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Imperial Standard of the Tsesarevich.
Coat of Arms

Tsesarevich[1] (Russian: Цесаре́вич, IPA: [tsɨsɐˈrʲevʲɪtɕ]) was the title of the heir apparent or presumptive in the Russian Empire. It either preceded or replaced the given name and patronymic.


It is often confused with "tsarevich", which is a distinct word with a different meaning: Tsarevich was the title for any son of a tsar, including sons of non-Russian rulers accorded that title, e.g. Crimea, Siberia, Georgia.[2][3] Normally, there was only one tsesarevich at a time (an exception was Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, who was accorded the title until death, even though law gave it to his nephew), and the title was used exclusively in Russia.

The title came to be used invariably in tandem with the formal style "Successor" (Naslednik), as in "His Imperial Highness the Successor Tsesarevich and Grand Duke". The wife of the Tsesarevich was the Tsesarevna.[4]


In 1721 Peter the Great discontinued use of "tsar" as his main title, and adopted that of imperator (emperor), whereupon the title of tsarevich (and "tsarevna", retained for life by Ivan V's daughters) fell into desuetude.[2] The Emperor's daughters were henceforth referred to as "tsesarevna" (Peter had no living son by this time). In 1762, upon succeeding to the imperial throne, Peter III accorded his only son Paul Petrovich (by the future Catherine the Great) the novel title of tsesarevich, he being the first of nine Romanov heirs who would bear it.[2] However, at the time the title was conferred, Paul was recognized as Peter's legal son, but not as his legal heir. Nor would he be officially recognized as such by his mother after her usurpation of the throne.

More often he was referred to by his other title of "grand duke", which pre-dated tsesarevich, being a holdover from the Rurikid days before the grand dukes of Muscovy adopted the title of tsar. When Paul acceded to the throne in 1796, he immediately declared his son Aleksandr Pavlovich tsesarevich, and the title was confirmed by law in 1797 as the official title for the heir to the throne (incorporated into Article 145 of the Fundamental Laws).[2] Alexander I had no children: thus his brother Constantine Pavlovich became tsesarevich and, oddly, retained the title even after he renounced the throne in 1825 in favor of their younger brother, Nicholas I.[2]

Thenceforth, each Emperor's eldest son bore the title until 1894, when Nicholas II conferred it on his brother Grand Duke George Aleksandrovich, with the stipulation that his entitlement to it would terminate upon the birth of a son to Nicholas, who was then betrothed to Alix of Hesse. When George died in 1899, Nicholas did not confer the title upon his oldest surviving brother Michael Aleksandrovich, although Nicholas's only son would not be born for another five years. That son, Alexei Nikolaevich (1904–1918), became the Russian Empire's last tsesarevich.

Tsesarevich of Russia[edit]

Picture Name Heir of Birth Became Heir to the Throne Created Tsesarevich Ceased to be Tsesarevich Death Tsesarevna
Zar Pavel 1.gif Tsesarevich Paul Petrovich
later Paul I
Peter III 1 October 1754 5 January 1762 6 November 1796
became Emperor
23 March 1801 Princess Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
Catherine II Princess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
Jean-Louis Voille 004.jpg Tsesarevich Alexander Pavlovich
later Alexander I
Paul I 23 December 1777 17 November 1796 24 March 1801
became Emperor
1 December 1825 Princess Louise of Baden
Constantine Pavlovich by P.E.Rockstuhl (c.1809, Hermitage).jpg Tsesarevich Constantine Pavlovich Paul I of Russia 27 April 1779 24 March 1801 27 June 1831 Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Alexander II young.jpg Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich
later Alexander II
Nicholas I 29 April 1818 1 December 1825 2 March 1855
became Emperor
13 March 1881 Princess Marie of Hesse
Цесаревич Николай Александрович.jpg Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich Alexander II 20 September 1843 2 March 1855 24 April 1865
1865. Цесаревич Александр Александрович.jpg Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich
later Alexander III
10 March 1845 24 April 1865 13 March 1881
became Emperor
1 November 1894 Princess Dagmar of Denmark
Nicholas1868.jpg Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich
later Nicholas II
Alexander III 18 May 1868 13 March 1881 1 November 1894
became Emperor
17 July 1918
George Alexandrovich by S.Levitskiy (1889).jpg Tsesarevich George Alexandrovich Nicholas II 9 May 1871 1 November 1894 9 August 1899
Alexis.png Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich 12 August 1904 15 March 1917
Monarchy abolished
17 July 1918

