The Catherine Palace is a Rococo palace located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo, 30 km south of St. Petersburg, Russia, it was the summer residence of the Russian tsars. The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russia hired German architect Johann-Friedrich Braunstein to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1733, Empress Elizabeth commissioned Mikhail Zemtsov and Andrei Kvasov to expand the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, found her mother's residence outdated and incommodious and in May 1752 asked her court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo style. Construction lasted for four years, on 30 July 1756 the architect presented the brand-new 325-meter-long palace to the Empress, her dazed courtiers, stupefied foreign ambassadors. More than 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and numerous statues erected on the roof. In front of the palace a great formal garden was laid out.
It centres on the azure-and-white Hermitage Pavilion near the lake, designed by Mikhail Zemtsov in 1744, remodelled by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1749 and crowned by a grand-gilded sculpture representing The Rape of Persephone. The interior of the pavilion featured dining tables with dumbwaiter mechanisms; the grand entrance to the palace is flanked by two massive "circumferences" in the Rococo style. A delicate cast-iron grille separates the complex from the town of Tsarskoe Selo. Although the palace is popularly associated with Catherine the Great, she regarded its "whipped cream" architecture as old-fashioned; when she ascended to the throne, a number of statues in the park were being covered with gold, in accordance with the last wish of Empress Elizabeth, yet the new monarch had all the works suspended upon being informed about the expense. In her memoirs she censured her predecessor's reckless extravagance: "The palace was being built, but it was the work of Penelope: what was done today, was destroyed tomorrow.
That house has been pulled down six times to the foundation built up again till it was brought to its present state. The sum of a million six hundred thousand rubles was spent on the construction. Accounts exist to prove it. To gratify her passion for antique and Neoclassical art, Catherine employed the Scottish architect Charles Cameron, who not only refurbished the interior of one wing in the Neo-Palladian style in vogue, but constructed the personal apartments of the Empress, a rather modest Greek Revival structure known as the Agate Rooms and situated to the left of the grand palace. Noted for their elaborate jasper decor, the rooms were designed so as to be connected to the Hanging Gardens, the Cold Baths, the Cameron Gallery —three Neoclassical edifices constructed to Cameron's designs. According to Catherine's wishes, many remarkable structures were erected for her amusement in the Catherine Park; these include the Dutch Admiralty, Creaking Pagoda, Chesme Column, Rumyantsev Obelisk, Marble Bridge.
Upon Catherine's death in 1796, the palace was abandoned in favour of Pavlovsk Palace. Subsequent monarchs preferred to reside in the nearby Alexander Palace and, with only two exceptions, refrained from making new additions to the Catherine Palace, regarding it as a splendid monument to Elizabeth's wealth and Catherine II's glory. After the Great Fire of 1820, Alexander I engaged Vasily Stasov to refurbish some interiors of his grandmother's residence in the Empire style. Twenty years the magnificent Stasov Staircase was constructed to replace the old circular staircase leading to the Chapel of Catherine Palace. Most of Stasov's interiors—specifically those dating from the reign of Nicholas I—have not been restored after the destruction caused by the Germans during World War II; when the German forces retreated after the siege of Leningrad, they intentionally destroyed the residence, leaving only the hollow shell of the palace behind. Prior to World War II, Soviet archivists managed to document a fair amount of the interior, which proved of great importance in reconstructing the palace.
Although the largest part of the reconstruction was completed in time for the Tercentenary of St. Petersburg in 2003, much work is still required to restore the palace to its former glory. Although Stasov's and Cameron's Neoclassical interiors are superb manifestations of late 18th-century and early 19th-century taste, the palace is best known for Rastrelli's grand suit of formal rooms known as the Golden Enfilade, it starts at the spacious airy ballroom, the "Grand Hall" or the "Hall of Lights", with a spectacular painted ceiling, comprises numerous distinctively decorated smaller rooms, including the reproduced Amber Room. The Great Hall, or Light Gallery, as it was called in the 18th century, is a formal apartment in the Russian baroque style designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli between 1752 and 1756; the Great Hall was intended for more important receptions such as balls, formal dinners, masquerades. The hall was painted in two colors and covers an area of 1,000 square meters. Occupying the entire width of the palace, the windows on the eastern side look out onto the park while the windows of the western side look out to the palace plaza.
