Grand Princes, Tsars, and Emperors

Kievan Rus

Riurik (late 800s)
Viking/Varangian, mythical ancestor of the Grand Princes of Kiev and Muscovy

Oleg (882-913)
Expands Kievan territory to the East

Igor (913-945)
Expands Kievan territory to the East

Olga (945-962)
Regularizes Kiev’s collection of tribute from conquered territories

Sviatoslav (962-972)
Conquers the Volga Basin for Kiev and unified the Eastern Slavs. Holds back invaders from the steppe, like the Pechenegs and Polovtsy.

Vladimir (980-1015)
Establishes the order of dynastic succession of Kievan princes. Converts the Rus to Orthodox Christianity.

Iaroslav the Wise (1019-1054)
Presides over Kiev’s “Golden Age.” Creates the Pravda Russkaya, Kiev’s first law code. Increases Kiev’s trade ties to the rest of Europe. His work is largely undone by fighting among his sons, between whom he divided his kingdom.

Yurii Dolgorukii (1149-1151, 1155-1157) *Moscow
Founds Moscow in 1147. Vies for the title of Grand Prince during an intense period of infighting. Briefly holds the title twice.

Vladimir Monomakh (1113-1125)
Last great Kievan Grand Prince. Reunifies Kiev for a brief resurgence.

Appanage Rus

Roman (1152-1205)
Unites Volynia and Galicia, but a generation later they are swallowed up by Poland.

Andrei Bogoliubsky (1157-1174) *Moscow
Grandson of Vladimir Monomakh, Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, Grand Prince of Rus.

Alexander Nevsky (1219-1263)
Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Rus. Defeats Teutonic Knights, strategically acquiesces to Mongol rule.

Daniil (1283-1303) *Moscow
Prince of Moscow, Grand Prince of Rus. Founder of the Danilovich line.

Iurii (1303-1325) *Moscow
Marries the Khan’s sister, claims the title of Grand Prince for the Muscovites.

Ivan I/Ivan Kalita [“Moneybags”] (1325-1340) *Moscow
Gains the right to collect tribute from all other principalities and bring it to the Khan.

Dmitrii Donskoi (1359-1389) *Moscow
Grandson of Ivan Kalita. Beats the Mongols at the Battle of Kulikovo on the Don River (1380).

Vasilii I (1389-1425) *Moscow
Refuses to pay tribute to the Mongols. They attack him and he backs down, but by giving gifts, not tribute.


Gediminas (1316-1341)
Unites the Lithuanians in order to combat the Teutonic Knights. Expands southeast into Kievan lands.

Algirdas (1345-1377)
Expands eastward into most of present day Ukraine and Belarus.

Vytautas (1392-1430)
Defeats the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Grünwald (1410). Expands southward.

Jagailo, a.k.a. Władysław II Jagiello (1377-1434)
Marries Polish Queen Jadwiga, unites Poland and Lithuania.


Ivan III/Ivan the Great (1462-1505)
Grandson of Vasilii I. Ends Mongol rule by winning the “battle” (stand off) at the Ugra River (1480). Conquers Novgorod and Tver. Steals the veche bell from Novgorod. Marries Sophia Paleologina, daughter of the last Byzantine emperor, starts using title “tsar.” Writes a new law code (Sudebnik) in 1497.

Vasilii III (1505-1533)
Expands Muscovy and establishes diplomatic relationships with major European monarchies.

Ivan IV/Ivan the Terrible (1547-1584)
Has himself crowned tsar, claims divine right. Reforms and standardizes the Muscovite state structure. Writes a new law code (Sudebnik) in 1550. Creates the strel’tsy, the elite standing-army palace guard. Conquers the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Sibir, making Muscovy into a multiethnic empire. Fights and loses the Livonian War (1558-1583). Establishes trade relations with England. Creates the Oprichnina (1565-1572), which is massively destructive but also fully subordinates the boyars to Ivan’s authority.

The Time of Troubles

Fedor (1484-1598)
Intellectually challenged, follows the lead of his brother in law, Boris Godunov. Stabilizes Muscovite economy and society, increases trade ties to England and the Hanseatic League. Dies without producing a male heir, which ends the Rurikid line.

