Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Nicholas II => Topic started by: kmerov on February 12, 2005, 12:24:17 PM

Title: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: kmerov on February 12, 2005, 12:24:17 PM
Please someone help me with this. :)
I never cant seem to remember which Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses liked Nicholas as emperor, and  head of the family, so im hoping you can tell me on this thread. ;D
Its a shame that Nicky, as head of the family couldnt unite such as his father, Alexander III.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Erichek on March 25, 2005, 12:16:45 PM
Since Nicholas, right after his father's death, sort of acknowledged the fact that he had not been properly prepared for his new job, and while he may have understood about himself that he was not ' tsar material', why did he not abdicate in favour of somebody else?
Or was tradition too strong for him to decline the honour? It had been done before...

Erichek
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on March 25, 2005, 12:25:14 PM
Hello Erichek  :)
I think this is discussed quite a lot in the Negative Attributes of Nicholas as Tsar, but I would think it was because he saw it as his duty; it was all he had been brought to believe  :-/ And to whom could he have handed over that role?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: kmerov on March 25, 2005, 03:50:05 PM
Maybe it was to much to ask of, :) but maybe you can tell me this. Am i correct in assuming that all the branches in generel didnt like him, exept the Konstantinovich branch?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on March 25, 2005, 04:55:21 PM
It seems that it wasn't so much that they didn't LIKE him, as didn't RESPECT him as a Tsar. He wasn't able to inspire the same respect as his father had done. Perhaps this was because his was a gentler & more diffident nature. Sandro Mikhailovich was one of his closest friends, wasn't he? And even after Khodinka, it wasn't Nicholas that he & his brothers blamed, but Serge??
Perhaps by the time of the revolution, the entire family was despairing of him. (But again, I think it is necessary to separate the man from his role as Tsar, because as a man it seems they all liked him.)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: kmerov on March 25, 2005, 05:34:13 PM
Yes, you are right, and maybe thats why i get confused all the time ;D. On one hand they like him and on the other they dont. They wanted to like him as an  emperor also, but when you dont/cant respect a man there is not much to do about it!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on March 25, 2005, 05:43:43 PM
Which is why I feel so sorry for Nicholas. His whole personality was not suited to the role; those who knew him loved him...yet history judges him as a failure & then glorifies him because of the awfulness of his death.
As a man he was not a failure; his fault was his inability to rule. To my mind he was neither saint nor a failure...just a man trying to do his best & failing. (Maybe that DOES make him a saint  :-/ ) I would imagine that that is how all the members of the family saw him too; had they disliked him they would not have made such an effort, immediately prior to the revolution, to persuade him to adopt a different approach. By then, though, I think too many of them were concerned with their own future & clinging on to their positions to offer any REAL help.  :-/
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: koloagirl on March 25, 2005, 09:34:59 PM
 :)

I too feel that Nicholas was liked by members of his family as a "person" but despaired of as a "Tsar".

From reading books, especially "A Lifelong Passion" you get the feeling that they just thought "poor Nicky" and that was it.  I don't feel that most of them liked or understood Alix also - which didn't help matters.  :-/

Just my 2 kopeks worth!  ;)

Janet R.
:D
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ortino on March 27, 2005, 12:48:27 PM
I think, like bluetoria, Nicholas saw it as a matter of honor. He was, after all, the first in line for the throne at that time and therefore entitled to it. He could have perhaps abdicated in favor his brother Michael, which he eventually did later, but I don't know how willing he would be to do that at such a young, inexperienced age.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on March 27, 2005, 01:44:31 PM
According to Orthodox tradition, the Russian tsar was God's representative on earth. In other words he had what the Chinese called "Heaven's Mandate." To be tsar was to be the chosen one - God's gift to the Russian people -  and that's not a role you can lightly refuse. We know from his diary, and from his public and private statements, that Nicholas saw his life as predetermined. To be tsar was his destiny and his fate. He could not escape it: to try to do so would be like thwarting God's will.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on March 27, 2005, 09:52:02 PM
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Since Nicholas, right after his father's death, sort of acknowledged the fact that he had not been properly prepared for his new job
Erichek


According to Wortman in Scenarios of Power 2:309:

... "the popular and historical mandate that elevated the God-chosen monarch dispensed with the pedagogical imperative ...

... As a result formal education did little to shape the views of Nicholas II as monarch ... Alexander III did not believe that the heir had to receive special education and training to prepare him for the high office of emperor."


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on March 27, 2005, 10:08:56 PM
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Or was tradition too strong for him to decline the honour? Erichek


In Russian this is defined as his sud'ba(fate)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: ajv123ajv on April 26, 2005, 12:57:21 PM
poor man what a life
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: ajv123ajv on April 26, 2005, 12:58:02 PM
poor family
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: etonexile on April 27, 2005, 05:07:53 PM
Was his father that much better prepared for the throne...or did he just have a more confident personality....?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on April 27, 2005, 05:35:58 PM
I would think it was a combination of both. Nicholas was certainly unprepared to reign but also his physical size, as well as his more diffident character, could not match that of his father. He must have felt he had so much to live up to.

In all the discussions about him it seems (to me) that so often his humanity is cast aside and he is viewed as some kind of automaton TSAR. Perhaps in criticising his failures we are expecting more of him than can be expected of any man - & in so doing are, in fact, lamenting a fallen ideal (& our own fallen ideals) rather than considering the man in his position.

Nicholas himself may well have viewed it this way - he knew he was just a man but his people viewed him as so much more & expected more of him & while he struggled to reach their ideals, he knew he never could.

For this I pity him deeply. Who could ever live up to such expectations??
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: kmerov on April 27, 2005, 06:19:06 PM
I keep reading about different members of the family trying to coup Nicky during WWI. But do any of you know which members of the family it was? And how true the rumors were?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: lexi4 on April 28, 2005, 08:37:27 PM
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According to Orthodox tradition, the Russian tsar was God's representative on earth. In other words he had what the Chinese called "Heaven's Mandate." To be tsar was to be the chosen one - God's gift to the Russian people -  and that's not a role you can lightly refuse. We know from his diary, and from his public and private statements, that Nicholas saw his life as predetermined. To be tsar was his destiny and his fate. He could not escape it: to try to do so would be like thwarting God's will.  

I agree and I wonder if Nicholas had an even stronger sense of this because he did have an older brother who died. Had that brother lived, Nicholas would not have been tsar. Both Nicholas and Alix had a stong convictions about doing "God's will." It comes out in their writings. I doubt that Nicholas ever even considered that he had a choice. What he did have was a strong sense of duty.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on April 29, 2005, 06:57:22 AM
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I agree and I wonder if Nicholas had an even stronger sense of this because he did have an older brother who died. Had that brother lived, Nicholas would not have been tsar.


Nicholas had an elder brother who died? Are you thinking of his father, Alexander?
Nicholas had two younger brothers who died - Alexander (born a year after Nicholas & died the next year) & Georgi (born 3 years after Nicholas & died in 1899).
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: lexi4 on April 29, 2005, 04:50:25 PM
Oops. You're right. I got confused. Sorry.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on April 29, 2005, 06:20:43 PM
It's easily done.... :) (Hope you didn't think I was being pedantic!  :))

I agree with you about Nicholas' strong sense of duty & that he felt he didn't have a choice. Doubtlessly he would have been far happier to enjoy a 'quiet life' & yet he accepted his position because he felt it was his duty.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 01, 2005, 01:47:16 PM
Why are we so harsh with Nicholas II? Is it because we consider events that happened during his reign to have been contingent upon his personality as well as his policies? After all, there were any number of rulers in imperial Russian history who were bloodier than "Bloody Nicholas" - Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, for example. There were rulers who were not only morally but also intellectually far worse than Nicholas II - Anna Ioannovna and Peter III. And there were tsars who wasted valuable time in not enacting much needed reforms - Nicholas I and Alexander III. Finally, there were dynamic leaders like Lenin and Trotsky who could be assigned an equal if not larger measure of blame for the form the Russian revolution eventually took. So why do we seem to blame Nicholas II for everything that went wrong in Russia both during and after his reign?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on May 01, 2005, 02:46:46 PM
There was one question that was on the table during Nicholas' reign that was not on the table in any meaninful sense during the other reigns you mention (except for Alexander III's) -- is autocracy the right institution for governing the nation?

Nicholas certainly failed to convince people his answer was the correct one.  Whether he was to "blame" is a more relativistic question that is harder to answer.  I'm not sure any of the other rulers could have convinced people that autocracy was the right answer had the question been seriously posed, or even conceivable, in their times.  (Alexander III ducked the question by dying ahead of the buzzer.)  Can you "blame" a student for failing a test the rest of the class would have failed?  To say that you can, you have to be sure the test was fair.

Can one say Nicholas failed as a tsar?  Yes.  Can one say he is to blame?  That requires a value judgment I am not competent to make.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: hikaru on May 01, 2005, 03:04:30 PM
Why we blame Nicholas?
Maybe , because there were nothing good during this reign which ended by horrible revolution?
I will try to compare:
1. Iwan the Terrible - he made the country a quite bigger
2. Peter the Great - he changed the county  and made a window to Europe.
3. Anna Ioanovna and Peter III - their reign period was not so long (maximum 10 years for Anna, which was ended by Court Revolution made by Elizaveth).
4. Nicholas I - He remarkably good cleared the Decabrist's case then he brought an order to Russian Empire. People became wealthy.
5. Alexandr III - No war with florished economy. Industrial boom have begun.
4. Nicholas II  - wars, revolutions, the people became more poor. On Nicholas times - 65% of russians could not read. If it was OK on Nicholas I times, it was not OK  in the beginning of 20th century. If Nichola's policy would be proper, Lenin could not win.
So why we blame Nicholas as well as his family,Ministers and all upper class, who did not fight much for Russia.





Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: pinklady on May 02, 2005, 07:49:45 AM
While Nicholas is certainly not to blame for the history before him,(and he inherited problems of course) he did have 23 years of his own to try and change things and make a difference. That is a long time, when you think here in Australia a Prime Minister is only in Government for 3 years and then has to be re elected by the people.
Nicholas had his 2 decades without even worrying about elections, he could have changed things more for the better and made a difference, sadly all he is remembered for is Russia's "Last Tsar." ( and good family man blah blah blah)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: etonexile on May 02, 2005, 09:48:48 AM
In fairness to Nicholas and his regime...things were changing in Russia by 1914....They had the 5th fastest growing economy in Europe....Things would most likely have continued to change into the teens and 20's,including the role of autocracy....iSadly, the great debacle of WWI hadn't exhausted Russia and opened the way to Marxism and the Soviet nightmare....
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 11:16:08 AM
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Why we blame Nicholas?
Maybe , because there were nothing good during this reign which ended by horrible revolution?
I will try to compare:
1. Iwan the Terrible - he made the country a quite bigger


Some would not call this a blessing, given the tremendous, long-term problems attached to governing such a vast geographic area. But more specifically, Ivan IV subjugated the boyar class (a check on autocratic power thus eliminated), fatally weakened the Orthodox church (another check on autocratic power gone), subjected the country to a reign of terror that set a dangerous precedent with its separate co-existent police state (the oprichnina), and bankrupted the nation with his disastrous and unnecessary Livonian War. Additionally, he killed his heir and left a succession problem that led directly to the Time of Troubles.  

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2. Peter the Great - he changed the county  and made a window to Europe.


Historians have already demonstrated that Russia during the reign of Alexei was on the road to Westernizing - albeit very gradually and incrementally. What Peter did was to compress a century's worth of gradual change into one extremely violent and turbulent reign - he inflicted on the nation a revolution from above, the first of many to be endured by the Russian people. In doing so, he left a schism between the upper, Westernized classes and the majority of the population, who became ever more deeply enmeshed in serfdom. This is not to denigrate Peter's accomplishments but to put them into a larger perspective. Peter's goal was for Russia to be a European power - not the better welfare of his people.

Peter also failed to solve the problem of administering such a vast empire (which he had added on to with his conquests against Sweden) and left a succession problem of his own. Additionally, he succeeded in demolishing the Orthodox Church as an institution separate from the state, completing the destructive job that Ivan the Terrible had started. Some may applaud this, until it is remembered that in the West, the Church played a pivotal role in the development of institutional checks on the authoritarian power of kings.

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3. Anna Ioanovna and Peter III - their reign period was not so long (maximum 10 years for Anna, which was ended by Court Revolution made by Elizaveth).


True enough, but the nobles attempted (and failed) to put checks on autocratic power at the outset of Anna's reign; and Peter III ended obligatory state service for the nobility - a concession which even Catherine the Great did not dare go back on.

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4. Nicholas I - He remarkably good cleared the Decabrist's case then he brought an order to Russian Empire. People became wealthy.


Nicholas I was well aware that serfdom was a liability to a modern European state. He even formed a special committee to look into abolishing it. But he hesitated to take the final step.

He also got Russia into the catastrophic Crimean War - in which Russia's weakness and ill-preparedness demonstrated that broad-sweeping reforms were urgently needed and had been too long delayed.

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5. Alexandr III - No war with florished economy. Industrial boom have begun.


Forcible Russification of ethnic minorities, including the Poles, Finns and Balts; clampdown on the zemstva, those organs of local self-government that might have saved the monarchy in the end, if they had only been encouraged to develop; increasing poverty and indebtedness of the nobility and peasantry; increasing radicalization of the Russian intelligentsia and elites.

I guess my point is that the unravelling of the Russian autocracy took centuries to achieve, and that many if not most of the problems Nicholas II inherited were endemic and had gone unsolved by generations of rulers before him. I think it's expecting a bit much that one man would be able to overcome such enormous difficulties in the space of a single reign - at most, I think even a genius (which Nicholas clearly was not) could only have delayed the March Revolution by twenty years or so.  


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 11:28:08 AM
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There was one question that was on the table during Nicholas' reign that was not on the table in any meaninful sense during the other reigns you mention (except for Alexander III's) -- is autocracy the right institution for governing the nation?


Actually I think this question was on the table as early as the reign of Anna Ioannovna, when the nobles unsuccessfully attempted to place limits on autocratic power with the establishment of a Supreme Council. The Russian nobility always had a vested interest in curbing the power of the tsar, otherwise you would not have seen one Romanov ruler after another making hard-won concessions to the nobility, or for that matter, falling from power in palace coups.

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Nicholas certainly failed to convince people his answer was the correct one.  Whether he was to "blame" is a more relativistic question that is harder to answer.  I'm not sure any of the other rulers could have convinced people that autocracy was the right answer had the question been seriously posed, or even conceivable, in their times.  (Alexander III ducked the question by dying ahead of the buzzer.)  Can you "blame" a student for failing a test the rest of the class would have failed?  To say that you can, you have to be sure the test was fair.


But what if the test had been different? Not about autocracy but entirely different? After all, you seemed to suggest in your posts in the "Nicholas: Negative Attributes" thread that a great man (or woman) could have succeeded in transforming the Russian autocracy into a real and viable constitutional monarchy that would have survived well into the twentieth century. I continue to have my doubts about this. Rather, I continue to doubt whether such a success would have made much of a difference in the long run. Perhaps it would have prevented the October Revolution. But perhaps, given the extreme radical fringe of the intelligentsia and the vast peasant "problem," it would not have made much of a difference at all? I honestly don't know, but I suspect the latter.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on May 02, 2005, 12:39:30 PM
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Actually I think this question was on the table as early as the reign of Anna Ioannovna, when the nobles unsuccessfully attempted to place limits on autocratic power with the establishment of a Supreme Council.


Were they really trying to limit autocratic power or to counterweigh what they felt to be the dastardly influence of the German contingent on that power?

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The Russian nobility always had a vested interest in curbing the power of the tsar, otherwise you would not have seen one Romanov ruler after another making hard-won concessions to the nobility, or for that matter, falling from power in palace coups.


I don't know that a monarch's making concessions to the nobility necessarily signals a serious attempt by any party to undermine autocracy.  Take Louis XIV, for example.  His reign is viewed as the apogee of royal absolutism in Western Europe.  Yet he constantly negotiated the shoals of entrenched interests such as feudal rights and the notoriously corrupt and inefficient tax farm.  As a consequence, he left France riddled with a hodge-podge of administrative compromises, all in the name of avoiding a frontal assault on the concept of absolutism that would reveal it as a facade obscuring the real way things got decided.  Neither the monarchy nor the nobility wanted any public cracks in that facade.  The nobility did not want to change the way things got done.  They just wanted to stack the decision-making deck in their favor.  I don't think the situation in Russia was much different.

The palace coups do not strike me as having been about curbing autocratic power so much as about putting onto the throne those who would use that power more in alignment with the interests of those staging the coup.  I am not aware of any serious attempts to curb autocracy being embedded in Elizabeth's coup, Catherine II's coup, or Paul's murder.

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But what if the test had been different? Not about autocracy but entirely different? After all, you seemed to suggest in your posts in the "Nicholas: Negative Attributes" thread that a great man (or woman) could have succeeded in transforming the Russian autocracy into a real and viable constitutional monarchy that would have survived well into the twentieth century. I continue to have my doubts about this. Rather, I continue to doubt whether such a success would have made much of a difference in the long run. Perhaps it would have prevented the October Revolution. But perhaps, given the extreme radical fringe of the intelligentsia and the vast peasant "problem," it would not have made much of a difference at all? I honestly don't know, but I suspect the latter.


I don't know either.  I suspect the former, but until someone gives me autocratic power and a time machine, I'll never be able to test my proposition.  (I do have a habit of pontificating most on those topics where I can be tested least.  Oh, well . . . .)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: hikaru on May 02, 2005, 01:03:31 PM
All what Elisabeth said about others russian rulers are right - everybody has negative points - only foolish have not.
But nobody of the above mentioned Tsars, did not lead Russia to crush as Nicholas II did.
Thats it.
Vilhelm (he did not like Nicholas much but)
said : " It is impossible to rule Russia by playing lawn tennis so much and often as  Nicholas did"
Maybe Nicholas was appropriate for England (Europe),
but not for Russia.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 01:27:56 PM
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Were they really trying to limit autocratic power or to counterweigh what they felt to be the dastardly influence of the German contingent on that power?


It was probably a mixture of both, although I'm sure historians argue about this. Certainly the Russian nobles showed they had not yet developed a cohesive "party spirit," since Anna had only to offer rewards to one group for them to go over to her side, at which point the entire plot caved in. Still, if it had succeeded Russia would have been a constitutional monarchy - whatever the original intentions of its "founders" had been.

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I don't know that a monarch's making concessions to the nobility necessarily signals a serious attempt by any party to undermine autocracy.  [...] The nobility did not want to change the way things got done.  They just wanted to stack the decision-making deck in their favor.  I don't think the situation in Russia was much different.


But again, if the end result is a limitation of autocratic power then the original intention doesn't matter. I seriously doubt the nobles who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta had any intention of doing away with authoritarian monarchical rule, but the end result was a restriction on arbitrary rule, and the beginning of institutional checks on the English monarchy.

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The palace coups do not strike me as having been about curbing autocratic power so much as about putting onto the throne those who would use that power more in alignment with the interests of those staging the coup.  I am not aware of any serious attempts to curb autocracy being embedded in Elizabeth's coup, Catherine II's coup, or Paul's murder.


