The 1860s were a tumultuous decade for Russian Emperor Alexander II. In 1861, his abolition of serfdom, the so-called "revolution from above', sent tremors through Russian society, particularly the land-owning aristocracy. In 1866, in the St. Petersburg Summer Garden, the first of a series of attempts to assassinate him occurred. And political trouble was brewing in the Balkans and the newly united Germany was beginning to spread its influence both westward and eastward. But it was Alexander's love affair with Grand Duchess Katherine Dolgorukaya that had most people talking in Russian society. Alexander was 47 and Katherine thirty years younger than him when they began their affair. Not to mention that Alexander was already married to Maria Romanova and father of her children. For a while the affair is more or less secret. Alexander appoints the Duke of Shuvalov to head the secret police and gain on important ally in the coming political struggle but after Katherine gives birth to Alexander's son, Georgi, and Maria Romanova's confidant, the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlova, intercedes on her behalf with Shuvolov, the latter comes to believe that Alexander has lost his sense of reality and that state affairs are being neglected. Shuvalov is promptly dispatched to London to become the Ambassador to Great Britain. Alexander's infatuation with Katherine increases. He positions her to become the new Empress when the ailing Maria Romanova passes away. The southern Slavs have begun rebelling against Turkish domination and Russian troops are confronting the Turks further north. At home the emancipation of the serfs has only whetted revolutionary appetites, Alexander's political allies desert him and further attempts are made on his life. Alexander's only consolation is his love for Katherine; he promises to marry her as soon as God allows. He fulfills that promise in 1880 but less than a year later a terrorist bomb cuts short both his plans for the liberalization of Russia and his new life with Katherine.