- NAME: Nicholas II
- OCCUPATION: Tsar
- BIRTH DATE: May 18, 1868
- DEATH DATE: July 17, 1918
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Pushkin, Russia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Yekaterinburg, Russia
- Originally: Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov
- AKA: Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov
- AKA: Tsar Nicholas II
- AKA: Czar Nicholas II
- Nickname: "Bloody Nicholas"
- AKA: Nicholas II
Best Known For
Nicholas II was the last tsar of Russia under Romanov rule. His poor handling of Bloody Sunday and Russia’s role in World War I led to his abdication and execution.
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Unaware of the event, Nicholas II and Alexandra were all smiles as they went on to celebrate the coronation at a ball. The couple’s oblivion made a poor first impression on Nicholas II’s new subjects.
In 1897 the couple gave birth to a second daughter, Tatiana. She was followed by a third, named Maria, in 1899 and a fourth, named Anastasia, in 1901. In 1904 Alexandra gave birth to the longed-for male heir,
Alexei. The parents’ joy soon turned to concern as Alexei was diagnosed with hemophilia.
Desperate to find an effective treatment for Alexei, Nicholas II even went so far as to let the monk Rasputin hypnotize the boy. The emperor proved such a devoted family man that his journal entries, which were meant to log official affairs of state, instead focused on the everyday goings-on of his wife and kids.
The main objective of Nicholas II’s foreign policy during his early reign was to maintain the status quo in Europe, rather than to conquer new territory. But, in the 1890s, as Russia experienced economic growth, it began to expand its industry into the Far East. In 1891, construction on the Trans-Siberian railroad had begun, connecting Russia with the Pacific Coast. As a result, Japan felt increasingly threatened.
In 1904 Japan attacked Russia. In December of that year, Nicholas II’s army was forced to surrender Port Arthur. By spring of 1905, his fleet was decimated in the Battle of Tsushima. In the wake of Russia’s defeat, Nicholas II entered peace negotiations with Japan that summer, but much greater concerns soon demanded his attention.
On January 5, 1905, Father George Gapon led a sizable but peaceful demonstration of workers in St. Petersburg. The demonstrators appealed to Nicholas II to improve working conditions and establish a popular assembly. Troops opened fire on the demonstrators, killing more than a thousand people in what would come to be called the infamous “Bloody Sunday.”
In reaction, indignant workers throughout Russia went on strike. As peasants all over Russia sympathized with the workers’ cause, thousands of uprisings took place and were suppressed by Nicholas II’s troops, serving to further increase tensions.
Although he believed himself to be an absolute ruler as ordained by God, Nicholas II was eventually forced to concede to creating an elected legislature, called the Duma. Despite this concession, Nicholas II still stubbornly continued to resist government reform, included those suggested by the newly elected minister of the interior, Peter Stolypin.
At the beginning of World War I, Russia’s armies performed poorly. In response, Nicholas II appointed himself commander-in-chief, so he could take direct control of the military from Grand Duke Nicholas, against the advice of his ministers. Nicholas II spent much of late 1915 through August 1917 away from Tsarskoe Selo in Saint Petersburg.
In his absence, the empress grew increasingly withdrawn and ever more dependent on Rasputin, who heavily influenced her political view on matters at home.
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