List of Russian rulers
At different times, a ruler in Ruthenia/ Kievan Rus’/ Muscovy/early Russia/ Imperial Russia beared the title of Kniaz (translated as Duke or Prince), Velikiy Kniaz(translated as Grand Duke, Grand Prince or Great Prince), Tsar, Emperor.
The Patriarchs, heads of the Russian Orthodox Church, also sometimes acted as the leaders of Russia — as, for example, during the Polish occupation and interregnum of 1610— 1613.
- According to the earliest Russian chronicle, a Varangian named Rurik was elected ruler (knyaz) of Novgorod in about 860, before his successors moved south and extended their authority to Kiev, which had been previously dominated by the Khazars. He controlled the trade route for furs, wax, and slaves between Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire along the Volkhov and Dnieper Rivers. Kievan Rus’ is important for its introduction of a Slavic variant of the Eastern Orthodox religion, dramatically deepening a synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next thousand years.
Princes and Grand Princes
o Vsevolod III ( 1176– 1212) – was a Rus’ prince (a member of the Rurik dynasty). He was prince of Ropesk (c. 1146–1166), of Starodub (1166–1176), and of Chernigov (1176–1198). When he became monk before his death, he took the name Vasily.
o Yuri II ( 1212– 1216) – He first distinguished himself in the battles against Ryazan in 1208. During his reign in Vladimir, Yuri waged several wars against Volga Bulgaria and founded the fortress of Nizhny Novgorod on the Volga River to secure the area from Bulgarian attacks. He installed his younger brother Yaroslav in Novgorod. When the Mongols first approached Russia in 1223, he sent a small unit against them, but it arrived too late to take part in the disastrous Battle of the Kalka River.
o Konstantin ( 1216– 1218) – his father sent him to rule the towns of Rostov and Yaroslavl. In consequence of one domestic squabble, Vsevolod disinherited Konstantin on his deathbed and bequeathed his capital Vladimir to a younger son, Yuri II. In the Battle of Lipitsa (1216), Konstantin and his ally Mstislav of Novgorod soundly defeated Yuri and occupied Vladimir. Konstanin is also remembered for building the new Assumption Cathedral in Rostov and three brick cathedrals in Yaroslavl.
o Yaroslav II ( 1238– 1246) – displayed an economy and achievements in architecture and literature superior to those that then existed in the western part of the continent. Compared with the languages of European Christendom, the Russian language was little influenced by the Greek and Latin of early Christian writings. This was because Church Slavonic was used directly in liturgy instead.
o Svyatoslav III ( 1246– 1249) – was a Rus’ prince (a member of the Rurik dynasty). His baptismal name was Adrian. He was prince of Peremyshl (1206, 1208–1209, 1210–1211), andof Volodymyr-Volynskyi (1206). In 1184, Igor Svyatoslavich dispatched Svyatoslav to escort Vladimir Yaroslavich (Igor Svyatoslavich’s brother-in-law) home when the latter had reconciled with his father (Svyatoslav’s maternal grandfather), prince Yaroslav Volodimerovich of Halych.
o Andrei II ( 1249– 1252) – was the third son of Yaroslav II who succeeded his uncle Svyatoslav III as the Grand Duke of Vladimir in 1249. Three years later, he challenged the Mongols and was ousted by them from Russia. Upon ascending the golden throne of his fathers, Andrey resolved to assert some independence from the Horde. Andrey is an ancestor of the famous aristocratic dynasty of Suzdal and Nizhny Novgorod princes, which has been known since the fourteenth century as the House of Shuisky.
o Alexander Nevski ( 1252– 1263) – commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nestand rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while employing collaborationist policies towards the powerful Golden Horde. Alexander and his small army suddenly attacked the Swedes on 15 July 1240 and defeated them. The Neva battle of 1240 saved Rus’ from a full-scale enemy invasion from the North. Because of this battle, 19-year-old Alexander was given the sobriquet “Nevsky” (which means of Neva). This victory, coming just three years after the disastrous Mongol invasion of Rus, strengthened Nevsky’s political influence, but at the same time it worsened his relations with the boyars. He would soon have to leave Novgorod because of this conflict.
