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indeed a court at sea and not a poor bunch of refugees
on 1 November 2012
I only came across this book quite recently.
It is about the voyage of HMS Marlborough, an Iron Duke-class battleship built 1912, evacuating surviving members of the Russian Imperial family,from the Crimea. The key source seems to the memories of Sir Francis Pridham, later Vice Admiral and at the time the First Lieutenant of the HMS Marlborough.
The the whole episode is very much described from an English and Romanov point of view. That puts a great limit to its value. Sad to learn that the Romanov family arguments were continued (not openly). There is never a reflection why it came to such a situation the devils. The "hardship" of these Imperial refugees is of course of a limited nature. The English are superb (especially compared to the French), just mentioning btw that it was the George V refusing exile to the last emperor. It all a bit simplistic for my taste.
It is interesting to read however as it gives one a clue why the Romanovs were ousted. That the Bolsheviks regime was muderous does not mean that the Czarist regime was a nice one. The Romanovs and the last Czar failed miserably. The "great war hero" Grand Duke Nicolas was responsible for crushing defeats and a disorganized army. If a family rules absolute, they have to take absolute responsibility.
On a more positive side: it is an easy read and well-structured. I like that the author follows the fate of the principle figure in exile or lives of the officiers of the Marlborough. Independently how one assesses the whole situation the trip on the Marlborough had an impact on all directly concerned.
The title was well choosen: a Court at sea! Yes indded, it was a court and hardly a bunch of poor refugees.