Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (Russian: Николай Николаевич Романов (младший – the younger); 18 November 1856 – 5 January 1929) was a Russian general in World War I (1914–1918). A grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, he was commander in chief of the Russian Imperial Army units on the main front in the first year of the war, and was later a successful commander-in-chief in the Caucasus region. He was briefly recognized as Tsar, Emperor of Russia in 1922 in areas controlled by the White Armies movement in the Russian Far East.
|Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich|
Grand Duke Nicholas in 1914 on the eve of World War I
|Born||18 November 1856 Gregorian calendar|
(6 November 1856 Julian calendar)
St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Died||5 January 1929 (aged 72)|
Princess Anastasia of Montenegro
|Father||Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich of Russia (1831–1891)|
|Mother||Duchess Alexandra of Oldenburg|
|Occupation||Commander in Chief of the Russian Imperial Army|
A very tall man (1.98m / 6' 6"), Nicholas, named after his paternal grandfather the emperor, was born as the eldest son to Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaevich of Russia (1831–1891) and Alexandra Petrovna of Oldenburg (1838–1900) on 18 November 1856. His father was the sixth child and third son born to Nicholas I of Russia and his Empress consort Alexandra Fedorovna of Prussia (1798–1860). Alexandra Fedorovna was a daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Nicholas' mother, his father's first cousin's daughter, was a daughter of Duke Konstantin Peter of Oldenburg (1812–1881) and Princess Therese of Nassau (1815–1871). His maternal grandfather was a son of Duke George of Oldenburg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, daughter of Paul I of Russia and Maria Fedorovna of Württemberg. (Catherine was later remarried to William I of Württemberg.) His maternal grandmother was a daughter of Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau (1792–1839) and Princess Luise of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The Duke of Nassau was a son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau (1768–1816) and Burgravine Louise Isabelle of Kirchberg. His paternal grandparents were Duke Karl Christian of Nassau-Weilburg (1735–1788) and Carolina of Orange-Nassau. Carolina was a daughter of William IV of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange. Anne was the eldest daughter of George II of Great Britain and Caroline of Ansbach.
Grand Duke Nicholas was the first cousin once removed of Tsar Nicholas II. To distinguish between them the Grand Duke was often known within the Imperial family as "Nikolasha"; the Grand Duke was also known as "Nicholas the Tall" while the Tsar was "Nicholas the Short".
Grand Duke Nicholas was educated at the school of military engineers and received his commission in 1873. During the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78, he was on the staff of his father who was commander in chief. He distinguished himself on two occasions in this war. He worked his way up through all the ranks until he was appointed commander of the Guard Hussar Regiment in 1884.
He had a reputation as a tough commander, yet one respected by his troops. His experience was more as a trainer of soldiers than a leader in battle. Nicholas was a very religious man, praying in the morning and at night as well as before and after meals. He was happiest in the country, hunting or caring for his estates.
By 1895, he was inspector-general of the cavalry, a post he held for 10 years. His tenure has been judged a success with reforms in training, cavalry schools, cavalry reserves and the remount services. He was not given an active command during the Russo-Japanese War, perhaps because the Tsar did not wish to hazard the prestige of the Romanovs and because he wanted a loyal general in command at home in case of domestic disturbances. Thus, Nicholas did not have the opportunity to gain experience in battlefield command.
Grand Duke Nicholas played a crucial role during the Revolution of 1905. With anarchy spreading and the future of the dynasty at stake, the Tsar had a choice of instituting the reforms suggested by Count Sergei Witte or imposing a military dictatorship. The only man with the prestige to keep the allegiance of the army in such a coup was the Grand Duke. The Tsar asked him to assume the role of a military dictator. In an emotional scene at the palace, Nicholas refused, drew his pistol and threatened to shoot himself on the spot if the Tsar did not endorse Witte's plan. This act was decisive in forcing Nicholas II to agree to the reforms.
From 1905 to the outbreak of World War I, he was commander-in-chief of the St. Petersburg Military District. He had the reputation there of appointing men of humble origins to positions of authority. The lessons of the Russo-Japanese War were drilled into his men.
On 29 April 1907, Nicholas married Princess Anastasia of Montenegro (1869–1935), the daughter of King Nicholas I, and sister of Princess Milica, who had married Nicholas's brother, Grand Duke Peter. They had no children. She had previously been married to George Maximilianovich, 6th Duke of Leuchtenberg, by whom she had two children, until their divorce in 1906. Since the Montenegrins were a fiercely Slavic, anti-Turkish people from the Balkans, Anastasia reinforced the Pan-Slavic tendencies of Nicholas.
