Biography of Zar de Rusia Nicolás I (1796-1855)

Russia Tsar of the Romanov Dynasty, born in Tsarskoïe Selo (near Petersburgo) June 6, 1796, and died on 2 March 1855 in Petersburgo. He/She was the third son of Tsar Paul I and Sofía Teodora de Württemberg. He/She had as brothers to his predecessor on the throne, Alejandro I, Constantine, Miguel and six other sisters.

Biographical synthesis

He came to reign despite being the third son of Pablo I, as his brother mayor Alejandro I died childless and the next, Constantine, renounced the throne. Despite this disclaimer, Nicolás I had to secure his throne to repress a rebellion of supported the rights of him (Decembrists). His Government was characterized by its military thoroughness, urging him to control all public affairs of Russia. Interested in social improvements, but always they were directed by him, repressed manifestations of the revolution of 1830 (see: bourgeois revolutions) in his empire and those of the revolution of 1848 (see: revolutions of 1848) in other European countries. He/She imposed his military power to the declining Ottoman Empire hoping to gain control of the Straits and conquer Constantinople, but he/she could not perform his project to be defeated by an Alliance turco-franco - British in the Crimean War (1854-1856).

Nicolás I and the strange succession of Alejandro I

He was educated by the austere count Lamsdorf, acquiring few academic knowledge, in contrast to the intense military training that was marked his life. At the end of the first decade of century XIX, when Alejandro I raised is to abdicate and retire to a life of meditation, two were candidates to succeed him, his brothers Constantine, older, but flamboyant character, and the own Nicolás, imposing presence, which was preferred by the people. Although the Tsar not finally abandoned his throne, Constantine renounced in writing their rights, so the way was free for Nicolás. In 1817 it got married by love with Carlota of Prussia (daughter of the Prussian King Federico Guillermo III), who always adored as much as with middle age it encapricharía some ladies, and it would have been several sons: zar Alejandro II (1818); María (1819); Olga (1822); Constantine (1827); Nicolás (1831) and Miguel (1832).

In the summer of 1825 died surprisingly Alejandro I, producing then a curious situation: Constantine had given the Crown to Nicolás, but Nicolás refused initially to accept it. For about three weeks there was no Tsar in Russia. Seems Nicolás acted so for prudence, to see military little related to the firm resolve of Constantine not reign, even after being offered the possibility again and again. The maneuver had its risk: one of secret societies that are dissatisfied with the authoritarianism of the tsars conspired to achieve a constitutional Government; Nicolás had news of it and already did not wait more, finally accepting the scepter.

He demanded then I oath of loyalty to the Russian institutions, as the conspirators (who had decided to support Constantine) gathered their forces in the Senate square (December 14). Zar Nicolás I already went there with loyal troops, faced with value to the situation, which could easily have claimed the lives. The troops from both sides were balanced, and none attacked each other seriously. The hours passed without incident just until getting, the generals of Nicolás I obtained your permission to place several cannons facing the square. Not without hesitation, the Tsar gave the order to shoot, and dozens of Decembrists died, many were injured, and others fled. The ringleaders would be then executed or banished.

Nicolás I, a soldier zar

Secured its position and crowned on 26 December, Nicolás I began to rule with heavy-handed, in spirit militar in imitation of their own customs. Irritation of his subjects, was to control the as many details as possible, such as clothing (a suit given to visiting the Ermitage, uniform for all officials, could not be used jacket and grey top hat), who should have mustache and who not, prohibition of smoking in the streets, or multitude of matters of little importance. Presented by surprise at barracks, hospitals and other public facilities, or made long journeys by his empire, punishing the minor mistakes that observed. On the other hand, it required all share their ideas, and to ensure adherence to them and that their orders were met, created a secret police, known as the "Third section".

Also used the splendor to gain prestige (though he/she lived with extreme simplicity), organizing huge parties and splendid building, such as the reconstruction of the Palacio of winter and several others, the national library, a new Hermitage Museum or the Alexandrinsky Theatre, with many of its details designed by himself. Paternalistic, it wanted to improve the situation of peasants and serfs, but without changing the economic structure; requested the collaboration of the noble landowner, who did little. He/She harshly repressed in 1830 the Polish uprising, and when several uprisings in much of Europe, broke out in 1848, closed the borders (censorship, the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky was sentenced to four years of hard labour for subversive literature, control of the universities, prohibition of travel abroad) and helped the monarchs in danger to get control of the situation in their respective countrieswhich would give him great prestige in the European royal houses (was called the "gendarme of Europe"). Advocates of the Westernization of Russia were considered suspects, increasing its weight slavophilia party important support of the Tsar until this also began to distrust them for possible antimonarquismo.

In foreign policy, along with the constant progress in Asia, had several wars with Persia (1826-1828) and Turkey, chasing the dream of reaching dominate Constantinople (Istanbul) and with it the Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. He/She had obtained, for example, the independence of Greece after the battle of Navarino (1827) and the Conference of London (1830), as well as the recognition of the independence of Wallachia and Moldavia (Treaty of Adrianople, 1829). Later, by the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi (1833) and the Convention of the narrow (1841) it gave itself the role of protector of the Ottoman Empire and the freedom of navigation through the Straits.

But to achieve a final victory and little expensive I needed the support of France and Britain. Nicolás I came to ask the Ottoman sultan Abdülmecit I which became the Orthodox faith and the concession to Russia of the guardianship of all Slavs in Turkish territory. However, those countries, especially the British, did not see with good eyes these ambitious objectives. In 1853 when it sent troops to Moldova and the Turks claimed, sank part of the Ottoman fleet in the Black Sea; British and French decided to support the Turks, and also, to his great surprise, the Austrians, who considered loyal allies. The following year began the Crimean War, in which the Russians, without adequate supplies (Russia lacked good communications) would be defeated after the fall of Sevastopol (today in Ukraine). With awareness of failure, Nicolás I caught a cold during military, complicating pneumonia in maneuvers, and died in February 1855. He/She was about 59 years.


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Links on the Internet ; Page with genealogical data of Nicolás I (in French). ; Page with information about the Romanovs (in English). ; Page with various information and images on the Romanov (in Russian).