Alexander I (Russian: Александр Павлович, Aleksandr
Pavlovich; 23 December [O.S. 12 December] 1777 – 1
December [O.S. 19 November] 1825[a]) reigned as Emperor
of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825. He was the son of
Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Alexander was the first
Russian King of partitioned Poland, reigning from 1815 to 1825, as
well as the first Russian
Grand Duke of Finland. He was sometimes
He was born in
Saint Petersburg to
Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later
Emperor Paul I, and succeeded to the throne after his father was
murdered. He ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic
Wars. As prince and emperor, Alexander often used liberal rhetoric,
but continued Russia's absolutist policies in practice. In the first
years of his reign, he initiated some minor social reforms and (in
1803–04) major, liberal educational reforms, such as building more
universities. Alexander appointed Mikhail Speransky, the son of a
village priest, as one of his closest advisors. The Collegia was
abolished and replaced by the State Council, which was created to
improve legislation. Plans were also made to set up a parliament and
sign a constitution.
In foreign policy, he changed Russia's position relative to France
four times between 1804 and 1812 among neutrality, opposition, and
alliance. In 1805 he joined Britain in the War of the Third Coalition
against Napoleon, but after the massive defeat at the Battle of
Austerlitz he switched and formed an alliance with
Napoleon by the
Treaty of Tilsit
Treaty of Tilsit (1807) and joined Napoleon's Continental System. He
fought a small-scale naval war against Britain between 1807 and 1812.
Napoleon hardly agreed, especially regarding Poland, and the
alliance collapsed by 1810. The tsar's greatest triumph came in 1812
as Napoleon's invasion of Russia proved a total disaster for the
French. As part of the winning coalition against
Napoleon he gained
some spoils in Finland and Poland. He formed the
Holy Alliance to
suppress revolutionary movements in Europe that he saw as immoral
threats to legitimate Christian monarchs. He helped Austria's Klemens
von Metternich in suppressing all national and liberal movements.
In the second half of his reign he was increasingly arbitrary,
reactionary and fearful of plots against him; he ended many earlier
reforms. He purged schools of foreign teachers, as education became
more religiously oriented as well as politically conservative.
Speransky was replaced as advisor with the strict artillery inspector
Aleksey Arakcheyev, who oversaw the creation of military settlements.
Alexander died of typhus in December 1825 while on a trip to southern
Russia. He left no heirs, as his two daughters died in childhood. Both
of his brothers wanted the other to become emperor. After a period of
great confusion that included the failed
Decembrist revolt of liberal
army officers, he was succeeded by his younger brother, Nicholas I.
1 Early life
2 Succession to the throne
3 Domestic policy
4 Napoleonic wars
4.1 Views held by his contemporaries
4.2 Alliances with other powers
4.3 Opposition to Napoleon
4.4 1807 loss to French forces
4.6 Franco-Russian alliance
4.7 War against Persia
4.8 French invasion
4.9 War of the Sixth Coalition
5.1 Peace of Paris and the Congress of Vienna
5.2 Liberal political views
5.3 Revolt of the Greeks
6 Private life
13 Further reading
14 External links
Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, 1800
Alexander and his younger brother Constantine 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. From the free-thinking atmosphere of the court
of Catherine and his Swiss tutor, Frédéric-César de La Harpe, he
imbibed the principles of Rousseau's gospel of humanity. But from his
military governor, Nikolay Saltykov, he imbibed the traditions of
Russian autocracy. Andrey Afanasyevich Samborsky, whom his
grandmother chose for his religious instruction, was an atypical,
unbearded Orthodox priest. Samborsky had long lived in England and
taught Alexander (and Constantine) excellent English, very uncommon
for potential Russian autocrats at the time.
On 9 October 1793, when Alexander was still 15 years old, he married
14-year-old Louise of Baden, who took the name Elizabeth
Succession to the throne
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 unpopular policies led to a successful conspiracy to
assassinate him in 1801. Alexander, then 23-year-old, was actually in
the palace at the moment of the assassination, to whom General
Nicholas Zubov, one of the assassins, announced his accession.
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. Becoming
Tsar through a crime that cost his father's
life would give Alexander a strong sense of remorse and shame.
Alexander I succeeded to the throne on 24 March 1801 and was
crowned in the Kremlin on 15 September of that year.
