Nicholas II of the Romanov dynasty was the last tsar of Russia. The family had ruled for more than 300 years, but shadows were gathering when Nicholas assumed the throne in 1894.

Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia
Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia

He and the Empress Alexandra were unpopular from the beginning. The reclusive Alexandra was particularly disliked by the Russian people. She was of German descent, a nation widely distrusted by Russians. Despite her marriage to Tsar Nicholas, her dress and demeanor remained decidedly un-Russian, which the people interpreted as a rebuke to their culture.

Nicholas was a reluctant tsar. He once described his occupation as being “the owner of Russia”, but his heart obviously wasn’t in it. He had no interest in military pomp and circumstance. His family was the center of his life: he idolized his wife and devoted himself to their children. A gentle nature is rarely associated with strong leadership and the Tsar’s small stature and indecisiveness added to the overall impression of weakness.

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