The Russia History Collections Part Three

The Russia History


Part Three

Created by


Dr Iwan Suwandy,MHA

Copyright@ 2012






UNTIL 1913.


Based on that collections I am starting to se

SEARCH  more related info, and this era pre and during Wold War I before Russia independent.

I hope all the collectors,scholar and young generation who want tostudy in Russian must read this E-BOOK IN CD-ROM, but I am sorry this is only sample,the complete info with full illustration only for premium member.

This study still not complete ,more info and crorrection comment stil need.

Jakarta April 2012

Dr Iwan suwandy.MHA














Russia: NAGAI TARTARS. Antique print.Bankes.c.1790


Stufa in maiolica, russia, 1790


Three-part bibliotheque

Period : Russia, circa 1790-1800.

Material : mahogany veneer, mahogany burr ; ormolu ; verre églomisé (gilded glass).

Dimensions : 91 ½ in. high ; 93 ½ in. wide ; 19 in. deep


St Petersburg

The Imperial tapestry manufactory in St Petersburg is best known for the tapestries produced during the reigns of Catherine the Great and Paul I.  However tapestry carpets were also produced, some with Imperial marks and dates.  A small group of knotted pile carpets were produced







 House of Romanov



Michael I

Maria Vladimirovna Dolgorukova

one stillborn child

Eudoxia Lukyanovna Streshneva

5 February 1626
ten children



Alexis I the Quietest

Maria Ilyinichna Miloslavskaya
17 January 1648
13 children

Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina
1 February 1671
3 children



Feodor III

Agaphia Simeonovna Grushevskaya
28 July 1680
one son

Marfa Matveievna Apraksina
24 February 1682
no children



Sophia (regent)

unmarried, no children



Ivan V
jointly with Peter I

Praskovia Feodorovna Saltykova
5 daughters



Peter I the Great
jointly with Ivan V 1682–1696

Eudoxia Feodorovna Lopukhina
3 children

Marta Helena Skowrońska
9 children


28 June 1709




28 June 1709

Forces Engaged

Russian: 44,000 men and 100 cannon. Commander: Czar Peter the Great.

Swedish: 17,000 men and 4 cannon. Commander: King Charles XII.


Sweden’s defeat marked their decline and the arrival of Russia as a serious European power.

Historical Setting

Sweden had expanded from a Scandinavian power to a major force in European politics because of the statecraft and military genius of Gustavus Adolphus. He died in 1632 at the battle of Leutzen in the Thirty Years’ War and was succeeded by Charles X. Charles expanded on Gustavus’s strong performance by taking Sweden to its greatest limits and power by 1655. During the First Northern War, Charles defeated Poland and Denmark, but the war ended with his death in 1660. Peace lasted for four decades, until the reign of Charles XII, when Poland began showing its traditional restlessness under foreign dominance. In 1700, Polish King Augustus II organized the Northern Union, made up of Poland, Denmark, and Russia. Russia was the most enthusiastic supporter of the Union, not because it desired Polish liberation but because Czar Peter I wanted his country to supplant Sweden as the dominant Baltic power.

Charles XII was but 18 years of age when he rose to the throne of Sweden in 1700, but he did not lack for military talent. He made the first move of what came to be called the Second, or Great, Northern War by invading Denmark, which he viewed as the weak link in the enemy chain. With Copenhagen threatened, the Danes concluded a quick peace, signing the Treaty of Travedal on 28 August 1700. Although the Danes promised to remain passive and not aid their erstwhile allies, the fact that they possessed a strong fleet worried Charles because it was a potential threat to his lines of communication when he faced Poland and Russia.

Charles quickly turned eastward and landed 8,000 men at Livonia with the intent of relieving the besieged city of Riga, but instead marched on Narva when he learned that the attacking Russian force outnumbered the defenders by a four-to-one margin. The Russians remained unaware of Charles’s approach until he attacked them in a driving snowstorm on 20 November. The Russians were badly beaten, losing 10,000 dead, wounded, or taken prisoner, while another 30,000 fled, abandoning all their artillery and supplies. Charles next marched on Poland, where a 4-year campaign against King Augustus finally ended in Swedish victory with the signing of the Treaty of Altranstadt on 24 September 1706. Poland pledged to remain quiet, accepting Swedish puppet Stanislas Leszczynski in place of King Augustus. Charles spent the winter reorganizing and resupplying for the campaign against Russia the following year.

While Charles was defeating Denmark and Poland, Czar Peter had spent his time reorganizing his own army after the embarrassment at Narva. He also built up his fleet in the Baltic at the same time that he was building his capital at St. Petersburg, at the mouth of the Neva River. By not marching to the aid of his allies, Peter had had the time to significantly upgrade his military strength. He needed it; Charles invaded out of Poland on 1 January 1708 with Moscow as his goal. As is so often the case, the Russians were able to slow the invading army by gradual withdrawals and a scorched-earth policy. Accomplishing the desired goal of depriving Charles and his army of supplies, the Swedish king marched his forces southward to join with his new ally, Ivan Mazepa, hetman of the Cossacks. That move meant that the supply line that Charles wanted to maintain became badly strained, and Peter took advantage of that. He attacked a force under Swedish General Carl Lewenhaupt at Lesnaia on 9 October 1708. Lewenhaupt commanded a force of 11,000 marching to reinforce Charles, but after the defeat at Lesnaia only 6,000 got through, and without artillery or supplies.

The Battle

The winter of 1708–1709 was spent in skirmishes between Peter’s army and the combined Swedish-Cossack force, during which time Charles’s force of 40,000 was cut almost in half because of combat and the severe cold. In the spring of 1709, Charles decided to press on to Moscow, rather than reinforce his army. Along the line of march lay the town of Poltava on the Vorskla River. Charles laid siege to Poltava on 2 May. Peter sent his cavalry commander Menshikov to distract and observe the Swedes, while he both put down a Cossack rising along the Dnieper River and convinced the Turkish government to stay aloof from this struggle. The Turks not only stayed out of it, temporarily at least, but also forbade Crimean Cossacks from aiding the Swedes. With his rear covered, Peter marched on Poltava, arriving in early June. He established a camp on the west bank of the Vorskla, a few miles north of Poltava.

The Russians defending Poltava had held out much longer than Charles had anticipated, and the Swedish king was running low on both food and gunpowder. To make bad matters worse, on 17 June Charles was wounded in the foot, making it impossible for him to lead his troops in battle with his normal energy. With 40,000 Russians now in the neighborhood, he should have lifted the siege and withdrawn to Poland, but instead he decided to fight Peter. When Peter learned of Charles’s wound, he too thought that the time for battle had come. Much closer to Poltava he built a new camp, a fortified square with the east flank on the Vorskla and the south flank along a marshy wood with a stream running through it. That wood and stream separated the Russian camp from Poltava. Peter was sure this new camp would provoke Charles to attack, and he was correct.

Charles’s army began its march to battle at 0300 on 28 June 1709. They had to move west from Poltava and then turn north to enter a gap between the aforementioned woods and a marsh farther west. Between the woods and marsh, Peter had built six redoubts to slow any advance and then began building four more perpendicular to the six. The result was a T formation with the crossbar between the woods and marsh and the upright pointing at the oncoming Swedes, who had to divide their forces to either side. Charles left 5,600 men behind to cover Poltava and guard the base camp, leaving him with but 12,500 men for his attack. Although Charles moved his men in the dark of night, Peter learned of the operation and quickly established a line of mixed infantry and cavalry behind the line of six redoubts.

Charles was forced by the redoubts to split his force, half to the east and half to the west; he was carried on a litter with the left, western force. His plan was to rush past the fire of the redoubts to engage the Russians behind, who he was sure would not stand and fight; he remembered their shoddy performance at Narva and assumed nothing had changed. The problem with this plan was that he refused to share it with his subordinates for, like Alexander of Macedon, he was a hands-on, lead-from-the-front commander who liked to be in the midst of battle to act and react as circumstances dictated. Because he was on a litter, though, he could not do that, and his primary subordinate, General Rehnskjöld, was not allowed to act on his own initiative. Overcentralized command doomed the Swedes.

On the left flank, the attacking Swedes soon swept past the redoubts and drove back the Russians on the far side. On the right, however, General Roos proceeded to attack the redoubts to reduce or capture them. That meant that he not only made slow progress, but he suffered lots of casualties. When, late in the morning, Charles was ready to press his attack on Peter’s camp, he had but half his army with him because Roos was bogged down and soon surrounded and captured. The troops in the center of the attack also managed to break through the line of redoubts and, driving Russian troops before them, were in a position to wheel right and storm the Russian camp. This force, under Lewenhaupt, received orders to retreat and join with Charles, however, thus losing their momentum and giving Peter time to prepare his army. Who sent the order to Lewenhaupt was hotly debated at the time, for both Charles and Rehnskjöld denied sending it, but, with the shifting fortunes of battle and the conflicting reports of success and failure, it could have been sent almost at any time in the previous few hours.

While Charles redeployed his forces on the plain behind the redoubts, Peter brought 40,000 men out of his camp, along with 100 cannon. Charles certainly should not have attacked this greatly superior force, at least until the artillery he had back at Poltava was brought up, but his disdain for the Russian troops over-rode good sense. Four thousand infantry and cavalry advanced across the open plain into the teeth of the Russian guns, and they were mowed down by the hundreds. Peter rode constantly through his own lines shouting encouragement and giving orders. Charles was unable to do so, and thus his uninspired men had no chance of breaking the Russian line. By noon, Charles was obliged to leave the field.


Charles left behind 3,000 dead and 2,800 prisoners, including General Rehnskjöld and four other generals. Charles gathered up the troops that he had left at Poltava and they made their way east and south. At the junction of the Vorskla and Dnieper Rivers, he found all boats destroyed, but he built enough rafts to escape with 1,000 men. The remainder were captured on 30 June. Charles fled to seek refuge with the Turks, Russia’s traditional enemy, who granted him sanctuary.

Peter scored a major triumph at Poltava, but almost threw it all away. Rather than consolidating his victory, he pressed a campaign against Poland while demanding that the Turks surrender Charles to him. Instead of Charles, the Turks sent 200,000 troops to the Russian frontier. In the spring of 1711, Peter declared war on Turkey and soon found himself in command of 38,000 starving men along the River Pruth, with the region devastated by the Turks, who outnumbered him five to one. On 11 August, the Turks attacked and were beaten back. Their commander, Grand Vizier Baltaji Mehmet, entered into negotiations with Peter and soon granted him and his army parole. A few days’ siege would have brought Peter’s army to its knees, but instead he lived to fight another day.

War continued between Russia and Turkey on one front and Russia and Sweden on another, while Charles remained in Turkey arguing with his allies. Russia and Turkey signed the Treaty of Adrianople in 1713, but not until 1721 did Russia and Sweden sign the Treaty of Nysted; Charles XII had been killed in battle 3 years earlier. Thus ended the Great Northern War after 21 years, and Sweden, which entered the war as such an important power, exited it a broken country.

Russia, on the other hand, replaced Sweden as the major power in the Baltic region. In the Treaty of Nysted, Russia received Livonia, Estonia, and Ingermanland on the Baltic as well as the Finnish Karelia territory. Peter, who had long envied European progress, had access now to what the west could provide. He imported experts on almost everything to drag Russia into the modern world, and technical advisors as well as intellectuals stayed in St. Petersburg to fulfill his dreams. This brought a facade of western civilization to Russia, which the aristocrats were able to appreciate, but the mass of Russian peasantry remained poor, ignorant, and exploited. Peter’s wars and building projects killed tens of thousands; as much as 20 percent of the Russian population died during his reign. Many of them died in the military, which Peter was determined to make the equal of any European army or navy. When he died, the Russian navy possessed forty-eight ships of the line, and the army had more than 200,000 regulars and 100,000 reserves.

Although Russians began to act like Europeans, their Asian heritage lingered on. Peter had to remedy that to build the empire he wanted. The only way to do that was to adopt European government administrative techniques and philosophies to provide the necessary regular taxation power he needed. The western administration, however, employed eastern ruthlessness in execution, and more dead Russians were the result as Peter suppressed any objections to his actions. Although he did introduce a number of western social reforms, they rarely applied to the masses, who continued to work and produce the labor and taxes, just as they had done for centuries. That resource, coupled with the land and mineral resources that Peter developed, brought Russia overnight into Europe as a country to be reckoned with. Although its power waxed and waned over the following centuries, Russia was here to stay on the world scene. “A new threat to Europe had arisen; again Asia was on the move, but this time her Mongoloid hordes were girt in the panoply of the West” (Fuller, A Military History of the Western World, vol. 2, p. 186).

Had Peter lost at Poltava, it is certainly questionable if Sweden would have bent Russia to its will. If the Turks had not let Peter go from the River Pruth, Turkey may well have emerged as the major eastern power that Russia became because the struggle between those two countries never ebbed, and Russian military power certainly acted as a curb to Ottoman desires in eastern Europe.


Creasy, Edward S. Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. New York: Harper, 1851; Fuller, J. F. C. A Military History of the Western World, vol. 2. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1955; Hatton, R. M. Charles XII of Sweden.





The accession of Peter the Great (1682-1725) to the throne of Russia marked a turning point in its history. At the beginning of his rule, he realized that Russia could not become a strong country economically unless it had access to the sea. His first aim was a foothold on the Black Sea coast, which meant war with Turkey, and the first clashes showed that the Russian army was not up to Peter’s nationalistic ambitions. He therefore reorganized it, modelling it largely on the west European armies, especially in matters of recruitment, administration, armaments and training. In 1689 he ruthlessly crushed an uprising by the Streltzi regulars, and disbanded their units. In 1699, the order was issued for the creation of a new Russian standing army, and eligible men aged between 17 and 32 were recruited for life-long military service. Twenty-seven infantry and two dragoon regiments were created.


The Russian army was traditionally cavalry-oriented; the reason why Peter recruited only two regular dragoon regiments was that he was counting on the numerous yeomanry militia (dvoriani) who reported for war with their own horses, armament and equipment, and formed cavalry units. However, after the serious defeat by the Swedes at Narva in 1700, Peter gave up the concept of irregular units and during his rule raised 32 dragoon regiments.


The first were called Schneewanz and Goltz, after their colonels. After 1708, regiments were named for their places of formation and recruitment. They were organized according to the infantry model, in 10 companies of 100 men. Every regiment also had three three-pound cannon. In 1704, an additional company of 100 grenadiers was added to the dragoon regiments; in 1711, these were organized in three regiments of mounted grenadiers.


Until the mid-eighteenth century, Russian cavalry rules envisaged units dismounting and fighting in infantry squares; this was a throwback to the dragoons’ infantry training. The reason for this was that Russia lacked large numbers of heavy horses, which were later bought from Germany for the forming of cuirassier regiments.

During the Great Northern War (1700-21), Peter introduced two large dragoon formations: one under General Menschikov, consisting of 11 regiments, the other under General Golitzin, 10 regiments strong. The king thus had at his disposal large corps of mounted infantry armed with artillery and all that was needed for independent action in Russia’s vast expanses.


Reputedly, in a conversation between Charles XII of Sweden and Peter the Great, Charles enumerated the virtues of his army, its many successes and captured standards. Peter retorted that Russia was a large country, and that his dragoons could sleep in their saddles. It is a fact that the Russian dragoons and their horses were tough, and that they suffered remarkably small losses from exhaustion, illness or cold during military operations and long marches.


Emperors of Russia



Peter I the Great




Catherine I

Peter I of Russia
9 childre




Peter II





Frederick Wilhelm, Duke of Courland
November 1710
no children



Ivan VI (disputed)





Alexey Razumovsky
no children




Portrait of Tsar Vasiliy IV of Russia by Viktor Vasnetsov in 1897

The above portrait of Vasily IV of Russia, painted by Viktor Vasnetsov in 1897, depicts the tsar wearing the ceremonial robes, the Monomakh’s crown and the royal scepter in his right hand. Apart from colored stones, the upper part of the ceremonial robe is embroidered with four rows of pearls, two rows around the neck and two rows around its lower edge.

False Dmitriy II, second pretender to the Russian throne, who claimed to be Tsarevich Dmitriy Ivanovich of Russia

During the reign of Tsar Vasili IV around July 1607, there appeared at Starodub, a highly educated young man, with aristocratic skills, who spoke both Russian and Polish languages and an expert in liturgicl matters. The man claimed to be the Muscovite boyar Nagoy, but later confessed under torture to be Tsarevich Dmitry, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible. The young man was taken at his word and soon became the nucleus of an anti-Russian alliance, that included the Cossacks and Poles, and even ordinary muscovites who were attracted by the promise of wholesale confiscation of the estates of Boyars. As the popularity of False Dmitriy II increased, the ambitious Jerzy Mniszech, the father-in-law of False Dmitriy I, approached the new False Dmitriy and got his consent to marry his daughter Marina Mniszech, the widow of the first False Dmitry. The marriage of False Dmitriy II to the Polish princess, Marina Mniszech, earned the support of the magnates of the Polish Luthunian Commonwealth, who had previously supported False Dmitriy I. They made funds avilable for his campaign and gave him an army of 7,500 soldiers. False Dmitriy II’s army quickly captured many important towns in Russia, that was taken over and reinforced by the Polish-Lithuanian army, and in the spring of 1608 his army advanced towards Moscow, routing the army of Tsar Vasily Shuisky at Bolkhov. False Dmitriy II set up camp at the village of Tushino, just outside Moscow, where an army of over 100,000 men assembled, consisting of Polish, Cossack and other soldiers. He also won the allegiance of more cities, such as Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Vologda and Kashin. However, when the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa arrived at Smolensk, most of his Polish soldiers deserted his army and joined the forces of the king. Around this time, a strong Russio-Swedish army under the joint-command of Prince Mikhail Skopin-Shuisky and Jacob de la Gardie approached Tushino, and false Dmitriy II was forced to flee tushino, disguised as a peasant. He escaped to Kostroma where he was joined by his wife Marina Mniszech who was now pregnant with his child. False Dmitriy II made another unsuccessful attack on Moscow, and with the help of his Cossack forces held on to territory in south-eastern Russia. However, on December 11, 1610, after he had drunk deeply with his boyar friends, he was killed by a young Tartar prince, Peter Ursov, whom he had punished by flogging previously.

Marina Mniszech widowed for the second time gave birth to False Dmitriy’s son, Ivan Dmitriyevich, posthumously in January 1611. Marina Mniszech then married her third spouse Ivan Zarutsky, who took upon himself the task of supporting the nomination of her son, Ivan Dmitriyevich, for the Russian throne. However, by the summer of 1613, after the Poles had been expelled from Moscow and Michael Romanov, the son of Patriarch Filaret had been elected as the new tsar, Marina Mniszech and Ivan Zarutsky, having lost their supporters fled to Astrakhan. The people of Astrakhan, did not like the pretender and his family staying in their city, and when they rose against them in 1614, they escaped into the steppes. Ivan Zarutsky failed to get support for another Cossack uprising, and was finally captured by the Cossacks around June 1614 and handed over to the government. Ivan Zarutsky and Marina Mniszech’s 3-year-old son, Ivan Dmitriyevich were executed in 1614, and Marina Mniszech died in Prison in Moscow soon afterwards.


Sketch of False Dmitriy II by unknown artist around 1610

The above sketch of False Dmitriy II by unknown artist, probably drawn around 1610, depicts him wearing a woolen cap, with a hair ornament affixed to it on the side. The hair ornament appears to be made up of a large oval-shaped pearl, with a smaller drop-shaped pearl hanging from it, and a plume of feathers rising from above.

Nominal rule of Wladyslaw IV Vasa as Tsar of Russia from September 6, 1610 to November 4, 1612

After Tsar Vasili IV was deposed by the Council of Seven Boyars on July 27, 1610, they elected the 15-year-old Wladyslaw IV Vasa, the son of the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa, as the new Tsar of Russia, on September 6, 1610. The Poles entered Moscow on September 21, 1610, suppressing brutally riots that broke out in the capital city, which was set on fire. King Sigismund III Vasa refused to accept the suggestion of the Council of Seven Boyars to send his son Wladyslaw to Moscow to accept the throne after converting to Orthodox Christianity. This was because of the unsettled conditions in Moscow where anti-Polish feelings were running high, and King Sigismund III Vasa’s ultimate aim of converting Moscow’s population from Orthodox Christianity to Catholicism. However, the Council of Seven Boyars continued to recognize, Wladyslaw IV Vasa as the Tsar of Russia, and struck Muscovite silver and gold coins in the mints of Moscow and Novogrod, with his titulary, “Tsar and Grand Prince Vladislav Zigimontovich of all Russia.”

The Polish occupation of Moscow, provoked a national uprising against the invasion in 1611 and 1612. In opposition to the “Council of Seven Boyars” and the Poles, a “Council of All the Land” was formed in April 1611, headed by Prince Dmitriy Mikhailovich Pozharsky. A volunteer army was formed led by Prince Dmitriy Pozharsky and the merchant Kuzma Minin. This army fought with the occupying Polish forces and finally expelled them from the capital on November 4, 1612. The activities of the Council of Seven Boyars and the nominal rule of Wladyslaw IV Vasa ended with the expulsion of Poles from Moscow on November 4, 1612.


Portrait of Prince Wladyslaw IV Vasa by Peter Paul Rubens, executed on oil on canvas in 1624, during his visit to Brussels as the personal guest of Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain

The above portrait of Prince Wladyslaw IV Vasa before he was elected king of Poland, depict him wearing a hat with a hat-ornament affixed to one side. The hat ornament incorporates a large drop-shaped pearl and several smaller spherical pearls. The prince also appears to be wearing another vertical pearl ornament just below the collar of his coat.

Appreciation of pearls by the Tsars and Tsarinas of the Romanov dynasty

The Time of Troubles in Russian History that began with the death of the heirless Feodor I Ivanovich on January 7, 1598, marking the end of the main line of Tsars of the Rurik dynasty, was actually a period of succession struggles, resulting in civil wars and foreign intervention, further compounded by the Russian famine of early 17th-century, caused by extremely cold summers that wrecked crops, and increased social disorganization. This period of instability finally came to an end in February 1613, with the expulsion of Poles from Moscow, and the election of the 16-year-old Michael Romanov, the son of Patriarch Filaret who was living in captivity in Poland, as the new Tsar of Russia, by a National Assembly constituted of representatives from around fifty cities in Russia. This marked the beginning of a new dynasty of Tsars in Russia, known as the Romanov dynasty, that ruled Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Tsar Michael Fyodorovich Romanov – First Tsar of the House of Romanov from 1613 to 1645

Michael Romanov was crowned Tsar of All Russia on July 22, 1613. The new Tsar with the help of his counsellors immediately set about restoring law and order in the vast country, and one of his first tasks was the elimination of gangs of robbers who devastated the country side. He then made peace with Russia’s former enemies, Sweden and the Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth, with whom he signed peace treaties in 1617 and 1619 respectively. The signing of the peace treaty with Poland, enabled the Tsar’s father, Feodor Nikitich Romanov (Patriach Filaret) to return from captivity in Poland in 1619, and take over the affairs of the government, on behalf of his young son, Tsar Michael Romanov, a position which he held, until his death in 1633. Tsar Michael became famous as a gentle and pious Prince, who gave little trouble to anyone, preferring to rule from behind the scenes, effacing himself behind his counsellors.


Portrait of Tsar Michael I of Russia by unknown artist depicting him with the coronation regalia of the Tsardom of Russia

Coronation regalia depicted on the portrait –

Coronation robes heavily embroidered with rows of pearls.