Alexander I of Russia
The Orthodox Church initially exercised little influence on
Alexander's life. The young tsar was determined to reform the
inefficient, highly centralised systems of government that Russia
relied upon. While retaining for a time the old ministers, one of the
first acts of his reign was to appoint the Private Committee,
comprising young and enthusiastic friends of his own—Viktor
Kochubey, Nikolay Novosiltsev, Pavel Stroganov and Adam Jerzy
Czartoryski—to draw up a plan of domestic reform, which was supposed
to result in the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in
accordance with the teachings of the Age of Enlightenment.
In a few years the liberal
Mikhail Speransky became one of the Tsar's
closest advisors, and he drew up many plans for elaborate reforms. In
Government reform of Alexander I
Government reform of Alexander I the old Collegia were abolished
and new Ministries were created in their place, led by ministers
responsible to the Crown. A Council of Ministers under the
chairmanship of the Sovereign dealt with all interdepartmental
matters. The State Council was created to improve the technique of
legislation. It was intended to become the Second Chamber of
representative legislature. The
Governing Senate was reorganized as
the Supreme Court of the Empire. The codification of the laws
initiated in 1801 was never carried out during his reign.
Alexander wanted to resolve another crucial issue in Russia, the
status of the serfs, although this was not achieved until 1861 (during
the reign of his nephew Alexander II). His advisors quietly discussed
the options at length. Cautiously, he extended the right to own land
to most classes of subjects, including state-owned peasants, in 1801
and created a new social category of "free agriculturalist," for
peasants voluntarily emancipated by their masters, in 1803. The great
majority of serfs were not affected.
When Alexander's reign began, there were three universities in Russia,
at Moscow, Vilna (Vilnius), and Dorpat (Tartu). These were
strengthened, and three others were founded at St. Petersburg,
Kharkov, and Kazan. Literary and scientific bodies were established or
encouraged, and the reign became noted for the aid lent to the
sciences and arts by the
Emperor and the wealthy nobility. Alexander
later expelled foreign scholars.
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.
Views held by his contemporaries
Called an autocrat and "Jacobin", a man of the world and a mystic,
Alexander 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 he was a madman to be
humoured. Castlereagh, writing of him to Lord Liverpool, gives him
credit for "grand qualities", but adds that he is "suspicious and
undecided"; and to Jefferson he was 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, and made peace with Britain
(April 1801). At the same time he opened negotiations with Francis II
of the Holy Roman Empire. Soon afterwards at Memel he entered into a
close alliance with Prussia, not as he boasted from motives of policy,
but in the spirit of true chivalry, out of friendship for the young
Frederick William III
Frederick William III and his beautiful wife Louise of
The development of this alliance was interrupted by the short-lived
peace of October 1801, and for a while it seemed as though France 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
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", but only as "the most famous tyrant the world has
produced". Later on, La Harpe and his friend Henri Monod lobbied
Alexander, who persuaded the other Allied powers opposing
recognise Vaudois and Argovian independence, in spite of Bern's
attempts to reclaim them as subject lands. Alexander's disillusionment
was completed by the execution of the duc d'Enghien on trumped up
charges. The Russian court went into mourning for the last member of
the House of Condé, and diplomatic relations with France were broken
Tsar was especially alarmed and decided he had to somehow
curb Napoleon's power.
Opposition to Napoleon
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 that appealed little to the prime minister, William Pitt
the Younger. Yet the document is of great interest, as it formulates
for the first time in an official dispatch the ideals of international
policy that were to play a conspicuous part in world affairs at the
close of the revolutionary epoch. Alexander argued that the
outcome of the war was not only to be the liberation of France, but
the universal triumph of "the sacred rights of humanity". To
attain this it would be necessary "after having attached the nations
to their government 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". While he believed the
effort would not attain universal peace, it would be worthwhile if it
established clear principles for the prescriptions of the rights of
nations. The body would assure "the positive rights of nations"
and "the privilege of neutrality," while asserting the obligation to
exhaust all resources of mediation to retain peace, and would form "a
new code of the law of nations".
1807 loss to French forces
Napoleon, Alexander I, Queen Louise, and
Frederick William III
Frederick William III of
Prussia in Tilsit, 1807
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 in triumph than he opened
negotiations with Alexander; he resumed them after the Battle of
Austerlitz (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 and the battle of Eylau followed; and
Napoleon, though still intent on the Russian alliance, stirred up
Poles, Turks and Persians 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
Napoleon as the enemy of the Orthodox faith. The outcome
was the rout of Friedland (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 on 25 June 1807.
