The word tsar is a Russian word meaning emperor. Its root is from Caesar, the name given to the rulers of ancient Rome. The history of the Romanov Dynasty is long, full of terrible conditions, ending with eleven brutal murders.
The first Russian prince to call himself a tsar was Ivan the Terrible, who ruled from 1547 to 1584. After Ivan died, many people came forward to claim the throne. Finally, the government decided to elect a new tsar. They elected Michael Romanov, who was Ivan's 16 year old nephew. He was the founder of the Romanov Dynasty, which lasted for 205 years.
Alexander II, who freed the Russian serfs and was known as "the Tsar Liberator", was the great-grandfather of Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanov, and the grandfather of Nicholas II. Alexander II's son, Alexander III, who took over after his father died, believed in autocracy and opposed liberal reforms.
He also persecuted Jews and other minorities.
Alexander III's son, Nicholas II, was fluent in English, French and German, and was a great dancer. When he was 12 years old, he met Alixandra, Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, who was only 6 at the time. She was a German princess whose mother had died months just before. Alix was bitter and withdrawn, but Nicholas liked her after just one meeting.
After Alexander III died in 1899, Nicholas and Alix became engaged. Nicholas had inherited an entire empire at the age of 26. After the two were married, Nicholas made his first proclamation- that Alix's name be changed legally to Alexandra Feodorovna. In the Russian language, a boy would take his father's first name and add "ovitch" and a girl would add "evna" or "ovna".
Nicholas and Alix had 5 children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei, the youngest and only boy.