Famous Russian Historical Personalities

History wouldn’t be half as interesting as it is had it not been for the famous and iconic personalities. These iconic personalities shaped the events of the past and consequently affected our present and future. Russia has been home to numerous such personalities that have gained worldwide fame for their acts and deeds. However, there were some like Ivan Vasilyevich ‘The Terrible’ who were famous for their notoriety. Though Ivan was the first Tsar of Russia and is remembered for expanding Russian empire through military conquests, he was infamous for his madness and violence. It was Peter the Great that Russia owes much of its modern existence including founding of many till-date running government institutions. Catherine the Great presided of what was Russia’s Golden Age. She helped cement Russia’s status as a dominant country of the world. In the field of art and literature, there were several renowned personalities in Russia, like Leo Tolstoy, Alexandr Borodin, Pyotor Tchaikovsky, Anna Pavlova and so on. Joseph Stalin was famous as the ‘bad man’ of the 20th century Russia. A leader and dictator, he suppressed any form of oppression against his governance and ruthlessly denounced any dissent. To know more about famous Russian historical personalities, check out this section.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Catherine the Great
(Empress of Russia)

Catherine the Great
42
Birthdate: May 2, 1729
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pomeranian Dukes' Castle in Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland
Died: November 17, 1796

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.

 2 
Vladimir Lenin
(1st & Founding head of government of Soviet Russia (1917-1924) and Soviet Union (1922-24))

Vladimir Lenin
24
Birthdate: April 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ulyanovsk, Russia
Died: January 21, 1924

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.

 3 
Nicholas II
(Emperor of Russia (1894-1917))

Nicholas II
20
Birthdate: May 18, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 17, 1918

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.

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 4 
Peter the Great
(First Emperor of Russia)

Peter the Great
18
Birthdate: June 9, 1672
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: February 8, 1725
Peter the Great ruled the Tsardom of Russia, and then the Russian Empire, from 1682 to 1725. He ushered in the Enlightenment and cultural revolution in Russia. He also strengthened the Russian navy and launched the Russo-Persian War. Saint Petersburg, the capital of Russia till 1917, was established by him.

 5 
Ivan the Terrible
(Grand Prince of Moscow (1533-1547))

Ivan the Terrible
24
Birthdate: August 25, 1530
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kolomenskoye, Moscow, Russia
Died: March 28, 1584
Ivan the Terrible, son of Vasili III, served as the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547. The “Chosen Council” declared him the tsar at 16 and established the Tsardom of Russia. Ivan’s reign was known for wars such as the Livonian War, which damaged Russia’s economy. 

 6 
Alexander II of Russia
(Emperor of Russia (1855-1881))

Alexander II of Russia
13
Birthdate: April 29, 1818
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 13, 1881

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.

 7 
Alexandra Feodorovna
(Empress consort of Russia (1894-1917), Saint)

Alexandra Feodorovna
7
Birthdate: June 6, 1872
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: July 17, 1918

Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Emperor Nicholas II, was the last Russian tsarina and reigned from 1894 to 1917. She suffered from hemophilia. Alexandra and her entire family were murdered by the Bolshevik revolutionaries. In 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized her as Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer.

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 8 
Paul I of Russia
(Emperor of Russia (1796-1801))

Paul I of Russia
9
Birthdate: October 1, 1754
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 24, 1801
Paul I ruled as the Russian emperor from 1796 till his assassination in 1801. He was officially the son of Peter III and Catherine the Great, but it is believed he was sired by Catherine’s lover, Sergei Saltykov. Paul established the law of succession to the throne of Russia.

 9 
Alexander I of Russia
(Emperor of Russia)

Alexander I of Russia
12
Birthdate: December 23, 1777
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 1, 1825

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.

 10 
Peter III of Russia
(Emperor of Russia (1762))

Peter III of Russia
11
Birthdate: February 21, 1728
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kiel, Germany
Died: July 17, 1772

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.

