The Romanovs were the last imperial family to rule Russia. With their rule encompassing over a hundred years, from 1613 to 1917 AD, they were mostly well-liked and respected by the populace, despite the social and political unrest that hit the country at times. The last members of this family were Nicholas II and Alexandra Fyodorovna, and their five children Anastasia, Olga, Maria, Tatiana, and Alexei.
Alexei, the long-awaited heir to the throne, suffered from hemophilia, which prompted his desperate mother to seek help from a number of sources, until she finally found solace in the hands of Rasputin. The monk eventually became such an influence in the royal family that he started advising on state matters, including the nomination of ministers. This led to the formation of a revolutionary group, the Soviet Bolsheviks, who killed Rasputin and later on put the Romanovs under house arrest. In March 1917, the family was exiled to Siberia, where they spent the following four months as prisoners of the revolution.
It was on the midnight of 17 July 1918 that the Romanovs were killed. Yakov Yurovsky, the head of the Bolshevik revolution, took the prisoners to the basement. Accompanied by a small army of 10 soldiers, he read an execution note to the Romanovs and then proceeded to shoot them at point-blank range. Aside from the family members, several household staff members were also killed, including the family doctor, the cook, and the nanny. According to some reports, some of the family did not die from the shots, and were then attacked by the soldiers using bayonets and riffle butts.
Disposing of the bodies proved to be a rather difficult feat. The Romanovs were first buried in an old iron mine outside Yekaterinburg but captors then decided that the bodies were too easy to find there. They then tried to burn the remains, but water from the mine had dampened the clothes enough that they would not catch on fire. Finally, the Bolshevik army decided to move the bodies to a different location and started digging a hole in which to bury them. Before they could finish their work, the White Army took over Yekaterinburg and the bodies were quickly recovered.
Over the past few decades, much controversy has surrounded the Romanovs. Two bodies were missing from the pit, which led to the speculation that some members of the family had survived the massacre. The most common theory points to Anastasia and Alexei as the missing bodies. Several women have, in fact, claimed to be Anastasia, the most notable being Anna Anderson, who passed away in 1984. Anderson's body was cremated upon her death in 1984. The mystery of who, if anybody, survived the killing of the Romanovs, is still pending.