Alexander I

(Alexander I of Russia, Alexander I Pavlovich)

1777–1825

The grandson of Catherine the Great, Alexander I came to the throne of Russia after the assassination of his father, Paul I. Although Alexanderís complicity in his fatherís murder is unclear, it is suspected that he knew his grandmother preferred him to his father as her successor, and took steps to see that happen. Alexander was viewed with suspicion by most of the other crowned heads of Europe, not because of the accusation of murder, but because his political standpoint changed rapidly and radically, dependent on his personal idealism.

At first a contemporary of Napoleon Bonaparte, the pair split after it became clear that neither one would concede the crown of a conquered Europe to the other. Alexander later became heavily influenced by Metternich, and also by Baroness de Krudener, a religious adventuress who influenced the emperor through his Orthodox faith, rapidly becoming his favorite confidante.

In later years, Alexander became increasingly paranoid and unstable, perhaps fearing he would meet the same fate as his father. Although he married young, he and his wife had no surviving children. After his death from typhus, the Imperial crown passed to his younger brother Nicholas I, who didnít want it.


Key events during the life of Alexander I of Russia:


Year
Event
1777
Born in St Petersburg to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later Emperor Paul I.
1793
At age fifteen, married 14-year-old Louise of Baden.
1796
Death of Catherine the Great, Alexander's grandmother.
1801
Succeeded to the throne after his father's murder, crowned in the Kremlin in September.
1801
Disolved the League of Armed Neutrality, made peace with Britain.
1804
Death of duc d'Enghien alarms Europe; Alexander decides to curb Napoleon's power.
1807
Major defeat by French forces under Napoleon, Treaty of Tilsit.
1808
Meeting with Napoleon at Erfurt, Treaty of Erfurt.
1809
Defeat of Sweden results in Russia gaining control of Poland.
1809
Napoleon requests the hand in marriage of Anna Pavlovna, Alexander's younger sister, and is politely declined. This puts a further strain on the alliance.
1810
Russia withdraws from the Continental Blockade, trade with Britain grows.
1812
Russia and Sweden sign a mutual defence treaty.
1812
Napoleon invades Russia and is defeated.
1813
Meets Baroness de Krudener, a religious adventuress who becomes his new confidante.
1815
Military settlements established; farms worked by soldiers and their families under military control.
1818
Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle.
1820
Congress of Troppau, Troppau Protocol, Metternich cements his influence over Alexander.
1821
Congress of Laibach.
1825
Died in Taganrog of typhus developed from a cold caught while on a voyage with his wife to the south of Russia.
1826
Interred at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg on March 13th.

Other Resources


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Empire at its Height  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge


Contemporary
Short Biography
Catherine the Great German Princess who was proclaimed Empress after the murder of her husband Peter III. Favored modernization and progressive policies.
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Metternich Austrian statesman who was influential in bringing about a long lasting peace in Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Hosted Congresss of Vienna.
Talleyrand Apostate bishop who organized Civil Constitution of Clergy. Stayed in favor during regime changes from the Estates General to the Restoration.
Nicholas I Russian czar who ruled Russia as an Autocracy after nearly being overthrown early in his reign.