The Orb set with pearls and colored stones.

Monomakh’s Cap or Crown, set with pearls and colored stones.

The royal scepter.

“Millennium of Russia” monument in Veliky, Novgorod depicting Michael I being offered the Monomakh’s Cap and scepter by Kuzma Minin and protected by Dmitriy Pozharsky


Eudoxia Streshneva – Second wife (1626-1645) of Tsar Michael Fyodorovich Romanov (1613-1645)

Tsar Michael Romanov married twice. His first wife was Maria Vladimirovna Dolgorukova, whom he married in late 1624, but died four months later in 1625. His second wife was Eudoxia Streshneva, whom he chose himself from an array of fair noble maidens, and married on February 5, 1626. The marriage proved to be a very successful one, producing 10 children, out of whom only five survived into adulthood. The second surviving child, Tsarveich Alexis succeeded his father, as the second tsar of Russia of the Romanov dynasty. Eudoxia Streshneva died just five weeks after her husband in 1645.


Potrait of Eudoxia Streshneva second wife of Tsar Michael I

Ornaments worn by the Tsarina –

Robes embroidered with pearls.

Brooch used as a pin holding together ends of the outer robe.

Crown set with rows of pearls and colored stones.

Earrings probably set with pearls.


Tsar Michael I choosing his bride from several fair maidens in 1626

The above painting by Ilya Yefimovich Repin executed between 1884 and 1887, depict Tsar Michael I choosing his bride from an array of fair maindens in 1626. The tsar chose Eudoxia Streshneva as his second bride, whom he married on February 5, 1626. All the maidens assembled appear to be heavily bedecked with ornaments incorporating pearls, such as pearl drop earrings, pearl necklaces, brooches and stomachers, and bracelets. The tsar himself is depicted wearing some form of pearl ornament on the upper part of his robes.

Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich Romanov – Second Tsar of the House of Romanov from 1645 to 1676

When Tsar Michael Romanov died on July 12, 1645, he was succeeded by his eldest and only surviving son, Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov who ascended the throne at the age of 16 as Tsar Alexis I. During the early years of his rule, Tsar Alexis I’s chief advisor and minister was boyar Boris Morozov, who adopted a cautious foreign policy, securing a truce with Poland and avoiding any conflicts with the Ottoman empire. By abolishing many unnecessary and expensive court offices, and limiting privileges given to foreign traders he relieved the public burden. In 1648, Boris Morozov successfully procured the marriage of the 19-year-old tsar to his relative, the 23-year-old Maria Miloslavskya. In fact the Tsar was required to choose his bride from among hundreds of noble girls, but the selection was managed by Boris Morozov, who manipulated the selection to favour his relative, Maria Miloslavskya, whom the Tsar married on January 17, 1648. Ten days later, Boris Morozov himself married a sister of Maria Miloslavskya, a marriage that enhanced his power in the court. However, Boris Mozorov soon became unpopular that led to the Moscow Salt Riots of May 1648, leading to his dismissal and exile to a monastery.

After a period of disturbances all over the Tsardom following the Salt Riots, patriarch Nikon who had displayed tact and courage during the disturbances at Novgorod, was appointed the Tsar’s chief minister in 1651. After peace was restored all over the tsardom, Tsar Alexis diverted his attention towards Russia’s neighbour and longtime enemy, the Polish-Lithunian commonwealth who had annexed Russian lands during the Time of Troubles. He took advantage of Poland’s weakness and disorder following the Khmelnitsky uprising, and having got the approval of the national assembly, ordered the Russian army to attack lands held by the commonwealth. The campaign led to a series of wars involving Russia, Poland and Sweden, that eventually led to the Treaty of Andrusovo in 1667, in which Poland accepted the loss of Left-bank Ukraine, Kiev and Smolensk to Russia. Tsar Alexis was outraged by the killing of King Charles I of England in 1649, by the Parliamentarians led by Oliver Cromwell. In retaliation, he broke off diplomatic relations with England, banned all English merchants from entering Russia, provided financial assistance to the widow of Charles I and accepted all royalist refugees in Moscow.


Portrait of Tsar Alexis I of Russia by unknown west European artist in the 17th-century

Royal regalia depicted on the portrait

The above portrait of Tsar Alexis I of Russia by an unknown west European painter, probably executed in the 17th-century, depict the tsar wearing his royal regalia, that includes the following :-

Royal robes heavily bedecked with pearls.

Monomakh’s cap or crown set with pearls and colored stones.

The royal scepter set with pearls and colored stones.



Portrait of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in the Hermitage Museum by unknown artist

Coronation regalia depicted on the portrait

The above portrait of Tsar Alexis I by an unknown artist depict him with the following coronation regalia

Coronattion robes heavily bedecked with colored stones and rows of pearls

A necklace with a cross hanging as pendant.

Monomakh’s cap or crown set with colored stones and rows of pearls.

The Orb set with colored stones and rows of pearls.

The royal scepter incorporating pearls at one end.



Tsar Alexis of Russia choosing his bride

The above painting of Tsar Alexis I choosing his bride, drawn by Grigory Sedov in 1882, over two hundred years after its occurrence, depicts the young Tsar Alexis choosing his bride before his marriage in 1648. Tsar Alexis I married Maria Miloslavskaya, who was four years his senior, and daughter of boyar Ilya Danilovich Miloslavsky, a relative of Boris Morozov. The six princesses depicted in the painting are all wearing a tiara or a headdress studded with pearls. At least two of them are depicted wearing multistrand pearl necklaces. Some of them are wearing drop earrings incorporating pearls. The dresses of at least two of the princesses are studded with pearls. The 19-year-old tsar is also depicted wearing a necklace incorporating pearls and a cap lined with pearls. The artist Grigory Sedov has attempted to recreate the mode of dressing and the type of ornaments worn by princesses in Russia two hundred years earlier, in the mid-17th-century. The expressions on the faces of the princesses in the painting are perfectly natural, and speaks of the artist’s ability in depicting the true nature of things in a bygone era.

Maria Ilynichna Miloslavskya – First wife (1648-1669) of Tsar Alexis I (1645-1676) and Tsaritsa consort of All Russia

Maria Miloslavskya was the first wife of Tsar Alexis of Russia, whom he married in 1648. Maria was four years senior to the tsar at the time of the marriage. The marriage turned out to be a happy one and produced 13 children in 21 years of marriage, out of whom two sons and six daughters survived into adulthood. The eldest son became Feodor III of Russia and the second son, Ivan V of Russia, who co-ruled with his half-brother Peter I of Russia. The third surviving dughter, Sophia Alekseyevna acted as regent to Peter I during his minority. Maria Miloslavskya died a few weeks after her 13th childbirth in 1669.


Portrait of Maria Miloslavskya drawn by Ivan Saltanov probably in the 1670s

Ornaments worn by the Tsaritsa –

A crown or headdress studded with pearls and colored stones.

A broad collar lined by a single row of pearls at its edges.

Broad bands studded with pearls and lined by rows of pearls at its edges, wrapped around each hand.

Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina – Second wife (1671-1676) of Tsar Alexis I and Tsarina of All Russia

Two years after the death of his first wife, Tsar Alexis I decided to marry again, and took as his second wife, the 20-year-old Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina , whom he married on February 1, 1671. Natlia was the daughter of a petty nobleman, Kirill Poluektovich Naryshkin, but was brought up in the house of the western-leaning boyar Artamon Matveyev who had married the Scottish-descended Mary Hamilton. The marriage produced three children, a son, who became Peter the Great of Russia and two daughters, out of whom only one survived into adulthood. Natalia was widowed when Tsar Alexis I died in 1676, but was treated with affection by her stepson Feodor, who ascended the throne as Tsar Feodor III of Russia. When Feodor III died in 1682, his brother Ivan V became co-Tsar with Natalia’s son Peter. Natalia acted as regent for Peter, who was still a minor, with her foster Artamon Matveyev serving as advisor. However, her regency was short-lived, as she was soon replaced by Feodor III’s elder sister, Sofia Alekseyevna, during the revolt of the Streltsy on May 15, 1682, in which two of her own brothers and her foster-father were killed, and her own father, Kirill Naryshkin was forced to take-up robes as a monk. Until August 1689, Natalia almost lived in poverty with her son, Peter the co-Tsar, in Alexei’s summer palace, about 5 km. from Moscow. Peter, who reached the age of 17 in August 1689, overthrew his half-sister Sofia, who had been ruling as an autocrat for 7 years in his name, and took control of his kingdom, and continued to rule as co-Tsar with his half-brother Ivan V. Sophia was forced to enter a convent, and Peter’s mother was restored to her rightful position as nominal leader of the court.


Portrait of Natalia Narishkina, second wife of Tsar Alexis I and mother of Peter the Great


In the above portrait of Natalia Narishkina drawn by an anonymous artist in the 18th-century, the former Tsaritsa is depicted almost dressed like a nun, and significantly without any ornaments decorating her person.

Feodor III Alexevich – Romanov Tsar of Russia from 1676 to 1682

Feodor was the eldest surviving son of Tsar Alexis I and his first wife, Maria Miloslavskya, and succeeded his father as Tsar in 1676 at the age of 15. Feodor was educated by the most learned Slavonic monk, Simeon Polotsky and thus possessed a fine intellect and noble disposition, eventhough he was disfigured and paralyzed by a mysterious disease from the time of his birth. Yet in spite of his physical disabilities he soon demonstrated that he was capable of ruling on his own, just as any other normal human being. A remarkable feature of his court was the lack of an oppressive atmosphere, leniency in the application of penal laws and a new sense of liberalism that pervaded his court. His notable achievements included the founding of the Academy of Sciences, and merit being made the main criteria for all appointments to the civil and military services, that replaced the former system of mestnichestvo, in which special preference was given to people of noble birth. Fedor III’s chief advisor in running the affairs of the state was Artamon Matveyev, foster father of Natalia Narishkina, mother of Peter I.

Tsar Feodor III took as his first wife an Ukranian noblewoman, known as Agaphia Simeonovna Grushevskaya, whom he married on July18, 1680. Feodor was 19 and Agaphia 17 at the time of their marriage. Agaphia was as learned as Feodor, and could speak and write languages like Polish, French and Latin. Agaphia turned out to be an angelic wife and Tsarina to Tsar Feodor, merciful and loyal to the disabled tsar and concerned about public welfare. She shared the radical views of her husband, and being well informed about western European life styles, she was the first to advocate beard-shaving and the use of western attire in the Russian court. She herself was the first tsarina to expose her hair and to wear a western dress in the Russian court.

She gave birth to her first child, a son, the expected heir to the throne on July 11, 1681, but unfortunately Agafya died three days later, due to complications of childbirth. Six days later, the nine-day old infant tsarevich also died, totally devastating Feodor III, who deeply mourned their passing away.


Portrait of Tsar Feodor III of Russia by unknown artist executed in the late 1600s

Coronation regalia depicted on the portrait :-

The above portrait of Tsar Feodor III of Russia, executed by an unknown artist, in the late 1600s depict the Tsar wearing coronation regalia. The components of the regalia, incorporating pearls are as follows :-

The Monomakh’s cap or crown heavily studded with pearls.

The coronation robe with its upper flap going round the shoulders, heavily studded with pearls.

The Orb depicted on the lower right-hand end of the portrait, also studded with rows of pearls.

A cross hanging as pendant from a necklace, probably made up of a double-strand of pearls.

Marfa Matveyevna Apraksina – Second wife (February 24, 1682 to May 7, 1682) of Tsar Feodor III and Tsarina of All Russia

Seven months after the death of his first wife, Feodor III took as his second wife Marfa Apraksina, daughter of Matvey Vasilyevich Apraksin, on February 24, 1682. However, just three months after this marriage, Feodor III died on May 7, 1682, at the age of 21, without a surviving issue, that sparked the Moscow uprising of 1682, as rumours spread that the Naryshkins in their desire to promote Natalia Naryshkin’s son Peter to the throne of Russia, strangled to death, the mentally and physically disabled Ivan, Tsar Feodor III’s younger brother, who was next in line of succession to the throne. The uprising subsided only when Ivan appeared in front of the rampaging crowds, to show that he was still alive and well.


Portrait of Marfa Apraksina by unknown author

Ornaments worn by the Tsarina :-

Headdress studded with pearls.

Drop earrings incorporating pearls.

Several necklaces around the neck, one of which appears to be a single-strand choker necklace, and the longest a multistrand pearl necklace, with a zig-zag lower strand.

Rings incorporating pearls.

Ivan V Alekseyevich Romanov – co-Tsar of Russia with his younger half-brother Peter I from 1682 to 1696

When the childless Feodor III died on May 7, 1682, a dispute arose between the families of his two wives, Miloslavsky and Naryshkin families, as to who should inherit the throne. Ivan, the second surviving son of Tsar Alexis I by his first wife, Maria Miloslavskya, was the next in line of succession to the throne, but was chronically ill and of infirm mind, and it was doubtful whether he had the mental ability for such a challenging task as ruling a vast country like Russia. Hence, the Boyar Duma (Council of Russian nobles) overlooked Ivan, and instead chose his half-brother, the ten-year-old Peter, Alexis I’s next son by his second wife, Natalia Narishkina, to be the next Tsar of Russia, with his mother appointed as regent. This arrangement was apparently ratified by the people of Moscow, but members of the Milolavsky family who were not happy with the decision of the Boyar Duma, spread the rumour that the Naryshkins had strangled to death, the mentally and physically disabled Ivan, in order to promote the chances of Peter, sparking off riots all over Moscow. The ambitious Sophia Alekseyevna, the third surviving daughter of Tsar Alexis I, then led a rebellion of the Streltsy, the Russian elite military corps, during which two brothers of Natalia Naryshkina and her foster father, Artamon Matveyev were killed, and her own father, Kirill Naryshkin was forced enter a monastery. The ultimate outcome of the uprising was that Ivan and Peter were proclaimed as joint Tsars, with Ivan being recognized as the senior of the two, and Sophia Alekseyevna replacing Natalia Naryshkina as Regent during the minority of the two tsars. Sophia ruled as an autocrat during the next seven years, in the name of both co-Tsars.

Ivan had a close relationship not only with his half-brother Peter, but also his stepmother Natalia Naryshkina. In fact he was not interested at all in becoming the Tsar, but was persuaded by his ambitious elder sister, Sophia Alekseyevna, who ruled as an autocrat in his name. In 1689, when Peter had turned 17, he planned to takeover power from his regent and half-sister Sophia, who was now unpopular due to two unsuccessful Crimean campaigns. When Sophia heard of Peter’s plans, she attempted to raise another riot, by misleading the Streltsy and the people of Moscow, that the Naryshkin’s had destroyed Ivan’s crown, and were about to set his room on fire. But the plan failed as Ivan himself declared his allegiance to his half-brother Peter, who had escaped in the middle of the night to the impenetrable monastery of Troitsky, from where he gathered his supporters and moved against Sophia, who was overthrown and forced to enter a convent. Peter I and Ivan V then continued there rule as co-Tsars, with Peter’s mother, Natalia Naryshkina being restored to her former position in court, exercing power on behalf of her son and stepson. Natalia died five years later in 1694, when Peter took complete control of his kingdom, with his brother Ivan V continuing nominally as a co-Tsar. When Ivan V died in 1696, at the age of 29 years, Peter became the sole ruler of his kingdom.


Portrait of Tsar Ivan V by unknown artist

Ornaments depicted on the portrait :-

A brooch rhomboidal in shape and studded with cabochon cut colored stones or black pearls.

A collar set with equally spaced large pearls in the center and lined at the edges by a single row of pearls.

Praskovia Saltykova – Wife of Tsar Ivan V and Tsaritsa consort of All Russia from 1684 to 1696

Two years after ascending the throne as co-Tsar, Ivan V married Praskovia Saltykova, the daughter of Fyodor Petrovich Saltykov, who was chosen by Ivan himself from an array of maidens parading before him. Ivan was 18 and Praskovia 20 years of age at the time of their marriage. Despite his physical and mental disabilities, Ivan’s marriage to Praskovia produced five robust daughters, one of whom would ascend the throne of Russia, as Empress Anna Ivanovna. However, by the age of 27, Ivan V was described by foreign diplomats, as senile, paralytic and almost blind. Ivan V died two years later, in 1696 at the age of 29 years.

After Ivan V’s death, Praskovia lived as a dowager Tsarina, holding court in Moscow and later Saint Petersburg, functioning as the first lady of the Russian court, as Peter had no legal wife at that time, until he officially married his second wife Catherine, at Saint Isaac’s Cathedral on February 9, 1712. Peter’s two daughters Elizabeth (future empress) and Anna (mother of future emperor, Peter III) were also educated at Praskovia’s court. Praskovia died in October 1723, a little over an year before Peter the Great’s own death in February 1725.


Portrait of Tsaritsa Praskovia Saltykova by artist Ivan Nikitin executed in the early 18th-century

Ornaments worn by the tsarina :-

A headdress or hairdo, incorporating three rows of large white spherical pearls on either side, and a single row of pearls radiating on either side of a centerpiece, set with colored stones.

Peter I the Great – Tsar of All Russia from 1682 to 1721 and later Emperor of All Russia from 1721 to 1725

Peter I who was co-Tsar with Ivan V from 1682 to 1696, became the sole Tsar of Russia after Ivan V’s death on February 8, 1696. Peter, who grew to become the tallest monarch in Europe during his period, with a height of 6 ft. 8 ins. also became one of the greatest Tsars in the history of Russia, assuming the title of Emperor of All Russia during the latter part of his rule from 1721 to 1725. His policy of expansion and modernization, learning from west European countries, eventually transformed the tsardom of Russia into a great empire not only in extent but also in terms of political power.


Portrait of young Peter the Great executed by unknown artist in the late 17th-century

Ornaments depicted on the portrait :-

A single-strand pearl necklace.

A large oval-shaped brooch set with colored stones and pearls, at the end of a V-shaped black garland, at the point where the outer red cloak splits, revealing the inner black robe.

Three smaller brooches on the red cloak in the space between the necklace and the black garland. These brooches are also set with colored stones and pearls


Peter modernized the Russian army along western lines, and consolidated his authority by brutally suppressing all rebellions against his rule, going to the extent of disbanding the Streltsy, the Russian elite military corps, that always constituted a threat to any incumbent tsar. Russia had only one outlet to the sea, at the time he took control of the country, in the north on the White Sea at Arkhangelsk, whose harbour was frozen for nine months in a year. This was a serious limitation for the expansion of trade with the outside world and the setting up of a modern navy. Peter realized that possible outlets for his country were situated in the Baltic Sea in the north, which was under the control of Sweden and Black Sea in the south, controlled by the Ottoman Empire. After an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fortress of Azov from the Ottomans in 1695, he finally succeeded in July of 1696, and established the first Russian naval base at Taganrog in 1698.

In 1697 he undertook a journey to Europe with a large Russian delegation, visiting France, England, the Netherlands, Austria and cities such as Dresden and Leipzig, with the intention of forging a broad anti-Ottoman alliance, but received poor response, as there was little enthusiasm in Europe for such a move. However, Peter made use of this opportunity to learn first-hand about life in western Europe, and various skills such as shipbuilding in Amsterdam and the techniques of city building in Manchester, knowledge which he subsequently used in the building up of the Russian navy and the building of his new capital city at Saint Petersburg. During this tour he also engaged the services of shipwrights, seamen, builders of locks and fortresses, and others with useful skills, who would later follow him to Russia, and help build his country. Peter was forced to cut short his European tour and return to Russia, because of a rebellion by the Streltsy which was fortunately crushed even before he returned home. However, soon after his arrival in Russia, he executed over 1,200 rebels, disbanded the Streltsy and forced his half-sister Sophia, whom the Streltsy wanted to instal on the throne, to become a nun. It was during his visit to England in 1698, that Sir Godfrey Kneller painted Peter’s portrait in battle dress, that was subsequently presented to King William III of England.


Portrait of Peter the Great painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller during his visit to England in 1698

Ornaments depicted on the portrait :-

What looks like a single row of pearls, along the edges of a belt connecting the ends of the outer cloak, which too appears to be embroidered wirh rows of pearls.


Soon after his return from the West, Peter was determined to do away with age old Russian traditions and adopt west European customs. He ordered his courtiers and officials, either to trim their long beards or be clean shaven, and discard their robes and wear western attire. He abolished arranged marriages and encouraged men and women to select their own partners, resuting in more durable relationships. Towards the end of the year 1699, Peter ordered that new year should be celebrated in Russia not on September 1 but January 1, and that the old Russian calendar be replaced by the Julian Calendar with effect from January 1, 1700, which was year 7207 in the old Russian calendar.

Desirous of taking control of an outlet in the Baltic Sea, which was controlled by Sweden, Peter tried to forge an alliance with Sweden’s other enemies, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Denmark-Norway and Saxony. Peter’s first attempt to seize the Baltic coast ended in disaster in the Battle of Narva in 1700, in which the Russian army was badly defeated by the forces of Charles XII of Sweden. Having defeated the Russians, Charles XII directed his forces against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, giving Peter time to re-organize his army. As the war continued between Sweden and the Commonwealth, Peter began the construction of a new capitl city known as Saint Petersburg, named after St. Peter, the Apostle, in 1703, in a province of the Swedish empire which he had captured earlier, known as Ingermanland. As construction of the new capital continued, in 1707, Peter secretly married Martha Skavronskaya, who converted to Orthodox Christianity and took the name Catherine. In 1706, after suffering repeated defeats at the hands of Charles XII, the Polish king August II abdicated. Charles then invaded Russia, hoping to march towards Moscow, and defeating Peter’s army on the way, at Golovchin in July, 1708. However, Charles’ army was stopped at the next encounter at Lesnaya, by Peter’s forces, who inflicted heavy losses on Charles’ forces, after stopping Swedish reinforcements from reaching them. Charles then abandoned his march to Moscow, and instead invaded Ukraine. Peter then made a tatical withdrawl to the south of Ukraine destroying everything that could assist the Swedes, along their way. Deprived of local supplies, in the winter of 1708-1709 the Swedish army was forced to halt its advance, but resumed again in the summer of 1709. On June 27, 1709, Peter’s forces intercepted the Swedish army at Poltava, resulting in a battle in which the Swedish forces were routed, and forced Charles to seek refuge in the Ottoman empire.


Portrait of Peter the Great by artist Jean-Marc Nattier executed around 1710

Description of above portrait :-

Peter the Great is depicted on the above portrait, wearing battle dress and holding a staff in his right hand, that rests on his helmet, and his left hand holding the hilt of a gem-studded sword.


Having defeated Charles XII, Peter restored August II to his throne in Poland, and diverted his attention towards the Ottoman empire, initiating the Russio-Turkish war of 1710. However, Peter’s campaign in the Ottoman empire proved to be disastrous, forcing him to sign a treaty in which he had to return the Black seaports seized in 1697, and guarantee safe passage to Charles XII back to Sweden. Peter’s northern armies then captured the Swedish province of Livonia, driving the Swedes into Finland. The Russian naval fleet then inflicted a defeat on the Swedish fleet at the Battle of Gangut in 1714, and the Russians occupied most of Finland. In his confrontation with Charles XII, Peter also obtained the assistance of the electorate of Hanover and the kingdom of Prussia, but Charles XII refused to yield. In 1718, Charles XII was killed in battle, and Sweden which was at war with all its neighbours, made peace with them by 1720, except Russia. Peace with Russia finally came in 1721, by the Treaty of Nystad, that ended the Great Northern War, and Russia was granted four provinces south and east of the Gulf of Finland, and Peter secured the much wanted access to the sea.

