Written by Gracielle Dedo
The last Russian imperial family to ever rule, the Romonavs, fell tragically at the hands of the Bolshevik soldiers at the brink of Communist Russia. The family was manipulated, persuaded, and taken advantage of by one of the most menacing and threatening men in history, Rasputin. The death of Alexander III was the beginning of the ever grueling end of the Romanov family. When Nicholas II became ruler, he was extremely weak and ineffective, additionally, Rasputin had an immense influence on his wife, Alexandra, which in turn affected the people of Russia. Finally, on July 16, 1918, the tragic end to the Romanovs came true when the Bolshevik Army slaughtered them all, putting an end to the Romanov family.
An Imperial Dynasty
The imperial dynasty of the Romanov family ruled Russia from 1613 to 1917. Tsar Nicholas II, born to parents Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna, ruled as emperor from 1881 to 1894. The death of his father proposed a difficulty for him when ruling a nation. Seen as an “orderly” man who adored his wife and children, well-liked and kind, who was not destined for leadership. Refusing to delegate, he instead signed off on trivialities that did not benefit the people. However, he fulfilled his duties in terms of exhilaration and death. Nicholas wanted to, “instigate changes slowly but persistently” (Sebag 495). His father immensely failed in preparing him for his rule. Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra had four daughters and one ill son. Naming the daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and their one son, Alexei. The four young girls were raised in a lackluster way. Always treated as “one entity”, they dressed identical and shared bedrooms. Deprived of the typical rich life of a princess, the girls were only given small gifts of a single pearl and their favorite scents, “without a trace of hauteur”(Sebag). Tsarina Alexandra suffered mentally, with ever-changing physical and mental symptoms such as sciatica, headaches, backaches, etc. This weakness allowed her to be easily pushed around and taken advantage of, especially when her husband was off at war. In her depression, she shut herself away from her children, and instead she and her daughters fell into the hands of a dangerous and religious man, Rasputin (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Grigori Yefimovich, or more popularly known, Rasputin, portrayed a wild, dangerous, and manipulative figure in late 19th and early 20th century Russia. Nicknamed, “The Debauched One,” He developed a relationship with Russia’s last imperial family, the Romanovs, distinctly Tsarina Alexandra and her sickly son Alexei. Born January 22nd, 1869, to Siberian peasants, he spent his early years roaming the countryside as an Eastern Orthodox “mystic”, known as a healer with “supernatural powers”, whose wistfulness is what2-282222 drew Tsarina Alexandra to him in desperation for her son. In 1905 he was specially requested to heal the sickly heir to the throne, suffering from hemophilia, by methods of stopping the internal bleeding with hypnotism and other irregular methods (Trueman). Alexandra was entranced and believed in his abilities without question. To the royal court in St.Petersburg, in which he had a strong influence over, his opinion was “ordained by God”. To Tsar Nicholas II, Rasputin was a valuable man who represented the voice of the peasants of Russia, to the young daughters of the crown, he was seen as someone they could confide in, a good role model. Rasputin’s personality and private life displayed wild and ambiguous actions that stray far from his holy image yet he still succeeded in brainwashing and his manipulative influence. A crucial person that he failed to entice was Prime Minister Pyot Stolypin. Initially, Stolypin had Rasputin removed from the royal court in St.Petersburg and sent him away. When the Prime Minister was assassinated in 1911, the Tsarina brought Rasputin back due to her former fondness. During this period, the Tsar of Russia was away with his men at war, thus causing his population to suffer from neglect. A popular theory arose in his absence that perhaps Alexandra, who was of German descent, and Rasputin were German agents working against Russia. During 1911, Rasputin had ecclesiastical and political influence, claiming to have been “given insight from God himself.” His corruptedness arose as he began to know to accept bribes and sexual favors for royal influence. In 1916 the Nobles of Russia finally decided to attempt the assassination of Rasputin. The first attempt was cyanide-laced wine and cakes with around five times the dose to kill a human man, yet he walked away with no negative effects. Next, he was shot head-on, after checking on Rasputin’s corpse, the dead body suddenly opened its eyes and grabbed the assassin with a strong grasp. Colleagues shot Rasputin three more times yet he remained alive, therefore resulting in their attempt at clubbing him to death which also did not succeed. The final attempt consisted of the men chaining his body in the deathly cold Neva river, thus he died from drowning. His body was dug up and burned by the Bolshevik soldiers to stop him from ever rising from the dead. Russia’s monarchy was taken advantage of and damaged. The St.Petersburg court was looked down upon with its reputation now tarnished (Watson).
The Family’s Death
Nicholas II, despite his weakness as a ruler, was still loyally followed. The Tsar was believed to be appointed by God, religious Russian citizens stood by him partially for this reason. The White Army in Russia was fighting in favor of Nicholas but seemingly failed. The family’s death was to be carried out on July 14th, 1918. In the Summer the imperials stayed in Ekaterinburg for safety reasons. The city was on the brink of being overtaken by the White Army. On that night the family was awoken to be lead into the basement to stay safe. The entirety of the royal family, a few servants, and a doctor walked down those ominous steps. Soon after, they were surrounded by 12 Red Army soldiers. Allegedly the princesses’ dresses were stuffed with family jewels and for that reason, the bullets were not enough to kill them. Therefore, they were finished off with the soldier’s bayonets. Later acid was poured upon the bodies to eradicate any trace. The horrific deaths launched many investigations and never-ending theories. The White Army used this to their advantage to oppose the Red Army.
The End of Imperialism in Russia
The fall of the Romanov family ended imperialism in Russia forever. The combination of a weak ruler, Nicholas II, and his father, Alexander III, failed to prepare him for the throne. Nicholas II failed to listen to his struggling people ultimately making him a weak ruler. The end of imperialism made way for the Bolshevik Party to take over Russia and rule as the communist party in the coming years.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Alexandra.” Encyclopædia Britannica,
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Aug. 2019,
“Rasputin.” History Learning Site, 25 May 2015,
Sebag, Simon. The Romanovs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Watson, Howard. Atlas of History’s Greatest: Heroes and Villians. Park Lane Books, 2013.