Emperor Nicholas II of Russia was born on May 19, 1868, the day of the holy righteous Job the Long-Suffering.

He was the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna. The education he received under his father’s direction was strict, almost severe. «I need normal healthy Russian children» — such a requirement put forward by the Emperor to the upbringers of his children. Even when Heir was a little child, he showed a special love for God and His Church.

He received a very good home education — he knew several languages, studied Russian and World history, was deeply versed in military affairs, and was a widely erudite person.

The first meeting of the sixteen-year-old Heir to the crown, Prince Nicholas Alexandrovich and the very young Princess Alice took place in 1884, when her elder sister, the future Martyr Elizabeth, married with Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the crown Prince’s uncle. A strong friendship ensued between young people, which then turned into a deep and growing love. When in 1889, having reached adulthood, the Heir asked his parents to bless him for his marriage with Princess Alice, the father refused, motivating the refusal by the youth of the Heir. He had to obey to his father’s will.

In the year 1894, seeing the unwavering commitment of his son, who was usually soft and even timid in communicating with his father, Emperor Alexander III gives a blessing to the marriage. The only obstacle remained was transition to Orthodoxy – according to laws of Russian Empire, the bride of the heir to the Russian throne must be Orthodox Christian. Protestant by upbringing, Alice was convinced that her belief was true and at first, she was embarrassed because of the necessity for confession change.

He was the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna. The education he received under his father’s direction was strict, almost severe. «I need normal healthy Russian children» — such a requirement put forward by the Emperor to the upbringers of his children. Even when Heir was a little child, he showed a special love for God and His Church. He received a very good home education — he knew several languages, studied Russian and World history, was deeply versed in military affairs, and was a widely erudite person.

The first meeting of the sixteen-year-old Heir to the crown, Prince Nicholas Alexandrovich and the very young Princess Alice took place in 1884, when her elder sister, the future Martyr Elizabeth, married with Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the crown Prince’s uncle. A strong friendship ensued between young people, which then turned into a deep and growing love. When in 1889, having reached adulthood, the Heir asked his parents to bless him for his marriage with Princess Alice, the father refused, motivating the refusal by the youth of the Heir. He had to obey to his father’s will.

In the year 1894, seeing the unwavering commitment of his son, who was usually soft and even timid in communicating with his father, Emperor Alexander III gives a blessing to the marriage.

The only obstacle remained was transition to Orthodoxy – according to laws of Russian Empire, the bride of the heir to the Russian throne must be Orthodox Christian. Protestant by upbringing, Alice was convinced that her belief was true and at first, she was embarrassed because of the necessity for confession change.

The Emperor paid great attention to the needs of the Orthodox Church throughout his reign. Like all Russian emperors, Nicholas II generously donated for the construction of new churches, including those outside Russia. Throughout his reign, the number of parish churches in Russia increased by more than 10 thousand, over 250 new monasteries were opened. The Emperor himself participated in the laying of new churches and other church celebrations.

The Tsar’s personal piety manifested itself by the fact that the number of saints canonized during his reign exceeded those of throughout two previous centuries, when only 5 saints were glorified. During the last reign, Saint Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), Rev. Seraphim of Sarov (1903), Saint Joasaph of Belgorod (1911), Saint Yermogen of Moscow (1913), Saint Pitirim of Tambov (1914), St. John of Tobolsk (1916) were listed among the saints. The veneration of St. Princess Anna of Kashin (1909) was resumed.

Emperor Nicholas II highly honored the holy righteous father John of Kronstadt. After his blessed death, the Tsar ordered to make a nationwide prayer commemoration of the deceased on the day of his death.

father John of Kronstadt

Behind the scene, just a few had a talk with the Tsar. And everyone who knew his family life firsthand, noted the amazing simplicity, mutual love and agreement of all members of this closely knit family, whose focus was on Alexey Nikolayevich: all attachments and all hopes were focused on him. Towards their mother, the children were full of respect and courtesy. When the Empress was unwell, her daughters watched beside her bed one by one, and the one who watched beside her bed on that day stayed with her without a break.

