St. Petersburg

Happy birthday, St. Petersburg! Yes, that’s right, today’s the day St. Petersburg was founded, by Peter the Great back in 1703, just two weeks after he captured the area from the Swedish during the Great Northern War. The site of the city was originally occupied by a Swedish fortress known as Nyenskans. After he captured the fortress, Peter laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress … Continue reading St. Petersburg

The Death of Reform

On March 13, 1881, Alexander II, Tsar of Russia, was assassinated by a bomb in St. Petersburg. Unlike many of his predecessors (and the tsars who came after him), Alexander was fairly liberal minded. He freed the serfs, earning him the nickname Alexander the Liberator, moved to develop Russia’s natural resources, and attempted to reform all branches of government. On the very day he was … Continue reading The Death of Reform

The End of Serfdom

On March 2, 1861, exactly six years after he ascended the throne, Tsar Alexander II signed the Emancipation Reform of 1861, emancipating the serfs of Russia and finally ending a practice that most of the rest of Europe had abandoned centuries ago. This act, one of the first and most liberal of Alexander’s reforms, freed more than 23 million people and allowed them to marry … Continue reading The End of Serfdom

The Romanov Dynasty

On February 21, 1613, a Russian national assembly unanimously elected 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov tsar, thus establishing a dynasty that would last until Nicholas II was deposed during the Russian Revolution in 1917. The origins of the Romanov family are a bit murky; they fully emerged from obscurity when a Romanov daughter, Anastasia Zakharyina, married Ivan IV in February 1547. After her mysterious death in 1560, … Continue reading The Romanov Dynasty