Immediately after peace was made with Sweden, in recognition of his conquests, Peter was officially proclaimed Emperor of All Russia on October 22, 1721 and the Russian Tsardom officially became the Russian Empire. During the last years of his rule he introduced reforms in the Russian Orthodox Church, replacing the Patriarchate with a collective body known as the Holy Synod, a council of ten clergymen. He replaced the Council of Nobles, known as the Boyar Duma, with a nine member Senate, which became the supreme council of state. He divided the country into new provinces and districts, and enhanced tax revenues, by placing tax collection under the overall supervision of the Senate. He created the famous “Table of Ranks” a new order of precedence, in which merit and service to the emperor were criteria instead of birth, that deprived most of the boyars of their high ranks and positions. He introduced compulsory education in the sciences and mathematics, for the children of nobility, and all government officials including clerical staff. In 1724, Peter had his second wife, Caherine, crowned as Empress of All Russia, although he still remained the actual ruler. This was a move on his part to ensure a smooth succession after his death, as all his male issues had predeceased him, including his eldest son, Alexei by his first wife Eudoxia, who was tortured and killed on Peter’s orders in 1718, because the boy had disobeyed him and opposed his policies.

Peter the Great died on February 8, 1725 of Uremia, at the age of 52 years, having reigned for 42 years, 28 years as sole ruler and 14 years as co-ruler with his half-brother Tsar Ivan V.


Diamond Order of Peter the Great

The above Diamond Order of Peter the Great is studded with diamonds of different sizes, shapes and cuts, mostly preserving the original natural facets and characteristic octahedral crystalline shapes.

Eudoxia Lopukhina – First wife of Tsar Peter I of Russia and Tsaritsa Consort of All Russia from 1689 to 1698

Peter the Great married his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina in 1689, soon after he wrested power from his half-sister and regent, Sophia Alekseyevna in August of that year. The marriage was arranged by his mother, Natalia Naryshkina, who was restored to her former position in court by Peter, after being ignored and living in isolation for seven years during Sophia’s regency. Eudoxia was senior to Peter by two years, at the time of her marriage, and was chosen by Natalia mainly because of Eudoxia’s mother’s relationship to the well known boyar Fyodor Rtishchev. Eudoxia was crowned Tsarina of All Russia soon after her marriage. Eudoxia gave birth to her first child Tsarevich Alexi Petrovich in 1690. She gave birth to two more sons, Alexander and Paul in 1692 and 1693. Out of the three children only Tsarevich Alexi Petrovich survived into adulthood, and was the next in line of succession to the throne. However, their marriage soon ran into trouble, aggravated by Eudoxia’s conservative relatives, whom Peter hated. Peter soon abandoned Eudoxia and took a Dutch beauty, Anna Mons as his mistress.

In 1697, just before Peter embarked on his European tour, he asked his Naryshkin relatives to persuade Eudoxia to enter a monastery, which she refused. However, soon after Peter returned from his European tour in 1698, he decided to end his unhappy marriage, by divorcing Eudoxia and forcing her to enter the intercession convent of Suzadal. Eudoxia who entered the convent, managed to live there as a lay person and even find a lover by the name of Stepan Glebov, who was executed by quatering when the tsar was informed of the relationship. Eudoxia and her son and heir apparent Tsarevich Alexi Petrovich, soon became the center of opposition to Peter’s reforms, around whom disgruntled Church officials rallied. Tsar Peter soon brutally suppresses this opposition, putting his son and former wife on trial, executing all bishops who supported them, and transferring Eudoxia to another convent in Ladoga. Tsarevich Alexi Petrovich suspected of plotting to overthrow his father, confessed on torturing, and was convicted and sentenced to be executed. But, Peter was hesistant in authorizing his execution, and the tsarevich died in prison, probably of injuries suffered during his torture.

when Catherine I, Peter’s second empress consort, ascended the throne after, Peter’s death, Eudoxia was secretly moved to the Shlisselburg fortress in St. Peterburg, but in 1727, when Eudoxia’s grandson, Peter II ascended the throne, Eudoxia was released from incarceration, and returned to Moscow with great pomp and pagentry, where she kept her own court at the Novodevichy Convent, unitl her death in 1731.


Portrait of Eudoxia Lopukhina by artist Pintor Desconhecido in the 18th-century

Marfa Skavronskaya later Catherine I of Russia – Unofficial second wife from 1703 to 1712 and Official second wife and Tsaritsa/Empress consort of Peter the Great from 1712 to 1725. Empress of Russia from 1725 to1727

Peter the Great met his second wife, Marfa Skavronskaya, for the first time at the house of his best friend, Prince Aleksandr Menshikov, whom he was visiting, in 1703. Marfa was a mistress or housemaid to Menshikov, and probably served in the same capacity previously in the households of high-ranking officers of a victorious regiment of the Russian Army, that captured Marienburg from the Swedes, such as Brigadier General Rudolph Felix Bauer and Field Marshal Boris Sheremetev. Marfa’s foster father, Johann Ernst Gluck, a Lutheran pastor agreed to work as a translator to the Field Marshall who took the pastor and his family to Moscow. Marfa was one of five children, whose parents Samuel Skavronsky and his wife had died in the plague, around 1689. Orphaned Marfa, who was just 3 years old was taken by an aunt and given to Pastor Gluck living in Marienburg, a border town near the Russian-Estonian border, for adoption. Whatever the origins or pedigree of Marfa, Peter the Great fell head over heels for the young and beautiful girl, and soon took her as his mistress. They lived in a three-room log cabin in St. Petersburg where the new capital city was taking shape. Marfa did the cooking and caring for the children, while Peter tended a garden, as though they were an ordinary couple. Their relationship turned out to be the most successful in Peter’s life, Marfa becoming a charming, compassionate and caring wife, calming Peter during his frequent rages and taking care of him during his epileptic seizures. In 1705, Marfa converted to Orthodox Christianity and took the name of Yekaterina Alexeyevna. So devoted was she to her husband, that she accompanied Peter, always on his military campaigns, and as reported by Voltaire in his book, “Peter the Great,” during one such campaign in 1711, Catherine was responsible for not only saving Peter’s life but also the Russian Empire. Peter’s army surrounded by overwhelming numbers of Turkish troops, was left with no option but surrender. It was then that Catherine gave Peter the invaluable advice, to negotiate a retreat with the Grand Vizier Baltagi, in return for a bribe in the form of jewelry adorning her person and those of other women in the group. Baltaji allowed the retreat that saved Peter’s life and the Russian Empire which he controlled. Peter credited Catherine for her life-saving suggestion, and immediately afterwards proceeded to marry her officially, at a cermony which took place at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, on February 9, 1712. After the wedding, Catherine became Tsarina of All Russia, and later on October 22, 1721, when Peter elevated the Tsardom of Russia to an Empire, Catherine became its first Empress.


1717-portrait of Catherine I of Russia by Jean-Marc Nattier

The above portrait of Catherine I was executed by Jean-Marc Nattier in 1717, when she was the Tsaritsa-consort of Russia.

Ornaments depicted on the portrait :-

Hair ornament incorporating a row of six large spherical pearls, with a drop-shaped pearl hanging from it in the center.

A headband incorporating a single row of pearls behind the hair ornament in front.

Several drop-shaped pearls on the front bodice of her dress.

A brooch containing pearls at the center of a red bow, below the red band running diagonally across the bodice of her dress.

A single row of pearls incorported along the edge of a purple-colored velvet-like cloak, placed carelessly on part of her lap in front and seen again behind her on either side


Peter’s marriage to Catherine produced 12 children, out of whom only two survived into adulthood, Anna and Elizabeth, of whom the latter subsequently become empress of Russia. In 1724, Peter had Catherine crowned as Empress, and named her officially co-ruler of Russia, the first time a woman became a ruler of Russia, although Peter still remained the actual ruler. Peter’s intentions in doing so was quite clear, for he was determined to ensure a smooth succession in case of his sudden death, and wanted his wife to succeed him, the new appointment giving her the opportunity and experience in the techniques of ruling the nation. This is what exactly happened when Peter died several months later, on February 8, 1725, of uremia. Peter’s best friend Menshikov, who was a member of the Supreme Privy Council, and other members who were appointed by Peter, decided that Catherine should be the natural successor to Peter, as the late Emperor had intended, and proclaimed her the new Empress of Russia, supported by the Guards Regiments with whom she was very popular. Thus, Catherine became the first woman ever to rule Russia, paving the way for more women to ascend the throne subsequently. Apart from continuing with Peter the Great’s policies of modernizing Russia, her policies in general were cautious and reasonable. Her greatest achievement was reduction in military expenditure, that was consuming about 65% of the government’s annual revenue, as the nation was no more at war, and such an enormous expenditure was not justified. The cut in military expenditure enabled her to grant tax relief to the peasantry, a measure that increased her popularity. Catherine died at the age of 43, two years after her husband in 1727.


Portrait of Empress Catherine I of Russia by Heinrich Buchholz around 1725

The above portrait of Catherine I was executed by Heinrich Buchholz in 1725, after she ascended the throne, as the first Empress of Russia, as her left hand placed on the crown, and her right hand carrying the royal scepter indicates.

Ornaments depicted on the portrait :-

Tiara set with pearls and a drop-shaped pearl hanging from the center.

An elaborate stomacher set with pearls, with a central large drop-shaped pearl and a smaller drop-shaped pearl below it, along the median line, and a row of five drop-shaped pearls hanging from either side of perfectly matching motifs.

A second circular brooch set with pearls, on the left side, just below the row of five pearls on the left side of the stomacher.

A third brooch holding together the ends of a blue-colored sash across the right shoulder and left waist.

The Empress is depicted placing her left hand on a crown set with rows of pearls, placed on an orange-colored cushion.

An Orb, also set with rows of pearls, is depicted on one side of the crown and slightly behind it

Peter II of Russia – Emperor of All Russia from 1727 to 1730

After the death of Peter the Great’s co-ruler and wife Empress Catherine I, on May 17, 1727, the stage was now set for normal succession rules to take precedence in order to avoid a succession crisis. Accordingly, the next in line of succession to the Russian throne, was Peter the Great’s only male-line grandson, Peter Alekseyevich, the only son of Tsarevich Alexi Petrovich, the eldest son of Peter I by his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina, who married Princess Charlotte Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, and later died in prison in 1718 due to injuries caused by torture. If not for Empress Catherine’s ascension to the throne, in 1725, who obviously was Peter the Great’s chosen successor, Peter Alekseyevich would have succeeded his grandfather, under the normal rules of succession of Russia. Peter Alekseyevich’s claim to the throne was supported by a majority of the Russian people, and the nobility, who detested claims by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, who was Peter’s uncle. Peter’s claim was also supported by the purported last will of Catherine I. Accordingly, Peter II was proclaimed Emperor of All Russia on May 18, 1727, rejecting the claims of Charles VI.


Portrait of Emperor Peter II by Russian painter Molchanov around 1730

Peter II was just 12 years old at the time he ascended the throne of Russia, and first came under the care of Menshikov, who lodged him in his own palace on the Vasiliesky Island, and planned to get his daughter married to him. Menshikov played the role of a regent to Peter II, but soon became arrogant and domineering, and tried to dominate the emperor himself, which was resented by Peter, who got him arrested in September 1727. Peter II then came under the influence of another Prince Vasily Dolgorukov, who persuaded Peter to transfer the seat of power back to Moscow, where he exerted total control over the young emperor. The coronation of Peter was held in Moscow on February 25, 1728. Prince Vasily then got Peter engaged to his niece, Princess Catherine Dolgorukova, and the wedding was eventually fixed for January 30, 1730. Unfortunately Peter II contracted smallpox and died coincidentally on the same day his wedding was originally scheduled to take place. With his death, the direct male line of the Romanov dynasty came to an end. Peter II was buried in the Kremlin, the only Romanov monarch not buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

Anna Ivanovna of Russia – Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740

After the death of Peter II on January 30, 1730, the Supreme Privy Council of Russia decided that Anna Ivanovna, the 4th-daughter of co-Tsar Ivan V and his wife Praskovia Saltykova, should ascend the throne as the new Empress of Russia, thus overlooking the eligibility of two surviving daughters of Peter the Great, Anna and Elizabeth. The choice of the Supreme Privy Council was limited only to the surviving daughters of Ivan V and Peter the Great, as there were no surviving sons from either one of them. However, the Supreme Privy Council had already set a precedence by selecting Catherine as Empress and successor, to Emperor Peter the Great. Hence, they were only following a precedent set earlier, and Empress Anna Ivanovna became the second female monarch in the history of Russia to rule the country. By selecting Anna Ivanovna as empress, if the Supreme Privy Council and the nobility had believed that they had only selected a figure-head to be the Empresss of Russia, so that real power could be exercised by them from behind the scenes, they were sadly mistaken, as time passed, making use of her popularity with the Imperial Guards and the lesser nobility Anna Ivanovna established herself as a powerful autocratic ruler.

Anna married Frederick Wilhelm, Duke of Courland, in November 1710, a marriage that was arranged by Peter the Great. During the couple’s return trip to Courland from St. Petersburg in January 1711, Frederick Wilhelm died, and Anna was widowed just two months after her marriage. Anna never remarried after her husband’s death, but continued to rule as the Duchess of Courland from 1711 to 1730. Anna preferred to spend most of her time in Moscow, rather than the capital, St. Petersburg, and took a sadistic delight in cruel jokes, that sometimes humiliated the old nobility, and did not even spare entire populations of the city, who panicked at the ringing of fire bells that raised false alarms. Anna gave powerful positions in her administration to Baltic Germans instead of Russian nobles whom she always distrusted. One such Officer who gained her favour, and had considerable influence over her policies was Ernst Johann von Biron, whom she raised to the throne of Courland and was rumoured to be the lover of the Empress. In spite of her distrust of the nobility, she also granted them many privileges. Anna’s reign also marked the beginning of Russian territorial expansion into Central Asia, which was eventually realized fully by Catherine II. As Anna’s health declined, she made arrangements for her succession, excluding descendants of her uncle, Peter the Great, and trying to secure the line of her father, Ivan V, by declaring her grandnephew, Ivan VI as her successor, with her favourite, Biron as regent. Anna’s choice of successor, was not popular, because Ivan VI’s mother, Anna Leopoldovna was detested for her German counsellors and relatives. Yet, when Empress Anna died on October 28, 1740, the infant Ivan VI who was just two months old, was proclaimed Emperor, and Ernst Johann von Biron, became the regent.


Portrait of Empress Anna Ioannovna by Louis Caravaque in 1730

Ornaments depicted on the portrait :-

Crown studded with colored stones and rows of pearls.

An elaborate stomacher set with pearls and colored stones.

The Empress is depicted holding the Orb, placed on a velvet-covered cushion, with her left hand.

The Empress is holding the royal scepter in her right hand.

Ivan VI Antonovich – Proclaimed Emperor as an infant on October 28, 1740 and ruled until December 6, 1741, with his mother Anna Leopoldovna acting as regent.


Portrait of Ivan VI of Russia by unkown artist, when the infant Emperor was just above one year old

Ivan VI who was proclaimed as Emperor during his infancy, was born in St. Petersburg, on August 23, 1740, to the Duchess Anna Leopoldovna of Mecklenburg, niece of Empress Anna of Russia, and grand-daughter of Tsar Ivan V. Anna Leopoldovna’s husband was Prince Antony Ulrich of Brunswick-Luneburg. Ivan’s grand-aunt, Empress Anna adopted him when he was an eight-week-old infant, and declared him her successor on October 5, 1740, just three weeks before her death on October 28, 1740. Soon after Empress Anna’s death, Ivan was proclaimed Emperor and Ernst Johann von Biron became regent, in accordance with the late Empress’ wishes. However, Biron was removed just 12 days after he assumed the regency, and was replaced by Ivan’s mother, Anna Leopoldovna, with the actual running of the government being undertaken by the vice-chancellor, Andrei Osterman.

Anna Leopoldovna however, became very unpopular because of her German relatives and counsellors, and just 13 months after Ivan VI was proclaimed as Emperor, Elizabeth Petrovna, one of the two surviving daughters of Peter the Great, staged a coup d’etat and seized the throne on December 6, 1741, with the blessings of the population and the army, thus ending the short rule of Ivan VI and the regency of his mother. Ivan VI was then incarcerated for the rest of his life, being moved from one fortress to another, such as Dunamunde, Kholmogory and finally Shlisselburg, where he was killed by his guards, on July 16, 1764, in an attempt to free him during the rule of Catherine II

Elizabeth Petrovna – Empress of Russia from 1741 to 1762

Elizabeth Petrovna was the second of the two surviving daughters of Peter the Great and Catherine I of Russia, and was born on December 18, 1709, at the time her parents were secretly married and their marriage not yet publicly solemnized, which only took place subsequenty at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, on February 9, 1712. Though bright as a child, she did not have the benefit of a perfect formal education, yet under the guidance of her French governess, attained fluency in French, Italian and German, and also acquired the aristocratic skills of dancing and riding. Elizabeth turned out to become an extraordinarily beautiful and vivacious young lady, a leading beauty in the court of Peter the Great, as depicted in the portrait of Ivan Nikitin in the 1720s. Attempts by Peter the Great, to arrange a suitable match for Elizabeth before his death did not materialize. His first proposal to get the young French king, Louis XV, to marry Elizabeth was turned down by the Bourbons. Subsequently, Elizabeth was betrothed to a Prince of Holstein-Gottorp, Karl Augustus, like her sister Anna who married the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. But, unfortunately Karl Augustus died few days after the betrothal. During the rule of her nephew Peter II and later her cousin Anna, Elizabeth kept a low profile, but took several young and handsome men as lovers, such as a sergeant in the Guards regiment, Alexis Shubin, who was later banished to Siberia by Empress Anna, a coachmen and even a waiter and finally a young and handsome Ukrainian peasant, who was a member of a church choir group, Alexis Razumovsky, who would subsequently become her morgantic spouse after she ascended the throne as empress.

Elizabeth, being the daughter of Peter the Great, was greatly respected by the Russian guards regiments. Elizabeth often visited the regiments, attending all their special events and functions, and acting a godmother to their children. After the death of Empress Anna, Elizabeth was kept out of her legitimate inheritance to the throne, which was instead given to a descendant of Tsar Ivan V, the infant Ivan VI with his mother Anna Leopoldovna as regent. The regency of Anna Leopoldovna became very unpopular, not only because of the high taxes imposed and other economic problems, but also because she was surrounded by several German relatives and counsellors. Elizabeth decided that the time was ripe to seize power, and staged a coup d’etat supported by the Russian guards regiments. The coup succeeded without any bloodshed, and the infant Emperor and his parents were arrested and incarcerated in a fortress. Elizabeth ascended the throne as Empress of Russia on December 6, 1741, at the age of 33 years.

Immediately after ascending the throne, Elizabeth exiled most of the unpopular German advisers who were at the helm of affairs in the previous regime. During her reign her hidden talents surfaced, and she became renowned for her keen judgement and diplomatic tact, reminiscent of her father, Peter the Great. Elizabeth abolished the cabinet council system introduced by Empress Anna, and re-constituted the Senate, as it was under Peter the Great. She gave priority to settling all disputes with Sweden, and opened negotiations, that led to the Treaty of Abo, in which Sweden surrendered to Russia, territory in southern Finland, east of the River Kymmene, that became the boundary between the two states. She took the country into the War of Austrian Succession between 1740 to 1748 forming an Anglo-Austro-Russian alliance against the Franco-Prussian coalition, dispatching 30,000 Russin troops to the Rhine, that accelerated peace negotiations, and the signing of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. During the final years of her rule, She took Russia into the Seven-Years War (1756-1763), forming an Austro-Franco-Russian alliance against Prussia, with the intention of eliminating the danger posed by Frederick the Great of Prussia to the Russian empire. Elizabeth’s sheer determination and firmness despite her failing health helped to hold together the anti-Prussian alliance until her death in January 1762.

Elizabeth’s court was reputed to be one of the most splendid in all of Europe, holding sumptuous balls and masquerades. She was proud of her dancing skills and wore the most exquisite dresses to court. Her wardrobe included fifteen thousand ball gowns, several thousand pairs of shoes and unlimited number of silk stockings. The empress determined the styles of dresses and decorations worn by her courtiers, and imitating the Empress’ hairstyle was forbidden.


Portrait of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna by Charles Van Loo

Ornaments worn by the Empress :-

Hair ornament set with pearls and colored stones.

Drop earrings incorporating pearls and diamonds.

Multistrand pearl bracelets on both hands.

Brooches on the right shoulder and near the hip, keeping in place a blue sash.

Another brooch attached to the left side of the bodice of her dress.


Elizabeth’s legacy include the establishment of the University of Moscow, the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Peterburg, the Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral. She has gone down in history as one of the best loved Russian monarchs, for not allowing any Germans in governmet, and not executing anyone for any offence during her reign.


Elizabeth of Russia by V. Eriksen in the 18th-century

Ornaments worn by the Empress :-

Hair ornaments incorporating diamonds.

Drop earrings incorporating diamonds.

Elaborate stomacher incorporating diamonds.

Peter III of Russia – Emperor of Russia from January 1762 to July 1762

Empress Elizabeth was not officially married and did not have any legitimate children, to be made heir to the throne and succeed her after her death. Elizabeth’s elder sister Anna, who was married to the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, Karl Friedrich, had a son named Peter, who was born on February 21, 1728. Anna died less than two weeks after giving birth to Peter. In 1739, when Peter was 11 years old, his father died and Peter succeeded him as the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, assuming the name Karl Peter Ulrich. After Elizabeth became empress in December 1741, she got down her nephew Peter from Germany, converted him to Orthodox Christianity, and proclaimed him the heir-presumptive to the Russian throne, on November 7, 1742. She assigned Russian tutors to her nephew and also selected a suitable partner to marry the heir-presumptive. Her choice was Peter’s own second cousin, Sophia Augusta Frederica, daughter of Prince Christian Augustus and Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Like Peter, Sophia was converted to Orthodox Christianity and given the name Ekaterina (Catherine) Alexeievna in memory of Elizabeth’ mother, Catherine I. Their marriage took place on August 21, 1745. Peter was 17 and Catherine 16 years of age at the time of their marriage. The newly weds settled in the Palace of Oranienbaum, where they lived for the next 16 years. The marriage turned out to be an unhappy one, both of them taking lovers, yet producing two issues, Paul in 1754, the future emperor, and Anna Petrovna in 1757 who died two years later in 1759. Even though Catherine claimed subsequently, that Paul was not fathered by Peter, Paul physically resembled Peter in many ways, and many historians believe that Catherine’ claim of Paul’s illegitimacy was an attempt to cast doubt on Paul’s right to the throne, in order to prop up her own chances of succeeding to the throne.

