History Files


European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe




The Russias

Areas of modern Russia had long been occupied by tribal peoples, starting even before the fourth millennium BC with the Indo-European Yamnaya steppe herders who were descended not only from the preceding Eastern European hunter-gatherers, but also from a population of 'Near Eastern' ancestry. The latter were the indigenous hunters mixed with a greater degree of farmers than in Western Europe.

Later tribal groups included the apparently Belgic Venedi people by the first and second centuries BC. In the first centuries AD, various Germanic tribes began migrating between the southern Baltic shore and the westernmost areas of southern Russia and Ukraine. These migrations included the Ostrogoths, who managed to construct a vast confederation in the fourth century AD before being smashed by the Huns.

The Viking era (especially in relation to Swedish Vikings) brought about radical changes to the lands lying to the east and south of the Baltic countries. A number of ancient towns such as Old Ladoga, Novgorod, Pskov, Polotsk, Kiev, and so on emerged on the shores of the great rivers of Russia. Big centres like these attracted Vikings, eastern Slavs, Finno-Ugric and Baltic people. The close of the ninth century witnessed the formation of the united Old Russian state, accompanied by the rise of Russians as the dominant force in this society. Trading centres such as Grodno, Volkovosk, and Novogorodok, were also founded by Russians on the former territories of the Lithuanians and the Yatvyags.

Grand Principality of Kiev
AD 862 - 1154

Swedish Viking interest and exploration into the Slavic lands to the east of the Baltic states had been building up for some time. Kiev was ruled by the Rurik dynasty, which had been founded by Rurik himself. Now a noble from the northern city of Novgorod, he was an ethnic Finn who had been born on the Roslagen seashore of Uppland, part of Kvenland and on the border with the north-easternmost edge of the territory inhabited by the Swedes. Swedish and Kven integration in the region had only recently begun by the time of Rurik's birth. Modern DNA studies have confirmed Rurik's ethnic origin.

The Eastern Polans tribe of West Slavs settled around Kiev and participated in the creation of the Rus. They are not to be confused with the Western Polans. The Rurik dynasty of Kiev was effectively succeeded in the Ukraine region by the principality of Halych-Volynia in 1199, which had its own, second, Rurik dynasty.

862 - 879

Rurik of Novgorod

First grand duke. Initially forbade Kiev principality.

879 - 912


Took Slavic Kiev and made it his capital.

912 - 945

Igor I

945 - 955

St Olga

955 - 972



Kiev is defeated by Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces.

973 - 980


Great-grandson of Rurik.


Vladimir I returns from exile in Scandinavia to try to claim the Kievan throne from his brother. Seeking an alliance with Ragnvald of Polotsk through marriage to his daughter, Rogneda, her refusal triggers an attack on Polotsk which results in the death of Ragnvald and his son. Rogneda is taken by force to be Vladimir's wife.

980 - 1015

Volodymyr / St Vladimir I the Great



Galicia is mentioned by Nestor, who describes the passage of Volodymyr as he enters into Poland and claims this region for his own.


References to Vnnd.r and N.nd.r. in 982 and 1094 respectively remark upon a Christian 'nation' of Rum that is located between the lands of the 'Madjgharî' and the MIRV (M.rdât). The Pechenegs lie to the east (around the north-west corner of the Black Sea coast), while above them and leading north-eastwards are the Kievan Rus and the Bulgars of the Volga respectively.

The Madjgharî are the Magyars, former Asiatic horsemen who now control the Dacian lands and early Hungary. Rum is Rome, although the people are not specifically being labelled as Romans - they are simply more civilised than their neighbours in terms of being settled farmers with an element of presumed sophistication. The MIRV are Moravians, living to the north, but seemingly not yet having fully migrated far enough to settle next to the more westerly Bohemians, although their territory has already been annexed to Bohemia. The Vnnd.r are tentatively linked to the Venedi.


Volodymyr converts to the Orthodox Christianity of the Byzantine empire, after choosing between all of the available options.


Volodymyr appoints his son Boris as his heir, apparently pushing aside his accepted heir, Yaroslav, who is governing the vassal state of Novgorod. Yaroslav refuses to pay tribute and only Volodymyr's death prevents a war. Yarolslav goes to war anyway to recover 'his' throne in Kiev, battling against his half-brother, Sviatopolk. Other brothers, Boris, Gleb and Svyatoslav, are brutally murdered.

1015 - 1019

Sviatopolk I



Yaroslav manages to secure Kiev, but Sviatopolk strikes back with support from his father-in-law, Bloeslaw I of Poland.

1019 - 1054

Yaroslav I the Wise

Half-brother. Grand prince of Novgorod & Kiev.


Yaroslav's victory over his half-brother is thanks in large part to his loyal Novgorod subjects. He rewards them with numerous freedoms and privileges, laying the foundations for the later Novgorod republic.


Prince Briacheslav of Polotsk attacks and sacks Novgorod, but on his way back he is cornered at the River Sudoma by Yaroslav's army. Defeated, Briacheslav flees, abandoning his booty from Novgorod, but Yaroslav pursues him and forces him to sign a treaty in 1021 granting him Usvyat and Vitebsk.

1030 - 1031

Yaroslav leads a campaign into the Estonian lands and conquers the south-eastern parish of Tartu. The following year, he also gains Galicia from Poland.

1054 - 1068


Deposed by the Kievan Uprising.


The Kiev empire splits into rival principalities, although Kiev still exerts a degree of control over them.


The south-eastern Estonian territory of Tartu is lost.

1065 - 1067

Intent on staking a claim to the Kievan throne despite his ineligibility, Prince Vseslav of Polotsk begins a campaign to secure Kievan territory. Unable to enter the capital, which is held by Yaroslav's three sons, he attacks Pskov and is repulsed. Between 1066-1067 he attacks and pillages Novgorod, burning the city. The Kievan prince who governs Novgorod, Mstislav, flees to his father in Kiev, and retribution is not long in coming. Kiev's princes join forces and march on Polotsk's south-eastern city of Minsk, sacking it and defeating Vseslav at the Battle of the River Nemiga on 3 March 1067. Subsequently imprisoned in Kiev, Vseslav is freed during an uprising against the ruling dynasty and is proclaimed grand prince of Kiev. Grand Prince Izhaslav flees to Poland and returns months later with an army. Vseslav flees back to Polotsk.

1068 - 1069

Vseslav Briacheslavich

Prince of Polotsk.

1069 - 1073?

Izhaslav I



After years of fighting against Prince Vseslav of Polotsk, Izhaslav finally secures the principality, giving it vassal status.

Kiev hoard
The Kiev hoard, which shows Byzantine influence alongside further development by Kiev's craftsmen, was found opposite St Michael's Monastery, dated to about 1075-1125

1073 - 1076


1078 - 1093


1093 - 1113

Sviatopolk II

Son of Izhaslav.


The final unification of the principality is achieved upon the death of Sviatopolk, when his troublesome cousin, Vladimir, is able to secure the throne and end years of on-off internecine conflict.

1113 - 1125

Vladimir II Monomachus

m Gytha, daughter of Harold II of England.


Vladimir is known as Monomachus or Monomakh, the progenitor of the Monomakhoviches group of Rus. The descendants of a junior prince from the branch of Oleg I of Chernigov are known as the Olgoviches. The name Vladimir consists of two parts, 'vlad' and 'mir'. While 'mir' can mean 'world' or 'peace', 'vlad' is more interesting. It is probably a Slav corruption of 'galat', a version of 'celt' which was preserved in Galicia.

1125 - 1132

Mstislav I

1132 - 1139


1133 - 1176/77

Kiev again conquers the Estonian country of Tartu and builds it up to become the largest Russian settlement in Ungenois territory.

1139 - 1146



Volodymyrko Volodarovych gains control of the principality of Halychyna, which eventually becomes one of the strongest Kievan states.


Igor II

1146 - 1149

Izhaslav II

1151 - 1154

Izhaslav II


The Old Russian unified state breaks up into numerous principalities which are constantly arguing and fighting amongst themselves.

1155 - 1157

Yuri I

1167 - 1169

Mstislav II


Mstislav II

1202 - 1205

Roman Mstislavich the Great

Son of Mstislav II.


Roman Mstislavich gains the principality of Halych-Volynia.

Grand Dukes of Vladimir
AD 1154 - 1328

1154 - 1157

Yuri (George) I Dolgoruki

1157 - 1175

Andrey Bogolyubski

1176 - 1212


1212 - 1218


1218 - 1238

Yuri II


After the defeat of Khwarazm, a large Mongol force under Subedei continues north into territory around the Caspian Sea and into the land of the Rus. Rus and Cuman forces assemble which greatly outnumber Subedei's men, but they are defeated at the River Khalka. Subedei extends his expedition farther to attack the Volga Bulgars before he returns to Mongolia in one of the greatest exploratory campaigns of the era.

1237 - 1240

Batu Khan of the Golden Horde begins the invasion and conquest of the lands of the Rus, with Subedei agreeing to accompany him. They cross the Volga and, having been refused in their demand that Yuri II submits, they take the city of Riazan after a five-day catapult assault. Then they take Kolumna and Moscow, and defeat the grand duke of Suzdal leading the most powerful force in the northern half of the Rus lands. During the invasion, Kiev is conquered by Danylo Romanovych of Halych-Volynia, creating another target for a Mongol attack.