In the evening, 696 lamps are lit on 12-15 chandeliers located near the mirrors. The hall's sculptural and gilded carvings and ornamentation were created according to sketches by Rastrelli and models by Johann Franz Dunker. Beyond the Great Hall is the dining room for the courtiers in attendance (the Courtiers-
Catherine the Great
Catherine II known as Catherine the Great, born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d'état which she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. Under her reign, Russia was revitalized; that said, she was a usurper of the Russian throne because her son, Paul I, should have been the Tsar following Peter III’s death. In her accession to power and her rule of the empire, Catherine relied on her noble favourites, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by successful generals such as Alexander Suvorov and Pyotr Rumyantsev, admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate was crushed following victories over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo–Turkish wars, Russia colonised the territories of Novorossiya along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas.
In the west, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine's former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski, was partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started establishing Russian America. Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas, many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and the economy continued to depend on serfdom, the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs; this was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachev's Rebellion of cossacks and peasants. Catherine decided to have herself inoculated against smallpox by Thomas Dimsdale. While this was considered a controversial method at the time, she succeeded, her son Pavel was inoculated as well. Catherine sought to have inoculations throughout her empire stating: "My objective was, through my example, to save from death the multitude of my subjects who, not knowing the value of this technique, frightened of it, were left in danger."
By 1800 2 million inoculations were administered in the Russian Empire. The period of Catherine the Great's rule, the Catherinian Era, is considered the Golden Age of Russia; the Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country, she enthusiastically supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and is regarded as an enlightened despot. As a patron of the arts she presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, a period when the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established. Catherine was born in Stettin, Kingdom of Prussia as Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, belonged to the ruling German family of Anhalt, but held the rank of a Prussian general in his capacity as governor of the city of Stettin.
Two of her first cousins became Kings of Sweden: Gustav III and Charles XIII. In accordance with the custom prevailing in the ruling dynasties of Germany, she received her education chiefly from a French governess and from tutors. Catherine was known by the nickname Fike, her childhood was quite uneventful. She once wrote to her correspondent Baron Grimm: "I see nothing of interest in it." Although Catherine was born a princess, her family had little money. Catherine's rise to power was supported by her mother's wealthy relatives who were both wealthy nobles and royal relations; the choice of Sophie as wife of her second cousin, the prospective tsar Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, resulted from some amount of diplomatic management in which Count Lestocq, Peter's aunt Elizabeth and Frederick II of Prussia took part. Lestocq and Frederick wanted to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia to weaken Austria's influence and ruin the Russian chancellor Bestuzhev, on whom Empress Elizabeth relied, who acted as a known partisan of Russo-Austrian co-operation.
Catherine first met Peter III at the age of 10. Based on her writings, she found, she disliked his fondness for alcohol at such a young age. Peter still played with toy soldiers. Catherine wrote that she stayed at one end of the castle, Peter at the other; the diplomatic intrigue failed due to the intervention of Sophie's mother, Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Historical accounts portray Johanna as a abusive woman who loved gossip and court intrigues, her hunger for fame centred on her daughter's prospects of becoming empress of Russia, but she infuriated Empress Elizabeth, who banned her from the country for spying for King Frederick of Prussia. The Empress Elizabeth knew the family well: she had intended to marry Princess Johanna's brother Charles Augustus, who had died of smallpox in 1727 before the wedding could take place. In spite of Johanna's interference, Empress Elizabeth took a strong liking to the daughter, who, o
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million. An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject. Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May 1703. During the periods 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow, about 625 km to the south-east. Saint Petersburg is one of the most modern cities of Russia, as well as its cultural capital; the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. Many foreign consulates, international corporations and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg. An admirer of everything German, Peter the Great named the city, Sankt-Peterburg.