When Empress Elizabeth died on January 5, 1762, she was succeeded by Peter, who ascended the throne, as Peter III of Russia, and Catherine became the Empress Consort of Russia. The new Emperor and his consort moved into the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. Even after ascending the throne, Peter continued his close relationship with his mistresss, Elizabeth Vorontsova, while Catherine too carried on with her liason with several men, like Sergei Saltykov, Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov and others. Peter III’s ascension to the throne saw a complete reversal in the foreign policies of his predecessor and aunt Empress Elizabeth. The anti-Prussian alliance which Elizabeth helped to maintain in the Seven Years War, until her death in January 1762, suddenly collapsed, when Peter III, who had a great admiration for the Prussian king, Frederick II, decided to extend a hand of friendship to the king, and made peace with Prussia, to the detriment of the relationship with Austria. Overnight Prussia turned from an enemy to an ally of Russia. Peter III gave up all Russian conquests in Prussia, and allied his troops with the Prussian army against Austria, leading to the re-capture of Silesia and forcing Austria to the negotiating table, that ended the Seven Years War. Peter also made an attempt to restore Schleswig, which was previously captured by Denmark, to his duchy, Holstein-Gottorp, by isolating Denmark politically and sending 40,000 Russian troops to Colberg in Russian Pomerania, in preparation for war with Denmark, but the attempt did not materialize, as he was dethroned by his wife Catherine on July 9, 1762, and subsequently murdered by her agents.

During Peter III’s short period of rule that lasted precisely 186 days, he had passed 220 new laws, that reflect the making of a great emperor in the future, had his monarchy survived. Some of the progressive laws he proclaimed, include freedom of religious worship, a move that had not even been dreamt of, at that time in the more advanced countries of Western Europe; laws to fight corruption in government; establishing public litigation; abolishing the much-hated and feared Secret Police, an organ of repression created by Peter the Great;



Peter III

Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste of Anhalt-Zerbst
16 August 1745
one son



Catherine II the Great

Peter III of Russia
16 August 1745
one son




Prison reformers: Howard

John Howard

Born September 2, 1726, Hackney, London, died January 20, 1790, Kherson, Ukraine, Russian Empire. He was an English philanthropist and reformer in the fields of penology and public health. On his father’s death in 1742, Howard inherited considerable wealth and travelled widely in Europe. He then became High Sheriff in Bedfordshire in 1773.

He spent the last years of his life studying means of preventing plague and limiting the spread of contagious diseases. Travelling in Russia in 1790 and visiting the principal military hospitals that lay en route, he reached Kherson in Ukraine. In attending a case of camp fever that was raging there, he contracted the disease and died.




Alexandra Pavlovna and her sister, Elena Pavlovna
by Marie Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Le Brun

Alexandra was very close to her younger sister, Elena. In 1795, the sisters were painted by the French artist, Marie-Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun (1755-1842).


Alexandra Pavlovna


Alexandra Pavlovna
by Vladimir Borovikovsky

In the late 1790s, her sister Elena Pavlovna was betrothed to Hereditary Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1778-1819). Alexandra Pavlovna was engaged to Archduke Joseph Anton Johann of Austria, Palatine of Hungary (9 March 1776 – 13 January 1847). He was the son of Maria Louisa of Spain (24 November 1745 – 15 May 1792) and Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (5 May 1747 – 1 March 1792). Elena Pavlovna and Friedrich Ludwig were married on 23 October 1799, at the Palace of Gatchina. Alexandra Pavlovna married Archduke Joseph of Austria on 30 October 1799, at the Gatchina Palace, in Gatchina. Elena moved to Schwerin with her husband, while Alexandra and Joseph settled in the Castle of Alcsút, in Hungary. Alexandra gave birth to a daughter, Alexandrine on 8 March 1801, in Budapest, Hungary. Sadly the baby girl died on the day of her birth.

The Child of Archduchess Alexandra and Archduke Joseph:
Archduchess Alexandrine of Austria (8 March 1801 – 8 March 1801)

Alexandra died of puerperal fever, aged 17, on 16 March 1801, in Wien, Austria. Joseph built a mausoleum dedicated to his wife, but the Austrian Court refused her burial in any Catholic Cemetery. She was interred in Hungary. Her sister, Elena Pavlovna died on 24 September 1803. She was buried in the Helena Paulovna Mausoleum in Ludwigslust, which was named in her memory. Archduke Joseph of Austria married his second wife, Princess Hermine of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym (1797-1817) on 30 August 1815, at Schaumburg. They had two children, a daughter and a son. Joseph of Austria married his third wife, Duchess Maria Dorothea of Württemberg on 24 August 1819, at Kirchheim unter Teck. They had five children, three daughters and two sons




Paul I

Princess Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
29 September 1773
one stillborn daughter

Princess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
26 September 1776
ten children



19th Cent. Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia, Archduchess of Austria

Alexandra Pavlovna was born on 9 August 1783, in Tsarskoye Selo. She was the daughter of


Maria Feodorovna, Empress Consort of Russia (25 October 1759 – 5 November 1828) and



Paul I, Emperor of Russia (1 October 1754 – 23 March 1801).

Her maternal grandparents were Friederike Dorothee Sophie of Brandenburg-Schwedt, Duchess of Württemberg (18 December 1736 – 9 March 1798) and Friedrich Eugen, Duke of Württemberg (21 January 1732 – 23 December 1797). Her paternal grandparents were Catherine II the Great, Empress of Russia (2 May 1729 – 6 November 1796) and Peter III, Emperor of Russia (21 February 1728 – 17 July 1762). Alexandra’s parents were married on 7 October 1776. Her siblings were: Alexander I (1777-1825), Konstantin Pavlovich (1779-1831), Elena Pavlovna (1784-1803)Maria Pavlovna (1786-1859)Catherine Pavlovna (1788-1819)Anna Pavlovna (1795-1865), Nicholas I (1796-1855) and Michael Pavlovich (1798-1849). Her mother was her father’s second wife. Paul I married first Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeievna of Russia (25 June 1755 – 15 April 1776) on 29 September 1773. Natalia Alexeievna died shortly after she delivered a still born daughter on 15 April 1776.


Alexandra Pavlovna

by Dmitry Levitsky


Pavel I Petrovich Romanov,


Tsar of Russia was born on 1 October 1754 at St. Petersburg, Russia.3 He was the son of



Alexander I the Blessed

Princess Louise of Baden
28 September 1793
2 daughters




Constantine I (disputed)

Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
26 February
no children



Nicholas I

Princess Charlotte of Prussia
13 July 1817
7 childre



Alexander II the Liberator

Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine
16 April 1841
8 children



Alexander III the Peace-Maker

Princess Dagmar of Denmark
9 November 1866
6 children




Petr III Romanov, Tsar of Russia and


Catherine II Sofie Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst, Tsarina of Russia.


He married, firstly, Wilhelmine Luisa Prinzessin von Hessen-Darmstadt, daughter of


Ludwig IX Landgraf von Hessen-Darmstadt and


Karoline Henriette Christine Pfalzgräfin von Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, on 10 October 1773. He married, secondly,



Sophia Dorothea Prinzessin von Württemberg, daughter of


Friedrich II Eugen Heinrich Herzog von Württemberg and


Friederike Dorothea Prinzessin von Brandenburg-Schwedt, on 7 October 1776




 St. Petersburg, Russia.

Emperor Peter III Romanov died on 24 March 1801 at age 46 a


 St. Petersburg, Russia, assassinated.3

     He gained the title of
Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich of Russia.3 He succeeded to the title of Tsar Pavel I of Russia on 17 November 1796.3

Child of


Pavel I Petrovich Romanov, Tsar of Russia and


Wilhelmine Luisa Prinzessin von Hessen-Darmstadt

  1. unnamed child Romanov b. 26 Apr 1776, d. 26 Apr 1776

Children of Pavel I Petrovich Romanov, Tsar of Russia and Sophia Dorothea Prinzessin von Württemberg

  1. Aleksandr I Pavlovich Romanov, Tsar of Russia+ b. 23 Dec 1777, d. 1 Dec 1825
  2. Konstantin Pavlovich Romanov, Grand Duke of Russia+4 b. 8 May 1779, d. 27 Jun 1831
  3. Aleksandra Pavlovna Romanov, Grand Duchess of Russia+ b. 9 Aug 1783, d. 16 Mar 1801
  4. Elena Pavlovna Romanov, Grand Duchess of Russia+ b. 24 Dec 1784, d. 24 Sep 1803
  5. Mariya Pavlovna Romanov, Grand Duchess of Russia+ b. 16 Feb 1786, d. 23 Jun 1859
  6. Ekaterina Pavlovna Romanov, Grand Duchess of Russia+ b. 21 May 1788, d. 19 Jan 1819
  7. Olga Pavlovna Romanov, Grand Duchess of Russia b. 22 Jul 1792, d. 26 Jan 1795
  8. Anna Pavlovna Romanov, Grand Duchess of Russia+ b. 18 Jan 1795, d. 1 Mar 1865
  9. Nikolai I Pavlovich Romanov, Tsar of Russia+ b. 6 Jul 1796, d. 2 Mar 1855

10.Mikhail Pavlovich Romanov, Grand Duke of Russia+ b. 8 Feb 1798, d. 9 Sep 1849

House of Romanov

House of Romanov
House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov

Country Tsardom of Russia
Russian Empire
Kingdom of Poland
Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Oldenburg
Duchy of Holstein
Ancestral house

and so forth, and so forth, and so forth

Current head Disputed:

Founding 1613 — Michael I
Dissolution Russia:
1917 — Nicholas II abdicated as a result of the February Revolution in favour of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, who refused to accept the throne until it could be approved by the Russian Constituent Assembly
Cadet branches

The House of Romanov (Russian: Рома́нов, IPA: [rɐˈmanəf]) was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the February Revolution abolished the crown in 1917. The later history of the Imperial House is sometimes referred to informally as the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.

The Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, who was himself a member of a cadet branch of the Oldenburgs, married into the Romanov family early in the 18th century; all Romanov Tsars from the middle of that century to the revolution of 1917 were descended from that marriage. Though officially known as the House of Romanov, these descendants of the Romanov and Oldenburg Houses are sometimes referred to as Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.[citation needed] [edit] Origins

A 16th-century residence of the Yuryev-Zakharyin boyars in Zaryadye, near the Kremlin.

The Romanovs share their origin with two dozen other Russian noble families. Their earliest common ancestor is one Andrei Kobyla, attested as a boyar in the service of Semyon I of Moscow. Later generations assigned to Kobyla the most illustrious pedigrees. An 18th century genealogy book claimed that he was the son of the Prussian prince Glanda Kambila, who came to Russia in the second half of the 13th century, fleeing the invading Germans. Indeed, one of the leaders of the Old Prussian rebellion of 1260-1274 against the Teutonic order was named Glande.

His actual origin may have been less spectacular. Not only is Kobyla Russian for “mare”, some of his relatives also had as nicknames the terms for horses and other domestic animals, thus suggesting descent from one of the royal equerries. One of Kobyla’s sons, Feodor, a boyar in the boyar duma of Dmitri Donskoi, was nicknamed Koshka (cat). His descendants took the surname Koshkin, then changed it to Zakharin, which family later split into two branches: Zakharin-Yakovlev and Zakharin-Yuriev. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the former family became known as Yakovlev (Alexander Herzen being the most illustrious of them), whereas grandchildren of Roman Zakharin-Yuriev changed their name to Romanov.

[edit] Rise to power

A crowd at the Ipatiev Monastery imploring Mikhail Romanov’s mother to let him go to Moscow and become their tsar (Illumination from a book dated 1673).

The family fortunes soared when Roman’s daughter, Anastasia Zakharyina, married Ivan IV in February 1547. When her husband assumed the title of tsar, which literally means Caesar, she was crowned the very first Tsaritsa. Their marriage was an exceedingly happy one, but her untimely and mysterious death in 1560 changed Ivan’s character for the worse. Suspecting the boyars of having poisoned his beloved, the tsar started a reign of terror against them. Among his children by Anastasia, the elder (Ivan) was murdered by the tsar in a quarrel; the younger Feodor, a pious and lethargic prince, inherited the throne upon his father’s death.

Throughout Feodor’s reign, the Russian government was contested between his brother-in-law, Boris Godunov, and his Romanov cousins. Upon the death of childless Feodor, the 700-year-old line of Moscow Ruriks came to an end. After a long struggle, the party of Boris Godunov prevailed over the Romanovs, and the former was elected new Tsar in 1599. Godunov’s revenge on the Romanovs was terrible: all the family and its relatives were deported to remote corners of the Russian North and Ural, where most of them died of hunger or in chains. The family’s leader, Feodor Nikitich Romanov, was exiled to the Antoniev Siysky Monastery and forced to take monastic vows with the name Filaret.

The Romanovs’ fortunes again changed dramatically with the fall of the Godunov dynasty in June 1605. As a former leader of the anti-Godunov party and cousin of the last legitimate Tsar, Filaret Romanov was valued by several impostors who attempted to claim the Rurik legacy and throne during the Time of Troubles. False Dmitriy I made him a metropolitan, and False Dmitriy II raised him to the dignity of patriarch. Upon expulsion of Poles from Moscow in 1612, the Assembly of the Land offered the Russian crown to several Rurik and Gedimin princes, but all of them declined the honour of it.

On being offered the Russian crown, Filaret’s 16-year-old son Mikhail Romanov, then living at the Ipatiev Monastery of Kostroma, burst into tears of fear and despair. He was finally persuaded to accept the throne by his mother Kseniya Ivanovna Shestova, who blessed him with the holy image of Our Lady of St. Theodore. It is little known that he was spirited to Moscow on the donation from the Stroganov family of Perm. Feeling how insecure his throne was, Mikhail attempted to emphasize his ties with the last Rurik tsars and sought advice from the Assembly of the Land on every important issue. This strategy proved successful. The early Romanovs were generally loved by the population as in-laws of Ivan the Terrible and innocent martyrs of Godunov’s wrath.

[edit] The era of dynastic crisis

Mikhail was succeeded by his only son Alexei, who steered the country quietly through numerous troubles. Upon his death, there was a period of dynastic struggles between his children by his first wife (Feodor III, Sofia Alexeevna, Ivan V) and his son by his second wife Nataliya Kyrillovna Naryshkina, the future Peter the Great. New dynastic struggles followed the death of Peter. His only son Alexei, who did not support Peter’s modernization of Russia, had previously been arrested and died in prison shortly thereafter. Near the end of his life, Peter managed to alter the succession tradition of male heirs to allow him to name his own heir. Power then passed into the hands of his second wife, the Empress Catherine. Within five years, the Romanov male line ended with the death of Peter II.

[edit] The Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov Dynasty

‹ The Holstein-Gottorps of Russia retained the Romanov surname and sought to emphasize their matrilineal descent from Peter the Great, through Anna Petrovna (Peter I’s elder daughter by his second wife). Paul I was particularly proud to be great-grandson of the illustrious Russian monarch, although his German-born mother, Catherine II (of the House of Anhalt-Zerbst), insinuated in her memoirs that Paul’s real father had been her lover Serge Saltykov. Painfully aware of the hazards resulting from battles of succession, Paul established the house law of the Romanovs—one of the strictest in Europe—basing the succession to agnatic primogeniture and requiring Orthodox faith from the monarch, the dynasts, the consort of the emperor and from those of first heirs in line. Later, Alexander I, facing prospect of a morganatic alliance of his brother and heir, added the requirement that consorts of Russian dynasts had to be of equal birth (i.e., born to a royal or sovereign house).

Paul I was murdered in his palace in Saint Petersburg. Alexander I succeeded him on the throne and later died without leaving a male heir. His brother, crowned Nicholas I, succeeded him on the throne. Nicholas I fathered four sons and provided them with excellent education for the prospect of ruling Russia and successfully leading in military conflicts.

Alexander II, son of Nicholas I, became the next Russian emperor. Alexander was an educated, intelligent man, who held that his task was to keep peace in Europe and Russia. However, he believed only a country with a strong army could keep the peace. By paying attention to the army, giving much freedom to Finland, and freeing the serfs in 1861, he gained much popular support (Finns still dearly remember him). His family life was not so happy; his beloved wife Maria Alexandrovna had serious problems with her lungs, which led to her death and to the dissolution of the close-knit family due to his quick morganatic marriage to his long time mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgoruki. His legitimization of his children by Catherine, and rumors that he was about to crown his new wife Empress, ending the morganatic status of his second marriage, caused great tension with the entire extended Romanov family. In particular, the Grand Duchesses were scandalized at the thought of being made permanently subordinate to Catherine Dolgoruki, since as an Empress she would have precedence over all of them. (She wouldn’t have precedence over the next Empress Consort, however,as only mothers of Emperors had precedence over the wife of the reigning sovereign . On March 13, 1881, Alexander was killed after returning from a military parade. Slavic patriotism, cultural revival, and Panslavist ideas grew in importance in the latter half of this century, drawing the dynasty to look more ‘Russian’. Yet tighter commitment to orthodox faith was required of Romanovs. Several marriages were contracted with princesses from other Slavic monarchies and other orthodox kingdoms, and even a couple of cadet-line princesses were allowed to marry Russian high noblemen – whereas until 1850s, practically all marriages had been with German princelings.

Wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.

Alexander II was succeeded by his son Alexander III. Alexander III, the second-to-last Romanov tsar, was responsible for conservative reforms in Russia. Never meant to be emperor, he was educated in matters of state only after the death of his older brother, Nikolai. This lack of extensive education may have influenced his politics as well as those of his son, Nicholas II. Alexander III cut an impressive figure. Not only was he tall (6’4″ according to some sources), but his physique was proportionately large. Rumors spread about his incredible strength – a strength that was the size of his temper. In addition, the beard he wore hearkened back to the likeness of tsars of old, contributing to the aura of authority with which he carried himself.

Alexander, fearful of the fate which had befallen his father, strengthened autocratic rule in Russia. Many of the reforms the more liberal Alexander II had pushed through were reversed. Alexander, at his brother’s death, not only inherited the throne, but also a betrothed – Danish princess Maria Fyodorovna. Despite contrasting natures and size, the pair got on famously, was the first time a Tsar didn’t have a mistress, and produced six children.

The former Imperial Waiting Room at the main train station in Nizhny Novgorod

The eldest, Nicholas, became Tsar upon his father’s sudden death (due to kidney disease) at age 49. Unready to inherit the throne, Nicholas reputedly said, “I am not ready to be Tsar….” Though an intelligent and kind-hearted man, lacking any preparation to rule, he continued his father’s harsh polices. His Tsarina, the loving German princess Alexandra Fyodorovna, was also a liability. Like the Tsar, she was not a ruler. When the Tsar took control of the army in the front lines during World War I, he left his wife in charge of Russia for he trusted only her. Like Nicholas, she failed at ruling. She was indecisive and did not trust anyone’s advice. She was not intuitive in the ways of politics and not competent in this area. The fact that she was a German also lessened the Russian people’s faith in her.

Constantine Pavlovich and Michael Alexandrovich, although sometimes counted among Russian monarchs, were not crowned and never reigned. They both married morganatically, as did Alexander II with his second wife. Six crowned representatives of the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov line include: Paul (1796–1801), Alexander I (1801–1825), Nicholas I (1825–55), Alexander II (1855–81), Alexander III (1881–94), and Nicholas II (1894–1917).

[edit] Downfall

Further information: Shooting of the Romanov family and Canonization of the Romanovs

One of the imperial Fabergé eggs presented by Nicholas II to his wife.

All these emperors (except Alexander III) had German-born consorts, a circumstance which damaged their popularity during World War I. Nicholas’s wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, although devoutly Orthodox, was particularly hated by the populace, largely because of her German origins.

Alexandra was a carrier of the gene for hemophilia, which she inherited from her maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria. Her only son, the long-awaited heir to the throne, Alexei inherited the gene and developed hemophilia. Nicholas and Alexandra also had four daughters (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia).

The February Revolution of 1917 resulted in abdication of Nicholas II in favor of his brother Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. The latter declined to accept the crown, terminating the Romanov dynasty’s rule over Russia. (Many believe that the crown did not technically pass to Michael, as Tsarevich Alexei would have automatically succeeded his father, Nicholas II. Thus Alexei would have been the only one who could renounce the crown, Michael could not abdicate, and the crown would still be in the Romanov name.)

After the February Revolution, Nicholas II and his family were placed under house arrest in the Alexander Palace. Several members of the Imperial Family, including Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia, managed to establish good relations with the interim government and eventually fled the country during the October Revolution.

Yekaterinburg‘s “Church on the Blood“, built on the spot where the last Tsar and his family were killed.

[edit] Execution of Tsar & Family

On July 17, 1918, Bolshevik authorities, led by Yakov Yurovsky, shot Nicholas II, his immediate family, and four servants in the cellar of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The family was told that they were to be photographed to prove to the people that they were still alive. The family members were arranged appropriately and left alone for several minutes, the gunmen then walked in and started shooting. The girls did not die from the first shots, because bullets rebounded off jewels that were sewn into their corsets. The gunmen tried to stab them with bayonets, that failed, because of the jewels, the gunmen then shot each girl in the head at close range.

Ironically, the Ipatiev House has the same name as the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma, where Mikhail Romanov had been offered the Russian Crown in 1613. The spot where the Ipatiev House once stood has recently been commemorated by a magnificent cathedral “on the blood.”

After years of controversy, Nicholas II and his family were proclaimed passion-bearers by the Russian Orthodox church in 2000. (In orthodoxy, a passion-bearer is a saint who was not killed because of his faith like a martyr but died in faith at the hand of murderers.)

[edit] Execution of Extended Family

On 18th July 1918, the day after the killing at Yekaterinburg of the last Tsar, Nicholas II and family, members of the extended Russian royal family, the Romanovs, including a nun, and servants met a brutal death by being thrown down a mineshaft near Alapayevsk by Bolsheviks. All except Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia survived the fall, hand-grenades were thrown down after them killing Grand Duke Sergei’s secretary, Fyodor Remez. Other victims died a slow death[citation needed] including Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Igor Konstantinovich of Russia and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, Grand Duke Sergei’s secretary Varvara Yakovleva and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Grand Duchess Elizabeth had departed her family after the death of her husband in 1905 and donated all her wealth to the poor and became a nun, but was shown no mercy.[1]

The bodies were recovered from the mine by the White army in 1918, who arrived too late to rescue them. The bodies were placed in coffins and were moved around Russia during struggles between the White and the opposing Red Army. By 1920 the coffins were interred in a former Russian Mission in Beijing, now beneath a parking area. In 1981 Princess Elisabeth was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and in 1992 by the Moscow Patriarchate. In 2006 representatives of the Romanov family were making plans to reinter the remains elsewhere.[2] The town is a place of pilgrimage to the memory of Elizabeth Romanov.

[edit] Remains Of Tsar

In 1991, the bodies of Nicholas II and his wife, along with three of their five children and four of their servants, were exhumed (although some questioned the authenticity of these bones despite DNA testing). Because two bodies were not present, many people believed that two Romanov children escaped the killings. There was much debate as to which two children’s bodies were missing. A Russian scientist made photographic superimpositions and determined that Marie and Alexei were not accounted for. Later, an American scientist concluded from dental, vertebral, and other remnants that it was Anastasia and Alexei who were missing. Much mystery surrounded Anastasia’s fate. Several films have been produced suggesting that she lived on.

After the bodies were exhumed in June, 1991, they sat in laboratories until 1998, while there was a debate as to whether they should be reburied in Yekaterinburg or St. Petersburg. A commission eventually chose St. Petersburg, so they (along with several loyal servants who died with them) were interred in a special chapel in the Peter and Paul Cathedral near the tombs of their ancestors.