o Yaroslav III ( 1264– 1271) – was the first Prince of Tver and the tenth Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1264 to 1271. Yaroslav and his son Mikhail Yaroslavich presided over Tver’s transformation from a sleepy village into one of the greatest centres of power in medieval Russia. All the later dukes of Tver descended from Yaroslav Yaroslavich. In 1258 he visited the khan’s capital in Sarai, and two years later led the Novgorod army against the Teutonic Knights.
o Vassili ( 1272– 1277) – as the eldest surviving grandson of Vsevolod III, he succeeded to Vladimir in 1272 and to Novgorod the following year. He was one of the first princes who didn’t bother to leave their own town (i.e., Kostroma) and settle in Vladimir. His descendants continued to rule Kostroma for half a century after his death in January 1276.
o Dimitri I ( 1277– 1281) – ascended the coveted thrones of Vladimir and Novgorod. Two years later, he founded a great fortress of Koporye, which he intended to rule himself. The Novgorodians revolted, forcing Dmitry to leave Koporye and Novgorod altogether.
o Andrei III ( 1281– 1283) –
- ·Daniel ( 1283– 1303) – first prince of Moscow. He is one of the most junior princes in the House of Rurik, Daniel is thought to have been named after his celebrated relative, Daniel of Galicia. Daniel made an alliance with Mikhail of Tver and Ivan of Pereslavl against Andrey of Gorodets of Novgorod. Daniel’s participation in the struggle for Novgorod in 1296 indicated Moscow’s increasing political influence. Daniel has been credited with founding the first Moscow monasteries, dedicated to the Lord’s Epiphany and to Saint Daniel. On the right bank of the Moskva River, at a distance of 5 miles from the Kremlin not later than in 1282 he founded the first monastery with the wooden church of St. Daniel-Stylite. Now it is the Danilov Monastery. At the age of 42 on the 17-th (4-th in old style) of March in 1303 St. Daniel died. Before his death he became a monk and, according to his will, was buried in the cemetery of the St. Daniel Monastery.
o Yuri ( 1303– 1325) – His first important action was to defend Pereslavl-Zalessky against Grand Duke Andrew III. Upon Andrew’s death the next year, Yury had to contend the title of Grand Duke of Vladimir with Mikhail of Tver. While the Tverian army besieged Pereslavl and Moscow itself, Mikhail went to the Golden Horde, where the Khan elevated him to the supreme position among Russian princes.
o Ivan I ( 1325– 1341) – was Prince of Moscow from 1325 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1328. Ivan made Moscow very wealthy by maintaining his loyalty to the Horde (hence, the nickname Kalita, or moneybag). He used this wealth to give loans to neighbouring Russian principalities. These cities gradually fell deeper and deeper into debt, a condition that would allow Ivan’s successors to annex them. The people called Ivan the ‘gatherer of the Russian lands’. He bought lands around Moscow, and very often the poor owners sold their lands willingly.
o Semeon ( 1341– 1353) – continued his father‘s policies of supporting the Golden Horde and acting as its leading enforcer in Russia. Simeon’s rule was marked by regular military and political standoffs against Novgorod Republic and Lithuania. His relationships with neighboring Russian principalities remained peaceful if not passive: Simeon stayed aside from conflicts between subordinate princes. He had recourse to war only when war was unavoidable. A relatively quiet period for Moscow was ended by theBlack Death that claimed the lives of Simeon and his sons in 1353.
