Tsesarevich[1] (Russian: Цесаревич, IPA: [tsɨsɐˈrʲevʲɪtɕ]) was the title of the heir apparent or presumptive in the Russian Empire. It either preceded or replaced the given name and patronymic.

Imperial Standard of the Tsesarevich.
Coat of Arms


It is often confused with "tsarevich", which is a distinct word with a different meaning: Tsarevich was the title for any son of a tsar, including sons of non-Russian rulers accorded that title, e.g. Crimea, Siberia, Georgia.[2][3] Normally, there was only one tsesarevich at a time (an exception was Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, who was accorded the title until death, even though law gave it to his nephew), and the title was used exclusively in Russia.

The title came to be used invariably in tandem with the formal style "Successor" (Russian: Наследник, romanizedNaslednik), as in "His Imperial Highness the Successor Tsesarevich and Grand Prince". The wife of the Tsesarevich was the Tsesarevna (Russian: Цесаревна).[4]


In 1721 Peter the Great discontinued use of "tsar" as his main title, and adopted that of imperator (emperor), whereupon the title of tsarevich (and "tsarevna", retained for life by Ivan V's daughters) fell into desuetude.[2] The Emperor's daughters were henceforth referred to as "tsesarevna" (Peter had no living son by this time). In 1762, upon succeeding to the imperial throne, Peter III accorded his only son Paul Petrovich (by the future Catherine the Great) the novel title of tsesarevich, he being the first of nine Romanov heirs who would bear it.[2] However, at the time the title was conferred, Paul was recognised as Peter's legal son, but not as his legal heir. Nor would he be officially recognised as such by his mother after her usurpation of the throne.

More often he was internationally referred to by his other title of "Grand Duke" (actual meaning in Russian language is "Grand Prince"), which pre-dated tsesarevich, being a holdover from the Rurikid days before the grand dukes of Muscovy adopted the title of tsar. When Paul acceded to the throne in 1796, he immediately declared his son Aleksandr Pavlovich tsesarevich, and the title was confirmed by law in 1797 as the official title for the heir to the throne (incorporated into Article 145 of the Fundamental Laws).[2] In 1799 Paul I granted the title tsesarevich to his second son Constantine Pavlovich, who, oddly, retained the title even after he renounced the throne in 1825 in favor of their younger brother, Nicholas I.[2]

Thenceforth, each Emperor's eldest son bore the title until 1894, when Nicholas II conferred it on his brother Grand Duke George Aleksandrovich, with the stipulation that his entitlement to it would terminate upon the birth of a son to Nicholas, who was then betrothed to Alix of Hesse. When George died in 1899, Nicholas did not confer the title upon his oldest surviving brother Michael Aleksandrovich, although Nicholas's only son would not be born for another five years. That son, Alexei Nikolaevich (1904–1918), became the Russian Empire's last tsesarevich.

Tsesarevich of RussiaEdit

Picture Name Heir of Birth Became Heir to the Throne Created Tsesarevich Ceased to be Tsesarevich Death Tsesarevna
  Tsesarevich Paul Petrovich
later Paul I
Catherine II 1 October 1754 9 July 1762 7 January 1762 17 November 1796
became Emperor
24 March 1801 Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt

Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg

  Tsesarevich Alexander Pavlovich
later Alexander I
Paul I 23 December 1777 17 November 1796 28 November 1796 24 March 1801
became Emperor
1 December 1825 Louise of Baden
  Tsesarevich Constantine Pavlovich Alexander I 8 May 1779 24 March 1801 8 November 1799 27 June 1831 Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
  Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich
later Alexander II
Nicholas I 29 April 1818 1 December 1825 10 September 1831 2 March 1855
became Emperor
13 March 1881 Marie of Hesse and by Rhine
  Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich Alexander II 20 September 1843 2 March 1855 24 April 1865
  Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich
later Alexander III
10 March 1845 24 April 1865 13 March 1881
became Emperor
1 November 1894 Dagmar of Denmark
  Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich
later Nicholas II
Alexander III 18 May 1868 13 March 1881 1 November 1894
became Emperor
17 July 1918
  Tsesarevich George Alexandrovich Nicholas II 9 May 1871 1 November 1894 10 July 1899
  Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich 12 August 1904 15 March 1917
Monarchy abolished
17 July 1918

Tsesarevna of RussiaEdit

The wife of an heir-tsesarevich bore the title Tsesarevna (Russian: Цесаревна) – Grand Duchess. In first years of Russian Empire the female heirs of Peter I of Russia bore this title: his daughters Elizabeth of Russia (born 1709), Anna Petrovna (1708–1728) and Natalia Petrovna (1718–1725). This word is not to be confused with Tsarevna, used before 18th century for all the Tsar's daughters and daughters-in-law.

Many princesses from Western Europe, who converted to Orthodox Christianity and changed their given names accordingly, were given the patronymic Fyodorovna not because their fathers were named "Theodore", but as an allegory based on the name of Theotokos of St. Theodore, the patron icon of the Romanov family.[5]

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became Tsesarevna Ceased to be Tsesarevna Death Spouse
  Maria Alexandrovna
born Marie of Hesse and by Rhine
Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse
8 August 1824 28 April 1841 2 March 1855
became Empress
3 June 1880 Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolaevich
  Maria Feodorovna
born Dagmar of Denmark
Christian IX of Denmark
26 November 1847 9 November 1866 13 March 1881
became Empress
13 October 1928 Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich


After claiming the Russian throne in exile in 1924 Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia designated his son, Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich of Russia, Tsesarevich.[2] Since 1997 the title has been attributed to Vladimir's grandson, George Mikhailovich Romanov, whose mother, Maria Vladimirovna, conferred it on him in her capacity as pretender to the throne.[2] Those who refer to him by a dynastic title, however, more usually address him as "grand duke".[citation needed]

Until the end of the empire most people in Russia and abroad, verbally and in writing continued to refer to the Sovereign as "tsar". Perhaps for that reason the title of tsesarevich was less frequently used to refer to the heir apparent than either "tsarevich" or "grand duke".[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sometimes transliterated as Cesarevich or Caesarevich
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Macedonsky, Dimitry (June 2005). "Hail, Son of Caesar! A Titular History of Romanov Scions". European Royal History Journal. Arturo E. Beeche. 8.3 (XLV): 19–27.
  3. ^ Burke's Royal Families of the World II. Burke's Peerage Ltd. 1980. p. 65. ISBN 0-85011-029-7.
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cesarevich" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 767.
  5. ^ "Елисавета Феодоровна". Православная энциклопедия. Retrieved 2010-03-23.