The ruling Romanov Dynasty which began in 1613 when Michael Romanov was named Tsar came to an end 304 years later when Nicholas II (shown right) abdicated under pressure to a provincial government as the Bolsheviks rose to power. Shy in his youth, Nicholas was never enamoured of his role as Grand Prince, once telling a foreign ambassador that he would have preferred to have been a sailor. Any pursuit of that interest was forever dashed when he (together with his wife and family of four daughters and young heir) was savagely murdered late one night by the Bolsheviks in 1917, little more than a year after stepping down from power.
These coins reflect a happier time when the Romanovs ruled over a vast territory and became one of the most powerful and wealthy dynasties the world has ever known. Nicholas, misguided by his mystical wife and the mad monk, Rasputin, was an autocrat who crushed all hope of democratic reform -- a circumstance which irrevocably alienated the Russian masses, contributed to his family's fate at the hands of the Bolsheviks, and led later to the even darker regimes of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin.
The reverse of this 10 ruble coin features the device of the imperial coat of arms and seal of 'His Tsarist Majesty' -- a two-headed eagle (first introduced by Ivan the Terrible) with three crowns to representing Astrakhan, Kazan and Russia. Hanging over the eagle's breast is a shield on which a horseman is slaying a dragon -- a symbol well known to all holders of the popular British Sovereign.
For the modern gold bullion equivalent of this 10 ruble coin, see the Soviet chervonetz.
This is Russia..."...one must begin with the winter, the greedy exhausting winter which, as the peasants used to say, 'has a belly on him like a priest.' The priest brought forth nothing from the land, but he planted himself at the peasant tables and expected to eat his fill. And winter, bringing forth nothing, planted himself across Russia as the great waster and consumer -- eating away the hardwon hoards of grain and cabbage, of cucumbers salted in the pickling pond and firewood stacked in the frozen passageway, making lean the wolves who pulled down horses and cattle, wasting the fat of the hibernating bear, and wasting away the patience, the energies, the imaginations and the very breath of human beings in the stale air of the huts where they huddled round the earthen stove.
"In Moscow the frost begins in late September and continues without a respite until April. ...In the streets snow is soon trodden into slabs and knobs of dirty ice, and one must walk gingerly everywhere, keeping an eye open for little boys who dash through the crowds at top speed, striking sparks as they cross bare patches of flag-stone on their single skate tied up with string. Slipping and stumbling one goes, and the winter eats up armies of labour to keep city roads useable. ...In the worst weather it is so cold that it seems to burn. You launch yourself out of double doors into the street and you gasp. You narrow your shrinking nostrils to give your lungs a chance to get acclimatized, but you gasp again and go on gasping. ...Presently a tickle, and the longer hairs of your nostrils have become rigid with ice. Another moment, surely, and the whole nostril will freeze over: in a panic you warm your nose with your glove, but the nostrils do not freeze, and you go on warming your nose and stinging cheeks with your glove, and you go on gasping.
"...The open country is an icy white desolation. White mist -- a crystalline veil of air-suspended ice -- hangs in the near distance, and only a mile from the villages you would be swallowed up in a swirling white world. There is not a stir in the silent air, but your eyes dazzle at the particles and they seem to swirl. The steely air gnaws and bites at your cheeks, a stiffening of frost aches at the corners of your eyes, and presently out of the padded silence the lightest of winds stirs the surface of the snow, lifting spicules of ices into the white wisps and trails, and suddenly it whips one of these across your face like a razor-slash. You turn your back only to meet a stinging slash from the other quarter, and if you must stay out in these conditions your ear-flaps, peak-flap, high fur collar, and a gloved hand together will seem a feeble shield. And this is but the lightest of winds. Every illusion you may have had about enduring Russian cold is undone by wind, and a five-mile-an-hour breeze has a grip like an iron mask." --from journalist Wright Miller'sRussians as People