o Ivan II ( 1353– 1359) – was the Grand Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince ofVladimir in 1353. Until that date, he had ruled the towns of Ruza and Zvenigorod. He was the second son of Ivan Kalita, and succeeded his brother Simeon the Proud, who died of the Black Death. Ivan briefly toyed with the idea of abandoning traditional Moscow allegiance to the Mongols and allying himself with Lithuania, a growing power in the west. This policy was quickly abandoned and Ivan asserted his allegiance to the Golden Horde
o Dimitri ( 1359– 1389) – sometimes referred to as Dmitry I (12 October 1350, Moscow – 19 May 1389, Moscow), son of Ivan II the Meek of Moscow (1326 – 1359), reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimirfrom 1363 to his death. He was the first prince of Moscow to openly challenge Mongol authority in Russia. His nickname, Donskoy (i.e., “of the Don“), alludes to his great victory against the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380) which took place on the Don River. He is venerated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church with his feast day on May 19.
o Vasili II ( 1425– 1462) – was the Grand Prince of Moscowwhose long reign (1425–1462) was plagued by the greatest civil war of Old Russian history. Vasily eliminated almost all of the small appanages in Moscow principality, so as to strengthen his sovereign authority. His military campaigns of 1441-60 increased Moscow’s hold over Suzdal, the Vyatka lands and the republican governments of Novgorod and Pskov.
o Ivan III (Ivan the Great) ( 1462– 1505) – also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and “Grand Prince of all Rus” (Великий князь всея Руси). Sometimes referred to as the “gatherer of the Russian lands”, he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde over the Rus, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, and laid the foundations of the Russian state. He was one of the longest-reigning Russian rulers in history.
- ·Vasili III ( 1505– 1533) – was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil (Гавриил). Vasili III continued the policies of his father Ivan III and spent most of his reign consolidating Ivan’s gains. Vasili annexed the last surviving autonomous provinces: Pskovin 1510, appanage of Volokolamsk in 1513, principalities of Ryazan in 1521 and Novgorod-Seversky in 1522. Vasili also took advantage of the difficult position of Sigismund of Poland to capture Smolensk, the great eastern fortress of Lithuania (siege started 1512, ended in 1514), chiefly through the aid of the rebel Lithuanian, Prince Mikhail Hlinski, who provided him with artillery and engineers. The loss of Smolensk was an important injury inflicted by Russia on Lithuania in the course of the Russo-Lithuanian Wars and only the exigencies of Sigismund compelled him to acquiesce in its surrender (1522). In his internal policy, Vasili III enjoyed the support of the Church in his struggle with the feudal opposition. In 1521, metropolitan Varlaam was banished for refusing to participate in Vasili’s fight against an appanage prince Vasili Ivanovich Shemyachich. Rurikid princes Vasili Shuisky and Ivan Vorotynsky were also sent into exile. Thediplomat and statesman, Ivan Bersen-Beklemishev, was executed in 1525 for criticizing Vasili’s policies. Maximus the Greek (publicist), Vassian Patrikeyev (statesman) and others were sentenced for the same reason in 1525 and 1531. During the reign of Vasili III, the gentry‘s landownership increased; authorities were actively trying to limit immunities and privileges of boyars and nobility.
Tsars of All Russia, 1547-1721
- ·Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) ( 1547– 1584) – known in English as Ivan the Terrible (Russian: Ива́н Гро́зный (help·info), Ivan Grozny; lit. Fearsome), was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 (1,562,500 sq mi). Ivan managed countless changes in the progression from a medieval state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first ruler to be crowned as Tsar of All Russia. Historic sources present disparate accounts of Ivan’s complex personality: he was described as intelligent and devout, yet given to rages and prone to episodic outbreaks of mental illness. One notable outburst may have resulted in the death of his groomed and chosen heir Ivan Ivanovich, which led to the passing of the Tsardom to the younger son: the weak and possibly intellectually disabled Feodor I of Russia. His contemporaries called him “Ivan Groznyi” the name, which, although usually translated as “Terrible”, actually means something closer to “Redoubtable” or “Severe” and carries connotations of might, power and strictness rather than horror or cruelty.
o Simeon Bekbulatovich ( 1574– 1576) (fake tsar set by Ivan IV)
o Feodor I ( 1584– 1598) -the last of the Riurikovich Czars, Feodor was born mentally disabled and was nothing more than a figurehead during his reign. He inherited a land devastated by the excesses of his father Ivan the Terrible and Russia further declined under his reign. His failure to procreate brought an end to the centuries old dynasty and led Russia into the Time of Troubles. He is known as Feodor the Bellringer because of his inclination to travel the land and ring the bells at churches.
