It’s nighttime on July 17, 1918, and the Romanov family are cowering in their basement. They’ve just been sentenced to death – and a group of soldiers are stood before them. Bullets then spray across the room, and smoke soon chokes the air. But Maria Romanov, a young woman who’s not even out of her teens, somehow hasn’t been hurt. So she sneaks toward the back doors, desperate to escape. Then a gunman looks straight at her…

Before we find out exactly what happened to Maria, though, let’s first take a look at the grand duchess’ childhood. You see, Maria was born on June 14, 1899, to parents Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and Tsar Nicholas II – the Slavic equivalent of an emperor. And when Maria came into the world, she already had two older sisters: Tatiana and Olga. Then two years later, another girl, Anastasia, joined the imperial brood, and Alexei, Maria’s only brother, followed in 1904.

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