Tsar Alexander I, an intelligent, handsome, benevolent and aspiring leader, ascended to the Russian throne in 1801 to become one of Russia's greatest reformers and military leaders. The Tsar who defeated the French Empire was profoundly influenced by their domestic and foreign affairs, leading his vision of Russia to enhance and protect the revolutionary ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Initially open-minded to these western philosophies Alexander was inspired by his role models to spread these ideas, therefore becoming a "European" rather than just a Russian ruler. Thomas Jefferson who thought quite highly of Alexander, wrote from Monticello in 1806,.
It will be among the latest and most soothing comforts of my life to have seen advanced to the government of so extensive a portion of the earth and at so early a period of his life a sovereign whose ruling passion is the advancement of the happiness and prosperity of his people; and not of his own people only, but who can extend his eye and his good will to a distant and infant nation. .
Before understanding what Tsar Alexander I did for Russia, one must understand the type of man he was. Grandson of Catherine the Great and son of Paul I, he was influenced by these family members who had different views. Paul I, the son of Peter III and Catherine the Great developed an unstable relationship with his controlling mother who had wrestled the throne away from her husband. She consistently refused Paul any type of leadership role in Russian affairs. Catherine devoted her reign to fulfilling Peter the Great's prophecies. She made Russia into a country active in the political, economic, and social styles of the rest of Europe, and led it to become a known power in the continent. On the contrary, Paul objected to European views and was disgusted with the French Revolution and everything associated with it, such as the censorship of reading material, fashions, and music.