10 most famous Russian Tsars and Empresses (2023)

Image Source: Wikipedia

Tsars and emperors ruled Russia until the 20th Century; their tenures were marred by intrigue, controversy, development, modernization, rumors, executions, wars, battles, triumphs, romance, alliances, allegiances and so much more. Russia was ruled by men and women from different backgrounds and beliefs.

A tsar or czar was derived from the Latin word Caesar which meant emperor. A czar or tsar in medieval Europe held the same title as a Roman Emperor, though in some parts of western Europe, the title was equivalent to that of a king or queen.

Here is a list of 10 men and women who shaped Russia’s history over time.

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1. Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible is said to be one of the most terrible people to walk the earth. The guy once beat his son to death! He also razed the town of Kazan during the Siege of Kazan in 1552, the region, together with Tatarstan fell under his rule. He also abolished the aristocratic rule and established the autocratic rule which practiced for a long time in Russia.

He might have been a terrible human, but he did some good for his country Russia, by expanding its territories and improving trade relations with countries like England.

2. Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov, who ruled Russia between 1598 and 1605 was initially Ivan the Terrible bodyguard. He, however, took the throne after the death of Ivan’s son Feodor. The most amazing thing about Boris is the reforms he implemented in Russia during his 7-year rule. He allowed teachers to go into Russia and allowed Russians to go for education in other parts of Europe. He, however, couldn’t allow peasants to transfer allegiances from one master to the other.

3. Peter the Great

Peter the Great is accredited with attempting to Westernize Russia, which had always been thought of as the most backward country in Europe. He led from 1682 to 1725; he was crowned the tzar of Russia at the age of 10, her mother acting as regent since he was underage. During his reign, he urged his teams to shave their beards and dress in western clothes. At some point, he traveled incognito for 18 months all over Western Europe. He claimed the huge Ukrainian territory when he defeated the Swedish Army in the Battle of Poltava.

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4. Elizabeth of Russia

Image: Wikipedia

Even though her tenure was not the most peaceful, Elizabeth became the only Russian leader of her time to not execute anyone. Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter the Great and led Russia from 1741 to 1762. Elizabeth is considered one of the most popular Russian rulers; as she established the University of Moscow. She rose to power from obscurity, first because her mother was her father’s maid. She is also known for having invested heavily in several palaces. During her reign, Russia saw two of the biggest conflicts- the Seven Years’ War and the War of the Austrian Succession.

5. Catherine the Great

Image Source: Wikipedia

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Catherine the Great ruled Russia between 1762 and 1796; after Elizabeth the Great. But between her rule and Elizabeth’s, Catherine’s husband ruled for six months but was executed for his pro-Prussian Policies. Catherine the Great is known for continuing the modernization work of Peter the Great; trying in her power to improve the situation in Russia, though she also revoked the right of serfs, denying them the chance to petition at the imperial court. She annexed territories along the Black Sea, later sold the Alaskan territory to the USA, absorbed Crimea, Lithuania, Belarus and partitioned Poland. She reformed political systems, established libraries and academies and is credited as being the longest-serving female rulers in Russia. She was also rumored to have taken very many lovers in her life!

6. Alexander I

The tsar ruled Russia between 1801-1805 and might have been the unluckiest ruler in Russia since he took power when European politics were extremely complicated. During this time, there were military invasions, especially by the French dictator. At this point, Alexander was extremely indecisive in his allegiances, aligning with and going against the French powers. He came to mistrust people, often fearing poisoning and kidnapping. During his tenure, he removed all foreign teachers from Russia and adopted a more religious curriculum.

7. Nicholas I

Nicholas the I valued the military over all else in Russia. He led between 1825-1855. Even though he took great pride in the Russian military and invested in expensive wars, the military was unmasked during the Crimean war in 1853; as being backward and undisciplined. Thousands of Russian military men marched to the palace in revolt in what was named the Decembrist Revolt, demanding the abolition of the Russian monarchy and ascension of Nicholas into power, although that did not stop him from the seat. Even though he was a real autocrat, he disproved of serfdom, Nicholas the I did not bring major developments to Russia during his reign.

8. Alexander II

Alexander II
Image Source: Wikipedia

He led Russia between 1855 and 1881. He is known for selling Alaska to the USA and reforming the Russian Penal Code. He also revokes some privileges enjoyed by the nobles, he improved the state of education in Russia by investing in universities. He is also known as Alexander the Liberator because he freed the serfs in the country, though he annexed Poland during his reign! Alexander the 11 was assassinated in 1881 in St Petersburg.

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9. Nicholas II

Nicholas II
Image Source: Pixabay

Nicholas the II, who ruled in Russia between 1894 and 1917 was the last tsar of Russia. His excessive conservative policies were credited to his witnessing of his grandfather Alexander the II’s assassination at the age of 13. There were a lot of wars and disasters during his reign and in one of the revolutions, his government was overthrown by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky in 1917. During his reign, the Russian government went into ruins in military, political and economic spheres. In 1918, his whole family was assassinated in Yekaterinburg, after they were captured by the army under Lenin’s orders as they tried to leave for England where they planned to live in exile. His death brought about the end of the Tsar’s rule in Russia.