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, when the time should be ripe, would
drive the Turks from Europe and march across Asia to the conquest of
India, a realization of which was finally achieved by the British a
few years later, and would change the course of modern history.
Nevertheless, a thought 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.
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
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
Erfurt in October 1808 and resulted in a treaty that 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. 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 initially to remove "the
geographical enemy" from the gates of
Saint Petersburg by wresting
Finland from Sweden (1809), and he hoped further to make the Danube
the southern frontier of Russia.
Napoleon and Alexander I in Tilsit, a 19th-century painting
Events were rapidly heading towards the rupture of the Franco-Russian
alliance. While Alexander assisted
Napoleon in the war of 1809, he
declared plainly that he would not allow the
Austrian Empire to be
crushed out of existence.
Napoleon subsequently complained bitterly of
the inactivity of the Russian troops during the campaign. The tsar in
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
Alexander complained that the Treaty of Vienna, which added largely to
the Duchy of Warsaw, had "ill requited him for his loyalty", and he
was only mollified for the time being by Napoleon's public declaration
that he had no intention of restoring Poland, and by a convention,
signed on 4 January 1810, but not ratified, abolishing the Polish name
and orders of chivalry.
Portrait of Alexander I (1824) by George Dawe
But if Alexander suspected Napoleon's intentions,
Napoleon was no less
suspicious of Alexander. Partly to test his sincerity,
an almost peremptory request for the hand of the grand-duchess Anna
Pavlovna, the tsar's youngest sister. After some little delay
Alexander returned a polite refusal, pleading the princess's tender
age and the objection of the dowager empress to the marriage.
Napoleon's answer was to refuse to ratify the 4 January convention,
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 on, the
relationship between the two emperors gradually became more and more
Another personal grievance for Alexander towards
Napoleon was the
annexation of Oldenburg by France in December 1810, as the Duke of
Oldenburg (3 January 1754 – 2 July 1823) was the uncle of
the tsar. Further, the ruinous impact of "the continental system" on
Russian trade made it impossible for the
Tsar to maintain a policy
that was Napoleon's chief motive for the alliance.
Alexander kept Russia as neutral as possible in the ongoing French war
with Britain. He allowed Russians to secretly continue to trade with
Britain and did not enforce the blockade required by the 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 an agreement for mutual defence. A month later Alexander
secured his southern flank through the 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, the former would help
Napoleon as little as possible
and that the latter would give no aid at all.
Mikhail Speransky had managed to improve the standard of
the Russian land forces above that before the start of the 1807
campaign. Primarily on the advice of his sister and Count Aleksey
Arakcheyev, Alexander did not take operational control as he had done
during the 1807 campaign, instead delegating control to his generals,
Prince Michael Barclay de Tolly, Prince
Pyotr Bagration and Mikhail
War against Persia
Russo-Persian War (1804–1813)
Russo-Persian War (1804–1813) and Treaty of Gulistan
Battle of Ganja (1804)
Battle of Ganja (1804) during the Russo-Persian War (1804–1813)
Despite brief hostilities in the Persian Expedition of 1796, eight
years passed before a new conflict erupted between the two empires.
After the Russian annexation of Georgia in 1801, a subject of
Persia for centuries, and the incorporation of the
Derbent khanate as
well quickly thereafter, Alexander was determined to increase and
maintain Russian influence in the strategically valuable Caucasus
region. In 1801, Alexander appointed Pavel Tsitsianov, a die-hard
Russian imperialist of Georgian origin, as Russian commander in chief
of the Caucasus. Between 1802 and 1804 he proceeded to impose Russian
rule on Western Georgia and some of the Persian controlled khanates
around Georgia. Some of these khanates submitted without a fight, but
Ganja Khanate resisted, prompting an attack. Ganja was ruthlessly
sacked during the siege of Ganja, with some 3,000  – 7,000
 inhabitants of Ganja executed, and thousands expelled to Iran.
These attacks by Tsitsianov formed another casus belli.
On 23 May 1804, Iran demanded withdrawal from the regions Russia had
occupied from Iran, comprising what is now Georgia, Dagestan, and
parts of Azerbaijan. Russia refused, stormed Ganja, and declared war.