[edit] Empress Marie Fedorovna

In September 2006, Empress Marie Fedorovna, the consort of Alexander III, was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral beside her husband. Having fled Russia at the time of the Revolution, she had spent her remaining years in exile in her native Denmark, where she was initially buried in Roskilde Cathedral. The transfer of her remains was accompanied by elaborate ceremonies, including at St. Isaac’s officiated by the Patriarch. For monarchists, the reburial of the Empress in the former Imperial Capital, so many years after her death, further underscored the downfall of the dynasty. Princes Dmitri and Nicholas Romanov were present at the ceremony, along with Princess Catherine Ioannovna of Russia, daughter of Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Nikita Kepta Romanoff, son of Kristina Tasha Romanova. Other members of the Imperial Family present included the descendants of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna including Prince Michael Andreevich of Russia the senior direct male descendant. Princess Catherine who was 90 years old at the time, and died in Montevideo Uruguay the following year, was the last member of the Imperial Family to be born before the fall of the dynasty, and was ultimately to become the last surviving uncontested dynast of the Imperial House of Russia.

[edit] Alexei

Late summer of 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced the discovery by one of his workers. The excavation discovered the following items in the two pits which formed a “T”: (#1) remains of 46 human bones fragments; (#2) bullet jackets from short barrel guns/pistols; (#3) wooden boxes which had deteriorated into fragments: (#4) pieces of cermanic which appear to be amphoras which were used as containers for acid; (#5) iron nails; (#6) iron angles: (#7) seven fragments of teeth; (#8) fragment of fabric of a garment. The area where the remains were found were near the old Koptyaki Rd. under what appeared to be double bonfire sites which is about 70 km from the mass grave in Pigs Meadow near Yekaterinburg. The general directions were described in Yurovsky’s memoirs owned by his son, although no one is sure who wrote the notes on the page. The archaeologists said the bones are from a boy who was roughly between the ages of ten and thirteen years at the time of his death and of a young woman who was roughly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three years old. Anastasia was seventeen years, one month old at the time of the murder, while Maria was nineteen years and one month old. Alexei would have been fourteen in two weeks time. Alexei’s elder sisters Olga and Tatiana were twenty-two and twenty-one years old at the time of the murder. The bones were found using metal detectors and metal rods as probes. Also, striped material was found that appeared to have been from a blue-and-white striped cloth; Alexei commonly wore a blue-and-white striped undershirt.

[edit] DNA Proof

On April 30, 2008, Russian forensic scientists announced that DNA testing proves that the remains belong to the Tsarevich Alexei and to one of his sisters. DNA information, made public in July 2008, that has been obtained from Ekaterinburg and repeatedly subject to independent testing by laboratories such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA, and reveals that the final two missing Romanov remains are indeed authentic and that the entire Romanov family housed in the Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg were executed in the early hours of 17 July 1918. In March 2009, results of the DNA testing were published, confirming that the two bodies discovered in 2007 were those of Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters.

[edit] Romanov family jewelry

On August 28, 2009, a Swedish public news outlet reported that Romanov family jewelry, found in 2008 in the archives of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, was returned. The jewelry was allegedly turned over to the Swedish embassy in St. Petersburg in November 1918 by Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to keep it safe. The jewelry’s worth was estimated to 20 million SEK (about 2.6 million US dollars).[3]

[edit] Contemporary Romanovs

There have been many theories regarding the possible survival of members of Nicholas II’s family. However, recent research shows that all of the Romanovs, including Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Anastasia who had been thought to have escaped the Bolshevik attack, were killed.[4][5]

Many relatives survived, including Nicholas II’s two sisters, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia. Xenia’s and Olga’s descendants survive to this day. Cyril Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia, a descendant of Alexander II of Russia, claimed the title Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias in 1924 and some of his descendants retain such claims. In addition the Romanov Family Association exists for most descendants of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Both branches of the Romanov family are feuding with one another over the question of succession. Other close family relatives include Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was a great-nephew of the last Tsaritsa. Prince Philip’s DNA was used by forensic scientists to identify the body of the last Tsaritsa and her children.[6]

[edit] Heraldry


The Imperial Arms of the House of Romanov, which were restricted in use to the Emperor and certain members of the Imperial Family






Murdered Russia Nobles




Tsar Peter III of Russia. 

Catherine, along with her lover Grigori Orlov, planned to overthrow Peter, as she believed he would divorce her in order to marry his mistress Elisabeth Vorontsova. The Leib Guard, on which Peter planned to impose harsher discipline, revolted and Peter was arrested and forced to sign his own abdication; Catherine became Empress with the support of most of the nobility. Shortly thereafter, Peter was killed while in custody at Ropsha. While Catherine did not punish the responsible guards, doubts remain as to whether she ordered the murder or not.


Tsar Paul I of Russia. 

A conspiracy was organized—some months before it was executed—by Counts Petr Alekseevich Pahlen, Nikita Petrovich Panin, and the half-Spanish, half-Neapolitan adventurer Admiral Ribas. The death of Ribas delayed the execution. On the night of the March 23 [O.S. March 11] 1801, Paul was murdered in his bedroom in the newly built St Michael’s Castle by a band of dismissed officers headed by General Bennigsen, a Hanoverian in the Russian service, and General Yashvil, a Georgian. They charged into his bedroom, flushed with drink after supping together, and found Paul hiding behind some drapes in the corner. The conspirators pulled him out, forced him to the table, and tried to compel him to sign his abdication. Paul offered some resistance, and one of the assassins struck him with a sword, after which he was strangled and trampled to death. He was succeeded by his son, the 23-year-old Alexander I—who was actually in the palace—and to whom General Nicholas Zubov, one of the assassins, announced his accession, accompanied by the admonition, “Time to grow up! Go and rule!”.




Tsar Alexander II of Russia. 

On 13 March (1 March Old Style Date), 1881, Alexander fell victim to an assassination plot. 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 tsar 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 tsar to leave the area at once rather than being shown the site of the explosion. A young man, Ignacy Hryniewiecki, standing by the canal fence, raised both arms and threw something at the tsar’s feet


Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. 

On the night of 16/17 July 1918, the royal family was awakened around 2:00 am, told to dress, and led down into a half-basement room at the back of the Ipatiev house; the pretext for this move was the family’s safety – that anti-Bolshevik forces were approaching Ekaterinberg, and the house might be fired upon. Present with Nicholas, Alexandra and their children were their doctor, and three of their servants, who had voluntarily chosen to remain with family – the Tsar’s personal physician Eugene Botkin, his wife’s maid Anna Demidova, and the family’s chef, Ivan Kharitonov, and footman, Alexei Trupp. A firing squad had been assembled and was waiting in an adjoining room, composed of seven Communist soldiers from Central Europe, and three local Bolsheviks, all under the command of Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky (the soldiers are often described as Hungarians; in his account, Yurovsky described them as “Latvians”).




Russia. Ruble, 1810-SPB FG


Russia Tartary:1810 Modes Of Travelling By Yakoutes, Antique Print.



XX Anniversary of the War and Peace Ball
for the first time in Russia since 1810!


Franco-Russian Diplomacy, 1810-1812

“I will not draw sword first, but I shall sheathe it last” – Alexander I

On June 24, 1812,


while Napoleon was standing on the shores of Niemen River and watching his Grande Armée crossing the Russian border,

read more Naoleon In Moscow

1812: Background for Napoleon’s Russian campaign  

The two emperors Napoleon (left) and Alexander I (right) negotiating the Tilsit Treaty in a pavilion set up on a raft in the middle of the Niemen River, beginning 25 June 1807.  

In 1806, Napoleon won a conclusive battle against Austria at Wagram. Austria was then forced to sign the treaty of Vienna, which reduced it to a state of powerlessness. From a military point of view, Napoleon had now gained control over most of Europe and was beginning to create a European Community, almost 200 years before it became a reality. As was the case for Adolf Hitler 129 years later, only two European nations stood between him and the total political dominance: Britain and Russia.

In November 1806 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church issued a denunciation of Napoleon, accusing him of conspiring with evil people against the Christan Faith, due to Napoleons declaration of his regard for Islam. Russia therefore launched a military crusade against him. This initiative was cut short by Napoleon routing the Russian army at Eylau (January 1807) and at Friedland (June 1807). Tsar Alexander I of Russia the sensibly enough suggested peace and and an alliance, which was negotiated and signed 7 July 1807 at Tilsit.

Cracks in this alliance, however, rapidly began to show. Especially Napoleon’s creation of the Grande Duchy of Warsaw in 1807 had, in effect, introduced the first material renewed conflict of interest between France and Russia. This new political unit inevitably raised the possibility of a restoration of the Kingdom of Poland. Such a restoration would entail the loss of Russia of some if not all previous land acquisitions at the expense of Poland – an area of 463,000 km2 with a population of more than seven million. Napoleon was beginning to fear that Russia would use the Polish question as an excuse to seek an understanding with Britannia. The French-Russian relationship began to deteriorate. By 1811, there was much open talk about the coming war in both countries, although probably both Napoleon and Alexander had no personal wishes to go down the road to war.

Caught up by the internal dynamics of this development, Napoleon decided to strike first, and began a relentless build-up of forces through the autumn and winter of 1811 and into the spring of 1812. The army Napoleon was assembling would be large by any scale, including soldiers from almost every nation of Europe. The largest non-French contingent were the Poles, who numbered some 95,000. In total, the ‘Grande Armée‘ probably numbered around 450,000. Also Alexander did everything he could to prepare his armed forces for the expected confrontation, and in 1812 he had almost 600,000 men under arms. Napoleons army, however, was fortified by the reputation of the French arms: The common belief that they were invincible made them almost invincible.

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1812: Napoleon’s Russian summer campaign   

22 June 1812 the Grande Armée invaded Russia, crossing the river Niemen. What officially was proclaimed as the Second Polish War had begun. The Russian army had spend a year and a half deploying for an offensive, but instead began retreating the moment operations began. To add to the general confusion, issues like command and strategy had not been decided because of chaos and intrigue at the Russian headquarters. As nobody and nothing was prepared, the Russian army commanded by general Barclay therefore continued their retreat without major resistance, looking for a suitable position in which to make a stand. Apparently such a position was not easily found, so the retreat continued for weeks. This development left people in Moscow and St. Petersburg bewildered about what was going on, and Tsar Alexander found himself in a difficult position. Already on 28 June Napoleon entered Vilna, 170 km east of Niemen.

In western Russia the weather July 1806 turned out to be exceedingly warm with daytime temperatures reaching 36oC (Zamoyski 2005). Many French soldiers who had previously campaigned in Egypt claimed that they had never marched in such a heat. Early July a heavy thunderstorm drifted across the area near Vilna, for a short time making all roads impassable. Worse, loses among the Grande Armée’s horses were horrific. This left Napoleon’s artillery in a difficult position, but the army’s supply organisation was even harder affected. After the rainstorm, the warm weather continued. The remaining horses were having a terrible time. Unused to the kind of diet they were exposed to, they suffered from colic and diarrhoea or constipation. The overall supply situation therefore rapidly deteriorated, and most soldiers had to find something to eat and to prepare it themselves. Not surprisingly, under these circumstances, many soldiers died of dehydration, malnutrition and hunger, while others got dysentery. When the Grande Armée 28 July reached Vitebsk 400 km into Russia, the whole army had already been reduced by a third, without fighting a single major battle. The summer weather was beginning to turn the whole campaign into a nightmare.

The Russian army was no happier than the French, and its troops were in a state of dejection as they retreated towards Smolensk, 380 km southwest of Moscow. Napoleon was convinced that the Russian army would have to fight in defence of the wholly city of Smolensk. The Russian forces and general Barclay were, however, in a state of tactical confusion, and no strong defence of the city was organised. Smolensk went up into flames, and fell to Napoleon 17 August. The burnt-out city represented neither an effective bastion nor a hard-needed resource for his army. According to his secretary Baron Fain (Zamoyski 2005), Napoleon himself was presumably feeling disheartened and disgusted at the turn events had taken, and did not quite know what to do next. 

The battle of Smolensk had also demonstrated the unpleasant fact to Napoleon, that the individual Russian soldier did not lay down his arms even in very difficult situations. 129 years later Adolf Hitler would make the identical observation. The French were dismayed by all this. This was not how war was supposed to be. In addition, these discomforts were added to by the fact that the Russians had adopted a new tactic now that the invaders were in the Russian homeland proper. They evacuated the entire population as they retreated, leaving towns and villages deserted and burnt down. It became increasingly difficult for the French army to find provisions.

Napoleon realised that he could not stop where he was, and as he would not retreat for political reasons, he could only advance in the hope of eventually obtaining a decisive military victory over the Russians. If not before, the Russians would surely make a stand in defence of their old capital Moscow. Based on existing knowledge on climate in western Russia, Napoleon at that time expected at least two months of decent campaigning weather ahead.

The mood at Russian headquarters was hardly better, even though the general situation was changing in their favour. The retreat was a good deal less orderly than before, and the Russian armies were now leaving behind them a trail of abandoned wagons and dead or dying men and horses. Like the French, the Russians were disturbed by the inhumane turn the campaign had taken. The ongoing retreat meant that discipline were fast breaking down, and everybody was on the lookout for traitors. All this was having a detrimental effect on the army and Barclay’s authority.

In St. Petersburg Tsar Alexander found the general mood depressingly defeatist, and decided that the Russian army needed a new commander instead of Barclay. He was hard pressed by the public opinion to choose Field Marshal Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov as Barclay’s successor. Alexander himself was not to happy about this, as he considered Kutuzov both immoral and incompetent. His sister Catherine, however, urged him to bow to the inevitable, and Kutozov was appointed 20 August 1812. Kutuzov declared that he was going to save Moscow, and set off to find his headquarters.

After assessing the state of the Russian army Kutuzov suddenly felt that he could not face Napoleon, whose strength now was gauged at 165,000, down from the original 450,000. The Russian summer had taken its toll. Kutuzov therefore decided to continue the retreat initiated by Barclay two months before. Perhaps he also suspected Napoleon to be a superior general to himself. On 3 September Kutuzov inspected defensive positions found near the village of Borodino, about 100 km west of Moscow. Here he was going to make a stand.

Kutuzov took up entirely defensive positions without any tactical possibility of gaining the initiative. Luckily for him, Napoleon had just caught a cold with an associated attack of dysuria, and was in anything approaching his usual form. In fact, Napoleon was going to deliver probably the worst performance of his entire military career. The invading French army was now down to 126,000, while Kutuzov had about 155,00 men under his command.

The Battle at Borodino 6 September 1812 (oil painting by Hess), with Napoleon watching from the Shevardino Redoubt (oil painting by Vereschagin). 

The first large battle during Napoleon’s Russian campaign began in the morning of 6 September 1812. Before this battle, both armies had lost more than half their original strength during eight weeks of Russian summer. The battle of Borodino was a hard fought battle with several Russian counterattacks, but slowly the French was getting the upper hand due to its superiority on the tactical level, and the Russian army had to retreat. The battle of Borodino was the greatest massacre in recorded history, not to be surpassed until the first day of the battle at Somme in 1916. Recent estimates give a total of about 73,000 casualties, 45,000 Russian and 28,000 French including allies.

Kutuzov’s army was now in no condition to give battle on any positions, however strong. He therefore fell back to the village Fili west of Moscow, initially announcing that he would fight in front of Moscow to the last drop of blood. At the following council of war in Fili, however, he took the decision to abandon Moscow to Napoleon, to preserve the Russian army in being, a scene memorably portaryed in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The Russian army therefore continued its retreat through the Moscow to the consternation of the inhabitants. Kutuzov then turned south and later southwest, setting up a fortified camp for his army near Tarutino, about 120 km SW of Moscow.

The village Fili (now a suburb of Moscow) reappears later in history. Somewhat ironic, this was the location chosen by Trotsky in 1922 for cooperation with the German Junckers aircraft company for secret German-Russian production of aircrafts and engines, at a time where the German Reichwehr by the 1919 Versailles treaty was limited to 100,000 men and the development of military aircraft, tanks, battleships and other top-of-the-range military assets was limited (Bellamy 2007). In early December 1941, Fili also marks one of the the foremost position reached by the German Wehrmacht on their trust towards Moscow during operation Barbarossa.

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1812: Napoleon in Moscow  

In the afternoon of 14 September, what was left of the Grande Armée entered Moscow. Napoleon took up residence at the Kremlin the following day. About two-thirds of the 270,184 inhabitants had left, and the remainder were hiding in their homes. Nobody with an official status was left to take care of a formal surrender and make arrangements for feeding the soldiers, as would normally be the case in a civilised war. To make things even worse, before leaving Moscow, the city commander Count Rostopchin had ordered his Police Superintendant Voronenko to burn not only the remaining supplies, but everything he could. Voronenko and his men set to work, presumably assisted by the city’s criminal elements. The fire raged out of control and spread to several districts of the city. In the morning of 16 September flames were lapping around the walls of Kremlin, and Napoleon had to evacuate himself and take up residence in the Petrovsky Palace, a few kilometres outside Moscow.

Moscow burning 15-18 September 1812. On the 18 September Napoleon returns to Kremlin after having evacuated himself to the Petrovsky Palace outside Moscow. Oil paintings by Vereschagin.

After three days the fire began to abate, and on 18 September Napoleon rode back into Moscow. Two thirds of the city was destroyed by the fire, robbing him of a wealth of material resources. And there was still no delegation formally surrendering Moscow to him. Even worse, Tsar Alexander still apparently did not understand that Russia was defeated, and therefore had no ambitions of making peace with Napoleon. It was all very frustrating.

Napoleon now had to consider taking up winter quarters in Moscow. Alternatively he would have to retreat with his back home, a move which for political reasons was difficult. So for the time being, he choose to remain in Moscow, hoping that Alexander finally would come to his senses.

Napoleon had studied the available weather information, which told him that it normally did not get really cold until the beginning of December, so he did not feel any sense of urgency. What he did not realise, was how sudden low temperatures may come if a high pressure area settles over eastern Europe, pumping arctic air masses south across Russia, where the lack of high mountains leave the whole country open for arctic air masses. In addition, he had no experience of temperature being only one factor, but that the wind strength also had to be taken into account.

Early October 1812 the weather remained to be fine and warm, and Napoleon was teasing Armand Caulaincourt, his finest civilian aide, about his anxiety about the winter climate. On 13 October, however, the weather suddenly turned cold, and Moscow was covered in a blanket of thin snow. Presumably this was a meteorological surprise to Napoleon, and it rapidly made him make up his mind. The same day he declared that the army would leave as rapid as possible, and take up winter quarters further west, where well-stocked bases were at hand in Minsk and Vilna. Napoleons army left Moscow 20 October.

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1812: Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow  

The actual armed forces at Napoleon’s disposal as he left Moscow numbered no more than 95,000, and probably less. Marchal Kutuzow was still camping passively SW of Moscow, reinforcing his army to about 97,000 men. He was, however, still in no hurry to engage in regular warfare. So while Napoleon was retreating west towards Smolensk along the Moscow road, Kutuzov did not seriously attempt to cut across their line of retreat, even though he was excellently placed to do so.

The French retreat was slow, mainly due to lack of horsepower. The shortage of fodder had debilitated the horses, and they were growing too week to pull the guns and wagons. Part of the problem was that Napoleon saw himself carrying out a tactical withdrawal rather than a retreat. Therefore he refused to abandon a proportion of their guns to liberate horses and thereby save time. This determination not to loose face would cost him dear. As well as slowing their progress, all this had a demoralising effect on the French troops, marching down a devastated road, seeing only abandoned equipment, human and animal corpses. Kutuzow was still following south of the French army, but resolutely opposed to any suggestions from his generals to make an offensive move.

The good news for the French was that the weather was magnificent, and that the early snow in Moscow presumably just was a meteorological mishap. On 31 October, at Viazma, Napoleon therefore ridiculed those who had been attempting to scare him with stories of the Russian winter. The weather remained fine during the first days of November 1812, until 3 November, which was to be the last warm day. The wind turned north and the night between 4 and 5 November brought with it a rapid drop in air temperature. On 6 November the French retreat was entering a new phase. It began to snow, and in short time it lay half a meter thick on the ground. The drop in temperature had not been that great, probably not exceeding -10oC. But the French army was not used to or dressed for cold weather. There was no such thing as a winter uniform, since in those days armies did not fight in winter. The cold also provided the last straw for many of the remaining horses. The meteorological change early November 1812 had a profound effect on the whole French army.

Napoleon and his army retreating in western Russia early November 1812. 

Also the Russian army under Kutuzow was affected by the cold, and food and clothing was equally scarce. The war now grow even more vicious than before, and captives had become an unwelcome encumbrance to both sides. Many prisoners, French or Russian, were simply despatched with a bullet to the head.

When Napoleon 9 November reached Smolensk, the wind was still northerly and air temperatures were down to -15oC. On 14 November, they sank to -28oC. His army was now reduced to about 35,000 men. Kutuzow made some attempts at intersecting Napoleons further retreat towards Minsk, but without substantial success. 22 November Napoleon reached Tolochin, where he was informed that other Russian forces just had taken Minsk further to the west. What was left of the French army was surrounded. Napoleon, nevertheless, managed to extricate himself from this impossible situation by fainting an attack towards south, while his engineers at the same time was constructing two bridges across the frozen river Berezina, which was crossed 27-28 November.

The following two days may have been among the worst of the entire retreat. When Napoleon reached Pleshchenitse on 30 November, a temperature of -30oC was recorded be Dr. Louis Lagneau (Zamoyski 2005). Frostbite was widespread among the tired and hungry soldiers. Selfishness reached new heights. Now that Napoleon had managed to get beyond his reach, Kutuzov felt even less inclined to force the pursuit than before. Also his army was in a terrible condition. His main force, which has marched out of Tarutino 97,000 strong one month before, was now reduced to 27,000 men due to the cold, according to his own figures (Zamoyski 2005).

Retreat of the French army in western Russia, mid- and late November 1812. Oil paintings by Vereschagin.

On the evening of 5 December, at Smorgonie, Napoleon decided that it was time for him to go back to Paris, and take control from there. He called together his marshals and apparently apologised for his mistake of having remained in Moscow for too long. He then set off into the night. The Imperial Mameluke, Roustam, later reported that the wine in Napoleon’s carriage froze that night, causing the bottles to shatter. On 6 December the temperature fell even more, reaching -37.5oC according to Dr. Louis Lagneau. 

This was the end. On 9 December the main mass of the French army turned up at the gates of Vilnia. Vilnia, however, could not be hold, and the retreat had to continue towards the starting point along the river Niemen. The weather continued bitterly cold, with daytime temperatures around -35oC. The French commander Murat realised that the line of Niemen could not be held, and had to retreat all the way to first Königsberg, and later Danzig and Küstrin much longer to the west. Eventually, the remnants of the French army were driven all the way back to Dresden.

It was only when the French retreat finally came to a stop towards the end of January 1813 that the true scale of the disaster began to emerge. June 1812 somewhere between 550,000 and 600,000 French and allied troops have been assembled along Niemen. Only about 120,000 came out of Russia in December 1812, including substantial reinforcements received after the invasion was launched 22 June. Presumably at least 400,000 French and allied troops died during the campaign, less than 100,000 in battle. On the Russian side is has been estimated that up to 400,000 soldiers and militia died, about 110,000 of them in battle. 

The extremely cold winter November-December 1812, in combination with the previous warm summer July-August 1812 had been devastating for the whole military operation on both French and Russian side, and were to have lasting effects on Europe’s political future.

The catastrophic outcome of the Russian campaign sealed Napoleon’s fate. Not only did it cost him 300,000 of his best French soldiers (today this would compare to a loss of 700,000 men), but it also punctured the aura of superiority and being invincible that has been surrounding Napoleon’s person. Few saw this more clearly than the German patriots in Prussia, who had been suffering under the humiliation of French dominion. On 28 February 1813 an alliance was concluded between Russia and Prussia, and two weeks the latter declared war on France.



