Alexander II Tsar of Russia 1818 – 1881

Alexander II of RussiaBorn – 29th April 1818
Died – 13th March 1881
Royal House – Romanov
Father – Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796 – 1855)
Mother – Alexandra Feodorovna (Charlotte of Prussia) (1798 – 1860)
Spouse – m. 1841 Maria Alexandrovna – (1824 – 1880); m. Catherine Mikhailovna Dolgorukova (1847 – 1922)
Children by Maria – Alexandra (1842 – 1849), Nicholas (1843 – 1865), Alexander III (1845 – 1894), Vladimir (1847 – 1909), Alexei (1850 – 1908), Maria (1853 – 1920), Sergei (1857 – 1905), Paul (1860 – 1919)
by Catherine – George (1872 – 913), Olga (1873 – 1925), Boris (1876), Catherine (1878 – 1959)
Tsar of Russia – 1855 – 1881
Predecessor – Nicholas I – 1825 – 1855
SuccessorAlexander III – 1881 – 1894

See also – Tsars/Emperors of Russia
Tsarist Russia 1855 – 1922

1818 (29th April)
Tsar Alexander II was born Alexander Nikolayevich in Moscow to Nicholas, younger son of Paul I, and Alexandra Feodorovna (formerly Charlotte of Prussia).
1819 (18th August)
Alexander’s sister Maria was born to Nicholas, son of Paul I, and Alexandra Feodorovna.
1822 (11th September)
Alexander’s sister Olga was born to Nicholas, son of Paul I, and Alexandra Feodorovna.
1825 (24th June)
Alexander’s sister Maria was born to Nicholas, son of Paul I, and Alexandra Feodorovna.
1825 (19th November)
Alexander’s father became Tsar following the death of his brother Alexander I. Alexander was now Tsarevich, heir to the throne.
1825 (around)
Vasily Zhukovsky was chosen to tutor the young Alexander. Zhukovsky was a liberal, a poet and a translator.
1827 (21st September)
Alexander’s brother Konstantin was born to Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna.
1831 (8th August)
Alexander’s brother Nicholas was born to Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna.
1832 (25th October)
Alexander’s brother Michael was born to Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna.
1837 (during)
As Tsarevich, Alexander spent six months touring Russia, including Siberia.
1837 (during)
Alexander began a tour of Europe. On his journey he met the young Queen Victoria and also his future wife, Marie of Hesse.
1840 (April)
The betrothal of Alexander to Marie of Hesse was officially announced.
1841 (16th April)
Tsarevitch Alexander married Marie of Hesse in St Petersburg, Russia. Marie had converted to the Orthodox faith and taken the names Maria Alexandrovna.
1842 (30th August)
A daughter, Alexandra, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1843 (20th September)
A son, Nicholas, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1844 (10th August)
Alexander’s sister Alexandra died of tuberculosis.
1845 (10th March)
A son, Alexander, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1847 (22nd April)
A son, Vladimir, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1850 (22nd April)
A son, Alexei, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1853 (17th October)
A daughter, Maria, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1855 (2nd March)
Tsar Alexander I died of pneumonia and Alexander II became Tsar. He took the traditional title of Emperor and Autocrat of all Russia. At the time of his accession Russia was fighting the Crimean War against Britain, France and Turkey.
1855 (16th August)
Tsar Alexander II ordered Russian forces to attack the Allies and end the siege of Sevastopol. The mission was unsuccessful and the Russians were forced to retreat.
1855 (9th September)
The Russians were forced to evacuate Sevastopol and the city fell to the Allies.
1855 (late October)
It was clear Russia could not win the Crimean War and were forced to accept defeat.
1857 (11th May)
A son, Sergei, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1858 (during)
The Crimean War had showed how far behind other nations Russia was both technologically and militarily. Alexander wanted to reform Russia to bring it on a par with other Western European nations. In order to promote a freer speech, he removed many restrictions on the publishing industry.
1860 (during)
The Russian state bank was founded.
1860 (3rd October)
A son, Paul, was born to Maria and Alexander.
1861 (3rd March)
Tsar Alexander II signed the Emancipation of the Serfs Decree bringing serfdom in Russia to an end. Alexander believed that the abolition of serfdom was vital. He thought that if serfdom were to remain the peasants would at some point rise up in revolt demanding their freedom and felt it was better for reform to be led from above.
1861 (after 3rd March)
Although the peasants were technically free and had been given land, they were still subject to tight restrictions. Those chose to work in the cities were very poorly paid or not paid at all. Many believed that serfdom had been exchanged for wage slavery.
1862 (during)
Reforms were made to the educational system. Education was extended to allow girls to have secondary education. Universities were allowed to choose their own curriculum.
1862 (during)
Michael von Reutern was appointed Finance Minister. He was tasked with improving the economic situation. He made government agencies accountable and instituted a national poll tax collection system.
1863 (during)
A group of students published ‘Young Russia’ which argued that reform was essential and that revolution was the medium necessary to effect change. Student protests increased and the move to allow universities to choose their own curriculum was reversed.
1863 (during)
Finland was given greater autonomy within the Empire. The Finns were able to have their own currency and Finnish became the official language.
1863 (January)
The introduction of reforms did not apply to the former territories of Poland or Lithuania. This resulted in uprisings against the Tsar in those regions.
1863 (after January)
