Alexander II of Russia

Alexander II (Russian: Алекса́ндр II Никола́евич, tr. Aleksandr II Nikolayevich, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ftɐˈroj nʲɪkɐˈlajɪvʲɪtɕ]; 29 April 1818 – 13 March 1881)[1] was the Emperor of Russia from 2 March 1855 until his assassination on 13 March 1881. He was also the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland.[2]

Alexander's most significant reform as Emperor was emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator (Russian: Алекса́ндр Освободи́тель, tr. Aleksandr Osvoboditel, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ɐsvəbɐˈdʲitʲɪlʲ]). The tsar was responsible for other reforms, including reorganising the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing corporal punishment,[3] promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some privileges of the nobility, and promoting university education. After an assassination attempt in 1866, Alexander adopted a somewhat more reactionary stance until his death.[4]

Alexander pivoted towards foreign policy and sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, fearing the remote colony would fall into British hands if there were another war.[5] He sought peace, moved away from bellicose France when Napoleon III fell in 1871, and in 1872 joined with Germany and Austria in the League of the Three Emperors that stabilized the European situation. Despite his otherwise pacifist foreign policy, he fought a brief war with the Ottoman Empire in 1877–78, pursued further expansion into Siberia and the Caucasus, and conquered Turkestan. Although disappointed by the results of the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Alexander abided by that agreement. Among his greatest domestic challenges was an uprising in Poland in 1863, to which he responded by stripping that land of its separate constitution and incorporating it directly into Russia. Alexander was proposing additional parliamentary reforms to counter the rise of nascent revolutionary and anarchistic movements when he was assassinated in 1881.[6]

Alexander II
Zar Alexander II (cropped)
Emperor of Russia
Reign2 March 1855 – 13 March 1881
Coronation7 September 1856
PredecessorNicholas I
SuccessorAlexander III
Born29 April 1818
Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, Moscow Governorate, Russian Empire
Died13 March 1881 (aged 62)
Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
Peter and Paul Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
among others...
Full name
Alexander Nikolaevich Romanov
FatherNicholas I of Russia
MotherCharlotte of Prussia
ReligionRussian Orthodox
Alexander II's signature

Early life

Alexander II as a boy, attributed to George Dawe
Alexander II as a boy. (George Dawe, 1827)

Born in Moscow, Alexander Nikolaevich was the eldest son of Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia (daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia and of Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz). His early life gave little indication of his ultimate potential; until the time of his accession in 1855, aged 37, few imagined that posterity would know him for implementing the most challenging reforms undertaken in Russia since the reign of Peter the Great.[7]

In the period of his life as heir apparent (1825 to 1855), the intellectual atmosphere of Saint Petersburg did not favour any kind of change: freedom of thought and all forms of private initiative were suppressed vigorously by the order of his father. Personal and official censorship was rife; criticism of the authorities was regarded as a serious offence.[8]

The education of the Tsesarevich as future emperor took place under the supervision of the liberal romantic poet and gifted translator Vasily Zhukovsky,[9] grasping a smattering of a great many subjects and becoming familiar with the chief modern European languages.[8] Alexander's alleged lack of interest in military affairs (as detected by later historians) resulted from his reaction to the effects of the unsavoury Crimean War of 1853-1856 on his own family and on the whole country. Unusually for the time, the young Alexander was taken on a six-month tour of Russia (1837), visiting 20 provinces in the country.[10] He also visited many prominent Western European countries[11] in 1838 and 1839. As Tsesarevich, Alexander became the first Romanov heir to visit Siberia[12] (1837). While touring Russia, he also befriended the then exiled poet Alexander Herzen & pardoned him. It was through Herzen's influence that the tsarevich later abolished serfdom in Russia.

In 1839, when his parents sent him on a tour of Europe, he met twenty-year-old Queen Victoria and both were enamored of each other. Simon Sebag Montefiore speculates that a small romance emerged. Such a marriage, however, would not work, as Alexander was not a minor prince of Europe and was in line to inherit a throne himself.[13]


Entry Processin
Procession of Alexander II into Dormition Cathedral from the Red Porch during his coronation
Mihály Zichy - Coronation of Alexander II (1857, Hermitage) detail 01
The coronation of Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna on 26 August/7 September 1856 at the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, painting by Mihály Zichy. The painting depicts the moment when the Emperor crowned the Empress.

Alexander II succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father in 1855. He inherited a large mess that had been wrought by his father's fear of progress during his reign. Many of the other royal families of Europe had also disliked Nicholas I, which extended to distrust of the Romanov dynasty itself. Even so, there was no one more prepared to bring the country around than Alexander II.[14] The first year of his reign was devoted to the prosecution of the Crimean War and, after the fall of Sevastopol, to negotiations for peace led by his trusted counsellor, Prince Alexander Gorchakov. The country had been exhausted and humiliated by the war.[15] Bribe-taking, theft and corruption were rampant.[16]

Encouraged by public opinion, Alexander began a period of radical reforms, including an attempt not to depend on landed aristocracy controlling the poor, an effort to develop Russia's natural resources, and to reform all branches of the administration.[8] In 1867 he sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million (equivalent to roughly $200 million in current dollars) after recognising the great difficulty of defending it against the United Kingdom or the former British colony of Canada.

After Alexander became emperor in 1855, he maintained a generally liberal course.[17] Despite this, he was a target for numerous assassination attempts (1866, 1879, 1880). On 13 March [O.S. 1 March] 1881, members of the Narodnaya Volya (People's Will) party killed him with a bomb. The Emperor had earlier in the day signed the Loris-Melikov constitution, which would have created two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives, had it not been repealed by his reactionary successor Alexander III.[18]

Emancipation of the serfs

The Emancipation Reform of 1861 abolished serfdom on private estates throughout the Russian Empire. Serfs gained the full rights of free citizens, including rights to marry without having to gain consent, to own property and to own a business. The measure was the first and most important of the liberal reforms made by Alexander II.

