Russian Royalty. She is remembered for starting the Russian Red Cross during the Crimean War. The eldest child of Prince Paul of Württemberg and Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen, she was named from birth Princess Friederike Charlotte Marie of Württemberg. After her parents separated, she lived in a modest home in Paris, France with her father and younger sister. It is there she received an excellent education from teachers who thought she was exceptional and highly intelligent. By 1822 she was engaged to marry Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich Romanov of Russia. He was impressed at the beauty and maturity of this 15-year-old girl. As expected, she converted to the Russian Orthodox Church and given the name of Elena (Helen). The couple married on February 20, 1824. Their marriage was a happy one producing 5 daughters: 2 died as toddlers, 2 died under the age of 21, and only one, Grand Duchess Catherine Mikhailovna of Russia, who married and issued four children. At times the Duke was much more interested in his military adventures than his home life with his family, thus leaving her to make a life of her own. Their home, Mikhailovsky Palace, became the gathering place for the center of social and cultural life of the Northern capital of Russia. She was very interested in bringing culture to her new homeland and collected Romanov portraits for display in museums. She supported the founding of the Russian Musical Society. After her husband's death, she did various charity work. During the Crimean War, she was successful in the training of 165 Russian Sisters of Mercy, who did battle field nursing, thus starting the Russian Red Cross. In Europe, this was the first time Russian women had been organized and sent to the battlefield to nurse soldiers similar to Florence Nightingale's nurses on the British side of this war. By dividing the nurses into three groups: direct patient care, the medication distribution, and sanitizing equipment, she realized that she was able to give a deeper knowledge needed for each procedure.
Bio by: Linda Davis
Charlotte von Sachsen-Altenburg
Michael Pavlovich Romanov