Gleb Botkin
Overview
Gleb Evgenievich Botkin (1900 – December 1969) was the son of Dr. Eugene Botkin
Eugene Botkin
Yevgeny Sergeyevich Botkin was the court physician for Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra and, while in exile with the family, sometimes treated the hemophilia-related complications of the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia.Botkin went into exile with the Romanovs following the Russian...

, the court physician who was murdered at Ekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks with Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 and his family on July 17, 1918.

In later years, Botkin became a lifelong advocate of Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia...

, who claimed to be the surviving Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna....

. DNA results later proved that she was most likely an impostor called Franziska Schanzkowska.

In 1938 he founded his own neopagan church, The Church of Aphrodite
Church of Aphrodite
The Church of Aphrodite is a Neopagan religious group founded in 1938 by Gleb Botkin , a Russian émigré to the United States. Monotheistic in structure, the Church believes in a singular female Goddess, who is named after the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.Having grown up in the Russian...

, which was one of the earliest churches in the neopagan movement in the United States.
He was the youngest son of Eugene Botkin and his wife, Olga.
Encyclopedia
Gleb Evgenievich Botkin (1900 – December 1969) was the son of Dr. Eugene Botkin
Eugene Botkin
Yevgeny Sergeyevich Botkin was the court physician for Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra and, while in exile with the family, sometimes treated the hemophilia-related complications of the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia.Botkin went into exile with the Romanovs following the Russian...

, the court physician who was murdered at Ekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks with Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 and his family on July 17, 1918.

In later years, Botkin became a lifelong advocate of Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia...

, who claimed to be the surviving Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna....

. DNA results later proved that she was most likely an impostor called Franziska Schanzkowska.

In 1938 he founded his own neopagan church, The Church of Aphrodite
Church of Aphrodite
The Church of Aphrodite is a Neopagan religious group founded in 1938 by Gleb Botkin , a Russian émigré to the United States. Monotheistic in structure, the Church believes in a singular female Goddess, who is named after the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.Having grown up in the Russian...

, which was one of the earliest churches in the neopagan movement in the United States.

Early life

He was the youngest son of Eugene Botkin and his wife, Olga. His parents divorced in 1910, when Botkin was a child of 10, due to his father's demanding position at court and his mother's affair with his German tutor, Friedrich Lichinger, whom she later married. Eugene Botkin retained custody of the children following the divorce. His two older brothers, Yuri and Dmitri, were both killed in action during World War I. As a child, he and his sister Tatiana
Tatiana Botkina
Tatiana Evgenievna Botkina-Melnik, , was the daughter of court physician Eugene Botkin, who was killed along with Tsar Nicholas II and his family by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918....

 played with the children of Nicholas II during holidays. He used to amuse the grand duchesses on holidays and when they were all in exile at Tobolsk
Tobolsk
Tobolsk is a town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers. It is a historic capital of Siberia. Population: -History:...

 with caricature
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

s of pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

s dressed in human clothing acting like stuffy dignitaries at court.

Botkin was described by one historian as "articulate, sensitive, with pallid skin and soulful green eyes" and as "a talented artist, a wicked satirist, and a born crusader."

Exile

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and the murder of his father, Botkin fled Tobolsk. He later spent a summer at a Russian Orthodox monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 and briefly considered becoming a priest, but decided against the religious life. He married Nadine Mandraji, widow of Ensign of the Dragoons regiment, nobleman Michael Nikolaevich Mandraji, who was the chevalier of the Order of St. George
Order of St. George
The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

 and was killed in battle in June 1915 at Grodno in Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

. Two months later Nadine gave birth to their daughter Kira Mihailovna Mandraji (1915-2009). Nadine's father, nobleman Alexei Vladimirovich Konshin (1858-?), was the President of the Russian Bank of State from 1910-1914 and the President of the Russian Industry and Commerce Bank from 1914-1917. The Botkins emigrated first to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, then to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and after that to the United States. Botkin worked as a photo engraver
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 and attended art classes at the Pratt Institute
Pratt Institute
Pratt Institute is a private art college in New York City located in Brooklyn, New York, with satellite campuses in Manhattan and Utica. Pratt is one of the leading undergraduate art schools in the United States and offers programs in Architecture, Graphic Design, History of Art and Design,...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Later, he earned his living as a novelist and illustrator.

Association with Anna Anderson

Botkin first visited Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia...

 in May 1927 at Seeon Abbey
Seeon Abbey
Seeon Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in the municipality of Seeon-Seebruck in the rural district of Traunstein in Bavaria, Germany.-History:...

, where Anderson was a guest. Anderson had asked Botkin to bring along "his funny animals." Botkin wrote later that he immediately recognized Anderson as Anastasia because she shared memories of their childhood play.

Historian Peter Kurth wrote that Botkin tended to overlook some of the more unattractive aspects of Anderson's personality, such as her stubbornness and rapid changes in mood, or to view them as manifestations of her royal heritage.
"She was, to Gleb's way of thinking, an almost magically noble tragic princess, and he saw it as his mission to restore her to her rightful position by any means necessary," wrote Kurth in Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson.