Polish landed proprietors of the Lithuanian provinces presented a petition hoping that their relations with the serfs might be regulated in a more satisfactory way (meaning in a way more satisfactory for the proprietors). Alexander II authorized the formation of committees "for ameliorating the condition of the peasants," and laid down the principles on which the amelioration was to be effected.[8] Without consulting his ordinary advisers, Alexander ordered the Minister of the Interior to send a circular to the provincial governors of European Russia (serfdom was rare in other parts) containing a copy of the instructions forwarded to the Governor-General of Lithuania, praising the supposed generous, patriotic intentions of the Lithuanian landed proprietors, and suggesting that perhaps the landed proprietors of other provinces might express a similar desire. The hint was taken: in all provinces where serfdom existed, emancipation committees were formed.[8]

Alexander Iwanowitsch Morosow 001
Leaving church in Pskov, 1864

The emancipation was not merely a humanitarian question capable of being solved instantaneously by imperial decree. It contained complicated problems, deeply affecting the economic, social and political future of the nation. Alexander had to choose between the different measures recommended to him and decide if the serfs would become agricultural laborers dependent economically and administratively on the landlords or if the serfs would be transformed into a class of independent communal proprietors.[8] The emperor gave his support to the latter project, and the Russian peasantry became one of the last groups of peasants in Europe to shake off serfdom. The architects of the emancipation manifesto were Alexander's brother Konstantin, Yakov Rostovtsev, and Nikolay Milyutin. On 3 March 1861, six years after his accession, the emancipation law was signed and published.

Other reforms and reaction after 1866

Alaska Purchase (hi-res)
The U.S. 7.2 million USD check used to pay for Russian Alaska in 1867

In response to the overwhelming defeat suffered by Russia in the Crimean War (1853–56), and to attempt to keep pace with military advances in other European countries, Alexander II appointed Dmitry Milyutin to carry out significant reforms in the Russian armed forces. Further important changes were made concerning industry and commerce, and the new freedom thus afforded produced a large number of limited liability companies.[19] Plans were formed for building a great network of railways, partly to develop the natural resources of the country, and partly to increase its power for defense and attack.[8]

Military reforms included universal conscription, introduced for all social classes on 1 January 1874.[20] Prior to the new regulation, as of 1861, conscription was compulsorily enforced only for the peasantry. Conscription had been 25 years for serfs that were drafted by their landowners, which was widely considered to be a life sentence.[21] Other military reforms included extending the reserve forces and the military district system, which split the Russian states into 15 military districts, a system still in use over a hundred years later. The building of strategic railways and an emphasis on the military education of the officer corps comprised further reforms. Corporal punishment in the military and branding of soldiers as punishment were banned.[22] The bulk of important military reforms were enacted as a result of the poor showing in the Crimean War.

A new judicial administration (1864), based on the French model, introduced security of tenure.[23] A new penal code and a greatly simplified system of civil and criminal procedure also came into operation.[8] Reorganisation of the judiciary occurred to include trial in open court, with judges appointed for life, a jury system and the creation of justices of the peace to deal with minor offences at local level. Legal historian Sir Henry Maine credited Alexander II with the first great attempt after the epoch of Grotius to codify and humanise the usages of war.[24]

Alexander's bureaucracy instituted an elaborate scheme of local self-government (zemstvo) for the rural districts (1864) and the large towns (1870), with elective assemblies possessing a restricted right of taxation, and a new rural and municipal police under the direction of the Minister of the Interior.[25]

An attempted assassination in 1866 is generally blamed for a more reactionary period in Alexander's reign between that point and his death.[4] The Tsar made a series of new appointments, replacing liberal ministers with conservatives.[26] Under Minister of Education Dmitry Tolstoy, liberal university courses and subjects that encouraged critical thinking were replaced by a more traditional curriculum, and from 1871 onwards only students from gimnaziya schools could progress to university.[27][26] In 1879, governor-generals were established with powers to prosecute in military courts and exile political offenders. The government also held show trials with the intention of deterring others from revolutionary activity, but after cases such as the Trial of the 193 where sympathetic juries acquitted many of the defendants,[28] this was abandoned.[26]

Suppression of separatist movements

In 1856, at the beginning of his reign, Alexander made a memorable speech to the deputies of the Polish nobility who inhabited Congress Poland, Western Ukraine, Lithuania, Livonia and Belarus, in which he admonished, "Gentlemen, let us have no dreams!"[29] The territories of the former Poland-Lithuania were excluded from liberal policies introduced by Alexander. The result was the January Uprising of 1863–1864 that was suppressed after eighteen months of fighting. Hundreds of Poles were executed, and thousands were deported to Siberia. The price of suppression was Russian support for the unification of Germany.

The martial law in Lithuania, introduced in 1863, lasted for the next 40 years. Native languages, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Belarussian, were completely banned from printed texts, the Ems Ukase being an example. The Polish language was banned in both oral and written form from all provinces except Congress Poland, where it was allowed in private conversations only.

Encouraging Finnish nationalism

Alexander II (Romanov) monument in Helsinki, Finland
Monument to Alexander II "The Liberator" at the Senate Square in Helsinki, by sculptor Walter Runeberg. Erected in 1894, when Finland was still a Russian grand duchy.

In 1863, Alexander II re-convened the Diet of Finland and initiated several reforms increasing Finland's autonomy within the Russian Empire, including establishment of its own currency, the markka.[30] Liberation of business led to increased foreign investment and industrial development. Finland also got its first railways, separately established under Finnish administration.[31] Finally, the elevation of Finnish from a language of the common people to a national language equal to Swedish opened opportunities for a larger proportion of the society. Alexander II is still regarded as "The Good Tsar" in Finland.[31]

These reforms could be seen as results of a genuine belief that reforms were easier to test in an underpopulated, homogeneous country, than in the whole of Russia. They may also be seen as a reward for the loyalty of its relatively western-oriented population during the Crimean War and during the Polish uprising. Encouraging Finnish nationalism and language can also be seen as an attempt to dilute ties with Sweden.

Rule during the Caucasian War

Imam Shamil surrendered to Count Baryatinsky on August 25, 1859 by Kivshenko, Alexei Danilovich
Imam Shamil surrendered to Count Baryatinsky on August 25, 1859

The Caucasian War (1817–1864) concluded as a Russian victory during Alexander II's rule. Just before the conclusion of the war the Russian Army, under the emperor's order, sought to eliminate the Circassian "mountaineers" in what would be often referred to as "cleansing" in several historic dialogues.[32][33]

Liberation of Bulgaria

In April 1876 the Bulgarian population on the Balkans rebelled against Ottoman rule. The April Uprising was suppressed, causing a general outcry throughout Europe. Some of the most prominent intellectuals and politicians on the Continent, most notably Victor Hugo and William Gladstone, sought to raise awareness about the atrocities that the Turks imposed on the Bulgarian population. To solve this new crisis in the "Eastern question" a special conference was convened in Constantinople at the end of the year. The participants in the Conference failed to reach a final agreement. After the failure of the Constantinople Conference, at the beginning of 1877 Emperor Alexander II started diplomatic preparations with the other Great Powers to secure their neutrality in case there was a war between Russia and the Ottomans. Alexander II considered such agreements paramount in avoiding the possibility of placing his country in a second disaster, similar to the Crimean War.[30]