On 1 September 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd, meaning "Peter's city", in order to expunge the German name Sankt and Burg. On 26 January 1924, shortly after the death of Vladimir Lenin, it was renamed to Leningrad, meaning "Lenin's City". On 6 September 1991, Sankt-Peterburg, was returned. Today, in English the city is known as "Saint Petersburg". Local residents refer to the city by its shortened nickname, Piter; the city's traditional nicknames among Russians are the Window to Europe. Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611, in what was called Ingermanland, inhabited by Finnic tribe of Ingrians; the small town of Nyen grew up around it. At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great, interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, wanted Russia to gain a seaport in order to trade with the rest of Europe, he needed a better seaport than the country's main one at the time, on the White Sea in the far north and closed to shipping during the winter.
On 12 May 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans and soon replaced the fortress. On 27 May 1703, closer to the estuary 5 km inland from the gulf), on Zayachy Island, he laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city; the city was built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia. Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city; the city became the centre of the Saint Petersburg Governorate. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712, 9 years before the Treaty of Nystad of 1721 ended the war. During its first few years, the city developed around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to be built out according to a plan. By 1716 the Swiss Italian Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be located on Vasilyevsky Island and shaped by a rectangular grid of canals; the project is evident in the layout of the streets.
In 1716, Peter the Great appointed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond as the chief architect of Saint Petersburg. The style of Petrine Baroque, developed by Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such buildings as the Menshikov Palace, Kunstkamera and Paul Cathedral, Twelve Collegia, became prominent in the city architecture of the early 18th century. In 1724 the Academy of Sciences and Academic Gymnasium were established in Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great. In 1725, Peter died at the age of fifty-two, his endeavours to modernize Russia had met with opposition from the Russian nobility—resulting in several attempts on his life and a treason case involving his son. In 1728, Peter II of Russia moved his seat back to Moscow, but four years in 1732, under Empress Anna of Russia, Saint Petersburg was again designated as the capital of the Russian Empire. It remained the seat of the Romanov dynasty and the Imperial Court of the Russian Tsars, as well as the seat of the Russian government, for another 186 years until the communist revolution of 1917.
In 1736–1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. To rebuild the damaged boroughs, a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Münnich commissioned a new plan in 1737; the city was divided into five boroughs, the city centre was moved to the Admiralty borough, situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka. It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty building and are now one street known as Nevsky Prospekt, Gorokhovaya Street and Voznesensky Prospekt. Baroque architecture became dominant in the city during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s, Baroque architecture was succeeded by neoclassical architecture. Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg ruled that no structure in the
House of Romanov
The House of Romanov was the reigning royal house of Russia from 1613 to 1917. The Romanovs achieved prominence as boyars of the Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Tsardom of Russia under the reigning Rurik dynasty, which became extinct upon the death of Tsar Feodor I in 1598; the Time of Troubles was caused by the resulting succession crisis, where several pretenders and imposters fought for the crown during the Polish–Muscovite War. On 21 February 1613, Michael Romanov was elected Tsar of Russia by the Zemsky Sobor, establishing the Romanovs as Russia's second reigning dynasty. Michael's grandson Peter I established the Russian Empire in 1721, transforming the country into a great power through a series of wars and reforms; the direct male line of the Romanovs ended when Elizabeth of Russia died in 1762 leading the House of Holstein-Gottorp, a cadet branch of the German House of Oldenburg that reigned in Denmark, to ascend to the crown under Peter III. Known as the House of Romanov, descendants after Elizabeth are sometimes referred to as "Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov".
The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on 15 March 1917 as a result of the February Revolution ended 304-years of Romanov rule, establishing the Russian Republic under the Russian Provisional Government in the lead up to the Russian Civil War. In 1918, the Tsar and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks and the 47 survivors of the House of Romanov's 65 members went into exile abroad. In 1924, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, the senior surviving male-line descendant of Alexander II of Russia by primogeniture, claimed the headship of the defunct Imperial House of Russia. Since 1991, the succession to the former Russian throne has been in dispute due to disagreements over the validity of dynasts' marriages between the lines of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia and Prince Nicholas Romanovich Romanov, succeeded by Prince Andrew Romanov, it remains unclear whether any ukase abolished the surname of Michael Romanov after his accession to the Russian throne in 1613, although by tradition members of reigning dynasties use surnames, being known instead by dynastic titles.
