Manifesto on the Ascension to the Throne of Emperor Nicholas I, 12 December 1825

Most Gracious Empress, Our Beloved Mother!

We announce the following to all Our faithful subjects. With a contrite heart, in humility before the inscrutable Will of the Most High, amid the general sorrow which has overwhelmed Us, Our Imperial House, and Our beloved Fatherland, We find strength and consolation in God alone. With the demise of Our Beloved Brother, the Sovereign Emperor Alexander Pavlovich, now reposed in God, we have lost a Father and a Sovereign whose charity Russia and We Ourselves have enjoyed for twenty-five years. When the news of this sad event reached Us on the 27th day of November, in the very first hour of sorrow and lamentation, We, strengthening Our heart for the fulfillment of Our sacred duty and following the inclinations of Our heart, swore an oath of allegiance to Our Elder Brother the Sovereign Heir and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, by right of primogeniture, the lawful heir to the Throne of All the Russias.

After We had fulfilled this sacred duty, We received information from the State Council that, on 15 October 1823, an envelope had been delivered to it bearing the seal of the late Sovereign Emperor and the following inscription written in His Majesty’s own hand: “To be kept in the State Council pending My request or, in the event of My demise, to be opened immediately in Extraordinary Session”; that this Imperial command had been carried out by the State Council and that the envelope contained:

(1) A letter of Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich to the Sovereign Emperor from 14 January 1822, in which His Highness abdicated His rights to the succession to the Throne, which belonged to Him by right of primogeniture.

(2) A Manifesto, confirmed on 16 August 1823 by a signature in His Imperial Majesty’s own hand, in which the Sovereign Emperor, announcing his consent to the abdication of Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, recognized Us as Heir, as next in seniority to him and as nearest to the succession according to the fundamental law. At the same time it was reported to Us that similar documents bearing the same inscription were being kept in the Governing Senate, the Holy Synod, and in the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow. My having been made aware of these documents could not change the oath We had sworn. In these documents, We could see that His Highness had abdicated during the lifetime of the Sovereign Emperor and that this abdication had been confirmed by His Majesty; but We had neither the desire nor the right to recognize this abdication, which had not at that time been made public and legally established as forever irrevocable. By our oath, We wished to affirm Our respect for Our country’s foremost basic law on the immutability of the order of succession to the Throne. Therefore, faithful to the oath which We had sworn, We insisted that the whole State should follow Our example; and We did this not by way of disputing the reality of the will expressed by His Highness, still less in disobedience to the will of the late Sovereign Emperor, who for all of Us was Our Father and Benefactor, a will which always remains sacred to Us, but in order to safeguard the basic law concerning the order of succession to the Throne from any violation, in order to dispel any shadow of doubt of the purity of Our intentions, and in order to prevent Our beloved Fatherland from finding itself unclear, even for one moment, about who its rightful sovereign is. This decision, which We took with a clear conscience before God, to Whom all hearts are open, has also received the blessing of Our Beloved Mother, the Empress Mariia Feodorovna.

In the meantime, the sad news of the demise of the Sovereign Emperor reached Warsaw, directly from Taganrog, on the 25th of November, two days before it reached Me here. Remaining true in his intention, the Sovereign Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, on the very next day, on the 26th of November, deemed it right to confirm his abdication once again in two acts, which He gave to our Beloved Brother, Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich, to convey to Me. These acts include the following:

(1) A letter to Our Beloved Mother, the Empress, in which His Highness reiterated his previous decision and once again solemnly abdicated His rights of succession to the Throne, passing it on, in the order established in the basic law, to Us and to Our posterity, confirming this decision by enclosing a copy of the letter that the late Sovereign Emperor had written in reply to His Highness’s letter of 2 February 1822.

(2) His Highness’s letter to Us; in it, he repeats his intentions and gives to Us the title of Imperial Majesty, retaining for himself his previous title of Tsesarevich and declaring himself to be Our most faithful subject.

As unmistakable as these Decrees may be, and as clearly as they may represent His Highness’s abdication as being firm and irrevocable, We nevertheless considered it to be appropriate to Our sentiments on the matter and to the existing state of affairs to delay their publication until We received a definitive statement from His Highness concerning the oaths which We and the whole State had just sworn to Him.

Now, having received this definitive statement of His Highness’s firm and irrevocable intentions, We make known publicly all these events that have transpired, attaching herewith the following:

(1) The Letter of His Imperial Highness Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich to the late Sovereign Emperor Alexander I;

(2) His Imperial Majesty’s reply to it;

(3) The Manifesto of the late Sovereign Emperor, confirming His Highness’s abdication and recognizing Us as Heir;

(4) His Highness’s letter to the Empress Mariia Feodorovna;

(5) His Highness’s letter to Us.

As a result of all these Decrees and in accordance with the basic law of the Empire on the order of succession, with a heart filled with veneration and submission to the inscrutable Will of God Who guides our lives, We ascend to the ancestral Throne of the Empire of All the Russias and to the Thrones united inseparably with it of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Finland, and ordain:

(1) That the oath of allegiance should be sworn to Us and to Our Heir, His Imperial Highness, Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich, Our Beloved Son;

(2) That our accession to the Throne should be dated from 19 November 1825.

Finally, We call upon all Our faithful subjects to join Us in fervent prayers to the Most High that He may send Us the strength to bear the burden placed upon Us by His Divine Will; that He may strengthen Our good intentions to live solely for Our beloved Fatherland; to follow the example of Our late Sovereign, whose repose we mourn; that Our Reign may be but a continuation of His Reign, and that We shall achieve everything that was desired for the good of Russia by Our late Sovereign, whose sacred memory inspires Us with zeal and hope to earn the blessing of God and the love of Our peoples.

(The original has been signed in His Imperial Majesty’s own hand:)


Issued in the Imperial city of Saint Petersburg, on the twelfth day of December in the year of Our Lord 1825 and in the first year of Our Reign.

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