Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov[d] (18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918), known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer,[e] was the last Emperor of All Russia, ruling from November 1894 until his abdication in March 1917. During his reign, Russia embarked on a series of reforms including the introduction of civil liberties, literacy programs, state representation, and initiatives to modernize the empire’s infrastructure.  Ultimately, this progress was undermined by Nicholas’s commitment to autocratic rule, oppressive policies pursued by his regime, and crushing defeats sustained by the Russian military in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. By March 1917, public support for Nicholas collapsed and he was forced to abdicate, thereby ending the Romanov dynasty’s 300-year rule of Russia. In the years following his abdication, Nicholas was reviled by Soviet historians and state propaganda as a callous tyrant who persecuted his own people while sending countless soldiers to their deaths in pointless conflicts. More recent assessments have characterized him as a well-intentioned, hardworking ruler who proved incapable of handling the challenges facing his nation.
As Emperor, Nicholas gave support to the economic and political reforms promoted by his prime ministers, Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin, but strong aristocratic opposition prevented them from becoming fully effective. He supported modernization based on foreign loans and close ties with France, but resisted giving the new parliament (the Duma) major roles. He was criticised for his perceived fault in the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the repression of political opponents, and his supposed responsibility for defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, which saw the Russian Baltic Fleet annihilated at the Battle of Tsushima, together with the loss of Russian influence over Manchuria and Korea, and the Japanese annexation of the south of Sakhalin Island.
Nicholas signed the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907, which was designed to counter Germany‘s attempts to gain influence in the Middle East; it ended the Great Game of confrontation between Russia and the British Empire. He supported Serbia and approved the mobilization of the Russian Army on 30 July 1914. In response, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August 1914 and its ally France on 3 August 1914, starting the Great War, later known as the First World War. The aristocracy was alarmed at the powerful influence of the despised peasant priest Grigori Rasputin over the Tsar. The severe military losses led to a collapse of morale at the front and at home, leading to the fall of the House of Romanov in the February Revolution of 1917. Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his son. With his family, he was imprisoned by the revolutionary government, exiled to Siberia, and executed the following year in July 1918.
In 1981, Nicholas, his wife, and their children were recognized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, based in New York City. Their gravesite was discovered in 1979, but this was not acknowledged until 1989. After the fall of Communism, the remains of the imperial family were exhumed, identified by DNA analysis, and re-interred with an elaborate state and church ceremony in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998, exactly 80 years after their murders. They were canonized in 2000 by the Russian Orthodox Church as passion bearers. The remains of two more Romanov children, believed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia and Tsesarevich Alexei, were found in 2007 at a second, nearby gravesite, which was also unmarked. They were also identified by DNA analysis. These remains are still waiting to be buried alongside those of the rest of the family.