On this day in 1894: Nicholas II ascended the throne

PHOTO: Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich. 1894

On this day – 2nd November[1] [O.S. 20th October] 1894, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich ascended the throne as Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

It was on this historic day, that Nicholas Alexandrovich inherited the throne from his father, who ruled Russia for only 13 years. Government officials, courtiers and troops of the Imperial Russian Army, among others, all took an oath of allegiance to their new emperor.

In the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross [adjacent to Livadia Palace], Nicholas pledged his oath of allegiance to Russia solemnly promising to protect the autocracy firmly and unswervingly, like his late father.

It was also in the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, that the holy righteous John of Kronstadt anointed Princess Alice of Hesse, who became the Orthodox faithful Grand Duchess and future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

NOTE: The Church of the Exaltation of the Cross has survived to this day – PG


Though Nicholas Alexandrovich was heir-apparent to the throne, his father failed to prepare him for his future role as Tsar. He attended meetings of the State Council; however, as his father was only in his forties, it was expected that it would be many years before Nicholas succeeded to the throne. Alexander’s assumptions that he would live a long life and had years to prepare Nicholas for becoming Tsar proved wrong, as by 1894, Alexander’s health was failing.

Russia’s finance minister, Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte (1849-1915), suggested to the Tsar that Nicholas be appointed to the Siberian Railway Committee. According to Witte, Alexander argued that Nicholas was not mature enough to take on serious responsibilities. Witte stated that if Nicholas was not introduced to state affairs, he would never be ready to understand them.

Nicholas was only 26 years old when his father died suddenly after a long and serious illness, at the age of 49.

PHOTO: the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross [adjacent to Livadia Palace]

On 27th (O.S. 14th) November 1894, Nicholas Alexandrovich married Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt (Empress Alexandra Fedorovna). Their nuptials fell on the birthday of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and court mourning could be slightly relaxed. The ceremony was held in the Grand Church (the home church of the Imperial Family) of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.

A respectable period of mourning was the reasion his coronation was postponed for a year and a half. The Holy Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, took place on 27th (O.S. 14th) May 1896 in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. It would be the last coronation of a Romanov Tsar.

During the reign of Nicholas II, Russia made considerable progress in all areas of life, while experiencing tremendous growth in its economy. Under his reforms, the Russian Empire reached an unprecedented level of economic development. However, this time was also marked by the growth of revolutionary sentiments.

Click HERE to read 70 facts about Emperor Nicholas II and his reign, originally published on 13th July 2021.

His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II reigned over the Russian Empire for more than 22 years. He abdicated on 15th March 1917 (O.S. 2nd March) 1917.

Some historians argue that the act of abdication was invalid for two reasons: one, because it was signed in pencil, violating all the necessary legal and procedural methods and format, and thus had no legal force; and two, because the instrument of abdication was never officially published by the Imperial Senate.

Regardless, as God’s Anointed, Nicholas II could not be displaced during his lifetime. Since the will of God was nowhere manifest, neither in the naming of his brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich to the throne, nor in the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable. He remained Emperor until the day of his death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

In 2018, a commemorative medal was issued, marking the 124th anniversary of Nicholas II’s ascension to the throne in 1894. The medal was the first of The Romanovs. Golden Collection to be minted by the Imperial Mint in Moscow.


[1] In recent years there has been much confusion by non-Orthodox Christians and Westerners with regard to the correct dates of important events (births, deaths, marriages, etc.) among members of the Russian Imperial Family, according to the New Style calendar.

As an example, is the date marking the death of Alexander III and the accession to the throne of Nicholas II. This happened on the day of Saint Artemius the Great Martyr and the righteous youth Artemiy, on 20th October (2nd November). And if this day is celebrated on 1st November or 3, then we are not commemorating the memory of these saints. Do not rely on any dates on Wikipedia which often provide the incorrect dates of the Gregorian calendar for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

With the passage of every leap day that is on the Julian (Old Style) Calendar but not on the Gregorian Calendar, the difference between the two calendars grows another day. Currently, the Gregorian Calendar is thirteen days ahead of the Julian Calendar. Beginning on 14th March 2100 (29th February 2100 Julian), the difference will be fourteen days.

© Paul Gilbert. 2 November 2022