Note: [ralphroberts.ged] [roberts.GED] [jackamoney.ged] Nicholas II, b. May 18 (N.S.), 1868, d. 1918, was the last emperor (1894-1917) of Russia. The eldest son of Alexander III, Nicholas succeeded his father with the intention of continuing his autocratic rule but lacked Alexander's ability and strength of will. He wavered between severe repression and, in time of popular upheaval, grudging acceptance of limited reforms that he sought to withdraw after the turmoil subsided. A passive, retiring man who preferred family life to public affairs, Nicholas allowed his superstitious but strong-willed wife, Alexandra Fyodorovna, and her insidious advisor, Grigory Rasputin, great sway over government policy. Enlightened moderates such as Count Sergei Witte were thus unable to promote the reforms needed to avert revolution. Although his father's reactionary policies had aroused growing opposition, Nicholas refused to make changes. Disastrous defeats in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) exposed the incompetence and corruption of the government and precipitated the Russian Revolution of 1905. In his October Manifesto (1905), Nicholas, advised by Prime Minister Witte, promised a constitutional government with a representative Duma authorized to approve or reject all proposed laws. After revolutionary activity ebbed, however, Nicholas dismissed (1906) Witte, dissolved (1906, 1907) the first two Dumas when they showed an independent spirit, and subsequently reduced the Duma's role to that of an advisory body. World War I, for which Nicholas's mobilization of the Russian army on July 30, 1914, was partially responsible, proved his undoing. In 1915 he took personal command of the army, giving Alexandra and Rasputin greater power at the court. Rumors of their unsavory activities, along with Russia's deteriorating military and economic situation, eroded public morale. Strikes and riots erupted in the capital Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) in February (O.S.; March, N.S.) 1917, and on Mar. 2 (O.S.; Mar. 15, N.S.), Nicholas abdicated at the Duma's demand. Exiled to western Siberia and later the Urals region, he and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks on the night of July 16-17, 1918.
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