Following an almost ten year stalemate centred around what is now
Dagestan, east Georgia, Azerbaijan, northern Armenia, with neither
party being able to gain the clear upper hand, Russia eventually
managed to turn the tide. After a series of successful offensives led
by General Pyotr Kotlyarevsky, including a decisive victory in the
storming of Lankaran,
Persia was forced to sue for peace. On October
1813, the Treaty of Gulistan, negotiated with British mediation and
signed at Gulistan, made the Persian Shah
Fath Ali Shah
Fath Ali Shah cede all
Persian territories in the North
Caucasus and most of its territories
in the South
Caucasus to Russia. This included what is now Dagestan,
Georgia, and most of Azerbaijan. It also began a large demographic
shift in the Caucasus, as many Muslim families emigrated to Iran.
Main article: French invasion of Russia
In the summer of 1812
Napoleon invaded Russia. It was the occupation
Moscow and the desecration of the Kremlin, the sacred centre of
Holy Russia, that changed his sentiment for
Napoleon into passionate
hatred.[b] The campaign of 1812 was the turning point of
Alexander's life; after the burning of Moscow, he declared that his
own soul had found illumination, and that he had realized once and for
all the divine revelation to him of his mission as the peacemaker of
While the Russian army retreated into the depth of Russia for almost
three months, the Russian nobility pressured Alexander I to relieve
the commander of the Russian army, Field Marshal Barclay de Tolly.
Alexander I complied and appointed Prince
Mikhail Kutuzov to take over
command of the army. On 7 September, the French faced the Russian army
at a village Borodino, seventy miles west of Moscow. The battle that
followed was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the
Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 soldiers and resulting in
70,000 casualties. The outcome of the battle was inconclusive. The
Russian army, undefeated in spite of the heavy losses, was able to
withdraw the following day, leaving the French without the decisive
The retreat across the Berezina of the remnants of Napoleon's Grande
Armée in November 1812
Moscow a week later. There was no delegation to meet
the Emperor. The Russians had evacuated the city, and the city's
governor, Count Fyodor Rostopchin, ordered several strategic points in
Moscow set ablaze. The loss of
Moscow did not compel Alexander I to
sue for peace. After staying a month
Napoleon moved his army out
southwest toward Kaluga, where Kutuzov was encamped with the Russian
army. The French advance toward
Kaluga was checked by the Russian
Napoleon was forced to retreat to the areas already
devastated by the invasion. In the weeks that followed the Grande
Armée starved and suffered from the onset of the Russian Winter. Lack
of food and fodder for the horses and persistent attacks upon isolated
troops from Russian peasants and Cossacks led to great losses in men.
When the remnants of Napoleon's army crossed the
Berezina River in
November, only 27,000 effective soldiers remained; the Grand Armée
had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured. Following the
crossing of the Berezina,
Napoleon left the army and returned to Paris
to protect his position as
Emperor and to raise more forces to resist
the advancing Russians. The campaign effectively ended on 14 December
1812, with the last French troops leaving Russian soil.
The campaign was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. The
Napoleon was severely shaken, and French hegemony in
Europe was dramatically weakened. The Grande Armée, made up of French
and allied invasion forces, was reduced to a fraction of its initial
strength. These events triggered a major shift in European politics.
France's ally Prussia, soon followed by Austria, broke their imposed
alliance with France and switched sides. This triggered the War of
the Sixth Coalition.
War of the Sixth Coalition
Alexander I, Francis II of Austria and
Frederick William III
Frederick William III of
Prussia meet after defeating
Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig.
With the Russian armies following up victory over
Napoleon in the
Russian Campaign of 1812, the Sixth Coalition was formed with Russia,
Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain and some other nations.
Even though the French were victorious in the initial battles during
the campaign in Germany, the Coalition armies eventually defeated them
at the decisive
Battle of Leipzig
Battle of Leipzig in the autumn of 1813. After the
battle, the Pro-French German
Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of the Rhine collapsed,
thereby losing Napoleon's hold on Germany east of the Rhine. The
supreme commander of the Coalition forces in the theatre and the
paramount monarch among the three main Coalition monarchs, the Russian
Tsar Alexander I, then ordered all Coalition forces in Germany to
cross the Rhine and invade France.
