Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanova. b. 1901, d. 1918
Anastasia was the youngest of the four daughters of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, and older sister to Tsarevich Alexis Alexandrovich Romanov, the heir apparent to the Russian throne. Her mother, Alexandra, was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. Anastasia and Alexis would become historically famous for two very different reasons. The three elder daughters, Olga, Tatiana and Marie would forever be cast into obscurity or perhaps to exist merely as answers to trivia questions.
While Alexis' hemophilia would be the catalyst that made the revolution possible, Anastasia's life could best be described as that of a mischievous tomboy. Described as short with blue eyes and lacking the proper etiquette to be the daughter of a monarch, Anastasia managed to have a fairly good time in a very dour palace. She was said to be capable of mimicking the speech and mannerisms of those who came to the palace, including the infamous Rasputin. Stubborn and impertinent, she also acquired the label of enfant terrible. She never cried, enjoyed climbing trees (the higher the better) and would not come down from her lofty perches unless her father the Tsar himself commanded her. Throwing in her love for practical jokes, some of which could have been considered cruel, and she was a babysitter's nightmare. Much of her troubles probably stemmed from the inate knowledge that her father had been filled with disappointment when Anastasia was born. After all, he was on his fourth daughter without the son, and male heir, he desperately wanted and needed.
As with all the Tsar's daughters, Anastasia was brought up in a climate where titles meant nothing and worked alongside the servants in making beds and washing clothes. The sisters were said to dislike being called by official titles. They were called by their first and middle names by servants and royalty alike and frequently played with the children of the cossacks as well as the servants.
After the March Revolution of 1917, life changed dramatically. From that point forward Anastasia and her family remained either on the run, were held as prisoners or faced certain death. On July 16, 1918 in Ekaterinburg that death would come. From accounts given of that day, Anastasia was the last of the Imperial Family to die. Holding onto Jimmy, a cocker spaniel puppy, she watched as first her father, then her brother, mother and sisters were shot to death. Instead of standing and waiting, Anastasia frantically ran around the room, against the walls, clutching her dog and screaming. The executioners surrounded her and stabbed her to death with their bayonets. The rumors of her survival are believed to have stemmed from reports of the massacre in which Anastasia, who had been stabbed thirty times with the soldiers' bayonets, regained consciousness. Finding herself surrounded by rivers of blood from her parents and siblings, she screamed. The second round of bayonets effectively ended her life. She had just turned seventeen a month earlier.
Headed by Anna Anderson, the list of women claiming to be the survived Anastasia Romanov was lengthy. All were proven false by meetings with the Grand Duchess Olga, Anastasia's aunt and sister to Nicholas II who was very close to the Tsar's youngest daughter. Olga spent a great deal of time with each of the "serious" claimants and in the end determined that none of them could be her niece.
As Gorgonzola reminds me, the technically correct spelling is Anastasia Romanova, however I go with the most popular spelling. When I first wrote this I was grumbled at by the "double f" people. Romanoff is a good name for a noodle-based meal.
Sources: Pierre Gilliard, Thirteen Years at the Russian Court
and my own extensive notes on the topic.