The Tsar in question was Nicholas I who had come to the throne of Russia in 1825 on the death of his brother Alexander I. Constantin Grunwald describes him thus:

With his height of more than six feet, his head always held high, a slightly aquiline nose, a firm and well-formed mouth under a light moustache, a square chin, an imposing domineering set face,m noble rather than tender, monumental rather than human, he had something of Apollo and Jupiter ... Nicholas was unquestionably the most handsome man in Europe — Tsar Nicholas I (New York, 1955), p. 154.

Nicholas was an autocrat and was of the opinion that he alone spoke for Russia. He was determined to extend Russia's influence in Europe and saw himself as the God-appointed defender of Orthodox Christianity. In the early 1850s this brought him in to direct conflict with the Roman Catholic French. Nicholas also attempted to gain influence over the Porte — the administration of the Ottoman Empire and court of the Sultan in Constantinople. This brought Nicholas into conflict with the British who feared a Russian fleet in the Mediterranean.

It was Nicholas who took Russia into the Crimean War. In 1854 he said that he would let 'Generals January and February' kill the Allied forces and then he would provide a three decker to the remains of the English Army to go home in, in the Spring.

Nicholas I died on 2 March 1855, of a chill that he caught while visiting his troops in the Crimea.

Last modified 19 April 2002