Alexander I of Russia
Overview
 
Alexander I of Russia ( – ), served as Emperor
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania.

He was born in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 to Grand Duke
Grand Duke
The title grand duke is used in Western Europe and particularly in Germanic countries for provincial sovereigns. Grand duke is of a protocolary rank below a king but higher than a sovereign duke. Grand duke is also the usual and established translation of grand prince in languages which do not...

 Paul Petrovich, later Emperor Paul I
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

, and Maria Feodorovna, daughter of the Duke of Württemberg
Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg
Friedrich Eugen of Württemberg , the fourth son of Duke Karl Alexander and Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis .-Royal duke:...

. Alexander was the eldest of four brothers. He succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered, and ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

.
Encyclopedia
Alexander I of Russia ( – ), served as Emperor
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania.

He was born in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 to Grand Duke
Grand Duke
The title grand duke is used in Western Europe and particularly in Germanic countries for provincial sovereigns. Grand duke is of a protocolary rank below a king but higher than a sovereign duke. Grand duke is also the usual and established translation of grand prince in languages which do not...

 Paul Petrovich, later Emperor Paul I
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

, and Maria Feodorovna, daughter of the Duke of Württemberg
Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg
Friedrich Eugen of Württemberg , the fourth son of Duke Karl Alexander and Princess Maria Augusta of Thurn and Taxis .-Royal duke:...

. Alexander was the eldest of four brothers. He succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered, and ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. In the first half of his reign Alexander tried to introduce liberal reforms, while in the second half he turned to a much more arbitrary manner of conduct, which led to the revoking of many early reforms. In foreign policy Alexander gained certain successes, mainly by his diplomatic skills and winning of several military campaigns. In particular under his rule Russia acquired Finland and part of Poland. His sudden death in Taganrog
Taganrog
Taganrog is a seaport city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the north shore of Taganrog Bay , several kilometers west of the mouth of the Don River. Population: -History of Taganrog:...

, under allegedly suspicious circumstances, caused the spread of the rumors that Alexander in fact did not die in 1825, but chose to "disappear" and to live the rest of his life in anonymity.

Early life

Alexander and his younger brother Constantine
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Constantine Pavlovich was a grand duke of Russia and the second son of Emperor Paul I. He was the Tsesarevich of Russia throughout the reign of his elder brother Alexander I, but had secretly renounced his claim to the throne in 1823...

 were raised by their grandmother, Catherine the Great. Some sources allege that she planned to remove her son (Alexander's father) Paul I from the succession altogether. Both she and his father tried to use Alexander for their own purposes, and he was torn emotionally between them. This taught Alexander very early on how to manipulate those who loved him, and he became like a chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards. They are distinguished by their parrot-like zygodactylous feet, their separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes, their very long, highly modified, and rapidly extrudable tongues, their swaying gait, the possession by many of a...

, changing his views and personality depending on whom he was with at the time. From the free-thinking atmosphere of the court of Catherine and his Swiss
Swiss (people)
The Swiss are citizens or natives of Switzerland. The demonym derives from the toponym of Schwyz and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century....

 tutor, Frédéric-César de La Harpe
Frédéric-César de La Harpe
Frédéric-César de La Harpe was a Swiss political leader and Vaudois patriot, who played a leading role in the creation of the Helvetic Republic.-Biography:...

, he imbibed the principles of Rousseau's
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 gospel of humanity. But from his military governor, Nikolay Saltykov
Nikolay Saltykov
Count Nikolay Ivanovich Saltykov , a member of the Saltykov royal family, was a Russian Field Marshal and imperial courtier....

, he imbibed the traditions of Russian autocracy. Andrey Afanasyevich Samborsky, whom his grandmother chose for his religious instruction, was an atypical, unbearded Orthodox
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 priest. Samborsky had long lived in England and taught Alexander (and Constantine) excellent English, very uncommon for potential Russian autocrats at the time. Young Alexander sympathised with French
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and Polish revolutionaries
Kosciuszko Uprising
The Kościuszko Uprising was an uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia led by Tadeusz Kościuszko in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania in 1794...

, while his father inspired him with his own passion of military parade, and taught him to combine a theoretical love of mankind with a practical contempt for humanity. These contradictory tendencies remained with him throughout his life, as demonstrated by the dualism in his domestic
Domestic policy
Domestic policy, also known as public policy, presents decisions, laws, and programs made by the government which are directly related to all issues and activity within the country....

 and foreign
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 policy.

