Russia Tsar of the Romanov Dynasty, born in Moscow on April 29, 1818 and died in Petersburgo on March 13, 1881. He was the first son of the six that had the zar Nicolás I and Carlota of Prussia.
ZAR reformer and supporter of peace, paradoxically would have to deal with numerous unhappy and the nationalism of his subjects. It was Nicolás I who, in the early years of his reign, freed the Russian peasants of their allegiance to the land farmed; measurement followed by other many administrative, criminal, educational, or economic reforms. All this did not prevent the spread of revolutionary ideas, so when in 1866 suffered an assassination attempt, his politics became more authoritarian. In the 1970s, slavism of the majority of Russians involved him in the wars of independence of the Slavic peoples of the Balkans against the Turks, which militarily would end with victory, although politically the success would be mediocre and obtained regular earnings at the Congress of Berlin (1878). From this date it was hounded by revolutionary extremists, who attempted several times against his life. Finally, a pump would end up with her.
He married in 1840 with María Teodora of Hesse-Darmstadt (daughter of Luis II of Hesse), and later with Catherine Dolgoruki. He had both a numerous offspring, up to eleven children: Alejandra (1842); Nicolás (1843); the zar Alejandro III (1845); Vladimir (1847); Alejo (1850); María (1853); Sergio (1857); Paul (1860) - all these with María Teodora-; Jorge (1872); Olga (1874) and Catherine (1878) - with Catherine Dolgoruki).
He was crowned Tsar in 1855, shortly after the Russian defeat in the Crimean War. His first task was to achieve the signing of a relatively favorable peace (peace of Paris), that prohibiting the navigation of Russian warships in the Black Sea and should cede Bessarabia to the Turks. But the lavish and massive crowning of Alejandro II settled in the background the defeat; the Tsar was generosity, waived fines and taxes and pardoned many political prisoners, among them Decembrists of 1825 (who had opposed the proclamation of his father, Nicolás I) and others like the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. His person was also consistent with such a great solemnity, high, eyes blue, nice and elegant; In contrast to his father, had no sympathy for the military, was rather an idealist.
Very active at the beginning of his reign, he abolished many of the prohibitions established by Nicolás I and, above all, the decision of releasing the huge number of Russian Serfs (40 million). The great complexity of the issue delayed its implementation in practice several years, until March, 1861, when he published the manifesto of emancipation. The measure earned him the recognition of Russian liberals but created new problems such as the impoverishment of the farmers and the outbreak of numerous riots. Neither curbed that decision the dissemination of revolutionary ideas, especially in Russian universities, whose students were mostly from middle-class. The same peasants ended up being influenced and criticized his benefactor, that scared re-introduced laws that limited the freedom of students. But in 1861, major riots in Petersburgo and Moscow has triggered and the Tsar had to rectify.
Alejandro II was unable to stem the tide of nihilism that threatened the country. In this context it had to face a new and bloody Polish uprising, stifled with difficulties. This brutality not subtracted him prestige among the nobility (who thanked the numerous parties that organized) and the middle classes, who followed considering him a "Tsar liberator" after the implementation of new reforms: a new Education Act (1863), abolition of corporal punishment (1864), local autonomy and possibility for military rise by merit, etc. Also began to provide Russia's infrastructure: railways, cultural institutions, banks, etc. In 1866 a student attacked his life and saved her by a providential hat that deflected the shot.
Alejandro II lost confidence and thereafter adopted a repressive policy, which fueled the nascent anarchism promoted by Mikhail Bakunin. Personally I had family problems, he had fallen in love with Catalina Dolgoruki, with which in 1872 had his first son, followed by a girl in 1874, to which he gave the title of princes. His wife María, hurt, surrendered to an intense religious life; also, almost all of his sons distanced themselves from him. To avoid losing the company of the only one that kept him affection, María, refused to grant his hand initially to Alfredo, son of the British Queen Victoria, which prevented for the time being smooth the tensions between the two countries. Alejandro II annexed nearly all Turkish territories of central Asia, and the British are worried of its proximity to the India; the point of tension was in Afghanistan. Finally consented to the Tsar and the wedding was held in July 1873, which did not prevent new problems between Russia and the United Kingdom by the revival of Pan-slavism fell, which wanted to unify all Slavic peoples under the direction of Russia and establish a common capital in Constantinople (Istanbul).
