Nicholas II of Russia

Nicholas II
Император Николай II.jpg
Emperor of Russia
Reign1 November 1894[a]15 March 1917[b]
Coronation26 May 1896[c]
PredecessorAlexander III
SuccessorMonarchy abolished
Prime MinisterSee list
Born18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868
Alexander Palace, Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died17 July 1918(1918-07-17) (aged 50)
Ipatiev House, Yekaterinburg (later Sverdlovsk), Russian SFSR
Burial17 July 1998
Spouse
IssueGrand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna
Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia
Full name
Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov
HouseHolstein-Gottorp-Romanov
FatherAlexander III of Russia
MotherPrincess Dagmar of Denmark
ReligionRussian Orthodox
SignatureNicholas II's signature

Nicholas II or Nikolai II (Russian: Николай II Алекса́ндрович, tr. Nikolai II Aleksandrovich; 18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918), known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer in the Russian Orthodox Church, was the last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 2 March 1917.[1] His reign saw the fall of the Russian Empire from one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse. He was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody or Vile Nicholas by his political adversaries due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the execution of political opponents, and his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905).[2][3] Soviet historians portrayed Nicholas as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects.[4]

Russia was defeated in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War which saw the annihilation of the reinforcing Russian Baltic Fleet after being sent on its round-the-world cruise at the naval Battle of Tsushima, off the coasts of Korea and Japan, the loss of Russian influence over Manchuria and Korea, and the Japanese annexation to the north of South Sakhalin Island. The Anglo-Russian Entente was designed to counter the German Empire's attempts to gain influence in the Middle East, but it also ended the Great Game of confrontation between Russia and the United Kingdom. When all Russian diplomatic efforts to prevent the First World War (1914–1918) failed, Nicholas approved the Imperial Russian Army mobilization on 30 July 1914 which gave Imperial Germany formal grounds to declare war on Russia on 1 August 1914.[5] An estimated 3.3 million Russians were killed in the First World War.[6] The Imperial Russian Army's severe losses, the High Command's incompetent management of the war efforts, and lack of food and supplies on the home front were all leading causes of the fall of the House of Romanov.

Following the February Revolution of 1917, Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. He and his family were imprisoned and transferred to Tobolsk in late summer 1917.[7] On 30 April 1918, Nicholas, Alexandra, and their daughter Maria were handed over to the local Ural Soviet council in Ekaterinburg (renamed Sverdlovsk during the Soviet era); the rest of the captives followed on 23 May.[8] Nicholas and his family were executed by their Bolshevik guards on the night of 16/17 July 1918.[9] The remains of the imperial family were later found, exhumed, identified and re-interred with elaborate State and Church ceremony in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998 – 80 years later.

In 1981, Nicholas, his wife, and their children were recognized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in New York City.[10] On 15 August 2000,[11] they were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as passion bearers, commemorating believers who face death in a Christ-like manner.[12]

Family background

Nicholas II as a child with his mother, Maria Feodorovna, in 1870

Nicholas was born in the Alexander Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia (née Princess Dagmar of Denmark). He had five younger siblings: Alexander (1869–1870), George (1871–1899), Xenia (1875–1960), Michael (1878–1918) and Olga (1882–1960). Nicholas often referred to his father nostalgically in letters after Alexander's death in 1894. He was also very close to his mother, as revealed in their published letters to each other.[13]

His paternal grandparents were Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna (née Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine). His maternal grandparents were King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark. Nicholas was of primarily German and Danish descent, his last ethnically Russian ancestor being Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia (1708–1728), daughter of Peter the Great.

Emperor Nicholas II of Russia with his physically similar cousin, King George V of the United Kingdom (right), wearing German military uniforms in Berlin before the war; 1913

Nicholas was related to several monarchs in Europe. His mother's siblings included Kings Frederick VIII of Denmark and George I of Greece, as well as the United Kingdom's Queen Alexandra (consort of King Edward VII). Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and German Emperor Wilhelm II were all first cousins of King George V of the United Kingdom. Nicholas was also a first cousin of both King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway, as well as King Christian X of Denmark and King Constantine I of Greece. Nicholas and Wilhelm II were in turn second cousins-once-removed, as each descended from King Frederick William III of Prussia, as well as third cousins, as they were both great-great-grandsons of Tsar Paul I of Russia. In addition to being second cousins through descent from Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse and his wife Princess Wilhelmine of Baden, Nicholas and Alexandra were also third cousins-once-removed, as they were both descendants of King Frederick William II of Prussia.

Tsar Nicholas II was the first cousin-once-removed of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich. To distinguish between them the Grand Duke was often known within the imperial family as "Nikolasha" and "Nicholas the Tall", while the Tsar was "Nicholas the Short".

In his childhood, Nicholas, his parents and siblings made annual visits to the Danish royal palaces of Fredensborg and Bernstorff to visit his grandparents, the king and queen. The visits also served as family reunions, as his mother's siblings would also come from the United Kingdom, Germany and Greece with their respective families.[14] It was there in 1883, that he had a flirtation with one of his English first cousins, Princess Victoria. In 1873, Nicholas also accompanied his parents and younger brother, two-year-old George, on a two-month, semi-official visit to England.[15] In London, Nicholas and his family stayed at Marlborough House, as guests of his "Uncle Bertie" and "Aunt Alix", the Prince and Princess of Wales, where he was spoiled by his uncle.[16]

Other Languages
asturianu: Nicolás II
azərbaycanca: II Nikolay
Bân-lâm-gú: Nikolaj 2-sè
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Мікалай II
български: Николай II (Русия)
brezhoneg: Nikolaz II Rusia
Чӑвашла: Николай II
eesti: Nikolai II
français: Nicolas II
հայերեն: Նիկոլայ II
Bahasa Indonesia: Nikolai II dari Rusia
íslenska: Nikulás 2.
қазақша: II Николай
Кыргызча: Николай II
lietuvių: Nikolajus II
македонски: Николај II (Русија)
Bahasa Melayu: Nikolai II dari Rusia
монгол: II Николай
日本語: ニコライ2世
norsk nynorsk: Nikolaj II av Russland
occitan: Nicolau II
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Nikolay II
پنجابی: نکولس II
русский: Николай II
shqip: Nikolla II
Simple English: Nicholas II of Russia
slovenščina: Nikolaj II. Ruski
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Nikola II., ruski car
suomi: Nikolai II
татарча/tatarça: Николай II
Türkçe: II. Nikolay
Tiếng Việt: Nikolai II của Nga