|Emperor of All Russia|
|Reign||2 March 1855 –13 March 1881|
|Coronation||7 September 1856|
|Born||29 April 1818|
Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, Moscow Governorate, Russian Empire
|Died||13 March 1881 62) (aged|
Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
Peter and Paul Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Father||Nicholas I of Russia|
|Mother||Charlotte of Prussia|
Alexander II (Russian :Алекса́ндр II Никола́евич, tr. Aleksandr II Nikolayevich,IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ftɐˈroj nʲɪkɐˈlajɪvʲɪtɕ] ; 29 April 1818 – 13 March 1881) 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.
Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.
Romanization of Russian is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic script into the Latin script.
Grand Duke of Finland or the Grand Prince of Finland, was from around 1580 to 1809 a title in use by most Swedish monarchs. Between 1809 and 1917, it was the official title of the head of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, who was the Emperor of Russia. The anachronistic female form of the title in English is usually Grand Princess of Finland. The only women to have used the title were the Swedish Queens regnant Christina and Ulrika Eleonora. A few crown princes of Sweden also were called Grand Prince of Finland.
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, 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.
The Emancipation Reform of 1861 in Russia, also known as the Emancipation Edict of Russia, was the first and most important of liberal reforms passed during the reign (1855–1881) of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The reform effectively abolished serfdom throughout the Russian Empire.
A zemstvo 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").
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.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.
The Alaska Purchase was the United States' acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire. Alaska was formally transferred to the United States on October 18, 1867, through a treaty ratified by the United States Senate and signed by President Andrew Johnson.
Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was the first President of France from 1848 to 1852, and the last French monarch from 1852 to 1870. First elected president of the French Second Republic in 1848, he seized power in 1851, when he could not constitutionally be re-elected, and became the Emperor of the French. He founded the Second French Empire and was its only emperor until the defeat of the French army and his capture by Prussia and its allies in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He worked to modernize the French economy, rebuilt the center of Paris, expanded the overseas empire, and engaged in the Crimean War and the Second Italian War of Independence.
The League of the Three Emperors or Union of the Three Emperors was an alliance between the German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, from 1873 to 1880. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck took full charge of German foreign policy from 1870 to his dismissal in 1890. His goal was a peaceful Europe, based on the balance of power. Bismarck feared that a hostile combination of Austria, France, and Russia would crush Germany. If two of them were allied, then the third would ally with Germany only if Germany conceded excessive demands. The solution was to ally with two of the three. In 1873 he formed the League of the Three Emperors, an alliance of the Kaiser of Germany, the Tsar of Russia, and the Kaiser of Austria-Hungary. Together they would control Eastern Europe, making sure that restive ethnic groups such as the Poles were kept in control. It aimed at neutralizing the rivalry between Germany’s two neighbors by an agreement over their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans and at isolating Germany’s enemy, France. The Balkans posed a more serious issue, and Bismarck's solution was to give Austria predominance in the western areas, and Russia in the eastern areas.
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[ quantify ] imagined that posterity would know him for implementing the most challenging reforms undertaken in Russia since the reign of Peter the Great.
Nicholas I reigned as Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855. He was also the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He has become best known as a political conservative whose reign was marked by geographical expansion, repression of dissent, economic stagnation, poor administrative policies, a corrupt bureaucracy, and frequent wars that culminated in Russia's defeat in the Crimean War of 1853–56. Nicholas had a happy marriage that produced a large family; all of their seven children survived childhood. His biographer Nicholas V. Riasanovsky says that Nicholas displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier—a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. In his public persona, says Riasanovsky, "Nicholas I came to represent autocracy personified: infinitely majestic, determined and powerful, hard as stone, and relentless as fate." He was the younger brother of his predecessor, Alexander I. Nicholas inherited his brother's throne despite the failed Decembrist revolt against him and went on to become the most reactionary of all Russian leaders.
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He ruled Prussia during the difficult times of the Napoleonic Wars and the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Steering a careful course between France and her enemies, after a major military defeat in 1806, he eventually and reluctantly joined the coalition against Napoleon in the Befreiungskriege. Following Napoleon's defeat, he was King of Prussia during the Congress of Vienna, which assembled to settle the political questions arising from the new, post-Napoleonic order in Europe. He was determined to unify the Protestant churches, to homogenize their liturgy, their organization, and even their architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches in the Prussian Union of Churches.
Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was Queen of Prussia as the wife of King Frederick William III. The couple's happy, though short-lived, marriage produced nine children, including the future monarchs Frederick William IV of Prussia and German Emperor Wilhelm I.
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.