The Coalition forces, divided into three groups, entered northeastern
France in January 1814. Facing them in the theatre were the French
forces numbering only about 70,000 men. In spite of being heavily
Napoleon defeated the divided Coalition forces in the
battles at Brienne and La Rothière, but could not stop the
Coalition's advance. The Austrian emperor Francis I and King Frederick
William III of
Prussia felt demoralized upon hearing about Napoleon's
victories since the start of the campaign. They even considered
ordering a general retreat. But the
Tsar Alexander I was far more
determined than ever to victoriously enter Paris whatever the cost,
imposing his will upon Schwarzenberg, and the wavering monarchs.
On 28 March, the Coalition forces advanced towards Paris, and the city
surrendered on 31 March.. Until this battle it had been nearly 400
years since a foreign army had entered Paris, during the Hundred
Russian army enters Paris
Camping outside the city on 29 March, the Coalition forces were to
assault the city from its northern and eastern sides the next morning
on 30 March. The battle started that same morning with intense
artillery bombardment from the Coalition army. Early in the
morning the Coalition attack began when the Russians attacked and
drove back the French skirmishers near Belleville before themselves
driven back by French cavalry from the city's eastern suburbs. By
7:00 a.m. the Russians attacked the Young Guard near Romainville
in the center of the French lines and after some time and hard
fighting pushed them aback. A few hours later the Prussians, under
Blücher, attacked north of the city and carried the French position
around Aubervilliers, but did not press their attack. The Württemberg
troops seized the positions at Saint-Maur to the southwest, with
Austrian troops in support. The Russian forces then assailed the
Montmartre Heights in the city's northeast. Control of the heights was
severely contested, until the French forces surrendered.
Alexander I sent an envoy to meet with the French to hasten the
surrender. He offered generous terms to the French and, although
having intended to avenge Moscow, declared himself to be bringing
peace to France rather than its destruction. On 31 March Talleyrand
gave the key of the city to the Tsar. Later that day the Coalition
armies triumphantly entered the city with the
Tsar at the head of the
army followed by the King of
Prussia and Prince Schwarzenberg. On 2
April, the Senate passed the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur, which
Napoleon was in
Fontainebleau when he heard
that Paris had surrendered. Outraged, he wanted to march on the
capital, but his marshals refused to fight for him and repeatedly
urged him to surrender. He abdicated in favour of his son on 4 April,
but the Allies rejected this out of hand, forcing
Napoleon to abdicate
unconditionally on 6 April. The terms of his abdication, which
included his exile to the Isle of Elba, were settled in the Treaty of
Fontainebleau on 11 April. A reluctant
Napoleon ratified it two days
War of the Sixth Coalition
War of the Sixth Coalition was over.
Peace of Paris and the Congress of Vienna
Polish General's Uniform of
Emperor Alexander I
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, 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 one
of the most powerful sovereigns in Europe. With the memory of the
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 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 (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
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 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 in 1815, from
the end of the year 1818 Alexander's views began to change. A
revolutionary conspiracy among the officers of the guard, and a
foolish plot to kidnap him on his way to the Congress of
Aix-la-Chapelle, 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 (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 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
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
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At the Congress of Laibach, to which the congress had been adjourned
in the spring of 1821, Alexander first heard of the Revolt of the
Greeks. 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. At first, under the careful nursing of Metternich, the
former motive prevailed.
He struck the name of Alexander Ypsilanti (a colonel in the Imperial
Cavalry and a leader of the Greek revolt) from the Russian army list,
and directed his foreign minister, Ioannis Kapodistrias or Giovanni,
Count Capo d'Istria, himself a Greek, to disavow all sympathy of
Russia with his enterprise; and, in 1822, issued orders to turn back a
deputation of the
Morea to the
Congress of Verona
Congress of Verona 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
Mahmud II 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 Alexander's 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
timeless spirit of his people drew him back into itself.
On 9 October 1793, Alexander married Louise of Baden, known as
Elizabeth Alexeievna after her conversion to the Orthodox Church. He
later told his friend
Frederick William III
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 spouse. Their
two children died young. Their common sorrow drew the spouses
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 Maria Naryshkina, with
whom he had a relationship from 1799 until 1818. In 1809, Alexander I
was widely and famously rumored to have had an affair with the Finnish
Ulla Möllersvärd and to have had a child by her, but this is
Historians found that "Alexander greatest achievement was his victory
over Napoleon, who had attacked Russia in 1812, and marched with his
Grande Armée from France to Moscow, but was then expelled from Russia
and later defeated by a coalition of allies, Russia among them. Over
the course of a number of diplomatic congresses, victorious Russia
played an impressive role in determining the political restructuring
of post-Napoleonic Europe". 