Botkin penned letters in support of Anderson to various Romanov family members, wrote books about her and the Romanovs, including The Woman Who Rose Again, The Real Romanovs, and Lost Tales: Stories for the Tsar's Children, and arranged for Anderson's financial support throughout his life. He was Anderson's friend even when other supporters abandoned her.

Religious views

Botkin, who following his father's murder had considered becoming a priest, eventually turned away from the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

. Botkin eventually turned his interest in religion towards his own nature-based religion, which he started first in Long Island, New York and later in Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is an independent city geographically surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.The official population estimate for...

. His church was called The Church of Aphrodite
Church of Aphrodite
The Church of Aphrodite is a Neopagan religious group founded in 1938 by Gleb Botkin , a Russian émigré to the United States. Monotheistic in structure, the Church believes in a singular female Goddess, who is named after the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.Having grown up in the Russian...

. Botkin was of the opinion that patriarchal society had caused many of the problems plaguing humankind. "Men!" he once said. "Just look at the mess we've made!"

His church drew from ancient pagan rituals and from some of the tenets of the Old Believers
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

, a rebel branch of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 who had separated after 1666 - 1667 from the hierarchy of the church as a protest against liturgical reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon
Patriarch Nikon
Nikon , born Nikita Minin , was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church...

. Anderson never joined his church, but didn't object when Botkin finished his letters to her with the prayer, "May the Goddess bestow Her tender caress on Your Imperial Highness's head."

Botkin had argued his case before the New York State Supreme Court in 1938 and won the right to an official charter for the religion. The judge told him, "I guess it's better than worshiping Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Christian Science , a Protestant American system of religious thought and practice religion adopted by the Church of Christ, Scientist, and others...

." His wife, whom he doted on, converted to his church in later life.

Botkin held regular church services in front of a statue of Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

, the ancient Greek goddess of love, and presided over them dressed in the regalia of an archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

. The female symbol
Gender symbol
A gender symbol is a symbol used to denote the sex of a life form or to characterize an agent by gender.The two standard gender symbols denoting male ♂ and female ♀ are derived from astrological symbols, denoting the classical planets Mars and Venus, respectively.These symbols have been in use...

, a cross inside of a circle representing Aphrodite
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

, was embroidered on his headdress. He later published a book, at his own expense, arguing that Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 was the supreme deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 and creation had been much like a woman giving birth to the universe.

Botkin told a reporter for The Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, that his religion pre-dated Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. With Christianity, he said, "you have the dilemma of either following the straight and narrow path and going to Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 or having fun on earth and going to Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

." On the other hand, he said, his "Aphrodisian religion" was based on "truth and reality. Anything true will survive. Life itself is the blossoming of love, and love is the basis of goodness and happiness." He thought his church would expand in coming years.

The student newspaper reporter commented on Botkin's "unorthodox" beliefs regarding sexual relations between men and women. Botkin didn't believe it was appropriate for a man to react to his wife's affair
Affair
Affair may refer to professional, personal, or public business matters or to a particular business or private activity of a temporary duration, as in family affair, a private affair, or a romantic affair.-Political affair:...

 with the rage that was expected by society. "A woman falls in love with another man. All that is necessary is to let her have her fling. After that she is often a better wife and mother. It is like a person who loves to play Bach and suddenly wants to play Beethoven," he said. One historian commented that Botkin's church "was a curious faith, to be sure," but "the Church of Aphrodite was not nearly so wanton as it sounds."

The church did not continue long after Botkin's death from a heart attack in December 1969, but some of his followers went on to join neopagan movements with beliefs that drew from the Church of Aphrodite.

DNA used to identify father's remains

Botkin and his wife had four children, daughter Marina and sons Nikita, Peter, and Yevgeny (Eugene). He also had a stepdaughter, Kyra. His daughter Marina Botkina Schweitzer's DNA was later used to help identify the remains of her grandfather, Eugene Botkin, after they were exhumed in 1991 from a mass grave discovered in Ganina Yama
Ganina Yama
Ganina Yama was a 9' deep pit in the Four Brothers mine near the village of Koptyaki, 15 km north from Yekaterinburg...

 near Ekaterinburg. Schweitzer's DNA was compared against the DNA of her maternal half-sister Kyra, who also gave a blood sample, to help scientists isolate the DNA Schweitzer shared in common with her grandfather. This enabled scientists to create a "Botkin DNA profile" and use it to positively identify Dr. Botkin. Scientists in the early 1990s were unable to identify Dr. Botkin using mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

, or DNA that is passed down from mother to child, as they used it to identify the Romanovs. Schweitzer was descended from Dr. Botkin in the paternal line and didn't share mitochondrial DNA with her father and grandfather.

Schweitzer later expressed skepticism about the DNA results proving that Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson
Anna Anderson was the best known of several impostors who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia...

could not have been the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
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