In this you may be right, but I think it's important to stress that the monarchs who won and kept the throne were those who supported the vested interests of the nobility (as opposed to someone like Paul). And at least by the 1840s you certainly see the development of a very conscious "constitutional" spirit among many in the emerging noble intelligentsia... the young Alexander Herzen springs to mind, as does Ivan Turgenev with his literary portrayals of the Russian "superfluous man," emasculated because he has no voice in how the country is ruled.

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I suspect the former, but until someone gives me autocratic power and a time machine, I'll never be able to test my proposition.


At the risk of raining on everyone's parade, maybe the October Revolution was inevitable because it happened? To what extent do these "what if" games really explain history to us, since you can't change one factor without changing a host of others unintentionally? (What is that called? The "Butterfly Effect" from some science fiction story?)

Still, these games are so much fun.  ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on May 02, 2005, 01:51:47 PM
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But again, if the end result is a limitation of autocratic power then the original intention doesn't matter.


I agree that the result matters more than the intent.  However, I think autocracy and absolutism are both labels of convenience for a form of government that was neither literally autocratic nor absolute.  Even Peter the Great, whose autocracy we take for granted, was careful to create new nobles and a new bureaucracy when he felt he could not rely on the old to support his agenda.

Autocracy is without limits only in theory.  It has never existed in that pure state in Russia or anywhere else.  I think that's one of the reasons it had such historical staying power.  It was a more flexible institution than is generally recognized.

From Akhenaten to Nicholas II, autocrats who took their autocratic power too literally have always lived on borrowed time. 

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Still, these games are so much fun.


Amen, sister.  And you're such a well-armed contestant that you make them truly challenging.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 02:13:46 PM
Thank you, Tsarfan. It's always a welcome challenge to match wits with you! I only wish more people would join in this discussion and keep it going, because it's so enjoyable!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on May 02, 2005, 02:52:08 PM
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All what Elisabeth said about others russian rulers are right - everybody has negative points - only foolish have not.
But nobody of the above mentioned Tsars, did not lead Russia to crush as Nicholas II did.
Thats it.
Vilhelm (he did not like Nicholas much but)
said : " It is impossible to rule Russia by playing lawn tennis so much and often as  Nicholas did"
Maybe Nicholas was appropriate for England (Europe),
but not for Russia.


Perhaps it would have been better if Nicholas had spent more time playing lawn tennis rather than less and left the affairs of state to his ministers who seemed to have a much better grasp on things than he did.  Ditto "Vilhelm"
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on May 02, 2005, 02:59:39 PM
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Autocracy is without limits only in theory.  It has never existed in that pure state in Russia or anywhere else.  I think that's one of the reasons it had such historical staying power.  It was a more flexible institution than is generally recognized.



Yes, isn't Vatican City still an autocracy -- look how long that's been around.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 03:01:44 PM
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I think autocracy and absolutism are both labels of convenience for a form of government that was neither literally autocratic nor absolute.  Even Peter the Great, whose autocracy we take for granted, was careful to create new nobles and a new bureaucracy when he felt he could not rely on the old to support his agenda.


This is so true. But I suppose that on some level we employ these terms because they are useful. How else are we to distinguish the absolutism or autocracy of a Peter the Great from the totalitarianism of a Stalin or Hitler?

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Autocracy is without limits only in theory.  It has never existed in that pure state in Russia or anywhere else.  I think that's one of the reasons it had such historical staying power.  It was a more flexible institution than is generally recognized.


Interestingly enough, there are historians who say the same thing about totalitarianism;  e.g., that Hitler was a terrible administrator and consequently there were openly competing spheres of interest in the Third Reich that waxed in and out of favor. One can certainly see an example of this in the Nazi regime's ambivalent attitude towards the Russians - on the one hand, the racist ideology cast Russians (Slavs) as little better than Jews, Untermenschen worthy of eventual extermination; on the other hand, the regime formed an entire army made up of Soviet POWs under General Vlasov to fight against Stalin.

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From Akhenaten to Nicholas II, autocrats who took their autocratic power too literally have always lived on borrowed time.


Something tells me that you've read Nicholas Reeves' brilliant biography, Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet, although IMO Reeves depicts Akhenaten more as a proto-totalitarian ruler than an autocratic or authoritarian one (like Nicholas!).  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on May 02, 2005, 03:15:04 PM
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Something tells me that you've read Nicholas Reeves' brilliant biography, Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet, although IMO Reeves depicts Akhenaten more as a proto-totalitarian ruler than an autocratic or authoritarian one (like Nicholas!).  


Yep . . . Reeves and everything else that I can get my hands on about ancient Egypt.  I've been a Pharoahfan, too, since my early teens.  The institution of monarchy just fascinates me.  The problem is that, in reading broadly in my spare time to try to understand it in as many times and places as I can, I have sacrificed some of the depth of knowledge that you command.  (That's why I like trying to pick apart your positions so much.  You always come back at me with such interesting information.)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on May 02, 2005, 03:22:10 PM
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Yes, isn't Vatican City still an autocracy -- look how long that's been around.


Interesting point of comparsion.  And it's going to be fascinating to see what happens with the Catholic Church (as least in the West) as the new pope tries to fend off the forces of "relativism" and hew to the "universal truths" he feels God and his predecessors expect him to protect and pass on.  How very like Nicholas' constant refrain about the unworkability of representative pluralism and his duty to pass on autocracy intact.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 02, 2005, 03:24:00 PM
Seriously, Tsarfan, you flatter me too much. Reeves' book on Akhenaten is one of my all-time favorites. I, too, have been a big Pharaohfan since childhood. I wish I'd studied archaeology in college, there are so many great advances going on in that field right now. But truth be told, I always sucked big time at science. Some things are just not meant to be. *Sigh.*
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ortino on May 02, 2005, 03:33:25 PM
This is a question with multiple answers, but I have come to the conclusion that while he is to blame, he is also not at fault to some extent.

Not his fault:

1. Alexander III's death-He was only 49 when he died, hardly old. The family, including Nicholas, had expected for him to reign for much longer.
2. The already present revolutionary atmosphere building in Russia- Revolutionary attitudes were already present in the country when Nicholas began his reign.
3. Nicholas' lack of training- Nicholas' became czar with virtually no skill or training in the art of diplomacy or running a country. No one bothered to educate him in these matters. He was trained as a soldier.

In the middle:
1. Weak character-Nicholas was always weak and dominated by other people, including his own uncles. He was obviously not ruler material.
2. He tried too hard to please both his mother and wife and too often submitted to both their wills.

His fault:

1. Bad character judgment- Nicholas had terrible character judgment in terms of those working in his government. He removed people that should have remained there and replaced them with inept people.
2. Alexandra's influence- Nicholas placed too much faith in Alexandra and her ability to make correct decisions. He virtually let her run the monarchy.
3. WWI & the Russo-Japanese War- Nicholas' refused to admit and acknowledge in both these war that Russia could not win and therefore allowed them to carry on with disasterous consequences. He attempts to lead the army also were a horrible move on his part.
4. Rasputin- Nicholas made very few attempts to remove Rasputin's influence on the Czarina or the monarchy even though he had some understanding of the damage he was doing to the monarchy and the constant advisement from his family and advisors to have him removed. And even when he was sent away, he always came back.
5. The Closing of the Duma- The lack of authority the Duma possessed and its closing by Nicholas caused much resentment towards him.


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on May 02, 2005, 06:52:58 PM
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4. Rasputin- Nicholas made very few attempts to remove Rasputin's influence on the Czarina or the monarchy even though he had some understanding of the damage he was doing to the monarchy and the constant advisement from his family and advisors to have him removed. And even when he was sent away, he always came back.


I always thought this was one of Nicholas' biggest mistakes because he himself was intelligent enough to have realized the damage the Rasputin scandal was doing.  You can't excuse it due to a lack of education, the mistakes of his ancestors, the fabled Russian bureaucracy, Lenin and the revolutionaries, the peasants, the Kaiser, the geo-political climate or anything else.  Of all Nicholas' errors, this one bothers me the most.  


Quote

5. The Closing of the Duma- The lack of authority the Duma possessed and its closing by Nicholas caused much resentment towards him.




But Pipes (along with Witte, Izvolsky, etc.) say that giving the Duma too much authority right off the bat would have been a mistake because its members were too inexperienced to have had much of a positive impact on governing Russia.  The best thing would have been to have given the Duma more authority gradually as it developed and matured.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ortino on May 04, 2005, 04:08:52 PM
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But Pipes (along with Witte, Izvolsky, etc.) say that giving the Duma too much authority right off the bat would have been a mistake because its members were too inexperienced to have had much of a positive impact on governing Russia.  The best thing would have been to have given the Duma more authority gradually as it developed and matured.


  While that may be true, the entire point of the Duma was to give the people some authority and say  in the government. Nicholas intensely disliked the idea of the Duma because it competed with his power and therefore gave it a very limited role.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: etonexile on May 04, 2005, 05:37:56 PM
I think a problem is that one is dealing with a man who in his honest,straight-forward way felt that he had recieved "GOD-GIVEN" autocratic powers...It would have taken some shrewd,political manuvering by those around the Czar to help him to see that such ideas did not belong or work well in the 20th Century...
Alix should have been a perfect conduit for such information...with her British connections....but she seems to have gone rather bonkers...
the strain of her position....the health of her son...who knows?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ming on May 05, 2005, 12:46:26 PM
Great discussion!

It's fairly easy to place fault or blame...N2 SHOULD have been better prepared for his future role (I wonder why it is that the present rulers of countries are always reluctant to train and educate their heirs in matters of State...even Queen Victoria was reluctant to let her heir, Albert, in on the "business" side of things.  Same seems true for the current queen...she, too, seems to show a bit of reluctance to give her son any real, meaningful work, etc.  I wonder why that is.  Is it a sense of denial, that old "I'll never die" feeling, or that there will always be time, etc., or, could there be a true sense of jealousy towards one's own heir?

I don't know. It's true that Alix pounded the idea of autocracy into her husband's head...you know how mothers can be when they're dealing with their children's futures!!  But he was responsible, too, in that he seemed to hear only what he wanted to hear and refused to listen to--or to believe--any kind of critism or "bad" news.  Although it is difficult to change the whole form of a government (witness current Iraq), I think it was pretty obvious that Nicholas was not ready to give ground on almost any level...largely because of his listening to his wife's plea for the legacy of their son.

Yes, this is an interesting discussion, and we probably won't come to any real solutions.  But I do think it's good for us to try to understand what happened and why it happened.  Reasons, versus blame.  After all, you know what they say about history...if we don't learn from it we're bound to repeat it.

A question I've always thought about is: were the revolution, the abdication and the assassinations of the imperial family inevitable?

Could any one thing or person REALLY have stopped what had already been in motion for years?

One more question:  As sad as we feel about what happened to the Romaov family, shouldn't we also feel sad about the way everyone else was living in Russia at that time?  I don't mean the aristrocrats...I mean the majority of the population.  Overworked, undereducated, starving, with no hope that things would ever get any better.

Yes, I feel terribly, terribly sorry for the violent and brutal end of the Romanov family.

But I also realize that, while they were alive, they lived very, very, very well.  Far better than most of us can even imagine. And I'm happy for them about that.  I'm sorry they had to suffer so later, but in the meantime they lived in beautiful palaces, were waited on constantly, wore beautiful clothing and jewelry, etc.  So, speaking from a purely materialistic point of view, they had pretty good lives, although much too short.  And NO ONE deserved the kind of treatment they received in the end!

However, the majority of the Russian population never even came close to that kind of lifestyle...and in fact led very, very difficult lives, with no hope of finding ways to better themselves.

Now, I know there are always exceptions to what I've said...but I'm just speaking in generalities.

Actually, I'm sad for all of Russia.  I feel the people have had a long, difficult struggle, and I commend them greatly for all they have accomplished under difficult leadership.  I would love to someday visit Russia and drink in the beauty of the architecture and art and music, etc.

But what I would love most dearly is to get to know Russia's people.  I have so much to learn from them.  This forum is as close as I'll ever get, I think.  But I'm so grateful for the opportunity given here to learn more and think more about this fascinating country and its colorful history.  Many thanks!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 07, 2005, 02:38:30 PM
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A question I've always thought about is: were the revolution, the abdication and the assassinations of the imperial family inevitable?

Could any one thing or person REALLY have stopped what had already been in motion for years?


This is one reason why I started this thread. I, too, wonder about this question. When I was in graduate school I got very tired of listening to people run down Nicholas II, as if he alone were responsible for Russia's fate, as if a different ruler could have prevented the revolution in the long run (once Russia entered WWI - and to what extent was that preventable? - the revolution was inevitable, IMO).

I could understand some of the bitterness, at least on the part of Russian intellectuals, many of whom had lost family members during the Bolshevik and Stalinist terrors. But at the same time it's difficult to see how any revolution, no matter how or when it came, could have worked out in a way we would recognize as democratically productive here in the West, given Russia's vast peasant population and tiny middle class. Once things started coming apart in March 1917, they unravelled very quickly, and the revolution in the cities became a revolution on the land. So I suppose I have to wonder, to what extent did the Russians themselves bear a responsibility for the form the revolution eventually took? (I don't mean Russians today. I don't believe in generational guilt.) I am referring to the Russians living in 1917 who made a conscious choice whether or not to contribute to the growing anarchy by taking the law (and the land) into their own hands. How can we ascribe all the responsibility for Russia's fate to the tsars, when other elements of society played crucial roles: the intelligentsia, the peasantry, the working class.

Quote
One more question:  As sad as we feel about what happened to the Romaov family, shouldn't we also feel sad about the way everyone else was living in Russia at that time?  I don't mean the aristrocrats...I mean the majority of the population.  Overworked, undereducated, starving, with no hope that things would ever get any better.


I think that most people in most countries, even in the West, did not lead comfortable lives by any measure in the early decades of the 1900s. (Remember there was no such thing as social security or medicare even in the United States at this time.) Yes, the situation was worse in Russia, but it was better in Russia than it was in say, India or China. It's important to keep these things in perspective. Russia at the turn of the twentieth century showed a great deal of promise. There was increasing literacy and social mobility, a middle class that was growing slowly but surely. One of the most bitter things about the Revolution was that it did very little in the end to improve the average Russian person's life. True, there are arguments among historians on this issue, but my impression from memoirs of the 1930s in particular is that working and living conditions for factory workers, for example, did not get better but in many cases actually worsened. Combine this with a totalitarian government that did not prevent any form of protest and you get a misery more profound, IMO, than that suffered by most people under the tsars. I think that is another reason why people sometimes express nostalgia for imperial Russia. It is not insensitivity to the suffering of the peasantry and working class but the knowledge that what was to come was to be in many ways unimaginably worse.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ming on May 07, 2005, 06:51:47 PM
Very interesting comments.

This sort of reminds me of something I've recently come to understand about America's Civil War. Being a "Yankee" from Minnesota, who at one time lived in Texas, I was surprised that so many in the South really DID seem to "still be fighting the war."

Of course I understand that they lost so much...loved ones, property, a whole lifestyle, etc. changed forever.

But I've been reading a book...a journal, really...written by a woman during the last days of the Civil War, as she watched Richmond burning and realized that not only was the war over, but that they--the South--had lost.  AND, from what this woman had written, the devastating thing about it all was that all the deaths, the suffering, the sacrifice, etc., had been lost IN VAIN.  FOR NOTHING!  This was the attitude of so many at that time.

Now THAT'S something that I CAN understand.  The South lost almost everything, in exchange for NOTHING...and, of course, those who did survive the war never did regain their previous lives.

So I'm wondering if that sort of thing is like what happened with the Russian Revolution.  People made great sacrifices, and awful things DID happen...YET, as was mentioned before, the lives of the majority of the people had not improved much, if at all...and in some cases became much, much worse.

I'm thinking that THAT is the hardest thing to deal with.

Of course, we are all disillusioned with our governments about one point or another...but in the cases of the Civil War and the Russian Revolution, the cost was far too great and positively affected far too few people.

Which begs the next question:  was it worth it?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on May 08, 2005, 06:00:35 AM
Hi Ming!  :)

I think it is the same after every war & every revolution. People start out with high ideals of creating a better, fairer world but, failing to learn from experience, go on thinking these things can be achieved through violence.
The French Revolution gave way to the time of terror. In the First World War soldiers believed they were ending all wars & Britain was promised afterwards a 'land fit for heroes to live in.' What really happened? Massive unemployment, a generation that had lost its way & ultimately the next world war.

No, I certainly do not believe that the Russian revolution was 'worth it' especially when you ask yourself, "Who was the real tyrant? A gentle Tsar who was born into a position that he did not want; or an ambitious self-seeking despot like Lenin or Stalin?"
Sadly, it seems to me, that such people who have great ambition for themselves are able to prey on the idealism of many younger people & the frustration & disillusionment of older people & persuade them into thinking that the killing & dying is worthwhile in creating a better world.

How many more wars throughout the world will it take for people to realize that this is never the case?

This doesn't mean, of course, that it would be right to stand by and allow injustice to continue - but there are less violent methods, such as those adopted by Gandhi whose hunger stike changed a nation & prevented violence. Or Pope John Paul II, whose refusal to bow down to the oppression in Poland, brought about a bloodless revolution. But then, these - & many others like them - were not self-seeking ambitious men but rather ones who truly had the good of the people at heart.

Just my opinion!  :)    
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: ilyala on May 08, 2005, 08:08:25 AM
i'm throwing in my two cents here...

no revolution happens because of one person. not even if that person is the ruler of the country. there are bad kings who get away with being bad kings because the country generally is doing good, even if it's going worse than it was before that specific bad king. (louis xv of france lived for a long time, ruled for most of his life and although people complained, they didn't rebell... and if anyone was a bad king that was him  :P).

but if we have a bad king in a bad time then we have rebellion. a good king in bad times can do things better or just leave the impression of doing things better, but some things cannot be delayed. i don't think an autocratic regime could last in the 20th century. some sort of change was supposed to happen in russia. the fact that people wanted change is not nicholas' fault. at some point some sort of revolution would have happened. the way it happened, though, is partly his fault.

a reasonably good king i think would have realized that constitutional monarchy is the only monarchy to survive in such times and would have tried to ease into it, convincing the people that he's listening to them, all the while still holding on to the power. it takes a lot of shrewdness to do such things, true, and probably most people would have failed at such a task. nicholas not only did not do that, he also made things worse by allowing guys like rasputin to have power.

basically what i'm saying is he probably would have been dethroned anyway. cause he didn't have the ability to do all the changes that i think were necessary in order for monarchy to survive. but maybe had he been just a tad more diplomatic, he and his family would have survived.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: foreignhalf on July 19, 2005, 10:14:57 PM
I believe Nicholas was to blame because he allowed Russia to become embroiled in WWI.  The war strained Russia to the breaking point.  The railroads were not large enough to handle military and civilian needs.  St. Petersburg imported its coal from England which was cut off by the German blockade.  So the coal had to come from the Donets Basin in Russia by railroad thus using more railroad cars than usual.  Nicholas imposed prohibition of liquor during WWI.  The sale of liquor had been the greatest source of revenue for the government.  Russia could neither export nor import goods except through the port of Archangel which is frozen 6 month of the year or by the 7000 mile long Trans Siberian railroad.  Nicholas and most of his ministers did not consider these factors before enering WWI.  Russia was facing the best equipped army in the world -- Germany.  Nicholas was not responsible for making Russians before the war.  In  fact Russia was developing economically.  Standards of living were rising.  St. Petersburg was going to spend 600 million rubles on  workers' housing, parks, schools, water treatment.  The national gov't. was going to build 15 new universities more than doubling the number in existence.  The war cancelled these projects.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on July 20, 2005, 08:53:15 AM
Hello foreignhalf, welcome to the forum  :).


