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1917: The February Revolution and Emperor Nicholas II's abdication

During the February Revolution (February 1917) Emperor Nicholas II was with the General Staff in the city of Mogilev (Belorussia). Finally persuaded by his advisers that he could do nothing more for his country, late in the night of 2 March 1917 Nicholas II signed a deed of abdication for his son and himself, in favour of his brother Mikhail. This took place in the Imperial train, which could not reach Petrograd and was stood in a siding at the station of Dno, near Pskov. Grand Prince Mikhail refused to ascend to the throne without the support of the public and the army and a decree was issued making Prince G. E. Lvov Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the new Provisional Government. Lvov possessed absolute power until the creation of the Constituent Assembly.

On 7 March the Provisional Government took the decision to imprison Nicholas and Alexandra, no longer Emperor and Empress but simply Mr and Mrs Romanov. On 9 March the former Emperor and his wife were sent to the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, where the members of the family were also put under arrest.

As part of the Imperial Court, the Hermitage was very much affected by the political upheavals. Nonetheless, along with the majority of the intellectual elite, the staff accepted the February Revolution and even greeted it with some enthusiasm, seeing great potential for changes in museum administration and staffing (Nicholas had refused to allow non-nobles to be employed). Work continued as before with the exception of a temporary suspension of public access.


Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II with Remarque-Portrait of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolayevich
Rundaltsov, Mikhail Victorovich
Image in the Digital collection

Portrait of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolayevich
Rundaltsov, Mikhail Victorovich
Image in the Digital collection

Cadets in the Winter Palace
Larger view


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