Alexander II was the Emperor of Russia, King of Congress Poland and Grand Duke of Finland from 2 March 1855 until his assassination.
Alexander's most significant reform as emperor was emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator. The tsar was responsible for other reforms, including reorganizing the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing corporal punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some privileges of the nobility, and promoting university education. After an assassination attempt in 1866, Alexander adopted a somewhat more reactionary stance until his death.
Alexander pivoted towards foreign policy and sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, fearing the remote colony would fall into British hands if there were another war. He sought peace, moved away from bellicose France when Napoleon III fell in 1871, and in 1872 joined with Germany and Austria in the League of the Three Emperors that stabilized the European situation.