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Grandson of Emperor Nicholas I, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich the Younger (1856-1929) was one of the most powerful and outspoken members of the Romanov dynasty in the years before the 1917 revolution. To distinguish him from his first cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, he was known within the imperial family as Nicholasha, or, as he towered above his rather short cousin, 'Nicholas the Tall'. He was made Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces at the beginning of the First World War.
Born in 1856, he spent his entire life until the fall of the Romanov Empire in the army. During the war against Turkey in 1877-1878, he was awarded the order of St. George 4th class, as well as a golden sword. He joined the Guard Hussar regiment in 1877 and became its commander in 1884. In 1895 he became General Inspector of the Cavalry. At the beginning of the First World War, the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich was the obvious choice for the post of Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces due his popularity in the army.