The infamous murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family on 17 July 1918 was a watershed event that ended the rule of the Russian Imperial Romanov family and changed the entire course of Russian history.
Rising popular resentment had been gathering against the Tsar since the beginning of World War One, a conflict he had committed Russia to in August 1914. This resentment boiled over in February 1917 when the first of two Russian revolutions for that year occurred in Petrograd. There were mass public demonstrations that were later joined by soldiers from the Imperial Russian Army.
On 15 March 1917, the Tsar was forced to abdicate, signalling the end of the Russian Empire. Over the next year Nicholas and his family, the Romanovs, were imprisoned at various locations, finally leading to Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg 1918.
Here, on 17 July 1918, the family, together with their servants, were herded into a basement and soon after midnight an execution squad of secret police entered the room. Their leader Yakov Yurovsky read the order he had received earlier:
“Nikolai Alexandrovich, in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.”
The firing squad then opened up on the family and all were shot, but some survived the fusillade only to be bayoneted to death soon after.
Their bodies were hastily disposed of in a mineshaft in the Koptyaki Forest but then shifted to another location soon after, in order to confuse any investigators. They were to remain lost to history until rediscovered in 1979, but this was not announced publically until 1991. The bodies of the Tsar, Tsarina and three of their daughters were then exhumed and identified through DNA analysis.
They were reburied with the full trappings of a State funeral at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg soon after.