Vsemirnaya Illyustratsia Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) 03
In 1877, Russian general Iosif Gurko liberated Veliko Tarnovo, ending the 480-year rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The Russian Emperor was successful in his diplomatic endeavours. Having secured agreement to non-involvement by the other Great Powers, on 17 April 1877 Russia declared war upon the Ottoman Empire. The Russians, helped by the Romanian Army under the supreme commander, king Carol I (then Prince of Romania), who sought to obtain their independence from the Ottomans as well, were successful against the Turks and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 ended with the signing of the preliminary peace Treaty of San Stefano on 19 February (3 March N.S.) 1878. The treaty and the subsequent Congress of Berlin secured the emergence of an independent Bulgarian state for the first time since 1396, and the tsar's nephew, Prince Alexander of Battenberg, was elected as the Bulgarians' first ruler. For his social reforms in Russia and his role in the liberation of Bulgaria, Alexander II became known in Bulgaria as the "Tsar-Liberator of Russians and Bulgarians". A monument to Alexander II was erected in 1907 in Sofia in the "National Assembly" square, opposite to the Parliament building.[30] The monument underwent a complete reconstruction in 2012, funded by the Sofia Municipality and some Russian foundations. The inscription on the monument reads in Old-Bulgarian style: "To the Tsar-Liberator from grateful Bulgaria". There is a museum dedicated to Alexander in the Bulgarian city of Pleven.

Assassination attempts

In April 1866, there was an attempt on the emperor's life in St. Petersburg by Dmitry Karakozov.[34] To commemorate his narrow escape from death (which he himself referred to only as "the event of 4 April 1866"), a number of churches and chapels were built in many Russian cities. Viktor Hartmann, a Russian architect, even sketched a design of a monumental gate (which was never built) to commemorate the event. Modest Mussorgsky later wrote his Pictures at an Exhibition; the last movement of which, "The Great Gate of Kiev", is based on Hartmann's sketches.

During the 1867 World Fair Polish immigrant Antoni Berezowski attacked the carriage containing Alexander, his two sons and Napoleon III.[35] His self-modified, double-barreled pistol misfired and struck a horse of an escorting cavalryman.

On the morning of 20 April 1879, Alexander was briskly walking towards the Square of the Guards Staff and faced Alexander Soloviev, a 33-year-old former student. Having seen a menacing revolver in his hands, the Emperor fled in a zigzag pattern. Soloviev fired five times but missed; he was hanged on 28 May, after being sentenced to death.

The student acted on his own, but other revolutionaries were keen to murder Alexander.[36] In December 1879, the Narodnaya Volya (People's Will), a radical revolutionary group which hoped to ignite a social revolution, organised an explosion on the railway from Livadia to Moscow, but they missed the emperor's train.

On the evening of 5 February 1880 Stephan Khalturin, also from Narodnaya Volya, set off a timed charge under the dining room of the Winter Palace, right in the resting room of the guards a story below, killing 11 people and wounding 30 others.[36] The New York Times (March 4, 1880) reported "the dynamite used was enclosed in an iron box, and exploded by a system of clockwork used by the man Thomas in Bremen some years ago."[37] However, dinner had been delayed by the late arrival of the tsar's nephew, the Prince of Bulgaria, so the tsar and his family were not in the dining room at the time of the explosion and were unharmed.[36]

Family life

Император Александр II и Императрица Мария Александровна
Alexander II and Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna

By his empress consort, Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna, Alexander II had eight children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. He particularly placed hope in his eldest son, Tsarevich Nicholas. In 1864, Alexander II found Nicholas a bride, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, second daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and younger sister to Alexandra, Princess of Wales and King George I of Greece. However, in 1865, during the engagement, Nicholas died and the tsar's second son, Grand Duke Alexander, not only inherited his brother's position of tsarevich, but also his fiancée. The couple married in November 1866, with Dagmar converting to Orthodoxy and taking the name Maria Feodorovna.

In time, political differences, and other disagreements, led to estrangement between the two Alexanders.[38] Amongst his children, he remained particularly close with his second, and only surviving daughter, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna. In 1873, a quarrel broke out between the courts of Queen Victoria and Alexander II, when Victoria's second son, Prince Alfred, made it known that he wished to marry the Grand Duchess. The tsar objected to the queen's request to have his daughter come to England in order to meet her,[39] and after the January 1874 wedding in St. Petersburg, the tsar insisted that his daughter be granted precedence over the Princess of Wales, which the queen rebuffed.[40] Later that year, after attending the engagement ceremonies of his second surviving son, Vladimir, to Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Berlin, Alexander II, with his third son, Alexei, accompanying him, made a visit to England.[41] While not a state visit, but simply a trip to see his daughter, he nevertheless partook in receptions at Buckingham Palace and Marlborough House, inspected the artillery at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, reviewed troops at Aldershot and met both Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and leader of the opposition, William Gladstone.[42] Disraeli observed of the tsar that "his mien and manners are gracious and graceful, but the expression of his countenance, which I could now very closely examine, is sad. Whether it is satiety, or the loneliness of despotism, or fear of a violent death, I know not, but it was a visage of, I should think, habitual mournfulness."[42]

At home, Tsarina Marie Alexandrovna was suffering from tuberculosis and was spending increasing time abroad. In 1866, Alexander II took a mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgorukya, with whom he would father three surviving children. The affair, in the face of the tsarina's declining health, served to alienate the rest of his adult children, save his son Alexei and his daughter, who, like Alexander II's brothers, believed that the tsar was beyond criticism.[43] In 1880, however, following threats on Catherine's life, the tsar moved his mistress and their children into the Winter Palace. Courtiers spread stories that the dying Tsarina was forced to hear the noise of Catherine's children moving about overhead, but her rooms were actually far away from those occupied by the Empress.[44] When Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna made a visit in May 1880, being warned that her mother was dying, she was horrified to learn of his father's mistress' living arrangements and confronted her father.[45] Shocked by the loss of support from his daughter, he quietly retreated to Gatchina Palace for military reviews.[45] The quarrel, however, evidently, jolted his conscience enough to lead him to return to St. Petersburg each morning to ask after his wife's health.[45] The tsarina, however, had not much longer to live, dying on 3 June [O.S. 22 May] 1880. On 18 July [O.S. 6 July] 1880, Alexander II and Catherine were married in a secret ceremony at Tsarskoe Selo.[46] The action scandalized both his family and the court, also violating Orthodox custom which required a minimum period of 40 days mourning between the death of a spouse and the remarriage of a surviving spouse, eliciting criticism in foreign courts.[47] Alexander also bestowed on Catherine the title of Princess Yurievskaya and legitimized their children.[47]


Alexander II of Russia's murder 02
The explosion killed one of the Cossacks and wounded the driver
Attentat mortal Alexander II (1881)
The assassination of Alexander II, drawing by G. Broling, 1881

After the last assassination attempt in February 1880, Count Loris-Melikov was appointed the head of the Supreme Executive Commission and given extraordinary powers to fight the revolutionaries. Loris-Melikov's proposals called for some form of parliamentary body, and the Emperor seemed to agree; these plans were never realised.