Cumans, Kipchaks, and other nomadic groups flee the Rus lands to seek refuge in Hungary. As Batu Khan sees these people as his subjects, news of their departure is not welcomed and plans are laid to pursue them. Novgorod survives the tidal wave of conquest because the Mongols are unable to find a route through the marshes. Instead, they attack Kozelsk, which inflicts an unusual defeat on their vanguard before falling. Its entire population is slaughtered as an example. Kiev also falls after a brave defence, even though Prince Michael of Kiev flees beforehand. The city is largely destroyed.

1238 - 1246

Yaroslav II

Vassal of the Golden Horde.

1241 - 1242

The Golden Horde Mongols under Batu Khan and Subedei turn their attention westwards. They invade Halych-Volynia in revenge for its capture of Kiev, capturing the capital and destroying the cathedral in 1241. Them they invade Poland and Hungary. Both are conquered, with European defeats at Liegnitz and the River Sajo. Austria, Dalmatia, and Moravia also fall under Mongol domination, and the tide seems unstoppable. However, the death of Ogedei Khan causes the Mongols to withdraw, with Batu Khan intent on securing his conquests in the lands of the Rus.

1245 - 1480

The state is tributary to the Golden Horde.

1246 - 1253

Andrey II

Vassal of the Golden Horde. Fled and later pardoned.

1252 - 1253

Grand Prince Andrey allies himself with other princes of the western Rus in a move against the domination of the Golden Horde. Batu Khan sends out a punitive expedition which causes Andrey to flee first to Pskov and then to Sweden, and the population of Vladimir are punished for the crimes of their master. The Livonian Knights prevent the Mongols from advancing any farther north, while Alexander is installed as the new grand prince of Vladimir.

1253 - 1263

Aleksandr Nevksy

Vassal of the Golden Horde.

1263 - 1272

Taroslav of Tver

Vassal of the Golden Horde.


With both German crusaders and Lithuanians from the Baltics impinging on the territories of the various Rus principalities that are still vassals of the Golden Horde, Khan Mongke Temur sends troops to Novgorod to eject the Livonian Knights.

1272 - 1276


Vassal of the Golden Horde.

1274 - 1275

Smolensk is the last of the independent principalities of the Rus, but it now falls to Mongke Temur of the Golden Horde. The following year he defends his Rus vassals by dispatching a Mongol-Rus force to ward off the Lithuanians, an action requested by Duke Lev I of Halych-Volynia.

1276 - 1293

Demetrius / Dmitry Alexandrovich

Vassal of the Golden Horde.


Khan Tole Buga of the Golden Horde is not happy with the direct threat to his own power that is posed by Nogai Khan of the Nogai Horde. The loyalty of the Rus principalities is divided between the two of them and the unity of the Golden Horde is threatened. When Tole attempts to bring matters to a head, he is outmanoeuvred by his supposed subordinate and is arrested. Nogai has his replacement, Toqta, execute him.


Toqta Khan of the Golden Horde attempts to end the semi-independent rule of the Rus vassal princes by sending his brothers at the head of an army that devastates no less than fourteen towns. Toqta himself forces Grand Prince Demetrius to abdicate, which is an important victory in itself as he is an ally of Nogai Khan of the Nogai Horde. The Rus record the campaign as the 'harsh-time of Batu returns'.

1293 - 1304


1304 - 1317

Michael of Tver / Mikhail of Tver

Executed by the Golden Horde in 1318.


The princes of Moscow and its subsidiary states have been receiving the support of Ozbeg Khan, partially because the khan's sister, Konchaka, is married to Yuri Danilovich of Moscow. The princes of Moscow are opposed by the princes of Tver, their westward-leaning relatives, and it is the most senior of these, Mikhail of Tver, who defeats Yuri at a village named Bortenevo. Mikhail also manages to capture Yuri's wife, who subsequently dies in his keeping. Yuri announces to Ozbeg that Konchaka had been poisoned, so he and Mikhail are summoned to the Golden Horde's capital of Sarai for trial. Mikhail is found guilty and is beheaded the following year, while the yarlik (effectively a patent of office for the title of 'Grand Prince of Vladimir') is granted to to Moscow.

Prince Michael of Tver
The Mongols maintained their dominance of the Rus with bloodletting where necessary, burning and destroying towns that stood against them and executing Prince Michael

1318 - 1325

Yuri Danilovich of Moscow

Supported by the Golden Horde.

1318 - 1326

The sons of Mikhail, Dmitry (or Dmitri) and Alexander Mikhailovich, fight a series of battles against Yuri Danilovich of Moscow. By intriguing with the royal court of the Golden Horde, Dimitry manages to gain the yarlik for Vladimir in 1322. Yuri is killed by Dimitry in 1325, before he can clear his name and regain the yarlik. Ozbeg arrests Dimity for the murder and executes him in 1326.

1326 - 1328

Alexander Mikhailovich of Tver

Son of Mikhail of Tver.

1327 - 1328

Baskaki Shevkal, cousin to Ozbeg Khan, is killed in Tver, along with his Tartars and rebellion is ignited against the Golden Horde's overlordship. Grand Prince Alexander Mikhailovich is forced to flee, first to Novgorod which refuses him, and then to Pskov. Not only does Pskov welcome him - it makes him the ruling prince. The Golden Horde sends an expedition that consists of 50,000 Mongol-Tartars and Muscovites led by Ivan Danilovich, brother and successor of Yuri. The uprising in Tver is brutally suppressed, and Ozbeg appoints Ivan as grand duke of Vladimir in 1328.

Grand Dukes of Moscow State / Muscovy
AD 1328 - 1552

It was Ivan Danilovich's role in commanding the suppression of rebellion in Tver in 1327 that cemented his reputation with his overlord, Ozbeg Khan of the Golden Horde. Ivan led fifty thousand Mongol-Tartars and Muscovites against the rebellion, crushing it and restoring order to Tver. As a result he was appointed grand duke of Vladimir by Ozbeg, a promotion that marked the true beginning of Moscow's rise to glory. At first, though, Moscow was still a vassal of the Golden Horde.

1328 - 1341

Ivan I / Ivan Kalita / Ivan Danilovich

Brother of Yuri Danilovich.


Lithuania defeats the boyars of the Rus and occupies Kiev and its surrounding territory. The loss of this vassal state by the Golden Horde removes not only it from their control, but also cuts off Wallachia whose ruler, Basarab I, effectively becomes independent, although this has increasingly been the case for several years. However, despite this setback, Ozbeg is still able to threaten the Bulgars, Byzantium, and the Lithuanians themselves.

1341 - 1353

Simeon the Proud


1341 - 1377

Grand Duke Algirdas expands his Lithuanian territory further eastwards, bringing it into conflict with Moscow. Simeon has been granted extra powers by his overlord, Ozbeg Khan of the Golden Horde specifically to counter the Lithuanian threat. Simeon and his replacement, Ivan II, remain subordinated to the Golden Horde under Ozbeg's successor, Jani Beg.


Andrei Ivanovich Kobyla receives his one mention in history in this year. He is the progenitor of the later Romanov dynasty of czars and a good many other Russian noble families. Holding the rank of boyar (second only to the ruling prince himself), Kobyla is sent by Grand Duke Simeon to Tver with the purpose of meeting Simeon's bride, a daughter of Alexander I of Tver. Kobyla's pedigree and exact position at court are unknown, resulting in a good deal of speculation about his origins, many of which are applied far after his own time.

1353 - 1359

Ivan II

1357 - 1359

With the assassination of Jani Beg, the political cohesion of the Golden Horde begins to disintegrate. Berdi Beg is probably behind Jani Beg's death, and his reign as khan is not universally accepted. The khanate goes from being able to claim titular dominance over the three ulus (Blue Horde, White Horde, and Chaghatayids) and actual dominance over the Rus to internecine warfare and the possibility of complete dissolution.

1359 - 1389

Demetrius Donski

1378 - 1380

The Blue Horde is heavily defeated by the Muscovites under Demetrius Donski at the Battle of the River Vozha. Two years later the horde is defeated again by the Rus, at the Battle of Kulikovo. While putting together a retaliatory force the horde is defeated yet again, this time by the White Horde in a battle on the banks of the River Kalka. The once-powerful Blue Horde is fully reunited with the White Horde to form a greater Golden Horde.


Now resurgent under the leadership of Toqtamish Khan, the Golden Horde defeats the Muscovites, delaying their fight for independence.

1389 - 1425

Basil I


Moscow is subordinated by the all-powerful Lithuanian state under Great Prince Vytautas.

1425 - 1462

Basil II

1462 - 1505

Ivan III the Great


Novgorod falls to Ivan.


In alliance with the khans of the Crimea, Ivan III refuses tribute to the Great Horde. The latter, now allied to Lithuania, attempts an invasion of Moscow's territory but this fails. The independence of Moscow is confirmed.

Ivan III tears up the Mongol demand for tribute
Ivan III of Moscow tears up the Mongol demand for tribute in front of his own court and the Mongol messengers, ending once and for all Mongol dominance over the Rus


The Crimean khanate apparently seizes all of the Great Horde's horses, and encourages Moscow to deliver the death blow as a result. Both Moscow and the Ottomans dispatch forces which include Russian cavalry, Tartars, and Janissaries. This causes part of the horde to secede in November 1491, while the remainder is routed by its enemies.