Tsar Alexander



 I was enjoying a ball arranged at

the General Benningsen’s estate, near Vilna. It was late in the evening, when one of his ADC’s approached him. Only a few words filtered into hall, but it was enough to reveal what had happened: “The war has begun.” But when did the possibility of war between the two empires first assume a degree of reality? Diplomats began to think and talk about it early in 1810 and the general public, towards the end of the same year.

Read more Tsar Alexander I


Russian Tsar Alexander I (ruled Russia 1801-1825).

Czar Alexander I, the emperor of Russia from 1801-1825, was best known for his alternately befriending, then fighting Napoleon I. In the early 1810’s (1813-1815) Alexander helped form the Big Four, which finally defeated the French emperor.


As a part of the Congress of Vienna,

the czar played a big part in the agreement to balance power and to get along with one another. In this meeting, Alexander was determined to obtain the only spoil that he wanted, Poland. The allies (Britain, Russia, Prussia), afraid of the Asiatic Russians obtaining too much control, only gave Russia a portion of Poland. Disgusted and disillusioned by the cynicism of Metternich, Talleyrand, and Castlereagh towards the idea of all people getting along, the czar formed the Holy Alliance in 1815. With this group, Alexander I tried to create a world based on the ideas of justice and charity.
    Because of these radical and liberal ideas, czar Alexander I was thought to be foolish and almost childish in his goals. Alexander was an idealist, and towards his later year, the czar became even more involved in mystical and spiritual events. Alexander was also a very religious man. He had such liberal ideas as giving Poland a liberal constitution (this allowed Poland to be partially restored) and funding


INTERNATIONAL LAW – The Congress of Vienna, 1814-1815


(The founder of the Rothschild dynasty, Mayer Amschel Bauer, told the secret of controlling the government of a nation over 200 years ago. He said, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes its laws)

In 1802, Europe was made up of several hundred states, which were dominated by England, Austria, Russia, Prussia and France, which was the most powerful country. In 1804, when Napoleon Bonaparte took over France, his military exploits had led to the complete control of virtually all of Europe. In 1812, when Napoleon moved against Russia; England, Spain and Portugal were already at war with France. They were later joined by Sweden, Austria; and in 1813, Prussia joined the coalition to end the siege of Europe, and to “assure its future peace by the re-establishment of a just equilibrium of the powers.” In 1814, the coalition defeated France, and in March of that year, marched into Paris. France’s borders were returned to their original 1792 location, which had been established by the First Peace of Paris, and Napoleon was exiled to Elba, a small island off the Tucson coast of Italy.

From September, 1814 to June, 1815, the four powers of the allied coalition, winners of the Napoleonic Wars, met at the Congress of Vienna, along with a large number of rulers and officials representing smaller states. It was the biggest political meeting in European history. Representing England was Lord Robert Stewart, the 2nd Viscount Castlereagh; France, with Foreign Minister Charles-Maurice Talleyrand de Perigord; Prussia, with King Friedrich Wilhelm III; and Austria, with Emperor Franz II.

(Left picture: Robert Stewart 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in the Peerage of Ireland on the death of his father in 1821.)

“An unusual feature of the “Congress of Vienna” was that it was not properly a Congress: it never met in plenary session, and most of the discussions occurred in informal, face-to-face, sessions among the Great Powers with limited participation by delegates from the lesser states. On the other hand, the Congress was the first occasion in history where on a continental scale people came together in place to hammer out a treaty, instead of relying mostly on messengers and messages between the several capitals. The Congress of Vienna settlement, despite later changes, formed the framework for European international politics until 1914.

Throughout the 19th century, there was growing interest in establishing new national identities, which had a drastic impact on the map of Europe. These transformations also highlighted the failure of a certain ’European order’ which led to the outbreak of the First World War.

“….Besides, the decisions of the Congress were made by the Five Great Powers (Austria, France, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom), and not all the countries of Europe could extend their rights at the Congress. For example, Italy became a mere “geographical expression” as divided into eight parts (Parma, Modena, Tuscany, Lombardy, Venetia, Piedmont-Sardinia, the Papal States, Naples-Sicily) under the control of different powers, while Poland was under the influence of Russia after the Congress. The arrangements that made the Five Great Powers finally led to future disputes. The Congress of Vienna preserved the balance of power in Europe, but it could not check the spread of revolutionary movements on the continent.


(1815) Alliance between Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia first formed in 1813 to oppose France in the final phase of the Napoleonic Wars. It was officially renewed in 1815 to enforce the peace settlement concluded at the Congress of Vienna. The allies agreed to meet occasionally to keep European political development within terms of the 1815 settlement. This program was partially carried out by the Congresses of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), Troppau (1820), Laibach (1821), and Verona (1822).

Other representatives were: Frederick VI, King of Denmark; Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria; Friedrich I, King of Württemberg; Napoleon II, King of Rome; Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy; King Friedrich August I of Saxony; Count Leowenhielm of Sweden; Cardinal Consalvi of the Papal States; Grand Duke Charles of Baden; Elector William of Hesse; Grand Duke George of Hesse-Darmstadt; Karl August, Duke of Weimar; the King of Bohemia; the King of Hungary; and emissaries from Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Holland, and other European States.


(Left picture: Ercole Consalvi (June 8, 1757January 24, 1824) was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church).



The main concern of the Congress was to redistribute conquered territories, create a balance of power, restore the pre-Napoleonic order through King Louis XVIII, return the power to families who were ruling in 1789, and to return the Roman Catholic Church to its former power. Discussion revolved around the creation of a Federation of Europe that would establish a group of independent kingdoms which would be tied together through an administrative governing body that would, among other things, provide military defense. In their plan, Switzerland was made a neutral state that served as a repository for their finances.  


Engraved portrait of Eugene de Beauharnais. Engraved with watercolors by Alix – c. 1805.

Prince Eugene was Joséphine’s only son, whom Napoléon made Viceroy of Italy. He is seen here in his official uniform. From the first time Napoléon met him, he was impressed by the young man’s modesty, sincerity and good looks).


In March, 1815, Napoleon left Elba,

because the pension promised him by


King Louis XVIII was discontinued,

and he believed that Austria was preventing his companion,


Marie Louise, and


his son, the former King of Rome (who became the Duke of Reichstadt in Vienna) from being able to join him. Plus, he was made aware of the growing discontent with the King. Thus Napoleon returned, began the Hundred Days War, and was immediately labeled a “public enemy.” The coalition at the Congress put aside their diplomatic business, and joined in the battle.

Shortly before Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, negotiations at the Congress of Vienna were completed, and the treaty was signed on June 9, 1815. The Second Peace of Paris, in November, exiled Napoleon to St. Helena, an island 1,000 miles off the African coast, where he died in 1821.

On September 26, 1815, the Treaty of Holy Alliance was signed by Alexander I of Russia, Francis II of Austria, and Frederick William III of Prussia, while the allies were negotiating the Second Peace of Paris. The Treaty guaranteed the sovereignty of any monarch who would adhere to Christian principles in the affairs of State.

The Treaty made them a “true and indissoluble brotherhood.” Alexander claimed he got the idea from a conversation with Castlereagh. Castlereagh later said that the Alliance was a “piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense.” Prussia and Austria claimed they went along with it, out of fear of Russian retaliation. Although the Alliance had no influence on matters, it did indicate to other countries that they had banded together against them and it succeeded in temporarily crushing Europe’s growing liberal movement.






(Picture above: Alexander I of Russia (Russian: Александр I Павлович, Aleksandr I Pavlovich) (23 December 1777 – 19 November 1825), also known as Alexander the Blessed (Russian: Александр Благословленный, Aleksandr Blagoslovlennyi) served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and Ruler of Poland from 1815 to 1825, as well as the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland).

Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Klemens Furst von Metternich, the most influential statesman in Europe, and a Rothschild agent, said that the purpose of his idea for a European Federation was only to preserve the social order, and he was convinced that Alexander was insane.

In 1916, the Senate Congressional Record (pg. 6781) reproduced a document known as the “Secret Treaty of Verona” which had been signed in November 22, 1822 by Austria (Metternich), France (Chateaubriand), Prussia (Bernstet), and Russia (Nesselrode); and was partially the reason for the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine. Its purpose was to make some changes to the treaty of the Holy Alliance, and Article One stated: “The high contracting powers, being convinced that the system of representative government is equally as incompatible with the monarchical principles as the maxim of the sovereignty of the people with the divine right, engage mutually, in the most solemn manner, to use all their efforts to put an end to the system of representative governments, in whatever country it may exist in Europe, and to prevent its being introduced where it is not yet known.”

It was designed and proposed a form of collective and collaborative security for Europe, then called a Congress system. According to the Congress system the main signatory powers were to meet periodically (every two years or so) and collectively manage European Affairs. The following ten years saw 5 European Congresses where disputes were resolved with a diminishing degree of effectiveness. Finally, by 1822, the whole system had collapsed because of the irreconcilable differences of opinion between the United Kingdom, Austria and Russia, and because of the lack of support for the Congress system in British public opinion.

Publication The Congress of Vienna, 1814-1815





Emperor Napoleon I

But long before this, subterranean currents had been undermining the Franco-Russian relationship. On 2 December 1805, at Austerlitz, Napoleon inflicted a crushing defeat on the combined Austrian and Russian armies. In 1806-1807 the Russian armies dispatched by the Tsar to save Prussia from final defeat fought Napoleon in the bloody battles of Pultusk, Eylau and, finally, on 14 June 1807, Friedland, after which Alexander I agreed to peace and concluded an alliance with Napoleon. The two emperors met personally at the town of Tilsit, on an elaborate raft moored in the middle of the Niemen River. Alexander did not forget these painful experiences. And he was not unaware of the widespread displeasure prevailing in Russia, particularly in the army, over the “ignominious peace of Tilsit.” Humiliation was not the sole difficulty. Napoleon had forced Alexander to join him Napoleon’s Continental System: Russia had obligated herself not to buy anything from, or sell anything to, the English or to allow Englishmen into Russia. She also obligated herself to declare war on England. The blockade against England caused great suffering to Russian landowners and merchants. This Franco-Russian alliance, entered into force at Tilsit in 1807, manifested its first fissure in the following year during the September meeting of the two emperors at Erfurt. And the fissure widened in 1809 during Napoleon’s war against Austria. Let us dwell for a moment on the two years 1807-1809.



In the panic following the Russian Army’s rout at Friedland, Alexander decided not only on peace but also on a decisive, almost revolutionary turn in foreign policy. It is not our purpose to give a complete picture of Alexander as a man and a sovereign, but a brief consideration is necessary.

In the course of his career, Alexander passed through several transformations. As heir to the throne he had exhibited one persona;


after the murder of his father, Paul I, another; before Austerlitz, a third; after Austerlitz, yet a fourth; now, after Tilsit, he unveiled a fifth. And how many more changes he was to go through in 1814 and the following years! Not only his moods changed, but his relationships to people, his opinions of people, his attitude towards life. Indeed, his whole character seemed to become transformed. One of his contemporaries likened Alexander to Buddha, who according to Hindu legends undergoes various “transformations”, “becoming” something anew over the course of his life, each time showing a wholly new face. What kind of men was he then? What were his aspirations? Alexander knew how to keep himself in hand as did no other among Russia’s Tsars and, indeed, as few autocrats anywhere.

In 1805 Alexander had suffered an ignominious rout at Austerlitz and it was absolutely impossible to throw the blame on anyone else. Everyone knew that the Tsar himself, against the will of Kutuzov, the senior Russian officer present, had led army to disaster and that when all was lost he publicly burst into tears and fled the bloody field. But the enemy was so dangerous, and the nobility which surrounded the Tsar so hated and feared this enemy, that they largely forgave Alexander for Austerlitz, merely because, in spite of everything, he refused to make peace with Napoleon and because a year after Austerlitz he again took the field against “the enemy of mankind”. This time the war was longer and bloodier.

With the peace made at Tilsit, it appeared that Napoleon would cease his warring, and Europe would have peace. It seemed to Russia’s elite that after Austria’s defeat in 1809, and after Napoleon’s marriage to the Austrian Emperor’s daughter, the power of the French Emperor had grown so strong on the Continent that England would soon consent to any peace, to avoid being made bankrupt by the blockade imposed by the Continental System.

Napoleon himself thought otherwise.

For him the Austrian marriage was the best means of securing his rear if he should again fight Russia. To his rapprochement with Austria, as to all political combinations in this period of his rule, he attached chiefly strategic significance. He saw clearly that his main task was to crush England-and this was impossible as long as the coasts of the Baltic, White, and Black Seas remained open to English goods. Even more clearly he realized that without a new and decisive defeat of the Russian armed forces, this aim could not be achieved. Moreover, without this defeat, he could not fully secure his power over the northern European coastline, he could not subjugate Spain, and he could not expect the Germans to give up all hope of national liberation.

The Provocations of 1810

For these reasons, he began in 1810 to pursue his famous policy of “the moving frontier”; more exactly, he did not begin it, but intensified it: by a mere stroke of his pen, he annexed a number of new lands to his Empire, sent his troops to garrison German fortresses, and gradually moved the spearhead of his power eastward, closer and closer to Russia. At the same time, he took the most stringent measures against violators of the Continental blockade. Silence reigned in Europe.…

Prince P. A. Vyazemsky, a friend of the great Russian author, Pushkin, was later to write,

“Napoleon was equally terrifying to kings and peoples. No one who has not lived in this epoch, can know, or even imagine, how stifling existence was at that time. The fate of every state, of nearly every person, depended more or less, in one way or another, if not today then tomorrow, on the whims of the Tuileries’ cabinet or on the military dispositions of Napoleon’s headquarters. Everyone lived as under the threat of an earthquake or a volcano. No one could act or even breathe freely.”

The annexation of Holland to the French Empire in June 1810, the transfer of three French divisions from southern to Baltic Germany in August of the same year, the transport from the French Empire of 50,000 rifles to the Duchy of Warsaw and of an artillery regiment to the French-occupied Magdeburg-all menacing symptoms of an approaching storm-Russian diplomacy was directly related to the Austrian marriage and the Austrian alliance with Napoleon. Napoleon no longer needed Russia; his power over Europe had a new support in Vienna.

On 5 August and 17 September 1810, at Trianon, Napoleon established a new tariff system, according to which taxes on colonial goods (sugar, tea, pepper, etc.) were significantly increased. All over Europe English goods were confiscated. Russia was gently asked to adopt similar measures, but the Russian government refused, explaining that this would be contrary to her independence and interests.

In December 1810, Napoleon annexed the Hanseatic cities Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck, and took advantage of the occasion to acquire the entire territory between Holland and Hamburg, including the Duchy of Oldenburg. Alexander’s sister, Ekaterina, was married to the son and heir of the Duke of Oldenburg. Alexander protested. But Napoleon “added a fresh humiliation”: he ordered his foreign minister, Jean-Baptiste de Nompere de Champagny, the Duke of Cadore, to reject the Russian note of protest without even reading it.

In reply Tsar approved on a new tariff (entered into force on 1 January 1811), increasing the duties on all luxury articles and wines, the very articles imported from France.

From then on, relations between the two emperors grew steadily worse. The more Napoleon’s troops poured into Poland and Prussia, contrary to the conditions of the peace of Tilsit, which stipulated their withdrawal from Prussia, the more vigilantly and zealously Napoleon insisted on the fulfillment of the blockade, the more did Russia’s secret hopes centre on England.

Consequently, in a report presented to Napoleon on 7 April 1810 by the Duke of Cadore, the Emperor read:

“The British Cabinet has not lost hope of a rapprochement with Russia and Turkey, thus securing on the Baltic Sea, in the Archipelago, and on the Black Sea more useful outlets for her manufactures than it might obtain by any peace, even if this peace should temporarily open up to her the ports of France, Germany, Holland, and Italy.”

The Duke of Cadore feared that the British might succeed in this stratagem. A struggle of interests was being fought round Alexander, he said, and England could achieve much “by promises, advantageous offers, and alluring guarantees.”

“The venality of the St. Petersburg Court had always been an established fact. This venality was quite open during the reigns of Elizabeth, Catherine, and Paul. If in the present reign it is less public, if we still have in Russia a few friends inaccessible to English proposals, such as Count Rumyantsev, the Princes Kurakin, and a very small number of others, it is nevertheless true that the majority of the Tsar’s courtiers, partly from habit, partly from attachment to the Empress Dowager, partly from vexation at the drop in their incomes through lower exchange rates, partly as a result of bribery, are secret partisans of England.”

In this secret report, the Duke of Cadore frankly acknowledged the difficulty of preventing a possible rapprochement between England and Russia: “How will it be possible to rupture completely the secret relations between England and Russia, when their more or less weighty common interests impel both courts to renew these relations?” It is necessary to observe that Champagny was only an obedient tool of his sovereign. His mission, as he saw it, was to play up to the Emperor and to echo his passions and thoughts. For instance, he put it down to his own credit that his predecessors had sought to conclude a peace with England, while he, the Duke of Cadore, stood for the continuation of the war. It was only necessary to complete the conquest of Spain: then all the ports of Europe would be closed. “Once in Cadiz, Sire, you will be in a position either to break or strengthen the bonds with Russia.” Europe must be closed to English ships and goods from Cadiz to St. Petersburg.

In December 1810, after publication of the new Russian tariff, all Europe began to discuss the coming war between the two empires. In a letter to his beloved sister, Ekaterina Pavlovna, dated 26 December 1810, Alexander referred to it for the first time: “It seems that blood must flow again. But at least I have done everything that is humanly possible to avoid it.” This letter discussing the seizure by Napoleon of Peter of Oldenburg’s duchy (Peter’s son and heir, George was the husband of Ekaterina Pavlovna) contains no other important passages, except for a significant list of matters that Alexander wished to talk over with his sister at their next meeting. He was then preparing for a journey to Tver, where his sister lived, and he actually did appear there in March 1811. In this list a prominent place is given to military matters, such as the organization of the army, the increase of its effectives, reserves, etc. If, by the seizure of Oldenburg, Napoleon intended not only to secure the German Baltic coast, but also to vex Alexander, he certainly achieved his aim. But, more important, Alexander realized that this was only a beginning; it was clear that Napoleon was not insulting him for nothing.

Caulaincourt is Recalled

In May 1811, Napoleon recalled Caulaincourt, his ambassador to St. Petersburg. His reason was that Caulaincourt stood for peace with Russia and believed that Napoleon was provoking the Tsar deliberately and without justification. Caulaincourt left St. Petersburg on 15 May. “Should Emperor Napoleon start a war,” Alexander said to him during Caulaincourt’s leave-taking, “it is possible and even likely that he will beat us. But this will not give him peace. The Spaniards have often been beaten, but for all that they are neither conquered nor subjugated, and they are closer to Paris than we are, and they have neither our climate nor our resources. We shall enter into no compromises; we have vast spaces in our rear, and shall preserve a well-organized army. With all that at our disposal, we shall never be forced to conclude peace, no matter what defeats we may suffer. We may even force the conqueror to make peace. Emperor Napoleon expressed this idea to Chernishev after Wagram. He himself acknowledged that he would never have been willing to negotiate with Austria, if Austria had not preserved her army; and, with a little more stubbornness, the Austrians might have obtained better terms. Napoleon needs results as rapid as his own thoughts; he will not achieve them with us. I shall profit by his lessons. They are the lessons of a master. We shall let our climate, our winter, wage the war for us. The French soldiers are brave, but less enduring than ours, they are more easily disheartened. Miracles occur only in the presence of the Emperor, but he cannot be everywhere. Moreover, he will inevitably be in a hurry to return to his country. I will not draw sword first, but I shall sheathe it last. Sooner would I retreat to Kamchatka than yield a province or put my signature to a peace made in my conquered capital, a peace which would turn out to be a mere truce.”


Armand de Caulaincourt
French Ambassador to Russia

Caulaincourt, to be sure, often over-idealized Alexander. In this instance, however, his testimony is extremely plausible, although one must bear in mind that the Caulaincourt’s memoirs were written well after events, and several incidents may have taken on a different light when seen in retrospect.

Caulaincourt feared a war with Russia. Upon his return to Paris on 5 June 1811, he was promptly received by Napoleon, to whom he conveyed the Tsar’s words. Caulaincourt insisted that the idea of restoring Poland would have to be sacrificed in order to preserve the peace and the alliance with Russia. At the same time, he maintained that under no circumstances would Russia start a war.

Napoleon contradicted him. As always during this period, Napoleon emphasized his own conceptions: the Russian nobility was dissolute, decrepit, self-seeking, undisciplined, incapable of self-sacrifice, and, after the first defeats, following the beginning of an invasion, they would take fright and force the Tsar to sign a peace.

Caulaincourt objected strongly:

“You are mistaken, Sire, about Alexander and the Russians. Do not judge Russia from what others tell you about her. And do not judge the Russian army from what you saw of it after Friedland, crushed as it was and disarmed. Threatened with an attack for over a year, the Russians have made preparations and strengthened their forces. They have considered all possibilities, even the possibility of great defeats. They have made preparations for defense and resistance to the utmost.”

Napoleon listened, but soon changed the subject. He spoke of his Grand Army, the inexhaustible resources of his world empire, of his invincible Guard. In all history, he pointed out, no military leader had commanded such enormous forces, such troops, magnificent in all respects. At the same audience, Caulaincourt protested that it was unjust to demand that Russia fulfill in every particular the ruinous conditions of the Continental System, while Napoleon himself violated them in the interests of the treasury and French industry, by granting licenses for trade with England to individual merchants and financiers. Napoleon shut his ears to all these arguments. “One good battle,” he replied, “will put an end to all your friend Alexander’s excellent resolutions, and to all his fortifications built on sand.”