From January 1762, the monarchs of the Russian Empire claimed the throne as relatives of Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, who had married Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. Thus they were no longer Romanovs by patrilineage, belonging instead to the Holstein-Gottorp cadet branch of the German House of Oldenburg that reigned in Denmark; the 1944 edition of the Almanach de Gotha records the name of Russia's ruling dynasty from the time of Peter III as "Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov". However, the terms "Romanov" and "House of Romanov" occurred in official references to the Russian imperial family; the coat-of-arms of the Romanov boyars was included in legislation on the imperial dynasty, in a 1913 jubilee, Russia celebrated the "300th Anniversary of the Romanovs' rule". After the February Revolution of March 1917, a special decree of the Provisional Government of Russia granted all members of the imperial family the surname "Romanov"; the only exceptions, the morganatic descendants of the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, took the surname Il'insky.
The Romanovs share their origin with two dozen other Russian noble families. Their earliest common ancestor is one Andrei Kobyla, attested around 1347 as a boyar in the service of Semyon I of Moscow. Generations assigned to Kobyla an illustrious pedigree. An 18th-century genealogy claimed that he was the son of the Old Prussians prince Glanda Kambila, who came to Russia in the second half of the 13th century, fleeing the invading Germans. Indeed, one of the leaders of the Old Prussians rebellion of 1260–1274 against the Teutonic order was named Glande; this legendary version of the Romanov's origin is contested by a more plausible version of their descent from a boyar family from Novgorod. His actual origin may have been less spectacular. Not only is Kobyla Russian for "mare", some of his relatives had as nicknames the terms for horses and other domestic animals, thus suggesting descent from one of the royal equerries. One of Kobyla's sons, a member of the boyar Duma of Dmitri Donskoi, was nicknamed Koshka.
His descendants took the surname Koshkin changed it to Zakharin, which family split into two branches: Zakharin-Yakovlev and Zakharin-Yuriev. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the former family became known as Yakovlev, whereas grandchildren of Roman Yurievich Zakharyin-Yuriev changed their name to "Romanov". Feodor Nikitich Romanov was descended from the Rurik dynasty through the female line, his mother, Evdokiya Gorbataya-Shuyskaya, was a Rurikid princess from the Shuysky branch, daughter of Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky. The family fortunes soared when Roman's daughter, Anastasia Zakharyina, married Ivan IV, the Rurikid Grand Prince of Moscow, on 3 February 1547. Since her husband had assumed the title of tsar, which means "Caesar", on 16 January 1547, she was crowned the first tsaritsa of Russia, her mysterious death in 1560 changed Ivan's character for the worse. Suspecting the boyars of having poisoned his beloved, Tsar Ivan started a reign of terror against them. Among his children by Anastasia, the elder was murdered by the tsar in a quarrel.
Throughout Feodor's reign, the Tsar's brother-in-law, Boris Godunov, his Romanov cousins con
Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder
Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder was an Austrian-Italian historical and portrait painter. He settled in the Russian Empire after the third and final partition of Poland, enticed by an generous offer from the Tsar. Johann Baptist Lampi was born at Romeno in the County of Tyrol to painter Matteo Lampi. Frescoes by his father Matteo can be found in many elegant buildings there, he studied art under his father in Verona and in Salzburg. In 1773 he went to Trento, where he learned to become a portraitist in miniatures, he travelled to Innsbruck to Vienna, where the Emperor Joseph II appointed him a professor at the Vienna Academy in 1786. That same year, he was invited to Warsaw by the court of King Stanisław II Augustus, he worked in Warsaw until the complete military Partitions of Poland. In 1791, he moved to St. Petersburg. In Russia he devoted himself to portrait painting, amassed a large fortune, he painted Empress Maria Feodorovna among others. He returned to Vienna in 1797 and became its honorary citizen in 1799.