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in a line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person. An heir presumptive, by contrast, is someone who is first in line to inherit a title but who can be displaced by the birth of a more eligible heir.
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.
Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints.
The education of the Tsesarevich as future emperor took place under the supervision of the liberal romantic poet and gifted translator Vasily Zhukovsky,grasping a smattering of a great many subjects and becoming familiar with the chief modern European languages. 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. He also visited many prominent Western European countries in 1838 and 1839. As Tsesarevich, Alexander became the first Romanov heir to visit Siberia (1837). While touring Russia, he also befriended the then exiled poet Alexander Herzen and pardoned him. It was through Herzen's influence that the tsarevich later abolished serfdom in Russia.
Tsesarevich was the title of the heir apparent or presumptive in the Russian Empire. It either preceded or replaced the given name and patronymic.
Vasily Zhukovsky was the foremost Russian poet of the 1810s and a leading figure in Russian literature in the first half of the 19th century. He held a high position at the Romanov court as tutor to the Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna and later to her son, the future Tsar-Liberator Alexander II.
The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at Ottoman expense. It has widely been noted that the causes, in one case involving an argument over a key, have never revealed a "greater confusion of purpose", yet they led to a war noted for its "notoriously incompetent international butchery".
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.In 1847, Alexander donated money to Ireland during the Great Famine.
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.
Boris Chicherin (1828-1904) was a political philosopher who believed that Russia needed a strong, authoritative government by Alexander to make possible his reforms. He praised Alexander for the range of his fundamental reforms, arguing that the tsar was:
Alexander II succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father in 1855. As Crown Prince, he had been in an enthusiastic supporter of his father's reactionary policies. That is, he always obeyed the autocratic ruler. But now he was the autocratic ruler himself, and fully intended to rule according to what he thought best. He rejected any moves to set up a parliamentary system that would curb his powers. 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.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. Bribe-taking, theft and corruption were rampant.
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.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.
The emancipation was not simple 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.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.
A host of new reforms followed in diverse areas.The tsar 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. 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.
Military reforms included universal conscription, introduced for all social classes on 1 January 1874.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. 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. 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.A new penal code and a greatly simplified system of civil and criminal procedure also came into operation. 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 since the time of Grotius to codify and humanise the usages of war.
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.
The Alaska colony was losing money, and would be impossible to defend and wartime against Britain, so in 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million (equivalent to roughly $200 million in current dollars), The Russian administrators, soldiers, settlers, and some of the priests returned home. Others stayed to minister to their native parishioners, who remain members of the Russian Orthodox Church into the 21st century.
Alexander maintained a generally liberal course. 13 March [ O.S. 1 March] 1881, assassins organized by 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.Radicals complained he did not go far enough, and he became a target for numerous assassination plots. He survived attempts that took place in 1866, 1879, and 1880. Finally
An attempted assassination in 1866 started a more reactionary period that lasted until his death.The Tsar made a series of new appointments, replacing liberal ministers with conservatives. 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. 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, this was abandoned.
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!" [ clarification needed ] 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.
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 Finnish markka .Liberation of business led to increased foreign investment and industrial development. Finland also got its first railways, separately established under Finnish administration. 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 Finnish society. Alexander II is still regarded as "The Good Tsar" in Finland.
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.
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.
In April 1876 the Bulgarian population in the Balkans rebelled against Ottoman rule. The Ottoman authorities suppressed the April Uprising, 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 Constantinople Conference was convened[ by whom? ] 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 of a war between Russia and the Ottomans. Alexander II considered such agreements paramount in avoiding the possibility of causing his country a disaster similar to the Crimean War.
The Russian Emperor succeeded in his diplomatic endeavours. Having secured agreement as 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 its supreme commander, King Carol I (then Prince of Romania), who sought to obtain Romanian 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 (June-July 1878) secured the emergence of an independent Bulgarian state for the first time since 1396, and Bulgarian parliamentarians elected the tsar's nephew, Prince Alexander of Battenberg, 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.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.
In April 1866, there was an attempt on the emperor's life in St. Petersburg by Dmitry Karakozov.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.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. [ citation needed ] to Moscow, but they missed the emperor's train.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
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.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." 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.
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.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, 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. 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. 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. 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."
At home, Tsarina Marie Alexandrovna was suffering from tuberculosis and was spending increasing time abroad. In 1866, Alexander II took a mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgorukaya, 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. 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. 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. Alexander also bestowed on Catherine the title of Princess Yurievskaya and legitimized their children.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. 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. Shocked by the loss of support from his daughter, he quietly retreated to Gatchina Palace for military reviews. 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. The tsarina, however, had not much longer to live, dying on
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 Cossacksitting 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,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.