On 9 October 1793, when Alexander was still 15 years old, he married 14-year-old Louise of Baden, who took the name Elizabeth Alexeievna. Meanwhile, the death of Catherine in November 1796, before she could appoint Alexander as her successor, brought his father, Paul I, to the throne. Paul's attempts at reform were met with hostility and many of his closest advisers, as well as Alexander, were against his proposed changes. Paul I was murdered in March 1801.

Succession to the throne

Alexander I succeeded to the throne on 24 March 1801, and was crowned in the Kremlin
Kremlin
A kremlin , same root as in kremen is a major fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the best-known one, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there...

 on 15 September of that year. Historians still debate Alexander’s role in his father's murder. The most common opinion is that he was let into the conspirators' secret and was willing to take the throne but insisted that his father should not be killed. Alexander's having become Tsar through a crime that cost his father's life would give him a strong sense of remorse and shame.

Domestic Policy

At first, the Orthodox Church exercised little influence on the Emperor’s life. The young tsar was determined to reform the outdated, centralised systems of government that Russia relied upon. While retaining for a time the old ministers
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

 who had served and overthrown Emperor Paul, one of the first acts of his reign was to appoint the Private Committee
Private Committee
Privy Committee was an unofficial consultative body during the reign of Alexander I in Russia.The Private Committee was operational from June 1801 until late 1803...

, comprising young and enthusiastic friends of his own—Victor Kochubey, Nikolay Novosiltsev
Nikolay Nikolayevich Novosiltsev
Count Nikolay Nikolayevich Novosiltsev was a Russian statesman and a close aide to Alexander I of Russia.He was a natural son of a wealthy nobleman, married to the aunt of Count Pavel Stroganov. This relationship secured for him a place in the Privy Committee that outlined the Government reform...

, Pavel Stroganov
Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov
Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov was Russian military commander and statesman, Lieutenant General, Adjutant General to Alexander I of Russia. He took part in the Privy Committee that outlined Government reform of Alexander I. Commanded an infantry division in Napoleonic Wars. He could...

 and Adam Jerzy Czartoryski
Adam Jerzy Czartoryski
Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski was a Polish-Lithuanian noble, statesman and author. He was the son of Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski and Izabela Fleming....

—to draw up a plan of domestic reform, which was supposed to result in the establishment of a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 in accordance with the teachings of the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

.

In a few years the liberal Mikhail Speransky
Mikhail Speransky
Count Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky was probably the greatest of Russian reformers during the reign of Alexander I of Russia. He was a close advisor to Tsar Alexander I of Russia and later to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, he is sometimes called the father of Russian liberalism.-Early life and...

 became one of the Tsar’s closest advisors, and drew up many plans for elaborate reforms. By the Government reform of Alexander I
Government reform of Alexander I
The early Russian system of government instituted by Peter the Great, which consisted of various state committees, each named Collegium with subordinate departments named Prikaz, was largely outdated by the 19th century...

 the old Collegia
Collegium (ministry)
The collegia were government departments in Imperial Russia, established in 1717 by Peter the Great...

 were abolished and new Ministries created in their place, having at their head ministers responsible to the Crown. A Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of the Sovereign dealt with all interdepartmental matters.

The State Council
State Council of Imperial Russia
The State Council was the supreme state advisory body to the Tsar in Imperial Russia.-18th century:Early Tsars' Councils were small and dealt primarily with the external politics....

 was created in order to improve technique of legislation. It was intended to become the Second Chamber of representative legislature.

The Governing Senate
Governing Senate
The Governing Senate was a legislative, judicial, and executive body of Russian Monarchs, instituted by Peter the Great to replace the Boyar Duma and lasted until the very end of the Russian Empire. It was chaired by the Ober-Procurator...

 was reorganized as the Supreme Court of the Empire. The codification of the laws initiated in 1801 was never carried out during his reign.

Also Alexander wanted to resolve another crucial issue in Russia—the future of the serfs, although this was not achieved until 1861 (during the reign of his nephew Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

). New law allowed all classes (the serfs excepted) to own land, the privilege that was previously confined to the nobility.

Universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 of Dorpat (Tartu), Vilna (Vilnius), Kazan
Kazan
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 , it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the...

 and Kharkov were newly founded or reconstructed.

After 1815 the military settlements (farms worked by soldiers and their families under military control) were introduced, with the idea of making the army, or part of it, self supporting economically and for providing it with recruits.

Napoleonic wars

Views held by his contemporaries

Autocrat and "Jacobin
Jacobin (politics)
A Jacobin , in the context of the French Revolution, was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary far-left political movement. The Jacobin Club was the most famous political club of the French Revolution. So called from the Dominican convent where they originally met, in the Rue St. Jacques ,...

