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Lot #178
Alexander II of Russia and Catherine Dolgorukova Autograph Letter Archive (100+)

Exhaustive archive of steamy love letters between Czar Alexander II and his mistress: "We clenched each other like hungry cats both in the morning and in the afternoon, and it was sweet to the verge of madness"

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Exhaustive archive of steamy love letters between Czar Alexander II and his mistress: "We clenched each other like hungry cats both in the morning and in the afternoon, and it was sweet to the verge of madness"

Remarkable archive of love letters between Emperor Alexander II of Russia and his young mistress, Catherine 'Katia' Dolgorukova, totaling approximately 190 pages in his hand, and over 100 in hers—includes over 50 unsigned handwritten letters by Alexander, more than 40 autograph telegrams by Alexander (nine signed "Alexandre" or "Al"), and more than 20 letters from Katia to Alexander, ranging in date from circa 1866-1880. Their torrid affair produced a massive, steamy correspondence—they often wrote back and forth multiple times a day, sometimes with commentary on their erotic exploits. They took some lengths to conceal the relationship, not signing their letters and using the code-word 'bingerle' to refer to the intimate act. In addition to a plethora of lust-filled love letters, this intriguing correspondence also contains significant wartime content from the front lines of the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War. Most letters are written in French, with occasional words or lines in Russian. Many include transcripts in French and/or English translations as well. Additionally includes a few handwritten drafts of speeches by Alexander, about 25 pages of Katia's handwritten itineraries for various journeys, 23 photographs, and some related correspondence from Grand Duke Alexis and Count Mikhail Loris-Melikoff.

The affair between Alexander II and Katia began in 1866, when she was 18 and he was 47. In 1870, Katia's move to a private apartment in the Winter Palace, above the imperial apartments where Tsarina Marie Alexandrovna resided, caused a huge scandal at the court. In 1872, she gave him a son, George, followed by two daughters, Olga and Catherine, later in the decade. After the long-suffering Tsarina died in 1880, Alexander made Katia his morganatic wife, conferring upon her the title of Princess Yurievskaya and legitimizing their children. The couple's legitimate life was short-lived, for the Tsar was the victim of a bomb attack on March 13, 1881. Brought back mortally wounded to the palace, he died a few hours later in Katia's arms. Widowed, Princess Yurievskaya went into exile in France, where she died in 1922, taking with her the precious correspondence that the new Tsar Alexander III had attempted to recover so that it could be destroyed.

Throughout this correspondence, Alexander shows himself to be a caring and ardent lover, frequently evoking their "bingerles" and assuring Katia of his love: "It overflows," he writes, "my true life is in you" (August 27, 1866).

A few notable excerpts from Alexander's letters (translated):

January 5/17, 1868: "I confess that if I did not love you so sincerely I would have done everything to quit this world as soon as possible, for everything wearies me so that I don't know what is to become of me. The only thing that keeps me from thinking about it is the idea that without me your existence would become a veritable martyrdom, and from so much suffering you would soon end by following me to the tomb…I slept well last night and awoke under the impression of a delightful dream about us two I was at peace and cozy with you, as I am when I have the joy of lying on top of you and doing with you whatever I like…I love you, dear angel, I enjoyed you madly and am glad to have been able to make you experience the transports of happiness. Oh! how hard it was to tear ourselves away from each other before we had finished our bingerle, and afterwards it was miserable. Oh! what I would give to be able to spend my life near you and never again to fear scenes and gossip on all sides."

May 1/13, 1870: "I see that the lack of our bingerles is already beginning to have its usual effect on you…I love you, my darling little woman, and I yearn for you terribly."

May 6/18, 1870: "I thank God for having given us the joy of meeting again. What I felt within me you saw for yourself, just as I saw what was happening to you. That was why we clenched each other like hungry cats both in the morning and in the afternoon, and it was sweet to the verge of madness, so that even now I still want to squeal for joy…I love you madly and am happy to love you and to belong to you alone forever."

June 29/July 11, 1870: "The precious moments we spent together in the windmill left me with the most delicious memories and you saw and felt that your husband had enjoyed his adorable little wife to the verge of delirium. In spite of the atrocious heat in the attic, we were very cozy up there, particularly when we clenched each other in our favorite costumes."

December 31/January 12, 1875: "May God preserve you and our two little angels, who are our joy, and may He bless your delivery and give you back all the happiness you have never ceased giving me for nearly ten years. Oh, how happy I was a short while ago when I was with you and our dear children, whose appetites and dispositions were both brilliant."

March 29/April 10, 1877: "I received confirmation of the subject of the protocol again, but no word of the sending of an Ambassador, which probably will also be rejected and what we will know tomorrow. Only then can we fix the beginning of hostilities and the publication of the Manifesto. All this haunts me, I admit, like a nightmare. May God help us."

