The last Russian emperor Nikolai II abdicated the crown

15 March 1917

Nikolai II mounted the throne after his father’s death on October 20 (November 2), 1894.

The reign of Nikolai II was passing in the situation of increasing revolutionary movement. In the beginning of 1905 a revolution broke out in Russia forcing the emperor to make some reforms. On October 17 (30), 1905 the tsar signed a manifesto ‘On improvement of state order’ granting to people the freedoms of speech, of the press, of a person, of conscience, of assembly, of unions.

April 23 (May 6), 1906 the Emperor approved the new version of the “Fundamental laws of the Russian Empire”, which, on the threshold of the State Duma convocation, were the fundamental legislative act, regulating the division of powers between the imperial authority and Parliament (State Council and State Duma), established under the Manifesto of October 17, 1905.

In 1914 Russia joined the World War I. Failures on the fronts, economic dislocation caused by war, worsening of disaster of mass, the raise of anti-war moods and the general discontent of autocracy led to mass protest actions against the government and the dynasty.

On February 23 (March 8), 1917 the female workers of Petrograd went on a protest march demanding bread and cessation of hostilities. A few days later the mass strikes on the factories of the capital grew into the general political strike and then into a spontaneous armed revolt.

On February 25 (March 10), 1917 Nikolai II sent a telegram to General S. S. Khabalov demanding to suppress the disturbances with military forces, and on February 27 (March 12) sent to Petrograd General N. I. Ivanov in order to suppress the revolt.

On March 1 (14) after the unsuccessful attempt to pass through Tsarskoye Selo the emperor came to to the Northern front staff in Pskov.

In the morning of March 2 (15) General N. V. Ruzsky reported to Nokolai II that the mission of N. I. Ivanov failed. At the same time the president of the State Duma M. V. Rodzyanko announced via telegraph that the only possible way to retain the dynasty of Romanov was to pass the throne over to the heir Alexei under the regency of Mikhail, the younger brother of Nikolai II. All the commanders of fronts for the exception of the commander of the Black Sea front, Admiral A. V. Kolchak expressed their approval of Nikolai II abdication. Having learned the opinion of the Commanders in Chief, on March 2 (15) around 3 p.m. Nikolai II made a decision to abdicate the crown in favor of his son under the regency of his brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich.

However having spoken to S. P. Feodorov, the doctor in charge of the heir, who confirmed that Alexei was incurable, the emperor concerned about the health of his son, changed his decision. In the evening of March 2 (15) when the representatives of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma A. I. Guchkov and V. V. Shul’gin came from Petrograd, Nikolai II announced that ‘… for the sake of Russia I was ready to abdicate the crown in favor of my son but … came to the conclusion that in view of his illness I should abdicate for myself and for him too’.

The Manifesto on abdication given over to A. I. Guchkov said: ‘… Hereby we entrust Our Brother (Mikhail Alexandrovich) with governing the state affairs with the absolute and close unity with the representatives of the folk in the legislative institutions on the principles which he would establish taking the sacred oath’.

The following day, on March 3 (16), 1917 Mikhail Alexandrovich abdicated the crown entrusting the Constituent Assembly with the issue of the way of governing the country.


Lit.: Дневник Николая II. 16 декабря 1916 г. — 30 июня 1917 г. — От первого лица. М., 1990; Курлов П. Г. Гибель Императорской России. М., 1992; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Мельгунов С. П. Последний самодержец. Черты для характеристики Николая II. Пг., 1917; Мельгунов О. Д. Мартовские дни 1917 года. Париж, 1954; Мультатули П. В. «Господь да благословит решение моё...». СПб., 2002; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Об отречении Государя Императора Николая II от престола Российского и о сложении с себя верховной власти // Российское законодательство X-XX вв. Т.9. М., 1994; То же [Электронный ресурс] . URL:


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

The abdication of Nicholas II: [digital collection].