 11 
Alexander III of Russia
(Emperor of Russia (1881-1894))

Alexander III of Russia
15
Birthdate: March 10, 1845
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: November 1, 1894
Alexander III ruled as the emperor of Russia, the king Poland, and the grand duke of Finland, from 1881 to 1894. He reversed many liberal policies that had been implemented by his father, Alexander II, earlier. He passed the “May Laws” and did not participate in any major war.

 12 

Maria Feodorovna
5
Birthdate: November 26, 1847
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: October 13, 1928

Maria Feodorovna was a Danish princess who married Emperor Alexander III and became Empress of Russia. She was the second daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel. She grew up to be a beautiful and charming woman. She was married to Alexander Alexandrovich, the son of Emperor Alexander II and his first wife Maria Alexandrovna. 

 13 
Elizabeth of Russia
(Empress of Russia (1741-1762))

Elizabeth of Russia
9
Birthdate: December 29, 1709
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 5, 1762
Elizabeth Petrovna, or Elizabeth of Russia, daughter of Tsar Peter the Great, was the Russian empress from 1741 to 1762. She became famous for not executing a single person during her rule and for modernizing Russia’s architecture. She was a key figure of the Russian Age of Enlightenment.

 14 
Catherine I of Russia
(Empress of Russia (1725-1727))

Catherine I of Russia
8
Birthdate: April 15, 1684
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Russia
Died: May 17, 1727

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.

 15 
Ivan VI of Russia
(Emperor of Russia)

Ivan VI of Russia
4
Birthdate: August 23, 1740
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 16, 1764
The eldest child of Duke Anthony Ulrich and Duchess Anna Leopoldovna, Ivan VI of Russia, took over the throne as a 2-month-old baby, with his mother as the regent. His first cousin Elizabeth’s coup later resulted in his imprisonment for 20 years and his eventual assassination. 

 16 
Anna of Russia
(Empress of Russia (1730-1740))

Anna of Russia
6
Birthdate: February 7, 1693
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: October 28, 1740

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.

 17 
Peter II of Russia
(Emperor of Russia (1727-30))

Peter II of Russia
4
Birthdate: October 23, 1715
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: January 30, 1730
Peter II Alexeyevich, the only son of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, ruled as the emperor of Russia from 1727 to 1730. He became a Tsar as a child but died an untimely death due to small pox at 14, on the day that he had planned to marry Ekaterina Dolgorukova.

 18 
Oleg of Novgorod
(Rurikid prince)

Oleg of Novgorod
3
Birthdate: 0845 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: 0912 AD
Oleg of Novgorod, or Oleg the Prophet, was a Varangian prince who reigned over the Rus' people in late 9th and 10th centuries. He established the rule of Kievan Rus' and attacked Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. He finds mention in Scandinavian legends and in many historical films.

 19 
Nicholas I of Russia
(Emperor of Russia (1825-1855))

Nicholas I of Russia
5
Birthdate: July 6, 1796
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gattšina lossipark, Russia
Died: March 2, 1855

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.

 20 
Olga Constantinovna of Russia
(Queen consort of the Hellenes)

Olga Constantinovna of Russia
6
Birthdate: September 3, 1851
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pavlovsk, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: June 18, 1926

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. 

 21 
Ivan III of Russia
(Grand Prince of Moscow)

Ivan III of Russia
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1440
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: October 27, 1505

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.

 22 
Rurik
(Chieftain)

Rurik
3
Birthdate: 0824 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: 0879 AD

Viking prince Rurik is part of Norse legends and finds mention in The Russian Primary Chronicle of the 12th century. The founder of the Rurik dynasty, he is said to have been invited by the people of Novgorod too form an orderly government, though historians deny his existence.