Quote
I believe Nicholas was to blame because he allowed Russia to become embroiled in WWI.   


Do you think Nicholas really had an alternative? He had done everything in his power to persuade the Serbians to accept as many of the Austrians' extreme demands as they could. When the Austraina refused to accept Serbia's eagerness to negotiate, Nicholas knew he had a duty to defend his smaller ally. I think that even when he mobilized the troops, he believed that Austria & Germany would not actually declare war. Once Germany did declare war on Russia, Nicholas had no alternative but to commit his armies.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Finelly on July 20, 2005, 09:19:52 AM
Was Nicky to blame?  Sure.  Was he the only person to blame?  No.  Were only PEOPLE to blame?  No.  The times they were a'changing.  Economics, military, and other issues played huge roles in the entire mess.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: elfwine on July 22, 2005, 01:00:53 PM
I really doubt that anyone actually thinks that it was entirely and completely Nicholas' FAULT that there was a revolution however we ought to admit that he ignored countless requests for changes in the government/for increasing the freedom of the press/for basic civil rights to be recognised/ for factories to be regulated...etc.
He did nothing.
He could have done something but he waffled and waivered and in the end - did nothing.
In an autocratic state the Tsar is an Absolute Monarch but he seemed unwilling to take this responsibility very seriously -"It was all Gods will" ...
Then I guess if you accept that then God wanted him to be responsible for the Revolution!
So if not Nicholas - is GOD then to blame?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 22, 2005, 04:15:06 PM
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So if not Nicholas - is GOD then to blame?


Interesting question.

In a way, Alexandra thought so.  In letters she wrote from captivity, she characterized the revolution as a trial God was putting them through to prepare them for life eternal.

From one perspective, it is an admirable way to deal nobly with crushing adversity.  From another, the hubris is almost unimaginable.  With Russia in chaos, it was still all about Nicholas and his family in her eyes.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Finelly on July 22, 2005, 09:04:49 PM
Yes, well, Alexandra was hardly a role model in the humbleness dept!  She was a fanatic about that issue.......and Nicholas, being so passive, really didn't do more than accept her word.....
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: lexi4 on July 22, 2005, 09:37:25 PM
As he did with so many other things....just took Alexandra's word I mean.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on July 25, 2005, 10:56:30 AM
Here is a paradox-
    Nicholas was an extreamly passive individual. He felt that God willed him to be Tsar...therefore he was responsible for all actions and decisions - yet he constantly stated that everything was in God's hands... :-/
Was Nicholas to blame? Yes
Unless he wanted to blame God...
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Finelly on July 25, 2005, 10:52:22 PM
Wow, I never thought of it that way, but you're right.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on July 26, 2005, 05:19:24 AM
Quote
Here is a paradox-
     Nicholas was an extreamly passive individual. He felt that God willed him to be Tsar...therefore he was responsible for all actions and decisions - yet he constantly stated that everything was in God's hands... :-/
Was Nicholas to blame? Yes
Unless he wanted to blame God...


I don't think is quite how Nicholas would have seen it. Yes, he believed that he was called by God to be Tsar and he accepted the responsibility although it was contrary to his nature to be an autocrat. This doesn't mean that he saw himself as a mere puppet in God's hands, rather that he had been 'called' to a particular way of life.
When he spoke of everything being in God's hands, I believe he was referring not to the temporal events, but rather on a more spiritual level. It was not that he believed God willed any evil or turmoil or revolution, but rather that within that situation he knew God would take care of him (as in his soul).
To draw a modern parallel: Christians would not view terrorism as God's will, but can believe that even amid such turmoil, God is present and continues to care for people. It is a question of viewing events not from the immediate horror, but from the view of eternity - which is, of course, extremely difficult to explain!!

And no, I don't think Nicholas was to blame. I think the war was to blame...and whose fault was the war??  :-/ Probably everyone's!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on July 26, 2005, 09:16:45 AM
I will agree that the war made a chaotic situation much worse, but I cannot accept the notion that 'the war' was the real problem - there would have been a revolutionary movement  in 1913 or 1920 - even if there had been no war (WWI) at all!
The situation in 1905 has not been forgotten.  

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 26, 2005, 10:17:40 AM
There is an interesting article on the main Alexander Palace website that some of you have probably read.  It was written in October 1904 and contains a fascinating glimpse of how the Romanovs were viewed by many in their own time.

In recounting the string of assassinations and coups that had rocked the dynasty throughout its history, the writer noted that, "Assassination, it must be remembered, was then and is still the only effective way of voicing political opposition in Russia."

In my view, WWI was a catalyst that only moved up the timing of an event that was inevitable.  Russia could not play on the world stage of the 20th century with an autocratic system that derived its direction more from family, palace, and ministerial politics than from the will of the people manifested in some institutional form.

The 20th century was to be the domain of industrial societies, not agragrian ones, and every society that tried to industrialize under autocratic (or totalitarian) regimes produced a horrific result of one kind or another.

The stage was set for a tragedy when Alexander III turned away from his father's tentative reform policies.  Nicholas had one last, clear warning to change the playbill in 1905.  By going on with the play his father scripted, he -- more than any other individual -- brought on the disaster.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on July 26, 2005, 11:13:48 AM
So Tsarfan
Your'e suggesting that it was Alexander's fault and that Nicholas was unable - in over 20 years - to change things?

Hmmm!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 26, 2005, 12:37:52 PM
Not at all, rskkyia.

Alexander III was the one who turned the ship of state back onto the path of uncompromising autocracy from which Alexander II was tentatively veering.

Nicholas had twenty years of his own choices to make.  And he chose to stay on his father's course, to the extent he had the means.  I was simply saying that 1905 sounded the alarm that the built-up pressure to open up the political system was becoming explosive.  Nicholas' failure to heed that alarm was his own decision.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on July 26, 2005, 12:41:56 PM
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Not at all, rskkyia.

Alexander III was the one who turned the ship of state back onto the path of uncompromising autocracy from which Alexander II was tentatively veering.

Nicholas had twenty years of his own choices to make.  And he chose to stay on his father's course, to the extent he had the means.  I was simply saying that 1905 sounded the alarm that the built-up pressure to open up the political system was becoming explosive.  Nicholas' failure to heed that alarm was his own decision.


That seems clear rational and insiteful!


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on July 26, 2005, 01:30:02 PM
I just finished Margaret MacMillan's 1919, very compelling read. And I think she would agree that at least some of what happened in Russia could not have been prevented.

But I am unsure as to whether the Revolution would have been successful without the distraction of World War I. Don't you think that Imperial Germany would have intervened in a military way? I can't see her willingly allowing an unstable Russian state.

In terms of what actually did happen, I think Tsarfan is right in his assessment. And I don't think it is harsh to blame Nicholas. Throughout his reign there were people, like Stolypin, that were perfectly able to point out mistakes to the Tsar. He chose not to listen. In his case there is at least the extenuation of a poor, insular education. But Alexandra is more puzzling. How did she go from a liberal (more or less) background with regular exposure to the strongest constituional monarchy in the world (GB) to believing the kind of claptrap she was spouting to Nicholas by the end ("Russia needs the knout, it loves it", etc.).

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on July 26, 2005, 02:14:17 PM
I think so much of this is being seen with the benefit of hindsight. While Alexandra's statement was extreme, I think she had learned that Russia was a different place to Great Britain. Britain had had over 300 years of a more constitutional monarchy while Russia was developing under the Romanovs.
It may be true that industrialization could not maintain an autocratic system, but this we can see from a modern perspective. As it was happening, Nicholas was not in a position to understand as we can. Even in Britain, industrialization had led to a great deal of unrest & QV & her family had actually feared for their lives & fled to Osborne shortly after the birth of Princess Louise.
Maybe Nicholas should have learned from what happened in 1905 but remember, by the time of the war, even Lenin thought revolution was an impossibility. The dramatic change from an autocratic to a more moderate form of monarchy was not simply something Nicholas could have done overnight. He may have remembered his father's view, because his father was surely swayed in the knowledge that Alexander II's reforms led ultimately to his assassination.

I do not think that there is enough evidence to say that, were it not for the war, revolution would have happened in 1920....or whenever.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on July 26, 2005, 02:15:42 PM
Bluetoria
Then what was 1905 if not revolutionary in nature?

Lenin felt that as Russia was still an agromomic ecomony (based on farming rather than manufacture)  that an organic revolution of the proletariat was unlikely without a worldwide socialist movement.

I still cannot see Nicholas as somehow innocent of this situation.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on July 26, 2005, 02:33:49 PM
Quote
I think so much of this is being seen with the benefit of hindsight.


So true . . . and it certainly gives us the armchair advantage.

However, the signs that autocracy's time was running out were perceived by many at the time.

Witte, for instance, was a staunch supporter of the monarchy who nevertheless knew that it had fallen woefully behind the times and was not up to the task of taking Russia into the modern world as an unlimited autocracy.

Stolypin, who was more inherently conservative than Witte, also came round to the view that Nicholas had to lighten his grip on absolute power, at a minimum by giving a talented ministry more leeway to drive policies that would calm the political landscape.

Every minister with the insight and the talent to take Russia into the modern world eventually wound up finding Nicholas to be more the problem than those voices clamoring for change.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on July 26, 2005, 03:38:39 PM
Stolypin, who was more inherently conservative than Witte, also came round to the view that Nicholas had to lighten his grip on absolute power, at a minimum by giving a talented ministry more leeway to drive policies that would calm the political landscape.

Exactly so. There are numerous memoirs by men who served the Tsar complaining about his "Byzantine" ability to refuse to listen, and of course the surviving letters from Alexandra urging him to remain steadfast in the face of liberalism so that Alexei might inherit an undiminished imperial position. He took advice, but the wrong advice. And far from only appearing wrong in hindsight, there is ample evidence that people judged his decisions correctly at the time.

Nicholas experienced the assassination of his grandfather, the terrorist attack on the imperial train at Borki, the assassination of his uncle/brother-in-law, and numerous other demonstrations (but most especially the 1905). His ability to ignore his ministers contrasts with the amount of attention he paid Alexandra. Their deep love for each other is held up for admiration, but after all, there is evidence that George V loved Mary, and that Franz Josef loved Elizabeth, but neither of them allowed their consorts to effectively rule through them.

To paraphrase an old saying, as a man I take off my hat to Nicholas. As a Tsar, I put it back on ten times. He was a wonderful husband and father, and a terrible ruler for an emerging western power.


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on July 26, 2005, 04:12:59 PM
But Russia is not a Western power. Eastern with quite a different outlook culture and mindset to western Europe.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on July 26, 2005, 04:17:56 PM
I'm not sure I agree with the idea that Russia is not a "western power", Georgiy, but I did say an "emerging" western power, and surely she is, and was, that. After all, she entered World War I on the side of the traditional western powers, and her soldiers (and civilians) bled and died in both World Wars as participants in western affairs. Like it or not, she is a western power, in much the same way that the United States is an Asian one, if you will.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on July 27, 2005, 05:47:30 AM
Quote
But Russia is not a Western power. Eastern with quite a different outlook culture and mindset to western Europe.


Yes, Georgiy, I agree completely; this is what I was trying - unsuccessfully- to express. I don't think it's possible to compare the role of George V with that of Nicholas because the former had very little power and the latter was landedwith the responsibility for a MASSIVE country of such diverse people.
Rskkiya, I agree, 1905 was revolutionary (I wrote in my previous post that maybe Nicholas failed to learn a lesson from it). All the same I think the shift from a largely agrarian culture to that of an industrialized nation was so great that no one could be expected to thoroughly grasp what was happening.
Even in Britain, throughout the 19th century, no one was prepared for this great shift - hence the building of slums and the unrest which led to the Chartist Movement etc.
Russia was going through the same process but was so much larger. The British Government had not foreseen the consequences - nor did Nicholas. It was because it was so 'new' and so different to anything that had happened before. For this reason, since he was immersed in the change and could not see it 'from above' as it were, as we can, I do not consider him to blame.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: andrewp on September 21, 2005, 10:55:14 AM
Nicholas II obviously wasn't cut out to be a tsar. I think thats why Russia suffered during his reign.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on September 21, 2005, 03:22:08 PM
Bluetoria,

Very well said.

Tania
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on September 21, 2005, 03:33:27 PM
Georgiy,

By your quote :

Posted by: Georgiy Posted on: Jul 26th, 2005, 4:12pm

"But Russia is not a Western power. Eastern with quite a different outlook culture and mindset to western Europe".  

Georgiy, that was then, and still to a degree I think Russia may still think along those lines. Would you mind sharing your thoughts about this ?

Tania
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Caleb on September 21, 2005, 10:02:41 PM
Personally I think many of the issues in Russia go back to Tsar Alexander II. Although Alexander III wasn't the original heir, I think his father, in the years between 1865-1881, should have prepared him for the heavy task of being Tsar. Also I think all Alexander III wanted after the assasination of his father (Tsar Alexander II) was revenge on those who killed his father. Tsar Alexander III refused to reform the nation as the way his father did, and how he had secret police everywhere is way overdoing it. Also because Alexander III was unprepared to be tsar, this carried on to Nicholas II. It also had to do with the fact that his mother doted on her children too much, and had the Dowager Empress been not so nasty to Alexandra, I think Nicholas would have been able to concentrate more on affairs of state, then settling family feuds & then Nicholas wouldnt have been having to take sides on family issues. Though "niether his reactionary father or conservative tutors prepared Nicholas to grasp the changing realities of a modern world," Alexander III would have known how to deal with someone like Rasputin. I really pity Nicholas, partially because he was trying to live up to his father's expectations even after his father had died.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Caleb on September 21, 2005, 10:24:06 PM
I really believe that had Russia had a someone of the same stature of Prince Albert, a far-sighted visionary, Russia would have been much more prepared for what lay ahead. I also think that Nicholas II would have made a good constitutional monarch & George V a good tsar. Both had what (in my opinion) what the other lacked. King George was forceful man, but not tyrannical & his wife, respected his postion as King of England. However, Nicholas II was well intentioned and just by the end, physically & mentally exhausted after the 20 some years on the throne. Also Alexandra would have wielded less power as she did. Empress Alexandra, as part of her upbringing in the court of Queen Victoria, probably would have been a good English queen, in her tastes & family lifestyle. Another fatal blunder was that Nicholas & Alexandra did not release that Alexei had hemophilia. Had they done so, it probably would have prevented the misunderstandings that partially caused the revolution & the people would have probably sympathized with her. Also they would have understood Rasputin more.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on September 21, 2005, 11:23:54 PM
Hi Tania,
I think that Orthodox thought and culture are quite different from Western cultures both Catholic and Protestant. In many ways I think it is hard for someone who is not Orthodox to conceive what an 'Orthodox culture/mindset' would be like. Now, of course, this would be even more so true of pre-Revolutionary Russia, though I would not dispute that Orthodoxy was at a low-ebb at least among the intellegentsia at that stage.

These days, of course there is much western influence, indeed all over the world, but, I think a lot of inherant traits can be traced back to Russia's Orthodox culture.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 22, 2005, 12:05:50 AM
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Another fatal blunder was that Nicholas & Alexandra did not release that Alexei had hemophilia. Had they done so, it probably would have prevented the misunderstandings that partially caused the revolution & the people would have probably sympathized with her.


What could Nikolai and Alexandra do? Inform the world that the heir to the Russian throne was under daily threat of losing his life due to his inherited condition or must Imperial Russia maintain the semblance of strength against her enemies?  

How would pity serve as a source of power?

Imperial Russia would have become politically more vulnerable had Alexei's condition become public knowledge. Safeguarding that knowledge was Nikolai's strength.

A country cannot be ruled on popular sympathy.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 22, 2005, 03:34:08 AM
The main Alexander Palace website has a new entry -- a November 9, 1912 report from London published in The New York Times.  The headline on the story:  "Czar's Heir Has Bleeding Disease."  The story accurately reported the symptoms and causes of the disease, and it rehearsed the history of hemophilia that was spreading through other royal families via Victoria's progeny.

Surely, therefore, in Russia at least the senior nobility, government officials, and the diplomatic corps would have known of Alexei's illness.  And surely the knowledge would have been widespread in foreign governments.  The only question is whether, through censorship or by other means, the knowledge was kept from spreading through the larger Russian population.  (Remember that during the 1913 Tercentenary celebrations, Alexei, a 9-year-old boy, was being carried by a sailor.  He appeared in front of large crowds, in press photos, and in film shorts in that condition.)

But even among the elite population that must have known the specifics of Alexei's illness, very little tolerance emerged of Rasputin's proximity to the royal family and certainly very little tolerance of his final involvement in ministerial appointments.

I would venture to suggest that, with knowledge in senior circles of Alexei's hemophilia, the extended charade that he was being prepared to rule must have made Nicholas and Alexandra seem not more pitiable, but more detached from reality.

Of the 18 Romanov rulers, only 4 were sons who ascended the throne on the heels of their fathers.  The notion that the Romanov dynasty would have fallen apart had Alexei's illness been known simply does not hold up to examination.

Nicholas and Alexandra were not trying to preserve the dynasty.  They were in a determined, deluded, and futile campaign to make sure their son and no other Romanov succeeded Nicholas.  That -- and the political risks they took to pursue the campaign -- weakened Nicholas' reign far more than any pity for a son's illness would have done.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 22, 2005, 05:11:43 AM
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Nicholas and Alexandra were not trying to preserve the dynasty.


I am sorry I do not understand this statement, especially when read with the next sentence ...

Quote
They were in a determined, deluded, and futile campaign to make sure their son and no other Romanov succeeded Nicholas.  


Your contention here does not follow what happend after Nikolai was forced to abdicate. His son did not take priority politically. It was Alexei's uncle Misha who was handed that priviledge by the Will of the abdicating Emperor. That act itself clearly provides proof that Nikolai sought to preserve the dynasty.

Nikolai was never deluded about the criticality of Alexei's precarious health status. Had Nikolai ignored that issue, then it could be argued that Nikolai may have been delusional. It may be postured that he was a realist about the futility of the situation before him.

Futile campaign? No - there was never any campaign to elevate Alexei's status to become the Emperor.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 22, 2005, 06:40:19 AM
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Futile campaign? No - there was never any campaign to elevate Alexei's status to become the Emperor.


Alexandra wrote constant letters to Nicholas demanding that he protect "Baby's rights."  Nicholas had the right to change the law of succession to allow a daughter to succeed should Alexei not be able to.  He did not do that.  Nicholas began to take Alexei to meetings with him during the war and mentioned to some that he was beginning to train Alexei for his future role.