Nicholas was a hunter. Ownership of borzoi hounds was restricted to members of the highest nobility, and Nicholas's packs were well-known. As the Russian dogs perished in the Revolution of 1917–18, the borzoi of today are descended from gifts he made to European friends before World War I. In his lifetime, Nicholas and his dogs caught hundreds of wolves. A pair of borzoi were used, which caught the wolf, one on each side, while Nicholas dismounted and cut the wolf's throat with a knife. Hunting was his major recreation, and he traveled in his private train across Russia with his horses and dogs, hunting while on his rounds of inspection.
The Grand Duke had no part in the planning and preparations for World War I, that being the responsibility of General Vladimir Sukhomlinov and the general staff. On the eve of the outbreak of World War I, his first cousin once removed, the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, yielded to the entreaties of his ministers and appointed Grand Duke Nicholas to the supreme command. He was 57 years old and had never commanded armies in the field before, although he had spent almost all of his life on active service. His appointment was popular in the army. He was given responsibility for the largest army ever put into the field up to that date. He recalled that "... on receipt of the Imperial order, he spent much of his time crying because he did not know how to approach his new duties."
Grand Duke Nicholas was responsible for all Russian forces fighting against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. He decided that their major effort must be in Poland, which thrust toward Germany like a salient, flanked by German East Prussia in the north, and Austro-Hungarian Galicia in the south. He planned to attend first to the flanks and when they were secure to invade German Silesia. In the north poor coordination of the two invading Russian armies resulted in the disaster of Tannenberg. In the south they conquered much of Galicia. Their subsequent move toward Silesia was blocked by the Battle of the Vistula River and Battle of Łódź. The Grand Duke picked and chose from the various plans offered by his generals. The Grand Duke begged for the artillery and ammunition they desperately lacked, so he could not embark on a coherent plan for victory. On a personal level he was well liked by both officers and men. The Germans thought him a formidable opponent.
On the other hand, some regard Nicholas as more a bureaucrat than a military leader, lacking the broad strategic sense and the ruthless drive to command all the Russian armies. His headquarters had a curiously calm atmosphere, despite the many defeats and the millions of casualties. On 22 March 1915 he reсeived the Order of St. George 2nd degree for the successful Siege of Przemyśl.
Upon his dismissal, the Grand Duke was immediately appointed commander-in-chief and viceroy in the Caucasus (replacing Count Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov). While the Grand Duke was officially in command, General Yudenich was the driving figure in the Russian Caucasus army, so the Grand Duke focused on the civil administration. Their opponent was the Ottoman Empire. While the Grand Duke was in command, the Russian army sent an expeditionary force through to Persia (now Iran) to link up with British troops. Also in 1916, the Russian army captured the fortress town of Erzerum, the port of Trebizond (now Trabzon) and the town of Erzincan. The Turks responded with an offensive of their own. Fighting around Lake Van swung back and forth, but ultimately proved inconclusive.
It is reported that, while visiting the garrison of Kostroma he met Said Nursi, a famous Muslim cleric who was a prisoner of war. Because of Nursi's disrespectful attitude, Grand Duke gave an order to execute him. But after seeing Nursi's submission and faith about the sake of science, he changed his mind. Nothing in the Grand Duke's record suggests that he would have even considered such a war crime. At the time he was urging the Tsar to set up colleges for training Muslim clerics so they would not have to study abroad.
Nicholas tried to have a railway built from Russian Georgia to the conquered territories with a view to bringing up more supplies for a new offensive in 1917. But, in March 1917, the Tsar was overthrown and the Russian army began slowly to fall apart.
The February Revolution found Nicholas in the Caucasus. He was appointed by the Emperor, in his last official act, as the supreme commander in chief, and was wildly received as he journeyed to headquarters in Mogilev; however, within 24 hours of his arrival, the new prime minister, Prince Georgy Lvov, cancelled his appointment. Nicholas spent the next two years in the Crimean Peninsula, sometimes under house arrest, taking little part in politics. There appears to have been some sentiment to have him head the White Army forces active in southern Russia at the time, but the leaders in charge, especially General Anton Denikin, were afraid that a strong monarchist figurehead would alienate the more left leaning constituents of the movement. He and his wife escaped just ahead of the Red Army in April 1919, aboard the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Marlborough.
On 8 August 1922, Nicholas was proclaimed as the emperor of all the Russias by the Zemsky Sobor of the Amur krai /Priamursk region in the Far East by White Army general Mikhail Diterikhs. Nicholas was already living abroad and consequently was not present. Two months later the Priamursk region fell to the Bolsheviks Red Army in the continuing civil war.
After a stay in Genoa as a guest of his brother-in-law, Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, Nicholas and his wife took up residence in a small castle at Choigny, 20 miles outside of Paris. He was under the protection of the French secret police as well as by a small number of faithful Cossack retainers.
