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The Centenary of the Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia

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David Moon, Anniversary Professor in History, looks back at the career of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia

On  15 March 1917 (according to the western calendar) Tsar Nicholas II abdicated from the Russian throne. This brought to an end the Romanov dynasty that had ruled Russia for over three hundred years. The end was sealed in a short document in which Nicholas explained:

"Internal popular disturbances threaten to have a disastrous effect on the future conduct of this persistent war.... We have thought it well to renounce the Throne of the Russian Empire and to lay down the supreme power."

The ‘internal popular disturbances’ were the events now known as the ‘February Revolution’ (according to the calendar then in use in Russia), in the capital city which at the time was called Petrograd (formerly and once again since 1992 St. Petersburg). Strikes by the city’s workers, protests by women over bread shortages, wider discontent among the population escalated into revolution when som…