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 Nicholas I of Russia 

Born:   6 July [O.S. 25 June] 1796
Deceased:   2 March [O.S. 18 February] 1855

Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855


Nicholas I was the third of five sons of Emperor Pavel I. Grand Prince Nicholas Pavlovich was not expected to heir the Russian throne and the fact made an impact on his upbringing and education.

Militarized atmosphere of Petersburg since early years determined Nicholas’ liking for military science, especially what related to its external, ceremonial side. The political edifice of Nicholas was notable for its strongly pronounced conservative, antiliberal orientation.

In 1817 Nicholas was married to the Prussian Princess, who was named Alexandra Feodorovna after her conversion into Orthodoxy. Next year their first son Alexander (the future Emperor Alexander II of Russia) was born.

In 1819 Emperor Alexander informed his brother and sister-in-law that the official heir to the throne Grand Prince Constantine Pavlovich intended to renounce his right, and therefore Nicholas would become the successor to the throne. Nicholas was shocked by the news, since he felt unable to take on the load of reigning. Neither his education nor his scope corresponded to it.

Unexpected death of his brother Alexander I uncovered all the complexity and ambiguity of the dynastic situation. December, 14th, the day of crowning of Nicholas was marked with the Decembrists Revolt against Nicholas’ enthronement and for liberalization of the socio-political system in Russia. However, Nicholas managed to suppress the revolt, having shown determination and ruthlessness inherent in him.

The main objective of Nicholas I was his struggle against the revolutionary spirit spread all around; he subordinated all his life to this purpose. Russia became an object of fear, hatred and mockery in the opinion of the liberal part of the European community, whereas Nicholas I himself earned the reputation of a gendarme of Europe.

The reign of Nicholas I finished with a major foreign policy crash. The Crimean War of 1853-1856 revealed organizational and technical backwardness of Russia as compared to the western empires and resulted in its political isolation. Hard psychological shock from those military failures undermined the emperor’s health. Nicholas I I died on March, 2nd, 1855. 

Tags: Governors of Russia Romanovs Nicholas I   

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