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, 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 from which he died in the southern
Taganrog on 19 November (O.S.)/ 1 December 1825. His two
brothers disputed who would become tsar—each wanted the other to
become tsar. Rumours circulated for years that he had not died but had
become the monk Feodor Kuzmich. His wife died a few months later as
the emperor's body was transported to
Saint Petersburg for the
funeral. He was interred at the St.
Peter and Paul Cathedral
Peter and Paul Cathedral of the
Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress in
Saint Petersburg on 13 March 1826.
Death of Alexander I in
Taganrog (19th century lithograph)
Alexander I Palace
Alexander I Palace in Taganrog, where the Russian
Emperor died in 1825
The funeral procession from
Taganrog to St. Petersburg
Children of Alexander I of Russia.
By his wife Louise of Baden
Maria/Maryia Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
29 May 1799
8 July 1800
Sometimes rumoured to be the child of Adam Czartoryski, died aged one.
Elisabeta/Elisaveta Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
15 November 1806
12 May 1808
Sometimes rumoured to be the child of Alexei Okhotnikov, died aged one
of an infection.
By Sophia Sergeievna Vsevolozhskaya
Nikolai Yevgenyevich Lukash
11 December 1796
20 January 1868
Married Princess Alexandra Lukanichna Guidianova and Princess
Alexandra Mikhailovna Schakhovskaya; had four children from first
marriage and one child from second marriage.
By Maria Narishkin
18 May 1810
Died aged four.
18 June 1824
Died aged sixteen, unmarried.
30 July 1813
31 December/1 January 1901
Married Catherine Novossiltzev, no issue. *unconfirmed and disputed
By Marguerite-Josephine Weimer
Maria Alexandrovna Parijskaia
19 March 1814
Married Vassili Joukov, had issue.
By an unknown mother
Wilhelmine Alexandrine Pauline Alexandrov
4 June 1863
Married Ivan Arduser von Hohendachs, had issue.
By Veronica Dzierzanowska
14 February 1818
28 September 1895
Married firstly Felicite Pantcherow, no issue. Married secondly,
Emilie Pantcherow, had one son.
By Barbara Tourkestanov, Princess Tourkestanova
Maria Tourkestanova, Princess Tourkestanova
20 March 1819
19 December 1843
Died aged twenty-four, no issue.
By Maria Ivanovna Katatcharova
Nicolas Vassilievich Isakov
10 February 1821
25 February 1891
Married Anna Petrovna Lopukhina (a descendant of Eudoxia Lopukhina),
Alexander I was the godfather of the future Queen Victoria, who was
christened "Alexandrina Victoria" in honour of the tsar.
Alexander I was the namesake for the
Alexanderplatz in Berlin,
It was due to Alexander I that the first name "Alexander", hitherto
virtually unknown in Russia, became one of the most common Russian
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Ancestors of Alexander I of Russia
16. Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
8. Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
17. Princess Hedvig Sophia of Sweden
4. Peter III of Russia
18. Peter I of Russia
9. Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia
19. Catherine I of Russia
2. Paul I of Russia
20. John Louis I, Prince of Anhalt-Dornburg
10. Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
21. Christine Eleonore von Zeutch
5. Catherine II of Russia
22. Christian August, Prince of Eutin
11. Princess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp
23. Princess Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach
1. Alexander I of Russia
24. Frederick Charles, Duke of Württemberg-Winnental
12. Charles Alexander, Duke of Württemberg
25. Princess Eleonore Juliane of Brandenburg-Ansbach
6. Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg
26. Anselm Franz, Prince of Thurn and Taxis
13. Princess Marie Auguste of Thurn and Taxis
27. Princess Maria Ludovika of Lobkowicz
3. Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
28. Philip William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt
14. Frederick William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt
29. Princess Johanna Charlotte of Anhalt-Dessau
7. Princess Friederike of Brandenburg-Schwedt
30. Frederick William I of Prussia
15. Princess Sophia Dorothea of Prussia
31. Princess Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
^ During Alexander's lifetime Russia used the Julian calendar (Old
Style), but unless otherwise stated, any date in this article uses the
Gregorian Calendar (New Style) — see the article "Old Style and New
Style dates" for a more detailed explanation.
