Alexander II

Alexander II

Alexander II, 1818-81, czar of Russia (1855-81), son and successor of Nicholas I. He ascended the throne during the Crimean War (1853-56) and immediately set about negotiating a peace (see Paris, Congress of). Influenced by Russia's defeat in the war and by peasant unrest Alexander embarked upon a modernization and reform program. The most important reform was the emancipation of the serfs (1861; see Emancipation, Edict of). This failed, however, to meet the land needs of the newly freed group and created many new problems. In 1864, a system of limited local self-government was introduced (see zemstvo) and the judicial system was partially Westernized. Municipal government was overhauled (1870), universal military training was introduced (1874), and censorship and control over education were temporarily relaxed. In Poland, Alexander initially adopted a moderate policy, granting the subject nation partial autonomy. When revolt broke out in 1863, however, Alexander reacted with brutal suppression, imposing severe Russification. The Western powers were sharply warned against interference. Prussia's support of Russia during this diplomatic crisis led to a Russo-Prussian rapprochement, and in 1872 the Three Emperors' League was formed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary. Throughout his reign Alexander promoted vigorous expansion in the East. The conquest of the Ussuri region in East Asia was confirmed by the Treaty of Beijing (1860) with China. Central Asia was added to Russia by the conquest of Kokand, Khiva, and Bokhara (1865-76). Alaska, however, was sold (1867) to the United States. In 1877-78 Russia waged war on Turkey, ostensibly to aid the oppressed Slavs in the Balkans (see Russo-Turkish Wars). Meanwhile, in domestic affairs, Alexander's reforms, while outraging many reactionaries, were regarded as far too moderate by the liberals and radicals. Radical activities increased sharply among the intelligentsia, resulting in a reassertion of repressive policies. When the populist, or "to the people," movement arose in the late 1860s (see narodniki), the government arrested and prosecuted hundreds of students. Many radicals responded with terrorist tactics. In 1881, after several unsuccessful attempts, a member of the People's Will, a terrorist offshoot of the populist movement, assassinated Alexander with a hand-thrown bomb; this on the very day (Mar. 13) that Alexander had signed a decree granting the zemstvos an advisory role in legislation. He was succeeded by his son Alexander III.

See studies by D. Footman (1974) and D. Lieven (1989).

Alexander II, 1198-1249, king of Scotland (1214-49), son and successor of William the Lion. He joined the English barons in their revolt against King John of England in 1215. Though he made his peace with John's successor, Henry III, in 1221, there was later friction that almost led to war. In 1237, Alexander agreed to give up his claims to overlordship in old Northumbria and to exchange lands he held in central England for lands in the north. At home Alexander was firm in quelling disorder.
Alexander II was a king of Epirus, and the son of Pyrrhus and Lanassa, the daughter of the Sicilian tyrant Agathocles.

Reign

He succeeded his father as king in 272 BC, and continued the war which his father had begun with Antigonus II Gonatas, whom he succeeded in driving from the kingdom of Macedon. He was, however, dispossessed of both Macedon and Epirus by Demetrius II of Macedon, the son of Antigonus; upon which he took refuge amongst the Acarnanians. By their assistance and that of his own subjects, who entertained a great attachment for him, he recovered Epirus. It appears that he was in alliance with the Aetolians. He married his sister Olympias, by whom he had two sons, Pyrrhus and Ptolemaeus, and a daughter, Phthia. On the death of Alexander, around 242 BC, Olympias assumed the regency on behalf of her sons, and married Phthia to Demetrius. There are extant silver and copper coins of this king. The former bear a youthful head covered with the skin of an elephant's head. The reverse represents Pallas holding a spear in one hand and a shield in the other, and before her stands an eagle on a thunderbolt.

Relations with India

Alexander is apparently mentioned in the Edicts of Ashoka, as one of the recipients of the Indian Emperor Ashoka's Buddhist proselytism, although no Western historical record of this event remains.

References

Sources

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