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Tracing the footsteps of Catherine


Sarah Tintagyl
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[quote]
[b]To: HIM Justinian I, Emperor of the Russias
From: HIH Maria Theresia II, Empress of Austria[/b]

[i]My dear friend,

There is a great deal for me to speak of for a letter of this importance. First let me begin by saying how happy I was that you were able to show up to the recent ball in Budapest, especially after such a horrid loss of life, that of your wife. My sister, Magdalena, spoke of her fondly to me though I never had the pleasure of an actual meeting. However, it is in these desperate and dark times that figures must rise up and do what they can to stabilize not only their personal lives but the lives of their subjects and followers.

Recently I have watched in dismay as once again the British Isles fall against each other in imperialistic gains, which may have been offset by Russian influence and advision. Your quick maneuvers prevented such hasty moves by other powers who have no business in the region though I now watch in horror as those same powers once again ready themselves for war. In the entire European theater, it seems as though the same nations, the Angevins, the Germans, the various peoples of Britain, and others still constantly engage in this brutal display of tactics and warfare. For like-minded nations as ourselves, stemming from a long line of tradition, I can understand why Russia and Austria will no take part in since displays.

This brings me to mention that we, My Most Devoted Brother in Leadership, do not have any alliance to speak of between our gracious and noble states. Austria is tied with the Germans, the Greeks, and others, but one of the strongest voices in Reason, aside from your unfortunate time in the bosom of the Celts, lays in Russia. I would then like to send an invitation to your Imperial Court to take my sister, Angelika von Hapsburg, Princess of Austria and holder of the Queenship of Idaho-Montana as official ambassador to the Russian Throne from Vienna. She has told me many times she has wanted to travel to Russia and acquaint herself with Your Excellency. Perhaps after your wife's death, the grace of a woman's touch would do you well.

With great anxiety I await your reply to this missive so that I may send dear Angelika, with all haste to St. Petersburg or Moscow, whichever your choosing to negotiate the prospects of an alliance. I look forward to the news and hope there will be no delay in the coming weeks and months of this blessed meeting.

Yours with great sincerity,

Maria Theresia von Hapsburg[/i]
[/quote]

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[quote]
To Empress Maria Theresa

It is a pleasure to hear from you since I was unable to pry you away from your many guests in Budapest. Traveling to Austria-Hungary was quite therapeutic for me. I have not been to very many public functions lately, so any chance I get to interact with people outside of my normal duties is a godsend. Thank you for the invitation.

In regards to your sister, Princess Angelika, I have spoken with my Foreign Minister about the situation and he too seems to think it is a good idea. He thinks that a having a good relationship with Austria-Hungary. Two rational nations in a sea of irrationality should attract one another. I shall make arrangements to greet the Austro-Hungarian delegation as soon as they arrive in Moscow.

Signed,
Justinian I[/quote]

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A week after the letter from Moscow arrived in Vienna, Princess Angelika found herself rushed on a train that would take her across Europe, nearly only a day after she had returned from Korea. As the train thundered across the wide open landscapes of Dalmatia, the Princess traced her hands gently with her fingers. The mood she felt reminded her much of the time she had first entered Boise, Idaho, all those long years ago for her eventual wedding with Franklyn of Idaho-Montana. Thinking about it made her smirk for a moment, she had nearly forgotten about that portion of her life. This would be a new chapter and from what Theresia had told her, the Tsar was still grieving the death of his young wife, which put Angelika into an interesting position. She was still young, physically fit from her ventures throughout Asia and it did seem that she was not only going to Russia as an ambassador, but as a potential new wife.

"A game of alliances." She smiled and shook her head. "Love blossoming at the end of a quill pen." Taking out a photo Theresia had given her of Justinian, the Princess looked it over and pondered. "Well I'm a German traveling to Russia on a cold winter's day. On a train instead of a sleigh, yet just as shrewd and thoughtful as the woman who crossed this path centuries ago."

She leaned back as the train crossed the border into Russia and the windswept plains became covered in thick white blankets of snow.

A day later, Angelika would arrive in Moscow for her presentation at the Tsar's Imperial Court. With her cheeks rouged and her blonde hair done up high on her haid, en-crested with jewels, the young girl walked in for her first official audience with the Emperor of Russia.

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The imperial palace in Moscow rested on an artificial island in a man-made pond on the Izmaylovo Estate grounds between the second and third rings of the Moscow beltway. The estate which formerly served as a country home for the Russian tsars had been redeveloped several times since the middle ages. After the the Soviet Union collapsed many Russian emigre families returned to Russia the island became the permanent residence of the Emperor and his court.

Construction on the island was a constant reality since the Romanovs were invited to return to Russia. The result was a complex containing a grand palace with state rooms and private rooms for the tsar and his immediate family, a lesser palace for visitors and foreign officials, two Russian Orthodox cathedrals, and a large garden. The tsar’s private property also had accommodations for palace staff, employees of the Imperial Household Ministry and barracks for the Imperial Guardsmen.

The Grand Palace was built to rival the greatest palaces of Europe. The two-story building incorporated designs which drew inspiration Versailles, Peterhof and Buckingham palaces. Marble statues and gold frescoes littered the gardens and fluttering on a flagpole atop the main entrance hall was a Russian tricolor with the Romanov eagle proudly overlooking Moscow.

The grounds around the island also belonged to the tsar, but much of it was open to the public during certain seasons. Beyond these lush green fields lay Moscow’s urban sprawl.

Angelika’s arrival in Moscow preceded the end of the six-month morning period that the court observed in honor of the late empress. During the past six months many court functions were canceled and Moscow’s elites were starving for a bit of social interaction at the tsar’s home.

When she arrived at the palace guards quickly allowed Angelika to pass the gates. Cossacks on horseback and ceremonial guards marched up and down the bridge that connected the island to the mainland as they sung the folk songs of their forefathers.

The palace was no less magnificent on the inside. The first thing visitors noticed when they entered was the gilded grand staircase. It was adorned with gilded statues which led the way into a long corridor, called the gallery, which featured portraits of military commanders and political leaders from the Imperial and Soviet era, as well as every Tsar since Ivan IV.

Finally at the end of the gallery was the ballroom. The room was filled with the social and political elites. At the far end of the room Justinian stood in ceremonial uniform and flanked by his inner circle. To his right, family and close friends, including his mother, father and his grandfather, the only Russian monarch to abdicate of his own free will. To his left stood the government and other influential advisers. It was truly a grand affair.

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