April 12/24, 1877: "At 9 I went to the Cathedral, then to the review, where there was a Te Deum in presence of the troops, with reading of the Manifesto, which caused general enthusiasm. Emmanuel's battery was superb, as was all the rest…We have already received news that the first troops have crossed the frontier successfully. May God come to our aid and bless our arms!"

June 11/23, 1877: Alexander rejoices at the abandonment of Matchine by the Turks; the Russian troops occupy it: "The clergy and the Christians of Matchine came to meet them to greet them as liberators.…So here we are firmly established on the other bank of the Danube. The success obtained today justifies the slowness of Gen. Zimmerman, because the attack on Matchine, if it had been defended by the Turks, would have made us experience enormous losses."

June 14/26, 1877: "My brother had planned so well that he took us directly to the place, opposite Nikopol, not far from Turno, from where we could see everything, without being exposed to the fire of the enemy.…The panorama from there was magnificent and I had the feeling rather of being on a maneuver than on serious business."

June 18/30, 1877: "I beg you not to worry about my health, nor about the danger I might be exposed to during the fighting…I had the four guard officers who took such a brilliant part in the crossing of the Danube in to dinner with me. I ordered them back to me already on the day following the action, and today the soldiers are already standing guard at my door, and it is a pleasure to see their broadly smiling faces. Each of them killed from 3 to 5 Turks with his bayonet, and speaks of it as nothing unusual."

June 19/July 1, 1877: "My brother Michel looks worried and asks for reinforcements, which will be sent to him, but cannot arrive for another two months."

June 23/July 5, 1877: "I see that unfortunately you had not yet received my telegram announcing our victory. From the official report which is about to be published you will see that it was a complete one, and only cost us 830 casualties, of which 230 killed. And we were afraid of losing at least 10 thousand men. This wonderful achievement is certainly due to the wise dispositions taken by my brother and his Chief of Staff, and to the manner in which everything was prepared in secrecy."

August 16/28, 1877: "According to the latest news received from the chief of the telegraph station at Gabrovo, it appears there has been no further fighting at Shipka and part of the Turkish troops have been observed withdrawing in the direction of Kazanlak. God grant that this is confirmed."

August 17/29, 1877: "The English government only shows himself moderate, for the moment, because he hopes that after the bad luck we have had lately, we won't have the time this year to march on Adrianople and Constantinople until the end of winter…There is no guarantee that England will not declare war on them again this year, despite the so-called good wishes for the success of our arms, which he brought me from that crazy old woman the Queen and he didn't dare deny it. I ended up telling him that now was not the time to talk about peace, but when it came my duty, vis-à-vis Russia, would be to have its true interests in view, which would only be fair since England was only putting forward her own interests, which dictate her policy."

September 5/17, 1877: "Oh my God help us and put an end to this heinous war for the glory of Russia and the good of Christians!"

January 8/20, 1879: "I am still all saturated with our delirious bingerles of a little while ago. It was so good I wanted to cry out, and I slept so particularly well afterwards."

January 13/25, 1879: "I am so sorry that your stomach is again out of order, and that our delirious bingerles last night have given you pains. And I also want you to know that I found you particularly beautiful this evening, in your blue bedgown."

Some key excerpts from Catherine 'Katia' Dolgorukova letters (translated):

December 31/January 12, 1875: "I would like to give birth as soon as possible, for I feel so heavy, but I am not grumbling, because it is my fault, and I confess I cannot be without your fountain, which I love so, and therefore after my six weeks are over I count on renewing my injections, for I can do nothing halfway. Oh, how I love you, you are my life, my happiness, my all, and everything for me is concentrated in you; therefore nothing can be compared to adoring each other as we do, and to be able to say to oneself that the adored being belongs to you alone, and to have nothing to reproach oneself for."

January 1/13, 1876: "I enjoyed our love-making madly, and am still all steeped in it. You are so tempting, it is impossible to resist! There is no word for this delirium. I felt that we were haunted by our children, and everything overflowed more than ever.

July 5/17, 1880, the day before their marriage: "You must understand what will take place in me at the moment of being pronounced your wife, and what a joy it is to become the wife of the man you have madly loved for 14 years, and this gives us our only happiness on this Earth! I will be so grateful to God for having fulfilled the dream of our lives, and for having regularized our position. At last we will be able to breathe freely…Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the charming souvenir you gave me as a remembrance of tomorrow's event, I like it immensely. That day will be the happiest one of my life. Thank you for everything…Oh, how happy I will be in a few hours, you will become my protector in the eyes of the law, and nobody will be able to separate us, and we shall be one forever, as we have been for 14 years."

In overall fine condition.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Revolutionary War
  • Dates: #670 - Ended July 12, 2023