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ALEXANDER II (ALEXANDER NIKOLAEVICH)

1818-1881
EMPEROR OF ALL RUSSIA 1855-1881

Eldest son of Emperor Nicholas I, Alexander was born in Moscow on April 17, 1818, and came to the throne on February 19, 1855, after the death of his father. He was crowned in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin on August 26, 1856.

After his accession to the throne, Alexander II implemented important reforms, notably the abolition of serfdom, as well as changes in national, military and municipal organization. He also rethought foreign policy: Russia now refrained from overseas expansion and concentrated on strengthening its borders. In 1867, he sold Alaska and the Aleutian Islands to the United States. His greatest foreign policy achievement was the successful war of 1877-8 against the Ottoman Empire, resulting in the liberation of Bulgaria and annulment of the conditions of the Treaty of Paris of 1856, imposed after Russia's defeat in the Crimean War.

In 1841, Alexander II married Maria of Hessen-Darmstadt (Maria Alexandrovna). The marriage produced seven children.

On March 1, 1881, in St. Petersburg, he was mortally wounded by a bomb thrown by a student, I. Grinevitskii, a member of the revolutionary organization "The National Will.'' The Cathedral of the Resurrection on Blood was erected on the site of the murder. Alexander II was buried in the Cathedral of the St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

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Text compiled by Alexei K. Levykin
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