Nikolay Aleksandrovich, known as Nicholas II, was the last tsar (emperor) of Russia. He, his wife and children, were executed on July 16 or 17, 1918, by the Bolsheviks. He was born on May 18, 1868, and inherited the throne after his father Alexander III died in the year of 1894.
Here are some facts about Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II.
Nicholas II Facts
1. Nicholas II did not want to be a ruler
He became tsar after his father Alexander III died of kidney disease on October 20, 1894. However, Nicholas II did not want to be a leader or a ruler. He was not well prepared in affairs of state and it was hard for him to assume the throne. Nicholas even confessed to a friend that he never wanted to become a tsar and that he had no knowledge about how to rule, an interesting fact about Nicholas II.
2. It was believed that his daughter Anastasia survived the family’s execution
The royal family was executed by the Bolsheviks in July 1918, and there was always the belief that Nicholas II’s daughter, Anastasia, could have survived the shooting. After the family was killed, their bodies were burned, thrown into a mine shaft and buried. It was not until 1976 that the remains of Nicholas, Alexandra and their daughters Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana were found. The remains of Alexei and Maria, their two other children, were found in 2007. A DNA test confirmed all of their identities.
3. Thousands of people died in a stampede during his coronation
In Moscow, on May 26, 1896, Nicholas II was crowned tsar of Russia. However, it was a tragic event where thousands of people died in a stampede, an interesting Nicholas II fact. The new tsar and his wife Alexandra did not notice what was going on and kept on smiling during the celebrations of the coronation. Their oblivion made a poor first impression of the couple on their new subjects.
4. Nicholas II’s heir to the throne suffered from hemophilia
The first children of the royal couple were girls. First, Olga who was born in 1895, then Tatiana in 1897, Maria in 1899 and Anastasia in 1901. The heir finally arrived in 1904 and was named Alexei. However, he was diagnosed with a disease called hemophilia which is a disorder in which the blood does not clot in a normal way. If someone with hemophilia gets cut, they will bleed longer than someone that does not have this illness.
Since the tsars could not find an effective treatment for Alexei, they began to allow hypnosis on the boy by a monk named Rasputin to see if this could help him heal. During World War I, the tsar was long absent from his home and the empress became more dependent and influenced by this monk. This caused for her to go as far as replacing ministers according to what Rasputin suggested.
5. “Bloody Sunday” led to his abdication and downfall
January 5, 1905, will always be known in history as “Bloody Sunday”. That day, Father George Gapon led a group of workers to Saint Petersburg to ask for better working conditions and request the establishment of a popular assembly. Surprisingly, the crown’s troops opened fire against them and killed more than a thousand people.
This led to a national strike. Peasants all over the country sympathized with the workers’ cause and many uprisings took place. Troops continued to suppress them, which led to more tension. Historians believe that Nicholas II’s poor handling of this situation is one of the reasons that led to his resignation of the throne years later.
6. Nicholas II believed to be an absolute leader selected by God
Despite believing that he was selected by God to rule his people as an absolute leader, he was forced to concede to creating a legislature that was elected. This was called the Duma. Nonetheless, Nicholas II resisted the reform.
7. He served in the army and achieved the rank of colonel
At 19 years old, he joined the army, an interesting Nicholas II fact. He was very passionate about the military and toured Europe and Asia for ten months while he was part of it. He achieved the rank of colonel.
8. Nicholas II was a very timid person
Nicholas II was a charming but timid person. He did not like to be out in the public, but rather in the privacy of his family and close circles. He also liked a serene life and was devoted to his wife. It is said that she had the strength of character that he lacked.
9. He was the first Russian ruler to show interest in Asia
Nicholas showed a personal interest in Asia and visited in 1891 India, China and Japan. He also supervised the Trans-Siberian Railway construction that would connect Russia to the Pacific Coast. His country’s influence in Korea also interested him, although this caused Japan to feel threatened and develop into the Russo-Japanese War between 1904 and 1905.
10. Nicholas was forced to abdicate
On March 8, 1917, new riots arose in Saint Petersburg and the Russian Revolution started. The tsar ordered the city commandant to take measures and restore order, but it was too late. The government resigned and the Duma forced Nicholas II to abdicate. On March 15, he did, but not in favor of his son but of his brother Michael. His brother, however, refused the crown.
After this event, he and his family were sent to Tobolsk in Western Siberia and eventually to Yekaterinburg in the Urals where they were killed sometime after.
11. The tsar’s wife was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter
Alexandra, Nicholas II’s wife was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, an interesting fact about Nicholas II. She was the daughter of Louis IV, the grand duke of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Nicholas II was the last tsar there ever was in Russia and is remembered for his poor choices regarding politics and the ruling of a nation. His daughter Anastasia is perhaps even more famous than him because of the rumor that she may have escaped the family’s shooting in 1917. Several films have been in fact created about this topic, but it has been proven by science that she was also shot along with the rest of the royal family.
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