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Nicholas II of Russia
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Nicholas II of Russia, (May 18, 1868 – July 17, 1918) was the last Tsar (Emperor) of the Russian Empire. He became Tsar in 1894 after his father, Tsar Alexander III died. His reign lasted until the 1917 Russian Revolution.
He married Princess Alix of Hesse, who was the daughter of Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria , and they had five children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexi. Alexi suffered from a disease called haemophilia, which caused his parents great sadness. After 1905, the royal family became friends with Grigori Rasputin, a priest whom they believed could treat Alexi.
In the first 20 years of his reign, Nicholas tried to make Russia more modern, but these plans were held back by the nobles and the Tsar's weak leadership. He and his chief ministers Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin encouraged railways, land reform, education, the borrowing of money and ties with France. In 1905, after Russia's disastrous defeat in the war with Japan and the massacre of protestors on Bloody Sunday, he faced widespread protests and calls for a parliament. He created one (the Duma), but he would not allow it to have many powers. His reign began with the Khodynka Tragedy. Other problems included attacks on the Russian Jews, anger over the power of Grigori Rasputin, and the imprisonments and executions of people who opposed the government.
In 1914, he led Russia into World War I, but the war went badly for Russia and caused great hardship. It led to the fall of the monarchy in the 1917 Russian Revolution. He abdicated (quit being Tsar) in March of that year. He and his family were held as prisoners under house arrest. On July 17, 1918, Nicholas, his wife and their children were killed by a firing squad, on the orders of the new Bolshevik government. In 1981, the Tsar and his family were made Saints by the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1990, the bones of the Tsar and his family were found in the woods and given a proper burial in St Petersburg in 1998.