10 most famous Russian Tsars and Empresses


Image Source: Wikipedia

Tsars and emperors ruled Russia until the 20th Century; their tenures were marred by intrigue, controversy, development, modernization, rumors, executions, wars, battles, triumphs, romance, alliances, allegiances and so much more. Russia was ruled by men and women from different backgrounds and beliefs. 

A tsar or czar was derived from the Latin word Caesar which meant emperor. A czar or tsar in medieval Europe held the same title as a Roman Emperor, though in some parts of western Europe, the title was equivalent to that of a king or queen. 

Here is a list of 10 men and women who shaped Russia’s history over time.

1. Ivan the Terrible 

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Ivan the Terrible is said to be one of the most terrible people to walk the earth. The guy once beat his son to death! He also razed the town of Kazan during the Siege of Kazan in 1552, the region, together with Tatarstan fell under his rule. He also abolished the aristocratic rule and established the autocratic rule which practiced for a long time in Russia. 

He might have been a terrible human, but he did some good for his country Russia, by expanding its territories and improving trade relations with countries like England.

2. Boris Godunov 


Boris Godunov, who ruled Russia between 1598 and 1605 was initially Ivan the Terrible bodyguard. He, however, took the throne after the death of Ivan’s son Feodor. The most amazing thing about Boris is the reforms he implemented in Russia during his 7-year rule. He allowed teachers to go into Russia and allowed Russians to go for education in other parts of Europe. He, however, couldn’t allow peasants to transfer allegiances from one master to the other. 

3. Peter the Great 

Peter the Great is accredited with attempting to Westernize Russia, which had always been thought of as the most backward country in Europe. He led from 1682 to 1725; he was crowned the tzar of Russia at the age of 10, her mother acting as regent since he was underage. During his reign, he urged his teams to shave their beards and dress in western clothes. At some point, he traveled incognito for 18 months all over Western Europe. He claimed the huge Ukrainian territory when he defeated the Swedish Army in the Battle of Poltava.

4.     Elizabeth of Russia 

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Even though her tenure was not the most peaceful, Elizabeth became the only Russian leader of her time to not execute anyone. Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter the Great and led Russia from 1741 to 1762. Elizabeth is considered one of the most popular Russian rulers; as she established the University of Moscow. She rose to power from obscurity, first because her mother was her father’s maid. She is also known for having invested heavily in several palaces. During her reign, Russia saw two of the biggest conflicts- the Seven Years’ War and the War of the Austrian Succession. 

5. Catherine the Great 

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Catherine the Great ruled Russia between 1762 and 1796; after Elizabeth the Great. But between her rule and Elizabeth’s, Catherine’s husband ruled for six months but was executed for his pro-Prussian Policies. Catherine the Great is known for continuing the modernization work of Peter the Great; trying in her power to improve the situation in Russia, though she also revoked the right of serfs, denying them the chance to petition at the imperial court. She annexed territories along the Black Sea, later sold the Alaskan territory to the USA, absorbed Crimea, Lithuania, Belarus and partitioned Poland. She reformed political systems, established libraries and academies and is credited as being the longest-serving female rulers in Russia. She was also rumored to have taken very many lovers in her life!

6. Alexander I

The tsar ruled Russia between 1801-1805 and might have been the unluckiest ruler in Russia since he took power when European politics were extremely complicated. During this time, there were military invasions, especially by the French dictator. At this point, Alexander was extremely indecisive in his allegiances, aligning with and going against the French powers. He came to mistrust people, often fearing poisoning and kidnapping. During his tenure, he removed all foreign teachers from Russia and adopted a more religious curriculum. 

7. Nicholas I

Nicholas the I valued the military over all else in Russia. He led between 1825-1855. Even though he took great pride in the Russian military and invested in expensive wars, the military was unmasked during the Crimean war in 1853; as being backward and undisciplined. Thousands of Russian military men marched to the palace in revolt in what was named the Decembrist Revolt, demanding the abolition of the Russian monarchy and ascension of Nicholas into power, although that did not stop him from the seat. Even though he was a real autocrat, he disproved of serfdom, Nicholas the I did not bring major developments to Russia during his reign. 

8. Alexander II

Alexander II
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He led Russia between 1855 and 1881. He is known for selling Alaska to the USA and reforming the Russian Penal Code. He also revokes some privileges enjoyed by the nobles, he improved the state of education in Russia by investing in universities. He is also known as Alexander the Liberator because he freed the serfs in the country, though he annexed Poland during his reign! Alexander the 11 was assassinated in 1881 in St Petersburg.

9. Nicholas II

Nicholas II
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Nicholas the II, who ruled in Russia between 1894 and 1917 was the last tsar of Russia. His excessive conservative policies were credited to his witnessing of his grandfather Alexander the II’s assassination at the age of 13. There were a lot of wars and disasters during his reign and in one of the revolutions, his government was overthrown by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky in 1917. During his reign, the Russian government went into ruins in military, political and economic spheres. In 1918, his whole family was assassinated in Yekaterinburg, after they were captured by the army under Lenin’s orders as they tried to leave for England where they planned to live in exile. His death brought about the end of the Tsar’s rule in Russia.

10. Michael of Russia

Michael of Russia was the first Tsar of Russia and ruled between 1613 and 1645, and was the founder of the Romanov Dynasty which ruled Russia until 1917. Michael was sworn into power at the age of 16; the young man then allowed his relatives to make major decisions for the country. They assisted greatly in bringing some stability to the country, by making peace with Poland and suppressing uprisings. His father at the time had been held captive in Poland as a monk and upon his return took charge as the head of the church and ruled Russia alongside Michael until his death in 1633. At this time, there was a change in increasing the influence of central administration, strengthening serfdom and trying to solve Russia’s financial problems. His relatives again helped Michael in ruling Russia after his father’s death.