Was born on February 26 (March 10), 1845 in Saint Petersburg. Died on October 20 (November 1), 1894 in Livadia (Crimea). Russian emperor since 1881. The second son of Grand Duke Alexander Nikolayevich (subsequently - the emperor Alexander II) and great princess (subsequently - empress) Maria Alexandrovna. In the first half of 80s, he carried out a cancellation of capitation, lowered redemption payments. Since the second half of the 80s, he carried out 'counter-reforms". The Tsar increased role of police, local and central administration. During the reign of Alexander III, the annexation to Russia of Central Asia was basically finished (in 1885), Russia contracted alliance with France (1891-1893).
Alexander Alexandrovich became Cesarevitch (crown prince) in 1865, after the death of the elder brother of Grand Duke Nikolai Alexandrovich. From that time on, he began to receive more extensive and fundamental education. In 1866 Alexander Alexandrovich married the bride of the departed brother, the Danish princess Dagmare (1847-1928; in Orthodoxy - Maria Fedorovna). Soon children were born: Nikolai (subsequently the Russian emperor Nikolai II), George, Ksenia, Mikhail, Olga. Alexander Alexandrovich was the ataman of all Cossack army, occupied a number of military posts. From 1868 he was a member of the State council and Committee of ministers. During Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1778, he was in command of Rushuksky military group in Bulgaria. After the war, together with Pobedonostsev, he took part in the creation of Merchant navy - joint-stock shipping company, which was created to promote the external economic policy of the government.
The beginning of rule of Alexander III was characterized by toughening of administrative - police reprisals and censorship ("Regulations about measures on maintaining of state security and public stability", 1881; "Temporal press rules", 1882). By the middle of 1880 the government, by reprisals, had managed to suppress revolutionary movement, first of all "National will". At the same time a number of measures, improving financial position of people and easing social tension in the society (introduction of obligatory repayment and reduction of redemption payments, establishment of Country land bank, introduction of factory inspection, step-by-step capitation cancellation etc.) were taken.
With Alexander's III support Tolstoy and his successor I.N. Durnov pursued policy of counter-reforms, which limited liberal reforms of 1860-70s. University charter of 1884 cut down the autonomy of the Higher School. Entrance to grammar school for children from the lowest social classes ("Circular on cook's children", 1887) was restricted. Peasant self-management since 1889 was subordinated to officials from the local landowners, who accumulated in their hands judicial and administrative powers. "District" and "Town' regulations (1890 and 1892) toughened the administrative control over local self-management, limited rights of voters from the lowest layers of the society. During the coronation in 1883 Alexander III declared to volost foremen: "Follow the advice and instructions of your leaders from nobility". The reflections of this directive were: measures on protection of class rights of noblemen - landowners, strengthening of administrative surveillance over peasantry, preservation of commonalty and big patriarchal family. Attempts were undertaken to increase the public role of Orthodox church (spread of parish schools); reprisals against Old Believers and sectarians were carried out. In the outskirts of Russia, the policy of russification was pursued; rights of non-Russian origin people (especially Jews) were limited.
The foreign policy of Russia during Alexander III reign was basically directed by the Tsar and is known for pragmatism, aspiration to save the country from any participation in international conflicts. The main point of this policy was a turn-away from traditional cooperation with Germany and union with France (contracted in 1891-1893). In 1880-1890 Russia practically did not wage wars (except for conquest of Central Asia finished by taking of Kushka in 1885), exactly for this reason the Tsar was nicknamed "Peacemaker". Economic life of Russia during Alexander's III rule was characterized by economic growth that in many respects was connected to policy of domestic industry protection. Alexander's government encouraged growth of large capitalist industry, which was productive. However, rapid development of industry came into conflict with archaic sociopolitical forms, backwardness of agriculture, peasant commonalty, lack of lands, all this in many respects paved the way for social and economic crises (famine and epidemic of cholera in 1891-1892). Alexander's untimely death was caused by nephritis.
By reports of many contemporaries, no one from Romanovs family corresponded to such degree to traditional national idea of a real Russian Tsar as Alexander III did. Patriotic beliefs and tastes of emperor are widely known. He had passion for all Russian with obvious dislike of foreigners and people of non-Russian (especially German) origin. Alexander's adherence to national traditions and interests in many respects promoted his popularity, despite of burdening the country authoritative leadership of the autocrat.