Ivan signs a peace agreement with Stanislovas Janavicius of Samogitia, and marries his daughter, Helen to the Lithuanian elder.

1500 - 1503

Attempting to expand its borders westwards, Moscow begins to attack the grand duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia, and Samogitia from 1500 as it lays claim to the Russian lands within the grand duchy. However, Moscow's efforts are resisted. Also, between 1501-1503, Moscow goes to war against Livonia and the Livonian Knights. Livonians, uniting their forces under the leadership of the Knights, defeat Moscow's army near Lake Smolensk in 1502, and a truce is concluded the following year which lasts until 1558.

1505 - 1533

Basil III

1513 - 1514

Grand Duke Sigismund of Lithuania takes Smolensk and smashes the Moscow army near Orsha the following year.

1533 - 1547

Ivan IV Grozny

Aggressively expanded territory to form the Czarate.


A peace treaty is concluded between Lithuania and Moscow in order to end nearly four decades of warfare between the two countries. However, Lithuanian relations with Moscow remain the most important concern as the Rus state begins to evolve into Russia.

Czarate of all the Russias
AD 1547 - 1613

The Russias were all the lands of the Rus, all those Rus principalities and states which had existed from the ninth century onwards. Ivan the Terrible spent a great deal of his reign fighting the Livonian Wars in an effort to conquer Old Livonia and North Estonia and expand his new empire westwards, but the forces of Sweden, Lithuania, and Poland were able to keep him out, and he died a year after the conclusion of the wars.

Ivan IV was a descendant of Theodora (or Theothiure), daughter of Sartaq, khan of the Golden Horde. Theodora married Gleb Vasilkovich, the first Prince Belozersky of Beloozero and Rostov. He himself was a grandson of Konstantin of Rostov, and the first cousin once removed of Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky of Vladimir.

(Additional information from The Formation of Muscovy 1304-1613, Robert O Crummey, from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), and from the Encyclopaedia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Enlarged and Improved, Volume 3.)

1547 - 1584

Ivan IV Grozny the Terrible

First czar of all the Russias.

1547 - 1558

Ivan the Terrible involves the bishop of Dorpat in Livonia in a dispute which becomes the main pretext of the Livonian Wars. Ivan demands that the bishopric pay a huge tribute of 40,000 talers, insisting that city of Dorpat is the ancient Russian fortress of Yuryev, referring to the short term Ruthenian rule of the area after its conquest by Prince Yaroslav I the Wise of Kiev between about 1030-1061. Bishop Hermann tries to negotiate a smaller tribute in the interests of extending the truce, but Ivan dismisses the diplomats and assembles his army.

1552 - 1554

Ivan conquers the khanates of Kazan in 1552, and Astrakhan in 1554.

Kazan khanate and Ivan IV
The short-lived Kazan khanate was conquered by the resurgent Rus under the leadership of Ivan IV just over a century after Ulugh Muhammad had founded it

1558 - 1560

In the very first stage of the Livonian Wars in 1558, the city of Dorpat is conquered by Russian troops and the bishopric ceases to exist. The Russians also claim a success when they completely destroy the army of the Livonian Knights at the Battle of Ergeme in 1560, forcing the Order to dissolve itself the following year and submit to Lithuania.


The fight for the Baltic States is not yet over. In this decade, the Russian army launches a new offensive, and reaches Riga and Tallinn under the command of Ivan the Terrible. He does not manage to capture either town.


The reign of John III of Sweden sees Finland raised to a grand duchy, with the king himself holding the title and governors being appointed to handle the day-to-day running of the country. This is part of the king's policy of opposing the various grand duchies claimed by Ivan IV. Ingria, Karelia, and Livonia are similarly raised, creating a line of grand duchies along the border with Russia. In the same year, 1581, the Estonian county of Läänemaa is conquered by Sweden, giving it control of all of North Estonia.


The khanate of Siberia is conquered.

1582 - 1583

An armistice agreement is concluded between Ivan and the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom, proclaiming Livonia a possession of the latter. In 1583, Russia concludes a similar agreement with Sweden, acknowledging its supreme power in North Estonia, ending the Livonian Wars.

1584 - 1598

Fedör / Theodore I

Second son. Last of the Rurikids.


The Teusina Treaty agrees peaceful terms between Sweden and Russia. Kvenland ('Kaianske landet') is mentioned for the first time in an official government document as a territory that is governed by Sweden, although in reality this claim is not entirely merited.

1598 - 1605

Boris Godunov

Relation by the marriage of Ivan IV.


Fedör / Feodor / Theodore II

1605 - 1606

Dimitri I the Imposter / 'False Dimitry I'


1606 - 1610

Basil IV Shuisky / Vasili VI

Deposed by the Seven Boyars.

1607 - 1610

Dimitri / Demetrius II

1605 - 1618

The Polish-Muscovite War is triggered (also known as the Polish-Russian War or, in Poland-Lithuania, the Dimitriads). It forms an eastwards extension of the ongoing struggle of wills with Sweden, as both sides make the most of the dynastic problems of the Russian czarate that are known internally as 'The Times of Troubles'. The fighting is not continuous, and the sides switch constantly as objectives and opportunities evolve.

The Russians themselves spend a good deal of the conflict fighting one another, both with and without Swedish or Polish allies, and the aristocracy of the Polish commonwealth also lead their own private or mercenary armies against targets of their choosing as they attempt to expand into czarate territory. The war is not formally declared by Poland until 1609, with Sweden's formal involvement taking place as part of the Ingrian War (1610-1617).

1610 - 1612

Wladyislaw / Ladislaus

Future king of Poland (1632-1648), elected czar but never ruled.

1610 - 1613

With Sweden seemingly allied more closely to Russia, Sigismund III of Poland-Lithuania is invited to 'capture' Moscow and Smolensk in 1610 by the Seven Boyars (seven nobles who had only just deposed Czar Vasili VI). His son, Wladyislaw, is elected czar of the Russias by the Seven Boyars but he does not take up his position due to opposition by Sigismund. The rule of the Rurikids has already been brought to an end, although Sigismund himself is soon forced out by popular resistance in Moscow. There follows an interregnum in the Russian czarate and a period of renewed civil war whilst the wider conflict rumbles on until 1618, when an armistice is agreed in the village of Deulino.

Romanov Czars of the Russias
AD 1613 - 1917

Descendants of Rurik of Novgorod had ruled the Rus since the late ninth century (albeit arguably, since some of the early leaders may not have been related to Rurik). Their rule was ended in the early seventeenth century by a period of civil war and interregnum following the murder of Czar Dimitri I and his successor being deposed by the Seven Boyars (nobles). The same nobles invited Sigismund III of Poland-Lithuania into Moscow in 1610 and subsequently elected his son, Wladyislaw, as czar. Wladyislaw was unable to take up the position due to his father's opposition, and the czarate continued to fight itself for three years without any czar at all. This was known by later generations of Russians as the 'Times of Troubles'. Russia also remained at war with Poland until 1618.

The Romanovs formed Russia's second dynasty. Michael Romanov was descended from the largely mysterious Boyar Andrei Ivanovich Kobyla who received his only mention in history in 1347. During the reign of Ivan IV the Terrible (1547-1584), Koblya's descendants via his son, Feodor, became known as the Yakovlev family. However, the grandchildren of one of them, Roman Yurievich Zakharyin-Yuriev, assumed a form of clan name by adopting his first name as the Romanovs (essentially meaning the clan or descendants of Roman). His daughter had been the wife of Ivan IV, bringing the family great wealth and power despite later problems during the reign of Boris Godunov. Following the expulsion of the Poles in 1612, the crown was offered to several Rurik and Gedimin princes whilst a number of pretenders also sought to claim the throne. In the end the son of the highly respected Filaret Romanov was asked - the sixteen year-old Mikhail Romanov (nephew of Czar Fedör I). Once he had been persuaded to accept by his mother, Kseniya Ivanovna Shestova, he pursued a policy of emphasising family ties with the Ruriks through marriage to Ivan IV. He also made sure that he asked the advice of the 'Assembly of the Land' on important issues, thereby ensuring that the populace loved him and the nobility respected him.

(Additional information from Indian Frontier Policy, John Ayde (2010), from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, from the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopaedic Dictionary (1906), from the Almanach de Gotha (2012), from The Formation of Muscovy 1304-1613, Robert O Crummey, from History of the World: Volume 7, Arthur Mee, J A Hammerton, & Arthur D Innes (1907), and from External Links: Imperial House (with care), and The Napoleon Series.)

1613 - 1645

Mikhail / Michael I Romanov

Son of Filaret Romanov. Aged 16 at accession.

1617 - 1618

The wars against Sweden and Poland-Lithuania are quickly ended by Michael I with the signing of the Peace of Stolbovo (17 February 1617) and the Truce of Deulino (1 December 1618) respectively. The latter achievement allows the return of Michael's father from exile. Filaret Romanov largely assumes the duties of the czar's office without taking on the trappings of power. Michael's position is largely ceremonial until his father's death in 1633.

Michael Romanov
Michael Romanov was the first Russian czar of the House of Romanov, but it would be his successors who turned the czarate of the Russias into an empire


1618 - 1633

Filaret Romanov

Father and de facto ruler during his remaining lifetime.