Boris Godunov (1598-1605)
Elected by boyar council to succeed the childless Fedor. Presides over drought, famine, epidemics, and increasing rebellion among the Cossacks and peasants.

First False Dmitrii (1605-1606)
Claims to be Ivan the Terrible’s deceased youngest son. Leads an army of Cossacks and Polish mercenaries to reclaim “his” throne from Boris. Succeeds in claiming the throne after Boris Godunov dies unexpectedly.

Vasilii Shuisky (1606-1610)
Claims the throne after leading a coup against the First False Dmitrii. Withstands a rebellion led by the Cossack Ivan Bolotnikov. Defeats the Second False Dmitrii with the help of Sweden. Overthrown by a Moscow rebellion.

Prince Władysław of Poland (1610-1612ish)
Invades Muscovy at the head of the Polish army and claims the throne for himself. Not recognized by any Muscovite constituencies. Overthrown by a national army led by Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitrii Pozharskii.

The Romanovs

Mikhail (1613-1645)
Great-nephew of Ivan the Terrible’s first wife. Elected by a zemskii sobor after the national army defeats the Poles.

Alexei Romanov (1645-1676)
Son of Mikhail Romanov. Asserts strong state control over Russia and imposes high taxation. This leads to the eventual Cossack Rebellion. -Katie Ruffing

Fedor Romanov (1676-1682)
Abolishes mestnichestvo which allows him to appoint people as he wishes. -Katie Ruffing

Ivan Romanov(Senior Tsar) and Peter Romanov(Junior Tsar) (1682-1696)
The sons of Alexei Romanov. From 1682-1689 their half sister Sophia Romanov acted as regent until she attempt to assert herself as sole ruler of the state, and was sent to live in a convent. After that their mother, Natalia, acted as regent until her death in 1694. Peter continued to co-rule with his brother until Ivan’s death in 1696. -Katie Ruffing

Peter Romanov (1696-1725)
Greatly reformed Russia in attempts to modernize and westernize the state. Peter was greatly influenced by the west and explores that by creating the Grand Embassy which he leads abroad. Established the Table of Ranks which would allow people from lower classes to rise up. Reforms and encourages education throughout the state. Establishes the 12 colleges, which acted as traditional branches of government for the Russian state. -Katie Ruffing

Catherine 1 (1725-1727)

Peter 1 died in 1725 and did not leave an heir. His wife, Catherine, ascended to the throne with ease and was met with support by officials. Catherine created the Supreme Privy Council ( that worked to shift power from the Synod to a select group of advisers. – Paige Keith

Peter II (1727-1730)

Peter II was named heir by Catherine I after the succession of the throne was called into question. Peter II was 11 years old when he was crowned and died at age 15 of illness. -Paige Keith

Anna (1730-1740)

Anna was the daughter of Ivan V and was widowed. She was offered the throne by the Supreme Privy Council that was created by Catherine. Anna’s acceptance of the throne operated under the stipulations that she would operate as a figurehead and relinquish the actual power to the Supreme Privy Council. Anna changed her mind and abolished the council and gave the power back to the monarchs. Before her death, Anna named Ivan VI as her predecessor. – Paige Keith

Ivan VI (1740-1741) *Infant ruler* Anna Leopoldovna *regent*

Ivan VI rule of Russia was plagued by conflict. Since he was an infant at the time of his crowning, Ernst Biron was set to be a regent for him. However, Biron’s position as regent only lasted a month before he was overthrown by the vice-chancellor. The vice-chancellor was also overthrown about a month later. Eventually, Ivan VI’s mother-Anna stepped in as regent. Her reign was met with great opposition and a committee was organized to oppose her foreign policies. As a result, Ivan VI spent 20 years in prison. He was assassinated at age 23. – Paige Keith

Elizabeth Petrovna, Elizabeth I (1741-1762)

She was the daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I. Elizabeth I came into power after the coup she created to take down Ivan IV. She was loved and respected by the Russian people making it easy for the coup to happen. Most of her reforms were returns back to the Petrine Reforms. Under her rule, the arts and culture expanded, something that Peter the Great lacked. She also established the University of Moscow, and the education she was promoting was STEM. Under her reign the Seven Years War broke out. She died in 1762 and left the throne to her nephew Peter III. -Sarah Byrne

