Birth of Russian Emperor Alexander III

10 March 1845

February 26 (March 10), 1845 in St. Petersburg, the Grand Duke Alexander Nikolayevich and his wife Maria Alexandrovna had a son, Alexander, the future Russian Emperor Alexander III.

As the second son, Alexander was not intended to ascend the throne, and was primarily prepared for military operations. After the death of his elder brother Nicholas in 1865, Alexander became heir to the throne and was given more extensive and fundamental education. Among his mentors were Professor of Russian History S. M. Soloviev, philologist and academician J. K. Groth, General M. I. Dragomirov. The greatest influence on the Crown Prince had a professor of jurisprudence, law professor K. P. Pobedonostsev.

In 1866, Alexander married his late brother's fiancee, the daughter of Danish King, Princess Dagmar, who took the Orthodox name of Maria Feodorovna. The couple had five children, the eldest of whom - Nicholas, was the last Russian emperor.

Alexander held various military posts, including ataman of all the Cossack troops, the commander of the St. Petersburg Military District and the Corps of Guards. In 1868 he became a member of the State Council and the Committee of Ministers. In the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878) the Crown prince commanded the Ruschuksky detachment in Bulgaria. After the war, along with Pobedonostsev, he contributed to the creation of the Voluntary Fleet - joint-stock shipping company to assist in foreign economic policy of the Russian government.

Alexander III ascended the throne after the assassination of his father by terrorists in March 1881. During the first months of his reign, the new emperor hesitated in choosing the course of his reign: either adopt the engagement of elected representatives into governing, or follow the old path of unlimited autocracy. Urged by Pobedonostsev, in April 1881 Alexander III issued the manifesto, "On the Permanence of the Autocracy," which led to the resignation of Mikhail Loris-Melikov and his supporters. In August of that year, was adopted "Regulations on the Measures for the Protection of National Security and Public Safety." Governors were now authorized to close the press, commercial and industrial enterprises, educational institutions, to suspend the activities of local authorities and town councils. Published as a "temporary one" for the period of three years, this "Regulations" had been constantly renewed and remained in effect up to 1917.

The new government policy was quite different from the reforms of Alexander II and his inner circle - the liberal-minded ministers. The beginning of the reign of Alexander III was characterized by toughening of administrative and police repressions and censorship, in particular, were adopted the "Provisional Regulations on the Press" (1882), according to which the administration had the right to close any newspapers and magazines, deprive publishers and editors of the right to continue their occupation.

University charter of 1884 curtailed the autonomy of higher education: University Court was abolished, any student unions were prohibited, and the entire university life was led by the state official, trustee of the academic district.

Zemstvo Regulations (1890) and Municipal Regulations (1892) tightened control over local government by limiting the rights of voters from the lower strata of society. The reform had weakened the principle of election, narrowed the range of issues solved by the municipality, and expanded the scope of governmental powers.

At the same time a number of measures was taken to facilitate the financial situation of the people and mitigating social tensions in society: compulsory redemption, reduce of purchase payments, the establishment of the Peasant Land Bank, the introduction of factory inspection, phased abolition of the capitation.

During the reign of Alexander III, the economic life of Russia was characterized by economic growth, largely due to the strong policy of the domestic industry protection. Thanks to the work of several Russian finance ministers, N. H. Bunge, I. A. Vyshnegradsky, S. Yu. Witte, the revenues of the state treasury had increased. The government of Alexander III encouraged the growth of large-scale capitalist industry, which reached significant success: metallurgy industry production had doubled in 1886-1892, and the network of railways in this period increased by 47%.

Foreign policy under Alexander III differed by the desire to save Russia from participation in international conflicts. The main change in the Russian foreign policy was the shift from the traditional co-operation with Germany to the alliance with France concluded in 1891-1893. During the reign of Alexander III the Russian Empire waged no wars, so that the Russian autocrat was nicknamed "the tsar-peacemaker."

October 20 (November 1), 1894 Alexander III died suddently at the Livadia Palace in Crimea.


Lit.: Барковец О. Александр III – царь-миротворец. СПб., 2007; Боханов А. Н. Император Александр III. М., 2001; Боханов А. Н., Кудрина Ю. В. Император Александр III и императрица Мария Фёдоровна: Переписка 1884-1894 годы. М., 2011; Вельяминов Н. А. Воспоминания об Императоре Александре III // Российский архив: История Отечества в свидетельствах и документах XVIII–XX вв.: Альманах. М., 1994. С. 249–313; Волков Н. Е. Очерк законодательной деятельности в царствование императора Александра III, 1881–1894 гг. СПб., 1910; Зайончковский П. А. Российское самодержавие в конце XIX столетия. М., 1970; Император Александр III: Сб. материалов. СПб., 1894; Корольков К. Жизнь и царствование императора Александра III. Киев, 1901; Памяти императора Александра III: Сб. М., 1895; Твардовская В. А. Александр III // Российские самодержцы: 1801-1917. М., 1993; Чернуха В. Г. Александр III // Вопросы истории. 1992. № 11–12; Шульга В. В. Военно-политическая деятельность Александра III: дис. … к. и. н. М., 2010.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Alexander III (1845-1894) // House of Romanov. The Zemsky Sobor of 1613: [digital collection].