I think the reason Nicholas signed away Alexei's rights on the train was that he could not confront the possibility that Alexei would have been separated from the family as a result.

(I have sometimes wondered whether Alexei's presence in some of the critical meetings during the war might not have constrained the ministers and generals in what they felt they could say to the tsar.  Would they have been more reluctant to challenge the tsar's thinking with his son there to hear it?)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 22, 2005, 06:46:10 AM
Quote

I am sorry I do not understand this statement, especially when read with the next sentence ...


My point was that the continuation of the dynasty did not depened on Alexei's becoming tsar.  There were other Romanov males available to rule, there was the possibility of providing for female succession, and there was plenty of precedent in Russian history for both.  Yet Nicholas and Alexandra made it clear in their public and private behavior that they intended Alexei to succeed.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 22, 2005, 11:02:50 PM
Quote

I think the reason Nicholas signed away Alexei's rights on the train was that he could not confront the possibility that Alexei would have been separated from the family as a result.


One of the major factor's that precipitated Nikolai's abdication was the obvious lack of support he received from his Generals, the Duma members (Shulgin, Rodzianko and Guchkov as examples); and including many of the Romanov family who expressly insisted that Nikolai abdicate for the good of Russia.

Deliberately isolated in Pskov, and not being given the opportunity to proceed to Petrograd (as was his desire), he was placed in a position in which there was no other civilized option.

I do agree with you Tsarfan, Nikolai under medical advisement, deliberately by-passed Alexei, because any separtion from him would have been to much to bare. As a father he had that right, but as the Emperor he did not. So many protocols were breached on that day, this was one more. Russia would have a new Romanov, but it was not to be Alexei.  

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 23, 2005, 03:22:59 AM
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One of the major factor's that precipitated Nikolai's abdication was the obvious lack of support he received from his Generals, the Duma members (Shulgin, Rodzianko and Guchkov as examples); and including many of the Romanov family who expressly insisted that Nikolai abdicate for the good of Russia.


But doesn't this observation beg the central question?  Why were so many groups, covering such a wide range of usually-divergent interests, arrayed against Nicholas?

Did they all get up one morning and, for no good reason, join hands and say to themselves, "Let's depose Nicky today?"

Or had Nicholas so utterly frustrated the expecations of so many critical elements of his regime that they saw no alternative to a coup, which they must have understood was a very risky proposition for them all?

The Duma I can understand.  But when it comes to the Romanovs, let's get real here.  The whole Romanov clan knew Alexei was a dangerously ill child.  They knew Michael, in marrying Natasha even though he must have understood there was still a good chance he would again become heir, had put his personal interests before that of the dynasty.  Yet, knowing there was no strong Romanov standing ready to fight for the survival of the monarchy, they resolved to "betray" Nicholas on a whim?

Come on.  The depths and duration of Nicholas' incompetence as tsar simply left them with no alternative but taking a step they knew to be supremely risky, even to their own interests.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 24, 2005, 07:06:00 AM
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Did they all get up one morning and, for no good reason, join hands and say to themselves, "Let's depose Nicky today?"


No they raised their dissention from their beds way back in 1905. The idea smoldered slowly. The inferno of WWI provided the perfect opportunity in 1915 when Russia was losing the battle with immense loss of life. Guchkov injected  his venom against Nikolai using the Stavka Generals as his bullets.

Quote
Yet, knowing there was no strong Romanov standing ready to fight for the survival of the monarchy, they resolved to "betray" Nicholas on a whim?


There were many machinations going on between Duma members belonging to the Progressive Block faction, to rid Russia of its reigning monarch. Their "whim" had a purpose.

Prince L'vov invited G. D. Nikolai Nikolaevich in December 1916, to take over the dynasty. He politely refused to take part in their scheme.

Quote
The depths and duration of Nicholas' incompetence as tsar simply left them with no alternative but taking a step they knew to be supremely risky, even to their own interests.


Indeed how selfish were their personal interests? Rather than support their monarch, at the turning point of the war after 1915, no matter how they perceived Nikolai, it should have been their patriotic duty to support the Head of State and inturn provide the necessary moral support towards their fellow fighting men - at the field to ensure victory for Russia.

Instead their political agenda tore the Army apart within days and Russia rapidly disintegrated into anarchy.

Nikolai was not weak as many try to assert. His temperament possessed an inner strength which many have prefered to misinterpret as weakness. Can you not see that the act of abdication was a powerful political act that he believed would serve to prevent further internal political dissent among his Generals and the Duma members?

Nilokai's strength was his deep affection for Russia. The same could not be said for those who assisted in his forced abdication. Their political greed directly assisted in Russia loosing the war and finally its identity.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: brendan on September 24, 2005, 01:19:43 PM
Well said, Belochka.

I think this goes back to what Georgiy said about there not being an understanding in the West of Orthodox culture.  Nicholas has been much to often, judged according to western standards. What has so often been viewed as weakness in his character, would be recognized as piety and inner peace from an Orthodox standpoint.
Its also worth noting that there are qiute a few documented examples of Nicholas exerting power when he needed to.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on September 24, 2005, 02:29:25 PM
Dear Belochka,

I've waited most patiently for a strong voice as yours to offer to all, the words you have so wonderfully shared below. So many have not looked at the facts of history, nor from the understanding of the Russian soul, and on this site, primarily from a western perspective.

HIHN II was not a coward. He was a deeply devout human being, whose whole profile, and very life was directed for the good of all his peoples.

As you pointed out so well, this was not an overnight hand of trechery, and betrayal, this was years in the making, and greed, control, betrayal at the top of these traitors agenda!

And as you said in closing :
The same could not be said for those who assisted in his forced abdication. Their political greed directly assisted in Russia loosing the war and finally its identity

Can anyone imagine, for a country, not only to lose a war, but it's very identity?

Eighty years later, Russia is still valiantly trying to gain back 'identity' !

Thank you for your dedication in making sure, history is offered in complete truth, without imbalance. Spacibo Bolshoi!

Tatiana


Quote

No they raised their dissention from their beds way back in 1905. The idea smoldered slowly. The inferno of WWI provided the perfect opportunity in 1915 when Russia was losing the battle with immense loss of life. Guchkov injected  his venom against Nikolai using the Stavka Generals as his bullets.


There were many machinations going on between Duma members belonging to the Progressive Block faction, to rid Russia of its reigning monarch. Their "whim" had a purpose.

Prince L'vov invited G. D. Nikolai Nikolaevich in December 1916, to take over the dynasty. He politely refused to take part in their scheme.


Indeed how selfish were their personal interests? Rather than support their monarch, at the turning point of the war after 1915, no matter how they perceived Nikolai, it should have been their patriotic duty to support the Head of State and inturn provide the necessary moral support towards their fellow fighting men - at the field to ensure victory for Russia.

Instead their political agenda tore the Army apart within days and Russia rapidly disintegrated into anarchy.

Nikolai was not weak as many try to assert. His temperament possessed an inner strength which many have prefered to misinterpret as weakness. Can you not see that the act of abdication was a powerful political act that he believed would serve to prevent further internal political dissent among his Generals and the Duma members?

Nilokai's strength was his deep affection for Russia. The same could not be said for those who assisted in his forced abdication. Their political greed directly assisted in Russia loosing the war and finally its identity.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 24, 2005, 10:49:56 PM
Quote
I think this goes back to what Georgiy said about there not being an understanding in the West of Orthodox culture.  Nicholas has been much to often, judged according to western standards. What has so often been viewed as weakness in his character, would be recognized as piety and inner peace from an Orthodox standpoint.


I may be limited by my western viewpoint, but why did so many generals, Romanovs, and others -- who were immersed in "Orthodox" perspective -- so misread all this inner strength Nicholas supposedly had?

This notion that the generals, the Duma, and some Romanovs simply decided, in the middle of a life-and-death military struggle, to forsake their patriotic duty and throw Russia to the dogs solely to get at Nicholas for their own supposed gain simply does not wash.

Remember, this is a man who, just weeks before the revolution and while the troops were starving at the front without weapons or relief, wrote his wife that he was glad to have no ministers around him so that he did not have to deal with any problems.

This is the man the generals, the Duma, and the Romanovs thought had to go . . . not some tragically misunderstood hero who was marshalling his inner strength to pull Russia back from the abyss.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 25, 2005, 02:07:34 AM
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Well said, Belochka.
 
I think this goes back to what Georgiy said about there not being an understanding in the West of Orthodox culture.  Nicholas has been much to often, judged according to western standards. What has so often been viewed as weakness in his character, would be recognized as piety and inner peace from an Orthodox standpoint.
Its also worth noting that there are qiute a few documented examples of Nicholas exerting power when he needed to.


On abdicating it is worth remembering that Nikolai placed no condition for himself, nor his family. It was unconditional surrender.

"Everywhere there was cowardess, treachery and deceit"


Yet he forgave them all. That act of forgiveness gave him inner strength and peace of mind to face his destiny.

His character traits were misunderstood by most Western historians because they fail to understand the essence of sud'ba (destiny).

A weak man will destroy his enemy,
A strong man will forgive his persecutors
[/b][/color]


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 25, 2005, 03:13:13 AM
Quote
I may be limited by my western viewpoint, but why did so many generals, Romanovs, and others -- who were immersed in "Orthodox" perspective -- so misread all this inner strength Nicholas supposedly had?


They misread Nilokai because they themselves by their own standards of behavior failed to appreciate the "Orthodox perspective" through their rose colored glasses.

Quote
This notion that the generals, the Duma, and some Romanovs simply decided, in the middle of a life-and-death military struggle, to forsake their patriotic duty and throw Russia to the dogs solely to get at Nicholas for their own supposed gain simply does not wash.


But that is what a coup d'état is all about. They created an illegal change in government.

Quote
This is the man the generals, the Duma, and the Romanovs thought had to go . . . not some tragically misunderstood hero who was marshalling his inner strength to pull Russia back from the abyss.


Respectfully, I must disagree. Nikolai after he assumed command of the military forces in August 1915 was doing exactly just that ... pulling the Imperial forces out of the abyss. With his leadership, morale among field soldiers was boosted - which was a critical element to assist in victory you must agree.

Grand Duke Kirill himself noted in his memoirs that: " ... the concentration in one person made a considerable difference to our fortunes of war... the armies now had all they needed... even hope of final victory for the first time since the beginning of the war.."

By 1916 the Russian army stabilized on the eastern front under the Supreme command of Nikolai. However the political shoe shuffling within Russia's own borders prevented Nikolai to realize his dream - a Russian victory.


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 25, 2005, 03:31:13 AM
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HIHN II was not a coward. He was a deeply devout human being, whose whole profile, and very life was directed for the good of all his peoples.


Dear Tatiana,

Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

Nikolai was Russia's strength but those who deceived him failed to appreciate that. Within months they themselves fell into their own abyss.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Silja on September 25, 2005, 09:06:27 AM
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  Nicholas had the right to change the law of succession to allow a daughter to succeed should Alexei not be able to.  He did not do that.  

)


I don't think this would have been an option. There's a difference between what he would theoretically have been able to do and what he could have done in reality.  I'm very sure a change in the law of succession in favour of a daughter would have met with insurmountable resistance from the Romanov family and the court. In these times of crisis they would never have allowed a woman, let alone one of Nicholas's untrained and politically inconspicuous daughters, to succeed.
He could have made his brother heir but never his daughter.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on September 25, 2005, 10:14:26 AM
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On abdicating it is worth remembering that Nikolai placed no condition for himself, nor his family. It was unconditional surrender.


There was one condition -- that he be allowed to abdicate for Alexei in favor of Mikhail and that he not be separated from his son:

Nicholas:  Through the morning, before your arrival and after Adjutant General Ruzsky's conversation with the duma chairman over the direct line, I thought it over, and for the sake of the good, peace, and preservation of Russia, I was ready to abdicate from the throne in favor of my son.  But now, having again thought the situation over, I have come to the conclusion that, in light of his illness, I should abdicate in my name and his name simultaneously, as I cannot be separated from him.

Guchkov:  We had counted on the figure of little Aleksei Nikolaevich having a softening effect on the transfer of power.

General Ruzsky:  His Majesty is worried that if the throne is transferred to his successor then His Majesty will be separated from him.  

Shulgin:  I cannot give a categorical answer to that, because we came here to propose just what we did.

From the Protocol of talks between deputies of the State Duma Aleksandr Guchkov and Vasily Shulgin and Nicholas II in Pskov conerening the signing of an act of abdication from the throne, 2 March 1917




Quote
Yet he forgave them all. That act of forgiveness gave him inner strength and peace of mind to face his destiny.

His character traits were misunderstood by most Western historians because they fail to understand the essence of sud'ba (destiny).


Nicholas was a man of strong inner strength and fortitude, but this side did not show itself (and it was commented on by his jailers) until his captivity.  

Quote
A weak man will destroy his enemy,
A strong man will forgive his persecutors
[/b][/color]


But you can't apply this to the realm of political leadership, in Russia or anywhere else.  Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Alexander I may have been many things but they were not weak.


Russian and non-Russian alike, humans are the same everywhere.  We are all driven by the same urges, desires and needs.  And we all suffer from the same set of flaws.  If I sleep with your wife, you are probably going to respond the same way whether you are Russian, American, Japanese, or whatever.  

Nicholas II was a deeply intelligent, kind-hearted man who was also stubborn, jealous, and capable of deceipt when it served his purposes.  His lifelong fatalism prevented him from ever indulging in self-examination -- attempting to learn from his previous mistakes.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on September 25, 2005, 01:03:36 PM
Quote


Nicholas II was a deeply intelligent, kind-hearted man who was also stubborn, jealous, and capable of deceipt when it served his purposes.  His lifelong fatalism prevented him from ever indulging in self-examination -- attempting to learn from his previous mistakes.


  I must agree with you on this remark RichC, and as you know - I have no love and very little respect for Nicholas...

  I do think that it was his fatalism and personally passive nature- encouraged by his orthodoxy- which made for a very difficult situation. Did he honestly believe that G-d was controlling his fate?
  I, as a creature of the 21st century, can only see this as rather psychotic. Or was he simply unable to be decisive- wishing others - his wife - his ministers - or even entropy- to be held to account?

   Sadly only Nicholas could clarify our various theories about his curious behaviour.

But I do hold that he was 'to blame' for his choices.


rskkiya


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 25, 2005, 01:46:38 PM
But was Nicholas really to blame for Russia ending up in the grip of the Bolsheviks? That's actually the question I had in mind when I started this thread. Because it does seem obvious to me that many historians implicitly blame Nicholas for Russia's eventual subjugation to Lenin and later, Stalin. Which, to my mind, seems unjust, since at the very least the provisional government had a fair shot at forming a representative government and lost that chance under the leadership of Kerensky. Other forces were at work in 1917 than the last tsar's fatalism and passivity. Or are we totally to discount the fateful roles played by such historical figures as Lenin and Trotsky?!?  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on September 25, 2005, 02:03:58 PM
Had Nicholas seen what a tyrant Lenin would be, I doubt he would have abdicated at all. It must be remembered that he did not intend to bring down the monarchy, but rather to save it by his abdication, and, moreover, to keep Russia loyal to her allies in the midst of war. Rather than seeing the abdication as weakness, I see it as a noble act.

Responsibility for the subsequent atrocities suffered under Lenin & Stalin cannot possibly be laid at Nicholas' door. He may have made many mistakes but he believed wholeheartedly that what he was doing and the role into which he had been forced by the fact of his royal birth, was for the good of the people. Lenin and Stalin acted solely out of selfish ambition & for the good of Lenin and Stalin.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on September 25, 2005, 02:23:28 PM
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Had Nicholas seen what a tyrant Lenin would be, I doubt he would have abdicated at all. It must be remembered that he did not intend to bring down the monarchy, but rather to save it by his abdication, and, moreover, to keep Russia loyal to her allies in the midst of war. Rather than seeing the abdication as weakness, I see it as a noble act.

Responsibility for the subsequent atrocities suffered under Lenin & Stalin cannot possibly be laid at Nicholas' door. He may have made many mistakes but he believed wholeheartedly that what he was doing and the role into which he had been forced by the fact of his royal birth, was for the good of the people. Lenin and Stalin acted solely out of selfish ambition & for the good of Lenin and Stalin.  


HEY WAIT! HOLD ON!

The topic was "Was Nicholas really to Blame?"
NOT "How evil were Lenin and Stalin!"
That's another topic altogether!

Nicholas made choices --as did Lenin/Stalin/Catherine the Great/Peter and Ivan!
Nicholas' choices (and what he was possibly  intending/thinking when he made them) is what I thought was the topic of this discussion!


rskkiya


[I am beginning to wonder why I wanted to start posting here again... :(]
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 25, 2005, 05:19:05 PM
Quote


There were many machinations going on between Duma members belonging to the Progressive Block faction, to rid Russia of its reigning monarch. Their "whim" had a purpose.


It would be a little easier to carry on this debate if I were quoted correctly.

I expressly said, "The Duma I can understand," referring to their having a political agenda in unseating Nicholas.  You lifted a quote I specifically applied to the Romanovs and argued as if I had applied it to the Duma.

Please respond to the arguments I actually make, not to arguments you recast in order to make your point more easily.

Thanks.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: AGRBear on September 25, 2005, 05:21:31 PM
The creator of this thread was Elisabeth who wrote:
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Why are we so harsh with Nicholas II? Is it because we consider events that happened during his reign to have been contingent upon his personality as well as his policies? After all, there were any number of rulers in imperial Russian history who were bloodier than "Bloody Nicholas" - Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, for example. There were rulers who were not only morally but also intellectually far worse than Nicholas II - Anna Ioannovna and Peter III. And there were tsars who wasted valuable time in not enacting much needed reforms - Nicholas I and Alexander III. Finally, there were dynamic leaders like Lenin and Trotsky who could be assigned an equal if not larger measure of blame for the form the Russian revolution eventually took. So why do we seem to blame Nicholas II for everything that went wrong in Russia both during and after his reign?


The bold print does bring in Lenin, Trotsky and leaders, this would include Stalin.  Therefore, they are part of this thread's discussion.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on September 25, 2005, 06:04:51 PM
Thanks, AGRBear...I'm kind of wondering where 'blame' comes into this at all. For what are we blaming Nicholas? The revolution or the subsequent atrocities?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on September 25, 2005, 06:53:25 PM
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Stolypin, who was more inherently conservative than Witte, also came round to the view that Nicholas had to lighten his grip on absolute power, at a minimum by giving a talented ministry more leeway to drive policies that would calm the political landscape.

Exactly so. There are numerous memoirs by men who served the Tsar complaining about his "Byzantine" ability to refuse to listen...And far from only appearing wrong in hindsight, there is ample evidence that people judged his decisions correctly at the time.


Going back through the thread I came across this quote from Louis_Charles and I'm reposting it because I agree completely with his sentiments.  Nicholas II was Tsar of Russia for 23 years before the revolution.  He was Tsar during the 1905 revolution; he wasn't a babe in the woods by 1917.  