Peter III, (1762-1762)

Peter was Tsar for six months in 1762. Peter could hardly speak Russian and had a strong Prussian authority, which made him an unpopular leader. He was taken over by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II. Despite his bad reputation, he made some progressive reforms during his short reign. -Sarah Byrne

Catherine II, Catherine the Great (1762-1796)

Catherine came into power in a coup led against her husband Peter the III. During her reign she relies heavily on the nobility because they helped her come into power. Catherine cared a lot about her image and she portrayed herself as Minerva (Roman Goddess) and a Preobrazhensky Guard. She also led an army into battle. She is heavily influenced by Peter the Great, and establishes provincial schools to reach non serfs. She also established the Smolnyi Institute for Noble Girls. She continued to modernize Russia and expand it. She intended to name her grandson Alexander to the throne, but Paul (her son ) claimed it. -Sarah Byrne

Paul I, (1796-1801)

The ”son’ of Catherine and Peter III. He was the son of Catherine the Great. His first job was to basically destroy everything that his mother did. He was very bitter and emotionally unstable. He banned everything from Western Culture. He changed the law of succession to change it back to the original law that the next male heir would take the throne. Paul wanted to to strengthen the autocracy, instead of giving the power to the nobility like Catherine. By doing so he provoked the hostility of the nobles. Eventually a coup was staged and he was assassinated. His son Alexander took the throne after him. -Sarah Byrne

Alexander I (1801-1825)

Alexander I was the grandson of Catherine II. Alexander had a confusing childhood because his grandmother, Catherine, wanted to raise him in her image and influence him with free-thinking ideals while his father raised him in a strict ,military style. Alexander was well liked and attempted to create a set of reforms for Russia including the abolishment of torture, financial changes, and relaxed censorship. Alexander lost support when he advocated for abolishing serfdom. Alexander allegedly died of typhoid but his casket was found empty- leading people to believe he had faked his death to live as a monk. He was unmarried and left no heir. -Paige Keith

Nicholas I (1825-1855)

Nicholas was the brother of Alexander I. He was resistant to change and ruled with an iron fist. Nicholas was obsessed with the military and he largely used fear as the driving force for his rule. An example of his force can be seen when thousands of officers swarmed the square to protest Nicholas’ reign. Nicholas ordered a cannon to be fired into the crowd and had the rebels arrested. Nicholas was cruel and personally oversaw the punishment of the Decembrist rebels. Most notably, Nicholas created an organized set of laws for Russia. Nicholas died of pneumonia and was best known as the last true autocrat. -Paige Keith

Alexander II (1855-1881)

Alexander II was the son of Nicholas I. His most significant reforms were the Great Reforms, local zemtsvos, and emancipated the serfs (1861). Alexander boosted the economy via trade and railway construction. The emancipation was not completely successful and included stipulations that prohibited the true advancement of the peasants. The emancipation had issues because serfs were not made land owners, rather they were given the option to purchase land from the owners. This failure fueled The People’s Will revolutionary group. The group attempted to bomb the palace and killed 11 people. The following year, 1881, the group succeeded and assassinated Alexander II. Alexander married his mistress a month after his wife died. – Paige Keith

Alexander III (1881-1894)

Alexander was the son of Alexander II. Alexander III worked to undo all of the work that his father had done. Operating under the notion that the only way to rule Russia was through force and Orthodoxy, Alexander heightened censorship, increased capitalism, and advanced the military. Alexander was a true slavophile and worked to align Russia with it’s true eastern values. Alexander failed to continue to constitution that his father worked to create. Alexander died of kidney inflammation and left the throne to his son Nicholas. -Paige Keith

Nicholas II (1868-1918)

The final Tsar of Russia. Takes over from his father Alexander III and goes on to serve as Russia’s Tsar until the Bolshevik revolution that forces him to abdicate in the February Revolution. He and his entire family was later assassinated by the Bolsheviks to ensure the Romanovs could never again return to the Russian throne. – Tori McKeehan