^ On the historiography, see Lieven 2006, pp. 283–308.
^ Maiorova 2010, p. 114.
^ Troubetzkoy 2002, pp. 7, 205 and 258.
^ Walker 1992, pp. 343–360.
^ "Alexander I". Retrieved 2009-01-01.
^ McGrew 1992, p. 184.
^ a b c d e Phillips 1911, p. 556.
^ a b c d Phillips 1911, p. 559.
^ Palmer 1974, ch 3.
^ "Alexander I emperor of Russia". Encyclopedia Britannica.
^ Palmer 1974, pp. 52–55.
^ Palmer 1974, pp. 168–72.
^ McCaffray 2005, pp. 1–21.
^ Flynn 1988, p. [page needed].
^ Lipscomb & Bergh; Jefferson to Priestley, Washington, 29
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Phillips 1911, p. 557.
^ Esdaile 2009, pp. 192–193.
^ It was issued at the end of the 19th century in the Rescript of
Nicholas II and the conference of the Hague. Phillips 1911,
p. 557 cites: Circular of Count Muraviev, Aug. 24, 1898.
^ Phillips 1911, p. 557 cites Instructions to M. Novosiltsov,
Sept. 11, 1804. Tatischeff, p. 82
^ Phillips 1911, p. 557 cites: Savary to Napoleon, Nov. 18, 1807.
Tatischeff, p. 232.
^ Phillips 1911, pp. 557,558 cites: Coulaincourt to Napoleon, 4th
report, Aug. 3, 1809. Tatischeff, p. 496.
^ Zawadzki 2009, pp. 110–124.
^ a b c d e f g Phillips 1911, p. 558.
^ a b Nolan 2002, p. 1666.
^ a b c Chapman 2001, p. 29.
^ "Annexation of Georgia in Russia Empire (1801–1878)".
^ "Russia and Britain in Persia: Imperial Ambitions in Qajar Iran".
Retrieved 16 December 2014.
^ Avery et al. 1991, p. 332.
^ Baddeley 1908, p. 67 cites "Tsitsianoff's report to the
Emperor: Akti, ix (supplement), p. 920".
^ Mansoori 2008, p. 245.
^ "Islam, nationalism and state in the Muslim Caucasus1". Archived
from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
^ Phillips 1911, p. 558 cites: Alexander speaking to Colonel
Michaud. Tatischeff, p. 612.
^ Austrian K.u.K. interests were not identical with Russian
imperialism. Austria not only could not afford to switch sides
straight away, because she was since 1809 French ally in dynastical
sense also - and this was one of the motives, why Austria joined
coalition only after
Napoleon refused solution by negotiation. Austria
was generally not happy with Russian Tzar's line: e.g. in 1809, as
French ally, Russia attempted to seize Austrian Krakow and was only
thwarted by Poniatowski in the head of Polish hulans (who thus managed
to seize the town for the Grand Duchy of Warsaw); and above all wished
to avert Russian expansion to Balkan, which intention during time
became to be understood as common interest of the power balance in
Europe, and finally manifested itself as the Crimean War. At the same
time Austria wished to avert supposed Russian enmity, which would
result, when Austria could be seen as intending to block Russian
imperial ambitions; an attitude justified by the mentioned war, when
Austria took neutral stance. Only then begun Russia understand,
Austria is not condescending to further Russian expansion, and further
on took this neutrality as hostility, which became one of the causes
of World War I. (Kissinger, Diplomacy, 1994)
^ a b Montefiore 2016, p. 313.
^ Napolun.com - The Battle of Paris, 1814
^ Napolun.com - The Battle of Paris, 1814
^ Phillips 1911, p. 558 cites Castlereagh to Liverpool, Oct. 2,
1814. F.O. Papers.
^ Phillips 1911, p. 558 cites: Despatch of Lieven, Nov. 30 (Dec.
12), 1819, and Russ. Circular of Jan. 27, 1820. Martens IV. part i. p.
^ Phillips 1911, pp. 558,559 cites: Aperçu des idées de
l'Empereur, Martens IV. part i. p. 269.
