franchise in 1928, there were few female members of parliament in the 1950s and a female Prime Minister would not be elected anywhere in the world until Sirimavo Bandaranaike became Head of Government in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1960.

In “The Crown,” the Queen has to negotiate a role for her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and insist that her first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, treat her according to her position as sovereign rather than her age and gender. She also reflects on her education, which included a thorough grounding in the constitution from the Provost of Eton College but paid little attention to subjects considered unimportant for women of her social background at the time such as mathematics or science.

Season 2 of the Crown is expected to be released in November 2017.

Click here to read “Despite attempts to decipher her, Queen Elizabeth II remains a mystery”  in the Globe and Mail.

Click here to read “‘The Crown’ is a low-key guide to outfoxing the men in your way” at Mashable.com

 

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Queen’s Alumni Review Article: Queen Victoria and Canada

Queen Victoria, the Mother of Confederation

Queen Victoria, the Mother of Confederation

My latest article in the Queen’s Alumni Review Magazine discusses the impact of Queen Victoria on Canadian history from the earliest years of her reign.

“When Queen Victoria granted a royal charter to establish Queen’s College in Kingston in 1841, she was 22 and had reigned for four years. Over the course of her nearly 64-year reign (1837–1901), Victoria shaped key events in Canadian history, including the aftermath of the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada, the relationship between the Crown and the First Nations, and Confederation. The Queen also shaped Canadian culture and institutions, and her birthday remains a national holiday in Canada.”

Click here to read “Queen Victoria and Canada” in the Queen’s Alumni Review

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