Nicholas II

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Nicholas II: Alexander Kerensky

Nicholas II

, pope
Nicholas II (c.1010–61), pope (1058–61), a Roman named Gerard, b. Lorraine, France; successor to Pope Stephen IX. A strong proponent of papal reform, he issued (1059) the Papal Election Decree in an effort to minimize political interference in papal elections. He favored the elimination of simony, clerical marriage, and lay influence in the church. Nicholas II also attempted to restore a common life for cathedral clergy and to eliminate the abuse and alienation of ecclesiastical property.

Nicholas II

, czar of Russia
Nicholas II, 1868–1918, last czar of Russia (1894–1917), son of Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna.

Road to Revolution

Nicholas was educated by private tutors and the reactionary Pobyedonostzev. Alexander III gave his son little training in affairs of state, and Nicholas proved to be a charming but ineffective and easily influenced ruler. In 1894 he married Princess Alix of Hesse (Alexandra Feodorovna).

Soon after his accession Nicholas stated that he intended to maintain the autocratic system. He continued the suppression of opposition, the persecution of religious minorities, and the Russification of the borderlands. Revolutionary movements were growing rapidly. The Social Democratic Labor party (later split into Bolshevism and Menshevism) was founded in 1898; the Socialist Revolutionary party was formed in 1901; the liberals pressed for constitutional government. In foreign affairs, Nicholas initiated the first of the Hague Conferences and supported an aggressive policy in E Asia.

The humiliating outcome of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) resulted in the peasant revolts, industrial strikes, and violent outbreaks known as the Revolution of 1905. In Jan., 1905, a crowd of workers who had come peaceably to petition the czar were fired upon in front of the Winter Palace; the government's action on that “Bloody Sunday” proved fateful. After the general strike of Oct., 1905, Count Witte, who soon became premier, induced Nicholas to sign a manifesto promising representative government and basic civil liberties. An elected duma and an upper chamber were set up, but neither the extreme revolutionaries nor the czar were disposed to support the parliament.

Nicholas soon curtailed the Duma and dismissed Witte in 1906, replacing him with I. A. Goremykin and then with P. A. Stolypin. The outbreak in 1914 of World War I briefly swept aside internal conflicts. In 1915, Nicholas took over the command of the army from Grand Duke Nicholas, leaving the czarina in virtual control at home. This act led to a constant stream of resignations from the ministers; their posts were filled by the sycophants of Alexandra, who was completely dominated by Rasputin until his murder in 1916.

Abdication and Execution

Discontent at home grew, the army tired of war, the food situation deteriorated, the government tottered, and in Mar., 1917, Nicholas was forced to abdicate (see Russian Revolution). He was held first in the Czarskoye Selo palace, then near Tobolsk. On July 16, 1918, the czar and his family were shot along with their remaining servants in a cellar at Yekaterinburg during the night. Their bodies were buried or burned in a nearby forest. Nicholas's vague mysticism, limited intelligence, and submission to sinister influences made him particularly unfit to cope with the events that led to his tragic end.

The remains of the czar, czarina, and three of their children, were discovered in 1979, exhumed in 1991, and reburied in St. Petersburg in 1998. In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the czar and the members of his immediate family, but they were not recognized as victims of political repression and officially rehabilitated until 2008. The remains of the czar's two other children were discovered in 2007 and identified in 2008, but the Russian Orthodox Church's questioning of the scientific and genetic evidence has prevented their reburial with the rest of the family.


See E. J. Bing, ed., The Secret Letters of the Last Tsar (tr. 1938); C. E. Vulliamy, ed., The Letters of the Tsar to the Tsaritsa (tr. 1976); R. K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra (1985); P. Bulygin and A. Kerensky, The Murder of the Romanovs (1986); G. Vogt, Nicholas II (1987); E. S. Radzinsky, The Last Tsar (1992); M. Carter, George, Nicholas and Wilhelm (2010).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nicholas II


(Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov). Born May 6 (18), 1868, in Tsarskoe Selo, now the city of Pushkin; died on the night of July 16–17, 1918, in Ekaterinburg, now Sverdlovsk. The last Russian emperor [Oct. 21 (Nov. 2), 1894, to Mar. 2(15), 1917]. Oldest son of Alexander III.

Nicholas II studied under private tutors. His studies were based on a broadened Gymnasium curriculum until 1885–90, when he pursued a special program combining the government and economics curricula of a university faculty of law with the course of study of the Academy of the General Staff. The teacher who exerted the greatest influence on Nicholas was K. P. Pobedonostsev, who instilled in his pupil a firm conviction in the unshakable nature of autocracy. In November 1894, Nicholas married the daughter of the grand duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, Alice (Alexandra Fedorovna). The couple had four daughters and a son, Aleksei (born in 1904), the heir to the throne.

Nicholas II did not have sufficient intellectual ability to be a statesman. He had a weak will, which was combined with obstinacy when the resolution of questions involved his personal prestige. Toward the end of his reign, the solution of many issues of state were in the hands of the empress. The tsarina was mystically inclined and psychologically unbalanced. Various adventurists had influence over her, and through her, over Nicholas. The most important of these was G. E. Rasputin.

The beginning of Nicholas’ reign coincided with the rapid development of capitalism in Russia and with the transition in the early 20th century to the imperialist stage of capitalism. In order to preserve and strengthen the power of the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry), whose interests the regime continued to represent, tsarism was forced to adapt itself to the bourgeois development of the country. This adaptation was manifested in tsarism’s striving for rapprochement with the big bourgeoisie, in its attempt to create a social base of support among the well-to-do peasantry, and in the establishment of the State Duma (1906).

