Nikolay I ruled Russia from 1826 to 1855. His contemporaries noted that he perceived the role of the tsar as that of the owner of Russia, seeing the country as his property. The drama of Nikolay I is that despite his firmness, vanity, conviction, he failed to keep the empire as a national state within the limits of strict order created by him. Towards the end of his reign, he had to admit that his philosophy was not viable.
Born on June 25th (July 6th), 1796 in Tsarskoye Selo, he was the eleventh Russian emperor. His predecessor, Alexander I, had no children. Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, second son of Pavel I, renounced his right to the throne, and Nikolay was declared successor as the next oldest sibling. His mother was Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna, his spouse Alexandra Fedorovna (Charlotta Prusskaya). Alexander II was his successor.
On the day of oath-bringing by Nikolay I, there was an insurgence by the Decembrists on December 14th, 1825, which was brutally suppressed by the new emperor. The coronation took place on September 3rd, 1826, and he ruled up until his death on February 18th, (March 2nd) 1855 in St. Petersburg.
The main events during the rule of Nikolay I (1826-1855):
- 1817-1864 – Caucasian War
- December 14th, 1826 – Revolt of the Decembrists
- 1826-1828 – Russian-Persian War
- 1828-1829 – Russian-Turkish War
- 1830-1831 – Polish revolt
- 1853-1856 – Crimean War
The revolt on December 14th, 1825 was the first open insurgence of the Northern Society, which was directed at the deposition of the autocracy and formation of the Provisional Government to develop the Constitution. The programme of the insurgents included abolition of serfdom, establishment of the unitary republic, or constitutional monarchy, built as a federation.
This revolt left a deep scar in the emperor’s soul: throughout all his years in power he was afraid of revolutionary ideas and strived to nip them in the bud whenever possible. The cruelty and ruthlessness of the autocrat came as the consequence of this policy. After the 1830-1831 revolt in Poland, Nikolay I abolished the Constitution granted to Poland by Alexander I.