^ Phillips 1911, p. 559 cites: Metternich Mem.
^ Palmer 1974, pp. 154–55.
^ Möllersvärd (Möllerswärd), släkt, urn:sbl:8681, Svenskt
biografiskt lexikon (art av H G-m), hämtad 2016-11-05.
^ Palmer 1974, ch 22.
^ Palmer 1974, p. [page needed].
^ McNaughton 1973, pp. 293–306.
Avery, Peter; Fisher, William Bayne; Hambly, Gavin; Melville, Charles
(1991). The Cambridge history of Iran: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic
Republic. Cambridge University Press. p. 332.
Baddeley, John F. (1908). The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus.
London: Longmans, Green and Company. p. 67.
Chapman, Tim (2001). Imperial Russia, 1801–1905 (illustrated,
reprint ed.). Routledge. p. 29.
Dowling, Timothy C. (2014). Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to
Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 728.
Esdaile, Charles (2009). Napoleon's Wars: An International History.
Penguin. pp. 192–193.
Flynn, James T. (1988). University Reform of
Tsar Alexander I,
"Jefferson to Priestley, Washington, 29 November 1802". The Thomas
Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827. Library
Lipscomb; Bergh (eds.). "Jefferson to Harris, Washington, 18 April
1806". The Writings of Thomas Jefferson.
Lieven, Dominic (2006). "Review article: Russia and the defeat of
Napoleon". Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 7
McCaffray, Susan P. (2005). "Confronting Serfdom in the Age of
Revolution: Projects for Serf Reform in the Time of Alexander I".
Russian Review. 64 (1): 1–21. JSTOR 3664324.
Maiorova, Olga (2010). From the Shadow of Empire: Defining the Russian
Nation through Cultural Mythology, 1855–1870. University of
Wisconsin Press. p. 114.
Mansoori, Firooz (2008). "17". Studies in History,Language and Culture
Azerbaijan (in Persian). Tehran: Hazar-e Kerman. p. 245.
McNaughton, C. Arnold (1973). The Book of Kings: A Royal Genealogy, in
3 volumes. 1. London, U.K.: Garnstone Press. pp. 293–306.
Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2016). The Romanovs 1613–1918. Orion
Publishing Group Ltd. ISBN 978 0 297 85266 7.
Nolan, Cathal J. (2002). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International
Relations: S-Z. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations,
Cathal. 4 (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1666.
"Noxçiyçö". www.worldleadersindex.org. 15 September 2014. Retrieved
9 March 2015.
Palmer, Alan (1974). Alexander I:
Tsar of War and Peace. New York:
Harper and Row.
Troubetzkoy, Alexis S. (2002). Imperial Legend: The Mysterious
Tsar Alexander I. Arcade Publishing.
Walker, Franklin A (1992). "Enlightenment and Religion in Russian
Education in the Reign of
Tsar Alexander I". History of Education
Quarterly. 32 (3): 343–360. JSTOR 368549.
Zawadzki, Hubert (2009). "Between
Tsar Alexander: The
Polish Question at Tilsit, 1807". Central Europe. 7 (2):
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Phillips, Walter Alison (1911). "Alexander
I.". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.).
Cambridge University Press. pp. 556–559.
Cate, Curtis. The War of the Two Emperors: The Duel between Napoleon
and Alexander: Russia, 1812 (1985)
Flynn, James T. The University Reform of
Tsar Alexander I, 1802–1835
(Catholic University of America Press, 1988)
Hartley, Janet M. Alexander I (1994) 256pp
Lieven, Dominic. "Review article: Russia and the defeat of Napoleon."
Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History (2006)7#2 pp:
Lieven, Dominic (2009). Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for
Europe, 1807 to 1814. Allen Lane/The Penguin Press.
p. 617. 
Tsar Alexander I: Paternalistic Reformer (1970)
Raeff, Marc. Michael Speransky: Statesman of Imperial Russia,
1772–1839 (The Hague: Mouton, 1968);
Rey, Marie-Pierre. Alexander I: The
Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon
(Northern Illinois University Press; 2012) 439 pages; translation of a
2009 French scholarly biography
Schnitzler, Jean-Henri; Schnitzler, Johann Heinrich (1847). "Chapter
I. Character of Alexander I". Secret History of the Court and
Government of Russia Under the Emperors Alexander and Nicholas. R.
Bentley. p. 37.
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