On 13 March [O.S. 1 March] 1881, Alexander fell victim to an assassination plot in Saint Petersburg.

As he was known to do every Sunday for many years, the emperor went to the Mikhailovsky Manège for the military roll call. He travelled both to and from the Manège in a closed carriage accompanied by five Cossacks and Frank (Franciszek) Joseph Jackowski, a Polish noble, with a sixth Cossack[48] sitting on the coachman's left. The emperor's carriage was followed by two sleighs carrying, among others, the chief of police and the chief of the emperor's guards. The route, as always, was via the Catherine Canal and over the Pevchesky Bridge.

The street was flanked by narrow pavements for the public. A young member of the Narodnaya Volya ("People's Will") movement, Nikolai Rysakov,[36] was carrying a small white package wrapped in a handkerchief. He later said of his attempt to kill the Tsar:

After a moment's hesitation I threw the bomb. I sent it under the horses' hooves in the supposition that it would blow up under the carriage...The explosion knocked me into the fence.[49]

The explosion, while killing one of the Cossacks and seriously wounding the driver and people on the sidewalk,[36] had only damaged the bulletproof carriage, a gift from Napoleon III of France. The emperor emerged shaken but unhurt.[36] Rysakov was captured almost immediately. Police Chief Dvorzhitsky heard Rysakov shout out to someone else in the gathering crowd. The surrounding guards and the Cossacks urged the emperor to leave the area at once rather than being shown the site of the explosion.

Nevertheless, a second young member of the Narodnaya Volya, Ignacy Hryniewiecki,[36] standing by the canal fence, raised both arms and threw something at the emperor's feet. He was alleged to have shouted, "It is too early to thank God".[50] Dvorzhitsky was later to write:

I was deafened by the new explosion, burned, wounded and thrown to the ground. Suddenly, amid the smoke and snowy fog, I heard His Majesty's weak voice cry, 'Help!' Gathering what strength I had, I jumped up and rushed to the emperor. His Majesty was half-lying, half-sitting, leaning on his right arm. Thinking he was merely wounded heavily, I tried to lift him but the czar's legs were shattered, and the blood poured out of them. Twenty people, with wounds of varying degree, lay on the sidewalk and on the street. Some managed to stand, others to crawl, still others tried to get out from beneath bodies that had fallen on them. Through the snow, debris, and blood you could see fragments of clothing, epaulets, sabres, and bloody chunks of human flesh.[51]

Later, it was learned there was a third bomber in the crowd. Ivan Emelyanov stood ready, clutching a briefcase containing a bomb that would be used if the other two bombers failed.

Alexander was carried by sleigh to the Winter Palace[36] to his study where almost the same day twenty years earlier, he had signed the Emancipation Edict freeing the serfs. Alexander was bleeding to death, with his legs torn away, his stomach ripped open, and his face mutilated.[52] Members of the Romanov family came rushing to the scene.

The dying emperor was given Communion and Last Rites. When the attending physician, Sergey Botkin, was asked how long it would be, he replied, "Up to fifteen minutes."[53] At 3:30 that day, the standard of Alexander II (his personal flag) was lowered for the last time.


Храм Спаса на крови 7
The Church of the Savior on Blood was built on the site of Alexander II's assassination.

Alexander II's death caused a great setback for the reform movement. One of his last acts was the approval of Mikhail Loris-Melikov's constitutional reforms.[54] Though the reforms were conservative in practice, their significance lay in the value Alexander II attributed to them: "I have given my approval, but I do not hide from myself the fact that it is the first step towards a constitution."[55] In a matter of 48 hours, Alexander II planned to release these plans to the Russian people. Instead, following his succession Alexander III under the advice of Konstantin Pobedonostsev chose to abandon these reforms and went on to pursue a policy of greater autocratic power.[56]

The assassination triggered major suppression of civil liberties in Russia, and police brutality burst back in full force after experiencing some restraint under the reign of Alexander II, whose death was witnessed first-hand by his son, Alexander III, and his grandson, Nicholas II, both future emperors who vowed not to have the same fate befall them. Both of them used the Okhrana to arrest protestors and uproot suspected rebel groups, creating further suppression of personal freedom for the Russian people. A series of anti-Jewish pogroms and antisemitic legislation, the May Laws, were yet another result.[30]

Finally, the tsar's assassination also inspired anarchists to advocate "'propaganda by deed'—the use of a spectacular act of violence to incite revolution."[57]

With construction starting in 1883, the Church of the Savior on Blood was built on the site of Alexander's assassination and dedicated in his memory.

Marriages and children

First marriage

Emperor Alexander II and his wife, Empress Maria, with their son, the future Alexander III by Sergei Lvovich Levitsky 1870

In 1838–39, as a young bachelor, Alexander made the Grand Tour of Europe which was standard for young men of his class at that time. One of the purposes of the tour was to select a suitable bride for himself. He stayed for three days with the maiden Queen Victoria, who was already Queen although she was one year younger than him. The two got along well, but there was no question of marriage between two major monarchs. Alexander went on to Germany, and in Darmstadt, he met and was charmed by Princess Marie, the 15-year-old daughter of Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse. On 16 April 1841, aged 23, Tsarevitch Alexander married Marie in St. Petersburg; the bride had previously been received into the Russian Orthodox Church, taking the new name of Maria Alexandrovna.

(Marie was the legal daughter of Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Wilhelmina of Baden, although some gossiping questioned whether the Grand Duke Ludwig or Wilhelmina's lover, Baron August von Senarclens de Grancy, was her biological father. Alexander was aware of the question of her paternity.)

The marriage produced six sons and two daughters:

Empress Maria Alexandrovna died of tuberculosis on 3 June 1880, at the age of fifty-five.