1645 - 1676

Aleksei / Alexis

Son of Michael. A competent ruler in troubled times.

1651 - 1653

The Russo-Persian War sees Safavid troops and their allies in Dagestan attacking Russian fortifications along the Sunzha. The Dagestani units are led by Khan of Derbent, the governor of the region, who is possibly also the instigator of the violence. The intention is to strengthen the Persian position in the North Caucasus. Alexis sends an embassy to Persia to conclude a peaceful settlement of the conflict, which succeeds in August 1653.


FeatureThe reforms of Aleksei and Patriarch Nikon to Russian Orthodox ritual and worshipping causes a section of the Church's congregation to secede during the Great Schism. Many 'Old Believers' who refuse to follow the new practises migrate westwards, to the shores of Lake Peipsi in Estonia to form small fishing communities which continue to trade at St Petersburg. Others are killed in their thousands, or commit suicide by setting themselves alight rather than obey the czar's reforms.

1654 - 1655

Poland-Lithuania is dragged into the Russo-Polish War over the control of Ukraine, in the Polish Commonwealth's far eastern territories. Russian troops seize the most important centres of the Lithuanian grand duchy - Smolensk, Vitebsk, Mogilev, and Minsk - and for the first time in Lithuanian history Vilnius is occupied, followed shortly afterwards by Kaunas and Grodno. The commonwealth's king is exiled between September and November in 1655.

1669 - 1671

Under pressure for years by heavy taxes and unsettled political conditions, the Don Cossacks in southern Russia now rebel. Led by Stenka Razin, a disaffected Don Cossack, they capture the Russian city of Astrakhan on the northern shore of the Caspian sea. Then they expand their operations to seize several towns along the River Volga. Stenka Razin becomes involved in the siege of Simbirsk in October 1670. This fails, and Razin is eventually captured on the Don in April 1671. His punishment is to be drawn and quartered in Moscow.

1676 - 1682

Fedör / Feodor / Theodore III

Son. Acceded aged 15. Died without any surviving offspring.

1682 - 1689

The death of Fedör sparks the Streltsy or Moscow Uprising of 1682. Behind it are the two wives of the late Czar Aleksei, who are striving for domination. The uprising of the Moscow Streltsy regiments provides Sofia Alexeyevna, daughter of Maria Miloslavskaya, with supreme power as regent of Russia. Ivan and Peter, both still minors, accede to the throne (with a two-seater throne made especially for them), but Sofia is in charge. She rules with an iron fist and a heavy hand.

1682 - 1696

Ivan V

Brother. Czar in name only due to severe disabilities.

1682 - 1725

Peter I the Great

Half-brother and co-czar during Ivan's lifetime.

1682 - 1689

Sofia Alexeyevna

Sister of Ivan V and regent. Deposed.

1688 - 1689

Peter reaches the age of sixteen in 1688, and begins to impose his will on events. Power in the royal court gradually shifts from Sofia to him as he makes his own appointments. In 1689 Sofia considers pronouncing herself czarina but her broad support has already waned. Then she offers a joint throne to Peter, who refuses. Instead she is arrested and sent in virtual exile to Novodevichy Convent (Ivan V survives as the now-junior co-czar until his death in 1696, after which Peter is sole czar).


Russia adopts the already-outdated Julian calender on the orders of the czar while western Europe is in the process of switching to the Gregorian calender. The Russian year of 7207 - as calculated from the purported beginning of the world ('Anno Mundi', meaning 'from the world's creation') - is replaced by the year 1700 and the date upon which the new year is celebrated is switched from 1 September to 1 January..

1709 - 1710

Czar Peter defeats and effectively destroys the Swedish empire at the Battle of Poltava, in Ukraine in 1709, during the Great Northern War. The Swedish army is forced to surrender at Perevolochna. The following year, the growing Russian empire gains control of Finland, Estonia and Livonia.

Capture of Malmo 1709
The capture of the town of Malmo in 1709 by Count Magnus Stenbock, probably one of the last Swedish victories as Russia and her allies defeated the Swedes later the same year

1717 - 1718

The discovery of gold along the banks of the Amu Darya has prompted a good deal of interest in the khanate of Khiva by various great powers. Peter the Great sends a 'trade' expedition under the command of Prince Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky which comes complete with a considerable number of armed men. It fails to secure Russian ambitions in the region, however, because Shir Ghazi slaughters all but ten of the men. After his Swedish and Ottoman conflicts, Peter is unable to raise any funds to mount a retaliatory strike.


The Great Northern War is ended with the Treaty of Nystad by which time Russia has already gained much influence in the duchy of Courland with the marriage of Princess Anna Ivanova (later empress in 1730) to the ruling duke. That duchy, plus Ingria, Estonia, and Livonia, are confirmed as Russian possessions. Peter is subsequently proclaimed 'Emperor of All Russia', although only Poland-Lithuania, Prussia, and Sweden recognise this claim.

1722 - 1723

Sensing the weakness of the Safavid empire, Peter launches the Russo-Persian War of 1722-1723. Otherwise known as the 'Persian Expedition of Peter the Great', the war is designed to increase Russian influence in the Caucuses and prevent the Ottoman empire from increasing its own regional authority. Astrabad, Baku, Derbent, Gilan, Mazandaran, and Shirvan are all successfully won (only to be subsequently leased back to Afsharid Persia between 1732-1735 now that the two states are allies).

1725 - 1727

Catherine I

Wife of Peter I, and czarina in her own right after his death.

1727 - 1730

Peter II

Son of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich (son of Peter I).

1730 - 1740

Anna / Anne

Dau of Ivan V. Former regent of Courland.


Anna Ivanova, following her accession to the imperial throne, places her own candidate in charge of the duchy of Courland. He is Ernst Biron, but he is soon exiled by the new regime in St Petersburg following Anna's death. Despite this he continues to claim to rule there.

1740 - 1741

Ivan VI

Grand-nephew. Infant at accession. Usurped and imprisoned.

1740 - 1741

Anna Leopoldovna / Carlovna

Mother and regent. Niece of Anna. Exiled.

1741 - 1762

Elizaveta / Elizabeth Petrovna

Dau of Peter I. Usurper. Last direct Romanov descendant.

1741 - 1743

A Swedish attempt to regain territory lost to Russia backfires in the Russo-Swedish War, which is part of the greater Austrian War of Succession. Also known as the Hats' Russian War, the Russian forces sweep the Swedes back to Helsinki where they surrender, and Finland is again occupied while peace negotiations rumble on. The Lesser Wrath, as this event is known, sees Sweden further diminished as a great power when it is forced to hand over the Finnish towns of Hamina and Lappeenranta, along with a strip of territory lying to the north-west of St Petersburg. The River Kymi is set as the new border.

War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession saw Europe go to war to decide whether Maria Theresa would secure the throne left to her by her father, but several other issues were also decided as a wide range of wars were involved in the overall conflict


The direct line of Romanov rulers dies out with Elizabeth Petrovna (although the direct male line had already ended with the death of Peter II). A period of crisis follows the death as a suitable candidate is sought amongst various more distant relatives. In the end, a grandson of Peter I is found in the House of Holstein-Gottorp, a junior (cadet) branch of the House of Oldenburg. Peter III (born Karl Peter Ulrich) is the product of a marriage between Grand Duchess Anne, daughter of Peter I, and Duke Charles-Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp. Although generally acclaimed as a Romanov, in fact he begins the line of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov which rules Russia until 1917.


Peter III

First Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov czar. Assassinated.


Peter III is assassinated after only six months on the throne, although the circumstances of his death seem uncertain. As the duke of Holstein-Gottorp he has an extra degree of interest in affairs in Germany, perhaps too much for some elements of the Russian nobility. He plans an attack on Denmark in order to restore areas of Schleswig to his duchy, and withdraws Russian troops from the Seven Years' War. In the end, the plot to depose him is led by his own wife. He is transported to captivity at Ropsha, where he dies in mysterious circumstances. Catherine takes over, but is beset by various claimants to be Peter, not dead after all. One of them also claims to be Jesus.

1762 - 1796

Yekaterina / Catherine II the Great

Wife, and czarina in her own right after Peter's death.


With an increase of direct Russian control of the Baltic States in mind, Catherine orders Livonia to be administered directly by the governor-general of the Baltic Provinces, Count George Browne. Estonia is forced to follow suit in 1775.


The imperial province of Novorossiya (New Russia) is formed along the central northern area of the Black Sea coast (now part of Ukraine). The province is a merging of several military districts and the Cossack Hetmanate in order to improve and increase Russian control of the region as part of the ongoing process of impinging on Ottoman territory to the south.


After this date, all of Alania falls under the rule of the Russian empire as part of Catherine's thrust southwards through the Caucuses to remove these territories from Ottoman influence. The peoples are generally converted to the Russian Orthodox church and in terms of identity they form the Ossetians, based in modern Georgia and the bordering Russian republics.

1768 -1774

The First Russo-Turkish War is part of Catherine's move to secure the conquest of territory on Russia's southern borders. Following the repression of revolts in Poland-Lithuania, Russia becomes involved in chasing rebels across the southern border into Ottoman territory. The Ottomans imprison captured Russian forces, effectively declaring war. Despite being slow to mobilise, in 1774 Russia wins Kabardia (in the North Caucuses), part of the Yedisan between the Bug and Dnieper (now covering south-western Ukraine and south-eastern Moldova (southern Transnistria), and the Crimea. Georgia also joins the Russian empire as a client kingdom while the khanate of Crimea is granted nominal independence.