He became the symbolic figurehead of an anti-Soviet Russian monarchist movement, after assuming on 16 November 1924 the supreme command of all Russian forces in exile and thus of the Russian All-Military Union, which had been founded in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by Gen Pyotr Wrangel two months prior. The monarchists made plans to send agents into Russia. Conversely a top priority of the Soviet secret police was to penetrate this monarchist organization and to kidnap Nicholas. They were successful in the former, infiltrating the group with spies. (OGPU later lured the anti-Bolshevik British master spy Sidney Reilly back to the Soviet Union (1925) where he was killed.) They did not succeed however, in kidnapping Nicholas. As late as June 1927, the monarchists were able to set off a bomb at the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow.
Grand Duke Nicholas died on 5 January 1929 of natural causes on the French Riviera, where he had gone to escape the rigors of winter. He was originally buried in the church of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cannes, France. In 2014 Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia (1922–2014) and Prince Dimitri Romanov requested the transfer of his remains. The bodies of Nicholas Nikolaevich and his wife were re-buried in Moscow at the World War I memorial military cemetery in May 2015.
The Grand Duke received several Russian and foreign decorations:
|Ancestors of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856–1929)|
The 10th (Magdeburg) Hussars Regiment (German: Magdeburgisches Husaren-Regiment Nr. 10) were a Prussian Light cavalry regiment of the IV Corps that was formed in late 1813 during the War of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon after the Battle of Leipzig. The Hussars were a distinctively dressed light cavalry of East European origin. The 10th Hussars were stationed from 1814 to 1884 in Aschersleben and after 1884 in Stendal. They fought in 1866 at the Battle of Königgrätz and later in World War I.Caucasus Campaign
The Caucasus Campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, later including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the German Empire, the Central Caspian Dictatorship and the British Empire as part of the Middle Eastern theatre during World War I. The Caucasus Campaign extended from the South Caucasus to the Armenian Highlands region, reaching as far as Trabzon, Bitlis, Mush and Van. The land warfare was accompanied by the Russian navy in the Black Sea Region of the Ottoman Empire.
On February 23, 1917, the Russian advance was halted following the Russian Revolution, and later the Russian Caucasus Army disintegrated and was replaced by the forces of the newly established Armenian state, comprising Armenian volunteer units and irregular units which had previously been part of the Russian Army. During 1918 the region also saw the establishment of the Central Caspian Dictatorship, the Republic of Mountainous Armenia and an Allied intervention force, nicknamed Dunsterforce, composed of troops drawn from the Mesopotamian and Western Fronts. The Ottoman Empire and the German Empire had a hot conflict at Batumi with the arrival of the German Caucasus Expedition whose prime aim was to secure oil supplies.
On March 3, 1918, the campaign terminated between the Ottoman Empire and Russia with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and on June 4, 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Batum with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. However, the armed conflicts continued as Ottoman Empire was still engaged with the Central Caspian Dictatorship, Republic of Mountainous Armenia and Dunsterforce of the British Empire until the Armistice of Mudros was signed on October 30, 1918.
The Armenian Genocide was carried out during the course of the campaign.Duchess Alexandra of Oldenburg
Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna of Russia (Russian: Алекса́ндра Петро́вна Ольденбургская, tr. Alexandra Petrovna Olʹdenburgskaya; Born Duchess Alexandra Frederica Wilhelmina of Oldenburg; 2 June 1838 – 25 April 1900) was a great-granddaughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia and the wife of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia, the elder.
Born Duchess Alexandra of Oldenburg, she was the eldest daughter of Duke Peter of Oldenburg and his wife Princess Therese of Nassau-Weilburg. She grew up in Russia in close proximity to the Romanovs as her father was a nephew of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Alexandra’s parents were artistically gifted and passionate philanthropists. They provided a good education for her and inspired in Alexandra a life of service to those in need.
Alexandra married in 1856, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia, the third son of Tsar Nicholas I and her first cousin once removed. Alexandra, who had been raised in the Lutheran church, converted to the Orthodox faith, and took the name Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna of Russia. The couple had two children: Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856–1929), the younger, and Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich of Russia (1864–1931). The marriage, arranged by the Russian Imperial family in an attempt to control the Grand Duke’s excesses, was unhappy. She was plain, serious and liked simplicity. Deeply religious and very involved in charity work, Alexandra founded a training institute for nurses in St Petersburg in 1865. The same year, her husband began an affair with a ballerina, forming a second family with his mistress.