With a feeling of despair, Caulaincourt saw that he was accomplishing nothing. Napoleon’s confidence in victory was increasing month by month as his grandiose preparations took shape, and he refused to take any warning seriously. Russo-French relations were in a muddled state.



sp:Russian conservative Konstantin Aksakov (son of Sergei Aksakov and brother of Ivan Aksakov) wrote a memo to Emperor Alexander II, “On the Internal State of Russia” [TXT | Raeff3:231-51]
*–This loyal and strong defense of freedom of speech could not be published until 1881
*–Collection of writings =
Tribune of the Slavophiles: Konstantin Aksakov
*1853:Poetic defense of freedom of Expression [



Russian Emperor Alexander II reigned for 26 years
2) RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONARY SITUATIONS (The first and the second)
*–Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.
The Politics of Autocracy: Letters of Alexander II to Prince A. I. Bariatinskii, 1857-1864
*–Aleksandr Nikitenko,
The Diary of a Russian Censor (1975)


British documents on foreign affairs–reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. Part I, from the mid- nineteenth century to the First World War. Series A, Russia, 1859 -1914 (1983)
*–Nikolai K. Girs,
The Education of a Russian Statesman: The Memoirs of Nich. Karl. Giers (1962)
*–W. Bruce Lincoln,
In the Vanguard of Reform: Russia’s Enlightened Bureaucrats, 1825-1861
Nikolai Miliutin: An Enlightened Russian Bureaucrat
*–Daniel T. Orlovsky,
The Limits of Reform: The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Imperial Russia, 1802-1881 (1981)
*–S. Frederick Starr,
Decentralization and Self-Government in Russia, 1830-1870 (1972)
*–N. G. O. Pereira,
Tsar-Liberator: Alexander II of Russia, 1818-1881 (1984)
*–E. M. von Almedingen,
The Emperor Alexander II (1962)
*–James Malloy,
P. A. Valuev and his career in Nineteenth century Russian state service
*–Werner Eugen Mosse,
Alexander II and the Modernization of Russia. London:1958
Website of Walter Moss, “Alexander II and His Times”

<>1855:USA| Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass [TXT]
Wagar on Whitman [TXT]

<>1855ja:Shimoda | After losing all but the ship Diana (1806:1812:GO) to needs of the Crimean War, and after great earthquake and tidal wave leveled Shimoda and shipwrecked Diana [Beasley, MHJ:61], in 1855fe07 Putiatin arranged Treaty of Amity (Nichiro Washin Joyaku). Modelled on Kanagawa treaty, recently signed by USA Commander Matthew Perry [KEJ,4:179. PHandG:782]. Lensen thinks Shimoda “provisions” are “more extensive” than Kanagawa [KEJ,6:270]. “Went beyond” by opening 3 ports [KEJ,6:341]. Opened Shimoda, Hakodate, and Nagasaki to Russia, but only for ship repairs and provisioning. BUT did allow posting of consuls at Hakodate or Shimoda Russia chose Hakodate and established reciprocal extra-territoriality. Kurils divided so that Japan held those islands south of Iturup (Etorofu); Russia, those north of Urup (Uruppu) [KEJ,6:270 Lensen. I think he means “S FROM” and “N FROM”. NB!:Kurils divided N of Etorofu (KEJ,2:238 Stephan)]. Sakhalin a “common possession” (Lensen) or “jointly occupied” (Stephan) [Harrison, Japan’s N.Frontier]. Lensen feels that “relations between Russian residents, mostly personnel of naval vessels wintering in Japan, and local inhabitants were on the whole amicable. As military men, Japanese officials could identify more readily with monarchist naval officers than with merchants or with missionaries [KEJ,6:341]. Lensen goes too far to put Russia in good light. Says 1st lessons in European shipbuilding from Putiatin’s stranded crew, but cf.PH&G:766 re.Adams “Anjin”

<>1855my08:Heda, NW coast of Izu Peninsula | Putiatin and 40 men were moved to Heda, built European-style schooner in partnership with Japanese craftsmen, and departed for Russia from Japan (took 2 wks) [KEJ,6:270]
*That year novelist Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov began serial publication of his
Fregat Pallada (1858:book publication) about his experience with Putiatin in Japan
*–Goncharov mocked and ridiculed Japanese in a most unfortunate manner. “It was difficult to look without laughter at these skirt-clad figures with their little topnots and their bare little knees”. Lensen says that G’s portrait of Japan as “ludicrous and effeminate” was very damaging

<>1855je16:San Francisco Journal carried article by the German traveler Julius Frobel which stressed parallel rise of USA and Russia. Prognosis = three-way suzerainty over globe, USA, Europe and Russia
*–Frobel later wrote memoirs of his travels to the New World, Frobel, Julius, 1805-1893
Seven years’ travel in Central America, northern Mexico, and the far West of the United States (London:1859) F1409.F92

<>1855oc13:1857my21; French intellectuals Edmund and Jules Goncourt kept diary of everyday life in Paris in which they reflected on the inferiority of women [P20:14]

<>1856:1870; Italian unification under the leadership of Camillo di Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi, a complex 14-year process of gathering widely different jurisdictions under single governmental administration, not complete until Rome and Vatican City brought under the authority of the new Italian liberal monarchy [MAP]
Italy“, the nation-state, made its late appearance on the historical stage [DPH:187-91]

<>1856:Sergei Aksakov published Chronicles of a Russian Family, a remarkable tale of gentry family life in the time of serfdom on the Orenburg, trans-Volga frontier or Bashkir steppes [excerpts= KRR:352-4]
*1914:Mikhail Nesterov landscape portrait of area around Aksakov homestead in
Olga’s Gallery
Sergei Aksakov’s UO bibliography
*–For Sergei’s famous sons, GO
Konstantin and Ivan

<>1856mr18 (mr30 NS): Treaty of Paris ended Crimean War [VSB,3:606-7 | DPH:197-9 | DIR2:209-20 | ORW:118] France, England, Turkey, Sardinia, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Russia agreed to neutralization of Black Sea, open to all commercial fleets but closed to all military navies
*–Romania (till 1859 called Moldavia and Walachia) became semi-independent states under Ottoman Turkish suzerainty. Russia ceded to Romania the mouth of the Danube River and Bessarabia. All of lower Danube placed under international commission
*–Russian imperial advance in Ottoman Turkish Central Asia was hereby pushed back. Ottoman Turkey was now declared to be part of what was called the “European concert” and its integrity protected as such. Turkey became a part of Europe in the effort to keep its imperial domains from becoming a part of Russia
*–Russian imperialist ambitions were conspicuously damaged while the imperialist ambitions of
“The West” were conspicuously advanced. The concept of “The West” (and the derivative expression “Westernization”) very possibly originated in Russia [LOOP on anachronistic use of the term “Westernization”]. Now these loose concepts were increasingly used to describe powerful and rapidly modernizing (i.e., industrializing) northwestern European nation-states in their domineering or imperialist relationship to the rest of the world. The rest of the world was labeled over time with a series of progressively less slanderous adjectives = “savage”, “primitive”, “backward”, “undeveloped”, and (by the late 20th century) “developing”
*–It took Russia twenty years to bolster its military strength and prepare to reassert itself into the Black Sea and the Balkans. The first moves in “
The Great Game” after Crimea went England’s way, but Russia waited its turn
*1856de:Caucasus Mountains, northern slopes. Chechen people shifted from imam leadership to Russian administration as General Evdokimov introduced program of receiving into Russian territory immigrants from Shamil’s Chechen and Daghestan territories

<>1856mr30:Russian Emperor Alexander II advised Moscow aristocrats gathered in their provincial noble assembly, “It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to await the time when it will begin to abolish itself from below” [VSB,3:589 | DPH:282]

  • Noble assemblies were institutions created in the time of Catherine II [ID]
  • These aristocratic “corporate” or soslovie-based institutions responded to Alexander’s dramatic announcement in hope and fear
  • Russian landowning elites now entered into a brilliant, yet futile — perhaps we could say final — period of corporate or “class-conscious” political action
  • Newspaper reports on this Moscow Noble Assembly alerted reading public to the immediate possibility of significant reform
  • 1858su:Nizhnii-Novgorod and Moscow nobles heard addresses by Alexander II on same theme [VSB,3:591]
  • Internal Ministry official Aleksei Levshin and Senator Yakov Solov’ev described the background to reforms [VSB,3:589-91]
  • At the autocratic center, in Petersburg, the Main Committee and Editorial Commission laid the groundwork for abolition of serfdom [VSB,3:591-3]
  • Landowning nobles (rural gentry political activists) distrusted the reformist state and were thus not at all certain that this “great reform” would be all that great
  • What might this suggest about the status of the landowning aristocracy as a “ruling class” in Imperial Russia?

<>1856de01:USA WDC | Jefferson Davis, USA Secretary of War (1853-57) and future president of the rebellious Confederacy, addressed new challenge faced by a dispirited and idle US military, scattered across the Great Plains in small, vulnerable forts without a specific mission appropriate to the size and ambition generated in the Mexican-American War [ID]

  • Davis understood the close parallel of frontier and imperialist expansion =

The occupation of Algeria by the French presents a case having much parallelism to that of our western frontier, and affords an opportunity of profiting by their experience. Their practice, as far as understood by me, is to leave the desert region to the possession of the nomadic tribes; their outposts, having strong garrisons, are established near the limits of the cultivated region, and their services performed by large detachments making expeditions into the desert regions as required [Webb,Great Plains:194-5 & ff.]

  • 1855mr03:Davis had gotten $30,000 from Congress to experiment with camels in TX
  • 1858:Davis was the first to propose construction of a railroad to the Pacific Ocean. He considered it a military necessity and thus a government project, that is, it required government subvention (monetary support) of private enterprise. Davis arranged for government survey of 4 possible routes
  • Davis understood the military-industrial closeness of frontier (imperialist?) expansion and the development of railroads
  • As USA was poised to open its own industrial era of railroad construction and to launch a campaign into the Great Plains against the Native Americans who lived there, it was temporarily diverted by the disasters of the great Civil War

<>1857ja26:Russian Emperor Alexander II decree laid out plan for vigorous development of railroads [VSB,3:607]

<>1857my10:1858au02; India | Sepoy Rebellion ushered in brutal year of imperialist war which pitted England against an Indian independence movement

  • Prominent English cultural figure, John Ruskin [ID] , delivered a speech characteristic of British imperialist attitudes toward those who resisted their power = “Since the race of man began its course of sin on this earth, nothing has ever been done by it so significative of all bestial, and lower than bestial degradation, as the act [of] the Indian race in the year that has just passed by” [2011au19:TLS:3]
  • The rebellion forced abolition of 250-year-old English East India Co. and caused imposition in India of direct administration by imperialist English crown
  • Termination of the great English mercantilist corporation, followed in a decade by the demise of the Russian-America Company [ID], indicated that a 300-year phase of European overseas-corporate economic life was over
  • And all this just as a new breed of industrial company moved to the center of European economic life, as epitomized by the new railroad companies [ID] and trans-national grain and petroleum corporations

<>1857oc11:Nagasaki | Putiatin back from China, where he was working to create a new generation of treaties more favorable to Russia than the old Nerchinsk Treaty. He found no word from Edo
*1857oc16:Nagasaki officials decided to move ahead in their dealings with Putiatin, using the Dutch proposal as prototype
*–Week later Putiatin signed similar treaty, w/promise that another port than Shimoda would be opened. USA diplomatic representative Townsend Harris wouldn’t accept this plan and proposed to force a greater opening of
Putiatin soon had some imperialist success in China, and Russian imperialist ambitions in Asia mounted as the 19th century wound down

<>1857:1870; In London political exile, the pundit Alexander Herzen was beyond the grip of Russian censorship and free to publish and circulate back in Russia his influential journal of opinion and political news, Kolokol [The Bell] for 13 years, until his death [KMM:165-90 | RRC2,2:321-31 | Excerpts: Edie,1:328-78 | VSB,2:582-4]

  • 1849:1855; Various Herzen writings [DIR3:271-84]
  • 1851:Paris | Six years before the appearance of Kolokol, Herzen explained to Europeans that Russia had a long and progressive revolutionary tradition, “Du développment des idées revolutionnaires en Russie” [KMM:158-64]
  • 1851se22:Herzen letter to Michelet [Excerpts = TXT | DIR2:233-54]. Herzen defended Russia from standard west European clichés repeated in Michelet’s writing. Herzen insisted, “The time has come to show Europe that they cannot speak about Russia as of something mute, absent, and defenseless”
  • Herzen’s critical and radical patriotism, his insistence that Russia was as able as Europe to reach for the better future, and especially his inclination to idealize Russian village political tradition, inspired the “populist” movement. [TXT on the meaning of “obshchina” in Russian political discourse in the 1860s]
  • 1852:Herzen, with his close associate Nikolai Ogarev, founded “Free Russian Press”. The press issued a stream of information and opinion back into Russia where censorship constrained free expression. These publications were suppressed by Russian officials, but they were read in secret and with enthusiasm both by political opponents of autocracy and by the autocrat himself
  • 1852:1868; Herzen published, first in serial form, one of the great political/intellectual autobiographies of all times, My Past and Thoughts. These memoirs not only shed light on the early history of European socialism and the rise of the Russian intelligentsia [ID] but entered into the Russian literary canon
  • 1856:London| Voices from Russia [Golosa iz Rossii] began to appear. It contained examples of the a growing body of thoughtful essays sent to Herzen from Russia, where official censorship prevented free deliberation on significant national issues
    • The lead article was critical of political extremism and was signed “A Russian Liberal” (written jointly by Konstantin Kavelin and Boris Chicherin)
    • Chicherin also published a piece on the weaknesses of the Russian aristocracy, “Ob aristokratii, v osobennosti russkoi” [GRV:189-93]
    • That very year, back in Russia, Kavelin’s MS critique of serfdom circulated = “Gosudarstvennoe krepostnoe pravo v Rossii” [GRV:194-7]
  • Russian liberalism stood forth here at mid-century, promoted in the publication Herzen and Ogarev, who are always thought to be more nearly “socialists” than “liberals”
  • 1857fe03:Herzen letter to the novelist Turgenev compared Russia, America and Europe [VSB,3:634-5]
  • 1858:Herzen wrote of Russia and America: “Both — from different direction — reached across awesome expanses, building towns, settlements, and colonies, to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the ‘Mediterranean of the future’”
  • 1859:”Russian Germans and German Russians” offered more critique of “The West” [VSB,3:635-6]
  • 1867:Herzen portrait painted by Nikolai Gay and in Olga’s Gallery
    *–Martin Malia, 
    Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism
    *–VRR, ch.1 & ch.3 on Herzen & Kolokol
    *–Alexander Kucherov, “Alexander Herzen’s Parallel between the United States and Russia”, in Curtiss, ed., Essays…:34-47
    *–English playwright Tom Stoppard on Herzen [
    TXT] Review of Stoppard’s dramatic trilogy, “The Coast of Utopia” [TXT]

<>1858:London exile, as a result of unsuccessful radical republican political activism in Italy, provided Guiseppe Mazzini the opportunity to publish a theoretical and political journal, Pensiero ed Azione [Thought and Action]

<>1858:Leipzig | Russian priest and advocate of greater independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from state control and for general church reforms, I. S. Belliustin, published Description of the Clergy in Rural Russia: The Memoir of a Nineteenth-Century Parish Priest [Excerpt= KRR:336-9]

  • The Church, as institution,  was largely put outside the range of tsarist reform planning. The Petrine subordination of church to state [ID] was given little official attention
  • However, the newly aroused public and energized seminary teachers and students, as well as certain activist clergy (such as Belliustin), subjected the Russian Orthodox Church to critical scrutiny

<>1858my:Russian pundit Nikolai Dobroliubov (-1861), “The Organic Development of Man….” [Raeff3:263-87 | CF=Selected Philosophical Essays | 1859:review of Nikolai Goncharov’s novel about aristocratic indolence, Oblomov | RRC2,2#28 | DIR3:321-5]

  • In the late 1850s and early 1860s, the monthly journal Sovremennik [Contemporary], in which Dobroliubov and Nikolai Chernyshevskii played leading roles, gained great popularity because of its broad-ranging “muckraking” journalism and advocacy of a “modern” secular, science-based world view
  • Because of censorship, philosophical, political-economic and social issues had to be disguised as literary criticism
  • Belinsky, Chernyshevsky and Dobroliubov: Selected Criticism
  • Chernyshevskii wrote on leading issues in the life of the struggling Russian agrarian order =
    • 1857: “On the Ownership of Landed Property”
    • 1858: “A Critique of the Philosophical Prejudices against Communal Possession” [SLM | Q.PSS#05:357-92]
  • He also developed a deep interest in contemporary European political-economic thought and its efforts to understand the geographically expanding industrial transformation of traditional agrarian civilization, the rise of the historically unprecedented social formation wage-labor
    • He wrote “Capital and Labor” (1860) [VSB,3:637]
    • He translated into Russian and extensively annotated John Stuart Mills’ principles of political economy [ID]
  • He also wrote engagingly on philosophical issues, as in “The Anthropological Principle in Philosophy” [Edie,2:29-60 | VSB,3:638]
  • Chernyshevskii, Selected Philosophical Essays
  • Chernyshevskii was an outstanding example of the new “public intellectual” in European life, filled with confidence in science and progress and the need to propagate their virtues among the educated public, and this in order to solidify or promote the growth of a modern civil society
  • Mid-century pundits or journalists put themselves in competition with secular and Church censorship, the traditional institutions of control and maintenance of prevailing world views at that interpretive taxonomic level of historical experience [ID]
    Wagar on world view of the Russian 1860s [TXT]
    *–Vladimir Nabokov,
    The Gift [short novel lampooned Chernyshevskii and the epoch of Russian positivism]
    *–William Woehrlin,
    Chernyshevsky: The Man and the Journalist
    *–N. G. O. Pereira,
    The Thought and Teachings of N. G. Cernysevskij
    *–VRR, ch.5 & ch.6

<>1858my28:China and Russia signed Aigun treaty; 1858je13:Tientsin treaty [DIR2:257-70 | DIR3:296-304]

<>1858au19:Japan, Edo | Putiatin signed 1st Russian/Japanese treaty of Friendship and Commerce w/Nagai Naomune (1816:1891) Inoue Kiyonao etc

<>1859:1862; Prussian [north German] Ambassador to St. Petersburg court was future architect of German unity, Otto von Bismarck

<>1859:1863; Russian revolutionary situation (the first, lasting 4 years) arose early in the Era of Great Reforms [KRR:430ff | FFS:101-96 (1860:1864 | various petitions etc)]

  • The 1860s have been called “The First Russian Revolutionary Situation” which was provoked when Alexander II and his administration decided they could no longer allow themselves to govern as they had in the past
  • Failure in the Crimean War [ID] exposed glaring Russian weaknesses
  • Serfdom over the long run and the legacy of Nicholas I more recently [ID] made the status quo unacceptable even to highest authorities
  • Promotion of Imperial interests required extensive change
  • The state came to see the need for extensive change, and the people of Russia, the subjects of the tsar, agreed
  • The situation in which old regime authorities and their subjects agreed on the need for significant change was revolutionary
    • First because authorities and subjects did not agree about what changes needed to be made
    • Second, two forces — state bureaucrats and various social groups — were ready to mobilize themselves to promote their own various and clashing ideas about change. Different ideas were rooted in different interests. Social formations, individuals and institutions act according to interests [ID]
  • A new and recognizably modern political opposition arose =
    • Radical-left pro-reform and radical-right anti-reform factions arose in the ranks of civilian and military state servitors and attenuated official reform energies
    • Peasants wanted more land under better conditions
    • Gentry thought they were invited to help design the reform when the tsar asked noble assemblies to form gentry committees to deliberate on serfdom
    • An emerging “civil society” sought political and social reforms well beyond anything the state could accept, simply because the causes that inspired civili society were not the causes that inspired official reform
    • A lively new print medium weighed in, from abroad and on the domestic scene
    • Poland rose up in rebellion against Russian rule
  • Reformist authorities (who promoted reform) and reactionary authorities (who opposed reform) could agree on this =
  • Political activism (self-generated public mobilization) on the part of either peasants, gentry, “intelligentsia” [ID], or national minorities was unacceptable
  • But reactionary authorities proved wrong on their one essential do-nothing position because tsarist government could not rule as in the past, and significant changes had to be made
  • An emerging Russian “public” agreed, but an increasingly mobilized public, for a brief and intense period of crisis, rejected changes proposed by reigning authorities
  • That was the essence of the mid-century revolutionary situation, but no revolution followed
  • The state temporarily restrained its own radical reformers and reactionary resistance and pushed through compromised but authentic reforms
  • The state prevailed over peasants with its army
  • The state prevailed over the gentry and the fledgling civil society with harsh police measures and subtle policies of cooptation
  • A second revolutionary situation nonetheless arose 15 years later at the end of the reign of Alexander II
    *–Alan Kimball, “Tsarist State & Origins of Revolutionary Opposition in the 1860s
    *–VRR, ch.4-13 (90-315)
    *–Jonathan Daly, Autocracy Under Siege: Security Police and Opposition in Russia, 1855-1905 (1998)


Saint Nicholas II

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine
26 November 1894
5 children





The Bolsheviks

 played little role in the revolution of 1905. Lenin only returned to Russia from exile in September and the revolution was stamped out by early December. Again Lenin went into European exile. But he believed that his views had been vindicated by the experiences of 1905. In particular, he came to believe even more fervently in non-cooperation with liberal parties or even with socialists who cooperated with liberals.

So Lenin kept the Bolshevik faction together in the years before World War I. During the war most European socialists supported their national governments in the war effort. Only a tiny minority, Lenin among them, called for the transformation of the war among nations into a war among classes. By this time Lenin had come to believe that Russia was the weakest link in the chain of capitalist countries. Under the pressure of war , he expected the Russian link to snap and to see the establishment of the first socialist country in the world in Russia. Other, more advanced capitalist nations would soon follow the Russian example and join the socialist family of nations.







Russia: Cutting Ice. River Niva. Old Antique Print.1908


Russia: MOSCOW. Spassky Gate.Kremlin.Vintage Print.1912




Russia: CAUCASUS: Hunting party. Old Vintage Print.1913




Russia: NOVGOROD.Nuns haymaking. Old Vintage Print.1913



Russia: RICH TARTARS.Costume. Old Vintage Print.1913



Russia: Farming.Blessing the ground. Vintage Print.1913



Russia: BLESSING THE WATER. Old Vintage Print.1913


Russia: COSTUME.Turcoman + Wife. Old Vintage Print.1913



Russia: TOULA. A Country Mayor. Old Vintage Print.1913










War and Revolution in Russia 1914 – 1921

Russia signalled her withdrawal from World War One soon after the October Revolution of 1917, and the country turned in on itself with a bloody civil war between the Bolsheviks and the conservative White Guard. Jonathan Smele charts this turbulent episode in the forging of post-tsarist Russia


During the war


Conditions in Europe in 1914 made it virtually inevitable that war would break out sooner or later. Intense nationalism, militarism, a precarious balance of power resulting from the division of the major powers into two rival alliances, and competition for overseas empiresall played a part in creating a situation in which war could occur at almost any time.


Throughout the 19th century, nationalism (a strong patriotic feeling of loyalty to one’s people or county) flourished. By the 20th century, it had become chauvinism: national pride had been exaggerated to such a degree that it meant not only love for one’s country but contempt for the peoples of other nations.


Though there had not been a major war in Europe since 1815, all the Great Powers (Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Russia) had amassed huge arsenals, far beyond the needs of national defense, prior to World War I. The sense of power derived from military strength helped swell national pride. However, in time of international crisis, these arsenals tended to make European leaders think in terms of military rather than diplomatic solutions.


The Great Powers had arranged themselves into two rival alliances, producing a balance of power that, it was hoped, would prevent war. Actually the alliances led to a state in which the slightest disturbance of the existing political order or military situation caused a crisis, and each crisis increased the tension that would eventually lead to war. The alliances also made it certain that war, once it began, would involve all the Great Powers.

The alliance system that existed at the outbreak of World War I was developed after the Franco-Prussian War (187071). Otto von Bismarck, chancellor of Germany, knew that France would someday seek to avenge its humiliating defeat in that war. To reduce this threat, Bismarck entered into various alliances with the goal of isolating France from the other countries of Europe. In 1879 Bismarck concluded the Dual Alliance, a mutual defense pact with Austria-Hungary. He expanded this agreement in 1882 to include Italy, forming the Triple Alliance.

Bismarck realized that an alliance between France and Russia would be a fundamental threat to German security because in the event of war with either power Germany would be forced to fight on two fronts. Bismarck arranged the Emperors’ Alliance (1881) and the Reinsurance Treaty (1887) with Russia, agreements that guaranteed Russian neutrality in the event of a Franco-German conflict.

In 1890 Bismarck was dismissed by the new German kaiser (emperor), William II. William thought that Germany should not be allied with both Austria and Russia because of their rivalry for dominance in the Balkans. Though he wanted to remain on friendly terms, William allowed the agreements with Russia to lapse.

To offset the threat of the Triple Alliance, France and Russia formed their own Dual Alliance in 1894. France also improved relations with Great Britain by entering into an informal understanding with the British known as the Entente Cordiale (1904). This was expanded into the Triple Entente in 1907 with the inclusion of Russia.


