Alexis

/euh lek"sis/, n.
a male or female given name: from a Greek word meaning "helper."

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I
Russian Aleksey Mikhaylovich

born March 9, 1629, Moscow, Russia
died Jan. 29, 1676, Moscow

Tsar of Russia (1645–76).

Son of Michael, the first Romanov monarch of Russia, Alexis acceded to the throne at age 16. He encouraged trade with the West, which brought an upsurge in foreign influences. During his reign the peasants were enserfed, the land assemblies fell into gradual disuse, the professional bureaucracy and regular army grew in importance, and patriarch Nikon's reforms of the Russian Orthodox church were adopted. Though reportedly warmhearted and popular, Alexis was a weak ruler who sometimes entrusted matters of state to incompetent favourites.
II
(as used in expressions)
Carrel Alexis
Chabrier Alexis Emmanuel
Jean Alexis Moncorgé
Tocqueville Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clérel de

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▪ Greek writer
born c. 375 BC, Thurii, Lucania [Italy]
died c. 275

      one of the foremost writers of Middle and New Comedy at Athens, a low form of comedy that succeeded the Old Comedy of Aristophanes.

      Alexis came from Thurii but apparently lived most of his long life in Athens; he was said to have been Menander's uncle. According to Plutarch, he lived to the age of 106 and died on the stage while being crowned. Alexis is said to have written 245 plays, of which only 1,000 lines survive.

▪ prince of Russia [1690-1718]
Russian  in full Aleksey Petrovich  
born Feb. 18 [Feb. 28, New Style], 1690, Moscow, Russia
died June 26 [July 7], 1718, St. Petersburg
 heir to the throne of Russia, who was accused of trying to overthrow his father, Peter I the Great.

      After his mother, Eudoxia, was forced to enter a convent (1698), Alexis was brought up by his aunts and, after 1702, was educated by the tutor Baron Heinrich von Huyssen. Although he dutifully obeyed his father—participating in the siege of Narva (1704) and directing the fortification of Moscow (1707) during the Great Northern War, studying at Dresden in Saxony (1709), and marrying Princess Sophia Charlotte of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1711)—he never developed an enthusiasm for Peter's wars and reforms and became increasingly hostile toward his father. After Peter's second wife, Catherine (Catherine I), provided the tsar with another male heir in 1715, Alexis was offered the choice of either reforming his behaviour or renouncing his right of succession and becoming a monk.

      When Peter later ordered Alexis to join him and the Russian army in Denmark (August 1716), Alexis fled to Vienna, where the Holy Roman emperor Charles VI gave him protection. Peter, fearing that his opponents might support Alexis as an alternative ruler, sent envoys to bring Alexis home. Promising him a full pardon, the envoys persuaded Alexis to return to Moscow (Jan. 31 [Feb. 11], 1718). He soon discovered, however, that his father's forgiveness was contingent upon renouncing his right to the throne and denouncing those who had helped him escape.

      Although Alexis accepted these terms, Peter, using extraordinarily cruel methods, conducted an investigation of Alexis' supporters, discovered the existence of a potential movement of reaction for which Alexis might become a rallying point, and concluded that his son was involved in a treasonous conspiracy. Alexis was then forced to confess before the Senate, and a special court tried him and condemned him to death. Before his execution, however, he died in the Peter-Paul Fortress from shock and the effects of torture.

▪ prince of Russia [1904-18]
Russian  in full Aleksey, or Aleksei, Nikolayevich  
born Aug. 12 [Aug. 25, New Style], 1904, Peterhof [now Petrodvorets], near St. Petersburg, Russia
died July 16/17, 1918, Yekaterinburg
 only son of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, and the tsarina Alexandra. He was the first male heir born to a reigning tsar since the 17th century.

