(the Younger). Born Nov. 6 (18), 1856, in St. Petersburg; died Jan. 5, 1929, in Antibes, France. Russian grand duke, son of Nikolai Nikolaevich, the Elder; adjutant general (1894), general of the cavalry (1901).
Nikolai Nikolaevich graduated from the Nicholas Engineering School in 1873 and from the Academy of the General Staff in 1876. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 he carried out special assignments for his father, the commander in chief; he subsequently commanded the Hussars Life Guard Regiment. From 1895 to 1905 he was inspector general of the cavalry. From 1905 to 1914 he commanded guards units and the St. Petersburg Military District, while at the same time (1905–08) acting as chairman of the Council of State Defense. In World War I he was supreme commander from July 20 (Aug. 2), 1914, to Aug. 23 (Sept. 5), 1915. He was replaced at the insistence of Empress Aleksandra Fedorovna, who feared his growing influence. From August 1915 to Mar. 2 (15), 1917, Nikolai Nikolaevich was commander in chief of the troops of the Caucasus Front. When Nicholas II abdicated on Mar. 2(15), 1917, he appointed Nikolai Nikolaevich supreme commander in chief; but, under pressure from the soviets and the Provisional Government, the latter had to decline the position. Nikolai Nikolaevich emigrated from the Crimea in March 1919, residing first in Italy and later in France. Among the White émigrés, he was considered a pretender to the Russian throne.
(the Elder). Born July 27 (Aug. 8), 1831, in Tsarskoe Selo, now the city of Pushkin; died Apr. 13 (25), 1891, in Alupka. Russian grand duke, third son of Emperor Nicholas I, adjutant general (1856), field marshal (1878).
Nikolai Nikolaevich studied in the First Cadet Corps and began his military service in 1851 in the Life Guards Horse Cavalry Regiment. In 1852 he commanded a brigade, and in 1856 a guards cavalry division. From 1852 (in actuality from 1856) to 1891 he was inspector general of military engineering. In 1855 he became a member of the State Council. In 1859 he took command of a guards reserve cavalry corps. In 1861 he commanded a detached guards corps. From 1864 to 1880 he was commander of the troops of the guards and the St. Petersburg Military District, while at the same time acting as inspector general of the cavalry (1864–91). During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Nikolai Nikolaevich was commander in chief of the Danube Army. He was neither a clever nor a balanced man, and he did not possess the qualities of a military leader. His influence on the course of military events was mainly negative. In 1880 he became seriously ill and ceased to play an active role.