Michael Alexanandrovich Romanov (1878 - ?) was the last Tsar of the Russian Empire. He succeeded to the Imperial throne after the abdication of his brother Nicholas II on 17 July 1900. Michael reigned for just seven weeks before abdicating in his turn on 4 September and fleeing to Sweden.
Michael was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on 4 December 1878, during the reign of his paternal grandfather, Alexander II. Within ten years, both Michael's grandfather and father were dead, leaving his twenty-year-old brother Nicholas as Tsar during the uprisings of 1888. Nicholas ordered the uprisings crushed by the secret police and army, and over the next five years over 2 million Russians were killed, and another 80,000 were exiled to prison camps on the Kamchatka peninsula.
The Great Northern War with the United States of Mexico broke out on 21 May 1898, and over the next year the Russian armed forces suffered a series of defeats. The Mexicans conquered Alaska in the summer of 1898 and made a series of amphibious landings in Siberia a year later. The political prisoners in Kamchatka were freed by the Mexicans, and 7,000 of them formed the Free Russian Brigade to fight alongside the Mexicans against the Russian army. Mexican Admiral Ephraim Small went further in November 1899, forming the freed prisoners into a "Provisional Free Russian Government" which was recognized by the Mexican government on 23 November.
The loss of Alaska and the ongoing losses in Siberia caused an economic and financial crisis in Russia, and a new uprising broke out in St. Petersburg on 2 February 1900. The uprising quickly spread throughout European Russia, and the revolutionaries joined forces with nationalists among the various subject peoples to defeat the Tsarists throughout the Empire. Nicholas II abdicated on 17 July in Michael's favor, before fleeing Russia along with most of the Imperial family.
Michael spent the next seven weeks attempting to regain control of the Empire before finally abandoning hope. On the evening of 5 September, he left for exile in Sweden, taking with him the remaining members of the Imperial family. With Michael's abdication, the last vestige of central authority in Russia was gone, and the country fragmented into a series of successor states, including the Ukraine, the Mexican client state in Siberia, and the Russian Confederation.
Sobel's sources for the reign of Tsar Michael are Feodor Kluchansky's Russia in Exile (London, 1911); and Zoë Montgomery's The Russian Revolution (New York, 1967).