I think that better leadership might have avoided the revolution.  Was Nicholas solely to blame?  No reasonable person thinks that.  But I'm not one of those who believes that Russia was marching inexorably to revolution from the time of the Decemberist revolt (or the Pugachev revolt) up to 1917.  Better Tsarist  leadership (by Nicholas and his forebearers) might have averted disaster.  

As far as the subsequent atrocities which took place under Lenin and Stalin, well, sorry for the strong words, but it's crazy to blame Nicholas II for that!  Shall we blame him for Chernobyl, Beslan, Katyn as well?  And, excuse me, but aren't we forgetting Kerensky?  It was Kerensky and his mismanagement who allowed Lenin to take power.  Pipes even says that Nicholas was worried about this -- that the Provisional Government would be trampled under by the Bolsheviks.  I wonder what kind of advice Nicholas would have given Kerensky if asked....




Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 25, 2005, 09:04:26 PM
Well put, on all counts.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 25, 2005, 10:20:43 PM
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There was one condition -- that he be allowed to abdicate for Alexei in favor of Mikhail and that he not be separated from his son


RichC you are correct that there was this concern.

However once he abdicated there were no conditions sought by him.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 25, 2005, 10:30:38 PM
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Did he honestly believe that G-d was controlling his fate?  


Yes he did. All his actions and his Ukases reflected his spiritual connection to God. That sincere belief was affirmed upon the pronouncement of his Coronation Oath in 1896.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 25, 2005, 10:53:59 PM
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But was Nicholas really to blame for Russia ending up in the grip of the Bolsheviks? That's actually the question I had in mind when I started this thread.  


Nikolai was unable to forsee the chain of events that cascaded downwards so rapidly after his departure.

He cannot be blamed for what followed, especially the disintegration of the Imperial military forces.

Nor could he forsee that his own brother would refuse to accept the Crown, thereby destroying the continuation of the Romanov dynasty.

He certainly did not forsee the disintegration of his beloved nation and the church.

What occurred after Nikolai's abdication the Russian people did it to themselves. For they are the ones to blame.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 26, 2005, 03:18:30 AM
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I expressly said, "The Duma I can understand," referring to their having a political agenda in unseating Nicholas.  You lifted a quote I specifically applied to the Romanovs and argued as if I had applied it to the Duma.
Thanks.


OK I apologize for my misunderstanding. :)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 26, 2005, 12:45:11 PM
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Thanks, AGRBear...I'm kind of wondering where 'blame' comes into this at all. For what are we blaming Nicholas? The revolution or the subsequent atrocities?


I myself did not intend to blame Nicholas for anything so momentous. I should make myself clear, the inspiration for this thread came from one of my history professors in graduate school, who described Nicholas II to me as an "evil person" (!!) who had made possible not only World War I but also the totalitarian system of Lenin and Stalin. I do not think he was alone in such beliefs, which I came across time and time again not only in grad school but also in college. Indeed, I think that much of the opprobrium heaped on the last tsar comes from just such a strong, implicit (and perhaps for some, unconscious) belief that if only Nicholas II had been wiser, stronger, more effective, etc. as a ruler, none of the horrors of the Soviet system would ever have happened. In this scenario, the responsibility of such figures as Kerensky, Lenin, Trotsky, and the Russian people themselves is completely overlooked.  

 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 26, 2005, 12:59:57 PM
Nicholas as an "evil" person is preposterous, although it is interesting to me how the word is slung around. During the recent Lipstadt-Irving trial (which Irving lost, of course), there was an attempt to prove that Hitler was not "evil" because the word is devoid of meaning. The point was, if I remember correctly, that if Hitler really, really believed in what he did, then it was robbed of "evil" and became misguided.

Well, horsefeathers, of course (and only the strictures of the board restrict me to "horsefeathers). But do I think Nicholas was to blame? Yes, of course he was. If he had a besetting personality flaw, it was an ego that refused to allow for the fact that he might be wrong, and that is always dangerous. Alexandra had it, too, I think. There is a solipsism in both that may have been the result of upbringing (his sister Olga, a woman I admire greatly had it as well when it came to the Russian peasants' feelings about the dynasty), although in Alix's case it is a little harder to fathom. But he was crying to Sandro about his inability to be an effective Tsar on the same day Alexander III died. In that case, don't take the throne. There were plently of other Romanovs available, primogeniture was not so well established in the dynasty that it could not have been accomplished, and he would have been spared 23 years of increasingly incompetent rule.

Look, the main problem is autocracy, pure and simple --- which also explains the abuses of Lenin and Stalin, who were truly evil if such a concept can be said to exist.

Nicholas was not cut out to be a good Tsar, so yes, he was to blame for taking the throne and overdemonstrating the point. Bear in mind that this is not an attack on his character or personality. How many monarchs had a gift for their jobs? Elizabeth I? Louis XIV, at least in the early years? Maria Theresa?  It is in the nature of a hereditary monarchy that incompetent heirs will emerge --- and here the history of the Windsors suggests itself --- but when a hereditary monarchy is combined with autocracy, well . . .

My point is that Nicholas himself was aware that he was not particularly suited to be Tsar. But he assumed the throne anyway and by the terms of his own understanding of the role, he is to blame for the disasters of his reign.

Of course he isn't to blame for the rise of the Bolsheviks or the other disasters that followed his death in 1918. There is plenty of blame to pass around for those living through those events. Personally, I would take a swift crack at Woodrow Wilson, but that's just me.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 26, 2005, 01:20:39 PM
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Nicholas was not cut out to be a good Tsar, so yes, he was to blame for taking the throne and overdemonstrating the point. Bear in mind that this is not an attack on his character or personality. How many monarchs had a gift for their jobs? Elizabeth I? Louis XIV, at least in the early years? Maria Theresa?  It is in the nature of a hereditary monarchy that incompetent heirs will emerge --- and here the history of the Windsors suggests itself --- but when a hereditary monarchy is combined with autocracy, well . . .

My point is that Nicholas himself was aware that he was not particularly suited to be Tsar. But he assumed the throne anyway and by the terms of his own understanding of the role, he is to blame for the disasters of his reign.

Of course he isn't to blame for the rise of the Bolsheviks or the other disasters that followed his death in 1918. There is plenty of blame to pass around for those living through those events. Personally, I would take a swift crack at Woodrow Wilson, but that's just me.


I'm in general agreement with you, Louis Charles, but nevertheless I have to point out to you that there were absolutely no suitable candidates for the throne in the senior branch of the Romanov family in 1894. In whose favor could Nicholas possibly have abdicated? Not in favor of his next younger brother, George, who was already ill with tuberculosis. Not in favor of his youngest brother, Michael, who was if anything even less qualified than Nicholas to rule Russia at the tender age of sixteen. Should Nicholas then have skipped over his immediate family and chosen someone from the junior branches of the Romanov family tree like Nicholas Nikolaevich or Nicholas Mikhailovich? What earthly chance was there of that happening? And surely it would have been completely without precedent and viewed as illegal.

IMO the Russian Revolution was all but inevitable, which is why I have trouble blaming Nicholas II entirely for it. There was a singular lack of talent in the Romanov family at precisely the time talent, nay genius, was most needed. Arguably any contemporary Romanov put in Nicholas' shoes would have found himself in the same situation eventually, if not in 1917 than either earlier or later. The cards were stacked against them, genetically as well as historically.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 26, 2005, 03:07:34 PM
In my view, Nicholas' primary failing was not in being a weak monarch in times that demanded a Peter I or a Catherine II.  Few had met that standard . . . or would have if the monarchy continued.

His primary failing was in not recognizing that his family's autocratic policies had stunted the growth of Russians' abilities to play a constructive role in managing their civic affairs . . . and in hanging on for dear life to an autocratic system that was hopelessly overwhelmed by the looming demands of the twentieth century.

WWI might or might not have doomed any attempts to evolve stable participatory civic institutions in Russia.  But WWI was on nobody's screen in 1896, when Nicholas went out of his way to make it clear that he would tolerate no admittance of the governed into the affairs of government.  Nor was WWI on the screen in 1905 when, despite a revolution that signalled how politically bankrupt autocratic government was, Nicholas made his grudge manifest in the way he accepted a Duma and in the immediate steps he took to curtail its influence.

Nicholas certainly would not have wished a Lenin or a Stalin on Russia.  However, the readiness with which Russians exchanged one set of chains for a worse set was part of the legacy bequethed their country by the Romanovs.  Too few people viewed their fates as having any nexus to their own choices and behaviors.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 26, 2005, 03:40:53 PM
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I'm in general agreement with you, Louis Charles, but nevertheless I have to point out to you that there were absolutely no suitable candidates for the throne in the senior branch of the Romanov family in 1894. In whose favor could Nicholas possibly have abdicated? Not in favor of his next younger brother, George, who was already ill with tuberculosis. Not in favor of his youngest brother, Michael, who was if anything even less qualified than Nicholas to rule Russia at the tender age of sixteen. Should Nicholas then have skipped over his immediate family and chosen someone from the junior branches of the Romanov family tree like Nicholas Nikolaevich or Nicholas Mikhailovich? What earthly chance was there of that happening? And surely it would have been completely without precedent and viewed as illegal.

IMO the Russian Revolution was all but inevitable, which is why I have trouble blaming Nicholas II entirely for it. There was a singular lack of talent in the Romanov family at precisely the time talent, nay genius, was most needed. Arguably any contemporary Romanov put in Nicholas' shoes would have found himself in the same situation eventually, if not in 1917 than either earlier or later. The cards were stacked against them, genetically as well as historically.



Elisabeth,

I agree with you entirely, "Blame" is the problematic word here. I think it would be more accurate to ask if Nicholas could have prevented the Russian Revolution. Probably not, and I agree that there was a dearth of talent in the Romanov dynasty that worked against any of them having the ability to do that.

But surely he must be assigned responsibility for the debacle of how Alexei's illness was handled, and I am sorry to say this because I know how much they loved each other, for his inability to keep his consort from meddling in state affairs. I doubt there was a Tsaritsa in history who was only a consort that exercised the kind of influence Alexandra wielded, and it is difficult to view her as anything other than spectacularly incompetent to do so.

Simon
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 26, 2005, 03:43:34 PM
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In my view, Nicholas' primary failing was not in being a weak monarch in times that demanded a Peter I or a Catherine II.  Few had met that standard . . . or would have if the monarchy continued.

His primary failing was in not recognizing that his family's autocratic policies had stunted the growth of Russians' abilities to play a constructive role in managing their civic affairs . . . and in hanging on for dear life to an autocratic system that was hopelessly overwhelmed by the looming demands of the twentieth century.

WWI might or might not have doomed any attempts to evolve stable participatory civic institutions in Russia.  But WWI was on nobody's screen in 1896, when Nicholas went out of his way to make it clear that he would tolerate no admittance of the governed into the affairs of government.  Nor was WWI on the screen in 1905 when, despite a revolution that signalled how politically bankrupt autocratic government was, Nicholas made his grudge manifest in the way he accepted a Duma and in the immediate steps he took to curtail its influence.

Nicholas certainly would not have wished a Lenin or a Stalin on Russia.  However, the readiness with which Russians exchanged one set of chains for a worse set was part of the legacy bequethed their country by the Romanovs.  Too few people viewed their fates as having any nexus to their own choices and behaviors.



Tsarfan,

I also agree with this entirely (although I do think that there might have been a small storm cloud of World War I on the horizon in 1896). But you have certainly hit the nail on the head in terms of the damage the Romanovs did to their people through autocratic rule. The same is also true of the Hohenzollerns, of course. I think it is fair to say that the way to power for the dictators was paved by the dynasties.

Simon
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on September 26, 2005, 03:57:37 PM
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What occurred after Nikolai's abdication the Russian people did it to themselves. For they are the ones to blame.


Belochka, I would like to hear more from you about this.  I am intrigued by this statement.  Would you elaborate?  Where did the Russian people drop the ball after the abdication?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on September 26, 2005, 06:00:32 PM
We could all take a crack at Woodrow Wilson and everyone who signed the Treaty of Versailles.

I agree that Nicholas was unqualified for the job of Tsar.  But I also agree that he could do nothing else but take the throne.  It was his history and destiny.  He could, though, have chosen better advisors.

I agree that Alexandra had far too much influence for a back water princess with no formal training to be Tsaritsa.

For much of the Twentieth Century troubles in Europe and in Asia, look to the Treaty that ended the "Great War".

I wouldn't blame the conquered countries or the citizens of the conquering countries for their fates in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Off topic, (of course) even the future of Viet Nam was set in motion at Versailles.  Ho Chi Min was a waiter at the conference.  He tried to speak to the delegates about the French occupation, but was ignored by the "noble victors" (of course, why would they listen to a waiter?)

How presumptaive of these delegates to divide up Europe and the Middle East to suit their own agendas.

And then too, Russia was not represented at the conference because they had a "separate peace" before the war ended and they were having their own problems, the revolution, at the time.

The Russian citizens had had no training to govern themselves, (accord blame to the Romanovs) and so had no idea that the Soviet system could and would be worse.  They just wanted peace, bread and land.

I think things would have been a bit different if Lenin hadn't died so soon after the Revolution.

Just my thoughts.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on September 26, 2005, 07:08:43 PM
[Off the topic, of course]....Lenin should have had an early death, before the revolution, and been buried deeper than hades....lol   :-*
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on September 26, 2005, 07:27:57 PM
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[Off the topic, of course]....Lenin should have had an early death, before the revolution, and been buried deeper than hades....lol   :-*


I think that this remark is in very poor taste.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on September 26, 2005, 09:07:39 PM
Each to their own opinion Rsskiya. While there may indeed be some Russians that still admire Lenin, he's not exactly the most popular historical figure these days.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 27, 2005, 01:15:31 AM
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Belochka, I would like to hear more from you about this.  I am intrigued by this statement.  Would you elaborate?  Where did the Russian people drop the ball after the abdication?


The Russian people dropped the ball (if I interpret you correctly) immediately after Nikolai's abdication, on the battle fields. Nikolai's abdication indicated military defeat. His action served as a signal that there was no further cause for the soldiers to continue to die for their country. The oath they gave had no further meaning. Imperial Russia was no more. Patriotism was replaced by agitation. Soldiers who were at the time the "face" of Russia could no longer serve their Emperor. They lost their dignity and identity. Each had betrayed their nation.

The ensuing turmoil was set in motion from above. Administrative measures were set in motion to break away from the "old order". But there was nothing effective to replace the monarchic regime. Alixz has correctly identified, those who remained did not know how to rule. Chaos, inflation and bitter intrigue was common.

Russians wanted a change but they were unable to have consensus as to what that change should be. First it was L'vov  and then it was Kerensky, who himself proved inept and gutless to stall revolutionary fervor. Both L'vov and Kerensky's failed to exert a firm stance against the soviet deputies from the very first day when the Provisional Government came to power.

All factions condemed the old regime, while those opposing fled abroad or were placed under arrest or murdered where they stood. Such rampant chaos permitted Lenin to arrive without fear at Finland station as the new savior of the land.

However the consequences of that arrival can only be placed on all the people who failed to understand the deceptive path upon which they were to be led. Lenin knew how to lead the weak.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on September 28, 2005, 09:55:27 AM
I agree with you Alixz. The Treaty of Versailles was, I would say, directly responsible for World War II and for the rise of Hitler as well.
Regarding Nicholas's awareness of his inability to rule, much is made of his 'confession' to Sandro immediately after his father's death. The words that anyone speaks at such a time surely cannot be indicative of their true ability or their own opinion of their ability. In considering the situation, it is hardly surprising that Nicholas uttered such a thing. His grief for his father and the realization of the enormity of the task that lay ahead of him at the age of 26, would surely have been overwhelming at that time. Nonetheless he continued in what he saw at his duty.
The more I consider this, the more disloyal Sandro appears. What was revealed to him in confidence by a grieving man should not really have been recorded. It would be interesting to compare similar outbursts of grief made by other monarchs to their friends in such a moment - but presumably their friends would have been more loyal.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 28, 2005, 10:17:00 AM
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I agree with you Alixz. The Treaty of Versailles was, I would say, directly responsible for World War II and for the rise of Hitler as well.
Regarding Nicholas's awareness of his inability to rule, much is made of his 'confession' to Sandro immediately after his father's death. The words that anyone speaks at such a time surely cannot be indicative of their true ability or their own opinion of their ability. In considering the situation, it is hardly surprising that Nicholas uttered such a thing. His grief for his father and the realization of the enormity of the task that lay ahead of him at the age of 26, would surely have been overwhelming at that time. Nonetheless he continued in what he saw at his duty.
The more I consider this, the more disloyal Sandro appears. What was revealed to him in confidence by a grieving man should not really have been recorded. It would be interesting to compare similar outbursts of grief made by other monarchs to their friends in such a moment - but presumably their friends would have been more loyal.  



When the news was brought to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette that Louis XV had died, they fell to their knees, clutched each other, sobbed and cried out "God protect us, we are too young to rule."

When the news was brought to Elizabeth Tudor that her sister Mary I had died she cried out, "This is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes."

These are the first two examples that come to my mind, and I think each reveals something about the potential success of the monarch in question.

Sandro was being disloyal? The Tsar of Russia had no private life, something that was not lost upon Nicholas and Alexandra when they attempted to force social ostracism upon those family members who married in mesalliances. It is tragic that he made the remark as soon as Alexander III had died, but it doesn't negate the essential truth contained in it. No one is saying that Nicholas was a half-wit, and he would have had to have been one not to have realized that his lack of education (the fault of his father), experience (the fault of his father) and general distaste for his public role (pace this comment and the way he and his wife lived their lives) made him unsuitable as Tsar. I have always found it sad when people say "Nicholas II would have made an excellent constitutional monarch along the lines of George V" because it is precisely the assessment of his temperament in a statement like that that indicates why he couldn't succeed as Tsar. The Tsar ruled, while George V merely reigned.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on September 28, 2005, 06:26:05 PM
I once saw a TV programme about how people react in a crisis - a burning plane, a sinking ferry etc. People reacted in ways that were totally contrary to their everyday behaviour and outlook. In my own experience, people sometimes react and say things that they do not really mean, when in a panic or when suddenly confronted with something tragic, sad or difficult. Elizabeth I (for whom I have great admiration) had no deep feeling for Mary and so her reaction to the news that she was now Queen did not impinge on any grief. Nicholas, a man of deep feeling, had just witnessed his father's death when he sobbed that he was unfit to reign.

Can anyone suggest one single person alive at the time, who might have handled the situation better than Nicholas did? I cannot think of anyone because the situation seems beyond the capacity of any one man.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Heloisa on September 28, 2005, 08:17:24 PM
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Each to their own opinion Rsskiya. While there may indeed be some Russians that still admire Lenin, he's not exactly the most popular historical figure these days.


You seem to be a devout Christian, Georgiy.  Is supporting someone who wishes early death and burial beneath hell part of your philosophy?

Poor Nicholas. He is one of the most pathetic figures in history. The combination of fatalism, profound passivity, and insistence of turning his entire fate (and that of his family and empire) over to the hands of an unseen and unknown "sky god" doomed him.  Yes, he was raised in such a faith and didn't know any better, but it is too bad he did not possess the intestinal fortitude to try harder and think less of himself and his god and more of the people he purported to rule.

