He was born in Saint Petersburg to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later Emperor Paul I, and Maria Feodorovna, daughter of the Duke of Württemberg. Alexander succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered, and ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first half of his ruling Alexander tried to introduce liberal reforms, while in the second half he turned to a much more arbitrary manner of conduct, which led to the abolishing of many early reforms. In foreign policy Alexander gained certain success, having won several campaigns. In particular under his rule Russia acquired Finland and part of Poland. The strange contradictions of his character make Alexander one of the most interesting Tsars. Adding to this, his death was shrouded in mystery, and location of his body remains unknown.
...that the Russian Empire was a natural successor to the Tsardom of Russia. Though the empire was only officially proclaimed by Tsar Peter I following the Treaty of Nystad (1721), some historians would argue that it was truly born when Peter acceded to the throne in early 1682?
...that Napoleon made a major misstep when, following a dispute with Tsar Alexander I, he launched an invasion of the tsar's realm in 1812. The campaign was a catastrophe. Although Napoleon's Grande Armée made its way to Moscow, the Russians' scorched-earth strategy prevented the invaders from living off the country?
...that the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 was the single most important event in 19th-century Russian history. It was the beginning of the end for the landed aristocracy's monopoly of power. Emancipation brought a supply of free labor to the cities, industry was stimulated, and the middle class grew in number and influence; however, instead of receiving their lands as a gift, the freed peasants had to pay a special tax for what amounted to their lifetime to the government, which in turn paid the landlords a generous price for the land that they had lost?
...that the failure of the Russian armed forces in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) was a major blow to the Tsarist regime and increased the potential for unrest. In January 1905, an incident known as "Bloody Sunday" occurred when Father Gapon led an enormous crowd to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to present a petition to the tsar. When the procession reached the palace, Russian Imperial Army opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds. The Russian masses were so aroused over the massacre that a general strike was declared demanding a democratic republic. This marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1905?