", man of the world and mystic, he appeared to his contemporaries as a riddle which each read according to his own temperament. Napoleon Bonaparte thought him a "shifty Byzantine", and called him the Talma of the North, as ready to play any conspicuous part. To Metternich
Klemens Wenzel von Metternich
Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich was a German-born Austrian politician and statesman and was one of the most important diplomats of his era...

 he was a madman to be humoured. Castlereagh
Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh
Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, KG, GCH, PC, PC , usually known as Lord CastlereaghThe name Castlereagh derives from the baronies of Castlereagh and Ards, in which the manors of Newtownards and Comber were located...

, writing of him to Lord Liverpool, gives him credit for "grand qualities", but adds that he is "suspicious and undecided"; and to Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 a man of estimable character, disposed to do good, and expected to diffuse through the mass of the Russian people "a sense of their natural rights."

Alliances with other powers

Upon his accession, Alexander reversed the policy of his father, Paul, denounced the League of Armed Neutrality
Second League of Armed Neutrality
The Second League of Armed Neutrality or the League of the North was an alliance of the north European naval powers Denmark–Norway, Prussia, Sweden and Russia. It occurred between 1800 and 1801 during the War of the Second Coalition and was initiated by Paul I of Russia...

, and made peace with the Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 (April 1801). At the same time he opened negotiations with Francis II
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz...

 of the Holy Roman Empire. Soon afterwards at Memel
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

 he entered into a close alliance with Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, not as he boasted from motives of policy, but in the spirit of true chivalry
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

, out of friendship
Friendship
Friendship is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association are often thought of as spanning across the same continuum...

 for the young King Frederick William III
Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel .-Early life:...

 and his beautiful wife Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was Queen consort of Prussia as the wife of King Frederick William III...

.

The development of this alliance was interrupted by the short-lived peace of October 1801; and for a while it seemed as though France
French Consulate
The Consulate was the government of France between the fall of the Directory in the coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire in 1804...

 and Russia might come to an understanding. Carried away by the enthusiasm of La Harpe, who had returned to Russia from Paris, Alexander began openly to proclaim his admiration for French institutions and for the person of Napoleon Bonaparte. Soon, however, came a change. La Harpe, after a new visit to Paris, presented to the Tsar his Reflections on the True Nature of the Consul for Life, which, as Alexander said, tore the veil from his eyes, and revealed Bonaparte "as not a true patriot
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

", but only as "the most famous tyrant the world has produced". Alexander's disillusionment was completed by the murder of the duc d'Enghien. The Russian court went into mourning for the last member of the House of Condé, and diplomatic relations with France were broken off.

Opposition to Napoleon

In opposing Napoleon I, "the oppressor of Europe and the disturber of the world's peace," Alexander in fact already believed himself to be fulfilling a divine mission. In his instructions to Novosiltsov, his special envoy in London, the Tsar elaborated the motives of his policy in language which appealed as little to the common sense of the prime minister, Pitt
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

, as did later the treaty of the Holy Alliance
Holy Alliance
The Holy Alliance was a coalition of Russia, Austria and Prussia created in 1815 at the behest of Czar Alexander I of Russia, signed by the three powers in Paris on September 26, 1815, in the Congress of Vienna after the defeat of Napoleon.Ostensibly it was to instill the Christian values of...

 to that of the foreign minister, Castlereagh. Yet the document is of great interest, as in it we find formulated for the first time in an official dispatch the ideals of international policy which were to play so conspicuous a part in the affairs of the world at the close of the revolutionary epoch, and issued at the end of the 19th century in the Rescript of Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 and the conference of the Hague. Alexander argued that the outcome of the war was not to be only the liberation of France, but the universal triumph of "the sacred rights of humanity
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

". To attain this it would be necessary "after having attached the nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s to their government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 by making these incapable of acting save in the greatest interests of their subjects, to fix the relations of the states amongst each other on more precise rules, and such as it is to their interest to respect".

A general treaty was to become the basis of the relations of the states forming "the European Confederation"; and this, though "it was no question of realising the dream of universal peace, would attain some of its results if, at the conclusion of the general war, it were possible to establish on clear principles the prescriptions of the rights of nations". "Why could not one submit to it", the Tsar continued, "the positive rights of nations, assure the privilege of neutrality, insert the obligation of never beginning war until all the resources which the mediation of a third party could offer have been exhausted, having by this means brought to light the respective grievances, and tried to remove them? It is on such principles as these that one could proceed to a general pacification, and give birth to a league of which the stipulations would form, so to speak, a new code of the law of nations, which, sanctioned by the greater part of the nations of Europe, would without difficulty become the immutable rule of the cabinets, while those who should try to infringe it would risk bringing upon themselves the forces of the new union".

