Transforming Today's World Magazine Volume 4 Issue 1 - Page 17

wore that honor throughout her entire life. We cannot imagine the intestinal fortitude it took to survive in such a violent environment. The Bolsheviks, disease, lack of food and warmth, were only part of the equation – Siberia was the other. As my grand-mother ran through the forest towards freedom, Siberia’s icy hands and unbending fingers tried to freeze any glimmer of hope from her broken body - even she wondered if she could avoid its death grip. With all certainty I can say it was the Hand of God that got my Grandmother on that train-the train with no heat, no bathrooms, just hundreds of freezing people trying to escape the Bolsheviks; whose only intention was to kill – to kill anything and anyone in sight. When one thinks of nobility we do not conquer up the image of a woman huddled in a corner of a cold train with one baby on her breast and the other trembling by her side. But Countess Katherine Lebedev was most definitely nobility-Russian nobility, and it is time to tell her story. My family history of nobility dates back to 1628 when Andrei Lebedev was promoted to the rank of court counselor and was granted nobility along with all of his legal descendants. My Great Grandfather Jan Labedz, was promoted to fiefdom then to Nobility status under Czar Nicolas during the reign of The Romanov Dynasty in the late 1800’s. According to the history books the title “Boyar” refers to the class of nobility of the court. The Boyars were an Aristocratic order formed by Peter the Great in the 12th. Century and were the chief advisors to the reigning princes. The title of Count was only granted to Boyars who were large land-owners, chief members of the prince’s council and were of exclusive military rank - My Great Grandfather was all of the above. Titled nobility was the highest category; those who held titles such as prince, count and baron. A baron or a count could be either proprietary (actual)-IE: who owned land in the Russian Empire – or titular, IE: only endowed with the title. The right to have a family coat of arms was introduced at the end of the 17th century. The Russian nobility (Dvoryanstvo) arose in the 1300’s and essentially governed Russia until the October revolution of 1917. The Russian word for nobility derives from the Russian word “dvor,” meaning Court of a prince or duke. This might all sound very impressive, but let me tell you what nobility means to me; it is humility, strength, honor and courage. My Grandmother didn’t tell my Mother she was a Countess until the end of her life. (We Russians are too busy working to consider “nobility” as a way of life!) She was honored and humbled to be an American citizen and had great respect for her new life. As a young child, the only hint of nobility my Mother ever Countess Luba Tcheresky m | VOLUME 4 – I SSUE 1 17