The House of Romanov is the ruling house of the Russian Empire and its guberniyas. It attained this position when one of its members, Mikhail Fyodorovich, seized the throne of the autocratic Tsardom of Russia, and holds it to this day. For a short time it was the ruling house of Alyeska and Mexique, and currently, the second in line to the throne of Russia, Anastasia, is married to Harald, the Crown Prince of Scandinavia.
The Romanovs share their origin with two dozen other Russian noble families. Their earliest common ancestor is one Andrei Kobyla, attested as a boyar in the service of Semyon I of Moscow. Later generations assigned to Kobyla the most illustrious pedigrees. An 18th century genealogy book claimed that he was the son of the Prussian prince Glanda Kambila, who came to Russia in the second half of the 13th century, fleeing the invading Germans. Indeed, one of the leaders of the Old Prussian rebellion of 1260-1274 against the Teutonic order was named Glande.
His actual origin may have been less spectacular. Not only is Kobyla Russian for "mare", some of his relatives also had as nicknames the terms for horses and other domestic animals, thus suggesting descent from one of the royal equerries. One of Kobyla's sons, Fyodor, a boyar in the boyar Duma of Dmitri Donskoi, was nicknamed Koshka (cat). His descendants took the surname Koshkin, then changed it to Zakharin, which family later split into two branches: Zakharin-Yakovlev and Zakharin-Yuriev. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the former family became known as Yakovlev (Alexander Herzen being the most illustrious of them), whereas grandchildren of Roman Zakharin-Yuriev changed their name to Romanov.
Rise to power
The family fortunes soared when Roman's daughter, Anastasia Zakharyina, married Ivan IV in February 1547. When her husband assumed the title of tsar, she was crowned the very first Tsarina. Their marriage was an exceedingly happy one, but her untimely and mysterious death in 1560 changed Ivan's character for the worse. Suspecting the boyars of having poisoned his beloved, the tsar started a reign of terror against them. Among his children by Anastasia, the elder (Ivan) was murdered by the tsar in a quarrel; the younger Feodor, a pious and lethargic prince, inherited the throne upon his father's death.
Throughout Feodor's reign, the Russian government was contested between his brother-in-law, Boris Godunov, and his Romanov cousins. Upon the death of childless Feodor, the 700-year-old line of Moscow Ruriks came to an end. After a long struggle, the party of Boris Godunov prevailed over the Romanovs, and the former was elected new Tsar in 1599. Godunov's revenge on the Romanovs was supposed to be terrible; all the family and its relatives were to be deported to remote corners of the Russian North and Ural. The family's leader, Fyodor Nikitich Romanov, was to be exiled to the Antoniev Siysky Monastery and forced to take monastic vow. However before he could enact any of this he was poisoned by forces who had been loyal to Fyodor I. His son Fyodor was to take the throne but Fyodor Romanov's son Mikhail killed him before he could do so. After this he was offered the throne himself, and offer he readily accepted, crowning himself as Mikhail I of Russia.
Still there were remnants of Rurikists and Gudonovists. Feeling how insecure his throne was, Mikhail attempted to emphasize his ties with the last Rurik tsars and sought advice from the Assembly of the Land on every important issue. This strategy proved successful. The early Romanovs were generally loved by the population as in-laws of Ivan the Terrible and innocent martyrs of Godunov's wrath.
Succession crisis period
Mikhail was succeeded by his only son Alexei, who steered the country quietly through numerous troubles. Upon his death, there was a period of dynastic struggles between his children by his first wife Maria Ilyinichna Miloslavskaya (Fyodor III and Ivan V) and his son by his second wife Nataliya Kyrillovna Naryshkina, the future Peter the Great. Fyodor briefly succeeded his father until he died suddenly in 1682. Initially Peter was to take the throne, due to Ivan's reluctance to do so, but Ivan's sisters urged him to do so lest Peter take the throne and banish the elder children of Alexei from Russia, and so he negotiated with Peter, who was his favorite sibling in the family. The two agreed that they would become co-rulers. Most members of both families were pacified, but Ivan's eldest sister Sophia disliked the notion. She plotted to kill both her brothers, however Peter found out and Ivan had her jailed. Ivan would die in a few years, leaving Peter the sole Tsar of Russia. Historians say that this was for the best, as Peter would vastly reform Russia into somewhat of a constitutional monarchy, which would be reformed by his son and grandson, in a period that would be known as the "Russian Revolution."
The period of rule that began with Peter the Great is now called the Modern Reign of the Romanovs.
The first of these rulers was obviously Peter the Great. Upon his death in 1745, his son Alexei became Alexei II of Russia. His reign would be shorter than his father's lasting from 1745 to 1760. His son Peter became the Tsar, and led Russia successfully through the First World War, with France and Austria.
