Tsar Nicholas II was killed by a Soviet firing squad on 17 July 1918.
On the night of his death, Nicholas II and his family were woken at around 2am by their captors and taken down to the basement of the Yekaterinburg house where they were being held prisoner. Their guards pretended that they were being moved in order to secure their safety but, once they reached the basement, they were quickly told that they had been sentenced to death.
The decision to kill the Tsar and his family had been taken in Moscow by Lenin, who was fearful that approaching White troops could re-capture the royal family, rallying the fortunes of the royalist opposition to Soviet rule.
A firing squad, made up of soldiers from Eastern Europe (so there was no risk of a Russian refusing to shoot the Tsar) opened fire on the family and, over the space of a few bloody minutes, killed the Tsar, his wife Alexandra, all of their children, and their remaining servants and staff.
The scene was drawn out, bloody and chaotic. The Tsar’s daughters all survived the first wave of shooting because of the large number of diamonds stitched into their clothing, and they were eventually killed by bayonets.
The bodies were buried without ceremony in a mass grave that was not rediscovered for many years. It was only after DNA tests were carried out in the late 1990s and eary 20th century that the identity of the remains was fully confirmed.
The chaotic execution and the hidden burial led to many rumours that some of the Tsar’s daughters might have escaped their execution, and many people have claimed to be one of the Tsar’s escaped daughters, including Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia Romanov.
Tsar Nicholas II’s death brought to an end the Romanov line. You can find out more about Nicholas Tsar of Russia and the rest of his family in our article, ‘Who Were the Romanovs?‘.