10. Michael of Russia

Michael of Russia was the first Tsar of Russia and ruled between 1613 and 1645, and was the founder of the Romanov Dynasty which ruled Russia until 1917. Michael was sworn into power at the age of 16; the young man then allowed his relatives to make major decisions for the country. They assisted greatly in bringing some stability to the country, by making peace with Poland and suppressing uprisings. His father at the time had been held captive in Poland as a monk and upon his return took charge as the head of the church and ruled Russia alongside Michael until his death in 1633. At this time, there was a change in increasing the influence of central administration, strengthening serfdom and trying to solve Russia’s financial problems. His relatives again helped Michael in ruling Russia after his father’s death.


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Who was the most popular Russian tsar? ›

1. Peter the Great (1682-1725): Reformer Among Russian Leaders. From 1682 to 1725, Peter the Great reigned the Tsardom of Russia. He is called the “Tsar Reformer,” who modernized Russia and grew it into a European power, making him a reformer among Russian leaders.

Who were the greatest queens of Russia? ›

Catherine II, called Catherine the Great, reigned over Russia for 34 years—longer than any other female in Russian history. As empress, Catherine westernized Russia. She led her country into full participation in the political and cultural life of Europe.

Who was the most evil tsar? ›

1. Ivan IV (reigned 1547-1584) The first tsar of Russia wasn't known as 'Ivan the Terrible' for nothing. Said to have an awful temper, even as a young boy, he would fly into horrible fits of rage.

How many female rulers has Russia had? ›

Upon examining the list of Russian rulers from the time of Kiev to the Russian Federation, one finds nine women who ruled the Russian state: Olga (tenth century), Elena Glinskaya (sixteenth century), Natalia Naryshkina and Sofia Alekseyevna (seventeenth century), and Catherine I, Anna, Anna Leopoldovna, Elizabeth, and ...

Who was the most successful tsar? ›

The 10 Most Important Russian Czars and Empresses
  • of 10. ...
  • of 10. Peter the Great (1682 to 1725) ...
  • of 10. Elizabeth of Russia (1741 to 1762) ...
  • of 10. Catherine the Great (1762 to 1796) ...
  • of 10. Alexander I (1801 to 1825) ...
  • of 10. Nicholas I (1825 to 1855) ...
  • of 10. Alexander II (1855 to 1881) ...
  • of 10. Nicholas II (1894 to 1917)
Aug 7, 2019

Who is the most famous Russian in history? ›

Vladimir Putin – President

Putin is with no doubt the most famous Russian. He has been the Russian president since 1999.

Who is the most powerful woman in history? ›

The most powerful women in history
  • Empress Dowager Cixi. Between 1861 and 1908, Empress Dowager Cixi dominated China's Qing dynasty. ...
  • Catherine the Great. The Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796, Catherine the Great wasn't technically Russian and wasn't even called Catherine to start with. ...
  • Zenobia. ...
  • Maria Theresa. ...
  • Nefertiti.

Who is the most famous Russian woman? ›

Famous women in Russian history include Anna of Russia, Elizabeth of Russia, Catherine the Great, and Yekaterina Vorontsova-Dashkova.

Who was the most powerful female monarch in history? ›

Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

Elizabeth I was one of most powerful English monarchs ever and arguably the most powerful woman in the world. She was known as the ͞Virgin Queen͟ because she never got married.

When was the last time a woman ruled Russia? ›

Catherine II (born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst; 2 May 1729 – 17 November 1796), most commonly known as Catherine the Great, was the reigning empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796. She came to power after overthrowing her husband, Peter III.

What is the average female height in Russia? ›

5 ft 5.1 in

What is a female Russian ruler called? ›

Tsarina or tsaritsa (also spelled csarina or csaricsa, tzarina or tzaritza, or czarina or czaricza; Bulgarian: царица, romanized: tsaritsa; Serbian: царица / carica; Russian: царица, romanized: tsaritsa) is the title of a female autocratic ruler (monarch) of Bulgaria, Serbia or Russia, or the title of a tsar's wife.

Who was the most brutal Russian ruler? ›

Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Russian: Иван Васильевич; 25 August 1530 – 28 March [O.S. 18 March] 1584), commonly known in English as Ivan the Terrible, was the grand prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547 and the first Tsar of all Russia from 1547 to 1584.

Who was the meanest czar in Russia? ›

Who was Ivan the Terrible. Ivan the Terrible was the first tsar of all Russia. During his reign, he acquired vast amounts of land through ruthless means, creating a centrally controlled government.

Which Tsar was killed by a bomb? ›

Czar Alexander II, the ruler of Russia since 1855, is killed in the streets of St. Petersburg by a bomb thrown by a member of the revolutionary “People's Will” group. The People's Will, organized in 1879, employed terrorism and assassination in their attempt to overthrow Russia's czarist autocracy.