Nicholas reigned during a time of almost uninterrupted growth of the revolutionary movement. His regime made use of the army, the police, the courts, and measures of “police socialism” to combat this movement; to this end it fanned nationalism and chauvinism, encouraged Black Hundreds organizations, such as the Union of Michael the Archangel, and initiated an aggressive foreign policy, which led to the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05). For carrying out repressive measures during the entire course of his reign—”Bloody Sunday,” the punitive expeditions, the courts-martial in 1905–07—Nicholas II entered history as “Nicholas the Bloody.” Forced during the most intense period of the first Russian revolution to issue the Manifesto of October 17, 1905, with its promises of a legislative Duma and bourgeois democratic freedoms, Nicholas II afterward viewed this act as a result of his weakness. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905–07 abruptly weakened Russia’s influence in the international arena, and tsarism was compelled to seek allies in order to carry out new plans of aggression. But an attempted rapprochement with Germany (Björkö Treaty), which Nicholas undertook on his own initiative was not in Russia’s national interests, and Nicholas had to renounce the treaty.

A period of very close relations with the countries of the Entente then began, and in 1914 tsarism entered World War I as a member of the Entente. Nicholas II wanted to command the army, but this met with a resolute protest from a number of statesmen; the tsar was thus forced to appoint his uncle Nikolai Nikolaevich the Younger commander in chief. Fearing the popularity of his uncle in the army and in the country, and disregarding public opinion, the tsar took over the post of commander in chief on Aug. 23, 1915. Failures at the front, huge losses, demoralization and collapse in the rear, and the Rasputin scandal all aroused intense dissatisfaction with autocracy in all strata of Russian society.

Overthrown by the bourgeois democratic February Revolution of 1917, Nicholas II abdicated in favor of his brother Mikhail Aleksandrovich on Mar. 2 (15), 1917. Under pressure from the revolutionary forces, Mikhail did not accept the crown. On demand of the workers of Petrograd, Nicholas and his family were arrested in the Alexander Palace (Tsarskoe Selo) on Mar. 8 (21), 1917, and sent to Tobol’sk; after the October Revolution of 1917, they were moved to Ekaterinburg (now Sverdlovsk). In connection with the approach of White Guard forces to Ekaterinburg and by decree of the presidium of the Urals oblast soviet, Nicholas II and the members of his family were shot.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See index volume, part 2, p. 460.)
Nikolai II. Materialy dlia kharakteristiki lichnosti tsaria i tsarstvovaniia. Moscow, 1917.
Perepiska Nikolaia i Aleksandry Romanovykh, vols. 1–5. Berlin-Moscow-Leningrad, 1922–27.
Perepiska Vil’gel’ma II s Nikolaem II. Moscow, 1923.
Nikolai II i velikie kniaz’ia. Leningrad-Moscow, 1925.
“Dnevnik Nikolaia Romanova (16.XII.1916–30.VI.1918).” Krasnyi arkhiv, 1927, vols. 1–3; 1928, vol. 2.
Za kulisami tsarizma. Leningrad, 1925.
Semennikov, V. P., comp. Monarkhiia pered krusheniem. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Bykov, P. M. Poslednie dni Romanovykh. Sverdlovsk, 1926.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Nicholas II

1868--1918, tsar of Russia (1894--1917). After the disastrous Russo- Japanese War (1904--05), he was forced to summon a representative assembly, but his continued autocracy and incompetence precipitated the Russian Revolution (1917): he abdicated and was shot
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Nicholas II's killers were "obviously committed atheists who rejected any belief in any force -- except their own," said Gorin, a senior aide to Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia.
But Tsar Nicholas II was also someone who did not feel comfortable in his role and who was lost.
But would the figurehead of Tsar Nicholas II really help Russia become a superpower again?
Complicating things further, Nicholas II's wife, also named Alexandra, was another of Queen Victoria's grandchildren.
Petersburg but in many cases using photography to record the magnificence of Mother Russia herself in all her seasonal moods and transformations, from her huge pine forests to her frozen winter lakes Certainly Czar Nicholas II, who would be murdered, within the decade in a cellar at Ekaterinburg along with his family, believed wholeheartedly in the new medium, and chose Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii as his representative photographer with a brief to create a remembrance of space and a time that would eventually vanish forever in the bloody period of the Russian Revolution.
Alexander Baunov, who is a diplomat-turned-journalist, thinks that Harry, 26, should be crowned the first king of Russia since Tsar Nicholas II reined in 1917 on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Award-winning author Carter, however, brings the era to life with her description of the three first cousins--King George V of Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
SARIKAMIS, Jun 25, 2010 (TUR) -- A 113-year old hunting lodge constructed for the Russian Tsar Nicholas II in Sarikamis town of north-eastern province of Kars will go through restoration.
Tsar Nicholas II was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Scots Greys after his coronation in 1896, and wore the regiment's uniform when he landed at Leith on his way to visit Queen Victoria at Balmoral, and again when he took breakfast at Preston Station on his return journey, in October, 1896.
Your former employer was the grandson of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia and therefore was a grandnephew of Russia's last reigning czar, Nicholas II. He was born in London, his godfather was Edward VIII and he spent much of his youth at Windsor.