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The Witch Cursed Prince Yusupov

When Khan Abdul Mirza converted from Islam to Russian Orthodox Christianity, he adopted the name Dmitri. The Tsar of Russia invested him with the title Prince Yusupov; and a local witch cursed him and all his descendants for turning from the true faith.

Khan Abdul Mirza was the mighty ruler of the Khanate of Crimea in the 17th century. He converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity and took on the name of Dmitry. The saintly Tsar Fyodor I welcomed him into his empire and bestowed upon him the title of Prince Yusupov. The name was taken from their ancestor Khan Yussuf who had been allied with Russia in centuries past and whose daughter had been abducted to Moscow when the allies fell out.

As Khan of the Crimea, Abdul Mirza was a descendant of Edigu, great strategist of Tamerlane, but also of Tamerlane himself, and more importantly of a nephew of the Prophet Mohammed or even of the Prophet Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed. The conversion to Christianity of such an eminent Muslim family could not happen without paying a price. A local witch cursed the Prince and his descendants: In every generation, only one male descendant would get older than 26.

The family brought with them the Khanate of Crimea, and received further lands from the happy Tsar; they were fabulously wealthy, and fabulously cursed. The elder son of the Prince died young, but the younger got married and continued the line. He had three sons of which one died young, one married but had no children, and the youngest was left to continue the line. After that, every generation had only one son, though many daughters.

The single line descent continued until in the 19th century the line finally failed. The last of the line was Princess Zinaida Nikolaevna Yusupova. She was fabulously rich. At the time of her marriage in 1882 to Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston she was the richest woman in Europe and much richer than the Tsar. Her fortune at that time was estimated at 600 million Dollars; in today’s money that is somewhere in the region of 200 billion. She used a private train to visit her vast domains located in the Crimea, Russia, and Siberia. She owned over 600,000 square kilometres of land; that’s a bit bigger than France.

Princess Zinaida’s husband took on the name Yusupov on his marriage and used the title Prince Yusupov after the death of his father-in-law. Even though the male line of the Khan’s had ended, the curse still stuck, and the elder son was killed in a duel at 25. The younger son Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupow married the Tsar’s niece. They had an only child: A daughter. Ever since, only daughters are born into the family.

This is the mystic tale of the Yusupov family that you might hear on tours in their St. Petersburg and Moscow palaces.

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User Comments
  1. learnandearn

    On January 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    a very amazing article

  2. Joseph Parks

    On January 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    well. You never know how effective those curses are. until they start having an effect ^_^

  3. anndavey650

    On January 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Have to say I’ve never heard that one before, but I’m not good on my Russian history. The mind does boggle at people with private trains and one person owning land bigger that the area of France!

  4. Ruby Hawk

    On January 13, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    What a strange and interesting story. It does sound like a fairy tale.

  5. Yovita Siswati

    On January 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    interesting historical story. I heard once that one Yusupov killed Rasputing. Was he the Yusupov from this same family? I dont know whether the story I heard about Rasputin and Yusupov was accurate of not.

  6. samgoldencoffee

    On January 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

    very cool story.
    well written.

  7. Patrick Bernauw

    On January 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Wow! Love it!

  8. Lucas Dié

    On January 15, 2011 at 1:04 am

    @Yovita Siswati: Indeed, the last Prince Yusupov, Felix Felixovich, laid claim to having killed Rasputin. But that story has to be told on another day ;)

  9. RS Wing

    On January 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Peculiar but very intriguing bit of fringe history. The curse was effective.

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