The Empress of Russia for almost 35 years, Catherine the Great was the country's longest-ruling female leader. An ambitious ruler, she rapidly expanded the Russian Empire and is credited with modernizing the country along Western European lines. She supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and the period of her rule—the Catherinian Era—is considered the Golden Age of Russia.
Vladimir Lenin played a key role in the history of Russian politics by developing a political ideology called Leninism. During and after his lifetime, Lenin had a massive influence over international communist movement. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and significant personalities of the 20th century.
Nicholas II reigned as the last Emperor of All Russia from 1894 until his abdication in 1917. His reign oversaw a series of reforms in Russia. These reforms included the introduction of literacy programs, civil liberties, and methods to modernize the empire's infrastructure. However, these reforms were eventually undermined by Nicholas' love for autocratic rule.
Alexander II of Russia was the Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and King of Poland from 1855 to 1881. He became known as Alexander the Liberator for his most significant reform, which was the Emancipation Reform of 1861. He is also credited with reorganizing the judicial system, abolishing corporal punishment, and imposing universal military service in Russia.
Alexander I was the emperor of Russia and the eldest son of Paul I. While he was initially a friend of Napoleon Bonaparte, he later joined hands with his opponents to defeat him. He was also part of the Congress of Vienna and later contributed to the formation of the Holy Alliance.
Peter III of Russia reigned over Russia as the emperor for just six months in 1762 before being deposed by people loyal to his wife Catherine II, who then succeeded him. In his short reign, Peter made progressive reforms, including the abolishment of the secret police, which was renowned for its extreme violence. Peter is often portrayed in films.
Nicholas I of Russia reigned as Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and King of Poland from 1825 to 1855. Nicholas I is remembered for his controversial reign, under which the Russian Empire achieved great geographical expansion. He also played a key role in creating an independent Greek state and was successful in ending the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829.
Catherine I of Russia was the second wife and Empress consort of Peter the Great. She served as the Empress regnant of Russia from 1725 until her death in 1727. The daughter of a peasant, she had an adventurous life as a young woman and eventually married Peter the Great who was taken by her beauty. They had 12 children.
Daughter of Ivan V and niece of Peter I, Anna of Russia did not have much interest in the governance of her kingdom and left it in the hands of her beloved Ernst Johann Biron and her advisors. Her “dark reign” witnessed costly wars such as the Russo-Turkish War.
Olga Constantinovna of Russia was the oldest daughter of Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaievich and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg. She was married to King George I of Greece and was the queen consort of Greece as his wife. In this role, she became involved in social and charitable work and founded hospitals and schools.
Ivan III of Russia was a Grand Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of all Rus'. He initially served as the co-ruler and regent for his blind father, Vasily II, before officially occupying the throne. He vastly expanded his kingdom and laid the foundations of the Russian state. His reign—lasting 43 years—was one of the longests in Russian history.
Yakov Yurovsky was a Russian Old Bolshevik. Also a Soviet Revolutionary, he acted as the chief executioner of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and his family on the night of 17 July 1918. A watchmaker by trade, he was a Chekist for a short time. In his later life, he allegedly expressed remorse over his role in the executions.
21 Igor of Kiev
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia was the youngest child of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia and Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Her marriage was arranged with Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, and the wedding took place in 1902. The couple had three daughters. The duchess became involved in charity work later in life.
27 Anne of Kiev
The third wife of King Henry I of France, Queen Anne of Keiv ruled France as a coregent of their minor son King Philip I until her controversial second marriage to Count Ralph IV of Valois. Also the founder of Abbey of St. Vincent, Senlis, she signed royal charters in Cyrillic, one of which is held in French National Library.
Born as the youngest daughter of Paul I of Russia, Anna Pavlovna was given in a political marriage to William II of the Netherlands, becoming the Queen Consort when her husband ascended the throne. Never at home in Netherlands, which was more egalitarian than Russia, she always identified herself as a Russian Grand Duchess rather than as a Dutch queen.
Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was the daughter of Grand Duke Frederick Francis II. Renowned for her sense of style and attractiveness, Marie was also popular for her sociability and wittiness. Marie was widely recognized and she received honors from several kingdoms and empires, including the Russian Empire.
Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, largely remembered as one of the granddaughters of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and as the wife of Friedrich Franz III, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. A talented tennis player, she had several tennis courts built. She also had an illegitimate child with her secretary.
Apart from being the wife of Prince Alexander of Hesse, Julia, Princess of Battenberg, was also the daughter of German-Polish general Hans Moritz Hauke. Her lack of royal descent was a matter of concern initially, but Alexander eventually married the 6-month pregnant Julia he had fallen in love with.
Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg was the daughter of Duchess Amelia of Württemberg and Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg. A high-spirited and conservative personality, Alexandra had an interest in music. Unlike most royal members, Princess Alexandra had a difficult personal life and is credited with bringing up her children almost single-handedly.
Anna Leopoldovna, or Anna Carlovna, was the wife of Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick, and is best known for her reign as a regent for their son, Ivan VI, for a year. She was eventually imprisoned by Peter the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth, and died in exile.
Catherine Pavlovna of Russia was the daughter of Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg and Tsar Paul I of Russia. Through her marriage with her first cousin Crown Prince William, she became Queen Catharina Pavlovna of Württemberg in 1816 when Prince William became King William I of Württemberg. Catherine died of erysipelas complicated by pneumonia, at the age of 30.
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia was the daughter of Nicholas I of Russia. An art collector, Maria served as the president of the Russian Academy of Arts. She was married to Maximilian de Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg from 1839 until his death in 1852. In 1854, Maria married Count Grigori Aleksandrovich Stroganov.
Irina Godunova was a Tsaritsa of Russia who reigned from 1584 to 1598. In 1598, after the death of her husband Feodor I of Russia, Irina Godunova served as de facto autocrat for nine days.
Olga Nikolaevna of Russia was the daughter of Charlotte of Prussia and Nicholas I of Russia. A member of the House of Romanov, Olga became the Kingdom of Württemberg's queen consort. She dedicated herself to social causes, including the issues surrounding the education of girls. She also played a major role in supporting and helping the disabled and wounded veterans.
A descendant of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, Catherine Ivanovna Romanova was practically the last princess of Russia. She lost her father in exile after the fall of the empire and was discouraged from learning Russian by her mother, who wanted them to leave their past behind.
Described as the right hand of Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia, Praskovya Bruce became Catherine's lady-in-waiting soon after her arrival in Russia, remaining so even after her ascendance to the throne. A close confidant of the empress, she fell from grace when she was caught having sex with one of the queen's latest lovers and was sent away.