o Boris Godunov ( 1598– 1605) – was de facto regent of Russia from c. 1585 to 1598 and then the first non-Rurikid tsar from 1598 to 1605. The end of his reign saw Russia descend into the Time of Troubles. Boris Godunov was the most noted member of an ancient, now extinct, Russian family of Tatar origin, which came from the Horde to Kostroma in the early 14th century. He was descended from the Tatarian Prince Chet, who went from the Golden Horde to Russia and founded the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma.
o Feodor II ( 1605) – was a tsar of Russia (1605) during the Time of Troubles. He was born in Moscow, the son and successor to Boris Godunov. His mother Maria Grigorievna Skuratova-Belskaya was one of the daughters of Malyuta Skuratov, the infamous favourite of Ivan the Terrible. Physically robust and passionately beloved by his father, he received the best education available at that time, and from childhood was initiated into all the minutiae of government, besides sitting regularly in the council and receiving the foreignenvoys. He seems also to have been remarkably and precociously intelligent, creating a map of Russia, which is still preserved
- ·False Dmitri I ( 1605– 1606) – was the Tsar of Russia from 21 July 1605 until his death on 17 May 1606 under the name of Dimitriy Ioannovich (Cyrillic Димитрий Иоаннович). He is sometimes referred to under the usurped title of Dmitriy II. He was one of three impostors who claimed during the Time of Troubles to be the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible, tsarevitch Dmitriy Ivanovich, who had supposedly escaped a 1591 assassination attempt. It is generally believed that the real Dmitriy was assassinated in Uglich and that this False Dmitriy’s real name was Grigory Otrepyev, although this is far from certain. Dmitriy planned to introduce a series of political and economical reforms. He restored Yuri’s Day, the day when serfs were allowed to move to another lord, to ease the conditions of peasantry. In foreign policies, Dmitriy sought for an alliance with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Roman Pope. He planned a war against the Ottoman Empire and ordered the mass production of firearms. In his correspondence he referred to himself as “Emperor of Russia“, a century before Peter I, though this title wasn’t recognized at the time.
o Vasili IV ( 1606– 1610) – was Tsar of Russia between 1606 and 1610 after the murder of False Dmitriy I. His reign fell during the Time of Troubles. It was he who, in obedience to the secret orders of Tsar Boris, went to Uglich to inquire into the cause of the death of the Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son ofIvan the Terrible, who had perished there in mysterious circumstances. Shuisky reported that it was a case of suicide, though rumors abounded that the Tsarevich had been assassinated on the orders of the regent Boris Godunov.
- ·Ladislaus IV of Poland( 1610– 1613, 1634 he officially ended his claims) – was a Polish and Swedish prince from the House of Vasa. He reigned as King of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 8 November 1632 to his death in 1648. Władysław IV was the son of Sigismund III Vasa (Polish: Zygmunt III Waza) and his wife, Anna of Austria (also known as Anna of Habsburg). In 1610 the teen-aged Władysław was elected tsar of Russia by the Seven Boyars, but did not assume the Russian throne due to his father’s opposition and a popular uprising in Russia. Nevertheless, until 1634 he used the title of Grand Duke of Muscovy. Władysław sounded the waters regarding the possibility of peaceful succession to the Swedish throne, following the recent deeath of Gustavus Augustus, but this, as well as his proposal to mediate between Sweden and its enemies, was rejected, primarily by the Swedish chancellor and head of the regency council, Axel Oxenstierna. Władysław IV owed nominal allegiance to the Imperial Habsburgs as a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. His relation with the Habsburgs was relatively strong; although he was not above carrying some negotiations with their enemies, like France, he refused Cardinal Richelieu‘s 1635 proposal of an alliance and a full-out war against them, despite potential lure of territorial gains in Silesia. He realized that such a move would cause much unrest in a heavily Catholic Commonwealth, that he likely lacked the authority and power to push such a change of policy through the Sejm, and that the resulting conflict would be very difficult. From 1636 onward, for the next few years, Władysław strengthened his ties with the Habsburgs.
