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Why Emperor Alexander II was assassinated 7 times, and how the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood appeared
Why Emperor Alexander II was assassinated 7 times, and how the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood appeared

After the seventh attempt on the life of Alexander II, a beautiful cathedral appeared in St. Petersburg. The end of the emperor's life was, it seemed, a foregone conclusion long before the events of March 1, 1881, but every time a case intervened - until then happy for the failed victim. On that day, the incident helped set the death sentence on the sovereign - as well as several other victims, voluntary and involuntary.

Alexander II - the target of the regicides

That was almost the only way to influence the political power in the state - after all, there was no talk of any choice of his head. Dissatisfaction with the reign of Alexander II launched a whole series of attempts on his life, which ultimately ended in the death of the emperor.

K. Makovsky. Alexander II

Alexander Nikolaevich was crowned in 1856, at that time he was 38 years old. He will go down in history under the name "Liberator" - as the winner in the Russian-Turkish war, as a result of which the Balkan peoples gained freedom from the Ottoman Empire, and also as an emperor whose rule was the abolition of serfdom in Russia.

There were no surprises during the transfer of power from one ruler to another. Alexander, the eldest son of Nicholas I, had been prepared for this role long before his coronation. In 1837, Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich made a long journey across the Russian Empire, being the first of the Romanov family to visit Siberia. In Tobolsk, he met with some of the Decembrists and then petitioned his father for their pardon.

In the year of the coronation of Alexander II, his killer, Ignatius Grinevitsky, was born. The organizer of the assassination attempt, Sophia Perovskaya, was born three years earlier

After the era of Nicholas, many unsolved problems and tasks were transferred to his successor, it was no longer possible to postpone their resolution, reforms were required. Alexander II was engaged in peasant reform, financial, rural and judicial, educational reform. The situation in Poland demanded special attention - a liberation movement was developing there. The emperor paid great attention to the expansion of the country's territory in the south and east, during his reign the lands of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Transcaucasia, the Far East were annexed. Reforms were adopted in different ways. If under Nikolai Pavlovich there were no protests as such in Russian society, then with the beginning of the Aleksandrovskaya "thaw", the first groups, secret organizations, began to appear in the cities. At first, these circles, criticizing the policies of Alexander II, were engaged only in agitation, "going to the people", but from the end of 1870 they took a course towards revolutionary transformations and terror.

Ten years after the beginning of his reign, Alexander first faced the possibility of death at the hands of an assassin. But only in another fifteen years this business will be brought to an end.

The first attempts on the emperor

On April 4, 1866, Dmitry Karakozov, a nobleman, a member of the secret society "Organization", tried to shoot the emperor, while he was finishing his walk, leaving the gates of the Summer Garden. Karakozov stood in the crowd, he shot Alexander almost point-blank. But the assassination attempt failed, because the cap-cap, who was standing next to him, the nodding master Osip Komissarov, hit the shooter in the arm: the pistol fired into the air. The unsuccessful regicide was immediately captured.

Osip Komissarov

For his feat, the captain of Komissarov was immediately invited to the Winter Palace, awarded, elevated to the nobility.He lived a short life, some time after his exploit he drank himself to death and died. As for Karakozov, he was sentenced to death by hanging, the sentence was carried out on September 3 of the same year.

The next assassination attempt took place a year later - not in St. Petersburg, but in Paris, where the World Exhibition was taking place at that time. Alexander II went there on an official visit, which also included a meeting with the French Emperor Napoleon III. Both emperors that day were in the same carriage, returning from the hippodrome. Besides them, the crew included the sons of Alexander. This time, the Russian tsar was shot by Anton Berezovsky, one of the participants in the Polish liberation movement.

Anton Berezovsky

Approaching the carriage, he pulled the trigger, but this time the security officer managed to push the attacker's hand away, and the bullet hit the horse. Berezovsky was detained and sentenced to life imprisonment in New Caledonia. In 1906 he was amnestied.

The third attempt took place twelve years later, again in the spring. This time it was performed by a nobleman, teacher Alexander Soloviev. He was a member of the organization "Land and Freedom", was engaged in revolutionary propaganda, but during the assassination attempt on the emperor he acted independently, albeit in accordance with the goals of his society. He was waiting for Alexander II not far from the Winter Palace, while the emperor took a walk. Soloviev fired five times; the guards rushed to the shooter. Another one who attempted the life of the sovereign was sentenced to be hanged and executed.