Tsar Alexander II 1881
Tsar Alexander II, photo by Sergei Lvovich Levitsky, 1881 (The Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection, Toronto, Canada)

On 18 July 1880, less than a month after Empress Maria's death, Alexander married morganatically his mistress Princess Catherine Dolgorukov, with whom he already had four children:

In fiction

Alexander II appears prominently in the opening two chapters of Jules Verne's Michael Strogoff (published in 1876 during Alexander's own lifetime). The Emperor sets the book's plot in motion and sends its eponymous protagonist on the dangerous and vital mission which would occupy the rest of the book. Verne presents Alexander II in a highly positive light, as an enlightened yet firm monarch, dealing confidently and decisively with a rebellion. Alexander's liberalism shows in a dialogue with the chief of police, who says "There was a time, sire, when NONE returned from Siberia", to be immediately rebuked by the Emperor who answers: "Well, whilst I live, Siberia is and shall be a country whence men CAN return."[58]

The films Katia (1938) and Magnificent Sinner (1959) depict a highly fictionalized account of the Tsar's romance with the woman who became his second wife.

In The Tiger in the Well, Philip Pullman refers to the assassination – though he never names Alexander – and to the pogroms that followed. The anti-Jewish attacks play an important role in the novel's plot. Andrew Williams's historical thriller, To Kill A Tsar, tells the story of The People's Will revolutionaries and the assassination through the eyes of an Anglo-Russian doctor living in St Petersburg.

Oscar Wilde's first play Vera; or, The Nihilists, written in 1880—Alexander II's last year—features Russian revolutionaries who seek to assassinate a reform-minded Emperor (and who, in the play, ultimately fail in their plot). Though Wilde's fictional Emperor differs from the actual Alexander, contemporary events in Russia – as published in the British press of the time – clearly influenced Wilde.

In nonfiction

Mark Twain describes a short visit with Alexander II in Chapter 37 of The Innocents Abroad, describing him as "very tall and spare, and a determined-looking man, though a very pleasant-looking one nevertheless. It is easy to see that he is kind and affectionate. There is something very noble in his expression when his cap is off."[59]


Ancestors of Alexander II of Russia
16. Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
8. Peter III of Russia
17. Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia
4. Paul I of Russia
18. Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
9. Catherine II of Russia
19. Duchess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp
2. Nicholas I of Russia
20. Charles Alexander, Duke of Württemberg
10. Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg
21. Princess Marie Auguste of Thurn and Taxis
5. Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemburg
22. Frederick William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt
11. Princess Friederike of Brandenburg-Schwedt
23. Princess Sophia Dorothea of Prussia
1. Alexander II of Russia
24. Prince Augustus William of Prussia
12. Frederick William II of Prussia
25. Duchess Louise Amalie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
6. Frederick William III of Prussia
26. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
13. Princess Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
27. Countess Palatine Caroline of Zweibrücken
3. Princess Charlotte of Prussia
28. Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg
14. Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
29. Princess Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen
7. Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
30. Prince George William of Hesse-Darmstadt
15. Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt
31. Countess Maria Louise Albertine of Leiningen-Dagsburg-Falkenburg

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Styles of
Alexander II of Russia
Coat of Arms of Russian Empire
Reference styleHis Imperial Majesty
Spoken styleYour Imperial Majesty
Alternative styleSir

Titles and styles

  • 29 April 1818 – 1 December 1825: His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich of Russia
  • 1 December 1825 – 2 March 1855: His Imperial Highness The Tsesarevich of Russia
  • 2 March 1855 – 13 March 1881: His Imperial Majesty The Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias



He was Sovereign of the following orders:


He was bestowed with the following foreign orders:[60]


Lesser CoA of the empire of Russia
Lesser Coat of Arms of the Empire of Russia

See also


Alexander II by E.Botman (1856, Russian museum)

Portrait of Alexander II, 1856

Alexander II of Russia by Monogrammist V.G. (1888, Hermitage) detail

Portrait of Emperor Alexander II wearing the greatcoat and cap of the Imperial Horse-Guards Regiment. circa 1865

Alexander II S L Levitsky

Alexander II, by Sergei Lvovich Levitsky, 1860 (The Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection, Toronto, Canada)

Alexander II of Russia by K.Makovskiy (1881, GTG)

Alexander II, portrait by Konstantin Makovsky. 1881


The Monument to the Tsar Liberator in Sofia commemorates Alexander II's decisive role in the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.


A monument to Alexander II in Częstochowa, the spiritual heart of Poland.

Monument of Alexander II of Russia in Plovdiv

A monument to Alexander II in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


