The 19th century for Russia started from the coup d'etat. On March
11, 1801 Emperor Paul I was killed in his residence, Michael's Palace,
by a group of conspirators. His son, a 24-years old Alexander I
(1801-1825) ascended the throne. The young Emperor proclaimed liberal
ideas cultivated by his teachers-republicans which enabled his subjects
to expect from this enlightened ruler to establish the life in the
country in the most reasonable way. These intensions were not to
be realized as ambitions of another European polititian, Napoleon,
plunged the continent into war. It was only the Russian army that
could resist the onslaught of the army of Napoleon. Brilliant victory
of Russia brought glory both to the state and`the monarch. In November
1825 Alexander I died in Taganrog.
On December 14, 1825 on the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg the
army was supposed to swear allegiance to the new Emperor Nikolai
Pavlovich. He was ascending the throne instead of his elder brother
Konstantin who abdicated in favour of Nikolai because preferred
to marry for love to the throne. The young generation of Russian
nobility took with enthusiasm the victory over Napoleonic France
and having acquainted with the spirit of freedom in Europe were
striving to establish the new ways in Russia by means of the uprising.
The “Decembrists” uprising was severely suppressed by Nicholas I
(1825-1855) who ruled with an “iron hand” and oppressed any kind
of dissidents. The period of his reign was completed with an ignominious
Crimean war that demonstrated so many faults in the military and
civil policies of this Emperor.
Alexander II Nikolaevich (1855-1881) came into history as a reformer.
He liberated Russian peasantry and opened with his reforms a new
epoch of Russian history. Freedom of thoughts stirred up by this
reforming gave rise to an extremism and the tsar-liberator became
its victim. He was killed by the terrorists on March 1, 1881. In
his personal sympathies Alexander III (1881-1894) “took after his
gandfather Nicholas I”, as one contemporary put it. “From his early
childhood Alexander thought that too fast evolution of political
establishments could be dangerous for the country”. After the tragic
death of his father he strived to strengthen autocracy in coordination
with liberal reforms of Alexander II.
“Nicholas II had no vice, but he possessed the defect that was the
worst for a monarch, he was devoid of personality” wrote Maurice
Paleolog, the French ambassador in Russia. The most dramatic events
of the turn of the centuries - a war and revolutions - fell to the
lot of this delicate and soft-hearted man, an irreproachable father
and husband but irresolute polititian. The execution of Nicholas
II and his family in 1918 put an end to the 300 years of the reign
of the Romanovs dynasty.