Alexander, the eldest son of Tsar Nicholas I, was born in Moscow on 17th April, 1818. Educated by private tutors, he also had to endure rigorous military training that permanently damaged his health.
In 1841 he married Marie Alexandrovna, the daughter of the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt. Alexander became Tsar of Russia on the death of his father in 1855. At the time Russia was involved in the Crimean War and in 1856 signed the Treaty of Paris that brought the conflict to an end.
The Crimean War made Alexander realize that Russia was no longer a great military power. His advisers argued that Russia's serf-based economy could no longer compete with industrialized nations such as Britain and France.