Grandson of Nicholas I. Received a military education at the Nikolaevskoe Military Engineering School, 1873. During the Russo-Turkish war 1877-1878, in the staff of his father, who was commander-in-chief of the Russian Army. Later commander of the Guards Hussar Regiment.
General inspector of cavalry, 1895-1905. Chairman of the National Defence Council, 1905- OS. Commander of guards regiments and the Petersburg military district, 1905-1914. Through his wife and her sister, Rasputin gained entrance into court circles, but Nikolai later became a fierce enemy of Rasputin, which made him unpopular with Empress Aleksandra.
Commander-in-chief during World War I, 2 August 1914-1915. Sep. 1915. Succeeded by Nicholas II on the insistence of Aleksandra. Sep. 1915-1912 March 1917, Commander-inchief of the Caucasian front (against Turkey).
One of the commanders-inchief who advised Nicholas II to abdicate. On abdication the tsar again appointed him commander-inchief of the Russian armies, but he was not able to take up this appointment because of the hostile attitude of the Soviets and the Provisional Government. Emigrated from the Crimea in March 1919 to Italy.
Settled in France. Regarded by some Russian emigres as the heir apparent to the Romanov throne.