Alexander Soloviev

People's Will and the Assassination of the Emperor

In the summer of 1879, the People's Will organization was created, which, by its decision, sentenced the emperor to death; all subsequent attempts on the life of the sovereign will be committed by its participants. It was assumed that the assassination of the king would launch revolutionary processes in society and lead to the necessary changes. By November, a terrorist attack was prepared, suggesting the explosion of the imperial train at the moment when Alexander would return from the Crimea.

For this, it was planned to lay mines in several places along the movement of the train. Not far from Moscow, at the Rogozhsko-Simonovaya Zastava, a tunnel was made leading to the railway tracks; there was a group of Sophia Perovskaya. Usually, the first train arrived with the retinue and with it - the luggage, the second train was with the emperor and his family. In the same case, due to a breakdown of a luggage train locomotive, the sequence of trains was changed, and the terrorists blew up the "suite" train.

After the explosion of the suite train

But even before the train explosion, preparations began for a new assassination attempt. Stepan Khalturin, a member of the Narodnaya Volya organization, in September 1879 got a job as a carpenter in the Winter Palace. Taking advantage of his position, in a few months he dragged dynamite into the basement of the palace - in an amount that was enough to blow up premises on several floors. In the room above the basement, filled with explosives, there was a guard, and even on the floor above - the imperial dining room.

It was assumed that it was there that Alexander would be present on the day the "sentence" was carried out - February 5, 1880, when the Prince of Hesse, the Empress's brother, was expected for dinner. And again the case - the prince's train was delayed, and at the time of the terrorist attack, the emperor was in another part of the palace. The explosion, however, thundered. As a result, 11 soldiers were killed. After the terrorist attack, an emergency body was created - the Supreme Administrative Commission for the maintenance of state order and public peace. The orders of the head of the Commission were subject to unconditional execution, they could only be canceled by the emperor.

Andrey Zhelyabov

The sixth assassination attempt was supposed to take place on the Stone Bridge during the passage of the imperial carriage on August 17, 1880, but everything fell through for a rather ridiculous reason: one of the conspirators, Makar Teterka, due to lack of hours, was late to the operation site and did not detonate an explosive device.

The seventh and final assassination attempt, which ended in the death of Alexander II, took place on March 1, 1881. The operation was being prepared for several months. A group led by Sophia Perovskaya watched all the movements of the emperor, who by that time, due to attempts on his life, was leaving less and less. We decided to act on Sunday: every week on this day, the emperor made a trip from the Winter Palace to the Mikhailovsky Manege to raise the guard.

Explosion on the embankment of the Catherine Canal

Members of the organization rented a cheese shop on Malaya Sadovaya - Alexander's carriage usually passed there. A gallery was dug out of the shop for storing dynamite.

Shortly before the assassination attempt, Andrei Zhelyabov, who was in charge of the preparations, was arrested; his common-law wife Sophia Perovskaya took over the management of the group. The emperor's crew had to be blown up either not far from the same cheese shop, or by throwing the bomb manually. The first option disappeared - the carriage changed its usual route. The first bomb, thrown into the carriage by the Narodnaya Volya member Nikolai Rysakov, destroyed the wall of the carriage; the emperor himself was not hurt. Alexander, not paying attention to the advice to leave this place as soon as possible, delayed to find out about the wounded and ask a question to Rysakov, who was detained by the guards. Then another terrorist, Ignatius Grinevitsky, threw a second bomb.

K. Makovsky. Portrait of Alexander II on his deathbed

On that day, not counting the emperor and Grinevitsky himself, three more people were mortally wounded, including a 14-year-old boy from a butcher's shop. Immediately after the terrorist attack, the core of Narodnaya Volya was destroyed, and those who took part in the terrorist attack were sentenced to death. And on the site where the last attempt on Alexander II took place, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was built. Funds for its construction were collected throughout Russia. Inside the cathedral, you can see a preserved fragment of the pavement and the fence of the embankment of the Catherine Canal.

Inside the Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood - a preserved fragment of the pavement

The era of the Romanovs' rule was coming to an end. Alexander II was not the last Russian emperor whose life was attempted: here's how the Japanese samurai almost left Russia without Tsarevich Nicholas.

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