|Church under construction|
|Finished Church of Our Saviour on Spilt Blood|
“Alexander the Liberator” was the Tsar who abolished serfdom. He was also known for his reforms in law and government administration, outlawing branding as a punishment in the military and developing natural resources. Yet despite his liberal reforms he was the target of assassins in April 1866, April 1879, December 1879 and February 1880. Most were by a left-wing terrorist group known as the Narodnaya Volya (The People’s Will).
|Tsar Alexander II "the Liberator"|
Alexander came out of the coach shaken but unhurt. The police jumped on Rysakov. The terrorist then turned and yelled at someone in the crowd. He threw a package at the Tsar’s feet. There was a second explosion. Among the twenty bodies in the snow, one was Alexander with his legs torn away, stomach ripped open and face mutilated. He was still alive.
|Drawing of the aftermath of the bombs|
|Princess Catherine, wife of Alexander II|
That very morning before he left, Alexander II had signed the Loris-Melikov Constitution which would have made Russia a democratic monarchy with an elected parliament. When his son Alexander III found it, he tore it up. He then suppressed civil liberties and brought back police brutality to arrest any protestors. He became xenophobic, trying to destroy any German, Swedish and Polish institutions and persecuted the Jews. All in reaction to his father’s assassination. If Russia didn’t want a benevolent Tsar, they would have a ruthless one.
|Alexander III, current Tsar|
No one has been able to get close enough to make an attempt on this Tsar even though radicals now had good cause. Oh there was that one plot by the Narodnaya Volya in 1887, but it was uncovered and the conspirators hung. One was Alexander Ulyanov. His death has impacted his little brother, Vladimir. Once model student is becoming a model radical and will be arrested in five years time and sent to Siberia for passing out Marxist leaflets. When Vladimir returns to St. Petersburg he will change his name to Lenin. Yes, that Lenin.
One can’t help but wonder what Russia’s fate would have been if Tsar Alexander II had not been assassinated. How different history could have been.
Interior of the Church of Our Saviour on Split Blood
The church was mostly neglected in the 20th century. In 1970 repairs were started and it opened as a museum in 1997. Here is how it looked during the ongoing reconstruction.
Russian Exhibit Depicts Friendship of Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln
They both freed the slaves and tragically shared the same fate.