o Michael I ( 1613– 1645) – first of the Romanovs: elected Tsar following the Time of Troubles – he son of the important boyar Fedor Nikitich Romanov, whom Boris Godunov exiled in 1600, Michael was only sixteen when the Assembly of the Land chose him as tsar on 21 February 1613. Michael, as grandson of the brother of Ivan the Terrible’s first wife, had a tenuous link to the older dynasty, but he was primarily the choice of the boyar clans still in Moscow, the church, the Cossacks, and the townspeople. The last decade of the reign saw a fundamental change in Russian policy. The primary effort went toward a rapprochement with Poland, and as a corollary, a similar approach was taken toward Denmark.
- ·Aleksey I ( 1645– 1676)- He was committed to the care of the boyar Boris Morozov, a shrewd and sensible guardian sufficiently enlightened to recognize the needs of his country, and by no means inaccessible to Western ideas. Morozov’s foreign policy was pacificatory. He secured a truce with Poland and carefully avoided complications with the Ottoman Empire. His domestic policy was scrupulously fair and aimed at relieving the public burdens by limiting the privileges of foreign traders and abolishing a great many useless and expensive court offices.
o Feodor III ( 1676– 1682) – yodor was born in Moscow, the eldest surviving son of Tsar Alexis and Maria Miloslavskaya. In 1676, at the age of fifteen, he succeeded his father on the throne. He was endowed with a fine intellect and a noble disposition; he had received an excellent education at the hands of Simeon Polotsky, the most learned Slavonic monk of the day, knew Polish, and even possessed the unusual accomplishment of Latin; but, horribly disfigured and half paralyzed by a mysterious disease, supposed to bescurvy, he had been a hopeless invalid from the day of his birth. He spent most of the time with young nobles, Yazykov and Likhachov, who would later introduce the Russian court to Polish ceremonies, dress, and language
o Ivan V ( 1682– 1696) (joint ruler with Peter I) – He was the youngest son of Alexis I of Russia and Maria Miloslavskaya. His reign was only formal, since he had serious physical and mental disabilities. He sat still for hours at a time and needed assistance in order to walk. Ivan V was the 11th child of Tsar Alexis. As he was eye-sore and infirm, his capacity for supreme power was challenged by the party of the Naryshkins, who aspired to bring Natalia Naryshkina‘s son, Peter I, to the throne. During the last decade of his life, Ivan was completely overshadowed by the more energetic Peter I.
- ·Peter I ( 1682– 1721) (joint ruler with Ivan V) – Peter implemented sweeping reforms aimed at modernizing Russia. Heavily influenced by his advisors from Western Europe, Peter reorganized the Russian army along modern lines and dreamed of making Russia a maritime power. He faced much opposition to these policies at home, but brutally suppressed any and all rebellions against his authority: Streltsy, Bashkirs, Astrakhan, and the greatest civil uprising of his reign, the Bulavin Rebellion. Peter implemented social modernization in an absolute manner by requiring courtiers, state officials, and the military to shave their beards and adopt modern clothing styles. To improve his nation’s position on the seas, Peter sought to gain more maritime outlets
Emperors of All Russia, 1721-1917
o Catherine I ( 1725– 1727) – the second wife of Peter the Great, reigned as Empress of Russia from 1725 until her death. As a person she was very energetic, compassionate, charming and always cheerful. She was able to calm Peter in his frequent rages and was called in to attend him during his epileptic seizures.
o Peter II ( 1727– 1730) – was an unbalanced, inconstant boy; he didn’t show the interest to anything, except hunting, and seemed to be perfect for manipulating by ingenious favourite. First time after Peter’s II enthroningthings went according to Menshikov’s plan: he managed to keep Tsar-boy under his control, made him and his daughter Maria engaged, obtained new privileges, among which there was a title ofGeneralissimos, appropriate only for members of the royal family.
