Cleopatra Konstantinovna Martynov nee Countess Kleinmichel
Cleopatra Konstantinovna Martynov, nee Countess Kleinmichel

From Glory to Sorrow, her life had many Challenges

Cleopatra Konstantinovna Martynov, neé Countess Kleinmichel, faced many challenges in life. She was the eldest sister of my grandmother, Olga Voronov. Cleopatra was born on 19 April 1886. I believe she was born at Ivnya, the Kleinmichel family estate, however her death certificate states Moscow. She died in France five days after her eightieth birthday. In the photo above, taken in 1916, she was thirty years old. An interesting fact is that her father, Count Konstantin Petrovich Kleinmichel named several of the small settlements around Ivnya after members of his family and there was one named for Cleopatra – Kleopatrovskaya. After the death of Konstantin, Clair and her husband lived at Ivnya and looked after the estate.

The name Cleopatra means “glory of her father”, however my great aunt detested her given name and, from a young age, insisted on being called Clair. I remember my mother referring to her as Tante Clara. She was seven years older than my grandmother, which must have been quite an age gap at the time. In her book Upheaval, my grandmother does not mention Clair very often and I believe she was probably not as close to her as she was to Tata and Ella, her other sisters, who were much nearer in age. This belief is upheld by the fact that Clair called her younger sisters “The Little Ones” and often took it upon herself to preach to them in an effort to help them live better lives.

Clair was, according to my grandmother, sensitive and kind. She was also patriotic in her love for her mother country – Russia. She even had an aversion to travelling to other countries. To me, this makes it even sadder that she was forced, during the turmoil and chaos of Revolution and Civil War, to leave Russia, never to return. From an early age Clair studied nursing and was the first to help those who needed her ministrations.

Clair married Georgii Dmitrievich Martynov, I am not sure of the year but it was before the death of her father in 1912, and they lived in Moscow until their move to Ivnya. I believe they had three children. As my grandfather, Pavel Voronov, had done, Georgii enlisted in the White Army during the Civil War. During this tumultuous time in Russian history, Clair and the first two of her children managed to escape Russia in 1920 and made their way to Bulgaria. It was during their journey that the children contracted influenza and died. Georgii was only to hear of their deaths when he too was able to escape from the Crimea where he had been stationed. Later Clair and Georgii had another child.

Eventually Clair and her husband made it to France but Clair had one more challenge to overcome when her husband Georgii died in 1924. She never remarried. Clair died in hospital in Seine-et-Marne, an area south of Paris which takes its name from the rivers Seine and Marne. 

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