1807 loss to French forces

Meanwhile Napoleon, a little deterred by the Russian autocrat's youthful ideology, never gave up hope of detaching him from the coalition. He had no sooner entered Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 in triumph than he opened negotiations with Alexander; he resumed them after the Battle of Austerlitz
Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition...

 (2 December). Russia and France, he urged, were "geographical allies"; there was, and could be, between them no true conflict of interests; together they might rule the world. But Alexander was still determined "to persist in the system of disinterestedness in respect of all the states of Europe which he had thus far followed", and he again allied himself with the Kingdom of Prussia. The campaign of Jena
Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia...

 and the battle of Eylau
Battle of Eylau
The Battle of Eylau or Battle of Preussisch-Eylau, 7 and 8 February 1807, was a bloody and inconclusive battle between Napoléon's Grande Armée and a Russian Empire army under Levin August, Count von Bennigsen near the town of Preußisch Eylau in East Prussia. Late in the battle, the Russians...

 followed; and Napoleon, though still intent on the Russian alliance, stirred up Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

, Turks
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 and Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 to break the obstinacy of the Tsar. A party too in Russia itself, headed by the Tsar's brother Constantine Pavlovich, was clamorous for peace; but Alexander, after a vain attempt to form a new coalition, summoned the Russian nation to a holy war against Napoleon as the enemy of the Orthodox faith. The outcome was the rout of Friedland
Battle of Friedland
The Battle of Friedland saw Napoleon I's French army decisively defeat Count von Bennigsen's Russian army about twenty-seven miles southeast of Königsberg...

 (13/14 June 1807). Napoleon saw his chance and seized it. Instead of making heavy terms, he offered to the chastened autocrat his alliance, and a partnership in his glory.

The two Emperors met at Tilsit
Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast
Sovetsk , known by its historical German name of Tilsit in East Prussia before 1946, is a town in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the south bank of the Neman River. Population: -History of Tilsit:...

 on 25 June 1807. Alexander, dazzled by Napoleon's genius
Genius
Genius is something or someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight....

 and overwhelmed by his apparent generosity, was completely won over. Napoleon knew well how to appeal to the exuberant imagination of his new-found friend. He would divide with Alexander the Empire of the world; as a first step he would leave him in possession of the Danubian principalities and give him a free hand to deal with Finland; and, afterwards, the Emperors of the East and West
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, when the time should be ripe, would drive the Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 from Europe and march across Asia to the conquest of India
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, a realization of which was finally achieved by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 a few years later, and would change the course of modern history. Nevertheless, a programme so stupendous awoke in Alexander's impressionable mind an ambition to which he had hitherto been a stranger. The interests of Europe as a whole were utterly forgotten. "What is Europe?" he exclaimed to the French ambassador. "Where is it, if it is not you and we?"

Prussia

The brilliance of these new visions did not, however, blind Alexander to the obligations of friendship; and he refused to retain the Danubian principalities as the price for suffering a further dismemberment of Prussia. "We have made loyal war", he said, "we must make a loyal peace". It was not long before the first enthusiasm of Tilsit began to wane. The French remained in Prussia, the Russians on the Danube; and each accused the other of breach of faith. Meanwhile, however, the personal relations of Alexander and Napoleon were of the most cordial character; and it was hoped that a fresh meeting might adjust all differences between them. The meeting took place at Erfurt
Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

 in October 1808 and resulted in a treaty which defined the common policy of the two Emperors. But Alexander's relations with Napoleon nonetheless suffered a change. He realised that in Napoleon sentiment never got the better of reason, that as a matter of fact he had never intended his proposed "grand enterprise" seriously, and had only used it to preoccupy the mind of the Tsar while he consolidated his own power in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

. From this moment the French alliance was for Alexander also not a fraternal agreement to rule the world, but an affair of pure policy. He used it, in the first instance, to remove "the geographical enemy" from the gates of Saint Petersburg by wresting Finland from Sweden
Finnish War
The Finnish War was fought between Sweden and the Russian Empire from February 1808 to September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire...

 (1809); and he hoped by means of it to make the Danube the southern frontier of Russia.

Franco-Russian alliance

Events were in fact rapidly tending to the rupture of the Franco-Russian alliance. Alexander, indeed, assisted Napoleon in the war of 1809, but he declared plainly that he would not allow the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 to be crushed out of existence; and Napoleon complained bitterly of the inactivity of the Russian troops during the campaign. The Tsar in his turn protested against Napoleon's encouragement of the Poles. In the matter of the French alliance he knew himself to be practically isolated in Russia, and he declared that he could not sacrifice the interest of his people and empire to his affection for Napoleon. "I don't want anything for myself", he said to the French ambassador, "therefore the world is not large enough to come to an understanding on the affairs of Poland, if it is a question of its restoration".