As to all the suffering and terror that followed the revolution being the fault of the people, whomever posted this irresponsible remark, please do provide specific details as to why you believe this is true.

Heloisa E
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on September 28, 2005, 10:02:14 PM
By saying each to their own opinion, I am not saying I wish Lenin to be buried deeper than hell. What I am saying is that a lot of Russians do not like him, and their opinion of him should be every bit as valid or allowable as those whose opinions of Tsar Nicholas are less than complimentary. Ultimately it is not up to us to judge a soul's ultimate fate, for that perogative belongs to God alone. However thorugh our lives we create either eternal communion with God or eternal separation from God (i.e. Hell) for our souls. The resurrection from the dead will indeed be Hell for those who have separated themselves from God and from goodness in this life.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Caleb on September 28, 2005, 10:12:34 PM
In China as in Russia, the monarchs & governent were not quite prepared to grasp the changing realities of Imperial China & Tsarist Russia. I do admire Nicholas for his faith in God & devotion to his family, but I do think he could have done a better job, but I do also think much of that had to do with the unpreparedness for the position of tsar that carried on for 2 generations. I am a Christian & believe in the will of God, but I do believe that people are allowed free will, especially when it comes to accepting Jesus (but that's off topic) nonetheless I do think, had Nicholas, not been so fatalistic & more of a take-charge kind of guy, things might have turned out differently & I'm sure the Russian Revolution would have been much less bloody.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 28, 2005, 11:51:57 PM
Worried about Russia's fate in Lenin's hands, the well known Petrograd symbolist poet of her day, Zinaida Gippius, conveyed these words:

O poor, O sinful land!
Behaving like madmen,
the people have murdered their own freedom.


So intense was the hate directed towards Nikolai, that nothing remained of the ancient regime.

Within 24 hours of Nikolai's abdication, under the intoxication of his downfall, the people's choice was directed by bullets and aggression.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on September 29, 2005, 05:25:20 AM
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Poor Nicholas. He is one of the most pathetic figures in history. The combination of fatalism, profound passivity, and insistence of turning his entire fate (and that of his family and empire) over to the hands of an unseen and unknown "sky god" doomed him.  Yes, he was raised in such a faith and didn't know any better, but it is too bad he did not possess the intestinal fortitude to try harder and think less of himself and his god and more of the people he purported to rule.


Hi Heloisa, welcome to the forum.

I do not view Nicholas as pathetic at all. Ill-suited to his role, yes, and placed in a position that was beyond his capacity to deal with, yes, but he was not pathetic, nor did he hand over his entire country 'to some unseen and unknown sky-god' and sit passively by. Until the abdication, as has been stated many times before, he spent hours each day working through his papers, carrying out his duties and - whether or not his decision to take command of the army was a wise one - denying himself his own happiness for what he saw as the good of his people and Russia.  

To say, 'he didn't know any better' implies that we do know better and rather patronises a man who was neither ignorant nor stupid. Can we dismiss anyone else's beliefs as nonsense simply because we do not share those beliefs? The fact that after the abdication he 'resigned himself' to God's will is far less pathetic than sitting around bewailing what had happened to him.

Can you suggest any other monarch of the time who might have led Russia through the war and avoided revolution?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 29, 2005, 06:44:26 AM
Well stated Bluetoria. Thank you.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 29, 2005, 07:42:00 AM
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... and insistence of turning his entire fate (and that of his family and empire) over to the hands of an unseen and unknown "sky god" doomed him.  Yes, he was raised in such a faith and didn't know any better, but it is too bad he did not possess the intestinal fortitude to try harder and think less of himself and his god and more of the people he purported to rule.


Nikolai as head of State was entitled to place himself above his people. However to posture that he should "think less of his God" is disrespectful and does not serve your argument with any modicum of respect.


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 29, 2005, 07:51:03 AM
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I once saw a TV programme about how people react in a crisis - a burning plane, a sinking ferry etc. People reacted in ways that were totally contrary to their everyday behaviour and outlook. In my own experience, people sometimes react and say things that they do not really mean, when in a panic or when suddenly confronted with something tragic, sad or difficult. Elizabeth I (for whom I have great admiration) had no deep feeling for Mary and so her reaction to the news that she was now Queen did not impinge on any grief. Nicholas, a man of deep feeling, had just witnessed his father's death when he sobbed that he was unfit to reign.

Can anyone suggest one single person alive at the time, who might have handled the situation better than Nicholas did? I cannot think of anyone because the situation seems beyond the capacity of any one man.



I take your point about Elizabeth, but my intention in citing her as an example really had more to do with her innate appetite for power as an aid to her success as monarch. I don't know that Nicholas had it.

I can't think of another royal in Europe who could have done better, which says more about the other royals than it does about the situation and Nicholas. Wilhelm II of Germany did far worse than Nicholas, in my opinion, and who else had the training outside of Russia to run an essentially autocratic state? Russia in 1894 was sui generis.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Heloisa on September 29, 2005, 09:12:29 AM
Is there not a belief among religious sorts that "God helps those who help themselves"?

Nicholas was weak and ineffective. To believe otherwise is to completely ignore the facts, not opinions, of history. I think most Nicholas supporters would agree that he was quite happy to simply and weakly accept that his efforts were useless since god was the dictator of his fate and by extension, his entire empire.

Someone wrote again about the blame placed on the people. While a deluge of pain and suffering followed, will anyone deny the horrific life lived by the majority of Russian people prior to the cataclysm wrought by revolution?  Someone else has pointed to the ineffectiveness of the provisional government. It is clear that many people were desparate to have even a semblance of a normal life. This led to desparate acts and placing total confidence in those who promised such a life to them.  It is morally and ethically and historically irresponsible and wrong to entirely blame the people, and anyway, what else would you have them do? Continue to cowtow to a tsar who was a sorry leader who flat out refused to implement true reform to improve his people's lives.

I am not saying Nicholas had an easy row to hoe. He clearly was the wrong person at the wrong time. And yet he had as his example the reforms of his grandfather and the strong leadership of his father. Even if he had not been properly prepared for his position (I have no argument there) he was still mentally and emotionally unable to even attempt to emulate the two excellent examples provided to him.

My feeling is that (and my sympathies are with him here, too) Nicholas did not want the job that was his obligation to take, and just like someone who works a job they hate, he consciously or subconsciously refused to and was unable to perform it well. I think it was the only way he could cope.  On an individual basis, I feel pity for him. But it was not just about him. His neglect caused his own suffering and death, many of his family, and millions of the people he had "inherited."

Some people are made of sterner stuff and "buck up" and carry on for the sake of others, even though they hate their life. Nicholas wasn't one of these, he simply was unable. It is very unfortunate that this was not recognized early on and power transferred to another family member with a social conscience and leadership skills.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on September 29, 2005, 08:42:35 PM
I want to express why I feel the way I do about HIH NII. I'm in agreement with much of what Belochka has stated so well in defense of HIH N II:"All his actions and his Ukases reflected his spiritual connection to God. That sincere belief was affirmed upon the pronouncement of his Coronation Oath in 1896".

another of her quotes [aq], "Nikolai was unable to foresee the chain of events that cascaded downwards so rapidly after his departure.  He cannot be blamed for what followed, especially the disintegration of the Imperial military forces." He certainly did not foresee the disintegration of his beloved nation and the church. What occurred after Nikolai's abdication the Russian people did it to themselves. For they are the ones to blame".

[aq] : "The Russian people dropped the ball (if I interpret you correctly) immediately after Nikolai's abdication, on the battle fields. Nikolai's abdication indicated military defeat. His action served as a signal that there was no further cause for the soldiers to continue to die for their country. The oath they gave had no further meaning. Imperial Russia was no more. Patriotism was replaced by agitation. Soldiers who were at the time the "face" of Russia could no longer serve their Emperor. They lost their dignity and identity. Each had betrayed their nation.

The ensuing turmoil was set in motion from above. Administrative measures were set in motion to break away from the "old order". But there was nothing effective to replace the monarchic régime. Alixz has correctly identified, those who remained did not know how to rule. Chaos, inflation and bitter intrigue was common.  

Russians wanted a change but they were unable to have consensus as to what that change should be. First it was L'vov  and then it was Kerensky, who himself proved inept and gutless to stall revolutionary fervor. Both L'vov and Kerensky's failed to exert a firm stance against the soviet deputies from the very first day when the Provisional Government came to power.  

All factions condemned the old regime, while those opposing fled abroad or were placed under arrest or murdered where they stood. Such rampant chaos permitted Lenin to arrive without fear at Finland station as the new savior of the land.

However the consequences of that arrival can only be placed on all the people who failed to understand the deceptive path upon which they were to be led. Lenin knew how to lead the weak".

[ag] "Worried about Russia's fate in Lenin's hands, the well known Petrograd symbolist poet of her day, Zinaida Gippius, conveyed these words:

O poor, O sinful land!
Behaving like madmen,  
the people have murdered their own freedom


So intense was the hate directed towards Nikolai, that nothing remained of the ancient régime  

Within 24 hours of Nikolai's abdication, under the intoxication of his downfall, the people's choice was directed by bullets and aggression.

Bluetoria's statement: "Can anyone suggest one single person alive at the time, who might have handled the situation better than Nicholas did? I cannot think of anyone because the situation seems beyond the capacity of any one man"

my thoughts : Nicholas was not pathetic!
This is just a statement of sour grapes, imho!

As Bluetoria asked : Can you suggest any other monarch of the time who might have led Russia through the war and avoided revolution?

Now in regards to Lenin : I agree with what Georgiy stated : "a lot of Russians do not like him, and their opinion of him should be every bit as valid or allowable as those whose opinions of Tsar Nicholas are less than complimentary" and this : "However through our lives we create either eternal communion with God or eternal separation from God (i.e. Hell) for our souls. The resurrection from the dead will indeed be Hell for those who have separated themselves from God and from goodness in this life"

mine : This I believe, and nobody can change what I believe, for I have seen evil up front, far more than most, and I know what Georgiy has stated to be truth.

Finally as Belochka stated: "Nikolai as head of State was entitled to place himself above his people. However to posture that he should "think less of his God" is disrespectful and does not serve your argument with any modicum of respect"

My personal views comes from various family members who actually went through the Russian Revolution, lost family members directly through the revolution, or the aftermath of the initial thrust of the revolution's intense blood bath, or the Ukrainian genocide of the late 20's, 30's. Then before this, there was the early white cadet prisons, the white cadet gulags of Lenin and Stalin. [off topic of course: ] Then came the II WW. Then there were those who went through the Iranian Revolution, and the Revolution of the Philippines. A close family friend went through the Nicaragua revolution. As a child I was separated by a few hundreds of miles miles away from the Cuban Revolution. I was in close proximity to understanding revolution directly. I'm no spring chicken, but time, and history has taught me well by reading history, as well hearing first person stories, and seeing the lives of countless persons, utterly shattered by revolution. Finally, we still have through marriage, relatives still living in Russia today, so yes, I do understand in depth, and sometimes it is impossible to stay silent when some write what they do on these many threads.

There are countless postings on this website, of those giving their personal views and opinions. Many postings are placed in motion from the perspective of historical narratives of the writings of many historians around the world, including that from communist russia. Many times, what's posted, something they post, clicks in us as truth, or just as statements to incite, provoke, or remain as a lasting searing memory for us all to bear. Some post because they or family member went through such outrageous torture and extremes of hardships. Many here whom post have never known how deeply it affects the human psyche, let alone the human heart, and that's first person. It may affect your sensibilities, but not as searing as it does to listen to those whom have survived it all.

If you ever experience first person, such intent blatant brutality, you will never forget the viciousness, the smallness of those whose only self gratification was to block every road to freedom and who lived to keep and contine to hold a nation in perpetual lock down. The Russian Revolution was pure intense insanity. This was not the mark of any good leadership, as Lenin or Stalin. Yet successively, those supposedly who took over the leadership in Russia, hardly let up on their endless killing fields, their endless brain-washing, of children to elderly in the indoctrination of communism, to the very insistence for communism to remain the main opium and substitute for "God".Their brainwashing went on over 60 years.] Yet on this thread, as well as others, some say HIH N II was not fair, was weak, and not for his people. To use the phrase, 'Get a grip, please' !
Excuse me, but wasn't it the same communist leader, as Stalin, who aligned himself with another god like Nazi leader, Adolph Hitler, and together they joined in another world-wide killing spree, and further gulags. Who in their right mind can defend them or Communism? If you believe in it, then go and sign up to live under such tyranny. Then come back, share your true feelings. Believe me, we will all be listening, truly!
If you have experienced freedom, you will not enjoy living under communism, or any fanatical goverment.

Some here, want people to honestly offer an apology for stating that mass-killers, receive an early burial and should be lowered beneath Hades?

Personally, I will never forget the terrible cost of my relatives, and theirs, their dear friends, the elderly, and children paid, so despots continued to live and unleash to continue their burning, unleashed harrowing damnation and holocausts on defenseless lives.

I have no reason to give any other person, any apologies when it comes to defining the worst insensitive and cruelest leaders the world has ever known. No, they are and never will be my cup of tea. Never is too soon.

Tania [Tatiana]
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 29, 2005, 10:49:17 PM
Quote
Many postings are placed in motion from the perspective of historical narratives of the writings of many historians around the world, including that from communist russia. Many times, what's posted, something they post, clicks in us as truth, or just as statements to incite, provoke, or remain as a lasting searing memory for us all to bear. Some post because they or family member went through such outrageous torture and extremes of hardships. Many here whom post have never known how deeply it affects the human psyche, let alone the human heart ...


Thank you so much Tatiana. You have expressed yourself beautifully and with eloquence.

I admire your wisdom and accurate insight.

Quote

The Russian Revolution was pure intense insanity. ...Yet successively, those supposedly who took over the leadership in Russia, hardly let up on their endless killing fields, their endless brain-washing, of children to elderly in the indoctrination of communism, to the very insistence for communism to remain the main opium and substitute for "God".Their brainwashing went on over 60 years.] Yet on this thread, as well as others, some say HIH N II was not fair, was weak, and not for his people. Tania [Tatiana]


Law and order polished by one's dignity and love for God and country perished with Nikolai's departure and was replaced by hate, fear and treachery for decades thereafter. Not until the people finally understood the nature of their losses did Russia re-awaken and begin to understand how low they sank in the stench of communism.    

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on September 29, 2005, 11:06:35 PM
Well said Belochka.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 29, 2005, 11:21:42 PM
Is there something here that I am not getting?

(1)Everyone seems to agree that what followed Nicholas II's reign was horrible.
(2) Everyone seems to agree that Nicholas II was forced to abdicate because of various failures --- military and social.
(3) I have no problem with the idea that no other monarch reigning in Europe between 1900 - 1918 could have handled Russia any better than he did. As I said in a previous post, I think someone like Wilhelm II was far worse.
(4) But in the end, the failures did occur on Nicholas' watch, so to speak. Doesn't the buck, or in the case, the ruble, stop at his desk? He was the Tsar.. If he wasn't responsible, who was?
(5) None of this has any bearing upon whether he was received into heaven. His failure as Tsar does not mean he failed as a human being.

The sufferings endured by Russians during the communist regime were more widespread, tragic and horrible than anything comparable under Tsarist government. Part of this was due to the technology of terror; part due to the military invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany; and part surely due to sheer evil on the part of Lenin, Stalin, Beria, and the rest of them. Was Nicholas to blame for the slaughter of the kulaks or the gulags? Of course not.

But was he to blame for the collapse of the imperial system in 1917? Yes.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on September 30, 2005, 05:36:20 AM
Quote
Is there not a belief among religious sorts that "God helps those who help themselves"?



What exactly are 'religious sorts'? It sounds like some kind of sweeping generalization to me - and one which implies some kind of mockery.

Louis Charles, I do take your point about comparing Nicholas to other monarchs, and that since he was Tsar, the 'buck' did indeed stop with him.

My point is though, that I do not believe anyone could have handled the situation in such a way as to prevent revolution. We may sit here and say, "If he had done this..." or "If he had done that..." but by the early 20th century the rising tide of socialism and the change of the whole world order was becoming to strong that the disillusionment caused by World War I turned it into a tidal wave. As you have said, only constitutional monarchies survived and that was because the monarchs held no real power.

In which case, Nicholas was not 'to blame' because he was simply one man - albeit a man in a very high position, but one man nevertheless - who loved his country but was in a role that was being undermined by forces way beyond his or anyone else's control. The role of the Tsar was no longer wanted and, just like when redundancies are made within a business, he was simply the victim of the times.

What came afterwards, is what always seems to happen when a regime is overthrown and there is a scrambling for power. The subsequent chaos allows an opportunity for the most ruthless to 'seize the reins' and so a far greaty tyranny ensues. People who have no experience of ruling become (imo) 'puffed up' with their own ambition and any thought for the welfare of their people is lost.

There is a danger of confusing the man with the role he was obliged to play, I think. Tsardom was already on its last legs when Nicholas came to the throne and it is unfortunate that he should take the blame for all the years of oppression which preceeded him. Perhaps WWI was inevitable because the whole world had changed so much in the past century that there was a need for a new order of governments etc. That it came about in such a bloody manner is a tragedy. Had it not happened when it did, Tsardom might well have survived for another 10 or 20 years...but Ieventually it would have had to change somehow because the people had changed. I cannot see at all how Nicholas can be held responsible for this. Perhaps he didn't read the 'signs of the times' but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to fully understand what is happening when they are in the midst of it. Only from our vantage point can we see the whole picture, which makes it too easy for us to say, "That's what he should have done...."
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 30, 2005, 07:24:02 AM
Nicholas had at least one window opened wide for him to let in the light -- the revolution of 1904-05.  Up until then, we might be able to argue it was hard for him to understand the times in which he was enmeshed.  But that first revolution ripped the veil away and exposed just how rotted the moorings of the monarchy were.  That revolution also occasioned the creation of a skeletal representative system which, although flawed in its initial design, could have been worked upon to make it a more stable and effective voice of at least the educated classes.

Instead, Nicholas began immediately to undermine the constitution, first by instituting a new chamber to eviscerate the Duma's ability to evolve by cutting its teeth on real issues, and then by recasting the voting franchise to make it progressively less representative.

If Nicholas was lost in a fog of misapprehension about the times, it's because he chose to be.  Others, including senior government officials and some members of his own family, were not similarly adrift in the mists.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 30, 2005, 04:30:52 PM
I agree with the thrust of this post, although I am not sure you can "choose" to be lost in misapprehension, given the nature of the beast. How about this? Nicholas consciously set himself against tides of history that were perfectly apparent to some of those that both advised him or were related to him, or a combination of both. In other words, he assumed that the tried-and-true instrument of Romanov autocracy would weather the 20th century. His assumption was wrong, and how he managed to maintain it after 1904-1905 is anybody's guess, but maintain it he did.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 30, 2005, 05:09:01 PM
Quote
I am not sure you can "choose" to be lost in misapprehension.


