The Romanovs Dynasty

Posted in People

The Romanovs, till the 16th century bearing the surname of the Zakharyins-Yurievs, was an old Russian boyar kin that in 1613 turned to be the tzar’s and in 1721 the emperor’s family. The ancestor of the Romanovs was Andrei Ivanovich Kobyla who lived in the second quarter of the 14th century. The Romanovs bearing German and Polish-Lithuanian roots supposedly appeared in Rus’ in the late 13th century. The surname comes from Roman who lived in the 16th century and whose daughter Anastasia became the wife of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible. Following the marriage of Ivan the Terrible to Anastasia Romanovna Zakharyina the family of the Zakharyins-Romanovs became close to the tzar’s court in the 16th century and after the cessation of the Moscow branch of the Rurik dynasty it started pretending to the crown. Ivan IV and Anastasia’s son Fyodor was the last tsar from the Rurik dynasty. Anastasia’s brother Nikita Romanovich (died in 1586) was Head of the Boyar Duma (parliament).

In 1613 Nikita’s grandson Mikhail Romanov (1613-1645) aged 16 was elected to rule the country, giving rise to the Romanovs dynasty that ruled the country for 304 years, till the Revolution of 1917.

The first three Romanovs stabilized the situation in the country but more time and action were required to liquidate the retardation of the Russian state from European countries in economical, industrial, trading, managing, educational, and military fields. With the 17th century a new period in Russian history started: small landed nobility substituted the boyars in power, but what was even more important - manufacturing began to play a significant role in production. However, the time of radical changes was still ahead, which became evident when the dynasty's strongest ruler, Peter the Great, came to power.

The Romanovs’ Reign Falls into Three Periods:

The first period – recovery after the Times of Troubles – encompasses the reign of tsars Mikhail (1613–1645), Alexei Mikhailovich (1645–1676) and Fyodor Alexeyevich (1676–1682). In this epoch Russia stood out as the leading Slavonic power that incorporated huge territories in the South and the West, including the left-bank Ukraine to Russian lands. Church and nobility subdued to the tsar’s power, whereas peasants were attached to the land and made property of the landowners.

The second period – reign of Peter I the Great (1682–1725), Catherine I (1725–1727), Peter II (1727–1730), Anna Ioannovna (1730–1740), Ivan VI (1740–1741), Elizabeth (1741–1761), Peter III (1761–1762) and Catherine the Great (1762–1796). During this period Russia turned into a prominent European Empire with powerful army and fleet and its dominion expanded on territories from the Baltic to the Black Seas. The dynasty of the actual Romanovs ceased with the death of Elizabeth giving way to the Holstein-Gottorp branch from Germany.

The last period fell on the reign of Pavel I (1796–1801), Alexander I (1801–1825), Nicholas I (1825–1855), Alexander II (1855–1881) and Alexander III (1881–1894). The victory in Napoleonic wars and expansion to Asia made Russia a world power. However, Russia’s internal development was still behind the Western countries, in spite of its fast economic growth and abolition of serfdom.

The Romanovs after 1917

In 1894 Nicholas II, the last Emperor from the Romanovs dynasty mounted the throne. The February revolution of 1917 uncrowned Nicholas, and later led to the execution of the tsar and his family by Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg on July 16, 1918.

By the beginning of 1917 the Romanovs dynasty numbered 32 male members, 13 of whom were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918-19. Those who managed to flee, settled down in the Western European countries (France mainly) and the USA. In the 1920-30s the majority of the dynasty representatives still hoped for regaining monarchy in Russia.