Fabergé Introduction - 3

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Page 1 Introduction Fabergé
Page 2 Introduction Fabergé continued
Page 3 Short Biography of Tsar Nicholas II: Childhood and marriage Nicholas II -
The coronation - The family - The church - The state - Court life - The end

1868
 
6 May
Birth of Nicholas II
1894
 
1 Nov.
Nicholas II becomes Tsar after death of Alexander III
 
26 Nov.
Nicholas II marries Alix (Alexandra) of Hessen
1895
 
15 Nov.
Birth of daughter Olga
1896
 
14 May
Coronation in Assumption Cathedral, Moscow
1897
 
10 June
Birth of daughter Tatiana
1899
 
27 June
Birth of daughter Maria
1901
 
22 Jan.
Queen Victoria dies
 
18 June
Birth of daughter Anastasia
1903
 
Nov.
During the congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party in London, party splits into two: the Mensheviks, led by Plechanov, and the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin and Trotsky
1904
 
4 Feb.
Japan declares war on Russia
 
28 July
Minister of Internal Affairs, Pleve, is murdered
 
22 Aug.
Birth of Tsarevich Alexei
1905
 
1 Jan.
Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg
 
17 Feb.
Grand Duke Sergei murdered
 
February riots
 
19 Aug.
Nicholas II allows formation of Duma, with limited power
 
26 Oct.
Workers of St Petersburg form the first soviet
 
30 Oct.
Nicholas II signs the October Manifest, in which he makes concessions to the Duma which has been proclaimed; it will have full legislative power and more people will be given the right to vote
1914
 
28 June
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria murdered in Sarajevo
 
1 Aug.
Germany mobilizes and declares war on Russia
 
1 Sept.
St Petersburg is renamed Petrograd
 
4 Sept.
Pact between France, Russia and Great Britain
1916
 
30 Dec.
Rasputin murdered
1917
 
16 March
Tsar Nicholas II abdicates; the imperial family is put under house arrest in Tsarskoye Selo
 
31 July
Imperial family taken to Tobolsk in Siberia
 
15 Sep.
Kerensky proclaims the republic of Russia
 
7 Nov.
October revolution
 
5 Dec.
Truce between Germany and Russia
1918
 
14 Feb.
Russia introduces the Gregorian calendar
 
26 Apr.
Nicholas, Alix and Maria are taken to Ekaterinburg. The rest of the family arrives there on 22 May
 
17 July
The ex-Tsar and his family are executed on the orders of Lenin

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Childhood and marriage Nicholas II

Nicholas was the first child of the later Tsar Alexander III and the Danish princess Dagmar. When he was born on 6 May 1868, his grandfather, Alexander II, was still in power; his assassination in 1881 was a traumatic experience for the young Nicholas. At the age of 13 Nicholas became the 'tsarevich', the heir to the throne. His parents gave him an intimate, warm and uncomplicated childhood, exceptional for those days. Apart from his schooling, Nicholas was also actively involved in various branches of the great Russian army. As a young man he was sent out into the world by his father, and traveled to Japan, Egypt, India, China and Java. (see 1891 Memory of Azov Egg).

With the happy marriage of his parents as an example, Nicholas began to yearn for a 'nest of his own' at an early age. His choice fell on a distant relative, Alix of Hessen (1872), a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. They first met in 1884, at the wedding of his uncle and her sister. On that occasion the 12-year-old Alix scratched their names on the window of the Winter Palace (i.e. the Hermitage), but it was not until after their second meeting, in 1889, that a marriage could be seriously considered. The biggest obstacle for Alix was conversion to the Russian orthodox church. When she finally agreed to this in 1894, there was nothing more to stand in the way of the marriage. However, the wedding plans were postponed by the death of Alexander III on 1 November 1894, which meant that Nicholas became Tsar Nicholas II. More than three weeks later, on 26 November, he married Alix, who was given the name Alexandra Feodorovna.

