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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,1868–1918, last czar of Russia (1894–1917), son of Alexander IIIAlexander III,
1845–94, czar of Russia (1881–94), son and successor of Alexander II. Factors that contributed to Alexander's reactionary policies included his father's assassination, his limited intelligence and education, his military background, and the influence
..... Click the link for more information. and Maria FeodorovnaMaria Feodorovna
, 1847–1928, czarina of Russia, consort of Alexander III and mother of Nicholas II. Originally named Dagmar, she was the daughter of Christian IX of Denmark and the sister of Queen Alexandra of Great Britain.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Road to Revolution
Nicholas was educated by private tutors and the reactionary PobyedonostzevPobyedonostzev, Konstantin Petrovich
, 1827–1907, Russian public official and jurist. He was professor of civil law at Moscow when he attracted the attention of Czar Alexander II and was appointed (1865) tutor to the future Alexander III.
..... Click the link for more information. . 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 FeodorovnaAlexandra Feodorovna
, 1872–1918, last Russian czarina, consort of Nicholas II; she was a Hessian princess and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Neurotic and superstitious, she was easily dominated by Rasputin, who seemingly was able to check the hemophilia of her son.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
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 MenshevismBolshevism and Menshevism
, the two main branches of Russian socialism from 1903 until the consolidation of the Bolshevik dictatorship under Lenin in the civil war of 1918–20.
..... Click the link for more information. ) was founded in 1898; the Socialist Revolutionary partySocialist Revolutionary party,
in Russian history, an agrarian party founded by various Populist groups in 1901. Its program, adopted in 1906, called for the overthrow of the autocracy, the establishment of a classless society, self-determination for national minorities, and
..... Click the link for more information. was formed in 1901; the liberals pressed for constitutional government. In foreign affairs, Nicholas initiated the first of the Hague ConferencesHague Conferences,
term for the International Peace Conference of 1899 (First Hague Conference) and the Second International Peace Conference of 1907 (Second Hague Conference). Both were called by Russia and met at The Hague, the Netherlands.
..... Click the link for more information. and supported an aggressive policy in E Asia.
The humiliating outcome of the Russo-Japanese WarRusso-Japanese War,
1904–5, imperialistic conflict that grew out of the rival designs of Russia and Japan on Manchuria and Korea. Russian failure to withdraw from Manchuria and Russian penetration into N Korea were countered by Japanese attempts to negotiate a division of
..... Click the link for more information. (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 WitteWitte, Count Sergei Yulyevich
, 1849–1915, Russian premier. A railway administrator, he became minister of communications (1892) and minister of finance (1892–1903).
..... Click the link for more information. , who soon became premier, induced Nicholas to sign a manifesto promising representative government and basic civil liberties. An elected dumaduma
, Russian name for a representative body, particularly applied to the Imperial Duma established as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1905. The parliamentary organization of 1906, largely the work of Count Witte, provided for a state council (an upper house, with some
..... Click the link for more information. 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. StolypinStolypin, Piotr Arkadevich
, 1862–1911, Russian premier and minister of the interior (1906–11) for Czar Nicholas II. He sought to fight the revolutionary movement with both severe repression and social reform.
..... Click the link for more information. . 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 RasputinRasputin, Grigori Yefimovich
, 1869–1916, Russian holy man and courtier, a notorious figure at the court of Czar Nicholas II. He was a semiliterate peasant and debauchee who preached and practiced a doctrine of salvation that mixed religious fervor with sexual indulgence.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 RevolutionRussian Revolution,
violent upheaval in Russia in 1917 that overthrew the czarist government. Causes
The revolution was the culmination of a long period of repression and unrest.
..... Click the link for more information. ). 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).
(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.
REFERENCESLenin, 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.
K. F. SHATSILLO