Nicholas II was crowned Tsar of Russia on May 14 , 1896. Four days later, a banquet was going to be held for the people at Khodynka Field. In the area of one town square, theaters, 150 buffets for distribution of gifts, and 20 pubs were built for the celebrations. Nearby the celebration square was a field that had a ravine and many gullies. On the evening of May 17, people who had heard rumours of coronation gifts from the tsar (the gifts which everybody was to receive were a bread roll, a piece of sausage, pretzels, gingerbread, and a mug) began to gather in anticipation.
At about 5 o'clock in the morning of the coronation day, several thousand people (according to Jay Leyda, estimates reached 500,000) were already gathered on the field. Suddenly a rumour spread among the people that there was not enough beer or pretzels for everybody. A police force of 1800 men failed to maintain civil order, and in a catastrophic crush and resulting panic to flee the scene, 1,389 people were trampled to death, and roughly 1,300 were otherwise injured.