Nicholas II (Russian: Николай II) (18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918) was the last tsar of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917.  His reign saw the fall of Imperial Russia from being one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse.  Due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Revolution, the execution of political opponents and his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War, he was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody by his political enemies.

Russia suffered a decisive defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, which saw the annihilation of the Russian Baltic Fleet at the Battle of Tsushima, loss of Russian influence over Manchuria and Korea, and the Japanese annexation of South Sakhalin.  The Anglo-Russian Entente, designed to counter German attempts to gain influence in the Middle East, ended the Great Game between Russia and theUnited Kingdom.  As head of state, Nicholas approved the Russian mobilization in late July 1914, which led to Germany declaring war on Russia on 1 August.  It is estimated that around 3.3 million Russians were killed in World War I.  The Imperial Army’s severe losses and the High Command’s incompetent management of the war efforts, along with the lack of food and other supplies on the Home Front, were the leading causes of the fall of the Romanov dynasty.

Following the February Revolution of 1917 Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his son, and he and his family were imprisoned.  In the spring of 1918, Nicholas was handed over to the local Ural Soviet; he and his family were eventually executed by the Bolshevikson the night of 16/17 July 1918. Their remains were buried in 1998.

In 1981, Nicholas, his wife and their children were canonized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, located in New York City.  On 15 August 2000 Nicholas and his family were canonized as passion bearers, a title commemorating believers who face death in a Christ-like manner, by the Russian Orthodox Church within Russia.


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