The Russian Czars and Poland
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska B.F.A., Clan Malcolm, P.G.S.A.

CZAR ALEXANDER I (reign: 1801-1825):

Alexander was twenty-three years old (b. 1788) when his father, Emperor Paul was assassinated. His grandparents were Peter II and Catherine the Great. Alexander died of cholera in November 19, 1825, at Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov.

The years 1801-1805 and 1807-1807 were what historians now call his "liberal periods. This time was followed by Russia's war with France.

Alexander left no sons or grandsons, to take his place after his death. Alexander's brother, Grand Duke Constantine had married a Polish aristocrat, NOT of royal blood in 1820, and thus renounced his rights to the throne, after divorcing his Russian wife, Countess Jeanne Grudzinska. Constantine lived in Warsaw, Poland.

Nicholas, his other brother would be the next ruler. Nicholas I crowned himself as King of Poland, on May 12, 1828. His Russian throne was taken on December 1825. Nicholas I was an army man. He was six-feet tall. Nicholas was born in 1796. He married a Prussian princess, Alexandra, who was the daughter of King Frederick William III. He ruled Prussia in succession with his brother-in-law, King Frederick William IV. Nicholas mistrusted the gentry. Count Kochubey served as Alexander's chairman.

ALEXANDER II (1855-1881):

Alexander II was the son of Nicholas I. He was best known for his emacipation of the serfs. At this time there were 30,000 noble in his realm. They owned over 96 million dessyatins, while 116 million dessyatins of land was left to Twenty million (20,000,000) peasants. Landlords received 340 rubles for land valued at 280 million rubles, in Northern Russian they received 340 million rubles for land worth 180 rubles. Polish and Ponized landlords of the western province, on the other hand, were given less money for the just price of their land. Alexander II was assassinated.


Alexander III was born in 1845.

NICHOLAS II (1894-1905):

Nicholas II was born in 1868, and was the son of Alexander III.

In 1890, the gentry was a distinctive group.



A man of common birth who entered the military service won hereditary nobility when he was commissioned as a second lietenant or ensign, lowest of the fourteen military ranks. If he chose a career in the civil bureaucracy, he gained nobility only if he rose to the eighth chin, that of collegiate assessor. Peter I's law remained in force with only slight modifications until 1917.

In 1845, Nicholas I made it more difficult to become a member of nobility. He said that hereditary nobility only could be granted with the eighth chin (staff officer rank) for the military and fifth for civil service. Peter made for adoption of both honorific and hereditary titles of nobility.

By the end of the seventeenth century there were 2,985 noble families in Russia (this included the Baltic and Polish provinces). Those of Baltic and Polish status and title were allowed to keep those standings, at this time.

The only hereditary Russian title in the Pre-Petrine era had been that of kniaz or "prince." This title was given to those who could claim descent from Rurik; Gedemin, Prince of Lithuania (1316-1341); or from Tartar or Georgian princes.

In 1707, Peter I honored his favorite, Alexander Menshikov, son of a stable hand, with the title "kniaz." Two years before that, Alexander Menshikov was given the title by the Holy Roman Emperors.

Catherine II's favorites: Potemkin, Orlov, and Zubov, were also named "princes" of the Holy Roman Empire.

Paul I and his son, Alexander I, and Nicholas I awarded titles to a number of people, so that by the end of the second half of the 19th century, sixteen (16) families had been elevated to the title of "prince." Peter also introduced the title of Count (Graf) in 1706. By the time Alexander II was Czar, 63 counts had been created. The title Baron was also given by Peter I.

Books of Nobility were kept until 1785, then they were given to the noble assemblies of each province.

Nobles in categories 1-3 were thought to be upstarts, since they were generally descendants of the burghers, priests, and peasants.

With the establishment of more nobles, can the establishment of a military academy for noble youths between the ages of 13-18. This academy was opened in 1971 in St. Petersburg.

By 1831, Nicholas I restructed the right to vote in provincial assemblies to nobles who owned a minimum of 100 male serfs, OR those who had 3,000 desiations of arable land. This figure reached by about 16 percent of the nobles.

In 1836, a decree lowered the property qualification for those who reached the grade of colonel in the army,or the fifth rank in civil hierachy. These men needed only five (5) serfs of 150 desiations to vote.

On the day of his cornation, Paul made efforts to curtail the power of the nobility and continued anti-dvorianstvo policies throughout his reign. He amended the Chapter of the Nobility to weaken the dvorianstvo control over local government; he restored corporal punishment for nobles; he imposed a tax on them, etc.

Paul was murdered by a small band of nobles. Alexander I restored privilages that his father has taken away.

The eighteenth century had men of lowly origins and bearers of great names both receiving imperial perks, which included land and serfs.

Then, between 1730 and 1758, the throne removed these privileges. People had to sell their property or it was confiscated by the state. Nobles were put in a constant state of flux as laws changed again and again.

The Dabrowski family of White Russia were affected, since this area included:

1. Smolensk
2. Vitebsk
3. Mogilev
4. Minsk


See the Royal Russian Charts for More Information About the Reigns of particular Czars, and their families.



Blume, Jerome. Lord and Peasant in Russia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century. Princeton, N/J.: Princeton University Press, 1961.
(This book received the Herbert Baxter Adams Priz of the Americab Historical Association in 1962)

Duffy, James P. and Vincent L. Ricci. Czars: Russia's Rulers For Over One Thousand Years. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1995.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. A History of Russia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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