The explosion, while killing one of the Cossacks and seriously wounding the driver and people on the sidewalk,had only damaged the bulletproof carriage, a gift from Napoleon III of France. The emperor emerged shaken but unhurt. 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,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". 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.
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 Palaceto 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. 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."At 3:30 that day, the standard of Alexander II (his personal flag) was lowered for the last time.
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.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." 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.
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.
Finally, the tsar's assassination also inspired anarchists to advocate "'propaganda by deed'—the use of a spectacular act of violence to incite revolution."
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.
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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.[ citation needed ] 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.
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:
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."
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[ which? ] in Russia – as published in the British press of the time – clearly[ original research? ] influenced Wilde.
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."
|Ancestors of Alexander II of Russia|
Alexander II of Russia
|Reference style||His Imperial Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Imperial Majesty|
He was Sovereign of the following orders:
He was bestowed with the following foreign orders:
Alexander III was the Emperor of Russia, King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Finland from 13 March [O.S. 1 March] 1881 until his death on 1 November [O.S. 20 October] 1894. He was highly reactionary and reversed some of the liberal reforms of his father, Alexander II. Under the influence of Konstantin P. Pobedonostsev (1827–1907) he opposed any reform that limited his autocratic rule. During Alexander's reign Russia fought no major wars, and he was therefore styled "The Peacemaker".
The House of Romanov was the reigning royal house of Russia from 1613 to 1917.
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna.
Princess Catherine Dolgorukova, also known as Catherine Dolgorukova, Dolgoruki, or Dolgorukaya, was the daughter of Prince Michael Dolgorukov and Vera Vishnevskaya. She was a long-time mistress of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and later, as his morganatic wife, was given the title of Princess Yurievskaya.
Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia was the fifth child and only surviving daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and his first wife, Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine. She was the younger sister of Alexander III of Russia and the paternal aunt of Russia's last emperor, Nicholas II.
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia was the third son and sixth child of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and Alexandra Feodorovna. He may also be referred to as Nicholas Nikolaevich the Elder to tell him apart from his son. Trained for the military, as a Field Marshal he commanded the Russian army of the Danube in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878.
Maria Alexandrovna, born Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine was Empress of Russia as the first wife of Emperor Alexander II. She was the mother of Emperor Alexander III and paternal grandmother of Nicholas II and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, one of the murderers of Rasputin.
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia was the fifth son and seventh child of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. He was an influential figure during the reigns of his brother Emperor Alexander III of Russia and his nephew Emperor Nicholas II, who was also his brother in law through Sergei's marriage to Elizabeth, the sister of Tsarina Alexandra.
Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia was the sixth son and youngest child of Emperor Alexander II of Russia by his first wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna. He was a brother of Emperor Alexander III and uncle of Nicholas II, Russia's last monarch.
Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia was a son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia, a brother of Emperor Alexander III of Russia and the senior Grand Duke of the House of Romanov during the reign of his nephew, Emperor Nicholas II.
Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna of Russia 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.
Prince Nikita Alexandrovich of Russia was the third son and fourth child of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia. He was a nephew of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Dimitri Romanovich Romanov was a descendant of Russia's former ruling dynasty, a banker, philanthropist, and author. He was also a claimant to the headship of the Imperial House of Russia. At his death, the male line of the Nicholaevich branch of the Romanov family died out.
Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia was the first son and second child of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia. He was also the eldest nephew of Nicholas II of Russia, the last Tsar.
Prince Feodor Alexandrovich of Russia was the second son and third child of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia. He was also a nephew of Nicholas II of Russia, the last Tsar.
Prince Vasili Alexandrovich of Russia was the sixth son and youngest child of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia. He was a nephew of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Prince Dmitri Alexandrovich of Russia was the fourth son and fifth child of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia. He was a nephew of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Princess Xenia Andreevna Romanoff was a direct descendant of the Tsars of Russia. She was a great niece of Nicholas II, the last reigning Russian Emperor.
The assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia took place on March 13, 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.
Prince George Alexandrovich Yuryevsky was the natural son of Alexander II of Russia by his mistress, Catherine Dolgorukov. The morganatic marriage of George's parents on 6 July 1880, eight years after his birth, resulted in the legitimation of their three surviving children, and George gained the style of Serene Highness.
The tsarevich was the first Romanov heir to visit Siberia, where convicts and exiles were sent.
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Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II of Russia
Cadet branch of the House of OldenburgBorn: 29 April 1818 Died: 13 March 1881
| Emperor of Russia |
Grand Duke of Finland
| King of Poland |
Annexation by Russia