"the handsome young Emperor Alexander"


Alexander I
Public DomainAlexander I by Franz Krüger

 Tsar Alexander I of Russia (1777-1825) had a mixed reign. Raised by his grandmother, Catherine the Great, he came to the throne in 1801 after his eccentric father Paul I was murdered, with Alexander's tacit approval, although this caused him to feel great shame and guilt. At first he introduced a number of liberal reforms, earning himself the title 'Alexander the Blessed', the so-called 'angel' of Russia. However, in the latter part of his reign, after the Napoleonic Wars, he reversed a number of these policies, relying on more reactionary advisors.

Towards the end of his life Alexander became increasingly strange and paranoid. His liberal views were shaken by an attempted coup in 1818, and later, when he was almost kidnapped whilst travelling to Aachen. In 1825, whilst in Taganrog in the south of Russia, Alexander developed typhus and died quite suddenly. The obscure location of his death led to rumours that it had been staged in order to allow the emperor to escape from his duties; many thought he was living out the rest of his life in pious obscurity somewhere in Siberia.