Tsesarevna of Russia[edit]

The wife of an heir-tsesarevich bore the title Tsesarevna (Russian: Цесаревна) - Grand Duchess. In first years of Russian Empire the female heirs of Peter I of Russia bore this title - his daughters Elizabeth of Russia (born 1709), Anna Petrovna (1708–1728) and Natalia Petrovna (1718—1725). Not to be confused with Tsarevna (used only before 18th century) for all the tsar's daughters.

Many princesses from Western Europe, who converted to Orthodox Christianity and changed their given names accordingly, were given the patronymic Fyodorovna not because their fathers were named "Theodore" but as an allegory based on the name of Theotokos of St. Theodore, the patron icon of the Romanov family.[5]

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became Tsesarevna Ceased to be Tsesarevna Death Spouse
Natalia Alexeievna of Russia by A.Roslin (1776, Hermitage).jpg Natalia Alexeievna
born Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt
Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
25 June 1755 29 September 1773 15 April 1776 Tsesarevich Paul Petrovich
Alexander Roslin 015.jpg Maria Feodorovna
born Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg
25 October 1759 26 September 1776 6 November 1796
became Empress
5 November 1828
Elizaveta Alexeevna by Vigee-Lebrun (1802, priv.coll.).jpg Elizabeth Alexeievna
born Louise of Baden
Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden
24 January 1779 28 September 1793 17 November 1796
husband's accession
24 March 1801
became Empress
16 May 1826 Tsesarevich Alexander Pavlovich
Anna Fedorovna by E.Vigee-Lebrun.jpg Anna Feodorovna
born Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
23 September 1781 26 February 1796 24 March 1801
husband's accession
20 March 1820
marriage annulled
15 August 1860 Tsesarevich Constantine Pavlovich
Maria-Alexandrowna-Russland.jpg Maria Alexandrovna
born Marie of Hesse and by Rhine
Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse
8 August 1824 16 April 1841 2 March 1855
became Empress
8 June 1880 Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich
Dagmar colour.jpg Maria Feodorovna
born Dagmar of Denmark
Christian IX of Denmark
26 November 1847 9 November 1866 13 March 1881
became Empress
13 October 1928 Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovi


After claiming the Russian throne in exile in 1924 Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia designated his son, Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich of Russia, Tsesarevich.[2] Since 1997 the title has been attributed to Vladimir's grandson, George Mikhailovich Romanov, whose mother, Maria Vladimirovna, conferred it on him in her capacity as pretender to the thme="dimitry" /> Those who refer to him by a dynastic title, however, more usually address him as "grand duke".

Until the end of the empire most people in Russia and abroad, verbally and in writing continued to refer to the Sovereign as "tsar". Perhaps for that reason the title of tsesarevich was less frequently used to refer to the heir apparent than either "tsarevich" or "grand duke", particularly in less educated circles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes transliterated as Cesarevich or Caesarevich
  2. ^ a b c d e f Macedonsky, Dimitry (2005 06). "Hail, Son of Caesar! A Titular History of Romanov Scions". European Royal History Journal. Arturo E. Beeche. 8.3 (XLV): 19–27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Burke's Royal Families of the World II. Burke's Peerage Ltd. 1980. p. 65. ISBN 0-85011-029-7. 
  4. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cesarevich". Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  5. ^ "Елисавета Феодоровна". Православная энциклопедия. Retrieved 2010-03-23.