Michael I of Russia
5
Birthdate: July 12, 1596
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 12, 1645

 24 

Igor of Kiev
3
Birthdate: 0877 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: 0945 AD

Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse
3
Birthdate: August 8, 1824
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: June 3, 1880

Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse was the daughter of Prince Hereditary Ludwig of Hesse and Princess Wilhelmine of Baden. She was the first wife of Russian Emperor Alexander II. She was a co-founder of the Russian Red Cross and established Russia's first all-female schools. She also helped her husband end serfdom in Russia. She suffered from tuberculosis and died in 1880. 

 26 

Alexandra Fyodorovna
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1798
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: November 1, 1860

Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova was the daughter of Frederick William III, King of Prussia, and Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She had a difficult childhood and lost her mother when she was just 12. She married Nicholas I, who later reigned as Emperor of Russia. The couple had a happy marriage that lasted till Nicholas’ death in 1855. 

 27 
Alexis of Russia
(Tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676)

Alexis of Russia
3
Birthdate: March 19, 1629
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1676

 28 
Yakov Yurovsky
(Soviet Era Executioner)

Yakov Yurovsky
6
Birthdate: June 19, 1878
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tomsk, Siberia, Russian Empire
Died: 1938 AD

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.

 29 
Ivan V of Russia
(Tsar of Russia)

Ivan V of Russia
3
Birthdate: September 6, 1666
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1696

Feodor III of Russia
3
Birthdate: June 9, 1661
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: May 7, 1682

 31 
Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia
(Duchess consort of Holstein-Gottorp (21 May 1725 – 4 March 1728))

Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia
4
Birthdate: January 27, 1708
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 4, 1728

 32 

Anne of Kiev
2
Birthdate: 1030 AD
Birthplace: Kievan Rus'
Died: September 5, 1075

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.

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Peterhof, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 17, 1918

 34 

Fyodor II of Russia
2
Birthdate: 1589 AD
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: June 20, 1605

Anna Pavlovna of Russia
2
Birthdate: January 18, 1795
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 1, 1865

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.

 36 
Vasili IV of Russia
(Tsar of Russia)

Vasili IV of Russia
3
Birthdate: September 22, 1552
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: September 12, 1612

Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
2
Birthdate: May 14, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ludwigslust Palace, Ludwigslust, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, German Confederation
Died: September 6, 1920

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.

 38 

False Dmitriy I
4
Birthdate: October 19, 1582
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow

Julia, Princess of Battenberg
2
Birthdate: November 24, 1825
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Warsaw, Congress Poland
Died: September 19, 1895

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.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia
3
Birthdate: July 28, 1860
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Peterhof, Saint Petersburg, Empire of Russia
Died: March 11, 1922

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.

Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg
3
Birthdate: July 8, 1830
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Altenburg, Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg
Died: July 6, 1911

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.

Catherine Pavlovna of Russia
2
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Catherine Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died: January 9, 1819

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 Kirillovna of Russia
2
Birthdate: February 2, 1907
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Coburg, Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, German Empire
Died: October 25, 1951

Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Russia was the daughter of Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna and Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia. Her parents were in exile at the time of her birth as their marriage was yet to be approved by Tsar Nicholas II. Maria married Karl, Prince of Leiningen, and had seven children, including Prince Peter Victor of Leiningen.

 44 
Anna Leopoldovna
(Regent of Russia)

Anna Leopoldovna
2
Birthdate: December 18, 1718
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rostock, Germany
Died: March 19, 1746

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 Dolgorukov
2
Birthdate: November 2, 1847
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Russia
Died: February 15, 1922

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia
2
Birthdate: August 18, 1819
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pavlovsk, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 21, 1876

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.

 47 

Yaropolk I of Kiev
2
Birthdate: 0952 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: June 1, 0978

Olga Nikolaevna of Russia
1
Birthdate: September 11, 1822
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: October 30, 1892

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.

 49 
Daniel of Moscow
(Grand Prince of Moscow)

Daniel of Moscow
1
Birthdate: 1261 AD
Birthplace: Vladimir, Russia
Died: March 4, 1303

 50 

Irina Godunova
1
Birthdate: 1557 AD
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: October 27, 1603

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.