The 47-year-old Czar Alexander I of Russia died on November 19, 1825.  When news of his death reached the capital, a handful of St. Petersburg troops rebelled against the succession of his brother Nicholas.  The uprising was quickly put down, but the “Decembrists,” as the troops were called, became heroes to Russian liberals during the harsh rein of Czar Nicholas.

Perhaps because Nicholas’ power was questioned at the very beginning of his reign, rumors soon spread that Alexander had not died at all but had secretly abdicated in order to take up the life of a holy hermit.  A man named Fedor Kuzmich appeared to Tomsk far to the east, and local residents whispered that Alexander Romanov was living among them.

On his death bed in 1864 the hermit Kuzmich told them:  “God knows my real name.”  The following year, when Alexander II attempted to quell the rumors by having his uncle’s coffin opened, many said that it proved to be empty.  The tomb was opened again in 1926 and was found to be empty.

(Reader’s Digest Association Inc, Mysteries of the Unexplained, p. 118; Ian Grey, The Romonov’s, pp. 262-268, 367-368)

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