  1. ^ Old style: 17 April 1818; 1 March 1881.
  2. ^ D. M. W. (1910). "ALEXANDER II (1818-1881)". The Encyclopaedia Britannica; A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. I (A to ANDROPHAGI) (11th ed.). Cambridge, England: At the University Press. pp. 559–561. Retrieved 28 December 2018 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "Reformation by the Tsar Liberator". InfoRefuge. InfoRefuge. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Alexander II | emperor of Russia". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  5. ^ Claus-M., Naske (1987). Alaska, a history of the 49th state. Slotnick, Herman E., 1916-2002. (2nd ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780806125732. OCLC 44965514.
  6. ^ Контрреформы 1889—1892. Содержание контрреформ
  7. ^ Wallace 1911, pp. 559-560.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Wallace 1911, p. 560.
  9. ^ The McGraw-Hill encyclopedia of world biography: an international reference work. McGraw-Hill. 1973. p. 113.
  10. ^ Edvard Radzinsky, Alexander II: the Last Great Tsar, p. 63.
  11. ^ Edvard Radzinsky, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar, pp. 65–69, 190–191 & 199–200.
  12. ^ Radzinsky, Edvard (2005). "How to Bring Up a Caesar". Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar. Translated by Bouis, Antonina (reprint ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 62. ISBN 9780743281973. The tsarevich was the first Romanov heir to visit Siberia, where convicts and exiles were sent.
  13. ^ Sebag Montefiore, p. 512
  14. ^ Sebag Montefiore, p. 541-42
  15. ^ Edvard Radzinsky, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar, p. 107.
  16. ^ Edvard, Radzinsky, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar p. 107.
  17. ^ Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Romanovs:1613-1918 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), p. 392ff.
  18. ^ This Day in History – 13 March 1881, archived from the original on 10 February 2010, retrieved 11 November 2009
  19. ^ "The new volumes of the EncyclpÆedia britannica: constituting, in combination with the existing volumes of the ninth edition, the tenth edition of that work, and also supplying a new, distinctive, and independent library of reference dealing with recent events and developments ..." A. & C. Black. 29 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ Edvard Radzinsky, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar p. 150.
  21. ^ Jonathon Bromley, "Russia 1848-1917"
  22. ^ Edvard Radzinsky, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar," pp. 150–151.
  23. ^ An Introduction to Russian History (1976), edited by Robert Auty and Dimitri Obolensky, chapter by John Keep, page 238
  24. ^ Maine, Henry (1888). International Law: A Series of Lectures Delivered Before the University of Cambridge, 1887 (1 ed.). London: John Murray. p. 128. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  25. ^ Wallace 1911, pp. 560-561.
  26. ^ a b c Waller, Sally (2015). Tsarist and Communist Russia 1855-1964. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-19-835467-3.
  27. ^ "Dmitry Andreyevich, Count Tolstoy | Russian statesman". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  28. ^ Hingley, Ronald, Nihilists: Russian Radicals and Revolutionaries in the Reign of Alexander II 1855-81 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967) p.79
  29. ^ Morfill, William (1902). A history of Russia: from the birth of Peter the Great to Nicholas II. James Pott. p. 429.
  30. ^ a b c d Священник Сергий Голованов. Мост между Востоком и Западом. Греко-католическая церковь Киевской традиции с 1596 г. по наше время
  31. ^ a b Haarmann, Harald. Modern Finland: Portrait of a Flourishing Society. McFarland. p. 211. ISBN 9781476625652.
  32. ^ Y. Abramov,Caucasian Mountaineers, Materials For the History of Circassian People Archived 21 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 1990
  33. ^ Justin McCarthy, Death and Exile, the Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821–1922, Princeton, NJ, 1995
  34. ^ Verhoeven, Claudia (2009). The odd man Karakozov : Imperial Russia, modernity, and the birth of terrorism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4652-8.
  35. ^ Tarsaidze, Alexandre (1970). Katia: Wife before God. New York: Macmillan.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h Rowley, Alison (Summer 2017). "Dark Tourism and the Death of Russian Emperor Alexander II, 1881-1891". Historian. 79 (2): 229–255. doi:10.1111/hisn.12503. ISSN 0018-2370. Retrieved 10 July 2017. (Subscription required (help)) – via EBSCO's Academic Serch Complete (subscription required)
  37. ^ Quoted in Larabee, Ann (2005). The Dynamite Fiend: The Chilling Tale of a Confederate Spy, Con Artist, and Mass Murderer. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781403967947., p. 194
  38. ^ Van Der Kiste, pg. 94
  39. ^ Van Der Kiste, John The Romanovs: 1818–1959 (Sutton Publishing, 2004) pg. 71
  40. ^ Van Der Kiste pg. 74
  41. ^ Der Kiste, pg. 74
  42. ^ a b Van Der Kiste, pg. 75
  43. ^ Van Der Kiste, pg. 67
  44. ^ Radzinsky, Edvard (2005). Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar. Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-7432-7332-9
  45. ^ a b c Van Der Kiste, pg. 97
  46. ^ Van Der Kiste, pgs. 97 & 98
  47. ^ a b Van Der Kiste, pg. 98
  48. ^ Harris, Richard. Mother's recounting of her father's experience.
  49. ^ Radzinsky, Edvard, Alexander II: The Last Great Czar,(Freepress 2005) p. 413
  50. ^ Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, Dell Publishing Company, New York, p.16
  51. ^ Radzinsky, (2005) p. 415
  52. ^ Massie, p.16
  53. ^ Radzinsky, (2005) p. 419
  54. ^ Heilbronner, Hans, 'Alexander III and the Reform Plan of Loris-Melikov', The Journal of Modern History, 33:4 (1961) 384-397, p. 386
  55. ^ Venturi, Franco, Roots of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia, trans. by Francis Haskell (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960)
  56. ^ Heilbronner, pp. 390-396
  57. ^ Palmer, Brian (29 December 2010) What do anarchists want from us?,
  58. ^ Jules Verne, "Michael Strogoff", Ch. 2
  59. ^ Twain, Mark (1869), The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrim's Progress – ch. 37, retrieved 28 April 2011
  60. ^ Russian Imperial Army - Emperor Alexander II of Russia (In Russian)
  61. ^ A Szent István Rend tagjai
  62. ^ Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer, Volume 1 /Ferdinand Veldekens
  63. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 468. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  64. ^ "Grand Crosses of the Order of the Tower and Sword". Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  65. ^ "Toison Espagnole (Spanish Fleece) - 19th century" (in French), Chevaliers de la Toison D'or. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  66. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 64

Further reading

  • Crankshaw, Edward (2000). The Shadow of the Winter Palace: The Drift to Revolution, 1825–1917. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80940-8.
  • Eklof, Ben; John Bushnell; L. Larisa Georgievna Zakharova (1994). Russia's Great Reforms, 1855–1881. ISBN 978-0-253-20861-3.
  • Lincoln, W. Bruce. The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias (1983) excerpt and text search
  • Moss, Walter G., Alexander II and His Times: A Narrative History of Russia in the Age of Alexander II, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. London: Anthem Press, 2002. online
  • Mosse, W. E. Alexander II and the Modernization of Russia (1958) online
  • Pereira, N.G.O.,Tsar Emancipator: Alexander II of Russia, 1818–1881, Newtonville, Mass: Oriental Research Partners, 1983.
  • Polunow, Alexander (2005). Russia in the Nineteenth Century: Autocracy, Reform, And Social Change, 1814–1914. M E Sharpe Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-7656-0672-3.
  • Radzinsky, Edvard, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar. New York: The Free Press, 2005.
  • Zakharova, Larissa (1910). Alexander II: Portrait of an Autocrat and His Times. ISBN 978-0-8133-1491-4.

External links

Alexander II of Russia
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 29 April 1818 Died: 13 March 1881
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Nicholas I
Emperor of Russia
Grand Duke of Finland

Succeeded by
Alexander III
King of Poland
Annexation by Russia
Alexander II

Alexander II may refer to:

Alexander II of Macedon, King of Macedon from 370 to 368 BC

Alexander II of Epirus (died 260 BC), King of Epirus in 272 BC

Alexander II Zabinas, king of the Greek Seleucid kingdom in 128–123 BC

Pope Alexander II, Pope from 1061 to 1073

Alexander II of Scotland (1198–1249), King of Scots

Alexander II of Imereti (1478, 1483–1510), King of Georgia and of Imereti

Alexander II of Kakheti (1574–1605), King of Kakheti

Alexander II of Russia (1818–1881), Emperor of Russia

Alexander II of Yugoslavia (born 1945), Crown Prince of Serbia

Alexandra Albedinskaya

Alexandra Sergeyevna Albedinskaya (Russian: Алекса́ндра Серге́евна Альбединская; 30 November 1834 – 12 September 1913), was a Russian noble and courtier. She was the royal mistress of Alexander II of Russia from the early 1850s until 1862.

