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The planks, from which it has been made, had excessively superfluous thickness from 28 up to 40 mm. Their adjustment to each other was so careful, that despite of lowering of subsoil waters level in August - water in it stayed.
In December 2009 - January 2010 a dendrology research has been performed on cuts of wood and it has been established, that the coffin was made from wood of ordinary pine. The analysis of features of a gain of annual rings has shown that this pine grew not in the Arkhangelsk area, but in Kareliya. Because of the raised pitch content in the Karelian pine, it preserves better than other kinds of tree in the damp ground. The pine tree coffin had no decoration, which corresponds to the description made in M. A. Korf book "Ivan VI" p. 256.
The results of the investigation
Ivan Antonovich together with the family has been brought to Kholmogory in 1744 at four-year-old age and was held separately from the parents under supervision of Major Miller.
In 1756 when he was 15 years old, sergeant Nikolay Savin, following the order of empress Elizaveta Petrovna, has secretly brought him to Schlisselborg fortress near St. Petersburg, where he has been held for 8 more years in an imprisonment until 1764. Unsuccessful attempt of lieutenant Mirovich to release Ivan Antonovich in the night of July the 4th, 1764 has ended with his murder.
After the murder, Ivan VI has been temporarily buried in Schlisselborg fortresses, and later, following the rumors, was taken out to the Tikhvin monastery and buried near to the church porch of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary church. The searches of the body lead in Schlisselborg fortress under the order of Emperor Alexander I, did not bring any results.
Until now the burial place of Emperor Ivan VI is unknown.
1. The coffin suits for transportation.
The coffin, which was found in Kholmogory, is 1,84 m long. It is located at a distance of 1.5 m along wall of the altar part of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary church. And it is oriented from the East to the West.
The bottom of the coffin was in depth of 1,7 - 1,8 meters.
Researches attention attracted considerable size of the coffin and its design. Other ancient coffins were found nearby and they were made in form of "domovina". It is a part of an integral tree with the hollowed middle and closed by a cover. Their sizes were significantly less from 0,5 m up to 1,6 m. Design wise the coffin was in form of hexahedron, wider in a head part and narrowed to the legs.
In 2007 the Joint-Stock Company "ProgressTech" together with the priest of Russian orthodox church in Kholmogory (Arkhangelsk region) - father Leontij have signed a contract on joint researches on return of the three lost Kholmogory symbols:
Return of bells to the church
Return of the first Russian astronomical observatory of Archbishop Athanasius
Search of the burial place of the second generalissimo of the Army of Russia Anthony Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel.
According to the agreements fund raising has been organized in July 2008. 14 bells were manufactured and lifted up to the Spaso-Preobrazhenskaya church belltower. In July 2009 the bronze memorial plate was installed on this belltower in the memory of the first Russian observatory, which was established here in 1692 by Archbishop Athanasius (Liyubimov). A powerful computerized telescope with GPS function and memory on 114 thousand sky objects was presented to Kholmogory.
In October 2007 researches started at the place of former water tower, which was constructed in 1970-ties on the basement of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary church. According to historical documents the generalissimo of Russia Anthony Ulrich Brunswick was expected to be secretly buried here in 1776.
In August 2008 an unusual grave was found 1,5 m away from the church's altar. On the basis of the preliminary investigations an assumption was made that the remains belong to the oldest son of Anthony-Ulrich - Ivan Antonovich, the Russian emperor Ivan VI.
In October, 2008 remains have been sent to Moscow, to the Russian Center of Judicial-Medical Examination, to the laboratory led by Professor Zvjagin V.N.
The officers had a strict secret order, which claimed, in case of attempt to free Ivan VI, to defend until last possibility and in case of superior forces to kill the prisoner.
Such a case took place at the night July the 4th 1764 when lieutenant Mirovich made an attempt to release Ivan Antonovich from the imprisonment.
Vlasjev killed Ivan Antonovich, whereas Chekin stood at the doors, protecting it from braking in Mirovich solders. The first rapier stab hit the prisoner in the hip, the second - in the hand. In the fatal duel Vlasjev broke his rapier. There was neither the weapon, nor time. Vlasjev picked wooden bench and started hitting Ivan with it. After several hard hits to the face, the chest and the head, the wounded young man has fallen unconscious. Vlasjev demanded a rapier from Chekin and has precisely stroked "in the heart from the back all the way through".
On the left shoulder blade of the found person there is a hole from a rapier.
