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Alexander II, Saint Petersburg, also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881. He was also the King of Poland and the Grand Prince of Finland. Born in 1818, he was the eldest son of Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia. His early life gave little indication of his ultimate potential; until the time of his accession in 1855, aged 37, few imagined that he would be known to posterity as a leader able to implement the most challenging reforms undertaken in Russia since the reign of Peter the Great Alexander II succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father in 1855. The first year of his reign was devoted to the prosecution of the Crimean War and, after the fall of Sevastopol, to negotiations for peace, led by his trusted counselor Prince Gorchakov. The country had been exhausted and humiliated by the war. Bribe-taking, theft and corruption were everywhere. Encouraged by public opinion he began a period of radical reforms, including an attempt to not to depend on a landed aristocracy controlling the poor, a move to developing Russia's natural resources and to thoroughly reform all branches of the administration. His education as a future Tsar was carried out under the supervision of the liberal romantic poet and gifted translator Vasily Zhukovsky, becoming familiar with the chief modern European languages. His alleged lack of interest in military affairs detected by later historians could have been only his reflection on the results on his own family and on the effect on the whole country of the unsavory Crimean War. Unusually for the time, the young Alexander was taken on a six-month tour of Russia, visiting 20 provinces in the country. He also visited many prominent Western European countries. As tsarevich, Alexander became the first Romanov heir to visit Siberia.

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