The Treaty of Vienna
Treaty of Schönbrunn
The Treaty of Schönbrunn , sometimes known as the Treaty of Vienna, was signed between France and Austria at the Schönbrunn Palace of Vienna on 14 October 1809. This treaty ended the Fifth Coalition during the Napoleonic Wars...

, which added largely to the Duchy of Warsaw
Duchy of Warsaw
The Duchy of Warsaw was a Polish state established by Napoleon I in 1807 from the Polish lands ceded by the Kingdom of Prussia under the terms of the Treaties of Tilsit. The duchy was held in personal union by one of Napoleon's allies, King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony...

, he complained had "ill requited him for his loyalty", and he was only mollified for the time by Napoleon's public declaration that he had no intention of restoring Poland, and by a convention, signed on the 4 January 1810 but not ratified, abolishing the Polish name and orders of chivalry.

But if Alexander suspected Napoleon, Napoleon was no less suspicious of Alexander; and, partly to test his sincerity, he sent an almost peremptory request for the hand of the grand-duchess Anne, the tsar's youngest sister. After some little delay Alexander returned a polite refusal, on the plea of the princess's tender age and the objection of the dowager empress to the marriage. Napoleon's answer was to refuse to ratify the convention of the 4th of January, and to announce his engagement to the archduchess Marie Louise in such a way as to lead Alexander to suppose that the two marriage treaties had been negotiated simultaneously. From this time the relation between the two emperors gradually became more and more strained.

The annexation of Oldenburg
Oldenburg (state)
Oldenburg — named after its capital, the town of Oldenburg — was a state in the north of present-day Germany. Oldenburg survived from 1180 until 1918 as a county, duchy and grand duchy, and from 1918 until 1946 as a free state. It was located near the mouth of the River Weser...

, of which the Duke of Oldenburg
Wilhelm, Duke of Oldenburg
Peter Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Oldenburg, Wilhelm succeeded his father, Frederick Augustus I, Duke of Oldenburg as the Duke of Oldenburg in 1785. Wilhelm's mother was Princess Ulrike Friederike Wilhelmine of Hesse-Kassel.The title became a Grand Duke in 1815, but Wilhelm never used the elevated...

 (3 January 1754 – 2 July 1823) was the Tsar's uncle, to France in December 1810, added another to the personal grievances of Alexander against Napoleon; while the ruinous reaction of "the continental system" on Russian trade made it impossible for the Tsar to maintain a policy which was Napoleon's chief motive for the alliance.

Alexander kept Russia neutral as possible in the ongoing French war with Britain, and allowed Russians to secretly continue to trade with Britain and did not enforce the blockade required by Continental System. In 1810 he withdrew Russia from the Continental System and trade between Britain and Russia grew.

Franco-Russian relations became progressively worse after 1810. By 1811, it became clear that Napoleon was not keeping to his side of the terms of the Treaty of Tilsit. He had promised assistance to Russia in its war against Turkey, but as the campaign went on, France offered no support at all.

With war imminent between France and Russia, Alexander started to prepare the ground diplomatically. In April 1812 Russia and Sweden signed and agreement for mutual defence. A month later Alexander secured his southern flank by Treaty of Bucharest (1812) which formally ended the war against Turkey. His diplomats managed to extract promises from Prussia and Austria that should Napoleon invade Russia, they former would help as little a possible and that the latter would give no aid at all.

Militarily Mikhail Speransky had managed to improve the standard of the Russian land forces above that before the start of the 1807 campaign, and on the advise, primarily from his sister and Count Aleksey Arakcheyev
Aleksey Arakcheyev
Count Alexey Andreyevich Arakcheyev or Arakcheev was a Russian general and statesman under the reign of Alexander I.He served under Paul I and Alexander I as army leader and artillery inspector respectively. He had a violent temper, but was otherwise a competent artillerist, and is known for his...

, unlike 1807 Alexander did not take operational control but delegated it to his generals, Prince Michael Barclay de Tolly
Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly
Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly , was a Russian Field Marshal and Minister of War during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition.-Early life:...

, Prince Pyotr Bagration
Pyotr Bagration
Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration was a general of the Russian army. He was a descendant of the Georgian royal family of the Bagrations.- Life :...

 and Mikhail Kutuzov.

French invasion

In the summer of 1812 with Napoleon's invasion of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

. Yet, even after the French had passed the frontier, Alexander still protested that his personal sentiments towards the Emperor were unaltered; "but", he added, "God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 Himself cannot undo the past". It was the occupation of Moscow and the desecration of the Kremlin, the sacred centre of Holy Russia, that changed his sentiment for Napoleon into passionate hatred. In vain the French Emperor, within eight days of his entry into Moscow, wrote to the Tsar a letter, which was one long cry of distress, revealing the desperate straits of the Grand Army, and appealed to "any remnant of his former sentiments". Alexander returned no answer to these "fanfaronnades". "No more peace with Napoleon!" he cried, "He or I, I or He: we cannot longer reign together!".