True, but I was being a bit sardonic.  I think Nicholas chose to be lost in misapprehension the way some people choose to forget something of which they are perfectly mindful.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 30, 2005, 07:27:15 PM
::grins:: I was being persnickety, which is of course trumped by sardonic.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on September 30, 2005, 07:39:13 PM
When I said that "things might have been different if Lenin hadn't died so soon after the revolution", I meant that his take on the country and what it needed might have been different and less tyranical than Stalin's was.

As for the people being to blame for their own fates, they were hungry, repressed, war weary and (as someone else said) let down by or excited by the abdication of Nicholas.

Either way, all they wanted was a new begining.

Nicholas may be to blame for everything that led to the revolution.  He didn't learn from 1904-05 because by then Alexis had been born and he had an heir to leave the throne to.  He caved a little, but then fought back in the only way he knew how, but limiting the Duma's powers.

I still don't believe that any one person can be called responsible for all that occured, not even an autocrat.

I agree with those who say that we have a far better perspective from which to view the trouble and the times he lived through.

Don't we all look back and wish that we could have changed what we said or did to improve the outcome of a situation?  That is what we are doing with Nicholas's life.  One hundred years is a long time.



Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Heloisa on September 30, 2005, 09:36:11 PM
The Russian empire was lost on Nicholas II's watch.  That's all that truly matters. He was a colossal loser, no matter what spin is put on what he did or did not do.

Heloisa, a proud non-religious sort
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on September 30, 2005, 11:37:43 PM
Ah, so, at last we hear from a spinner...

Tatiana  ;D
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 01, 2005, 10:42:57 PM
Who is "spinning"?  Certainly not me.  I just don't think that we have the right to judge anyone until we have, been in his position.

Nicholas may have "lost the throne" on his watch, but he didn't do it alone.  He had lots of help.  

So many matters go into the making or breaking of an issue or a man or a government.

Again, we have the good fortune to be making our decisions and expressing our opinions from the warmth and safety of our armchairs and a temporal distance of 100 years.

We know the outcome of the abdication and the rise of Lenin and Stalin.  Nicholas abdicated to his brother, not to Lenin.  The Provisional Government was in power before the October Revolution.  Nicholas didn't abdicate to Kerensky either.  Again, he abdicated to his brother who then let him down to save his own skin!

Did Nicholas know any of this would happen as he sat on that train?  Of course not.  Did he know that his wife's cousin Willy would send Lenin into Russia in a sealed train like a bad disease?  No.

So he was an incompetent Tsar, but when he abdicated, he did it with the best of intentions.  He thought he was saving the monarchy, not ending it.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on October 02, 2005, 02:09:17 AM
Dear Alexz,

I can't agree with you more ! You are 100% correct.
Thank you again so very much for allowing me to
understand that :
"So many matters go into the making or breaking of an issue or a man or a government", as you have correctly stated.

and again :
"Nicholas abdicated to his brother, not to Lenin.  The Provisional Government was in power before the October Revolution.  Nicholas didn't abdicate to Kerensky either.  Again, he abdicated to his brother who then let him down to save his own skin!

Did Nicholas know any of this would happen as he sat on that train?  Of course not.  Did he know that his wife's cousin Willy would send Lenin into Russia in a sealed train like a bad disease?  No.

So he was an incompetent Tsar, but when he abdicated, he did it with the best of intentions.  He thought he was saving the monarchy, not ending it."

Again you bring the most important of statement :

"we have the good fortune to be making our decisions and expressing our opinions from the warmth and safety of our armchairs and a temporal distance of 100 years"

Thank you again for your thoughtful care in posting, and to sharing these most relevant and important points about IH N II. Your certainly are a "thinking, balanced, person, in presenting facts". I greatly appreciate your postings, and look forward to them.

Tania [Tatiana]
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on October 02, 2005, 09:48:11 AM
Quote
Again, we have the good fortune to be making our decisions and expressing our opinions from the warmth and safety of our armchairs and a temporal distance of 100 years.


Our armchairs do give us an advantage Nicholas clearly did not have in foreseeing Bolshevism and all its horrors.

But it doesn't take an armchair and a century of perspective to have been able to foresee the end of Nicholas' personal government.  It was readily apparent to many contemporaries of Nicholas.

Nicholas was warned by his ministers of the perils of going to Stavka, who foresaw accurately that it would make the tsar appear personally responsible for military defeats and that it would further erode confidence in the civilian government as soon as it became known the ministers were making their reports to Alexandra.

Nicholas and Alexandra were warned by Grandduchess Ella that people in the streets held the monarchy in increasing contempt, largely because of Alexandra's perceived role behind the scenes and the rampant rumors about Rasputin.

Sandro represented a large faction of the imperial family who felt that Nicholas was on the final road to ruin.

Nicholas resisted Witte's counsel about how to handle the events of 1905, in which Witte clearly perceived the impasse the monarchy had reached.  Nicholas then promptly put the lesson aside and set a course back toward as much of a return to autocracy as he could manage.

One might argue that, even if Nicholas had more clearly understood the problems, they were so intractable that no one could have addressed them.  In fact, though, ministers of the caliber of Witte and Stolypin were able to do much in the time given them -- when Nicholas would support them.  Particularly under Stolypin, many key economic metrics were promising and the issue of land reform was receiving careful attention.  But Nicholas dismissed Witte, overrode Stolypin on such issues as the handling of Rasputin, and ultimately chose a series of increasingly incompetent toadies.

This notion that the inadequacies of Nicholas' policies for sustaining the monarchy could only become apparent with the lengthy passage of time just doesn't wash.  It completely dismisses the overwhelming mass of evidence from the time that many, many people perceived the growing weakness of the monarchy at least several years before its collapse and saw the final disaster looming for months.

In late 1916, the situation was so obviously desperate that members of the most senior nobility were willing to murder Alexandra's "Friend" Rasputin -- to try to forestall the disaster.  Yet two months later, with his troops starving and deserting in droves, with supply lines to the front and into the cities breaking down, Nicholas was writing his wife from Stavka that he was relieved to have no ministers around to pester him with problems.

If the tsar needed an armchair and a long historical perspective to perceive the impasse to which his policies had brought Russia, no wonder they had a revolution.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 02, 2005, 11:54:42 AM
Quote
The Russian empire was lost on Nicholas II's watch.  That's all that truly matters. He was a colossal loser, no matter what spin is put on what he did or did not do.

Heloisa, a proud non-religious sort


This is an entirely valid point.
I must agree -although most people here KNOW how EVIL I am ... :-X
Tatianna- What is a spinner?

I may doom myself with this... BUT - in all honesty - had I made the same comment about Nicholas II being "buried deep in Hades" I should have been tarred and feathered! Yet in this case it is simply accepted as 'one poster's opinion' ...

Not fair
Not fair at all.

rskkiya
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on October 02, 2005, 02:34:28 PM
Are you evil, or are you 'trying' to be evil, or do you want to be taken as evil?  However, it is a choice you make...or for others to interpert of what you offer.....
If you feel you may doom yourself, than that is what you feel. You have made this statement, nobody else.
Your are in your mind's eye, what and who you believe yourself to be, nothing less, nothing more.

Oh, my name is spelled, Tatiana, thanks  ;)

From my statement, and from millions of others whom fled Lenin, and some emigres of whom it  has been my pleasure to know and meet, whom feel the same way. Specifically 'our opinions' are because Lenin remains in history's eyes, and in countless global books, a fact, which we feel very strongly about, that he was a mass-murder!If he were a relative, or just Lenin, I would state the same statement, that he 'should have died an early death, and been buried lower than hades'.

I'm not into playing games, but speak on a full measured balance of truth. My opinion is my opinion. Yours is yours. I would hope you would gain better value in life than to find mirth in gaining a threadful of people to take notice, just to play a game on word value, or whom is better, or whatever. I don't know you, therefore, I have no reason to waste my time on valueless statements that go nowhere in time.

You have stated your points, I my'n. There is nothing more we need to say to each other. Thanks for your input.

Tatiana


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on October 02, 2005, 02:49:30 PM
Since I was the person who brought up the fact that people are entitled to their own opinions, I say the same to you Rsskiya, and I for one will not tar or feather you. The greatest gift from God we have is freedom. In my opinion Lenin and his cohorts took away much freedom from people, and cheerfully sent millions to death because they held different beliefs to those of the Party. We are now way off topic.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Heloisa on October 02, 2005, 04:03:49 PM
I am almost always only an observer of the threads on this site and those of you in the "thick of it" are seldom objective.

The person who wrote about being "tarred and feathered" was right on target.  From observation it is clear that those with opinions dissenting from the Russian Imperial "types" (sorry, but it works in this case, too) are ganged up on and not allowed their opinion on these boards.  But then, this is a site devoted to the old regime and those who for whatever reason admire it.  There ought to be more of a sense of fair play, but I see this is too much to ask.

Who was the last Tsar of Russia? (don't count Alexei and Mikhail II)
Nicholas II
Right or wrong the buck stops with him, and yet the discussions here will go on and on in circles endlessly, resolving nothing, since the facts of history cannot be altered.  I will only say to each his own, even though I cannot figure out why some members spend so much time or even have the time for this.

Tatiana, whatever do you mean by my'n? This is not a word or a contraction in the English language. Even the contractions that do exist (such as don't, wasn't, etc) are not considered proper language use. I am thinking you must be after "mine."  I must say I have never seen your example anywhere before!

Heloisa E
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on October 02, 2005, 04:24:36 PM
Well, from someone who is in the 'thick of it' as you say, and an Imperial type (I guess!), I will repeat that I gave Rsskiya just now my honest opinion. We all view vistory from our own points of view, and from what the historian's whose books we read and opinions we listen to form. There are of course other opinions and points of view, and the books and things we read and form our opinions on are for the most part written in hindsight. However, from reading books written about Russia, that were written and published on the eve of the Revolution, none of these books seem to show that a Revolution was about to erupt. (I am not at home, and so can't remeber all details of books, but one is Russia of To-day (1915) (Can't remember author), Russia in 1916 and Russia and the World both published in early 1917, bu Stephen Graham. I think the severe shortages in Petersburg (especiallY) brought on by the extra hard winter played an enormous role. It is the cities that brought about the revolution. perhaps the Tsar should have done more to improve the lot of urbanites in the years of peace.

Yes, Tatiana made a mistake in her spelling. It happens sometimes. However, her writing is not unreadable because of it. We all make mistakes. A friendly comment to a poster who regularly uses strange spellings and abbreviations may be necessary sometimes but not in this case.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on October 02, 2005, 07:52:02 PM
Good Day or Evening Heloisa, wherever in the world you are !

Your absolutely correct, it's not my'n...and no I haven't changed from the...'old' type. It's quite evident from your writing you admire who and what you admire. That is certainly your taste. What gang, and who is in this gang ? There is no 'gang mentality here' ! We are for the most part, mature adults, [and of course countless children, and teens] who have individually come here to speak from our own understandings.

I made every 'choice' to come to this website, but knew no one here. You speak about the other posters, as if they have come here, with full intent to do harm. Again, each of us forms our own opinion. If we do in fact agree with another's posting, be that as it should be or not. Each has the right to speak up for his or herself, without any push from another, or action to gain favor, for or against any thread. That Heloisa, IS fair play, at it's best.

I'm not in the manner of placing bets, or as you say go on in circles endlessly. Your quite right, history can not be altered! Hooray, you've stated it quite correctly, 'to each his own'. Each member, or guest, is indeed welcome to spend one second, or as much time as they wish to do whatever. Thank goodness we have this standard practice in place! Each forum leader makes sure this is in place.

I see you’re an English buff....and use proper language, quite so! Congratulations! :D ...it's not mine, it's your example, I've never seen in some time. Thank you so much for reminding me. What do you mean, in the thick of it?  What thicket is that exactly?

Oh yes, 'us Imperial types', are enough reason, you, initially felt beckoned here, precisely because of the very title of "The Alexander Palace", and 'The Alexander Palace Discussion Board'. Thank goodness that the founder and owner had the clarity, the passion, the very love of their Imperial Highnesses, their extensive families, and children to make such an illustrious site and interface for those around the globe. We are in the end, All guests, and joined for various reasons. But I didn't think that it's to be an impediment, nor to cause exacting personal affronts, only because someone admires a particular royal member of Russia, who ruled over almost a hundred years ago. There must be more in a person's life to do, wouldn't you think?

I'm not worried about statements you make, or others with sour grapes. For each statements made, there remains countless writings, human hearts, all ages who can, and will stand to be heard.

Over 80 years, people in Russia, and satellite countries, were forced to think and act the way you do, and they not only had their say, but went further and took actual rifle in hand, or by their own hands, and murdered massively continuously. What ever took their place to validate their lack of being real human beings, more so qualified leaders? None.

Today, I believe Russia is going back to the old ways; For those whom are Orthodox Christians, we are overjoyed that the Orthodox Christian Church is becoming a center in Russian life again today. Thank goodness, for the Russian Church has suffered enough, and countless millions killed because of their belief and faith.

So again, whatever you have to say, you say and share it, for that is what you feel. Nobody can take it from you, and nobody wants to either....

I'm very proud to be and  have the legacy of a nobleman who was one of Russia's greatest field marshals, a count and a prince.

I have no blood on my hands, and do not lose sleep, nor footing to be excessive in verbal attack, just to bring another down. People somehow have a way of doing that all by themselves. Now that's an objective observation of many years of my observation watching, and interacting with humankind.

If you have realized that this is a site for as you say, for the 'Russian Imperial types, a site devoted to the old regime', then why are you on earth, surprised by those whom are in agreement? How very puzzling...But, ok, you have had your say, and I'm glad. Now we know where you are, and we, obviously have always known where we are. Thanks for sharing. I wish you well in life. Toodles !  :-*

Tatiana
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 02, 2005, 07:56:49 PM
Quote
Are you evil, or are you 'trying' to be evil, or do you want to be taken as evil?  However, it is a choice you make...or for others to interpert of what you offer.....
Tatiana



Never mind... My 'evil' remark was meant more as an inside joke to posters such as Georgiy, Bluetoria Bellochka and Heloisa, who may know me and my views better...
I have no patience for Nicholas, but you do -  so thats nice. :-/
Or course - I think that Lenin/Stalin were no saints - on some issues we MIGHT agree...

But not on Nicholas.

Georgiy is right - we are off topic ...

PS: Tania
Do PM me with any further comments if you would like.



rs
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on October 02, 2005, 08:16:50 PM
Rskkyia,

As I said in my prior post today,  :)

'You have stated your points, I my'n. There is nothing more we need to say to each other. Thanks for your input'. I've given enough expression for one day,   ;)

Hope your day has been eventfilled, joyous, and happy.
God Bless.

Tatiana [Tania]
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 02, 2005, 09:00:33 PM
Why do we as posters always get into these confrontations over our personal but simply moot opinions?

It is nice to be agreed with, but in reality, we can't all think and interpret in the same way.

Should Nicholas II have known his empire was collapsing all around him?  Probably.  When was the best time for him to try and save it?  Who knows?

It has often been said that he was the wrong man in the wrong place for the wrong job.

History is as it was.  We can "Monday morning quarterback" all we want, but hindsight is always 20/20.

I don't know why I am of the "Imperial type".  I just am. After all it is much more glamorous to remember the Imperial lifestyle than to remember the pain and suffering that it caused the ordinary citizen.

I am caught between admiring Nicholas and hating him for the jerk he could be.  I have always hated Alix, and yet I am (being of German and English descent) very much like her.  Both in personality and in health and in the needs of my only son. (And I know that my own health concerns are in direct connection to the health needs of my only son.  Alix, I think, without the benefit of modern sicence and medicine, would not have known this.) But still I hate her.

We gather here to exchange our opinions, but we are bound by our traditions, background and very natures to agree and to disagree.

The topic is "Was Nicholas Really to Blame?"  Of course he was.  But was he alone?  Even as an autocrat, I think not.  

Just my humble opinion.


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Heloisa on October 02, 2005, 09:03:41 PM
Tania,
Your response was precisely what I expected. I know your type well, both in the United States and in Russia. Thank you for the laughs.

You are not the only person here who has connections with the original Imperial supporter types.  Do recall it was from among the noble class that many revolutionaries sprung. Many of those also have descendants, yet are every bit as "noble" as those remaining Imperial supporters. Not all took the side you support, so please do not paint with such a broad brush.

That is another "English-ism" that I do not have time to explain to you.

Yours and others' remarks may convince those with whom you share particular views, but no one else. The fact of the matter is that dissenters here are harrassed and from reading the archives here I see they are also regularly banned.  There is not much free speech here, but neither was there in Imperial Russia, nor in the Soviet era, nor even in Russia today, so I suppose the people who run this site are just keeping with a very long-standing Russian tradition.

H.E.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on October 02, 2005, 09:33:40 PM
                          Hurrah ! Hurrah! Hurrah !
May God save Russia and all those in Heaven above, and for every human heart fighting for all that's just.
Those 'noble' ones' whom joined, or whatever they did with the communists, eventually died, or were killed, and communism in Russia is no longer. Hurrah !

By the way, you seem to get out your messages, and no one bans you, so don't worry about others. You are after all, asked to speak for yourself, as you signed up with your name alone. So you see, freedom is alive here, and throughout this website. Your perspective seems to be a bit slanted, and again, sour grapes.

This is about: 'was Nicholas Really to Blame?'
Again, we have heard, and read loud and clear, in no unmistakable tone, how you feel, about HIH N II.

I need not be told either how to paint my brush strokes.
This is not a site for control, but indeed expression!
You can't have it both ways. First you complain that there is no freedom of expression, then you go on, and on about others here being harrased, and or banned.... and then tell me not to do something you don't like.
tsk, tsk, tsk,  :-[ what a faux pax to make, when trying to make a point.

As I said, I have conferred with no one else, and am able to stand and defend myself, and or express my opinions as normally as others do here. I admire Nicholas! You don't.

I know it's a shock to you, but, as you have stated below, ' the people who run this site are just keeping with a very long-standing Russian tradition', they are in fact standing with all the long-standing tradition that serves freedoms here in the United States, and every free thinking country in the universe. This is why freedom, and democracy work so well!

Hope you have a lovely evening, and a great Fall Season ahead.

Tania [Tatiana]






Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 02, 2005, 09:39:57 PM
Yikes!

Let's get back on topic.

Please leave each other alone.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 02, 2005, 10:41:53 PM
Alixz
Good Idea!
   Well my own views are very similar to the opinions presented by Tzarfan and Heloisa.
   I cannot see NII as a 'victim of fate' - [although he might have thought it] nor can I accept the notion that an Oath taken would so completely limit his ability to act.
   I do HOPE that NII was NOT an idiot - unaware of the general political situation. But then again I do not think him a "saint", although I know that many people here do see him as such. I will not question their faith, even as I cannot agree with them.

We need to define our terms, or perhaps redefine them. Just what is meant by blame?
For what events?

rskkiya
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on October 03, 2005, 05:01:22 AM
Quote
The fact of the matter is that dissenters here are harrassed and from reading the archives here I see they are also regularly banned.  There is not much free speech here,.... so I suppose the people who run this site are just keeping with a very long-standing Russian tradition.

H.E.


Dissenters when on topic, are neither harassed nor "banned." However when insults are specifically directed towards posters then that is cause why they are de-registered. Kindly remember that.

