She proclaimed, therefore, as heir-apparent the son of her deceased elder sister Anna, Charles Peter Ulrich, duke of HolsteinGottorp, a German in character, habits and religion, and tried to Russianize him by making him adopt the Eastern Orthodox faith and live in St Petersburg during the whole of her reign; but her well-meant efforts were singularly unsuccessful.
They liked to consider themselves as the Lord's anointed, placed high above all ordinary mortals even of the most exalted rank; and when Constantinople fell into the hands of the infidel they began to imagine that, as the most powerful potentates of the Eastern Orthodox world they were the protectors of the Orthodox faith and the political heirs of the East Roman emperors.
His mother was a lady of the Fadeyev family, by whom he was brought up as a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church and thoroughly imbued with nationalist feeling in the Russian sense of the term.
As autocratic ruler of the nation which had long considered itself the defender of the Eastern Orthodox faith and the protector of the Slav nationalities, he could not remain inactive at such a crisis, and he gradually allowed himself to drift into a position from which he could not retreat without obtaining some tangible result.
The change was very dexterously effected by Godunov, with the formal assent of the Eastern Orthodox Church as a whole, and one of his adherents was placed on the patriarchal throne.
Servia received financial assistance; a large consignment of arms was sent openly from St Petersburg to the prince of Montenegro; Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria became ostensibly reconciled with the Russian emperor, and his son Boris was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church; the Russian embassy at Constantinople tried to bring about a reconciliation between the Bulgarian exarch and the oecumenical patriarch; Bulgarians and Servians professed, at the bidding of Russia, to lay aside their mutual hostility.
In the internal administration during the first years of his reign he introduced by his personal influence, and without any great change in the laws, a more humane spirit towards those of his subjects who did not belong by language and tradition to the dominant nationality, and who were not members of the Eastern Orthodox Church; but he disappointed the men of liberal views by giving it to be clearly understood soon after his accession that he had no intention of circumscribing and weakening the autocratic power by constitutional guarantees or parliamentary institutions.
Of 3,591,974 members of all religious denominations in 1906, 2,285,768 were Roman Catholics, 313,689 Methodist Episcopalians, 199,923 Presbyterians, 193,890 Protestant Episcopalians, 176,981 Baptists, 124,644 Lutherans, 57,351 Congregationalists, 35,34 2 Jews (heads of families only), 26,183 members of the German Evangelical Synod, 19,302 members of Eastern Orthodox churches and 10,761 Universalists.
To facilitate this reform, to overcome the ecclesiastical prejudices of the Roman Catholic Croats against the Eastern Orthodox Servians, and vice versa, certain Croatian patriots, led by Ljudevit Gaj, proposed that all the Slavonic peoples in the north-western part of the Balkan Peninsula should call themselves Illyri and their language Illyrian (see Croatia-Slavonia: Language and Literature and History).