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Nicholas Alexandrovich, Tsesarevich of Russia

Nicholas Alexandrovich
Heir, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke of Russia
Nicholas Alexandrovich c 1864
Born (1843-09-20)20 September 1843
Alexander Palace, Tsarskoye Selo, Russian Empire
Died 24 April 1865(1865-04-24) (aged 21)
Nice, France
House House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
Father Alexander II of Russia
Mother Marie of Hesse and by Rhine

Nicholas Alexandrovich, Heir, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke of Russia (Russian: Цесаревич Николай Александрович, Наследник-Цесаревич и Великий Князь) (20 September [O.S. 8 September] 1843 – 24 April [O.S. 12 April] 1865) was Tsesarevich—the heir apparent—of Imperial Russia from 2 March 1855 until his death in 1865.


  • Early life 1
  • Engagement 2
  • Death 3
  • Ancestry 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6

Early life

Born at Tsarskoe Selo and nicknamed "Nixa", he was the eldest son of then-Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich, eldest son of Emperor Nicholas I, and Empress Maria. In 1855, his paternal grandfather died, and his father succeeded to the throne as Emperor Alexander II.


Tsesarevich Nicholas with Princess Dagmar of Denmark, engagement photograph, 1864

In the summer of 1864, Nicholas became engaged to Princess Dagmar of Denmark. She was the second daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel and was a younger sister of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, wife of the heir-apparent to the British throne.


Until 1865, Nicholas was thought to have a strong constitution, but early in that year, during a tour in southern Europe, he contracted an ailment that was initially incorrectly diagnosed as rheumatism. Nicholas's symptoms at that time included back pain and a stiff neck, as well as sensitivity to noise and light. He thought little of his ailments, however, and continued his tour in Italy.

His health rapidly worsened, and he was sent to Southern France, but this move brought him no improvement. It was eventually determined that he was suffering from cerebro-spinal meningitis, and it was speculated that this illness of his was caused by a previous accident in a wrestling match, in which Nicholas participated and was thrown down.[1] In the spring of 1865, Nicholas continued to decline, and he died on 24 April 1865, in Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

It is believed that on his deathbed, Nicholas expressed the wish that his fiancée become the bride of his younger brother and successor as Tsesarevich, Alexander, and in 1866, the couple was married.[2]Nicholas's death at the early age of 21 thoroughly devastated his mother, who was said to have pored obsessively over all aspects of Nicholas's life. Empress Maria never recovered from his death.

In 1867, construction was begun on a chapel named in his honor (Chapelle du tsarévitch Nicolas Alexandrovitch) in Nice, on the exact place where Nicholas was said to have died, and in 1868, the chapel was inaugurated, with his brother Alexander and his wife, the re-christened Maria Fyodorovna, in attendance.



  1. ^ F. R. Graham (1883). Life of Alexander II: Emperor of All the Russias. p. 180. 
  2. ^ "Med Guds Nåde WI ALEXANDER II". Finlands Allmänna Tidning (in Svenska) (Helsinki:  


  • Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov, Grand Duke of Russia
  • Zeepvat, Charlotte, Romanov Autumn, Sutton Publishing, 2000
Russian royalty
Preceded by
Alexander II of Russia
Heir-apparent to the Russian Throne
Succeeded by
Alexander III of Russia
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