- ·Anne ( 1730– 1740) – or Anna Ivanovna Romanov reigned as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740. Anna married Frederick William, Duke of Courland in November 1710, but on the return trip from Saint Petersburg in January 1711 her husband died. Annacontinued ruling as duchess of Courland (now southern Latvia) from 1711 to 1730.. She established herself as an autocratic ruler, using her popularity with the imperial guards and lesser nobility. As one of her first acts to consolidate this power she restored the security police, which she used to intimidate and terrorize those who opposed her and her policies.
o Ivan VI ( 1740– 1741) – was proclaimed Emperor of Russia in 1740, as an infant, although he never actually reigned. Within less than a year, he was overthrown by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, Peter the Great‘s daughter. Ivan spent the rest of his life as a prisoner and was killed by his guards during an attempt made to free him.
o Elizabeth ( 1741– 1762) – also known asYelisavet and Elizabeth, was the Empress of Russia from 1741 until her death. She led the country to victory in the War of Austrian Succession (1740–8) and brought it into the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). On the eve of her death, Russia spanned almost 4,000,000,000 acres (16,000,000 km2). Her domestic policies allowed the nobles to gain dominance in local government while shortening their terms of service to the state. She encouraged Mikhail Lomonosov‘s establishment of the University of Moscow and Ivan Shuvalov foundation of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. She also spent exorbitant sums of money on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. The Winter Palace and theSmolny Cathedral in Saint Petersburg remain the chief monuments of her reign. She remains one of the most popular Russian monarchs due to her strong opposition toPrussian policies and her abstinence from executing a single person during her reign.
- ·Peter III ( 1762) – was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne asCatherine II. After Peter gained the throne in 1762, he withdrew from the Seven Years’ War and made peace with Prussia (the “Miracle of the House of Brandenburg“). He gave up Russian conquests in Prussia and offered 12,000 troops to make an alliance with Frederick II, which relieved Russia financially. Russia was switched from an enemy of Prussia to an ally — Russian troops were withdrawn from Berlin and sent against the Austrians. This dramatically shifted the balance of power in Europe — suddenly handing Frederick the initiative, who recaptured southern Silesia and forced Austria to the negotiating table. Being a Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, Peter planned war against Denmark in order to restore Schleswig to his Duchy. He focused on making alliances with Sweden and England to ensure that they would not interfere on Denmark’s behalf, while forces were concentrated at Kolberg in Russian occupied Pomerania.
o Catherine II ( 1762– 1796) – called the Mennonites as competent colonists (see Chortitza) into her recently acquired lands in the Ukraine. On 22 July 1763 she issued a manifesto guaranteeing to all German immigrants, regardless of creed, freedom of speech, schools, and religion; autonomous government of villages, communities, and colonist areas; and, above all, freedom from military service. By means of a special document signed by George von Trappe she invited the Mennonites in West Prussia to immigrate to Russia, promising them complete freedom “for all time,” and 65 dessiatines (ca. 165 acres) of land for each family. On 7 August 1786 the document was read aloud at a public meeting at Danzig. In autumn of the same year Jakob Höppner and Johann Bartsch went to Russia as deputies of the Prussian Mennonites. They were ceremoniously received by the empress, who was on her journey to Taurida, and “out of special grace and favor” they had to accompany her to the Crimea. The empress remained friendly to the Mennonites throughout her life.
o Paul ( 1796– 1801) – was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta (de facto). The popular view of Paul I has long been that he was mad, had a mistress, and accepted the office of Grand Master of the Order of St John, which furthered his delusions. These eccentricities and his unpredictability in other areas naturally led, this view goes, to his assassination. This portrait of Paul was promoted by his assassins and their supporters. There is some evidence that Paul I was venerated as a saint among the Russian Orthodox populace, even though he was never officially canonized by any of the Orthodox Churches.
