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The Romanovs: 300 Years of Absolute Monarchy

Updated: Jun 6, 2022

This is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen...hands down.

This 8-part docu-series tells the story of the Russian Royal House of Romanov [Románov], from the ascension of Michael Romanov to the vacant throne in 1613 to the bloody downfall of Nicholas II in 1918.

The research done by the historians is incredibly thorough. The casting is superb: some actors look uncannily like their historic counterparts. The narrative doesn't shy away from elaborating on every aspect in order to present the full picture. The graphics in this series are absolutely stunning. This show deserves all the juicy superlatives one can think of.

Where can You watch it? YouTube. This link is for the English Dubbing option, and this one - for Russian audio. For further edutainment, here's the prequel, so to speak, released late last year on the Royal Family that ruled Russia before the Romanovs - the House of Rurik (currently available only in Russian audio with English subtitles), also incredibly fascinating series, done by the same channel as its predecessor.

Each link takes you to the first episode of each cycle. Here are the links to the follow-up episodes of 'The Romanovs' series with English audio: Episode 2 (Fyodor III, Tsarevna Sophia & Ivan V), Episode 3 (Peter the Great & Catherine I), Episode 4 (Peter II, Empress Anna, Ivan VI & Empress Elizabeth), Episode 5 (Peter III & Catherine The Great), Episode 6 (Paul I & Alexander I), Episode 7 (Nicholas I & Alexander II), Episode 8 (Alexander III & Nicholas II). 

Is it free? Yes. You just have to sit through some advertisements. 

How many episodes? There are eight episodes, each covering around two monarchs.

How long each episode? 51 minutes

My favourite/ most surprising moment? I was most surprised that Russia had their own 'Queen Anne' - Empress Anna. The crown landed on her head due to the lack of any other suitable candidates, she was pulled from relative obscurity governing Courland (a province in modern Latvia, which is where I'm from). Both monarchs can be seen as 'stepping stone queens', both ruled for around a decade - Queen Anne ruled 1702-1714, whilst Empress Anne - 1730-1740; both left no issue to inherit the throne, and both relied heavily on their favourites when it came to govern the realm; both died in their late 40's. Thankfully, the similarities end there.

Year of Release? 2013 - the 400 year anniversary of Romanovs' ascension to the Russian throne.

In 2019 I've been to two exhibitions on the Romanovs that we had in London. Please click here to read all about them.

Fun Fact:

I've recently found out that Nicholas II, i.e. the last Romanov tsar, was the direct descendant of our Henry VII, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the direct descendant of Catherine The Great.

Additional Material: N.B. 2. Here you shall find a History Hit podcast episode, where Simon Sebag Montefiore talks to Dan Snow about this dynasty, and one for Chalk Valley History Festival; also here's an article by him for History Extra on the Romanovs. You shall also find links to two great podcast episodes (History Extra & History Hit) and an article where Helen Rappaport gives her account on the murder of the Imperial family and their aborted salvation by their cousins, the Windsors. Also thoroughly recommend watching this History Hit's video, narrated by Helen, about the aftermath of the Yekaterinburg massacre. It also covers the pilgrimages made to the Ipatiev House location that were made in the past hundred years, right up to the anniversary in 2018.

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