Russia’s penultimate Tsar, Alexander III was born on March 10, 1845 in St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace. He was the second son of Alexander II and Maria of Hesse. He became Tsar in March 11, 1881, but his coronation ceremony took place only two years later, in May 27, 1883.
The coronation of Tsar Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna took place at the Uspensky Sobor of the Moscow Kremlin. The coronation involved an Orthodox ceremony in which the new ruler was crowned and formally blessed by the church.
Who was Alexander III?
It is said that Alexander III loved music and ballet, but he was devoid of elegance and refinement. Until he became tsar, Alexander was absent in the political life. However, Alexander III disagreed with his father’s politics which he was especially cautious when his father began a relationship with Princess Catherine Dolgorukya. The scandal was extinguished with the assassination of Alexander II by the terrorists of Narodnaya Volya. Because his older brother, Nicholas died in 1865, Alexander III became the successor.
Alexander III was inspired by his grandfather, Nicholas I for his essential principles. He promoted Orthodoxy, autocracy and nationalism. In other words, the new tsar was an absolute sovereign who wanted to destroy the main minorities in Russia: the Poles, the Germans and the Jews.
Under these circumstances, the enemies of Alexander III planned his assassination, but the secret police (Okhrana) uncovered the plot and five of the conspirators (including the older brother of Vladimir Lenin) were captured and hanged on May 20, 1887. It wasn’t the only attempt for his assassination. His imperial train was derailed by saboteurs in 1888, but the tsar survived with minor injuries.
Externally, Alexander III was a pacifist. Although he didn’t agree with the policy of the German Empire, Alexander III always respected chancellor Otto von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm II. Despite the fact that he was seen as a brutish despot, he managed to stabilize the Russian government and maintained peace with his European and Asian neighbors.
The tsar preferred to settle in Gatchina Palace, located 30 km south of St. Petersburg. He spent his time with typical activities of country life and often drunk with his friends. When the doctors warned him about the alcohol, Alexander III ordered a pair of high boots to hide the drink bottle from his wife. Needless to say, his marriage was a happy one. The Emperor was faithful to his so called “Mimi” and they had six children.
Alexander III suffered from nephritis and died of this disease in 1894 surrounded by his family. Despite that he suffered from his illness and he was warned many times be his doctors and beloved ones to give up alcohol, he couldn’t do it until death.