he who turns the other cheek has the last laugh

Anna Ivanovna was Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740. Anna was famed for her big cheek, “which, as shown in her portraits”, Carlyle says, “was comparable to a Westphalian ham“.

Cheeky Anna found here

She reigned for ten years and was, on the whole, not liked by her people. Anna also had an unhealthy interest in grotesque, foolish or malformed people. She even had her own private collection and liked to have a hand in the marriages of all her courtiers.

Todd Browning’s Freaks found here

And, it didn’t do to not ask her permission, as one poor prince was to find out. Prince Michael Alexievich Golitsyn made a terrible error when he fell in love with an ordinary girl and, in order to marry her, became a Catholic. A double faux pas because Anna herself was Orthodox. Unfortunately, his wife died not long after the wedding.

check out this Russian Prince here

Anna’s first punishment was to demote the prince to the role of jester, a great humiliation for him. She then decided to pick another wife for him. Looking to her strange entourage, she chose an ugly Kalmuk serving woman called Avdotia, who she had nicknamed ‘Bujenina’, after her favourite dish of pork and onions.

Recipe for onions stuffed with pork found here

Even this wasn’t enough revenge for Anna. She commissioned a palace to be built entirely from ice for their honeymoon. Though a cruel joke, the palace was an architectural marvel. It was the one of the coldest winters Europe had experienced for 30 years. All the major rivers had frozen over, including the Seine, in Paris, and the Thames, in London.

frozen Thames found here

The palace was designed, in a classical style, by the architect Peter Eropkin. It was 80 ft long and around 30ft high and located on the Neva River. The ice was specially picked for its transparency. Every block was expertly measured, cut and joined together with water, which froze instantly in the cold weather. Additions to the castle, also made of ice, included trees, some with ice fruit, birds and statues, and six cannons. Even the windows were sheets of ice. Inside the palace, the furnishings were made of ice – a four poster bed, mattress, quilt, pillows, a clock. There was even a life-sized elephant in the grounds, also made of ice. It spouted 24 ft of water during the day. At night, petroleum was used to make it spout flames.

ice elephant found here

On their wedding night, the couple took part in a procession to the palace. They were locked in a cage sitting on top of a real live elephant, and led by Anna’s entourage of strange people. 300 guests were invited to a fantastic feast and transported on sleds pulled by a variety of animals, including pigs and bears.

Russian car sled found here

When they arrived at the castle, they were taken to their ice bedroom and made to spend the night there. Guards were posted on the doors to make sure they didn’t escape. One story has it that the prince had drunk a fair amount and didn’t feel the cold as badly as his new wife. In another version she swapped a pearl necklace, which Anna had given her as a wedding present, for the guard’s fur coat. She used it to keep them both warm enough to survive the night.

pearl necklace found here

The couple found that they got on really well and lived a long and happy life together. Empress Anna died of kidney disease soon after the ice palace incident, at the age of 47.

did primrose have dandruff?

About 21 years ago, Sydney was rocked by scandal when Qantas steward Lorenzo Montesini (a.k.a. Prince Giustiniani, Count of the Phanaar, Knight of St Sophia, Baron Alexandroff) jilted Miss Primrose (Pitty Pat) Dunlop on the eve of their society wedding in Venice.

Primrose found here

“The fiasco made world headlines. The front page of London’s Daily Mail carried the headline “Heiress jilted as bridegroom runs off with the best man“. And in Italy the Sunday paper Il Gazzettino also carried a front- page story headlined “VIP wedding goes up in smoke – bridegroom disappears with best man”.

Prince Lorenzo found here

Primrose later married a Polish count and Lorenzo, who lived on and off with best man Robert Straub for many years until his death from cancer, is now happily ensconced in a relationship with a fellow Egyptian.

What reminded me of our Pitty Pat and her ill fated wedding was a story I read about Catherine the Great of Russia. Gazing from her window one spring morning, she spotted the year’s first primrose, and to deter anyone from picking it, she posted a sentry to guard it day and night. Sentries continued to patrol the lawn long after the death of both Catherine and the flower, simply because no one rescinded the order. It was some 50 years before Count Bismarck realised that the manpower could be more gainfully employed elsewhere.

Catherine found here

Catherine was also notable for mistreating her hairdresser. When she discovered she had dandruff, she imprisoned the poor man in an iron cage for three years to stop the news spreading around the royal court. Here’s another hairdressing tale that didn’t end well….

A hairdresser from the small Russian town of Meshchovsk subdued a man who tried to rob her shop, then imprisoned and raped him over a period of three days. The incident occurred as the working day was coming to an end, when a man armed with a gun rushed in and demanded the takings.

read about this other Russian hairdresser here

The frightened employees and customers agreed to fulfill his demand, but the shop’s owner, 28-year-old Olga, knocked him down on the floor and then tied him up with a hairdryer cord. The 32-year-old Viktor couldn’t have known that the woman was a yellow belt in karate.

Olga locked the unlucky robber in the utility room and told her colleagues that she was going to call the police – but didn’t do so. When everybody left, she ordered him to ‘take of his underpants’ threatening to hand him over to the police if he refused to cooperate.

patent for these underpants found here

After that Olga raped her hostage for three long days. She chained Viktor to the radiator with pink furry handcuffs and fed him Viagra.  When she eventually let the man go on Monday, he went straight to hospital as his genitals were injured, and then to the police.

Viagra ad found here

What a bastard,” the woman said about Viktor. “Yes, we had sex a couple of times. But I bought him new jeans, gave him food and even gave him 1.000 roubles (around $ 30) when he left.”

more marriage matters

Among some people of the Caucasus in Russia, there was a custom that a very small boy should marry an adult woman. The boy had to wait until he was mature to have any sexual relations with his ‘old’ wife. In order not to leave the newly wed wife without a lover, a clever arrangement was made.

Claudia Cardinal needing constant cooling down after her marriage

The boy’s father acted as husband to the wife. The problem of potential offspring from this relationship was solved too. All the children from the relationship belonged to the son. The father of the married boy was said to be merely the “seed raiser” for his son, only contributing to the building of his son’s family.

In Somalia, people believe that evil spirits may attack a bridal party so a false couple is substituted for the real bride and groom. The false couple are married in the house while the real couple stay in the nuptial chamber to deceive the evil spirits. The false couple may exchange their clothes and dress to impersonate the opposite sex. The girls dress up their partners, using padding to make the disguise as complete as possible.

Then, assuming all the airs of husbands, they flog their partners with horsewhips and order them about in the same way as they themselves have been treated by young men. These activities may last for a week. Those who impersonate the real couple to rescue them from the forces of evil are paid well for their service……

image found here

Published in: on November 26, 2009 at 7:19 am  Comments (31)  
Tags: , , , ,