Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia
NICHOLAS I, EMPEROR OF RUSSIA
B. Tsarskoe Seloe, Russia, June 25 (O.S.; July 7,N.S.), 1796; d. St. Petersburg, March 2, 1855. Nicholas, the son of Czar Paul I and Sophia Dorothea of Württemberg, succeeded his brother alexander i as ruler in December 1825. His motto during his three decades as sovereign was "Orthodoxy, Russianism, nationalism." To put his policy into effect, he sought to crush liberalism and maintained a rigid censorship and control over education. Yet these years witnessed a flowering of Russian literature, graced by the writings of Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and others. The czar's expansion efforts won most of Armenia and the area at the mouth of the Danube, but it involved Russia eventually in the disastrous Crimean War (1853).
In his dealings with the Orthodox Church, Nicholas professed to restore harmonious relations, but he actually increased its dependence on the state. Catholics of the Latin rite who belonged to traditionally Catholic ethnic groups were tolerated, but Stanislav Siestrzencewicz-Bohucz, who had been Alexander I's chief instrument for controlling Latin Catholics, was deposed as metropolitan of Mogilev (1826). Catholics belonging to the eastern churches saw their union with Rome destroyed by Nicholas, who disapproved the continued existence of Catholic Ukrainians and Byelorussians. Joseph Semashko, an Eastern-rite priest, drew up the plan to incorporate his coreligionists into the Orthodox Church. After the Union of brest was declared void (1839), the Ukrainian rite Catholics were subjected to the schismatic holy synod.
The uprising in Poland (1830) caused Nicholas to contact gregory xvi, who condemned the violence of the revolution and urged Catholic Poles to be submissive to legitimate authority (February 1831). When the emperor expressed dissatisfaction with this admonition as too weak, the pope dispatched a stronger brief to the Polish bishops, Superiori anno (June 9, 1832). Previously Gregory XVI had complained about Russia's treatment of Catholics. In 1847 Pius IX concluded a concordat with the emperor.
Bibliography: c. de grunwald, Tsar Nicholas I, tr. b. patmore (New York 1955). a. boudou, Le St-Siège et la Russie, 1814–1883, 2 v. (Paris 1922–25). j. schmidlin, Papstgeschichte der neuesten Zeit, 1800–1939 (Munich 1933–39) v.1, 2. r. lefÈvre, "S. Sede e Russia e i colloqui dello Czar Nicolà I nei documenti vaticani." Miscellanea historica pontificia 14 (1948) 156–293. a. m. ammann, Storia della Chiesa russa e dei paesi limitrofi (Turin 1948). e. winter, Russland und das Papsttum, 2 v. (Berlin 1960–61) v.1. b. stasiewski, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 7:997–998.
[r. f. byrnes]