Yakov Sverdlov was born in 1885 in Nizhny Novgorod to Jewish parents. He joined the Bolshevik party and took part in the Revolution of 1905 which was crushed by Tsarist troops. He was imprisoned or exiled until the February Revolution of 1917. After the October Revolution, he became an important Soviet government official. In July, 1918, Sverdlov ordered the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. The Russian Royal family are now regarded as Martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church.