Czar (also spelled as tsar) literally means an emperor or a male monarch. It was the imperial title of Russian rulers, who ruled Russia from 16th century until the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. It is derived from the Latin word Caesar that was the title of Roman emperors. Czar also means a person having great power. The Russian czars were the rulers of Russia, whose reign began with Ivan the Terrible and ended with Nicholas II. They ruled for nearly 350 years. Here is a brief history and timeline of the Russian czars.
History of Russian Czars
Ivan IV (popularly known as Ivan the Terrible) was the first Russian ruler to assume the title of Czar in 1547. He reigned from 1547-1584. He was an authoritarian and a ruthless ruler. Many people during Ivan’s reign were executed at slightest provocation. Ivan is infamous for killing his own son in a fit of rage. Ivan IV died in 1584, leaving his worthless son Feodor, as heir to the throne. The time of troubles began in Russia, after Ivan IVth’s death. The country was torn by civil war. There was unrest and the country was even struck by famines. Finally, in 1613, the chaos ended. Representatives of 50 cities and some peasants unanimously elected Mikhail Feodorovich Romanov as the new czar. From here began the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia till 1917.
Czar Peter, popularly known as Peter the Great, was the founder of modern Russia and he transformed it into a great European empire. During the reign of Catherine the Great, the Russian empire expanded and improved in administration. Czar Alexander II abolished serfdom in 1861. But, he was assassinated. His son Czar Alexander III, in order to avenge his father’s murder, imposed strict and ruthless laws. The last Czar Nicholas II’s failure to take action, even in extreme conditions, eventually led to his downfall.
Serfdom was prevalent in Russia during the reign of the Russian czars. Almost 80% of the Russian people were either peasants or serfs. The czars did not wish to end the feudal system. As they were afraid of losing power, capitalism was verboten. Most of the czars were autocratic rulers. They were also oppressive about religion and anti-semantic.
Timeline of Russian Czars
1613-1645: Czar Mikhail Feodorovich, founder of the Romanov dynasty
1645-1676: Czar Alexei Mikhailovich
1676-1682: Czar Feodor Alexeevich
1682-1696: Czar Ivan V (joint ruler with Peter I the Great)
1696-1725: Czar Peter I the Great, Emperor of All Russia (From 1721 onwards, the Russian czar was proclaimed Emperor of All Russia. Czar Peter I became the first Emperor of All Russia)
1725-1727: Catherine I, Empress of All Russia
1727-1730: Peter II, Emperor of All Russia
1730-1740: Anna Ivanovna, Empress of All Russia
1740-1741: Ivan VI, Emperor of All Russia
1741-1761: Elizabeth, Empress of All Russia
1761-1762: Peter III, Emperor of All Russia
1762-1796: Catherine II the Great, Empress of All Russia
1796-1801: Paul I, Emperor of All Russia
1801-1825: Alexander I, Emperor of All Russia
1825-1855: Nicholas I, Emperor of All Russia
1855-1881: Alexander II, Emperor of All Russia
1881-1894: Alexander III, Emperor of All Russia
1894-1917: Nicholas II, Emperor of All Russia
The Last Russian Czar
Nicholas II was the last czar of Russia. He was not an able ruler, due to inconsistency in his decisions and actions. He was under great influence of his wife Czarina Alexandra, and his corrupt ministers. A monk named Rasputin influenced the Czarina and manipulated most of the Czar’s decisions. Russia faced military as well as economic losses, during the First World War. There was rising discontent due to the Czar’s reluctance to undertake immediate action. The people were fed up of the autocratic and dictatorial rule. The event known as Bloody Sunday, shattered people’s belief in the Russian czars. The consequence of which was the Russian Revolution (Bolshevik Revolution), which took place in 1917. Czar Nicholas II abdicated, but he and his immediate family were imprisoned, and later killed by the Bolsheviks. Czarism and monarchy came to an end in Russia with the death of Nicholas II.
Although, the Russian czars were oppressive, the world was gifted with works of great Russian authors, painters and artists during their reign.