From its authoritative beginning to its revolutionary end, The Romanov Dynasty was synonymous with exile and death. The above photograph, taken by Sergei Gorskii in 1910, is of the iron shackles that bound Boyar Mikhail Nikitick Romanov during his 1601 exile in Nyrob. It was Tsar Boris Godunov who sentenced Mikhail to his fate during the Time of Troubles, where Mikhail would die one year later inside of a pit.
Mikhail never lived to see the start of the longstanding Romanov legacy which would begin with his relative, best known as Tsar Michael I of Russia: the first Romanov tsar. When the Romanov Dynasty began in 1613, Michael I had The Church of Epiphany and The Church of Saint Nicolas built in Nyrob to commemorate the life and suffering of Mikhail Romanov. His shackles were symbolically placed atop a pedestal in the Church of Epiphany- it was almost as if the exiled Mikhail was made saintly by the ruling Romanov.
This image is a vivid example of the use of the church by the Romanovs, in order to show absolute power and reverence. The Russian Orthodox church was a powerful tool used to shape the minds of the Russian people to see their rulers as more than human, in a class all their own, and answerable only to God.
Perhaps this is one prominent reason for the total lack of religion allowed in the communist regime that overtook the last of the Romanovs in the early 1900s.