Nicholas II By:Anastasia Davis

Early Life

Nicholas II was born Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov in Pushkin, Russia, on May 6, 1868. He was the firstborn child. Nicholas II's father, Alexander Alexandrovich, was heir to the Russian empire. Nicholas II's mother, Maria Feodorovna, had been born in Denmark. Maria Feodorovna provided a cozy family ENVIRONMENT during Nicholas II’s Childhood. Alexander was a strong influence on Nicholas II, shaping his conservative, religious values and his belief in autocratic government. Nicholas II received his education through a string of private tutors. While Nicholas II excelled in history and foreign languages, DEVASTATINGLY, the future leader struggled to comprehend the subtleties of politics and economics. To make matters worse, his father didn't provide him with much training in affairs of state. In 1881, when Nicholas II was 13 years old, his grandfather, Alexander II, was assassinated. Alexander Alexandrovich ascended the throne as Alexander III that year, and Nicholas II became heir apparent. When Nicholas II was 19 years old he joined the army. He spent three years in service before touring Europe and Asia for an additional 10 months. Passionate about the military, Nicholas II rose to the rank of colonel. he was the crowned prince of Russia, while in the military, but he attended few political meetings except for those held by the state council and the committee of ministers.

Coronation and Marriage

Nicholas II inherited the Russian throne when his father died of kidney disease at the age of 49 on October 20, 1894. He was Reeling from the loss, and was poorly trained in affairs of state, Nicholas II hardly felt up to the task of assuming his father’s role. In fact, he confessed to a very close friend, "I am not prepared to be a tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling." Despite all that was happening, Nicholas II managed to marry Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt within a month of Alexander III’s passing. Once he ascended the throne, Nicholas II had to marry and have children expediently, in order to secure a future heir to the throne. The couple had their first child, a daughter named Olga, in 1895. The following year, Nicholas II was officially crowned as the tsar of Russia. During a mobbed public celebration of the coronation near Moscow, thousands of people were stampeded to death. Unaware of the event, Nicholas II and Alexandra were all smiles as they went on to celebrate the coronation at a ball. The couple 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 B. Desperate to find an effective treatment for Alexei, Nicholas II and Alexandra even went so far as to let the monk Rasputin hypnotize the boy. The emperor proved to be a devoted family man.

Bloody Sunday

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. then Troops opened fire on the demonstrators, killing more than a thousand people in what would come to be called the infamous “Bloody Sunday.” indignant workers throughout Russia went on strike as a reaction. As peasants all over Russia sympathized the workers’ cause, thousands of uprisings took place and were suppressed by Nicholas II’s troops. 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.

World War I

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. Nicholas II’s ministers consequently resigned in rapid succession and were replaced by Alexandra’s chosen candidates, as influenced by Rasputin until his 1916 murder by nobles.

Decline and Death

Over the course of WWI, Russia endured major losses and was subject to extreme poverty and high inflation. The Russian public blamed Nicholas II for his poor military decisions, and Empress Alexandra for her ill-advised role in government. Because Alexandra was originally from Germany, suspicion spread that she might have even deliberately sabotaged Russia, ensuring its defeat in the war. By February of 1917, Nicholas II’s subjects were in such an uproar that riots broke out in St. Petersburg. Nicholas was still headquartered at Mogilev at the time. When he tried to get home to Petrograd, the Duma, who had by then turned on him, prevented him from boarding the train. After the Duma elected their own provisional committee built of progressive bloc members, and the soldiers sent to quash the St. Petersburg riots mutinied, Nicholas II had no other choice but to step down from the monarchy. On March 15, 1917 he abdicated the throne. He and his family were then taken to the Ural Mountains and placed under house arrest. In the fall of 1917 Russia’s provisional government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks. In the spring of 1918 Russia was engaged in a civil war. On the night of July 16-17, 1918, Nicholas II and his family were murdered by Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin, in Yekaterinburg, Russia, thus ending more than three centuries of the Romanov dynasty’s rule.

