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This article is about the Russian title. For the British horse race, see Cesarewitch Handicap. For the Russian ship, see Battleship Tsesarevich.

Tsesarevich (sometimes transliterated as Cesarevich or Caesarevich) was the title of the heir apparent or heir presumptive to the emperors of Russia. It was used preceding the first name and patronymic, or used in lieu thereof.


It is often confused with "tsarevich" (czarevich), 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. Normally, there was only one tsesarevich at a time (an exception was Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich), and the title was used exclusively in Russia.

The title came to be used invariably in tandem with the formal style "Successor" (Naslednik), as in "His Imperial Highness the Successor Tsesarevich and Grand Duke". The wife of the Tsesarevich was the Tsesarevna.


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. 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 eleven Romanov heirs who would bear it. However, at the time the title was conferred, Paul was recognized as Peter's legal son, but not as his legal heir. Nor would he be officially recognized as such by his mother after her usurpation of the throne.

More often he was referred to by his other title of "grand duke", 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 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). Thus the childless Alexander I's brother Constantine Pavlovich was tsesarevich and, oddly, retained the title even after he renounced the throne in 1825 in favor of his younger brother, Nicholas I.

Thenceforth, it was borne by the Emperor's eldest son until 1894, when it was conferred by Nicholas II 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. The tragic Tsarevich Alexei Nikolayevich would be the Russian Empiremarker's last tsesarevich.


In exile, Vladimir Romanov was designated as the Tsesarevich by his father, Grand Duke Cyril, after he claimed the throne in 1924. 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. Those who refer to him by a dynastic title, however, more usually address him as grand duke.

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, particularly in less educated circles.


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