      Alexis was a hemophiliac, and at that time there was no medical treatment that could alleviate his condition or lessen his vulnerability to uncontrolled bleeding. The mystic healer Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (Rasputin, Grigory Yefimovich) was summoned to the palace to help the little tsarevich during one of his bleeding episodes, and he achieved marked success in relieving Alexis' suffering. Whether through the hypnotic power of suggestion or the use of drugs or both, Rasputin proved indispensable in helping the boy survive several serious crises. Rasputin's subsequent acquisition of enormous influence at the imperial court was due primarily to the relief and gratitude of the royal couple.

      In March 1917 the tsar received from the Duma a demand for his abdication. At first he favoured giving up the crown to Alexis, with his brother Grand Duke Michael as regent, but he changed his mind, feeling that the boy was too fragile. His abdication was made then in favour of the Grand Duke Michael, who, however, refused to accept the crown unless it were tendered to him by the will of the people. The last chance for a regime of constitutional monarchy was thus cut short.

      Alexis was killed with the other members of his immediate family in a cellar where they had been confined by the Bolsheviks at Yekaterinburg.

▪ tsar of Russia
Russian  in full Aleksey Mikhaylovich  
born March 9 [March 19, New Style], 1629, Moscow, Russia
died Jan. 29 [Feb. 8], 1676, Moscow
 tsar of Russia from 1645 to 1676.

      The son of Michael, the first Romanov monarch of Russia (reigned 1613–45), Alexis received a superficial education from his tutor Boris Ivanovich Morozov (Morozov, Boris Ivanovich) before acceding to the throne at the age of 16. Morozov, who was also Alexis' brother-in-law, initially took charge of state affairs, but in 1648 a popular uprising in Moscow forced Alexis to exile Morozov.

      Alexis bowed to the rebels' demands and convened a land assembly (zemski sobor), which in 1649 produced a new Russian code of laws (Sobornoye Ulozheniye), which legally defined serfdom. Morozov's place as the court favourite was taken first by Prince N.I. Odoyevsky and then by the patriarch Nikon. Russia accepted sovereignty over the Dnieper Cossacks in January 1654 and, in the following May, entered into a drawn-out war with Poland. This also involved a conflict with Sweden from 1656 to 1661. By the Treaty of Andrusovo (January 1667), which ended the Polish war, Russia won possession of Smolensk, Kiev, and the section of Ukraine lying east of the Dnieper River.

      A notable event of Alexis' reign was the schism in the Russian Orthodox church. The tsar backed Nikon's efforts to revise Russian liturgical books and certain rituals that during the preceding century had departed from their Greek models. Although before long he became estranged from Nikon, whose violent temper and authoritarian inclinations had earned him many enemies, the revisions that Nikon initiated were retained, and the opponents of the reform were excommunicated. After the disgrace of Nikon, A.L. Ordyn-Nashchokin was the tsar's principal adviser until A.S. Matveyev took his place in 1671.

      During the reign of Alexis the peasants were tied to the land and to the landlord and were thus finally enserfed; the land assemblies were allowed to fall into gradual disuse; and the professional bureaucracy and regular army grew in importance. Because of Alexis' encouragement of trade with the West, foreign influences also began to crack the hitherto fairly solid wall separating Russia from its European neighbours. Dissatisfaction with his reign centred in the cities (which chafed under the economic competition of foreigners) and among the peasantry (which was deprived of the last vestiges of freedom). This social dissatisfaction expressed itself in frequent rebellions, the most savage of which was the peasant uprising on the eastern borderlands led by Stenka Razin from 1667 to 1671.

      Virtually all the sources agree that Alexis was a gentle, warmhearted, and popular ruler. His main fault was weakness; throughout most of his reign, matters of state were handled by favourites, some of whom were incompetent or outright fools.

      He was married twice, first to Mariya Ilinichna Miloslavskaya (with whom he had two sons, the future tsars Fyodor III and Ivan V, as well as several daughters), then to Natalya Kirillovna Naryshkina, whose son became Peter I the Great.

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Universalium. 2010.

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