Alexandra Feodorvna, the Russian Empress that gave her name to a city

Alexandra Feodorvna, the Russian Empress that gave her name to a city

Gyumri as a city has a rich and interesting history to tell. Throughout its exsistence the city has changed its name several times, from Kumayri to Alexandrapol, to Leninanakan and Gyumri.

Even though each period holds a unique story and remarkable dates to remember 19th century was the most important period. That’s when the area was finally formed as a town and became the center of the new established Alexandrapol Uyezd.

In 1837 Russian Tsar Nicholas I arrived in Gyumri and changed the name into Alexandropol, in honour of his wife  Charlotte of Prussia, also known as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. So who was Charlotte?

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Portrait of Alexandra Feodorovna, 1845

 

Charlotte was born the eldest surviving daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia, and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her first experience with Russia came early in life thanks to the invasion of Prussia by the French under Napoleon Bonaparte . She knew a great deal of hardship because of the war and had a special affection and admiration for her heroic mother who died when she was only twelve years old. As the eldest daughter she then became the “First Lady” of the Kingdom of Prussia, taking the place of her mother, and she never forgot the strength of her mother and her ardent Prussian patriotism.

 

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Portrait of Nicholas I

In 1814 Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich of Russia first visited Berlin and the Romanov and Hohenzollern houses immediately began to arrange a marriage between the dashing Russian prince and the petite Prussian princess.

When the Grand Duke returned in 1815 he happily fell in love with the beautiful princess and she with him. At the end of the trip the Grand Duke had proposed and Princess Charlotte accepted. She was nineteen when Charlotte and the Grand Duke Nicholas were married in 1817 at the chapel in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. It was the start of a great romance as Princess Charlotte, renamed the Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna.

At the death of her brother in law, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, in December 1825, Alexandra’s husband became the new Russian emperor. Alexandra enjoyed her husband’s confidence in affairs of state, but she had no interest in politics other than her personal attachment to Prussia, her native country.

Empress Alexandra was  devoted to her husband for the during her life, though she was greatly troubled by her fragile health which forced her to spend a great deal of time outside of Russia. This was hard as she had completely adopted Russia as her own and she always referred to Russia, not Germany, as her country. When her health continued to worsen her doctors warned her that the Russian winter would be the death of her and she would have to move south permanently she decided instead to move to St Petersburg for fear that she might succumb while in a foreign country and she was determined to die on Russian soil. She spent her remaining time at the Alexander Palace and died there, in her sleep, on November 1, 1860.