o Alexander I ( 1801– 1825) – served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania. He succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered, and ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first half of his reign Alexander tried to introduce liberal reforms, while in the second half he turned to a much more arbitrary manner of conduct, which led to the revoking of many early reforms. In foreign policy Alexander gained certain successes, mainly by his diplomatic skills and winning of several military campaigns. In particular under his rule Russia acquired Finland and part of Poland. His sudden death in Taganrog, under allegedly suspicious circumstances, caused the spread of the rumors that Alexander in fact did not die in 1825, but chose to “disappear” and to live the rest of his life in anonymity.
o Nicholas I ( 1825– 1855) – was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers (7.7 million square miles). In his capacity as the emperor he was also the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland. There have been many damning verdicts on Nicholas’ rule and legacy. At the end of his life, one of his most devoted civil servants, A.V. Nikitenko, opined that, “The main failing of the reign of Nicholas Pavlovich was that it was all a mistake.” However, from time to time, some efforts are made to revive Nicholas’ reputation. He believed, it is said, in his own oath and in respecting other people’s rights as well as his own; witness Poland before 1831 and Hungary in 1849. It is also said that he hated serfdom at heart and would have liked to destroy it, as well as detesting the tyranny of the Baltic squires over their “emancipated” peasantry. Shortly before his death he made his son Alexander II promise to abolish serfdom.
o Alexander II ( 1855– 1881) – also known as Alexander the Liberator (Russian: Александр Освободитель, Aleksandr Osvoboditel’) was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until hisassassination in 1881. He was also the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland. 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.
o Alexander III ( 1881– 1894) – also known as Alexander the Peacemaker (Russian: Александр Миротворец, Aleksandr Mirotvorets) reigned as Emperor of Russia from 13 March 1881 until his death in 1894. In foreign affairs Alexander was emphatically a man of peace, but not at all a partisan of the doctrine of peace at any price, and he followed the principle that the best means of averting war is to be well prepared for it. Though indignant at the conduct of Prince Bismarck towards Russia, he avoided an open rupture with Germany, and even revived for a time the Three Emperors’ Alliance.
- ·Nicholas II ( 1894– 1917) – is official title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church. Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until his abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw Imperial Russia go from being one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse. Critics nicknamed him Bloody Nicholas because of the Khodynka Tragedy, Bloody Sunday, the anti-Semitic pogroms, his execution of political opponents, and his pursuit of military campaigns on a hitherto unprecedented scale. Under his rule, Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War, including the almost total annihilation of the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tsushima. As head of state, he approved the Russian mobilization of August 1914, which marked the beginning of Russia’s involvement in World War I, a war in which 3.3 million Russians would be killed. The unpopularity of the Russian involvement in this war is often cited as a leading cause of the fall of the Romanov dynasty less than three years later.
o Michael II ( 1917), he refused to become emperor, see Tsar article – was the son of Tsar Alexander III of Russia, and brother of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. When Nicholas II abdicated the imperial crown on March 15, 1917, he did so in both his own name and in the name of his son, and named Michael as the next Tsar — the dynasty that began on February 7, 1613 with Michael Fedorovitch would now end on March 16, 1917 with Michael Alexandrovitch and his own abdication. Though history sometimes refers to Michael as Michael II, in reality he never reigned. Historians differ as to whether to view Michael as the last Tsar. They universally accept Nicholas II as the last effective Tsar.
o Cyril Romanov – was a member of the Russian Imperial Family. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the deaths of Tsar Nicholas II and his brother Michael, Cyril assumed the Headship of the Imperial Family of Russia and later the title Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias. After graduating from the Sea Cadet Corps and Nikolaev Naval Academy, on January 1, 1904, Cyril was promoted to Chief of Staff to the Russian Pacific Fleet in theImperial Russian Navy. With the start of the Russo-Japanese War, he was assigned to serve as First Officer on the battleship Petropavlovsk, the ship was blown up by a Japanese mine at Port Arthur in April 1904. Cyril barely escaped with his life, and was invalided out of the service suffering from burns, back injuries and shell shock.