Empress Marie Feodorovna, the 'Little Mother of Russia', was the last but one Empress of Russia. Born Princess Dagmar of Denmark in 1847, she was the second daughter of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, who became King of Denmark in 1863. Of her siblings, one brother was chosen as King of Greece, and her favourite sister Alexandra married the future King Edward VII of England. In 1864 she was betrothed to the sickly Nicholas, heir to the throne, who died a few months later, then engaged to and married the new heir to the throne, Alexander, who became Tsar Alexander III in 1881 after his father's assassination. The marriage was to her liking, the tiny, quick-witted Marie, as she had now become, proving a perfect foil for her huge bear-like husband.
She was widowed in her late forties when Alexander died of nephritis in 1884 and the eldest of their six children became Tsar Nicholas II. During his reign she was exasperated at the way in which Nicholas let himself be overruled by his strong-willed wife Alexandra, the peasant Rasputin, and the inept or unscrupulous ministers who flattered them shamelessly for their own ends. After the revolution she and her daughters escaped to Europe, and though her son and his family had been captured and shot by the Bolsheviks, she refused to believe the worst. She sought sanctuary in England and finally Denmark, where she died in 1928.
This report prepared by John Van der Kiste