Did any of the tsar family survive? ›

In 1918, Bolshevik officials executed the ex-Emperor and his family. Of the House of Romanov's 65 members, 47 survivors went into exile abroad.
House of Romanov.
House of Romanov Романовы
FounderMichael I
9 more rows

Who was the last tsar to be assassinated? ›

Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881 in a bomb attack carried out by members of the terrorist revolutionary organization Narodnaya Volya (“People's Will”).

Which is better czar or tsar? ›

The spelling czar is the most common one in the US, especially in figurative and informal senses. Scholarly literature prefers tsar.

Who was the greatest Russian warrior? ›

Suvorov is considered one of the greatest military commanders in Russian history and one of the great generals of the early modern period.
Alexander Suvorov.
Field Marshal Generalissimo The Count Suvorov
Years of service1746–1800
RankField Marshal and Generalissimo of the Russian Empire.
8 more rows

What was the biggest Russian ever? ›

In the late 1800s, Russia was the largest country in the world. Stretching from the Black Sea in Europe to the Bering Straits in the extreme east of Asia. It would take at least ten days to travel from one end to another by train.

Who is the most famous Romanov? ›

Famous Romanovs include Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander I, Nicholas I and Alexander II. But there are others, less well known, but equally extraordinary. Ivan V and Peter I, who ruled together. Anna Ivanovna, who built the famous ice palace in St Petersburg.

Why was tsar Nicholas not popular? ›

He made poor decisions that led to worsening relations with the government and increased hardship for civilians and soldiers alike. Nicholas refused to accept any reduction in the absolute power he held. He was detached from the plight of the Russian people and his policies also alienated ethnic minorities.

Who was the most autocratic Tsar of Russia? ›

Nicholas I, Russian in full Nikolay Pavlovich, (born July 6 [June 25, Old Style], 1796, Tsarskoye Selo [now Pushkin], near St. Petersburg, Russia—died February 18 [March 2, New Style], 1855, St. Petersburg), Russian emperor (1825–55), often considered the personification of classic autocracy.

How popular is Tsar Nicholas II? ›

That said, Russians generally see Nicholas II in a positive light (43%). This viewpoint was expressed most often by people aged 45 (45-46%). On the other hand, 22% tend to think of him negatively. Young people aged between 18 and 24 often said they disliked the last Russian emperor.

Who was the most beautiful Romanov princess? ›

Tatiana was the younger sister of Grand Duchess Olga and the elder sister of Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia, and Tsarevich Alexei. She was considered to be the most beautiful of all her sisters and the most aristocratic in appearance.

Who is the most beautiful Romanov? ›

But of the four grand duchesses born to Nicholas and Alexandra, Maria Romanov was widely considered to be the most beautiful, known for her light hair and “dark blue eyes so large that they were known in the family as 'Maria's saucers.

Who was the smartest Romanov? ›

Tatiana was also the most serious, thoughtful and perhaps the most intelligent of the Romanov children. When World War I erupted, she became a Red Cross nurse alongside her mother and older sister. It was a task she took very seriously. The third daughter, Maria, was born in June 1899.

Why didn't George V save the Romanovs? ›

To put it simply, political tension. The new provisional government of Russia feared that pro-Romanovs would rally and restore the dynasty.

Was the tsar related to Queen Victoria? ›

Answer and Explanation: Russia's Czar Nicholas II was related to England's Queen Victoria through his marriage to his wife Alexandra. Alexandra Feodorovna was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. One of Victoria's daughters, Alice, had married Prince Louis of Hesse, an area of modern day Germany.

Who betrayed the Romanov family? ›

Episode 6 of The Crown shows how King George V, the Queen's grandfather and the great-grandfather of King Charles III, ultimately decided not to rescue his cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, from the Bolsheviks, leading to the Tsar and his family ultimately being assassinated.

Who was the youngest tsar? ›

He was the youngest child and only son of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia.
Alexei Nikolaevich
Alexei in 1913
Born12 August 1904 [O.S 30 July] Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg Governorate, Russian Empire
8 more rows

Who was the first tsar of all of Russia? ›

Ivan the Terrible was the first tsar of all Russia. During his reign, he acquired vast amounts of land through ruthless means, creating a centrally controlled government.

Is Queen Elizabeth related to Tsar Nicholas II? ›

Queen Elizabeth II is related to the Romanovs through her paternal side; as mentioned, her grandfather King George V was Czar Nicholas II's cousin. Per The Express, Nicholas II's mother, Marie, was the sister of King Edward VII's wife, Queen Alexandra. And King Edward VII's mother was Queen Victoria.

Who was the last Russian royal family? ›

In the annals of royal history, few families are as famous as the Romanovs. The final royal family to rule over Russia, the Romanovs presided over a time of great upheaval, until their tragic deaths in 1918.

Did Tsar Nicholas marry his cousin? ›

In 1902, Nicholas married his second cousin Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. Elena was the only daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia (a son of Alexander II, Emperor of All Russia) and Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.


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