Alexander I, emperor of Russia (1801–25). Portrait.
Alexander I (Russian: Александр Павлович, Aleksandr Pavlovich; 23 December [O.S. 12 December] 1777 – 1 December [O.S. 19 November] 1825 was an Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825. The son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, Alexander was the first Russian King of partitioned Poland, reigning from 1815 to 1825, as well as the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland. Born in Saint Petersburg to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later Emperor Paul I, he succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered. He ruled Russia during the period of the Napoleonic Wars. As prince and emperor, Alexander often used liberal rhetoric, improved legislation and planned to set up a parliament and sign a constitution. However, he continued Russia's absolutist policies in practice. In the first years of his reign, he initiated some minor social reforms and (in 1803–04) major, liberal educational reforms, building more universities but later abandoned reforms and turned to foreign policy. He changed position relative to France between 1804 and 1812 form neutrality, to the opposition, and finally, to the alliance. In 1805 he joined Britain against Napoleon, but after the Battle of Austerlitz switched into an alliance with Napoleon and joined Napoleon's Continental System in 1807 and fought a naval war against Britain 1807 - 1812. But when he and Napoleon could not reach an agreement on Poland, the alliance collapsed by 1810. In 1812 Napoleon's invasion in Russia turned a total disaster. As part of the winning coalition, Alexander took Paris and gained control over Finland and Poland. In the second half of his reign, he made education more religiously oriented as well as politically conservative. Liberal minister Speransky was replaced as the advisor to the strict artillery inspector Aleksey Arakcheyev, who oversaw the creation of military settlements. He formed the Holy Alliance to suppress revolutionary movements in Europe as he saw them as immoral threats to legitimate Christian monarchs. He helped Austria's Klemens von Metternich to suppress nationalism and liberal movements. Alexander died of typhus in December 1825 while on a trip to southern Russia. He left no heirs, as his two daughters died in childhood. Both of his brothers Konstantin Pavlovich and Nikolay Pavlovich wanted the other to become emperor. After a period of a turmoil confusion that included the failed Decembrist revolt, he was succeeded by his younger brother, Nicholas I (Nikolay Pavlovich).
Alexander I, Aleksandr Pavlovich, (born December 23 [December 12, Old Style], 1777, St. Petersburg, Russia—died December 1 [November 19], 1825, Taganrog), was emperor of Russia from 1801 till 1825. Aleksandr Pavlovich was the first child of Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich (later Paul I) and Grand Duchess Maria Fyodorovna, a princess of Württemberg-Montbéliard. His grandmother, the reigning Empress Catherine II (the Great), took him from his parents and raised him to prepare to succeed her. Catherine invited Denis Diderot, the French encyclopaedist, to become Alexander’s private tutor. When he declined, she chose Frédéric-César La Harpe, a Swiss republican, and an excellent educator. He inspired deep affection in Alexander and shaped his flexible and open mind.