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Russian History in the 19th Century


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At the beginning of the 19th century Russia was one of the most powerful countries in the world thanks to its army, resources and diplomacy. Despite these advantages it lacks government efficiency and economic advancement. Russia also expanded its territory in Asia by annexing Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the territory around the Caspian Sea and a small portion of China. This way the population became more variegated; it was now composed by Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Roman Catholic Lithuanians, Poles, Bielorussians and Ukrainians, some Muslims, Orthodox Greeks, Georgians and Armenians.
The area in green represents the Russian Empire in 1866.
The area in green represents the Russian Empire in 1866.

19th Century Russia. Legend at the bottom left corner.
19th Century Russia. Legend at the bottom left corner.

  • In 1812 Napoleon decided to invade Russia, but the Russians beat Napoleon's army. French troops were killed, some retreated. Alexander I, the Monarch of the Russian Empire at the time, is seen as a saviour of Europe.
  • At the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Alexander became the king of Poland.
  • After all this, Alexander I decides to introduce constitutional reforms, but none are actually attempted.


Alexander I
Alexander I

Napoleon and his army's walk of shame.
Napoleon and his army's walk of shame.


  • 1825 - Nicholas I is the new tzar. The Decemberists revolt, a revolution that planned to transform Nicholas into a constitutional monarch is easily crushed. Nicholas begins a modernization program.
  • In order to repress any further revolts, Nicholas implements censorship and surveillance. Any revolutionary is sent to Siberia do perform labour.


Nicholas I.
Nicholas I.




The Decemberists revolt. Painting by Vasily Timm.
The Decemberists revolt. Painting by Vasily Timm.



  • 1853 - Russia is involved in the Crimean War against the French Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia over the territories of the soon-to-crumble Ottoman Empire. Russia defeats Napoleon III's French Army. Russia considered as militarily invincible.
  • 1855 - Nicholas II dies. Alexander II is the new tzar.

Don't be fooled; it's Alexander II, even though he looks a lot like his dad, Nicholas I.
Don't be fooled; it's Alexander II, even though he looks a lot like his dad, Nicholas I.

  • 1856 - Russia loses its territory and navy in the Black Sea according to the Treaty of Paris.
  • Alexander II creates a humanitarian movement against serfdom.
  • 1858 - Russia takes Outer Manchuria from Chinese Empire.
  • 1859 - Vladivostok, a new naval base at the eastern end of the Russian coastline, is founded.
  • 1861 - Serfdom is liquidated thanks to its liberal Emancipation Reform implemented by Alexander II. The peasants now do not depend on feudal lords anymore.


A commemorative coin of the time celebrating the serfdom liquidation.
A commemorative coin of the time celebrating the serfdom liquidation.


  • 1867 - Russia sells Russian America (AKA Alaska) to the USA.


external image alaska375x200.jpg?w=375&h=200



  • 1875-77 - Balkan Crisis; Slavic nationalities rebel against the Ottoman rule.
  • 1877-8 - Russo-Turkish War. The Russian Army reaches Constantinople and wins the war.

  • March 1878 - Treat of San Stefano. The Ottoman Empire agrees with Russia to make Bulgaria independent and with a big empire.


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Ottomans and Russians signing papers regarding the future of Slavic countries.


  • July 1878 - Congress of Berlin. After a threat from the British Empire, Russia agrees to make Bulgaria smaller than what it was supposed to be.
  • 1881 - Alexander II is assassinated by a nihilist terrorist. Alexander III, his son, takes over.


Alexander II's assassination.
Alexander II's assassination.


  • Alexander III decides to oppress any Western influence in Russia.

Alexander III. Most amazing beard ever.
Alexander III. Most amazing beard ever.


  • 1894 - Alexander III dies after having allied with France against Germany.


A French newspaper celebrating the Franco-Russian Alliance.
A French newspaper celebrating the Franco-Russian Alliance.


SOURCEShttp://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h47-ru.htmhttp://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=mjv