After the collapse of her marriage, Alexandra lived separated from her husband who expelled her from their household in 1879. A carriage accident left her almost completely paralyzed and, in November 1880, Alexandra went abroad to improve her health, compelled by her brother-in-law Tsar Alexander II. The following year, she asked her nephew, Tsar Alexander III, to allow her to return to Russia and she settled in Kiev. She recovered her mobility and, in 1889, she founded the Pokrov of Our Lady Monastery, a convent of nursing nuns with its own hospital, to provide free treatment for the poor. She dedicated the rest of her life to the work at the hospital. In 1889, she became an Orthodox nun under the name Anastasia. She died at the convent in 1900.Duke Constantine Petrovich of Oldenburg
Duke Constantine Frederick Peter of Oldenburg (German: Herzog Konstantin Friedrich Peter von Oldenburg; Russian: Константин Петрович Ольденбургский, tr. Konstantin Petrovich Oldenburgskiy; 9 May 1850 - 18 March 1906) was a son of Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg and his wife Princess Therese of Nassau-Weilburg Known in the court of Tsar Nicholas II as Prince Constantine Petrovich Oldenburgsky, he was the father of the Russian Counts and Countesses von Zarnekau.Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia may refer to:
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1831-1891), third son and sixth child of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856-1929), his sonGrand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1831–1891)
Not to be confused with his son, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856–1929).Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (Russian: Великий князь Николай Николаевич; 8 August 1831 – 25 April 1891) was the third son and sixth child of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and Alexandra Feodorovna. He may also be referred to as Nicholas Nikolaevich the Elder to tell him apart from his son. Trained for the military, as a Field Marshal he commanded the Russian army of the Danube in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878.Military Engineering-Technical University
The Saint Petersburg Military Engineering-Technical University (Nikolaevsky) (Russian: Санкт-Петербургский Военный инженерно-технический университет, VITU), previously known as the Saint Petersburg Nikolaevsky Engineering Academy, was established in 1810 under Alexander I. The university is situated in the former barracks of the Cavalier-Guard Regiment where the university was founded.Nicholas Romanov
Nicholas Romanov may refer to:
Nicholas I of Russia (1796–1855), third son of Paul I & Tsaritsa Maria Fedorovna; younger brother of Alexander I, ascended 1825
Nicholas Alexandrovich (1843–1865), eldest son of Emperor Alexander II and Tsaritsa Maria Alexandrovna; grandson of Nicholas I
Nicholas II of Russia (1868–1918), eldest son of Alexander III and Tsaritsa Maria Fedorovna, great-grandson of Nicholas I, ascended 1894
Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich of Russia (1850–1918), eldest son of Grand Duke Constantin Nicolaievich & Alexandra Josifovna of Saxe-Altenburg
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1831-1891), third son of Emperor Nicholas I and Tsaritsa Alexandra Fedorovna, husband of Alexandra Petrovna
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856–1929), son of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich & Alexandra Petrovna of Oldenburg, husband of Anastasia Nicolaievna
Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich of Russia (1859–1919), eldest son of Grand Duke Mikhail Nicolaievich and Olga Fedorovna of Baden, unmarried
Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia (1922-2014), used the contested titulary Prince Nicholas of Russia
Nikolai Romanov (politician) (1913–1993), a Soviet politicianOrder of St. George
The Order of Saint George (Russian: Орден «Святого Георгия», Orden "Svyatogo Georgiya") is today the highest purely military decoration of the Russian Federation. Originally established November 26, 1769 as the highest military decoration of the Russian Empire by Empress Catherine the Great. After the 1917 Russian Revolution it was awarded by the White movement anti-communist forces under Alexander Kolchak until their collapse in 1921. The order was revived in the Russian Federation on August 8, 2000 by Decree №1463 of the President of Russia. The current award criteria were amended on September 7, 2010 by Presidential Decree 1099.Princess Anastasia of Montenegro
Princess Anastasia Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro (4 June 1868 in Cetinje, Montenegro – 25 November 1935 in Cap d'Antibes, France) was the daughter of King Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro (1841–1921) and his wife, Milena Vukotić (1847–1923). Through her second marriage, she became Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaievna Romanova of Russia. She and her sister "Militza" (Princess Milica), having married Russian royal brothers, were known colloquially as the "Montenegrin princesses" during the last days of Imperial Russia, and may have contributed to its downfall by the introduction of Grigori Rasputin to the Empress Alexandra.Treaty of Poti
The Treaty of Poti was a provisional agreement between the German Empire and the Democratic Republic of Georgia in which the latter accepted German protection and recognition. The agreement was signed, on May 28, 1918, by General Otto von Lossow for Germany and by Prime Minister Noe Ramishvili and Foreign Minister Akaki Chkhenkeli for Georgia at the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti.Vladimir Sukhomlinov
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov (Russian: Владимир Александрович Сухомлинов, IPA: [sʊxɐˈmlʲinəf]; 16 August [O.S. 4 August] 1848 – 2 February 1926) was a cavalry general of the Imperial Russian Army (1906) who served as the Chief of the General Staff in 1908–09 and the Minister of War until 1915, when he was ousted from office amid allegations of failure to provide necessary armaments and munitions. The Myasoedov/Sukhomlinov cases may have done more harm to the monarchy than the lurid scandals associated with Rasputin.