Pensioned in 1822, he died at Vienna on February 11, 1830. Both of his sons were accomplished painters; the older one, Johann Baptist the Younger stayed first with him and by himself in Russia for 13 years. His younger son, Francesco settled at Warsaw in Congress Poland for the rest of his life, estranged from his father, he became known as Franciszek Ksawery Lampi in Polish. He painted portraits and landscapes, exhibited at Warsaw Salons, opened an art school there in 1841. In 1823 he travelled to Vienna, in 1830 to Vilna. After the November Uprising against the Russians, he spent a few years in Wrocław. In 1840 he visited Dresden and Munich, he returned Warsaw where he died in 1852. Bryan, Walter Armstrong and Robert Edmund Graves, ed. Dictionary of Painters and Engravers and Critical, York St. #4, Covent Garden, London. Ä. at Wikimedia Commons
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II or Nikolai II, known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer in the Russian Orthodox Church, was the last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw the fall of the Russian Empire from one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse, he was given the nickname Nicholas the Bloody or Vile Nicholas by his political adversaries due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the execution of political opponents, his perceived responsibility for the Russo-Japanese War. Soviet historians portrayed Nicholas as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects. Russia was defeated in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, which saw the annihilation of the reinforcing Russian Baltic Fleet after being sent on its round-the-world cruise at the naval Battle of Tsushima, off the coasts of Korea and Japan, the loss of Russian influence over Manchuria and Korea, the Japanese annexation to the north of South Sakhalin Island.
The Anglo-Russian Entente was designed to counter the German Empire's attempts to gain influence in the Middle East, but it ended the Great Game of confrontation between Russia and the United Kingdom. When all Russian diplomatic efforts to prevent the First World War failed, Nicholas approved the Imperial Russian Army mobilization on 30 July 1914, which gave Imperial Germany formal grounds to declare war on Russia on 1 August 1914. An estimated 3.3 million Russians were killed in the First World War. The Imperial Russian Army's severe losses, the High Command's incompetent management of the war efforts, lack of food and supplies on the home front were all leading causes of the fall of the House of Romanov. Following the February Revolution of 1917, Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, he and his family were imprisoned and transferred to Tobolsk in late summer 1917. On 30 April 1918, Nicholas and their daughter Maria were handed over to the local Ural Soviet council in Ekaterinburg.
Nicholas and his family were executed by their Bolshevik guards on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The remains of the imperial family were found, identified and re-interred with elaborate State and Church ceremony in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998. In 1981, his wife, their children were recognized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in New York City. On 15 August 2000, they were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as passion bearers, commemorating believers who face death in a Christ-like manner. Nicholas was born in the Alexander Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, the eldest child of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, he had five younger siblings: Alexander, Xenia and Olga. Nicholas referred to his father nostalgically in letters after Alexander's death in 1894, he was very close to his mother, as revealed in their published letters to each other. His paternal grandparents were Empress Maria Alexandrovna, his maternal grandparents were King Christian Queen Louise of Denmark.
Nicholas was of German and Danish descent, his last ethnically Russian ancestor being Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, daughter of Peter the Great. Nicholas was related to several monarchs in Europe, his mother's siblings included Kings Frederick VIII of Denmark and George I of Greece, as well as the United Kingdom's Queen Alexandra. Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, German Emperor Wilhelm II were all first cousins of King George V of the United Kingdom. Nicholas was a first cousin of both King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway, as well as King Christian X of Denmark and King Constantine I of Greece. Nicholas and Wilhelm II were in turn second cousins-once-removed, as each descended from King Frederick William III of Prussia, as well as third cousins, as they were both great-great-grandsons of Tsar Paul I of Russia. In addition to being second cousins through descent from Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse and his wife Princess Wilhelmine of Baden and Alexandra were third cousins-once-removed, as they were both descendants of King Frederick William II of Prussia.