The most impressive display of the power of the European states in the 19th and early 20th centuries was the expansion of their political and economic influence to areas outside Europe. Imperial expansion provided new sources of raw materials, new markets for goods produced in the mother country, and national prestige.

Several times in the decades preceding the war, conflicting colonial ambitions in Africa threatened to lead European powers to war. Britain and France, in the Entente Cordiale, ended years of rivalry by pledging to cooperate in the colonization of Africa. Germany, which was the newest imperial power, tried to compete with the more established imperial nations (Britain and France). Twice, in 1905 and 1911, Germany attempted to undermine French authority in Morocco. Both times Germany’s gains were negligible, but the German actions caused French leaders to consider war to defend their imperial interests.

The situation in the Balkans was even more explosive: it was, in fact, the competition there between Russia and Austria-Hungary that eventually triggered World War I. Austria wanted to incorporate some of the smaller Balkan states into its empire. Russia’s Balkan policy was based on Pan-Slavism, a movement to achieve cultural and political unity in a confederation of Slavic states dominated by Russia. The situation was further complicated by the rival territorial claims of various ethnic groups in the Balkans.

In the Balkan Wars (191213), the Turks were pushed out of most of the Balkans by Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Greece. When disputes arose among the victors over how the former Turkish territories were to be divided, Austria and Russia proposed conflicting settlements. Only mediation by the other European powers prevented a general war in southern Europe.

These countries also had other territorial ambitions. Serbia was seeking an outlet on the Adriatic. France and Great Britain wanted to extend their influence in the Middle East. Also, German, French, and British business interests were seeking concessions and markets in various countries, and each success brought an envious outcry from competing nations. British industrialists were particularly worried by German competition in their home market.

The Assassination of the Archduke

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Hapsburg throne, was assassinated by a 19-year-old student, Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo (in the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina). Princip, a Serb living in Bosnia, was assisted in the preparations for the assassination by a Serbian revolutionary society that was trying to overthrow Austrian rule in Bosnia.

All of Europe awaited Austria-Hungary’s response to the assassination. The chief of the Austrian general staff, General Franz Conrad von H tzendorf, and the foreign minister, Count Leopold von Berchtold, both wanted to use the assassination as a pretext to absorb Serbia into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Before any action could be taken against Serbia, however, they had to secure German support, to deter Russian intervention. The kaiser promised to support the Austrian government in any action it took because he did not believe that Russia would intervene.

Ultimatums and Declarations

Htzendorf and Berchtold could now act. Berchtold drew up an ultimatum with terms that he knew would be unacceptable to Serbia. He also set a 48-hour time limit for Serbia’s response. In a carefully worded reply, Serbia agreed to all of the conditions of the ultimatum, except for the Austrian demand to conduct an investigation and trial in Serbia. The Serbians proposed that if this reply was unsatisfactory, the question of Serbia’s guilt in the assassination should be submitted to the Hague Tribunal for arbitration. Austria-Hungary, declaring that Serbia’s reply was unacceptable, severed diplomatic relations with Serbia and ordered mobilization.

Russia pledged full support for Serbia and ordered mobilization on July 25. The next day, Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign minister, proposed a conference of the Great Powers to resolve the crisis, but Austria-Hungary was unwilling to attend. On July 27 France ordered mobilization in support of Russia. On July 31 Germany gave Russia an ultimatum that threatened mobilization if Russia did not rescind its mobilization orders within 12 hours.

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28 and then began shelling Belgrade (the capital of Serbia). Russia did not respond to Germany’s ultimatum. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, and on France on August 3. France and Britain declared war on Germany on August 3 and 4, respectively. Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia on August 6.

The Plan of Campaign

To some extent, every major power had developed military plans for a continental war. Germany had the most detailed plans. Count Alfred von Schlieffen, chief of the German general staff from 1891 to 1905, had developed a strategy for the invasion of France and had set up a timetable for troop movements and operations.

The Schlieffen Plan, as it came to be known, called for a large force to march west through Belgium and then south, to Paris. A small force would be deployed at the French border to lure the French forward, causing them to expose their west flank and rear. Schlieffen calculated that Russia would mobilize very slowly, thus not posing a threat to Germany’s eastern frontier until after operations in the west were concluded. Then, Germany could turn its forces toward Russia.

Austria-Hungary’s plan was to mount a coordinated Austro-German offensive in the east to knock Russia out of the war. However, the High Command accepted the Schlieffen Plan and agreed to contain Russia while Germany sought to gain a quick victory in the west.

France’s plans were much less detailed than Germany’s. The French generals planned a series of offensives along the Franco-German border to reclaim Alsace and Lorraine, territories seized by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War. When this plan was executed, however, the attacks were not well coordinated and were easily repelled by the Germans.

Unlike the other powers, Great Britain did not have any detailed military plans in the event of war. When the war broke out, Britain sent a small expeditionary force to hold the position on the west flank of the French army.

Russian strategy called for the defeat of Austria-Hungary before engaging Germany. However, the Russians abandoned their plan when they were prodded by the French into an invasion of East Prussia, in order to help relieve the German pressure on the Western Front

The Opposing Forces

When the war began the Central Powers had 11,000,000 men (counting reserves) opposing the Allies’ 9,500,000 (also counting reserves). The Central Powers’ armies were better equipped. In training and morale, the two sides were about equal.

The Central Powers

Germany was the best prepared of any country. It had an excellent system of military training and its army was well-supplied and confident. At the beginning of the war, Germany mobilized an army of 2,500,000 and had reserves totaling 4,500,000.

At the beginning of hostilities, Austria immediately mobilized about 1,000,000 men. By the middle of October, 1914, this number had been increased by another 500,000. Bulgaria and Turkey mobilized their forces shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, but their armies were poorly equipped and poorly trained.

The Allies

France had the strongest army among the Allies. Not only was it well trained, but many of the troops on active duty were veterans of combat in Africa. The French had an excellent general staff and the morale of the soldiers was high. However, the French were not as well equipped as the Germans. At the start of hostilities, France mobilized 2,000,000 men and had another 2,000,000 in reserve.

The British had a strong navy but a small army. The regular army numbered only 250,000. There were also 700,000 reserves in various stages of training. Britain alone of the belligerents had never adopted peacetime conscription or universal military training.

Russia had a regular army of about 1,000,000 men with 3,000,000 more in reserve. Serbia had an army of some 250,000, with an equal number in reserve. Both Serbia and Russia were poorly equipped. The Belgian army totaled about 263,000 and had no reserves



World War I was the great armed conflict of 1914-18. Until World War II, it was often called the Great War because it was the most destructive and widespread war the world had ever seen.

World War I began as a local conflict over a minor issue. Eventually it engulfed much of Europe and drew in, directly or indirectly, all the major powers of the world. The first declaration of war was made by Austria-Hungary against Serbia on July 28, 1914. Before the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, 28 nations (counting the British Empire as one nation) were directly engaged in the conflict.

World War I saw many innovations in military technology.

On one side were France, Belgium, the British Empire, Russia, and Serbia; and, later, Japan, Italy, the United States, and 16 other countries. They were called the Allied and Associated Powers, or the Allies. The opposing side consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), and Bulgaria. They were known as the Central Powers.

After the war, there were numerous boundary changes in Europe and the Middle East. Four empires the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottomancollapsed.

Austria and Hungary were reduced to small separate states and Czechoslovakia was created from Austro-Hungarian territory in Central Europe. The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (which became Yugoslavia in 1929) was established, comprising Austro-Hungarian lands in the Balkans and the kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro. Poland, which had been partitioned among the Germans, Austrians, and Russians in the 18th century, was reestablished along its historical borders, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were freed from Russian domination. In the Middle East, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Hejaz (a territory within modern Saudi Arabia), Transjordan (modern Jordan), and Palestine were carved out of the Ottoman Empire.

France’s quick defeat in World War II has been attributed, at least in part, to the devastation it suffered in World War I. The vast system of overseas holdings of Great Britain began to change from an empire to a commonwealth. The war was at least partly responsible for the success of the Russian Revolution and the rise of Communism. The United States, after the war, its first experience of being involved in European affairs, declined to take a role as a world leader and retreated into isolationism, refusing to join the League of Nations. Many people thought of World War I as “the war to end all wars,” fought “to make the world safe for democracy.” Because of an overly harsh peace treaty, the weakness of the League of Nations, a worldwide economic depression, and the rise of fascism, the war had the opposite effect. It made the second World War almost inevitable.Important dates during World War I


The auguries for war

In 1913, Tsar Nicholas II celebrated the tercentenary of Romanov rule in Russia. He and his dynasty ruled over a huge empire, stretching from central Europe to the Pacific Ocean and from the Arctic to the borders of Afghanistan.

the events that took place on the Eastern Front…would have a profound impact upon world history for the remainder of the century

This mighty imperium covered one-sixth of the land surface of the globe, and was populated by almost 150 million people of more than a hundred different nationalities.

However, the Russian Empire was riven by many tensions. Just five years after the celebrations, Nicholas and his family would be dead, executed by the Bolsheviks, while his empire would be defeated in the World War and wracked by revolutions, civil wars and foreign interventions.

By 1921, after a period of great unrest, the Bolsheviks triumphed in Russia, and largely reunited the old empire (formally constituted as the USSR in 1923). The repercussions of the events that took place on the Eastern Front, from 1914 to 1921, however, would have a profound impact upon world history for the remainder of the century and beyond – although it was the battles of the Western Front that eventually achieved greater fame.


Campaigns and crises: 1914-1916


Russian prisoners after defeat in East Prussia, 1915  © In 1914, Russia was hardly prepared for war. Just nine years earlier she had been defeated in a war with tiny Japan. The Revolution of 1905, when revolts and uprisings had forced the Tsar to concede civil rights and a parliament to the Russian people, had also shaken the empire.

The subsequent reforms and rebuilding were far from complete, but as workers and land-hungry peasants rallied to the Russian flag and marched off to fight against the Central Powers, the initial auguries for both war and national unity were not bad.

This failed Russian advance…signalled the beginning of an unrelenting Russian retreat

National unity, however, could only be built on victory and, in that regard, Russia’s hopes were dashed early in the Great War. At Tannenberg and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, in 1914, Russia lost two entire armies (over 250,000 men).

This failed Russian advance into East Prussia did disrupt Germany’s Schlieffen Plan and thus probably prevented the fall of Paris, but it also signalled the beginning of an unrelenting Russian retreat on the northern sector of the Eastern Front. By the middle of 1915 all of Russian Poland and Lithuania, and most of Latvia, were overrun by the German army.

Many factors – including the militarisation of industry and crises in food supply – threatened disaster on the home front

Fortunately for the Russians, they did better in 1916. The supply of rifles and artillery shells to the Eastern Front was vastly improved, and in the Brusilov Offensive of June 1916, Russia achieved significant victories over the Austrians – capturing Galicia and the Bukovina – and she was also more than holding her own in Transcaucasia, against Turkey.

However, the country’s political and economic problems were greatly exacerbated by the war. Many factors – including the militarisation of industry and crises in food supply – threatened disaster on the home front.

Added to this cocktail were rumours that the tsarina, Alexandra, and her favourite, the infamous Rasputin, were German spies. The rumours were unfounded, but by November 1916 influential critics of the regime were asking whether Russia’s misfortunes – including 1,700,000 military dead and 5,000,000 wounded – were a consequence of ‘stupidity or treason’.

This was a rabble-rousing exaggeration, but certainly the outdated strategies of Russia’s General Staff had cost hundreds of thousands of lives, while the regime seemed careless of such appalling losses.


1917: From February to October


Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky, leader of the Provisional Government, 1917  © Food riots, demonstrations and a mutiny at the Petrograd Garrison in February 1917 forced Nicholas II to abdicate as war still continued. A Provisional Government led by liberals and moderate socialists was proclaimed, and its leaders hoped now to pursue the war more effectively.

Real power in Russia after the February Revolution, however, lay with the socialist leaders of the Petrograd (later All-Russian) Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, who were elected by popular mandate (unlike the ministers of the Provisional Government).

Anarchist and Bolshevik agitators played their own part in destroying the Russian Army’s ability to fight

The Soviet leaders rather half-heartedly supported a defensive war, but were more committed to an unrealistic programme of ending the conflict, through a general peace ‘without annexations or indemnities’ – a formula that neither the Allies nor Germany would ever accept.

Against this background, the war minister (later Prime Minister) Kerensky of the Provisional Government hoped to strengthen Russia’s hand with a new Russian offensive on the Eastern Front in June. But by then the ability of Russia’s officers to induce their men to obey had been entirely negated by the hopes of social transformation and an end to the war that the February Revolution had unleashed in the trenches – leading to what historian Alan Wildman has termed ‘trench bolshevism’.

Anarchist and Bolshevik agitators played their own part in destroying the Russian Army’s ability to fight. Many anti-war radicals, along with the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, were ferried home from exile in Switzerland in April 1917, courtesy of the German General Staff (which had spent roughly 30 million marks trying to foment disorder in Russia by the end of 1917).

most of the generals and forces of the political right threw their weight behind a plan for a military coup

The summer offensive was a disaster. Peasant soldiers deserted en masse to join the revolution, and fraternisation with the enemy became common. Meanwhile, in an attempt to restore order and resist the German counter-offensive, most of the generals and forces of the political right threw their weight behind a plan for a military coup, under the Russian Army’s commander-in-chief, General Kornilov.

The coup failed, but had two important consequences: on the one hand, the generals and the conservatives who had backed Kornilov felt betrayed by Kerensky (who arrested Kornilov after having appeared to have been in agreement with him) and would no longer defend the government; on the other, Kerensky’s reputation with the moderate left and with the population at large plummeted when it became clear that he had initially supported Kornilov’s plans for the restoration of the death penalty and for the dissolution of soldiers’ revolutionary committees.

The only winners were the Bolsheviks, with Lenin at their head, who were able to topple Kerensky and take power in the October Revolution of 1917- without significant resistance from either the government or the army.


Brest-Litovsk and its consequences


Delegates at negotiations for the Brest-Litovsk treaty, March 1918  © After taking power, the Bolsheviks promised to deliver ‘Peace, Bread and Land’ to the beleaguered people of Russia. With regard to the first of these, a ‘Decree on Peace’ (26 October 1917) was dashed off by Lenin, calling upon all belligerents to end the slaughter of World War One.

Not that Lenin was a pacifist: rather, his hope was to transform the world war into an international civil war, when the ‘imperialist’ powers refused to cease fighting and thereby revealed their rapacious ambitions.

the anti-Bolshevik Russians who had remained loyal to the Allies now took up arms

However, the Central Powers responded to the Bolsheviks’ appeal by agreeing to an armistice on the Eastern Front, and Lenin’s lieutenant, Trotsky, found himself in the uncomfortable position, during the winter of 1917-18, of negotiating a separate peace treaty with Imperial Germany and her allies at the Polish town of Brest-Litovsk.

Trotsky tried to delay matters and to inculcate revolution in central Europe by refusing the harsh terms presented to him. When Germany, however, merely resumed its invasion of Russia on the Eastern Front, pushing further east in five days of February 1918 than it had in the previous three years (the German soldiers, to Trotsky’s consternation, continued to obey their officers), the Bolsheviks were forced to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918.

This punitive treaty effectively handed over Finland, Poland, the Baltic provinces, Ukraine and Transcaucasia to the Central Powers, together with one-third of the old empire’s population, one-third of its agricultural land and three-quarters of its industries.

Outraged by this, the anti-Bolshevik Russians who had remained loyal to the Allies now took up arms in earnest against the Bolsheviks. They were actively assisted by Allied forces in Russia, who hoped to rebuild the Eastern Front. Notable in this regard was the Czechoslovak Legion, a 40,000-strong army made up of former POWs, who in 1918 seized the entire Trans-Siberian Railway, from the Volga to Vladivostok.


Civil War: Whites v Reds


Leon Trotsky saluting in the street, October, 1917  © During the civil war thus unleashed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the Bolsheviks (Reds), who controlled Petrograd, Moscow and the central Russian heartland, soon found themselves surrounded by hostile forces (Whites) – made up of the more conservative elements in Russia – who launched a series of campaigns in 1919 that threatened to crush the revolution.

During these campaigns Admiral Kolchak, the ‘Supreme Ruler’ of the Whites, attacked across the Urals from Siberia; General Denikin advanced on a broad front up the Volga, into Ukraine and to the town of Orel (within 250 miles of Moscow); and General Iudenich’s North West Russian Army, based in Estonia, twice reached the outskirts of Petrograd.

they managed to arm, man and manoeuvre an army that by 1921 had grown to almost five million soldiers

The Reds, however, rebuffed these attacks, and survived, and by late 1920 had driven the Whites back into the Black Sea, the Baltic and the Pacific – causing hundreds of thousands of White soldiers and civilians to emigrate.

The Reds were able to take advantage of internal lines of communication and could utilise the railways, arsenals and the economy of the most populous provinces of the former empire. In this way they managed to arm, man and manoeuvre an army that by 1921 had grown to almost five million soldiers.

The Whites, in contrast, never commanded forces totalling more than 250,000 men at one time, were separated from each other by huge distances, and were based around the less developed peripheries of Russia. Also, crucially, the Whites underestimated the Bolsheviks’ capacity to resist.

The White armies, in contrast, exhibited only brutality, venality, disorder…

It still seems surprising that Trotsky was able to fashion a Red Army more effective than that of the experienced White generals ranged against him. He, however, enjoyed the material advantages mentioned, and he also introduced some revolutionary innovations: notably the network of Political Commissars – devout Bolsheviks who offered political guidance to the Red Army and who watched over the loyalty of the 50,000 imperial army officers the Reds employed to help command their forces. He also used terror most ruthlessly.

The White armies, in contrast, exhibited only brutality, venality, disorder and a lack of political and military direction. Even their most effective fighters, the Cossacks, were more interested in booty and in securing their own regional autonomy than in driving Lenin from the Kremlin.


Allied intervention

Despite their strength in Russia itself, the Reds were internationally isolated, but neither did the Whites enjoy unlimited Allied support. The liberal British leader Lloyd George, the socialist French prime minister Clemenceau and the American Democratic president Woodrow Wilson were no friends of Lenin – but neither were they particularly enamoured of the White generals, whom they suspected of reactionary aims.


Liberty, Equality and Fraternity: a banner of the Russian Revolution, 1917  ©

In fact, although anti-Bolshevik sentiments were not altogether absent from Allied leaders’ minds when they made the decision to intervene in Russia in 1918, their main interest was in the Great War, not the Russian civil war, and their desire was to try and reconstitute the Eastern Front, to ease the pressure on the Western Front. That motivation disappeared on 11 November 1918.

after the armistice, most Allied efforts were directed towards finding an honourable way out of Russia.

Moreover, none of the western powers had any great interest in helping to build a united Russia – they preferred to keep that huge country weak – and in any case, they had enough on their plates in 1919. With domestic war weariness, the Paris Peace Conference, the division of the German and Ottoman Empires, and the economic crises of central Europe to contend with, they had no wish to sink further into the Russian quagmire. The only power with the capacity to intervene effectively in Russia was Japan, but with memories of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 still fresh, her intervention was unlikely to be welcomed by the Russians.

Consequently, although the matériel the Allies sent to Russia was crucial in allowing the Whites to mount the campaigns they did in 1919 (the British alone sent one hundred million pounds-worth of equipment to Kolchak and Denikin), only a few thousand British, French and American troops ever set foot in Russia, and few of them saw action. And after the armistice, most Allied efforts were directed towards finding an honourable way out of Russia, rather than a means of more forcefully intervening.

It was this victory that helped forge post-tsarist Russia’s self-image

Nevertheless, the Red Army’s victory over what became characterised under Stalin as ‘The Three Campaigns of the Entente’ (a loaded reference to the efforts of Kolchak, Denikin and Iudenich, who were portrayed as being ‘puppets’ of western capitalism), in a civil war that cost perhaps ten million lives, assumed a hallowed place in Soviet and Russian history.

It was this victory that helped forge post-tsarist Russia’s self-image as a strong country that had stood up to the bullying of the west, and that lay at the root of the Cold War. Even Gorbachev, often seen as a friend of the west, was prone to mentioning it; and it cannot be far from President Putin’s mind as events unfold in the Middle East.

After the war


World Without End was a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep, beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh—as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man’s world in the Welsh mining pits…Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House…two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution…Billy’s sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London.Continue reading …

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same aga



Historical Vignette 116 – Engineers in Russia 





With the passing of the living history of the First World War, many of its significant events will fade from memory. Despite this loss, some still can name a few of the American experiences in this war, such as Belleau Wood or the “The Lost Battalion.” There was, however, one theater in which American soldiers and engineers served and fought that was forgotten long ago, even though it influenced the later events of the Cold War.

Shortly before the end of World War I, American and other Allied troops were deployed to Russia.  Ostensibly, their mission was to protect donated war supplies in northern Russia and Siberia from German troops, to help Russia remain in the war, and to assist Allied prisoners of war in a chaotic, revolutionary Russia. In reality, the mission was never clear to American troops; even at the highest levels there was confusion. Secretary of War Newton Baker handed Maj. Gen. William S. Graves, commander of the American troops in Siberia, his orders with the words: “This contains the policy of the United States in Russia which you are to follow. Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite. God bless you and good-bye.”

Accompanying the soldiers when they landed at Archangel, northern Russia, on August 2, 1918, and at Vladivostok, Siberia, on August 16, 1918, were Army engineers. In the case of northern Russia, the engineers were from the 310th Engineer Battalion. They served a crucial role in what became known as the Russian Expedition.

In the vast spaces of northern Russia and Siberia, railroads were critical, and Army engineers repaired and maintained them.  They also constructed defensive fortifications, often using unique designs adapted to the bitter winter weather. In northern Russia, for example, engineers of the 310th constructed 316 log blockhouses and 273 machine gun emplacements. They also had to maintain equipment that was never meant to function in such harsh winters. Of course, they were also required to do battle in these same brutal conditions as fighting escalated between the Bolsheviks and supporters of the provisional government.

After World War I ended in November of 1918, the justification for maintaining a presence in Russia weakened and shifted. Ultimately, the lack of mission and domestic pressure led to the withdrawal of the 5,000 American soldiers in northern Russia in June of 1919. The following April, the 7,950 Americans in Siberia went home. When this obscure and little understood operation ended, it faded in American memory. Crucially, however, the Russians never forgot that American troops once fought on their soil. The experience, for them, very much influenced the direction the Cold War took in the aftermath of World War II.

The Office of History has in its collection a scrapbook of photos taken of the 310th Engineers while in Russia and a collection from William M. Black of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Siberia. This page presents some of those images that illustrate the conditions in Russia. Hover cursor over the images for captions.


This shot was one of the most famous shots made by Russian photographers during World War 2. It was made in the ruins of Stalingrad city – the place where the most heavy city battles took place. Some historians say that after those battles near Staliningrad the Nazi invasion of Russia broke down.
The monument itself depicts Russian children dancing around a crocodile, looking so unreal with the traces of bullets on the sculptures and the burning ruins on the background.
Later, after the war the monument was rebuilt, even earlier than surrounding buildings.









Pretenders to the Russian throne since 1917




Michael II (disputed)

Natalia Brassova
15 October 1911
one son (born before his parents’ marriage) Vladimir Cyrillovich, Grand Duke of Russia (1938–1992)






The end @ Copyright 2012




3 responses to “The Russia History Collections Part Three

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