Emperor of All Russia

Emperor of All Russia
Император Всероссийский
Last to reign
Nicholas II

1 November 1894 — 15 March 1917
Style His/Her Imperial Majesty
First monarch Peter I
Last monarch Nicholas II
Formation 2 November 1721
Abolition 15 March 1917
Residence Winter Palace
Appointer Hereditary
Pretender(s) Disputed:
Maria Vladimirovna
Andrew Romanov
Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen

The Emperor or Empress of All Russia (Russian: (pre 1918 orthography) Императоръ Всероссійскій, Императрица Всероссійская, (modern orthography) Император Всероссийский, Императрица всероссийская, Imperator Vserossiyskiy, Imperatritsa Vserossiyskaya) was the absolute and later the constitutional monarch of the Russian Empire.

It was created in connection with the victory in the Great Northern War and appeared as the adaptation of the Tsar's title under the accepted system of titling in Europe. The suffix "of All Russia" was transformed from the previous version "(Tsar) of All Rus'".


Article 1 of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire stated that "the Emperor of All Russia is an autocratic and unrestricted monarch. To obey his supreme authority, not only out of fear but out of conscience as well, God himself commands".[1] The article points to the fact that Russia had an unrestricted monarchy.

The full title of the emperor in the 20th century (Art.37 of the Fundamental Laws) was:[2]

By the Grace of God, We, NN, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod; Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan, Tsar of Poland, Tsar of Siberia, Tsar of Chersonese Taurian, Tsar of Georgia; Lord of Pskov and Grand Prince of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, Finland; Prince of Estland, Livland, Courland, Semigalia, Samogitia, Belostok, Karelia, Tver, Yugorsky land, Perm, Vyatka, Bolgar and others; Lord and Grand Prince of Nizhny Nogorod, Chernigov, Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersk, Udorsky land, Obdorsk, Kondia, Vitebsk, Mstislav, and all of the northern countries Master; and Lord of Iberia, Kartli, and Kabardia lands and Armenian provinces; hereditary Sovereign and ruler of the Circassian and Mountainous Princes and of others; Lord of Turkestan; Heir of Norway; Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, and Oldenburg, and others, and others, and others.

Tsarist Autocracy

List of Russian Emperors

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Peter I
  • Пётр Вели́кий
    Peter the Great
9 June 1672 – 8 February 1725Tsar: 2 June 1682
Emperor: 2 November 1721
Tsar: 2 November 1721
Emperor: 8 February 1725
Son of Alexis I and Natalya Naryshkina
Younger brother of Sophia Alekseyevna, Feodor III and Ivan V
He ruled jointly with Ivan V
Regarded as one of the greatest Russian monarchs
Catherine I
  • Екатери́на I Алексе́евна
15 April 1684 – 17 May 17278 February 172517 May 1727Wife of Peter ISkowroński
Peter II
  • Пётр II Алексеевич
23 October 1715 – 30 January 173018 May 172730 January 1730Grandson of Peter I via the murdered Tsesarevich Alexei. Last of the direct male Romanov line.Romanov
  • Анна Иоанновна
7 February 1693 – 28 October 174013 February 173028 October 1740Daughter of Ivan VRomanov
Anna Leopoldovna (as regent)
  • А́нна Леопо́льдовна
18 December 1718 – 19 March 1746)28 October 17406 December 1741Regent for her son Ivan VI
Deposed by Empress Elizabeth and Imprisoned
Ivan VI
  • Иван VI
23 August 1740 – 16 July 176428 October 17406 December 1741Great-grandson of Ivan V
Deposed as a baby , imprisoned and later murdered
  • Елизаве́та
29 December 1709 – 5 January 17626 December 17415 January 1762Daughter of Peter I and Catherine I, usurped the throne.Romanov
Peter III
  • Пётр III Фëдорович
21 February 1728 – 17 July 17629 January 17629 July 1762Grandson of Peter I
Nephew of Elizabeth
Catherine II
  • Екатерина Алексеевна
    Catherine the Great
2 May 1729 – 17 November 17969 July 176217 November 1796Wife of Peter IIIAscania
Paul I
  • Па́вел I Петро́вич
1 October 1754 – 23 March 180117 November 179623 March 1801Son of Peter III and Catherine II
Alexander I
  • Александр Павлович
23 December 1777 – 1 December 182523 March 18011 December 1825Son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
First Romanov King of Poland and Grand Prince of Finland
Constantine Pavlovich
  • Константи́н Па́влович
27 April 1779 – 27 June 18311 December 182526 December 1825Son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
Younger brother of Alexander I
Uncrowned (abdicated the throne)
Nicholas I
  • Николай I Павлович
6 July 1796 – 2 March 18551 December 18252 March 1855Son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
Younger brother of Alexander I and Constantine Pavlovich
Alexander II
  • Алекса́ндр II Никола́евич
29 April 1818 – 13 March 18812 March 185513 March 1881Son of Nicholas I and Alexandra Feodrovna
Nephew of Alexander I
Alexander III
  • Алекса́ндр III
10 March 1845 – 1 November 189413 March 18811 November 1894Son of Alexander II and Maria AlexandrovnaHolstein-Gottorp-Romanov
Nicholas II
  • Николай II
18 May 1868 (N.S.) – 17 July 19181 November 189415 March 1917 N.S.
(2 March O.S.)
Son of Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna
Abdicated the throne during the February Revolution
Executed by Bolsheviks

Nicholas II abdicated in favour of his brother, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, but the next day, after a nominal reign of only 18 hours, "Emperor Michael II" declined power, ending dynastic rule in Russia forever.