Torelli Stefano's Allegory of Catherine the Great's Victory over the Turks and Tatars
Torelli Stefano's Allegory of Catherine the Great's Victory over the Turks and Tatars was painted in 1772, combining images of concrete historical personages with figures from the artists' free-flying imagination - the painting was commissioned to glorify the victory of the Russian army in the first Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774) and Catherine the Great is portrayed as the goddess Minerva in a triumphal chariot (click on image to see full sized)


As part of Catherine's successful policy of expanding the Russian empire southwards and westwards during what becomes seen as its golden age, Russia shares the spoils during the First Partition of Poland-Lithuania, gaining Polish Livonia (Latgallia) and Lithuania.

1773 - 1775

Perhaps the most serious revolt that takes place during Catherine's expansionist foreign policy is the Cossack Rebellion, also known as Pugachev's Rebellion. The Ural Cossacks rebel against the high taxes being imposed on their main livelihood, the fishing industry. They are united under the leadership of former Russian army lieutenant, Yemelyan Pugachev, but when he proclaims the formation of an alternative Russian government in the name of Peter III and the end of serfdom, action has to be taken against him. The Battle of Kazan (actually two back-to-back battles) takes place on 12-15 July 1774, and the rebel forces are crushed. The rebellion is finally ended before the year is out.

1778 - 1790

Having secured the Swedish throne through force, Gustavus conducts two failed military campaigns in 1788-1790, first to capture Norway and then to recapture the Baltic Provinces from Russia.

1783 - 1786

Despite having guaranteed its independence in 1774, Catherine now formally annexes the khanate of Crimea. This removes any possibility of Ottoman influence or domination. She also agrees with the Treaty of Georgievsk to protect Georgia from any fresh Persian attacks. In 1786 Catherine takes part in a procession in the Crimea to celebrate the event, which itself sparks the Second Russo-Turkish War.

1787 - 1792

The Second Russo-Turkish War is part of the ongoing struggle for hegemony between the Russian and Ottoman empires around the Black Sea coast. Stung by the apparent permanent loss of the Crimea, the Ottoman empire launches a campaign to regain territory that had been lost to Russia in the previous Russo-Turkish War. The Ottomans have to fight on two fronts - the other being the Austro-Turkish War of 1787 - as Austria and Russia have agreed an alliance. Ottoman troops are hopelessly ill-prepared and badly led, and their defeats results in the sudden death of Sultan Abdul-Hamid I. Russia gains Yedisan (Odessa and Ochakov), while the Dniester becomes the new frontier.

1793 - 1795

FeatureRussia gains Podolia, Volynia, and more of Lithuania during the Second Partition of Poland-Lithuania. Two years later, the Third Partition of Poland-Lithuania sees Russia gain almost all of modern Belarus, ending the existence of the joint states, as well as terminating the duchies of Courland and Samogitia. Governors are installed in Lithuania.

1795 - 1796

The new shah of Persia, Agha Mohammad, has put an end to the dynastic struggles at home and now mounts a campaign to re-strengthen Persian positions in Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. He also launches a devastating attack on Georgia which sees Tiblisi destroyed and from which the kingdom never recovers. However, Georgia's agreement with Russia means that Catherine the Great launches the Persian Expedition of 1796. Georgia is cleared of Persians with little trouble, but with Azerbaijan also seemingly captured, the empress' sudden death means that her son, Paul, is free to cancel the expedition (resulting in a sense of injustice amongst many officers involved).

1796 - 1801

Paul I

Son. Killed in palace coup.

1799 - 1800

The Second Coalition is formed by Austria and Russia against France. It ends in Austrian defeat at the Battle of Marengo, which eventually secures the French client republics in the Netherlands and Italy.

Battle of Marengo 1800
One of Napoleon's most brilliant achievements was his Italian campaign, which ended with the Battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800 - Austria was ejected from Northern Italy and French power there was now unquestioned


On 8 January Czar Paul I signs a decree which incorporates the kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti in eastern Georgia into the empire. King Giorgi is deposed as Russia formally annexes the state on 12 September. The western Georgian kingdom of Imeretia retains its independence for the time being.

1801 - 1825

Alexander I

Son. Implicated in coup. First grand duke of Finland.


King Solomoni II is attempting to enlist Ottoman and Persian support for Imeretia in preparation for the anticipated Russian encroachment on his borders. The Russian commander in the region is Prince Pavel Tsitsianov. He marches his army into Imeretia and forces Solomoni to accept vassalage under the terms of the convention of Elaznauri, on 25 April 1804. This effectively triggers a Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) which sees some early Persian victories followed by defeats, stalemate, and the effective loss of Dagestan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.


The Third Coalition is formed against France so, in a swift campaign, Napoleon marches east, occupies the Austrian capital of Vienna, and defeats large armies of Austrians and Russians at Austerlitz. The coalition lies in ruins.


Russia takes the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia from the Ottomans in battle and occupies the region. Upon the advance into Russia of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, they sign a quick treaty and evacuate their troops northwards.


Following the indecisive Battle of Eylau, Napoleon's France utterly defeats the Austrians and Russians at the Battle of Friedland. The Russian army is forced to retreat in chaos from the battlefield, ending the Fourth Coalition and forcing Alexander to negotiate for peace.


The Finnish War is fought between Sweden and Russia, part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. Russia has long coveted control of the grand duchy of Finland, and between February 1808 to September 1809 it is able to annexe what is in effect the eastern third of Sweden. This vast area is detached as the now-autonomous grand duchy of Finland, with Czar Alexander as its titular head. The campaign is commanded by Barclay de Tolly, later Russian governor of Finland.

The Finnish War of 1809
The Swedish plan of war in 1809 was largely based around the fortress of Sveaborg and waiting for reinforcements from Sweden itself, but the fortress' commanding officer, Karl Olof Cronstedt, inexplicably handed it over to the Russians following a brief barrage and the loss of six men


Alexander abolishes the western Georgian kingdom of Imeretia and removes its last king in violation of Russia's own protectorate treaty, on 20 February 1810. Later the same year the deposed king flees to Ottoman Akhaltsikhe when he learns of a Russian plot to kidnap him.

1812 - 1813

Incensed by Russia's refusal to join his blockade of Britain, Napoleon invades with one of the largest armies Europe has ever seen. Courland is captured, and Lithuania is occupied, and the French advance to Moscow. However, frustrated by the Russian policy of using the vast space of the country to defeat him, and perhaps unnerved by being ignored after his capture of Moscow, he is forced to retreat to Germany. In early 1813, Europe's armies mobilise against him, and a victory at Leipzig pushes the French back within their own borders.


Those Polish lands which had been under Russian control prior to the Napoleonic Wars are formally regained, with the territory being formed into the 'Polish Kingdom' in subordinate union with Russia, as established by the Congress of Vienna. The czar remains head of state as king of Poland.

1825 - 1855

Nicholas I

Brother. King of Poland. Grand duke of Finland.

1826 - 1828

The Russo-Persian War is the last major military conflict between the Russian and Persian empires, and the first time the two have fought each other since the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813. Shah Fath Ali is still desperate for increased foreign subsidies, and is advised by British agents to reconquer the territories that have been lost to Russia. On 28 July 1826, a 35,000-strong Persian army is led across the border by Abbas Mirza, invading the khanates of Talysh and Karabakh. The khans surrender their main cities to the Persians. However, Russian military power proves too much for them and eastern Armenia is taken before Persia agrees peace terms, bolstered in part by the start of the Russo-Turkish War.

1828 - 1829

The Russo-Turkish War, triggered by the fighting in Greece and the Danubian principalities, ends in the Peace of Adrianople. The Ottoman sultan closes the Dardanelles to Russian vessels but the Russians lay siege to three major Ottoman cities in Bulgaria. In the end, despite an embarrassing defeat along the way, Russia wins the mouth of the Danube and much of the Black Sea's western coast under the terms of the peace, or Treaty of Adrianople. Serbia also achieves autonomy.

1839 - 1840

Nicholas sends an expedition to Khiva, purportedly to free slaves who had been captured from areas of the Russian frontier and sold by Turkmen raiders. Britain is already involved in the First Anglo-Afghan War in Afghanistan but, despite sending over five thousand infantry, the Russian force stumbles into one of harshest winters in living memory. It is driven back by the weather and by its losses in early 1840. Britain persuades the khan of Khiva to outlaw the slave trade, removing Russia's excuse to attempt a re-invasion.


Undeterred by previous setbacks, Russia builds Fort Aralsk at the mouth of the Syr Darya. From here the empire begins a steady process of encroachment upon the lands of Bukhara, Khiva, and Kokand. Russia meets stiff resistance all the way but its resources far exceed those of its opponents.

Russia takes Khiva in 1873
Russia's determination to capture Khiva led it farther and farther east and south around the shore of the Caspian Sea - until Khiva was finally taken in 1873 and the artist Vasily Vereshchagin could be present to capture this scene of Russian troops entering the capital

1854 - 1856

Britain and France join the Ottoman empire in the Crimean War against Russia, to halt Russian expansion. The war ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, a severe setback to Russian ambitions. In the meantime, Czar Nicholas has died of pneumonia.

