(b. 18 May 1868, d. 16 July 1918).
Tsar of Russia 1894–1918
The son of Alexander III, he was determined to defend his autocratic rule despite the growth of an articulate, political opposition. His overambitious foreign policy led to a humiliating defeat in the Russo‐Japanese War of 1904–5, while the Russian Revolution of 1905 forced him to concede a parliament (Duma) and political freedoms. He withdrew many of these freedoms once his forces had gathered enough strength to quell the revolution in 1906. Despite the proven weakness of the Russian military, he entered World War I, and in 1915 even took personal control of the armies, leaving the day‐to‐day running of the government to his wife and her shady adviser, Rasputin. Thus he had to accept responsibility for the latter's unpopularity and corruption, for the rapid decline of the economy, and the dreadful performance of his army. Nicholas had little alternative but to abdicate in March 1917. He was later imprisoned and in 1918 moved by the Bolsheviks to Siberia. The fear of counter‐revolutionary action during the Civil War led to the murder of Nicholas and his family in Ekaterinburg.