Andreas, Prince of Leiningen

Andreas, Prince of Leiningen (Andreas Fürst zu Leiningen; born 27 November 1955) is the current head of the Princely House of Leiningen. He is the son of Emich Kyrill, Prince of Leiningen, and Duchess Eilika of Oldenburg. His older brother Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen lost his rights to succeed as head of the house as a result of his unequal second marriage.His paternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Russia, was the eldest daughter of Kirill Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia (first claimant to the throne of Russia and a grandson of Alexander II of Russia) and Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh (granddaughter of Alexander II of Russia). Because of this, he is in the line of succession to the former Russian throne.

His great-great-great grandfather, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Emich, 3rd Prince of Leiningen, was the elder half-brother of Queen Victoria. Through his father, he is also a direct descendant (specifically a great-great-great-grandson) of Queen Victoria, through her granddaughter, Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh, whose second husband was Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich. Because of this, he is in the line of succession to the British Throne.He married Princess Alexandra of Hanover on 5 October 1981. They have three children:

Ferdinand, Hereditary Prince of Leiningen (b. 8 August 1982), who married Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia (b. 1982) on 29 April 2017 (civil) and later on 16 September 2017 (religious).

Princess Olga of Leiningen (b. 23 October 1984).

Prince Hermann of Leiningen (b. 13 September 1987), who married Isabelle Heubach (b. 1989) on 25 March 2017 (civil) and later on 1 July 2017 (religious).

Assassination of Alexander II of Russia

The assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia took place on March 13, 1881 (Old Style: March 1, 1881), in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Alexander was killed while traveling to Mikhailovsky Manège in a closed carriage after one assassin threw a bomb which damaged the carriage, prompting Alexander to dismount, at which point a second assassin threw a bomb that landed at the Tsar's feet.

Alexander II had previously survived several attempts on his life. The assassination is considered to be one of the earliest modern terrorist incidents.

Bulgarian Volunteer Corps

Opalchentsi (Bulgarian: опълченци) were Bulgarian voluntary army units, who took part in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The people in these units were called opalchenets-pobornik (опълченец-поборник) roughly meaning "folk-" or "regiment-combatant" .

The Bulgarian voluntary army units for the Russo-Turkish War were gathered after the manifesto of Alexander II of Russia, announcing the War. The meeting point of the Bulgarian volunteers in Russia was the city of Samara. The Bulgarian Opalchentsi were given the Samara flag bearing the images of the Holy Mother and Saints Cyril and Methodius (the flag is kept in the National Museum of Military History in Sofia). The Opalchentsi took an active part in the Second and Fourth Battle of Shipka Pass and after the end of the war went on to form Bulgaria's army.

Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna of Russia

Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna of Russia (30 August 1842 – 10 July 1849) was the eldest child and first daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and his first wife Marie of Hesse and by Rhine. She died from infant meningitis at the age of six and a half.

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia (Russian: Мари́я Влади́мировна Рома́нова; born 23 December 1953 in Madrid) has been a claimant to the headship of the Imperial Family of Russia (who reigned as Emperors and Autocrats of All the Russias from 1613 to 1917) since 1992. Although she has used Grand Duchess of Russia as her title of pretence with the style Imperial Highness throughout her life, her right to do so is disputed. She is a great-great-granddaughter in the male line of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.

Hôtel d'Estrées

The Hôtel d'Estrées is a hôtel particulier, a type of large townhouse of France, at 79 rue de Grenelle in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. It is the residence of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France. It was designed by Robert de Cotte, architect of King Louis XIV, and built between 1711 and 1713 for Madeleine-Diane de Bautru de Vaubrun, the Duchesse d'Estrées (1668-1753). After belonging to several owners, it was purchased by the Russian government in 1863 and became the Russian Embassy. Both Czar Alexander II of Russia and his grandson, Nicholas II, stayed in the residence when they visited Paris. In 1977 the Russian Embassy was moved to another building, and the Hotel became the residence of the Ambassador. It is now classified as a historic monument of France.

Islossningen i Uleå älv

Islossningen i Uleå älv (The Breaking of the Ice on the River Oulu), Op. 30, is a composition by Jean Sibelius, an "improvisation for narrator, men's chorus and orchestra". Sibelius composed it in 1899 on a poem by Zachris Topelius, a Swedish-language Finnish poet, who had dedicated it to Tsar Alexander II of Russia, thus escaping censorship. The piece was an "explicit protest composition" against a Russia restricting the autonomy of the Grand Duchy of Finland. Sibelius wrote it for a lottery of the Savonian-Karelian Students' Association, where he conducted the first performance on 21 October 1899.

List of ambassadors of Russia to China

The Russian ambassador in Beijing is the official representative of the government in Moscow to the government of China.

Magnificent Sinner

Magnificent Sinner (original French title: Katia) is a 1959 French film by director Robert Siodmak about the romance between Tsar Alexander II of Russia and the then-schoolgirl Catherine Dolgorukov, who later became his mistress and finally his morganatic wife. It stars Romy Schneider as Katia, a schoolgirl who becomes the Tsar's mistress and Curd Jürgens as Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The film, originally released as Katia, was a remake of a 1938 French film of the same name, which starred Danielle Darrieux.

