Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov , known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer, was the last Tsar 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. His memory was reviled by Soviet historians as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects. By contrast Anglo-Russian historian Nikolai Tolstoy, leader of the International Monarchist League, says, "There were many bad things about the Tsar's regime, but he inherited an autocracy and his acts are now being seen in perspective and in comparison to the terrible crimes committed by the Soviets."As Emperor, Nicholas gave limited support to the economic and political reforms promoted by top aides Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin, but they faced too much aristocratic opposition to be fully effective. He supported modernization based on foreign loans and close ties with France, but resisted giving the new parliament major roles. He was criticised for the Khodynka Tragedy, antisemitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the repression of political opponents, and his perceived responsibility for defeat in the Russo-Japanese War , which saw the annihilation of the Russian Baltic Fleet at the Battle of Tsushima, the loss of Russian influence over Manchuria and Korea, and the Japanese annexation of the north of South Sakhalin Island.
Nicholas signed the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907, which was designed to counter Germany's attempts to gain influence in the Middle East; it ended the Great Game of confrontation between Russia and the British Empire. He supported Serbia and approved the mobilization of the Russian Army on 30 July 1914. In response, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August 1914 and its ally France on 3 August 1914, starting the First World War. The aristocracy was alarmed at the powerful influence of the despised peasant priest Grigori Rasputin over the tsar. The severe military losses led to a collapse of morale at the front and at home, leading to the fall of the House of Romanov in the February Revolution of 1917. Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his son. With his family he was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks and executed in July 1918.
In 1981, Nicholas, his wife, and their children were recognized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in New York City. After the fall of Communism, the remains of the imperial family were exhumed, identified and re-interred with an elaborate state and church ceremony in St. Petersburg on 17 July 1998. They were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as passion bearers. Wikipedia