Nicholas IIRoyalty / Ruler
Born: 6 May 1868
Died: 16 July 1918 (execution)
Birthplace: Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin), Russia
Best known as: The last emperor of Russia
The last emperor of Russia, Nikolai Aleksandrovich succeeded his father Alexander III as czar in 1894. Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra (Alix) of Hesse, were coronated as rulers of Russia in 1896. As Czar he directed the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad, made peace with France and shared entente with Great Britain (Alexandra was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria). His disastrous war with Japan (1904-05), however, led to the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the creation of the Duma (parliament). The autocratic emperor unwisely took personal charge of the armies during World War I -- replacing his uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas, in 1915 -- and left domestic affairs to Alexandra and her favorite advisor, Rasputin, neither of whom were much interested in social reform. Years of popular discontent with policies at home and abroad led to the Russian Revolution, and Nicholas II abdicated on March 15, 1917. He and his entire family were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, the last of the royal Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov line.
Extra credit: For decades it was thought that Nicholas's daughter Anastasia had escaped execution; now there's little doubt that she did not.
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