1845 (10th March)
Tsar Alexander III was born Alexander Alexandrovich to Alexander
, son of Alexander I, and his wife Maria at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg. Alexander was the couple’s third child, his sister, Alexandra had been born in 1842 and his brother Nicholas in 1843.
1847 (22nd April)
Alexander’s brother Vladimir was born to Maria and Alexander.
1850 (22nd April)
Alexander’s brother Alexei was born to Maria and Alexander.
Alexander began his education. As second in line to the throne, his education was typical for the sons of the nobility – literacy, basic languages and and emphasis on military skills.
1853 (17th October)
Alexander’s sister Maria was born to Maria and Alexander.
1855 (2nd March)
Tsar Alexander I died of pneumonia and Alexander’s father became Tsar Alexander II. He took the traditional title of Emperor and Autocrat of all Russia.
1855 (late October)
At the time of Alexander II’s accession, Russia was embroiled in the Crimean War
against Britain, France and Turkey. It was now clear Russia could not win the war and were forced to accept defeat.
1857 (11th May)
Alexander’s brother, Sergei, was born to Maria and Alexander.
The Crimean War had showed how far behind other nations Russia was both technologically and militarily. Alexander’s father wanted to reform Russia to bring it on a par with other Western European nations. He began a programme of reforms.
1860 (3rd October)
Alexander’s brother Paul was born to Maria and Alexander.
1861 (3rd March)
Alexander’s father signed the Emancipation of the Serfs Decree bringing serfdom in Russia to an end. He believed that the abolition of serfdom was necessary to prevent any future revolt by the peasants.
Alexander’s brother Nicholas was betrothed to Princess Dagmar of Denmark.
1865 (24th April)
The Tsarevitch Nicholas, died from meningitis. As second son, Alexander became heir to Tsarist Russia.
Alexander’s education was insufficient for his future role as Tsar of Russia. He now began lessons in government and law with Konstantin Pobedonostsev.
Alexander agreed with many nobles and ministers that the Tsar’s reforms had gone too far, destroying the old Tsarist Russia and allowing an influx of Western ideas. Tsar Alexander II was persuaded to replace liberal ministers with more conservative ones.
Relations between Alexander and his father worsened when the Tsar began an affair with Catherine Dolgorukova.
1866 (9th November)
Alexander, married Princess Dagmar of Denmark. She had converted to Russian Orthodoxy and taken the name Maria Feodorovna. She was an imposing, charismatic woman.
Alexander continued to be critical of his father’s move to bring Russia closer to the West. He felt his criticisms were further justified by the numerous attempts on his father’s life by those who wanted further reform. Alexander believed that Russians needed greater control rather than greater freedom.
1868 (18th May)
A son, Nicholas, was born to Alexander and Maria Feodorovna at Alexander Palace, Tsarskoye Selo.
1871 (9th May)
A son, George, was born to Alexander and Maria Feodorovna at Alexander Palace, Tsarskoye Selo.
1875 (6th April)
A daughter, Xenia, was born to Alexander and Maria Feodorovna at Anichkov Palace, St Petersburg.
1878 (22nd November)
A son, Michael, was born to Alexander and Maria Feodorovna at Anichkov Palace, St Petersburg.
1880 (3rd June)
Alexander’s mother died at St Petersburg.
1880 (6th July)
Alexander and his siblings, like much of the Russian court, were shocked when their father married his mistress Catherine Dolgorukova so soon after the death of their mother.
1881 (13 March)
Tsar Alexander II was assassinated
by members of the People’s Will group who threw a bomb under the carriage he was travelling in. Alexander succeeded as Tsar Alexander III.
1881 (late March)
Von Plehve was appointed to investigate the assassination of Alexander II. He was made Director of the Police which gave him full control of the entire police force and the security police (Okhrana).
1881 (after March)
Alexander III pursued a policy of Russification enforcing the use of the Russian language throughout the provinces and persecuting non-Russians especially the Jews. A number of anti-Jewish pogroms took place. He took advice from his former tutor, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, who had been appointed Procurator of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Pobedonostsev was also tutor to Alexander’s son Nicholas.
Alexander III relocated his family to the Gatchina Palace south of St Petersburg because it was considered easier to maintain security than the Winter Palace.
The Okhrana were given new powers to search, question, detain and even exile anyone who was likely to commit a crime.
1882 (13th June)
A daughter, Olga, was born to Alexander and Maria Feodorovna at Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg.
1883 (27th May)
Tsar Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna were crowned at the Assumption Cathedral, Moscow.
Alexander III commissioned Peter Carl Fabergé to produce a jewelled Easter egg as a gift for his wife. She loved the egg so much that he commissioned one each year. They are now known as Fabergé eggs.
‘Closed’ court sessions without juries were re-introduced for a number of crimes.
Ivan Vyshnegradsky became Minister of Finance. He wanted to improve Russian finances and build up the gold reserve.
A plot to assassinate Alexander III was uncovered. Five members of Narodnaya Volya were arrested and executed. One of those men was Aleksandr Ulyanov, the brother of Vladimir Lenin.
Ivan Vyshnegradsky negotiated a loan from France which was used to grow the economy.
Alexander III set up the new office of Land Captains. Recruited from the nobility these Land Captains had the power to over-ride decisions made by local Zemstva, overturn local court decisions and impose their own punishments.
An act was passed that reduced the peasant’s vote in elections.
Work began on the Trans Siberian Railway.
1891 – 92
Around 2 million peasants died of starvation. Despite the famine, Russia continued to export grain, a move which was seen as controversial and led to the dismissal of Vyshnegradsky.
1891 – 1892
Famine victims received no relief from the Tsar or government and it was left to middle class philanthropists to provide aid for those feeling the worst effects of the famine. These middle classes became more opposed to the Tsar and wanted a voice in government.
Sergei Witte became Minister of Finance – he believed in economic modernisation and felt that Russian growth was hampered by – insufficient capital, Lack of technical expertise and insufficient manpower in industry.
An act was passed that made it difficult for poor people living in towns to qualify for a vote.
Alexander became ill with nephritis (kidney disease).
1894 (1st November)
Alexander III died of kidney failure at Maly Palace in Livadia. He was succeeded by his eldest son Nicholas II
who, like his father was a committed autocrat. However, unlike his father, Nicholas had no interest in politics and would have preferred not to be Tsar.