Martial law was introduced to Lithuania and citizens in Lithuania and Poland were banned from printing material in any language other than Russian.
1864 (Summer)
The Polish/Lithuanian uprising was finally suppressed. Hundreds of nationals were executed and thousands sent to Siberia during and after the conflict.
1864 (20th November)
Reforms were made to the court system. Trial by jury was introduced with persons being tried by three judges and twelve jurors who had to own land.
1864 (during)
The Zemstvo, a form of local government, was established. It had responsibility for providing local services including health and education.
1864 (during)
Alexander’s eldest son, Nicholas, was betrothed to Princess Dagmar of Denmark.
1865 (24th April)
Alexander II’s son and heir, Nicholas, died from meningitis. His second son, Alexander became heir to Tsarist Russia.
1866 (4th April)
Revolutionaries felt that Alexander’s reforms did not go far enough. An assassination attempt on his life by Dmitrii Karakozov in St Petersburg failed when Karakozov’s shots missed their target.
1866 (July)
Alexander II began an affair with Catherine Dolgorukova.
1866 (after July)
Many nobles, ministers and Alexander’s son and heir, the future Alexander III, felt that the reforms had gone too far, destroying the old Tsarist Russia and allowing an influx of Western ideas. They persuaded Alexander II to replace liberal ministers with more conservative ones.
1866 (3rd September)
Dmitrii Karakozov was executed for attempting to assassinate Tsar Alexander II.
1866 (9th November)
Alexander’s son and heir, Alexander, married Princess Dagmar of Denmark. She had converted to Russian Orthodoxy and taken the name Maria Feodorovna. She was an imposing, charismatic woman who was highly influential on her husband and children.
1867 (during)
Finance Minister Michael von Reutern had managed to improve Russia’s finances sufficiently to enable borrowing from other Europeamn countries. Loans were used to modernise and improve the railway network.
1867 (6th June)
Anton Berezowski, a Polish man who lived in Paris, hated the Russian Empire. When Alexander II planned to visit Napoleon III in Paris he decided to kill the Tsar. He fired a shot at a carriage containing the Tsar, Napoleon III and the sons of Napoleon but his pistol broke and misfired. Berezowski was seized by the crowd and arrested.
1867 (15th July)
Anton Berezowski was sentenced to a life of hard labour in New Caledonia, a French territory in the Pacific Ocean.
1867 (18th October)
Russia sold the Alaska colony to the United States for $7.2 million. Alexander took the decision to sell the colony because it was costly to maintain.
1871 (during)
Following the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, relations between France and Russia were strengthened.
1872 (12th May)
A son, George, was born to Alexander and his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova.
1873 (7th November)
A daughter, Olga, was born to Alexander and his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova.
1874 (during)
Alexander’s daughter, Maria, married Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria of Britain.
1874 (during)
As part of the move to reform the army, conscription for all classes, not just peasants, was introduced. Officers were to receive military education and the reserve army was also enlarged. Corporal punishment was banned.
1876 (23rd February)
A son, Boris, was born to Alexander and his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova.
1876 (23rd February)
Alexander’s son, Boris, died.
1877 (24th April)
War broke out between Russia and Turkey. This was the first major test for Alexander’s reformed military.
1878 (3rd March)
The war with Turkey ended with victory for Russia.
1878 (9th September)
A daughter, Catherine, was born to Alexander and his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova.
1879 (20th April)
Alexander Soloviev fired five shots at the Tsar as he walked in the grounds of the Winter Palace. All shots missed and he was arrested.
1879 (28th May)
Alexander Soloviev was executed for attempting to assassinate Tsar Alexander II.
1880 (5th February)
Stephan Khalturin, a member of Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will), detonated a bomb placed under the dining room of the Winter Palace. 11 people were killed and 30 wounded. However, dinner had been delayed and the Tsar had not yet arrived.
1880 (after 5th February)
Count Loris-Melikov was made head of the Supreme Executive Commission and given powers to fight the revolutionaries.
1880 (3rd June)
Maria Alexandrovna, Alexander’s wife, died at St Petersburg.
1880 (6th July)
Alexander II married his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova a month after the death of his wife. The court and his family were shocked at the speed with which he remarried. Soon after the marriage he legitimised their children.
1881 (13 March)
Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by members of the People’s Will group. As the Tsar travelled through St Petersburg in his carriage, Nikolai Rysakov, a member of People’s Will, threw a bomb towards the carriage. The explosion killed one of the cossacks and wounded many people lining the route. Alexander had been gifted a bulletproof carriage from Napoleon III and was unhurt. He got out of the carriage to see what had happened. A second member of the People’s Will, Ignacy Hryniewiecki, threw another bomb which landed in front of the Tsar and exploded. The Tsar was very badly injured and died soon afterwards.

Published Mar 12 2022 @ 3:30 pm – Updated – Mar 19, 2022 @ 5:57 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). Alexander II Tsar of Russia 1818 – 1881. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/alexander-ii-tsar-of-russia-1818-1881. Last accessed July 6th, 2022