His grandson and successor Paul was very different from his grandfather. He had a distinct aversion to the Bourbons and Hapsburgs, more so the Bourbons, and was glad to hear that France was in the throes of revolution on his deathbed in 1786. He also led the Expansionist Wars against the Austrians, Prussians, and Ottomans, winning each. His son Alexander I shared his views and actively supported the initial rebellion, although the formation of the constitutional monarchy in France displeased him, so he then supported the second rebellion, led by Maximilien de Robespierre, who would establish the Directory. Again he was dissatisfied until 1795 when a prominent young general named Napoleon Bonaparte aimed to overthrow the Directory and establish the Consulate. The Consulate was by far the most successful government in France in the eyes of Alexander, and he was further pleased with the establishment of the French Empire, and was a supporter of it until his death in 1831.
Alexander died childless and unmarried. His successor was, therefore, his younger brother Constantine, who part of the group known as "Paul's Three," the three sons of Paul I who would be Tsar. At the time of Alexander's death Constantine found himself in Kroclaw busy cracking down on the October Revolt's rebels. By the time the time he returned to Petrograd it was April of 1831. Upon gaining this knowledge, Constantine declared that he was no longer Tsar, making his brother Nicholas the Tsar.
Nicholas I was by far the most different of these three sons of Paul was. Occasionally titled "Nicholas the Conqueror" by the people, he started massive campaigns against other nations, although never by his lonesome. With the aid of Denmark, the dying Sweden was destroyed by combined forces, with large swaths of territory going to Russia and the remainder to Denmark. Next he waged a massive war with China, acquiring massive parts of Manchuria and Mongolia, with the aid of the Mughal Empire to combat China in the south. Next he attacked Japan, although this war was fairly easy, since the Japanese Republic was falling. Russia managed to overthrow the Republic, and restored the Emperor to the throne (the Komei Restoration). On the eve of Nicholas' death, the Russian Empire reached its zenith, occupying over 20 million sq mi. He died with his son Alexander too young to rule, however, and his younger brother, Mikhail, became the Tsar Regent, although he was later established a Tsar proper and recognized as such when Michael, son of
, took the regnal name Mikhail III.
He would be succeeded by Nicholas' son Alexander, often regarded as Alexander the Great for his even newer reforms to Russia and for supporting the utter destruction of the Finnish fascist rebels in 1880. However, these same rebels would assassinate him the following year.
His son Nicholas briefly succeeded him as Nicholas II. In his short reign, he managed to establish the Romanov control in Mexique, thanks to the Civil War and subsequent Russian Intervention. However that was all he accomplished, dying ten months after the start of his reign.
Alexander, Nicholas' eldest younger brother, succeeded him to the throne. Alexander saw his other brother, Vladimir, being deposed from the throne of Mexique. He died in 1893, leaving his son Nicholas at the head of Russia with a war brewing in Europe and relations souring with Scandinavia and France, and at the brink of war with the Ottomans, who later refrained from the war.
Nicholas III's reign was struck by tragedy almost immediately. World War III started in 1894. Russia would emerge victorious, however, in 1897, with its allies. But in 1900 another disaster occurred when Alyeska declared independence from Russia. To raise funds to combat the Alyeskans, Greenland was sold to the Americans. However, Alyeska retained its independence until America's takeover of the nation in 1904.
Nicholas died in 1923 and was succeeded by his son Alexei III. He attempted to prevent World War V, but it was inevitable, and by 1932, the world was already at war, and his efforts failed, although he became known as Alexei the Peacemaker.
His son Constantine succeeded him as Konstantin II. A relentless leader, he refused to leave when German forces were storming Petrograd in 1943. He only left when the Russian defense was reduced to an extremely low number of men. He fled as far as he could to Sibirgrad. There he remained, openly denouncing the "pathetic excuses for Russians" serving the armies, and would rage frequently during visits to troops and forts. The people called him "the Bold" and other names such as the Ruthless, the Pain, and the Prick. However, he returned to Moscow and later Petrograd as the Germans were pushed back by this same army.
He died in 1983, leaving his son Mikhail lll to the throne, and the problem of the Cold War. He was an avid supporter of space exploration and went as far as collaborating with the Americans to go to Mars. But a more pressing problem was the African Missile Crisis. He (and the United States) both struggled with the French to ensure that African nations remained away from the French. Eventually the French were forced to back away from West Africa when the Russians threatened to invade.
Mikhail III has died recently, in 2000, and his 47 year old son Constantine , nicknamed "Kon" by the media, became the present Tsar.