The campaign of 1812 was the turning-point of Alexander's life; and its horrors, for which his sensitive nature felt much of the responsibility, overset still more a mind never too well balanced. At the burning of Moscow, he declared afterwards, his own soul had found illumination, and he had realized once for all the divine revelation to him of his mission as the peacemaker of Europe.

Peace of Paris and the Congress of Vienna

Alexander tried to calm the unrest of his conscience by correspondence with the leaders of the evangelical revival on the continent, and sought for omens and supernatural guidance in texts and passages of scripture. It was not, however, according to his own account, till he met the Baroness de Krüdener—a religious adventuress who made the conversion of princes her special mission—at Basel, in the autumn of 1813, that his soul found peace. From this time a mystic pietism became the avowed force of his political, as of his private actions. Madame de Krüdener, and her colleague, the evangelist Henri-Louis Empaytaz
Henri-Louis Empaytaz
Henri-Louis Empaytaz , a protestant theologian, who was born and died in Geneva.After Napoleon Bonaparte's downfall in 1814 and the general disillusionment with the ideals of the French Revolution, Empaytaz was a leading member of Le Réveil .-Biography:He was one of the first in the Protestant...

, became the confidants of the emperor's most secret thoughts; and during the campaign that ended in the occupation of Paris the imperial prayer-meetings were the oracle on whose revelations hung the fate of the world.
Such was Alexander's mood when the downfall of Napoleon left him the most powerful sovereign in Europe. With the memory of the treaty of Tilsit still fresh in men's minds, it was not unnatural that to cynical men of the world like Klemens Wenzel von Metternich
Klemens Wenzel von Metternich
Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich was a German-born Austrian politician and statesman and was one of the most important diplomats of his era...

 he merely seemed to be disguising "under the language of evangelical abnegation" vast and perilous schemes of ambition. The puzzled powers were, in fact, the more inclined to be suspicious in view of other, and seemingly inconsistent, tendencies of the emperor, which yet seemed all to point to a like disquieting conclusion. For Madame de Krüdener was not the only influence behind the throne; and, though Alexander had declared war against the Revolution, La Harpe
Frédéric-César de La Harpe
Frédéric-César de La Harpe was a Swiss political leader and Vaudois patriot, who played a leading role in the creation of the Helvetic Republic.-Biography:...

 (his erstwhile tutor) was once more at his elbow, and the catchwords of the gospel of humanity were still on his lips. The very proclamations which denounced Napoleon as "the genius of evil", denounced him in the name of "liberty," and of "enlightenment". A monstrous intrigue was suspected for the alliance of the eastern autocrat with the Jacobinism of all Europe, which would have issued in the submission of an all-powerful Russia for an all-powerful France. At the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 Alexander's attitude accentuated this distrust. Castlereagh, whose single-minded aim was the restoration of "a just equilibrium" in Europe, reproached the Tsar to his face for a "conscience" which suffered him to imperil the concert of the powers by keeping his hold on Poland in violation of his treaty obligation.

Liberal political views

Once a supporter of limited liberalism, as seen in his approval of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland
Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland was granted to the 'Congress' Kingdom of Poland by the King of Poland, Alexander I of Russia, who was obliged to issue a constitution to the newly recreated Polish state under his domain as specified by the Congress of Vienna...

 in 1815, from the end of the year 1818 Alexander's views began to change. A revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

ary conspiracy
Conspiracy (political)
In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of persons united in the goal of usurping or overthrowing an established political power. Typically, the final goal is to gain power through a revolutionary coup d'état or through assassination....

 among the officers of the guard, and a foolish plot to kidnap him on his way to the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle
Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818)
The Congress or Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle , held in the autumn of 1818, was primarily a meeting of the four allied powers Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia to decide the question of the withdrawal of the army of occupation from France and the nature of the modifications to be introduced in...

, are said to have shaken the foundations of his Liberalism. At Aix he came for the first time into intimate contact with Metternich. From this time dates the ascendancy of Metternich over the mind of the Russian Emperor and in the councils of Europe. It was, however, no case of sudden conversion. Though alarmed by the revolutionary agitation in Germany, which culminated in the murder of his agent, the dramatist August von Kotzebue
August von Kotzebue
August Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue was a German dramatist.One of Kotzebue's books was burned during the Wartburg festival in 1817. He was murdered in 1819 by Karl Ludwig Sand, a militant member of the Burschenschaften...