See List of leaders of Russia for the continuation of leadership.


The title of the Emperor of All Russia was introduced to Peter the Great. After the victory at the Great Northern War and signing the Treaty of Nystad, in September 1721 Senate and Synod decided to award Peter with the title of the Emperor of All Russia with the following statement: "in the manner of the Roman Senate for the noble cause of emperors such titles publicly given them as a gift and into statues for the everlasting generations inscribed".

On this 20th day of October, after a consultation of the Senate together with the Holy Synod accepted the intention, to his majesty, in the testimony of a proper gratitude for his high grace and paternalism and effort which he for the welfare of state in all his glorious time of ruling and especially during the past Swedish War, deigned to manifest, and all-Russian state in such a strong and good fortune, and his people subjected to such fame over the whole world through his unique ruling led, as that to all quite known, by the name of all the Russian people to ask, so graciously to accept, following the example of others, from them title: the Father of the Fatherland, the Emperor of All Russia, Peter the Great ...

Laws of the Russian Empire at Large. Vol.VI. No.3840

On November 2, 1721 Peter I accepted the title. The Dutch Republic and Kingdom of Prussia immediately recognized the new title of the Russian Tsar, followed by the Kingdom of Sweden in 1723, the Ottoman Empire in 1739, the British Empire and the Austrian Empire in 1742, French Empire and the Spanish Empire in 1745, and finally the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1764. Since then the Russian State was referred to as the Russian Empire.

On February 16, 1722 Peter I issued the Decree of Succession by which he abolished the old custom of passing the throne to the direct descendants in the male line, but allowed the appointment of an heir through any decent person, at the will of the monarch.

Coronation ceremony

Coronations in the Russian Empire involved a highly developed religious ceremony in which the Emperor was crowned and invested with regalia, then anointed with chrism and formally blessed by the church to commence his reign. Although rulers of Muscovy had been crowned prior to the reign of Ivan III, their coronation rituals assumed overt Byzantine overtones as the result of the influence of Ivan's wife Sophia Paleologue, and the imperial ambitions of his grandson, Ivan IV.[3] The modern coronation, introducing "European-style" elements, replaced the previous "crowning" ceremony and was first used for Catherine I in 1724.[4][5] Since czarist Russia claimed to be the "Third Rome" and the replacement of Byzantium as the true Christian state,[6] the Russian rite was designed to link its rulers and prerogatives to those of the so-called "Second Rome" (Constantinople).[7]

While months or even years could pass between the initial accession of the sovereign and the performance of this ritual, church policy held that the monarch must be anointed and crowned according to the Orthodox rite to have a successful tenure.[8] As the church and state were essentially one in Imperial Russia, this service invested the Tsars with political legitimacy; however, this was not its only intent. It was equally perceived as conferring a genuine spiritual benefit that mystically wedded sovereign to subjects, bestowing divine authority upon the new ruler. As such, it was similar in purpose to other European coronation ceremonies from the medieval era.

Even when the imperial capital was located at St. Petersburg (1713–1728, 1732–1917), Russian coronations were always held in Moscow at the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin. The last coronation service in Russia was held on 26 May 1896 for Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, who would be the final Tsar and Tsaritsa of Russia. The Russian Imperial regalia survived the subsequent Russian Revolution and the Communist period, and are currently on exhibit in a museum at the Kremlin Armoury.

See also


  1. http://www.imperialhouse.ru/en/dynastyhistory/dinzak1/441.html
  2. http://www.imperialhouse.ru/en/dynastyhistory/dinzak1/446.html
  3. Muscovy, Sections "The Evolution of the Russian Aristocracy" and "Ivan IV". For crownings of earlier rulers of Muscovy, see Alfred Rambaugh Rambaud on the Rise of the Grand Princes of Moscow.
  4. Scenarios of Power. Princeton University Press.
  5. http://assumption-cathedral.kreml.ru/en-Us/history/view/tseremonii-i-obryady-v-uspenskom-sobore/
  6. Moscow the Third Rome. See also Moscow Becomes the Third Rome.
  7. Wortman, pg. 10. A political theory prevalent amongst many Orthodox Russians into the twentieth century postulated that there were three "Romes": the first (Rome) had allegedly apostatized from true Christianity after the Great Schism of 1054 between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy; the second (Constantinople) had equally apostatized by accepting Roman Catholicism at the Council of Florence and had subsequently fallen to the Turks; Moscow and "Holy Russia" were the third Rome, and (according to this doctrine) "a fourth there shall never be". A History of Russia, Chapter 1: Medieval Russia, Section "Ivan the Great".
  8. New York Times, May 31, 1896. Quoted in Wortman, Introduction. See also Blech, Annalise, The Russian Orthodox Church: History and Influence, University of Texas at Austin, 2008, pg. 9.
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