The coronation

In 1896, two years after the death of Alexander III, Nicholas was crowned Tsar of all Russians, in the Assumption Cathedral of Moscow. The coronation was overshadowed by the incident which took place four days later on the Khodynka field. In accordance with tradition, 400,000 coronation presents and food were to be distributed there in the name of the Tsar. The operation ended in disaster, with more than 1300 people being killed in the throng. However, the coronation festivities were not cancelled, which gave Nicholas and Alexandra an unfavorable reputation with the Russian people. (see 1897 Coronation Egg)

The family

Nicholas and Alexandra had a close family life with their four daughters Olga (1895), Tatiana (1897), Maria (1899) and Anastasia (1901). However, according to the law of the Russian empire, the title could only be passed on to a male descendant, so that their desire for a son became more and more acute. Alexandra's mental health suffered greatly under these circumstances and, combined with her deep religious feelings, this led to all sorts of contacts with representatives of mysticism. For example, the family worshipped the 19th-century Russian monk Seraphim, (see 1911 15th Anniversary Egg) who had been canonized in 1903. Finally a successor to the throne was born: the tsarevich Alexei (1904). It soon became clear that Alexei suffered from hemophilia, a blood disease which affects only men and which means that any fall or injury can be fatal. The disease is passed on by the mother, and Alexandra had received it through her grandmother Victoria. In 1905 the couple came into contact with Rasputin, an uncultured monk from Siberia. By giving them hope of a cure for their son, he gained influence over the lives of the imperial family. This influence became so great that eventually, in 1916, he was murdered by representatives of the highest Russian nobility.

The church

In the Russia of the Romanov's the Tsar was the head of the Russian orthodox church. Nicholas and Alexandra were both deeply religious and surrounded themselves in their daily lives with many religious objects.

The state

In 19th-century Russia the first cautious steps towards democracy were taken. Nicholas' grandfather abolished serfdom in 1861, but with the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, all hopes of a peaceful political change evaporated. The assassination of the Tsar was adopted as an important argument against reform, particularly in the conservative circles around Nicholas. Unlike his father, Alexander III, Nicholas was a weak leader. In the early years of his rule this was not a problem, because in the late 19th century Europe was going through a prosperous phase with long-lasting peace and a flourishing economy. Although Nicholas was the head of the government, he did not involve himself much in national politics; a fatal attitude, as would emerge later.

Everything changed after 1905, the year in which Russia was defeated on the battlefield by Japan and also the year of Bloody Sunday, the day when thousands of Russians were shot while taking part in a procession to offer the Tsar a petition recommending certain reforms. Politicians urged the Tsar to lay down a new constitution and to establish the Duma, the first real Russian parliament. Initially the Tsar was not prepared to relinquish his absolute power, but in 1905 he gave his approval for a constitution, a cabinet and a parliament; Russia was gradually changing into a constitutional monarchy. However, Nicholas continued to oppose the development and it was not until 1915 that he agreed to let the parliament play a central role.

In the midst of all this political friction, an important jubilee took place in 1913: the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov. (see 1913 Romanov Tercentenary Egg). The festivities had scarcely finished when the First World War broke out. In spite of Nicholas's reluctance to take part in a European war and the fact that the German emperor was his cousin, Russia declared war on Germany in July 1914.

Court life

Like many of their predecessors, the couple owned countless palaces and country estates, where innumerable court balls, banquets, ballet performances and fancy-dress parties took place. The family themselves preferred the 'simplicity' and quietness of the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, which was refurbished in the 'new style' in the late 19th century. They spent their holidays in the villa at Livadia, on the Crimea, or in their dacha on the Gulf of Finland. They usually traveled in the luxurious royal train or in the Standart, the imperial yacht. (see 1909 Standart Egg).

The end

At the end of 1916 political developments in Russia accelerated rapidly and the fate of Nicholas and Alexandra was sealed. The murder of Rasputin, the innumerable war victims, the inflexibility of the Russian nobility and the difficult relationship between the Tsar and the cabinet and the Duma, made the Tsar's position intolerable. In demonstrations people called for Nicholas's abdication.

Eventually Nicholas did abdicate on 2 March 1917, after which the family went to live in Tsarskoye Selo, far from political life. Because of the threat of the advancing Bolsheviks, the government decided to move the Tsar and his family to Tobolsk, Siberia, in August 1917.

After the Bolsheviks seized power in October 1917, the Tsar's family was regarded as a permanent threat to communism and the new Russia. In April 1918 the family moved to Ekaterinburg, where they were shot down in the night of 17 July in the cellar of the Ipatiev House. Their corpses were buried in the woods.

It was not until the 1980s that the remains were discovered. In 1998 they were interred in the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg.

In September 2006 the body of Nicholas II's mother, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, will also be interred there. Just before the 1917 October revolution she fled from Russia and settled in Denmark, the country of her birth, where she died in 1928. More on the reburial of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna in Timeline, 2006.

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Page updated: June 2, 2016