Nicholas II of Russia
|Reign||1 November [O.S. 20 October] 1894 – 15 March 1917
(22 years, 134 days)
|Coronation||26 May [O.S. 14 May] 1896|
De facto :
Georgy Lvov (chairman of the provisional government)
|Consort||Alix of Hesse|
|Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna|
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna
Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich
|Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov|
|House||House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov|
|Father||Alexander III of Russia|
(Dagmar of Denmark)
Nicholas II of Russia (May 18, 1868 – July 17, 1918) was the last crowned and annointed Tsar and Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He ruled from 1894 until his forced abdication in 1917. It is said that Nicholas proved unequal to the combined tasks of managing a country in political turmoil and commanding its army in the largest international war to date. His rule ended with the Russian Revolution of 1917, after which he and his family were murdered by Bolsheviks.
The Great War was going very badly for Russia by the beginning of 1917. The Brusilov Offensive against the Central Powers had failed and the Russian armies were again in retreat. In addition, the exceptionally severe winter in January and February 1917 arguably precipitated the collapse. At Tsarskoye-Selo, as in all the great Russian cities, it froze to minus thirty degrees, and on February 22 the temperature plummeted to minus forty degrees. Two hundred locomotives failed, with burst boilers, blocking the tracks. Thousands of supply trucks taking food to the front, the capital and the great urban centres were blocked. In Petrograd the bread shops were empty and there was already unrest at the government announcement that bread rationing was about to commence. In addition the reserves of flour ordered by the municipality had been sold to provincial traffickers by unscrupulous administrators. February 22 was also the European Socialist Movements' 'workers festival' and several factories and 100,000 workers in the city struck. Disorders broke out and bakers' windows were smashed and some food shops plundered.
Endless queues now stretched outside the few shops that had not yet been closed or pillaged. Unaware of the disturbances the Tsar boarded a Royal train at Tsarskoye-Selo bound for Military Headquarters at Mohylev. The following day a great wave of striking rioters was marching along the Nevsky Prospekt in Petrograd shouting "We Want bread" on the steps of parliament. On February 24 the weavers were given orders to strike and two hundred thousand more workers joined the rioters, waving Red flags. On the 25th a General Strike was called and rioters occupied all the public buildings.
On February 26th, informed of the riots, the Tsar telegraphed General Kabalov, the military commander in the capital, to "put an end to the troubles". The cream of the regiments stationed in the cities were long decimated on the Great War's battlefields, and they now consisted of poorly trained raw recruits. These troops now showed signs of hesitation when ordered to restore order, and then openly refused to obey orders and even cheered the rioters. The Sturmer Government resigned. The Russian Revolution had begun so spontaneously that the extreme Left, the Social-Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks, were not yet ready. The Labour leader, Alexander Kerensky now put himself at the head of the revolutionary movement in the capital, was elected vice-chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, and simultaneously became the first Minister of Justice in the new government. Worried about the events in the capital, and particularly for his family, the Tsar left HQ for Tsarskoye early on February 28 by Royal train. On March 2 a new Provisional Government under the liberal Prince Georgy Lvov was established and the Duma called immediately for the Tsar's abdication. Two deputies, Shulgin and Gutchkov (later the War Minister), were despatched to Pskov where the Royal train had halted, arriving there late in the evening. Most of his commanders in the field telegraphed Nicholas urging his abdication to save Russia. After a short discussion, a perfectly calm Nicholas abdicated for himself and his son, Alexis, in favour of his brother, the Grand Duke Michael, at twelve minutes to midnight. The Tsar wrote in his diaries "my soul is oppressed by what I have just lived through. All round me there is nothing but treachery, cowardice and deceit." The Duma deputies departed immediately and at one o'clock in the morning the Royal train left Pskov for Mohylev. 
Murder of Imperial Family
The murder of the Russian Imperial Family on July 17, 1918, was probably the greatest crime in world history second only to Jewry’s crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ nineteen hundred years before.
The family of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and his daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and his son and heir, Alexei, were pious Orthodox Christians. They exemplified all that is precious in a family – Christian piety and love for one’s neighbor. And they loved nothing more than going to Church.
In the spring of 1918, the Tsar and his family were taken to Ekaterinburg in the Urals where Jacob Yurovsky, a Jewish watchmaker from Perm and head of the local Cheka, was given the assignment to imprison, plan, and assassinate the Imperial Family.
Yurovsky brought the Tsar and his family to a former house of a wealthy merchant named Ipatiev, which became a prison for his captives. Just before midnight on July 17, 1918, Yurovsky brought the Imperial Family to the basement on the pretext that they were leaving. But, the assassins, Jacob Yurovsky, Nikulin, Pyotr Yermakov, Vaganov, were waiting.
Yurovsky then pulled out his revolver and aimed it directly at the Tsar’s head and fired. Tsar Nicholas II died instantly. Next, he shot Tsarina Alexandra as she made the sign of the Cross. Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, were shot next.
As the room became silent there was a low groan. Alexei, the heir to the throne of Russia was still alive. Yurovsky stepped up and fired two shots into the boy’s ear. All the members of the Tsar’s family were lying on the floor with many wounds in their bodies. The blood was running in streams.
- Alexandrov, Victor, The End of the Romanovs, Hutchinson, London, 1966, p.122.
- Alexandrov, 1966, p.126-7.
- Alexandrov, 1966, pps:127-131.