1855 - 1881

Alexander II

Son. Assassinated by revolutionaries.


The 'Emancipation Reform of 1861' - more literally known as the Peasants' Reform' - abolishes serfdom in the Russian empire. The act frees up to twenty-three million people. (Serfs living on state-owned lands are freed in 1866.)


The period between 22 January 1863 to April 1865 witnesses the 'Second (January) Insurrection', or January Uprising in Poland. The uprising takes place across much of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including Poland, Lithuania, the Baltic Provinces, Latgallia, and Livonia. Following this, Congress Poland is administered as an integral part of Russia.

In the same year, the Language Decree is issued in Finland by Alexander. It marks the beginning of the process through which Finnish becomes an official administrative language. Although only one seventh of the Finnish population speaks Swedish as its first language, Swedish retains its dominant position until the beginning of the twentieth century. In the same year, the Finnish Diet is convened after a break of more than half a century. From now on, the Diet meets regularly, and active legislative work in Finland begins.

1866 - 1867

An uprising in Georgia is put down. The following year, the United States senate purchases Alaska from Russia for just US$7.2 million. Alexander lets it go because he fears that the British in Canada will invade and seize it.


Khiva is finally conquered by Russia, on the third attempt. Russian General von Kaufman leads 13,000 infantry and cavalry, taking the capital, Khiva, on 28 May 1873. The city's fall is recorded by artist Vasily Vereshchagin. A treaty of August of the same year establishes Khiva as a Russian protectorate which retains its own rulers but only with nominal independence. Russia establishes a fixed boundary between Afghanistan and its new territories (Bukhara, Tashkent, and Khiva, all of which go into forming Uzbekistan in 1924), promising to respect Afghanistan's territorial integrity.

1881 - 1894

Alexander III

Son. Died of cancer.


The first modern-era wave of Jewish migrations back to Palestine begins with an event known as the First Aliyah. The Jews are fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe, most notably in the territories of the Russian empire under Alexander III and his imposition of anti-liberalisation reforms.

1894 - 1917

Nicholas II

Son. Last de facto Czar. Murdered in 1918.

1899 - 1905

The grand duchy of Finland has long been a sore point for Russian imperialists. It is a state within a state, with its own senate and its own Diet, its own local officials, legislation, army, money (the mark) and postage stamps. And to top it all off, Finland is separated from the empire by an official border. The obliteration of 'Finnish separatism', a policy also known as Russification, begins during the 'First Era of Oppression' which is driven by Nicholas.

1904 - 1914

The Second Aliyah to Palestine is triggered in 1903 by an anti-Jewish riot in the city of Kishinev (modern Chişinău), the capital of the province of Bessarabia (modern Moldova), part of the Russian empire. Something like 40,000 Jews settle in Palestine, although only half remain permanently.


Russian troops fire on protestors in St Petersburg (an event dubbed 'Bloody Sunday'), sparking the 1905 Russian Revolution. The outcome of the revolution is especially noticeable in Finland, which makes a great leap forwards in the application of democratic governance. In September of the same year, Japan and Russia signed the Treaty of Portsmouth, ending the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and confirming Japan's dominance in Korea.


The illiterate Siberian starets (a mystic, or holy man), Grigori Rasputin, cements his hold over Czarina Alexandra (a granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria). Her son, Alexei, is a haemophiliac whom no modern medical practitioners can seemingly help. She has turned increasingly to various starets, and now to Rasputin, following a head injury to Alexei which had threatened to continue bleeding until he was dead. Instead the bleeding stops the day after Rasputin advises her to dismiss the doctors. His influence steadily increases, seemingly to the detriment of the empire, until he is murdered by persons unknown on 30 December 1916.

Grigori Rasputin exhibited a startling and, to many in the imperial court, troubling level of influence over the czarina and, through her, the czar himself, so Rasputin had to be removed from the scene


Russia supports its allies by joining the First World War against Imperial Germany and Austria. However, the Russian army advancing into Eastern Europe is routed by the Germans at the Battle of Tannenberg, and Russian Poland is lost.


On the Eastern Front, Russian defeats bring the Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, under German Imperial control, much to the relief of the German-descended land-owning aristocracy.


The February Revolution begins with riots in Petrograd over food rations and the conduct of the First World War against the German empire, and it ends with the creation of a Bolshevik Russian republic following the October Revolution. Nicholas II abdicates, first in favour of his son, Alexei, and then in favour of his brother, Michael. The act effectively ends a thousand years of royal rule. Mismanaging their own administration of the country and badly handling the war effort, the Bolsheviks start to lose control of some of Russia's imperial dominions, and Russia slides into civil war.



Son. Provisional czar for eight hours.


Grand Duke Michael (II) Alexandrovich

Second son of Alexander II. Executed 1918.

1917 - 1918

Grand Duke Michael, pronounced Michael II by his brother, defers his ascension to the throne until his rule can be ratified. Instead, and under pressure, he authorises the Provisional Government to rule. His uncrowned reign ends when he is executed the following year. His death is legally recognised by a court of law in 1924, at which time Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich becomes the recognised head of the House of Romanov and the legitimate heir to the Romanov throne.

Soviet Russia
AD 1917 - 1991

The October Revolution which replaced the unstable 'February' republican government created a communist state in Russia. However, the Bolsheviks swept away the old administrative order in favour of regional 'soviets'. The new government, far from stable itself, also badly handled what remained of Russia's First World War effort, holding out for a beneficial peace agreement with Germany and being forced instead to accept the harsh terms of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. As a result of that and far too many reforms in too short a period, Russia began losing control over many of its outlying states and provinces, especially those which had been handed over to Germany under the terms of the treaty, such as Belarus, Bessarabia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Russian Poland, and western Ukraine, plus Crimea, the industrial Donetz basin and, on 8 May 1918, the Don. It took the collapse of Imperial Germany and three long years of civil war before the Russian empire could be reborn under Soviet control.

The claim of Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich Romanov to be the rightful heir to Czar Nicholas II was not in dispute. However, since his death in 1992 the divided branches of the House of Romanov (or more accurately Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov) have each put forward their own claimant as heir to the throne of the Russias. Prince Nicholas Romanovich is recognised by most of the family, bearing direct descent from the uncrowned 'successor' to Nicholas II, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. Meanwhile, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, the daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir, upholds her claim because her father issued a controversial decree recognising her as his successor. Before that, the claim by Anna Anderson that she was one of Czar Nicholas' daughters was proved false, but as she could not claim the throne while a valid male heir still lived, she was not actually a pretender.

Recognised successors of the last czar are shown with a shaded background. Pretenders and other disqualified claimants are shown in green text. The true power in Soviet Russia was the Marxist-Leninist single state party state which was usually headed by a single, strong figure (a typical feature throughout Russian history), and these individuals are shown in black with no shading. Russia lay at the heart of the new Soviet empire so, although some purists disagree with using 'Russia' to refer to the Soviet regime, it seems to be the most logical way of describing events that related directly to Russia itself. Anything else is simply a case of semantics taking precedence over good reason.


Liberalist and monarchist White Guard Russian forces (including supporters of the 'February' revolution) resist the imposition of a Bolshevik state, and fight a civil war against the Red Guard communist forces. In the newly-formed Tashkent SSR, anti-Bolshevik forces unite to liberate the former khanate of Khiva, the emirate of Bukhara, and Turkestan Krai. While Russia is preoccupied, Rumania gains the principality of Transylvania from Hungary, as well as some territory from Russia itself.

Lenin and the October Revolution
Vladimir Lenin was the figurehead of the October Revolution and also its key instigator and controller, but the revolution plunged Russia into three years of bitter civil war

FeatureWhite Guard forces are closing in on the location in Yekaterinburg in which the czar and his family are imprisoned. In the basement, Bolshevik soldiers gather together Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their four daughters, grand duchesses Anastasia, Maria, Olga and Tatiana, their son, Tsarevich Alexei, and four royal staff members, ostensibly for a photo. Instead they murder all of their captives in a hail of bullets, completing the work with bayonets. The bodies are hurriedly buried in a mass grave in the Urals.

1918 - 1924

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov / Lenin

Bolshevik & Soviet leader. Confirmed 1922.

1918 - 1984

Anastasia / Anna Anderson

Born 22 Dec 1896. Claimed to be youngest dau of Czar Nicholas.

1918 - 1924

The title of czar of all the Russias is vacant until an heir is selected in 1924, when the death of Michael II (by execution in 1918 - see above) is legally recognised in a court of law. However, Anastasia has already claimed to be the only survivor of the 1917 massacre of the imperial family, and she bears all of the physical similarities and internal palace knowledge necessary to convince many that her claim is true. However, her claim is never accepted by the surviving senior members of the Romanov family in Europe and America, and cannot be confirmed legally. Some critics point to a Polish peasant girl who had gone missing at the same time as Anastasia had appeared, and they claim it is a hoax. Anastasia's own admission in her last years, and DNA testing, confirms that she had indeed been the missing Polish girl.

1918 - 1919

During the Russian Civil War, the Ossetians form part of the Transcaucasian republic in 1918-1919, before forming one of several pockets of White Guard/Republican resistance against Moscow until 1920.