Maria of Russia

Maria of Russia may refer to:

Maria of Borovsk (1418-1484), wife of Vasily II of Moscow and mother of Ivan III of Russia

Maria of Tver (1442-1467), first wife of Ivan III of Russia and mother of Ivan the Young

Maria Vladimirovna of Staritsa (1560-1610), cousin of Ivan IV of Russia; wife of Magnus, King of Livonia, and was the last known descendant of Zoe PalaiologinaEmpress Maria of Russia:

Maria Temryukovna (1544–1569), second wife of Ivan IV of Russia

Maria Dolgorukaya (died 1580), seventh wife of Ivan IV of Russia

Maria Nagaya (died 1608), eighth wife of Ivan IV of Russia

Maria Grigorievna Skuratova-Belskaya (died 1605), wife of Boris Godunov

Maria Buynosova-Rostovskaya (d. 1626), second wife of Vasili IV of Russia

Maria Dolgorukova (1601–1625), first wife of Michael I of Russia

Maria Miloslavskaya (1625–1669), first wife of Alexis I of Russia

Maria Feodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg) (1759–1828), wife of Paul I of Russia

Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse) (1824–1880), wife of Alexander II of Russia

Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) (1759–1828), wife of Alexander III of RussiaGrand Duchess Maria of Russia:

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1786–1859), daughter of Paul I of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (1799–1800), daughter of Alexander I of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (1819–1876), daughter of Nicholas I of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Mikhailovna of Russia (1825–1846), daughter of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (1853–1920), daughter of Alexander II of Russia

Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1854–1920), wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia as Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, called "the Elder"

Princess Maria of Greece and Denmark (1876–1940), wife of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia as Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1890–1958), daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, called "the Younger"

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (1899–1918), daughter of Nicholas II of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Russia (1907–1951), daughter of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia

Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia (born 1953), great-granddaughter of Alexander II of Russia, pretender to the title Empress of Russia

Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky

Mikhail Osipovich Dolivo-Dobrovolsky (Russian: Михаи́л О́сипович Доли́во-Доброво́льский; German: Michail von Dolivo-Dobrowolsky or Michail Ossipowitsch Doliwo-Dobrowolski; Polish: Michał Doliwo-Dobrowolski; 2 January [O.S. 21 December 1861] 1862 – 15 November [O.S. 3 November] 1919) was a Polish engineer, electrician, and inventor.

He was born in Gatchina near Saint Petersburg, into a family of mixed origins, through the connection between a Polish noble family originating from Mazowsze and a Russian noble family. He emigrated to Germany because of the political persecution of Poles after the assassination of Alexander II of Russia (1881). He studied at the Darmstadt University of Technology (TH Darmstadt) in Germany. From 1887 he worked for AEG.

One of the founders (the others were Nikola Tesla, Galileo Ferraris and Jonas Wenström) of polyphase electrical systems, he developed the three-phase electrical generator and a three-phase electrical motor (1888) and studied star and delta connections. The triumph of the three-phase system was displayed in Europe at the International Electro-Technical Exhibition of 1891, where Dolivo-Dobrovolsky used this system to transmit electric power at the distance of 176 km with 75% efficiency. In 1891 he also created a three-phase transformer and short-circuited (squirrel-cage) induction motor.He designed the world's first three-phase hydroelectric power plant in 1891. During his life he obtained over 60 patents.

In 1911 he received an honorary doctorate from the TH Darmstadt. He died in Heidelberg, Germany, aged 57.

Mikhail Lavrov

Mikhail Andrianovich Lavrov (Russian: Лавров, Михаил Андрианович) (1799–1882) was a Russian rear-admiral and Arctic explorer.

Mikhail Lavrov was born on 13 September 1799 in the city of Arkhangelsk. He graduated from Cadets Corps in Saint Petersburg and served at the Baltic Fleet. He participated in the voyage of the cargo ship Mezen from Kronstadt to Arkhangelsk and back in 1819–1820. In 1821–1824, in the rank of senior officer, he participated in the expedition of Fyodor Litke on board of the brig Novaya Zemlya, making description of coast line of Murmansk and Novaya Zemlya archipelago. In 1825–1827, he made a round-the-world voyage on board sloop Krotkiy with Admiral Ferdinand Wrangel, visiting Kamchatka and Russian America. In 1831–1834, Lavrov served in the rank of lieutenant commander in the Mediterranean and Adriatic, participated in a battle against pirate ships, sinking four of them, and was therefore promoted to the rank of commander. In 1833, he was awarded with an Order of St. George of the 4th degree for immaculate service in the officer rank in 18 six-month campaigns.

In 1846, during exercises in the Baltic Sea on board battleship Gangut, Captain Lavrov refused to obey an admiral's order and was to reduced to the rank of sailor by Tsar Nicholas I. In 1850 he was given back his captain's rank and resigned. Alexander II of Russia gave Mikhail Lavrov the opportunity to serve again in the Russian Navy in 1855, and he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral for the feat of arms.

In 1857–1864, Mikhail Lavrov was governor of the city of Taganrog, where he initiated opening the steamboat line Taganrog–Constantinople.

In 1872, Lavrov was promoted to the admiral's rank and served at the reserve fleet.

A cape to the south of Melkiy Bay in the Arctic, an island the Vladivostok Bay and another island off the NE shores of Bolshevik Island in Severnaya Zemlya were named after Admiral Lavrov.

Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, VA, CI, (Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria; 1 September 1878 – 16 April 1942), was the fourth child and third daughter of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom as well as of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.

Sofiya Perovskaya (film)

Sofiya Perovskaya (Russian: Софья Перовская) is a 1967 Soviet biopic film directed by Lev Arnshtam. The film is based on the life of Sofiya Perovskaya, member of Narodnaya Volya, executed for taking part in planning the successful assassination of Alexander II of Russia.

Stephen the Great Monument

The Stephen the Great Monument (Romanian: Monumentul lui Ştefan cel Mare) is a prominent monument in Chişinău, Moldova.

The monument to Stephen the Great was designed by architect Alexandru Plămădeală in 1923. It was erected near the main entrance of the Stephen the Great Park in Central Chişinău. The monument was completed in 1927 and opened on 29 April 1928 (to replace the monument to Alexander II of Russia, destroyed by the Romanian authorities in 1918). The total cost of the monument was 4.000.000 lei.

A few days before the 1940 Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, the monument was relocated to Vaslui, and its pedestal was blown up. On August 25, 1942, the monument was returned to Chişinău and taken back to Romania in 1944. In 1945, the Soviet authorities ordered the restoration of the monument to Chişinău.

On 31 August 1989 the monument to Stephen the Great was returned to its original location, chosen by Alexandru Plămădeală in the 1920s. The initial inscriptions were restored. Flower-laying ceremonies are regularly performed at the pedestal of this monument on each national holiday and on days of official top and high level visits.

Territorial evolution of Russia

Territorial changes of Russia happened by means of military conquest and by ideological and political unions in the course of over five centuries (1533-today).


A zemstvo (Russian: земство, IPA: [ˈzʲɛmstvə], plural zemstva – Russian: земства) was an institution of local government set up during the great emancipation reform of 1861 carried out in Imperial Russia by Emperor Alexander II of Russia. Nikolay Milyutin elaborated the idea of the zemstva, and the first zemstvo laws went into effect in 1864. After the October Revolution the zemstvo system was shut down by the Bolsheviks and replaced with a multilevel system of workers' and peasants' councils ("soviets").

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.