Sofiya Perovskaya was born in 1854 as the
daughter of a governor-general in St. Petersburg.
She was short and strongly build. Her face was
round and small exept for a large childlike
forehead, that was revealed as her hair was
pulled back. She had large grey eyes.
Already when she was a teenager she became a
revolutionary feminist. She joined a radical
fraction of a movement that favoured terrorism.
Sofiya lived together with another group member
In 1881 the group made a successful attempt to
kill the zar Alexander II with a bomb. The actual
killer committed suicide, but others were
captured and informed on Sofiya. She was
arrested and condemned to death together with 4
others including her common-law husband
On April 3, 1881 the 5 offenders went to the gallows together. It was to be the last public
execution in St. Petersburg.
The prisoners were driven to the place of excecution in two "shameful chariots" and each
prisoner had to wear a black sign on the chest saying "Regicide". Their hands were tied on
their backs. On the scaffold five nooses had been prepared. The prisoners mounted the
scaffold, and their verdicts were read during several minutes. Almost simultaniously each
prisoner approched a priest and kised the cross, after which they were diverted by
hangmen, each to their rope. The hangmen slipped over their white "shroud of hanged men"
that included a hood and covered their bodies completely. The nooses were put in place. At
9.20 a.m. the prisoners were hanged one by one removing a black bench from under their
At 9.30 a.m. it was over and the prisoners were hanging lifeless for 20 minutes before each
were taken down into a coffin and examined and the coffin closed. The entire procedure
was finished at 9.58 a.m. At 10 a.m. the dismantling of the scaffold began.