1920 - 1921

The Russian Civil War comes to an end with the Bolshevik forces victorious against the piecemeal attempts at resistance. The main threat had been Admiral Kolchak's anti-Bolshevik forces in Siberia, which assembled through Czech intervention after interference by the Bolsheviks themselves. Russia and Turkey establish their respective borders with one another and the remaining independent Armenian lands fall under Russian control. Russia also invades and re-conquers Georgia, and the Russo-Polish War results in the partitioning of disputed territory between the two as the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic and eastern Poland respectively.

1922 - 1924

The victorious Bolsheviks form the Soviet Union with the unification of the former empire's various new republics with the Russian republic. The other three are the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In Central Asia, the Turkestan ASSR is divided into the Uzbek SSR, the Turkmen SSR, the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast (Kyrgyzstan), and the Karakalpak Autonomous Oblast (modern Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic of Uzbekistan). Initially, the Tajik ASSR is also adjoined to the Uzbek state.

Lenin is confirmed as the union's leader, but his death in 1924 leaves a troika (triumvirate) collective leadership in place. The Central Committee's general secretary, Joseph Stalin, quickly suppresses his opposition which is headed by Leon Trotsky, sometimes violently. He assumes the leadership of the union, still as the general secretary (although he assumes the dual role of Soviet premier from 1941).

1924 - 1953

Joseph Stalin

Soviet leader (in the role of general secretary).

1924 - 1938

Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich

Grandson of Alexander II by his third son. Born 12 Oct 1876.

1932 - 1933

Less than a decade of Stalin's economic changes, plus the imprisonment of millions of people in correctional labour camps, and a brutal reorganisation of agricultural practices, results in a catastrophic famine. The breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine, is especially badly hit, with the famine being known as the Holodomor, 'extermination by hunger'. Other Soviet states also suffer, such as Armenia, but perhaps not quite as badly.

Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin, who was born in Georgia, led the Soviet Union away from its initial idealistic concept of equal citizenship for all and instead instituted a brutal regime of fear

1934 - 1939

Undaunted by his failures to date, Stalin directs a massive purge of the Bolshevik party, the armed forces (decimating the officer class), government and intelligentsia. Millions of people, labelled enemies of the state, are killed or imprisoned, with the notoriously harsh gulags in Siberia being used to deposit many thousands of  his victims.

1938 - 1992

Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich

Son of Cyril. Born 30 Aug 1917. Died of natural causes 21 Apr.

1939 - 1940

As part of the wider conflict of the Second World War, Finland fights the Winter War against Soviet Russia following a Soviet attack in November 1939. The attack is prompted by the Soviet Union's (and Stalin's) almost paranoid need to restore the former Russian empire's borders in preparation for the expected German attack. Finland is seen as a weak link in Russia's northern defences so it must be captured. The war is brief, and the Finns give the Soviets a bloody nose before agreeing peace terms that are very generous for Russia.

In Continental Europe, the Soviets invade Poland from the east on 17 September 1940. As part of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact they annexe western Ukraine, west Byelorussia, and also Bessarabia on 28 September (the last of which is formed with Ukraine's Trans-Dniester region into the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic). About 1,433,230 Uzbek citizens are incorporated into the Red Army (amongst many millions of others, of course) in the subsequent battles against the Nazis. A certain number also fight for the Germans against the Soviets.

1941 - 1942

The Continuation War is, as the name suggests, a renewal of the fighting of 1940 in Finland. With Nazi Germany now occupying Denmark and Norway, Finland finds itself between two major powers, with Germany doing its best to tempt Finland to become an ally and the Soviets frequently violating the border agreement. With its people facing famine or the threat of invasion by Russia, there seems little choice but to take action, which the Finns do by sending forces to recapture the Aland Islands. The Soviets attack the troop convoys and launch coordinated bombing attacks on eighteen Finnish cities. This is accompanied by further Soviet attacks over land and from the sea against Finnish targets, and a state of war exists without actually having been declared. With German weapons and some German units to assist, the Finns manage to halt the Russian advance into Finland but have to agree peace terms.


Around 160,000 Meskhetian Turks are deported from Georgia to Uzbekistan by Stalin. Other ethnic groups are also imported into the Uzbek SSR, especially Russians and Ukrainians as the empire's industrial war efforts are moved farther east to remove them from the threat of German attacks.

1945 - 1949

Germany is occupied by the forces of Soviet Russia, the United States, Britain and France until 1949. From 1945 until 1989-1991, the Soviet dictatorship establishes satellite states in occupied Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. The northern section of former East Prussia is annexed directly to the state as Kaliningrad.


The 1944 armistice with Finland is confirmed through a peace treaty signed in Paris. Finland is saddled with a debt to the Soviet Union of 300 million dollars as well as the loss of the Karelian Isthmus, the northern port of Petsamo, the second largest city, Viipuri (modern Viborg), and the loss of access to Lake Ladoga. Russia is also handed a fifty year lease for control of the Porkkala region. With the loss of Karelia, more than 420,000 Finns voluntarily migrate west across the new border between Finland and Russia, causing some social and housing problems.


Russia reduces Finland's war debt by seventy-four million dollars, and the balance of war reparations is paid off by 1952.

1953 - 1964

Nikita Kruschev

Soviet leader (as first secretary & premier). Died 1971.


Under Kruschev, the Soviet Union begins a process of de-Stalinisation, along with supplying economic and military aid to Afghanistan. The Russian space programme also accelerates in direct competition with the efforts by the USA as part of an increasingly chilly Cold War.


The USSR forms the Warsaw Pact in direct response to the admission of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) into NATO whilst itself being barred from joining. The states involved in the founding of this eastern alliance are Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Russia.


When Nikita Khrushchev denounces Joseph Stalin's crimes and personality cult in a secret report to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in February 1956, Enver Hoxha of Albania decries Russia's revisionism. After some shrewd and ruthless political manoeuvring, he manages to overcome criticism of his own Stalinist policies and maintain power.

Nikita Kruschev and John F Kennedy
Photographed together here, John F Kennedy and Nikita Kruschev would, in 1962, play the world's biggest game of brinkmanship as the USA and Soviet Union vied for supremacy

1962 - 1964

One immediate result of the Cuban-Soviet alliance of 1959 is the placement of ballistic missiles on Cuba, precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The USA 'blockades' Cuba, and only a last-minute climb-down by the Soviets avoids the spectre of nuclear war. It may be this apparent failure among many other alleged failures by Kruschev that triggers moves by Supreme Soviet head, Leonid Brezhnev, to oust him in 1964. Indeed Kruschev gives him all the time he needs to complete his political manoeuvres by being absent from Moscow for five months. Summoned to Moscow, Kruschev is informed of his removal from office and accepts his fate without protest.

1964 - 1982

Leonid Brezhnev

Soviet leader (as general secretary). Died in office.


Soviet troops are sent into Afghanistan as civil war erupts there. They spend the next decade locked in an unwinnable war against guerrilla Mujahideen forces.

1982 - 1984

Yuri Andropov

Soviet leader (as general secretary). Died in office.

1984 - 1985

Konstantin Chernenko

Soviet leader (as general secretary). Died in office.


Chernenko had already been in poor health when he replaced the late Andropov. He favours a return to Brezhnev policies in the face of a push for limited reform, but dies in office before being able to make any particular mark. The turnover in general secretaries of a more senior level of experience now leaves an opening for younger, more reform-minded individual to make a mark on the Soviet Union. One of Mikhail Gorbachev's first actions is to remove from office Muhammetnazar Gapurow, first secretary of the Communist party in the Turkmen SSR.

1985 - 1991

Mikhail Gorbachev

Soviet leader (as general secretary and president).


Thanks to behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by the newly-elected president of the Russian republic, Boris Yeltsin, on Christmas Day 1991 Communist USSR President Gorbachev announces the termination of the Soviet Communist State. The Soviet Republics become independent sovereign states (if they had not already become so since 1989), including Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, North Ossetia, Poland, Romania, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

The Chechen-Ingush ASSR is divided in two, creating the republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen republic. The latter proclaims the 'Chechen Republic of Ichkeria', which seeks full independence from the Russian federation. The Eastern European states are only too happy to be rid of Soviet control, while many of those lying further east elect to join the new Confederation of Independent States - still strongly controlled from Moscow. Cuba, a staunch Soviet ally, suffers badly from the fall of its only supplier of oil and many major foodstuffs. Former East Prussia, or Kaliningrad as it now is, remains directly part of Russia, and is now an isolated enclave on Poland's north-eastern border.

Modern Russia
AD 1991 - Present Day

Modern Russia is a federal, semi-presidential republic which was founded in 1991 in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Despite bearing the resemblance of a democratic state in terms of its offices and elections, it always manages to convey the impression that old habits die hard in terms of its tendencies towards strong centralist control. It is neighboured by Japan along its eastern coast, shares its long Eurasian southern border with China, Outer Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and shares its western border with Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Norway. To the north lies the Arctic Circle.

Russia lies at the heart of the CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States. This was a voluntary organisation of those republics that had formed part of the Soviet empire, and its creation was masterminded by Boris Yeltsin as the president of the Russian republic, Leonid Kravchuk, president of the Ukrainian republic, and Stanislav Shushkevich, president of the Belarus republic. The work had been carried out behind the back of Mikhail Gorbachev, leaving him with no choice other than to announce the dissolution of the Soviet state. Not all former Soviet republics joined the CIS. The Baltic States and Eastern European countries forged ahead, enjoying the restoration of their independence from Moscow. Millions of ethnic Russians suddenly found themselves living in foreign countries, often without the legal standing that they had formerly enjoyed.