Fun Fact

The entire royal family, along with their servants, were said to have been murdered and dumped in a mass grave. However, the grave wasn’t discovered until some 60 years later. It was always assumed that 11 bodies of the Romanov family and their entourage would be in the same grave. But the remains of only 9 bodies were discovered and Anastasia’s body couldn’t be confirmed. Whispers that Anastasia had been whisked away with a stash of the royal family’s jewels sewn into her clothes, before the Romanov family massacre occurred, ran rampant throughout Russia. Had she been in hiding all these decades, living a secret life? Let’s take a step back and look at the evolution of this mystery. Anastasia Nikolavena Romanov was born on June 18, 1901. Her birth greatly distressed her father because he already had 3 daughters (Olga, Tatiana, and Maria) and was hoping for a son to be heir to his throne. Nicholas II eventually sired a son, but the most famous of all the Romanov children was his youngest daughter, Anastasia. Anastasia was raised in a royal family, but didn’t always behave as prim and proper as one would assume a child bred into royalty would act. She was a spirited, mischievous child with a sweet sense of humor. Anastasia was engaging and an endlessly entertaining little girl. She would play pranks on her sisters and little brother and on her tutors. She did not enjoy the confines of the classroom; lessons at school bored her. Anastasia was rambunctious and active and preferred the outdoors, where she could frolic about, climb a tree, or play with her dog. She was prone to mischief, sometimes persuading her young brother, Alexei, to join her. But as the son of the court’s physician (a man who was executed along with the Romanov family) once remarked, “She undoubtedly held the record for punishable deeds in her family, for in naughtiness she was a true genius.” When she grew older, Anastasia took up smoking on the sly. Anastasia had a close relationship with her father’s advisor, Rasputin; she considered him a close friend and mentor and grieved mightily after his murder. Anastasia had a good heart. During World War I, a hospital was set up in an area of her palace. Anastasia and her sister Maria would regularly visit the wounded soldiers and try to cheer them up. The girls would play checkers or backgammon with the wounded to help them pass the time. Other times, they would read out loud letters the soldiers received from home or they’d help soldiers compose letters to be sent to loved ones. But Anastasia’s life would soon come crashing down with a thud heard round the world caused by insurgents opposed to the crown. The Lenin-led Bolshevik Revolution was winning the Russian civil war against the old-line forces loyal to the czar. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. The Romanov family was put under house arrest by their Bolshevik captors. As the rebellion raged in its final stages, the family was moved to several different locations, they were told, in order to keep them safe and out of harm’s way. Then, on July 17, 1918, the Romanov family was told they were going to be relocated once again. They were moved to a basement room along with their associates. An execution squad entered the room and massacred them all in a torrent of gunfire. The bodies were buried in a mass grave outside the city of Yekaterinburg. Here’s where it gets confusing. Because the Romanovs were of German descent, Germany had gotten indirectly involved in the conflict and demanded that the Bolsheviks ensure “the safety of the princesses of German blood.” The Bolsheviks indicated that the 2 youngest Romanov children had survived the massacre because they somehow escaped beforehand. Was it true? Or was it said to placate the Germans? Speculation about Anastasia’s survival had started to circulate throughout Russia. The exact location of the mass grave where the Romanov family was dumped was never really known, except by the rebels who buried them there. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Romanov family grave site was discovered near Yekaterinburg by an amateur Soviet archeologist. It was always assumed that Anastasia was slaughtered with her family and close associates, which would have resulted in 11 bodies, but there were only the remains of 9 bodies found in the gruesome grave. Scientists identified the 2 missing members of the Romanov family as Alexei and either Maria or Anastasia. The fact that Anastasia’s body could not be confirmed conclusively only fueled speculation that she did indeed disappear and not die. Rumors of the missing bodies bolstered the escape theory, which then led to at least 5 imposters crawling out of the woodwork claiming that they were the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov, daughter of the last czar of Russia. Other imposters appeared and claimed to be a sister of Anastasia (Maria, Olga, or Tatiana), but none captured the imagination of the Anastasia imposters. Then, in 2007, a Russian archeologist discovered 2 bodies in another grave in close proximity to the burial site where the slaughtered Romanov family was found. The Russians reported that the human remains were that of a boy who was about 10 to 13 years old and a girl who was about 18 to 23 years old. Anastasia would have been 17 years old at the time of her death. About 6 months later, in 2008, Russian forensic scientists claimed that DNA recovered from the bodies matched that of Anastasia and Alexei. But the validity of their claim is unclear. Perhaps political propaganda played a role. Russia has always strived to be a secretive society. Maybe the Russians wanted to forever put to rest the rumors that Anastasia and Alexei survived. Perhaps the Russians didn’t want to have their history tainted; that is to say, maybe they didn’t want the world to think that the Bolsheviks, who ultimately became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, led by the beloved Vladimir Lenin, didn’t get the job done completely. We’ll never know for sure. The disappearance of Anastasia is one of those mysteries that might remain a mystery until the end of time. The media has been fascinated with the story of Anastasia. Books have been written about her. A Broadway play about her was produced, as well as a musical. And several films have also tackled her tale, with the 1997 animated feature Anastasia, released by Warner Bros, being the most popular.

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