Who was Alexander III and why do we know so less about this Russian Emperor?

Who was Alexander III and why do we know so less about this Russian Emperor?

Russia & More
Surprisingly, but the personality of the emperor Alexander III is one of the least known in the royal family. Although, the times of his rule were among the most peaceful and at the same time progressive for the Russian Empire.

Early years

Alexander is the second son of Emperor Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna. The emperor Alexander Alexandrovich was not trained for being the governor, so he received a military education, usual for the Grand Dukes at that time. He did not show any special abilities, although he loved military affairs, literature and music (he played the trumpet, cornet-a-pistone and trombone). Grand Duke Alexander became a heir after the death of his elder brother Nicholas, who died in Nice on April 24, 1865. Alexander had to turn back to science and pay special attention to studying history, economics, and law. At that moment he had the best teachers who taught him the course of law, and one of them - Mr. Pobedonostsev - later became the chief adviser to the new emperor.

October 28, 1866 the heir to the Russian throne married the bride of the elder brother, the daughter of the Danish king Luise Sophia Frederick Dagmar, who adopted the name of Maria Feodorovna. In this marriage, Nicholas (future Emperor Nicholas II), Alexander, George, Ksenia, Michael, and Olga were born.

Train crush

One of the most well-known historic moments are linked with the crush of the Royal train. In the autumn of 1888, the Tsar's train crashed near the station of Borki, 50 kilometers from the city of Kharkiv. Seven coaches were broken. The train was destroyed, and some of the royal servants were seriously wounded and died, but the members of the royal family remained unharmed: they were at that moment in the dining part of the train. However, the roof of that area has collapsed, and, according to the words of eyewitnesses, Alexander held it on his shoulders up until help arrived. The investigators who studied the causes of the crash concluded that the family had survived by miracle, and if the royal train continues to drive at such a speed, then a miracle may not happen for the second time. Although, other scientists believe that the train collapsed due to activities of anti-imperial structures, which were active in Russia those years.

Government style

Despite the fact that in everyday life Alexander III was simple and unpretentious, economical and even ascetic, huge funds were spent on the acquisition of art objects. Even in his young years the future emperor was fond of painting. However, the tsar's efforts took a lot of time and energy, and the emperor was forced to leave his studies. But he kept his love for the elegance until the last days, which later has transformed into a talent of collectionist. It's not for nothing that his son Nicholas II, after the death of his father, founded the Russian Museum in his honor.

During the reign of Alexander III, Russia was not involved in any serious political conflict, and the revolutionary movement became at a dead end, which was a nonsense, because the assassination of the previous king must have given it a push and an occasion for a new round of terrorist acts for the change of new state order.


The Emperor introduced a number of measures that made life easier for ordinary people. He phased out the poll tax in stages, paid special attention to the Orthodox Church and influenced the completion of the construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Alexander III loved Russia and, wanting to fence it off from an unexpected invasion, strengthened the army. His expression "Russia has only two allies: the army and the navy" has become an idiom.

The Emperor managed to maintain calm relations with all the main rivals. He signed peace agreements with Germany, England, and also significantly strengthened the Franco-Russian friendship on the world stage.

During the years of his rule, the practice of open negotiations was established, and the rulers of the European powers began to trust the Russian tsar as a wise arbiter in resolving all disputable issues between the states.

On November 1, 1894, the emperor died in Livadia (Crimea) from the effects illness he had. The body was delivered to St. Petersburg and buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral.

Alexander III left a big trace in the history of Russia. After his death, the following lines were written in one of the French newspapers: - "He leaves Russia greater than he got it." Who was Alexander III and why do we know so less about this Russian Emperor?
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