Romanovs Last Days

The Romanovs visiting a regiment during World War I. From left to right: Anastasia, Olga, Nicholas II, Alexei, Tatiana and Maria. Behind them are Kuban Cossacks Source: Wikipedia

On March 15, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II bowed to the chaos sweeping through Russia and abdicated the royal throne. This signaled an end to the centuries-old rule of the Romanov dynasty, but it also marked the beginning of what Edmund Walsh would later describe in The Atlantic as the “weaving of the complicated net of death.”

Upon abdicating the throne, the Romanovs — symbols to many of the feckless imperial glut that stood at the root of much of Russia’s hardships — were exiled and shuffled about Russian residences until their violent July 1918 executions in Ekaterinburg. We track their final years, from 1914 to 1918, in the photo gallery below:

Romanov Last Days Color Outing
Romanov Last Days MAOT
Olga Beach
Wounded Soldiers Aid
End Of Empire: 45 Haunting Photos Of The Romanovs’ Last Days
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The Romanovs' Demise: A Lack Of "Peace, Bread And Land"

The 300-year Romanov dynasty came to a grinding halt in 1917. In an incredibly quick fashion, two revolutions ousted the House of Romanov and stamped out the Provisional Government taking the Romanovs' place, ultimately replacing it with a Communist government later that year.

Such an astonishing sequence of events was not entirely unforeseen. Tsar Nicholas II, whom many considered to be a credulous man and a weak political leader, presided over a time of great change. By the early 20th century, Russia had entered a period of rapid industrialization that mainly benefited foreign investors and landowners, and people began to pour into towns and factories at incredibly high rates.


Flax factory in 1905 Source: Lib Com

Russia had not prepared for such shifts. Millions of industrial workers now lived within Russia and started to form a new social class, the industrial proletariat, which demanded better wages and conditions than the rural peasants with which Russia was previously familiar. By 1914 -- seven months before World War One broke out -- over 4,000 worker strikes occurred, largely in protest of extreme economic inequality and against an autocratic regime that seemed ill-disposed to do anything that would improve the livelihoods of this ever-growing industrial class.

World War One exacerbated impoverishment and class-based animosities, as an already-fractured Russia suffered terrible losses both on the field and within its factories. Russia's industrial output plummeted; its army lacked the equipment necessary to stand a chance against the Germans, and casualty and soldier desertion numbers soared. Many Russians looked to Tsar Nicholas II -- who, lacking the military chops to do the job right, foolishly made himself commander of the armed forces -- as the primary source of their starvation.

As Nicholas II expanded his epic losing streak to Prussia and left his wife Alexandra -- a German under the influence of an unpopular "monk" named Rasputin -- in charge of Russian cities, civil discontent swelled and others attempted to capture the loyalty of the hungry and disillusioned Russian populace to advance their own cause.

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