While the Russian economy can be fragile at times, it still ranks as one of the world's top ten. Its expensive mineral and oil reserves have made it one of the world's largest producers of gas and oil, but it tends to use its power in this area as an economic weapon. The country also possesses the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons thanks to its Cold War heritage.

Successors of the last czar of the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov are shown with a shaded background. Opponents, pretenders, and other disqualified claimants are shown in green or red text. The true power in Russia is the elected president, although this post is usually filled by a typically strong figure who appears to pull many of the government's strings. These individuals are shown in black with no shading.

(Additional information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UCLA International Institute, Reuters, and from the Almanach de Gotha (2012).)

1991 - 1999

Boris Yeltsin

First directly elected president.

1991 - 1993

Boris Yeltsin wins Russia's first ever direct elections for a head of state. He promises to convert the country's former socialist-led economy into a free market economy, but the economic shock therapy required to enact it leads to a major economic crisis, with a massive decline in industrial output and GDP. Control of formerly nationalised resources is switched to a handful of people with connections to government members, creating a wave of powerful billionaires who soon start moving the bulk of their wealth outside the country, further deepening the economic crisis.

Boris Yeltsin in 1991
Boris Yeltsin won mass popular support during his leading role in thwarting the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991

Coincidentally perhaps, in the same year the remains of the murdered Romanov imperial family are discovered in an unmarked mass grave in the Urals. The bones are removed for tests to be carried out to authenticate their identities.

1992 - Present

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna

Daughter of Vladimir. Born 23 Dec 1953. Opposed.


Upon the death of Vladimir Cyrilovich as heir to the Romanov throne, his daughter Maria Vladimirovna proclaims herself the new head of the imperial house. She assumes the senior position in the House of Romanov and proclaims her son, George Mikhailovich, to be the heir-apparent. However, her mother is Princess Leonida Bagration-Moukransky (died 2010), a daughter of a line of the Georgian royal house that has not ruled since 1505 and which had already been a junior (cadet) branch when Georgia had been conquered by Russia in 1810. Due to this, some opponents see the marriage as unequal, and Maria's claim as illegal.

Maria is opposed by Prince Nicholas Romanovich as the choice of a greater proportion of the rest of the House of Romanov, and the already complicated line of hereditary succession now has two main branches claiming the senior position. However, Maria's claim to be the head of the Romanovs is supported by just about everyone outside the House of Romanov, including most monarchist groups, most other societies of Russian nobles, and by the Russian Orthodox Church  To differentiate between the two opposing lines of succession, claimants who arise from this opposing faction - led by Nicholas and supported by the majority of Romanovs - are shown in green. All claimants are shown on a shaded background to highlight the fact that none of them hold any power.

1992 - 2014

Prince Nicholas Romanovich

Son of Prince Roman Romanov. Born 26 Sep 1922.


Matters come to a head as many of Yeltsin's key supporters turn against him. In October 1993 he orders the dissolution of parliament, an act which is outside his remit. Parliament moves to remove him from office. Troops loyal to Yeltsin put down an armed uprising by his opponents outside the parliament building, and he scraps the constitution, replacing it with one that increases his presidential powers. This sets a trend for the future.

1994 - 1996

The Chechen republic has proclaimed the 'Chechen Republic of Ichkeria' and seeks full independence from the Russian federation. The First Chechen War is triggered when Boris Yeltsin sends in the army in December 1994. The 1995 campaign results in the brutal and devastating Battle of Grozny, but Russian federation forces are unable to win the subsequent guerrilla war against the Chechens. The troops become demoralised and public opinion almost totally swings against the fighting. Yeltsin declares a ceasefire with the Chechens in 1996 and signs a peace treaty a year later.


The investigation into the identity of those remains found in a mass grave in the Urals in 1991 has been completed. Satisfied with DNA results that show that the remains were indeed those of the immediate imperial family, they are given a burial in St Petersburg's St Peter & St Paul Cathedral.


Still unpopular with the majority of the Russian population, Yeltsin surprises everyone by announcing his resignation. His chosen successor is ex-KGB man and current prime minister, Vladimir Putin. Elections in 2000 confirm his position in the post. He is strongly in favour of reconstituting the Russian empire, in deed if not in name, and his many actions seem to back up that claim as he increases the power of his office and attempts to impose a more authoritarian governance of the population and the Russian federation. However, his first two terms of office oversee a marked improvement in the standard of living of many Russians.

First Chechen War
The First Chechen War, seen here, highlighted limitations in the ability of the Russian armed forces to defeat a determined guerrilla war, something that had also been apparent in the Afghan adventure of 1979

The year is also marked by the start of the Second Chechen War, following the invasion of Dagestan by the so-called Islamic International Brigade of militants. The campaign ends the de facto independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and restores the region to federation control. Grozny is again decimated, the Islamic Brigade is effectively destroyed, and the Chechen guerrillas are severely crippled as an effective fighting force. Instead their survivors switch to an occasional terrorist campaign in Russia proper, carrying out seemingly indiscriminate operations that are designed to result in the greatest number of casualties. Often heavy-handed counter-terrorist operations by the Russian military response seems deigned to help in this respect, but overall the Chechen desire for independence is silenced.

2000 - 2008

Vladimir Putin

Former lieutenant-colonel in the KGB. Served two terms of office.


The DNA tests carried out on the remains of the imperial family have not convinced some Russian Orthodox Church members. Their doubts are further fuelled by the discovery now of two further bodies - those of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria - at a different spot in the Urals. Further DNA tests will be required before they can be buried alongside the now-canonised remainder of the family in St Petersburg's St Peter & St Paul Cathedral.


Thanks to the restrictions of the constitution, Putin is unable to stand for a third consecutive four year term of office. Instead, his preferred candidate is elected, Dmitry Medvedev, who is widely seen as little more than Putin's 'yes man'. This period is known as the 'duumvirate', an alliance of two strong leaders (which can include two leaders who have both declared themselves to be the sole leader), or the 'tandemocracy', from 'tandem' and democracy', showing two leaders working together. Putin himself returns to his former role of prime minister, his political dominance of Russia apparently undimmed.

Later in the same year and partially fooled by Russia into commencing an attack on South Ossetia to recover the breakaway territory, Georgia is humiliated as a pre-prepared Russian taskforce crushes its forces and occupies South Ossetia under the pretence of protecting Russian passport holders there. Russia soon recognises South Ossetia (and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian region) as independent states. The short conflict is later known as the Russo-Georgian War.

2008 - 2013

Dmitry Medvedev

Former prime minister.

2011 - 2012

In 2011 the law on the length of a term of office for the president is changed from four to six years. Putin announces his intention to stand for a third, non-consecutive term of office and in due course wins the 2012 elections despite strong protests in many Russian cities (including the notorious 'Pussy Riot' protests and subsequent arrests).

2011 Russian protests
Putin's apparent 'seizure' of the post of president for an extra two year term raised suspicions that he intended to remain in the post for as long as possible, something that worried many Russians


2012 - 2018

Vladimir Putin

Returned to post from role as prime minister.


A meteor strike known as the Tschebarkul 2013 super bolide hits the city of Tscheljabinsk in Russia. The event is seen by many thousands of people in the region and lights up the sky with the blazing trail it leaves across the daytime sky. It is also filmed by dozens of people with camera phones and is equated by some scholars with the Chiemgau impact of prehistoric Central Europe which must have greatly disrupted the lives of the Celtic tribes in the region.

In the same year, a third claimant to the hereditary imperial throne puts himself forward. Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen issues his claim under the name of Prince Nikolai Kirillovich of Leiningen. He is the grandson of Grand Duchess Maria Cyrillovna of Russia, (the sister of Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich (died 1992 - see above), and the aunt of current legitimist claimant Maria Vladimirovna - again, see above). This makes him the great-grandson of Cyril Vladimirovich, grand duke of Russia and recognised claimant until his death in 1938. Karl is supported by the Monarchist Party of Russia, which sees both of the current claimants as pretenders. However, he has already been bypassed as prince of Leiningen by his younger brother due to a morganatic marriage, which should also disbar him from claiming the Russian throne. This third line of claimants is shown in red.

2013 - Present

Prince Nikolai Kirillovich of Leiningen

Brother of Prince Nicholas. Born 12 Jun 1952.

2013 - 2014

Mass protests in Kiev over Ukraine's pro-Russian policy eventually force the collapse and flight of the Yanukovych government after four months of violent chaos. Moscow reacts to Ukraine's domestic turmoil by sending troops to annexe the former Russian territory of Crimea while stoking separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine. The pro-Russian separatist eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk form their own republican governments and, with military aid from Russia, manage to hold onto a core territory in the face of Ukrainian attempts to end the rebellion. The USA and the European Union impose sanctions that are targeted at individuals rather than the state, but they still hit hard, especially when oil and gas prices suffer a dramatic fall at the end of 2014.

2014 - Present

Prince Dimitri Romanov

Brother of Prince Nicholas. Born 17 May 1926.

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich

Son of Maria. Born 13 Mar 1981. Heir apparent. Opposed.