The Borki train disaster, October 29, 1888
The Borki train disaster occurred on October 29, 1888, near Borki station in the former Kharkov Governorate of the Russian Empire, 295 kilometers south of Kursk, when the imperial train carrying Tsar Alexander III of Russia and his family from Crimea to Saint Petersburg derailed at high speed. Twenty-one people died at the scene and two later, and many others were injured. According to the official version of events, Alexander held the collapsed roof of the royal car on his shoulders while his family escaped the crash site uninjured.
Alexander III was the second son of Alexander II and of Maria Aleksandrovna (Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt). During the first 20 years of his life, Alexander had no prospect of succeeding to the throne. His training and acquaintance was with French, English, and German, and military drill. When he became heir apparent on the death of his elder brother Nikolay in 1865, he began to study the principles of law and administration under the jurist and conservative philosopher K.P. Pobedonostsev. The tsesarevich Nikolay, on his deathbed, had expressed a wish that his fiancée, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, known as Maria Fyodorovna, should marry his successor. The marriage proved a happiest one. On March 13 (March 1, O.S.), 1881, Alexander II was assassinated, and the following day autocratic power passed to his son. Alexander III political ideal was a nation with one language, one religion, and one form of administration, he sought to strengthen and centralize the imperial administration.