Empire of Russia



Russia was officially declared an Empire by Peter the Great in 1721. Over a century later, Russia’s victory over Napoleon raised it to the level of being one of Europe’s leading powers. However, increasing social and political backwardness prepared the stage for revolution.

Pugachev's Rebellion
Napoleon is defeated at Borodino
Serfdom is abolished
Bloody Sunday




Palace Revolutions


In the 18th century, the period between the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, was known as the, “Era of Palace Revolutions.” During that, “… second time of troubles,” Russia was mostly ruled by women, and power was often seized by force.




Catherine the Great


The reign of Catherine II (Catherine the Great) is known to history as the, “Age of Enlightened Absolutism,” in Russia. A whole generation of people grew up enjoying freedom of speech, political stability, and great victories.




Alexander I


 Alexander I’s reign began as a period of hope for liberal reforms. It continued with the military triumph over Napoleon, and ended in disappointment as the first constitution project failed, and the Emperor favored autocratic governing thereafter.




Nicholas I


Under Nicholas I, Russia was turned into a bureaucratic police state where all aspects of life were regulated and punishments imposed. In the era of national revolutions, Russia was the, “… gendarme of Europe.”




Alexander II


The rule of Alexander II was an era of liberalism and long-awaited reforms. The Emperor abolished serfdom and introduced reforms that modernized the economy and enabled Russia to enter the Industrial Age.




Alexander III


Alexander III suspended all of his father, Alexander II’s, reforms. His reign was all about repression, censorship and Russification, but also about peace and stability. Most importantly, Alexander III’s reign was a time of great industrial development.




Nicholas II


The reign of the last Emperor, Nicholas II, was a chain of disasters and miscalculations that took the country closer to revolution, and to the end of autocratic monarchy in Russia.




Russia in World War I


World War I was the most extensive military conflict in history, and Russia paid the highest price of all combatant countries in terms of casualties. Of the twelve million men fighting, over two and a half million were lost. In addition, the war pushed Russia headlong into revolution.



Russian Revolution