 (23 March 1819), Alexander approved of Castlereagh's protest against Metternich's policy of "the governments contracting an alliance against the peoples", as formulated in the Carlsbad Decrees
Carlsbad Decrees
The Carlsbad Decrees were a set of reactionary restrictions introduced in the states of the German Confederation by resolution of the Bundesversammlung on 20 September 1819 after a conference held in the spa town of Carlsbad, Bohemia...

 of July 1819, and deprecated any intervention of Europe to support "a league of which the sole object is the absurd pretensions of" absolute power".

He still declared his belief in "free institutions, though not in such as age forced from feebleness, nor contracts ordered by popular leaders from their sovereigns, nor constitutions granted in difficult circumstances to tide over a crisis. "Liberty", he maintained, "should be confined within just limits. And the limits of liberty are the principles of order".

It was the apparent triumph of the principles of disorder in the revolutions of Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and Piedmont, combined with increasingly disquieting symptoms of discontent in France, Germany, and among his own people, that completed Alexander's conversion. In the seclusion of the little town of Troppau, where in October 1820 the powers met in conference, Metternich found an opportunity for cementing his influence over Alexander, which had been wanting amid the turmoil and feminine intrigues of Vienna and Aix. Here, in confidence begotten of friendly chats over afternoon tea, the disillusioned autocrat confessed his mistake. "You have nothing to regret," he said sadly to the exultant chancellor, "but I have!".

The issue was momentous. In January Alexander had still upheld the ideal of a free confederation of the European states, symbolised by the Holy Alliance, against the policy of a dictatorship of the great powers, symbolised by the Quadruple Treaty; he had still protested against the claims of collective Europe to interfere in the internal concerns of the sovereign states. On 19 November he signed the Troppau Protocol, which consecrated the principle of intervention and wrecked the harmony of the concert.

Revolt of the Greeks

At the Congress of Laibach
Congress of Laibach
The Congress of Laibach was a conference of the allied sovereigns or their representatives, held in 1821 as part of the so-called Concert of Europe, which was the decided attempt of the Great Powers to settle international problems after the Napoleonic Wars through discussion and collective weight...

, whither in the spring of 1821 the congress had been adjourned, Alexander first heard of the Revolt of the Greeks
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

. From this time until his death his mind was torn between his anxiety to realise his dream of a confederation of Europe and his traditional mission as leader of the Orthodox crusade against the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. At first, under the careful nursing of Metternich, the former motive prevailed.

He struck the name of Alexander Ypsilanti from the Russian army list, and directed his foreign minister, Giovanni, Count Capo d'Istria, himself a Greek, to disavow all sympathy of Russia with his enterprise; and, next year, a deputation of the Morea
Morea
The Morea was the name of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. It also referred to a Byzantine province in the region, known as the Despotate of Morea.-Origins of the name:...

  the Congress of Verona
Congress of Verona
The Congress of Verona met at Verona on October 20, 1822 as part of the series of international conferences or congresses that opened with the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, which had instituted the Concert of Europe at the close of the Napoleonic Wars....

 was turned back by his orders on the road.

He made some effort to reconcile the principles at conflict in his mind. He offered to surrender the claim, successfully asserted when the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II
Mahmud II
Mahmud II was the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 until his death in 1839. He was born in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, the son of Sultan Abdulhamid I...

 had been excluded from the Holy Alliance and the affairs of the Ottoman empire from the deliberations of Vienna, that the affairs of the East were the "domestic concerns of Russia," and to march into the Ottoman Empire, as Austria had marched into Naples, "as the mandatory of Europe".

Metternich's opposition to this, illogical, but natural from the Austrian point of view, first opened his eyes to the true character of Austria's attitude towards his ideals. Once more in Russia, far from the fascination of Metternich's personality, the immemorial spirit of his people drew him back into itself.

Private life

On 9 October 1793, Alexander married Louise of Baden, known as Elisabeth Alexeyevna after her conversion to the Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

. He later told his friend Frederick William III that the marriage, a political match devised by his grandmother, Catherine the Great, regrettably proved to be a misfortune for him and his wife. Their two children of the marriage died young. Their common sorrow drew husband and wife closer together. Towards the close of his life their reconciliation was completed by the wise charity of the Empress in sympathising deeply with him over the death of his beloved daughter Sophia Naryshkina, the daughter of his mistress Princess Maria Naryshkina.

Mysterious death

Tsar Alexander I became increasingly suspicious of those around him, especially after an attempt was made to kidnap him when he was on his way to the conference in Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, Germany.

