The abdication of Nicholas II (1917)

The abdication of Nicholas II, signed in Pskov on March 15th 1917 (March 2nd in the old Julian calendar). Nicholas abdicated power to his brother, Grand Duke Michael, however within one day he too had relinquished power to an elected representative assembly:

“By the Grace of God, We, Nikolai II, Emperor of All the Russias, Tsar of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, and so forth, to all our faithful subjects be it known:

In the days of a great struggle against a foreign enemy who has been endeavouring for three years to enslave our country, it pleased God to send Russia a further painful trial. Internal troubles threatened to have a fatal effect on the further progress of this obstinate war.

The destinies of Russia, the honour of her heroic Army, the happiness of the people, and the whole future of our beloved country demand that the war should be conducted at all costs to a victorious end. The cruel enemy is making his last efforts and the moment is near when our valiant Army, in concert with our glorious Allies, will finally overthrow the enemy.

In these decisive days in the life of Russia we have thought that we owed to our people the close union and organisation of all its forces for the realisation of a rapid victory; for which reason, in agreement with the Imperial Duma, we have recognised that it is for the good of the country that we should abdicate the Crown of the Russian State and lay down the Supreme Power.

Not wishing to separate ourselves from our beloved son, we bequeath our heritage to our brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, with our blessing for the future of the Throne of the Russian State. We bequeath it our brother to govern in full union with the national representatives sitting in the Legislative Institutions and to take his inviolable oath to them in the name of our well-beloved country.

We call upon all faithful sons of our native land to fulfil their sacred and patriotic duty of obeying the Tsar at the painful moment of national trial and to aid them, together with the representatives of the nation, to conduct the Russian State in the way of prosperity and glory.

May God help Russia.”

The following declaration was issued by Grand Duke Mikhail on March 16th:

“A heavy task has been entrusted to me by the will of my brother, who has given me the Imperial Throne at a time of unprecedented war and domestic strife.

Animated by the same feelings as the entire nation – namely, that the welfare of the country overshadows all other interests – I am firmly resolved to accept the Supreme Power only if this should be the desire of our great people, which must, by means of a plebiscite, through their representatives in the Constituent Assembly, establish the form of government and the new fundamental law of the Russian State.

Invoking God’s blessing, I therefore request all citizens of Russia to obey the Provisional Government, set up on the initiative of the Duma and invested with plenary powers, until, within as short a time as possible, the Constituent Assembly, elected on a basis of universal, equal, and secret suffrage, shall express the will of the nation regarding the form of government to be adopted.”