Alexander III of Russia
Alexander III (10 March 1845 – 1 November 1894) was Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland from 13 March 1881 until his death in 1894. He was highly reactionary and reversed some of the liberal reforms of his father, Alexander II. Under the influence of Konstantin Pobedonostsev (1827–1907), he opposed any reform that limited his autocratic rule. During his reign, Russia fought no major wars; he was therefore styled "The Peacemaker".
- In the midst of our great affliction the voice of God commands us to discharge courageously the affairs of government, trusting in God's providence, with faith in the strength and justice of the autocratic power, which we have been called to support and preserve for the people's good from all impairment and injury. Therefore let courage animate the troubled and terror-stricken hearts of our faithful subjects, of all lovers of the fatherland, devoted from generation to generation to the hereditary Imperial power. Under its shield and in unbroken alliance with it our land has more than once lived through great troubles and has grown in strength and glory. Consecrating ourselves to our high service, we call upon all our loyal subjects to serve us and the State in truth and justice to the rooting out of the horrible sedition that dishonours the land of Russia, the strengthening of faith and morality, the good education of the young, the extermination of injustice and plunder, and to the introduction of order and justice in the operation of those institutions presented to Russia by her benefactor, our beloved father.
- Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy (29 April [O.S.] 1881), quoted in The Times (12 May 1881), p. 5
Quotes about Alexander III
- [T]he Emperor of Russia, who has shown himself through his whole reign, not only to be a single, straightforward, honest man, but deeply devoted to the interests of peace.
- Lord Salisbury, speech at the Mansion House, London (8 August 1888), quoted in The Times (9 August 1888), p. 6
- He was a direct, honest, and unimaginative man who usually treated well the ministers whom he had himself chosen, backed them up when they needed it, and was liked and respected by those around him. He did his best to manage the increasingly complex business of government. ... His best was not good enough, but this did not become clear until after his death, for his reign of thirteen years was marked by peace and outward stability.
- Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801–1917 (1967), p. 460
- Alexander was more sympathetic than any of his predecessors to Russian nationalism and to Pan-Slavism. ... Wishing to strengthen Russia as a Great Power, Alexander III favoured industrial development, in this respect showing himself a man of the modern age. He was strongly opposed to representative or parliamentary institutions, but he liked to think of himself as closely bound to the simple Russian peasant masses who, he believed, had no more use for European legalistic inventions than he had. There was thus an element of populism in his conservatism. ... Alexander III...was a true Russian. He knew his people. He would not sacrifice the truly Russian principle of autocracy, or subordinate the interests of Russia to those of Poland or of any other people of the borderlands.
- Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801–1917 (1967), pp. 460-461