The relations between the children and the Tsar were moving — he was a Tsar, a father, and a mate for them at the same time; their feelings changed depending on the circumstances, moving from almost religious worship to complete gullibility and the most cordial friendship.

The desire to bring to the public life the Christian religious and moral principles of their worldview has always distinguished the foreign policy of Emperor Nicholas II. Back in 1898, he appealed to the governments of Europe to convene to discuss issues concerning peacekeeping and arms reduction.  The result was peace conferences in the Hague in 1889 and 1907. Their decisions have not lost their values to the present day.

But, despite the sincere desire of Tsar to peace I, during his reign Russia had to participate in two bloody wars that led to internal strife. In 1904, without a declaration of war, Japan began military operations against Russia — the result of this difficult war for Russia was the revolutionary strife of 1905.  The strife that took place in the country was perceived by Tsar as a great personal grief…

In 1913, all of Russia solemnly celebrated the 300th anniversary of Romanovs’ House. After the February celebrations in St. Petersburg and Moscow, in the spring, the Royal Family completes a trip to the ancient Central Russian cities, history of which is connected with the events of the beginning of the XVII century. Tsar was greatly impressed by sincere manifestations of peoples’ loyalty. At that time Russia was at the peak of glory and power: industry was developing at an incredible pace, the army and navy became more powerful, and the agrarian reform was successfully implemented. It seemed that all internal problems will be resolved safely in the near future. 

But it was not to be: the First World War was brewing. Using as a pretext the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne by a terrorist, Austria attacked Serbia. Emperor Nicholas II considered it his Christian duty to intercede for the Orthodox Serbian brothers …

On July 19 (August 1), 1914, Germany declared war to Russia, which soon became pan-European.

The campaign of 1914 was successful, on the whole. The successful offensive in East Prussia, however, was interrupted as a result of the defeat of the 2nd Samsonov Army. However, a decisive victory was achieved on the front against Austria-Hungary. As a result of the Battle of Galicia, the Austro-Hungarian forces could no longer perform independent strategic and tactical operations without the support of the German forces. In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire fought on the side of the Central Powers. Fortunately for Russia, in the Caucasus there was a talented military commander Nikolai Nikolayevich Yudenich, which caused the Turks such a defeat at Sarikamish, that the Turkish army did not dare offensive activities on the Transcaucasian front anymore.

Year 1915 was the most difficult for Russia: it bore the brunt of the military confrontation with the German bloc, which during this period decided to withdraw Russia from the war, while on the Western front, the allies conducted limited operations.

In the autumn of 1915, the Supreme command of the Russian Army and Navy was assumed by Emperor Nicholas II. He had the most valuable qualities for a military leader: high self-control and rare ability to make decisions quickly and soberly under any circumstances. This event had great consequences: the morale grew, the panic stopped and the «Great retreat» of the Russian Army ended. The front has stabilized.

The campaign of 1916 was one of the most successful. From may 22 to July 31, 1916, under the Supreme leadership of Emperor Nicholas II, the famous offensive operation known as the «Brusilov breakthrough» was carried out. On the Caucasian front, N. N. Yudenich brilliantly held the Erzurum operation and taken the ancient city of Trabzon (Trebizond).

In 1917, the Emperor was overthrown from the Throne as a result of a coup d’état (which was carried out by some members of the state Duma, persons from the commercial and industrial circles, part of the generals). Born on the day of the memory of St. job the long-Suffering, Tsar accepted his cross just like the biblical righteous, endured all the challenges sent down to him firmly, meekly and without a shadow of murmur.

It is this long-suffering, that is revealed with particular clarity in the history of the Emperor’s last days. The deposed Emperor was arrested and was kept in Tsarskoe Selo along with his family. Then an exile to Tobolsk has followed, and after that to Yekaterinburg. On the night of July 16-17, 1918, the martyr died along with his wife, son, daughters and retinue at the age of 50.