The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs

By A. A. Iskenderov; Donald J. Raleigh | Go to book overview

Emperor Alexander III,
1881-1894

Valentina Grigorievna Chernukha's judicious portrait of Alexander III and his thirteen-year reign presents this imposing autocrat as yet another tragic figure in Russian history. In her view, Russia was already heading down the road to revolution when Alexander ascended the throne in the wake of his father's murder by the People's Will. Be that as it may, the revolution's impact, she argues, "could have been softened by a more flexible and progressive policy." But this was not to be; in this lies Alexander's personal tragedy and, by implication, Russia's collective one.

The Imperial family did not think "Little Bulldog" was cut out for statesmanship. Like Nicholas I, Alexander III had been poorly prepared to rule. A man of limited intelligence "who had to struggle to climb each rung on the ladder of knowledge," Alexander III's sympathies lay with the nationalist opposition that opposed many of his father's reforms and views. Alexander III disapproved of his father's policies not only because of his fundamental ideological disagreement with the Tsar-Liberator, but also because of the strained relations within the royal family that had come about as a result of Alexander II's romance with and subsequent marriage to E.M. Dolgorukaia. Chernukha laments Alexander's animosity toward Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov's plan to introduce a modicum of representative rule, and his lack of flexibility and unwillingness to compromise. While she suggests that not all of his policies were reactionary, the more powerful image she evokes is that of a limited, unfit ruler whose "personality dominated the statesman in him." His policies were doomed from the start, and they pushed Russia further along the path to revolution.

D.J.R.

-334-

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The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The New Russian History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • About the Editors and Contributors vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Emperor Peter I, 1682-1725 3
  • Empress Anna Ivanovna, 1730-1740 37
  • Empress Elizabeth I, 1741-1762 66
  • Emperor Peter III, 1762 101
  • Empress Catherine II, 1762-1796 134
  • Emperor Paul I, 1796-1801 177
  • Emperor Alexander I, 1801-1825 216
  • Emperor Nicholas I, 1825-1855 256
  • Emperor Alexander II, 1855-1881 294
  • Emperor Alexander III, 1881-1894 334
  • Emperor Nicholas II, 1894-1917 369
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 403
  • Index 405
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