Tsar Nicholas II was the first cousin-once-removed of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich. To distinguish between them the Grand Duke was known within the imperial family as "Nikolasha" and "Nicholas the Tall", while the Tsar was "Nicholas the Short". In his childhood, his parents and siblings made annual visits to the Danish royal palaces of Fredensborg and Bernstorff to visit his grandparents, the king and queen; the visits served as family reunions, as his mother's siblings would come from the United Kingdom and Greece with their respective families. It was there in 1883, that he had a flirtation with one of his English first cousins, Princess Victoria. In 1873, Nicholas accompanied his parents and younger brother, two-year-old George, on a two-month, semi-official visit to England. In London and his family stayed at Marlborough House, as guests of his "Uncle Bertie" and "Aunt Alix", the Prince and Princess of Wales, where he was spoiled by his uncle. On 1 March 1881, following the assassination of his grandfather, Tsar Alexander II, Nicho
The February Revolution, known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution and sometimes as the March Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917. The main events of the revolution took place in and near Petrograd, the then-capital of Russia, where long-standing discontent with the monarchy erupted into mass protests against food rationing on 23 February Old Style. Revolutionary activity lasted about eight days, involving mass demonstrations and violent armed clashes with police and gendarmes, the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy. On 27 February O. S. mutinous Russian Army forces sided with the revolutionaries. Three days Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending Romanov dynastic rule and the Russian Empire. A Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov replaced the Council of Ministers of Russia; the revolution appeared to break out without formal planning. Russia had been suffering from a number of economic and social problems, which compounded after the start of World War I in 1914.
Disaffected soldiers from the city's garrison joined bread rioters women in bread lines, industrial strikers on the streets. As more and more troops deserted, with loyal troops away at the Front, the city fell into chaos, leading to the overthrow of the Tsar. In all, over 1,300 people were killed during the protests of February 1917. A number of factors contributed to both short and long term. Historians disagree on the main factors. Liberal historians emphasise the turmoil created by the war, whereas Marxists emphasise the inevitability of change. Alexander Rabinowitch summarises the main long-term and short-term causes: The February 1917 revolution... grew out of pre-war political and economic instability, technological backwardness, fundamental social divisions, coupled with gross mismanagement of the war effort, continuing military defeats, domestic economic dislocation, outrageous scandals surrounding the monarchy. Despite its occurrence at the height of World War I, the roots of the February Revolution date further back.
Chief among these was Imperial Russia's failure, throughout the 19th and early 20th century, to modernise its archaic social and political structures while maintaining the stability of ubiquitous devotion to an autocratic monarch. As historian Richard Pipes writes, "the incompatibility of capitalism and autocracy struck all who gave thought to the matter"; the first major event of the Russian Revolution was the February Revolution, a chaotic affair, caused by the culmination of over a century of civil and military unrest. There were many causes of this unrest of the common people towards the Tsar and aristocratic landowners; the causes can be summarized as the ongoing cruel treatment of peasants by the bourgeoisie, poor working conditions of industrial workers and the spreading of western democratic ideas by political activists. All of these causes led to a growing social awareness in the lower classes of Russia. Dissatisfaction of proletarians was compounded by military failures. In 1905, Russia experienced humiliating losses in its war with Japan Bloody Sunday and the Revolution of 1905, in which Tsarist troops fired upon a peaceful, unarmed crowd.
These events further divided Nicholas II from his people. Widespread strikes and the famous mutiny on the Battleship Potemkin ensued; these conditions caused much agitation among professional classes. This tension erupted into general revolt with the 1905 Revolution, again under the strain of war in 1917, this time with lasting consequences; the revolution was provoked by Russian military failures during the First World War, as well as public dissatisfaction with the way the country was run on the home front. The economic challenges faced due to fighting a total war contributed. In August 1914, all classes supported and all political deputies voted in favour of the war; the declaration of war was followed by a revival of nationalism across Russian society, which temporarily reduced internal strife. The army achieved some early victories but suffered major defeats, notably Tannenberg in August 1914, the Winter Battle in Masuria in February 1915 and the loss of Russian Poland during May to August 1915.
Nearly six million casualties—dead and missing—had been accrued by January 1917. Mutinies sprang up more morale was at its lowest, the newly called up officers and commanders were at times incompetent. Like all major armies, Russia's armed forces had inadequate supply; the pre-revolution desertion rate ran at around 34,000 a month. Meanwhile, the wartime alliance of industry and Stavka started to work outside the Tsar's control. In an attempt to boost morale and repair his reputation as a leader, Nicholas announced in the summer of 1915 that he would take personal command of the army, in defiance of universal advice to the contrary; the result was disastrous on three grounds. Firstly, it associated the monarchy with the unpopular war; this left the reins of power to his wife, the German Tsarina Alexandra, unpopular and accused of being a spy and under the thumb of her confidant, Grigori Rasputin, himse