During the nineteenth century, crowds in imperial Russia were proud of the country’s armed might and loved to watch parades and other military ceremonies. The tsar, the first soldier of the Russian Empire, often presided at these occasions. In that respect, Sunday, March 13, 1881, seemed like many other holidays. Tsar Alexander II, known to many as the Tsar-Liberator for freeing the serfs in 1861, planned to review a parade around noon, then to visit a royal cousin on his way back to the Winter Palace in the heart of St. Petersburg. Unbeknownst to Alexander, however, twenty-seven determined revolutionary terrorists, members of a radical fringe group called the People’s Will, had fixed that Sunday as his date of execution.