In the autumn of 1825 the Emperor undertook a voyage to the south of Russia due to the increasing illness of his wife. During his trip he himself caught a cold which developed into typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 from which he died in the southern city of Taganrog
Taganrog
Taganrog is a seaport city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the north shore of Taganrog Bay , several kilometers west of the mouth of the Don River. Population: -History of Taganrog:...

 on 19 November (O.S.)/ 1 December 1825. His wife died a few months later as the emperor's body was transported to Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 for the funeral. He was interred at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706-1740.-History:...

 in Saint Petersburg on 13 March 1826.

The unexpected death of the Emperor of Russia far from the capital caused persistent rumors that his death and funeral were staged so he could spend the rest of his life in solitude. It was variously rumored that a soldier had been buried as Alexander, or that the grave was empty, or that the British ambassador at the Russian court had seen Alexander boarding a ship. Some say the former emperor became a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 in either Pochaev Lavra or Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra or elsewhere. Many people, including some historians, have theorized that a mysterious hermit, Feodor Kuzmich
Feodor Kuzmich
Feodor Kuzmich , also Feodor Kozmich, Feodor of Tomsk, or Fomich was a Russian Orthodox starets. He has been canonized as a righteous saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1984....

, (or Kozmich) who emerged in Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 in 1836, died in the vicinity of Tomsk
Tomsk
Tomsk is a city and the administrative center of Tomsk Oblast, Russia, located on the Tom River. One of the oldest towns in Siberia, Tomsk celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2004...

 in 1864 and was eventually glorified as a saint of the Orthodox Church, was Alexander I under an assumed identity. While there are testimonies that "Feodor Kozmich" in his earlier life might have belonged to a higher level of society, claims that he was Alexander I were never established beyond reasonable doubt though 19th century scholars began to give some credence to this theory after Cossack mercenary Colonel Daniel Tira's personal journal was discovered which contained a reference stating that plainclothes mercenary guards were hired to covertly protect "a common individual, hiding from the perils of power" Since this claim could never be substantiated nor traced to Alexander, it was later disregarded by most scholars.

The immediate aftermath of Alexander's death was also marked by confusion regarding the order of succession and by the attempt of military coup-d'etat by liberal-minded officers. The heir presumptive
Heir Presumptive
An heir presumptive or heiress presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir or heiress apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question...

, Tsesarevich
Tsesarevich
Tsesarevich was the title of the heir apparent or presumptive in the Russian Empire. It either preceded or replaced the given name and patronymic.-Usage:...

 and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia
Constantine Pavlovich was a grand duke of Russia and the second son of Emperor Paul I. He was the Tsesarevich of Russia throughout the reign of his elder brother Alexander I, but had secretly renounced his claim to the throne in 1823...

 had renounced his rights of succession in 1822, but this act was not publicly announced, nor known to anybody besides a few people within the tsar's family. For this reason, on 27 November (O.S.) 1825 the population, including Constantine's younger brother Nicholas
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

, swore allegiance to Constantine. After the true order of succession was disclosed to the imperial family and general public, Nicholas ordered that the allegiance to him to be sworn on 14 December (O.S.) 1825. Seizing the opportunity, the Decembrists revolted, allegedly to defend Constantine's rights to the throne, but in fact in order to initiate the change of regime in Russia. Nicholas brutally suppressed the rebellion and sent the ringleaders to the gallows and Siberia.

Some confidantes of Alexander I reported that in the last years the Emperor was aware that the secret societies of future Decembrists were plotting the revolt, but chose not to act against them, remarking that these officers were sharing "the delusions of his own youth." Historians believe that these secret societies appeared after the Russian officers returned from their Napoleonic campaigns
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 in Europe in 1815.

Other

Alexander I was the godfather of future Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 who was christened Alexandrina Victoria in honour of the tsar.

In the TV miniseries, Napoleon
Napoléon (miniseries)
Napoleon is a historical miniseries which explored the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 2002, it was the most expensive television miniseries in Europe, costing the equivalent of $US46,330,000 to produce. The miniseries covered Napoleon's military successes and failures, including the Battles of...

, Alexander was played by British actor Toby Stephens
Toby Stephens
Toby Stephens is an English stage, television and film actor who has appeared in films in both Hollywood and Bollywood. He is best known for playing megavillain Gustav Graves in the James Bond film Die Another Day , Edward Fairfax Rochester in the BBC television adaptation of Jane Eyre and Philip...

.

Alexander I was the namesake for the Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin, near the Fernsehturm. Berliners often call it simply Alex, referring to a larger neighborhood stretching from Mollstraße in the northeast to Spandauer Straße and the City Hall in the southwest.-Early...

 in Berlin, Germany.

Ancestry



Further reading

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