The durable design of the coffin has kept the skull in a good condition despite of its partial destruction on spots of bone plate's junctions because of pressure of the collapsed top planks. It has allowed to make reconstruction of the person's face by means of special computer programs in the Russian center of judicial-medical examination.
The analysis of the received image has revealed similarities with Anthony Ulrich Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and Anna Leopoldovna. There are no historical portraits of Ivan Antonovich available for compassion.
There is only one engraving of Ivan Antonovich at the mature age of artist John Chapman published in England in 1798. This engraving is now available at Andrey Leonidovich Kusakin private collection (Moscow). Ivan VI is dressed in a short fur coat on it. Restoration of an image of Ivan VI was based on this engraving.
3. Why Kholmogory?
After Ivan Antonovich tragic death in July, 1764 there were unrests between ordinary people and guards. There were calls to Ekaterina II overthrow from the throne. These unrests were suppressed by " giving out gunpowder and bullets to the loyal troops ".
Even after his death Ivan Antonovich was dangerous to the authorities as a new martyr and a symbol of worship. At the same time he was a member of Romanov family, and it was required to bury him with sufficient respect.
Sending the body to Kholmogory might have allowed solving several problems at once:
The new symbol is brought far away from the capital, and not simply far away, but to the carefully protected by the Kholmogory confidential commission territory where access of strangers has been excluded.
The instruction of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, that if Ivan Antonovich would die it was necessary to inform the parents and show the body, would be fulfilled.
Nobody was making a secret of Ivan VI death. Thus, two manifests in this regards have been published. The post worked regularly, and there are no doubts that soon the news would reach Kholmogory. Anthony Ulrich was in constant correspondence with Ekaterina II and could have asked to say goodbye to his son.
There is still a custom to bring the dead children to the family, to the parents. Father of Ivan VI lived in Kholmogory 12 more years after the death of his son. Two sisters - princess Ekaterina and Elizabeth and two brothers - prince Peter and Alexey also lived here.
The killed person has been buried in a place of honour at the wall of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary church in Kholmogory.
When and also who could bring Ivan VI body to Kholmogory?
Emperor Alexander I initiated searches of Ivan VI burial place in Schlisselborg fortress, which ended up with no results.
There is also Tikhvin track, which assumes that Ivan VI body has been taken out to the Tikhvin man's monastery and was buried there at the porch of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary church.
Some researchers consider this trace false since it is based on a case when during digging a hole for a new tomb at a funeral of one of the landowners an ornate burial place was revealed. In the coffin laid a man in the officer uniform of Ekaterina II times. But according to the literature descriptions Ivan VI was buried in simple cloths. Nevertheless, Tikhvin trace shall be still thoroughly investigated.
Most probably the accompanying body solders and even officers have been changed several times. This was the case when Ivan VI was secretly taken away from Kholmogory in 1756. Only sergeant Nikolay Savin remained not changed. It is possible that he accompanied Ivan VI in his last trip in 1764, moreover at that time he was already in a rank of general-major.
Alternatively this task could have been performed by general-major Bibikov, whom Ekaterina II trusted a lot. It is known that Bibikov went to Kholmogory with a proposition for Anthony-Ulrich to leave Russia under condition that the children would stay "due to the known reasons".
In Arkhangesk regional museum we found a copy of Ekaterina II letter-instruction, which was written before Bibikov's departure. It is dated 17th of November 1764. Such a proposition was not necessarily to be sent with an officer as Anthony-Ulrich was in constant correspondence with Ekaterina II. Thus, there could have been a reason to send a man to Kholmogory. Some researches assume that Ekaterina II in fact did not want Anthony-Ulrich to leave Russia. In this case, delivery of the offer together with remains of Ivan VI could lead to negative reply from Anthony-Ulrich side.
POSSIBLY RUSSIAN CSAR IVAN VI REMAINS FOUND IN KHOLMOGORY
2. At the opening of the burial place it has been established, that remains inside belong to a young man, who has been killed.
Ivan VI was about 6 foot tall, which roughly conforms to the height of the found person. According to examination his height did not exceed 171-172 cm, and the age was in the interval from 19 to 27 years.
Ivan Antonovich was killed when he was 24 years old. Primary survey of the skull showed that the right half of the bottom jaw is broken with partial loss of teeth. These teeth have not been found.
From the historical sources it is known, that there were two officers permanently in the cell together with Ivan Antonovich. These were officers of Ingermanlandsky infantry regiment sergeant Luka Matveevich Chekin and ensign Danila Petrovich Vlasjev. (A.N.Sakharov "Romanov Dynasty - Ivan Antonovich").