Alejandro II could not prevent the massive influx of Russian volunteers in aid of Bosnians (1875). Contrary to the war, had to declare it to Turkey when the Serbs were defeated in 1876, and after unsuccessfully claiming autonomy for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. Hostilities began in April 1877. Not without difficulties, the Russian armies reached Adrianopolis, a hundred kilometers of Constantinople, and then to San Stéfano, just ten kilometres. Success seemed close to Alejandro II when Britain reacted and imposed conditions on the Congress of Berlin of 1878. The Tsar regained Bessarabia and the tutelage of a smaller Bulgaria with respect to the initial plans, but does not control the Straits or a trip to the Mediterranean, which frustrated its main objective. It was a humiliation for Alejandro II, who had to suffer many criticisms from the nobility, as popular discontent gave new encouragement to revolutionaries.
The Tsar came out unscathed from a new attack, the shooting of a teacher, while he walked; also Catalina Dolgoruki suffered threats and Alejandro II was terrified. In search of greater security, approved extraordinary control measures (indiscriminate records, sentenced to death for political defendants, etc.). But the attacks were repeated, the work of the Organization "People's will": in June 1879 the train of baggage of the imperial convoy which was travelling with his family jumped in the air at the station of Moscow, and his own train was spared by pure chance. A few months later they detonated dynamite in the Palacio de winter, under a dining room, and once more the fate accompanied Alejandro II, because that day dinner was unexpectedly delayed.
The siege continued shutting down especially when the general Miguel Loris-Melikov, commissioned by the Tsar, greatly softened the Government; fearing that Alejandro II get the appreciation of the people, the terrorists intensified their actions and planted mines in the places of possible step or assistance of the Tsar. In the end succeeded: on March 13, 1881, the day after the approval (still unsigned) by Alejandro II of a document that opened the doors to a parliamentary government, a bomb killed some guards of his small Entourage and a second bomb hit it to him. He was mutilated and did not die immediately, but it survived long enough to reach the Palacio winter and died there soon after. He was 63 years old. The Russians penalty was sincere, because despite its flaws and errors had sought to serve their people.
ALMEDINGEN, E.M. The Emperor Alexander II. Bodley Head, London: 1962.
CHARLES-ROUX, F. Alexandre II, Gortchakoff et Napoléon III. Paris, Plon-Nourrit: 1913.
COWLES, V. The Romanovs. Barcelona, Noguer: 1975.
GRUNWALD, C. de. Le tsar Alexandre II et are temps. Paris, Berger-Levrault: 1963.
MOSS, W. Russia in the age of Alexander II, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. London, Anthem Press: 2002.
MOSSE, W.E. Alexander II and the modernization of Russia. New York, Collier Books: 1962.
PALÉOLOGUE, M. The Tragic Romance of Alexander II. London, Hutchinson: 1929.
PEREIRA, N.G.O. Tsar Liberator: Alexander II of Russia 1818-1881. Newtonville, Oriental Research Partners: 1983.
TROYAT, H. Alexandre II: le liberateur tsar. Paris, Flammarion: 1990.
WARNES, D. Chronicle of the Russian Tsars. London, Thames-Hudson: 1999.
http://4yg.us/1iFw; Page with the full text of the book of W. Moss (in English). http://4yg.us/1iFz; Page with information about some facts of the life of Alejandro II (in French). http://4yg.us/1iFA; Page with genealogical data of Alejandro II (in French). http://4yg.us/1iFs; Page with information about the Romanovs (in English). http://4yg.us/1iFt; Page with various information and images on the Romanov (in Russian).