You have broadly insulted those who have professed Faith, and those who do not accord with your perceptions. Your words are very clear.

The key to active participation is respect. I often have divergent views to Rskkiya, but we have always remained polite with one another.

Extending your insults to the forum administrators is just plain rude and out of line.

If you are displeased with the calibre of contributions offered here, then it is best you find another venue more suitable to your needs.

Now back to this topic ...
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on October 03, 2005, 06:54:00 AM
Quote
Yours and others' remarks may convince those with whom you share particular views, but no one else. The fact of the matter is that dissenters here are harrassed and from reading the archives here I see they are also regularly banned.  There is not much free speech here, but neither was there in Imperial Russia, nor in the Soviet era, nor even in Russia today, so I suppose the people who run this site are just keeping with a very long-standing Russian tradition.


Let's lighten up a bit, folks.

My views of Nicholas and Alexandra are consistently more negative than most on this board, and I sometimes engage in quite a bit of hyperbole in stating those views in order to goad the Board into a more heated and diverse debate.  It's my own way of forging my own thoughts and certainly not to everyone's liking.

But I have found the Board moderators (and its founder) to be remarkably tolerant of a wide range of views and committed to let all sides of the debate be aired.  They have their own views of Russian history, they state them from time to time . . . and they impose them on no one else.

What they do not allow -- and should not -- is attacks between posters that get too personal.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 03, 2005, 07:28:24 AM
I went back and re-read the first few pages of this thread.  

The insight and wisdom is amazing!  Everyone was stating their views in clear and conceise form and the information to be gleaned is worth going back for.

Speaking of blame - how about adding Alexander III and the execution of Lenin's brother?  Alexander Ulianov was executed and the seeds of Vladimir becoming "Lenin" were sowed.

How about blaming Karl Marx for writing Das Kapital!

Blame is an amazing thing and there is always far too much to go around in any situation.

I feel sorry for Nicholas II and I feel sorry for his subjects.  No one got a good deal out of this mess except Stalin.  But he was insane enough to disown his own son!  Sort of like Peter torturing his son and Ivan killing his own son.

Just out of curiosity, weren't both the sons of Peter and Ivan named Alexis?  If I remember correctly what an historical coincidence.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on October 03, 2005, 07:50:27 AM
Quote
Speaking of blame - how about adding Alexander III and the execution of Lenin's brother?  Alexander Ulianov was executed and the seeds of Vladimir becoming "Lenin" were sowed.


A very valid point Alixz the seeds of revenge were indeed sown by Vladimir while he attended law school. The malignancy of marxism spread so rapidly that no matter what Nikolai attempted, the outcome proved uncontrollable and fatal.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Forum Admin on October 03, 2005, 09:17:47 AM
Personal attacks on posters are not tolerated. Period. You will all return to and stay on topic. Any further personal sniping, attacks, etc will be dealt with. Heloisa, consider yourself warned, and NOT for your ideas, but your behavior. I seem to recall similar problems with another user from the Lynchburg VA area?

FA
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 03, 2005, 06:54:33 PM
It's the poverty of the modern English language that is at fault here... Was Nicholas Really to BLAME  -for what? A situation or a reaction to a situation?

  Per example- there were a number of famines during Alexander III and Nicholas II reigns, but while I will not suggest that these individuals were personally liable for "blighting the weather or destroying the crops" they were responsable (sp?) for their reactions to such situations.

  I am still of the opinion that Nicholas was to blame, he did have many compatent [and some incompatent] ministers who's advice he sometimes took - and sometimes NOT. When right - he might have gotten the credit, when wrong he must then accept the penalty.
  He was fairly well educated and ought to have been aware enough of the experiences of his extended worldwide regal relations to understand that -Orthodox or not - his role as an Autocrat was at best an outdated and highly ineffective title.
  He was an almost pathologically devout man, in an era not welcoming to such an all consuming and unquestioning devotion - and it limited his abilities to see the situation beyond his romantic dreams of 'happy worshipful peasants'.
  He had the misfortune to love a woman who was extreamly emotionally unsuited to the public role of Tzarina and who was even MORE prone to ectatic religious extreams than he was. Had they lived in the 17th century then they might have done a wee bit better, but they did not!
  Nicholas had a lot of things going for him and a lot of handicaps from the start - he did not create the revolution, but he DID encouraged an enviroment in which the revolution could grow! He could possibly have made some changes to counter certain revolutionary tendencies, had he thought of this as an option. But he did not. He was emotionally unsuited to be a commanding domineering and forceful reactionary like his father - Nicholas was too mild mannered.

I do not believe that I have insulted anyone with this post nor do I think that I have insulted anyone's personal faith. If I have - please PM me and I will consider correcting the situation.

rskkiya

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on October 04, 2005, 10:50:09 AM
Well rskkiya, as you'd expect I'm bound to disagree with some of what you have written.  ;)  ;D

The point you make at the beginning about whether he was to blame for the situation or his reaction is really apt. With regard to the famines, the Imperial Family did a great deal to relieve the suffering of the people involved. You agree that they were not to blame for the weather etc. so are you suggesting that they should have had a more foresight and prevented the consequences? That maybe the case but, as is seen the world over, very few leaders have ever been prepared for natural disasters. Once famine struck, Ella and Alix in particular not only donated vast amounts of their own money but also initiated programmes to raise money for famine relief.

I agree that he did not always listen to the most competent ministers...and he was often badly-advised and kept in the dark about the state of some of the unrest in the cities which doubtlessly led to his belief that the majority of his subjects worshipped their Tsar. But in fact many of them did!!

I cannot accept that he was 'pathologically' devout. He was devout but not extreme in his religious beliefs - they did not, for example prevent him from having a mistress, getting drunk when he was young or doing anything any other young man of the time might do. Nor do I believe that Alix was 'ecstatic' in her religion. She may have been more extreme than Nicholas (which is often the case with converts to any religion) but it was desperation which drove her to become more engrossed in a search for a supernatural solution to her problems.

I agree he was too mild-mannered to be suited the role of Tsar...but that was his nature and he did not choose to be Tsar, rather he felt duty-bound to accept the role.

(And no, you certainly didn't insult my personal faith!  ::))

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 04, 2005, 06:47:33 PM
Quote
The point you make at the beginning about whether he was to blame for the situation or his reaction is really apt. With regard to the famines, the Imperial Family did a great deal to relieve the suffering of the people involved. You agree that they were not to blame for the weather etc. so are you suggesting that they should have had a more foresight and prevented the consequences? That maybe the case but, as is seen the world over, very few leaders have ever been prepared for natural disasters. Once famine struck, Ella and Alix in particular not only donated vast amounts of their own money but also initiated programmes to raise money for famine relief.



Do you have a scholarly or documented source for these Romanov famine 'donations'?  I am not aware of any - please pm me with any more detailed information.

 I am sorry, but for me, if a fairly well educated man refused to accept any responsability for his actions as leader of a huge nation -- if he TRULY believed that Every Single Action Is G-Ds Will- in my view that behaviour is unhealthy and rather pathological -if not psychotic.

We disagree - cheerfully I hope!

rskkiya
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on October 05, 2005, 06:52:44 AM
Quote
Do you have a scholarly or documented source for these Romanov famine 'donations'?  I am not aware of any - please pm me with any more detailed information.

  
rskkiya


"A special Relief Committee was organized by Alexander III, who named the Caesarovich, the future Nicholas II, as president. The Emperor himself gave half of his income, around five million rubles, to relief funds while the Empress, through the special relief committee, collected twelve million rubles, mostly from foreign donations. The Empress' sister, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, organized her own relief committee that held bazaars in Moscow to sell peasant-made items."

(based on "Russia's conflict with hunger" W. Edgar Review 1892)

I'll supply more later, if you like...  :)


I cannot find anything to suggest that Nicholas did not accept full responsibility for his actions or viewed any of his mistakes as 'the will of God.' The only way in which he 'resigned himself' to the will of God was in believing, as all his forebears had believed, that the Tsar was God's 'anointed' and he had a duty to fulfil that role 0 whether or not it corresponded with his own wishes.  After his abdication he resigned himself to God, as opposed to kicking up a big fuss about his fate. That hardly suggests anything pathological to me...

Shall we continue to disagree cheerfully?  ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 05, 2005, 06:41:54 PM
If all of the donations for hunger relief were made in 1888 or 1892, then the Empress was MF and her sister was certainly not Grand Dutchess Elizabeth.

N&A were still in the "no, I can not," stage before April 1984.

Nicholas was still Tsarevitch until November 1984.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Heloisa on October 05, 2005, 06:49:45 PM
The Forum Administrator's remarks directed to me are good evidence that dissenters are indeed harrassed on this website.  My understanding when signing on here the first time was that my privacy would be respected.  I now see that this is not the case and will alert the friends who recommended this site as well as colleagues and students to avoid this message board.

This is a pity, since I had hoped to recommend some of the valuable and beautifully presented material here in my classes. I do not believe it is worth risking others' privacy, as there are dissenters as well as Imperial supporters among the group.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on October 05, 2005, 08:13:29 PM
It is indeed a pity that you feel that way. It is true that people have been banned from the board. It is not however because they are 'dissenters', rather, it is the way they interact with other posters on the board. After all Rsskiya is what we may call a 'dissenter' (if you like) yet while she may ruffle feathers of some 'Imperialists', really I think for the most part doesn't provoke others in a negative way. Of course, this is an internatinal forum, with people from all different kinds of languages, backgrounds, viewpoints, and, dare I say it, intelligences. None of that is overly important in the long run as we are all drawn here by a common interest, if not a common view point. What matters is that we respect our fellow posters even when we disagree with them. This, I think shows through in the way we word things. It is, however, sometimes hard to tell the 'tone' a poster is using, we are not, after all hearing them speak to us. Fortunately we have 'smilies' and are thus able to indicate how something should be taken if it may seem ambiguous.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Georgiy on October 05, 2005, 08:17:36 PM
Alixz, looks like you juxtaposed 1894 and 1984 :)

By 'the Empress's sister', I guess that is just a mistake for 'sister-in-law', though in some ways it is not wrong to say sister. Just confusing.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on October 05, 2005, 09:55:08 PM
Quote
It is indeed a pity that you feel that way. It is true that people have been banned from the board. It is not however because they are 'dissenters', rather, it is the way they interact with other posters on the board. After all Rsskiya is what we may call a 'dissenter' (if you like) yet while she may ruffle feathers of some 'Imperialists', really I think for the most part doesn't provoke others in a negative way. Of course, this is an internatinal forum, with people from all different kinds of languages, backgrounds, viewpoints, and, dare I say it, intelligences. None of that is overly important in the long run as we are all drawn here by a common interest, if not a common view point. What matters is that we respect our fellow posters even when we disagree with them. This, I think shows through in the way we word things. It is, however, sometimes hard to tell the 'tone' a poster is using, we are not, after all hearing them speak to us. Fortunately we have 'smilies' and are thus able to indicate how something should be taken if it may seem ambiguous.


I agree with this post (well, except for the smileys, which I'm not so crazy about, but that's personal). I have watched discussions get quite sharp, but remain illuminating. I have also watched discussions get quite nasty, and literally kill the thread. The FA was not nasty, Heloisa, he was merely bringing your intemperate tone to your attention. From your post I deduce that you may be a teacher; I am as well. I wouldn't permit people to address each other in a classroom debate using mockery. And that also goes for people who presume to make judgements about other people's spiritual states. This thread is to discuss Nicholas' culpability (or lack of it) for the fall of the Romanov dynasty, not whether they all ascended into heaven. Which of course I hope they did, but it would be harder to produce the forensic evidence.

Simon
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 06, 2005, 06:44:45 AM
Georgiy You are so right (hit my self on top of the head)  I do transpose often.
 
I used to teach US Income Tax law and drove my students crazy with my transposition of dates.

However, if the donations were made in 1888 and the Tsarevitch was Nicholas, then GD Elizabeth would indeed have been MF's sister in law.

I was thinking in the present sense of the usage, not the past more Victorian usage, where one's in laws become one's close family and sister's in law become "dear sisters".
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on October 06, 2005, 04:25:14 PM
Simon, I've had enough trouble already this noon, just trying to figure out what cook placed in my food at lunch. You can well imagine what a stumbling block it would be to produce forensic evidence for this. I made quite sure everyone heard, that I had nothing to do with making today's lunch, just in case anyone became ill! and out of everyone, should anything happen, I'm sure, I won't be ascending...   ;D  lol


Quote "This thread is to discuss Nicholas' culpability (or lack of it) for the fall of the Romanov dynasty, not whether they all ascended into heaven. Which of course I hope they did, but it would be harder to produce the forensic evidence"
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 06, 2005, 06:22:34 PM
Quote


(based on "Russia's conflict with hunger" W. Edgar Review 1892)

I'll supply more later, if you like...  :)




Please do...I am not familiar with this source-- is it a periodical or a journal? I should enjoy looking at it in more detail.

Rs
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 06, 2005, 06:25:30 PM
Quote
The Forum Administrator's remarks directed to me are good evidence that dissenters are indeed harrassed on this website.  My understanding when signing on here the first time was that my privacy would be respected.  I now see that this is not the case and will alert the friends who recommended this site as well as colleagues and students to avoid this message board.

This is a pity, since I had hoped to recommend some of the valuable and beautifully presented material here in my classes. I do not believe it is worth risking others' privacy, as there are dissenters as well as Imperial supporters among the group.


   I am sorry to learn that Heloisa is no longer welcome here. I find that often tart, witty and bright souls who may not suffer "foolishness' gladly are too often *tossed off* for simply speaking sharply. Maybe Heloisa got bored and simply left... I will miss her, no matter the situation. Nevertheless, everytime this occurs, I feel my personal liberty lessened -- I do hope that I am not next to feel that I must go.

Georgiy
Thanks for your kind words! It's quite true that I am no Romanov Fan as I am interested in Russian History especially the periods before and after the First World War.

rs
Sorry!
Back on topic.

I have already expressed my opinion of this point.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on October 06, 2005, 07:24:54 PM
Quote

    -- I do hope that I am not next to feel that I must go.



Stick around rskkiya.  If you leave, who will we have left to pick on?  


;D ;D ;D ;D


All kidding aside, I think many of your comments are spot on (believe it or not).  And though many forum members may disagree with you (including me sometimes), I don't see the kinds of personal insults coming from your posts that came from Heloisa's.  I think it's personality, rather than political views that dictate who goes and who stays.  I can think of a few forum members who are no longer with us who were rabid anti-communists and supporters of the ancien regime, but they are gone nevertheless...


I was watching International Profile the other night on the History Channel and Mark Steinberg was saying how Nicholas was partially to blame because of his "let the chips fall where they may" attitude.  And I agree with that.  I think that Nicholas was to blame for a lot of what happened.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on October 07, 2005, 10:34:44 AM
Quote

Please do...I am not familiar with this source-- is it a periodical or a journal? I should enjoy looking at it in more detail.

Rs


It was a journal...I shall find more details and in the meantime perhaps you could supply some sources which demonstrate your view that the the IF did not help the famine victims?? (Innocent until proven guilty & all that....) ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 07, 2005, 06:58:01 PM
Bluetoria
   I NEVER said that they DIDN'T help or care about famine victims -- I was simply mentioning the famine as a particular crisis.
   I feel -as you know- that Nicholas WAS responsible for ignoring the Russian people's demands for civil rights. This situation helped to encourage the revolutionary climate. It was possible for Nicholas to lessen - if not to completely abait- certain chaotic elements in 1905 and again in 1914-1917...but he did not.


I must say, I am surprised that you misunderstood my initial comments. Nevertheless, I am eager for any information regarding the journal that you mentioned.

rs
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on October 23, 2005, 02:35:49 PM
Quote

"A special Relief Committee was organized by Alexander III, who named the Caesarovich, the future Nicholas II, as president. The Emperor himself gave half of his income, around five million rubles, to relief funds while the Empress, through the special relief committee, collected twelve million rubles, mostly from foreign donations. The Empress' sister, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, organized her own relief committee that held bazaars in Moscow to sell peasant-made items."

(based on "Russia's conflict with hunger" W. Edgar Review 1892)

I'll supply more later, if you like...  :)




Shall we continue to disagree cheerfully?  ;)


I am still eager for any more information on this.... is this REVIEW a periodical, a journal, an on line post? I should enjoy examining it...
Blue have you forgotten me ?
LOL

red rskkiya
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: bluetoria on October 28, 2005, 06:47:45 PM
Quote


Blue have you forgotten me ?
LOL

red rskkiya


No, sorry...I've just been busy...I will get back to you!!!  :)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 01, 2005, 12:05:12 PM
No, Nicholas was not to blame completely. He was never prepared by his father to assume the role of Tsar. Of course Alexander III believed that he would live much longer than he did. His death was a surprise to Nicholas who was well aware that he was not very prepared. Nicholas tried his best, but when you are a autocrat who ws never prepared for your role, with the decisions of a vast empire restimg on your shoulders, then it becomes hard. Nicholas was facing many challenges as well, and they would have been hard for anybody not educated nor by temprament suited to public office. His temprament was not suited to his position, he was not the kind of person who gets their kicks of being in power. His abilities and judgement were not as vast as they should have been if he was a autocrat. He did have better political judgment than Alexandra, and it was she who might assume more blame. Because she was more frozen in autocracy than he was, and she was the one who ran the goverment based on Rasputin's advice during World War I, when Nicholas was absent at headquarters.  ::) I doubt Nicholas would have done those things. He was a balanced man, but one who did make bad desicions, although these were desicions he should have not been called to make in the first place. So he was partly to blame, but not wholly. Just my thoughts ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on November 01, 2005, 12:44:08 PM
I think the excuse of Nicholas' not being adequately trained by his father only goes so far to excuse his incompetence, particularly later in the reign.

Peter the Great was not trained for the throne.  His father died while Peter was still a youth.  While titular co-tsar after his father's death, he spent years lying low to avoid the malignant attention of his half-sister, the Regent Sophie, who very likely intended to seize official power herself before letting Peter ever fully assume the mantle of government.

Catherine the Great was neither trained nor expected ever to rule in her own right.  Whatever she learned about governing, she learned under a cloak of secrecy . . . and with her life in peril in the latter stages.

Nicholas I was never trained for rule, having ascended the throne when his elder brother declined to assume the mantle upon the death (or disappearance) of Alexander I.

Alexander III was not raised to rule, having become heir only upon the unexpected death of his elder brother.

They all figured it out.  Why do we let Nicholas off the hook so easily?

Nicholas was an average man . . . no more, no less.  He cannot be blamed for being average.  Who can?  But he can be blamed for not supporting superior men such as Witte and Stolypin in their attempts to help him govern Russia effectively and for putting his and Russia's fates in the hands of Alexandra, Rasputin, Sturmer, and their ilk.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on November 01, 2005, 11:02:23 PM
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Nicholas was an average man . . . no more, no less.  He cannot be blamed for being average.  Who can?  But he can be blamed for not supporting superior men such as Witte and Stolypin in their attempts to help him govern Russia effectively and for putting his and Russia's fates in the hands of Alexandra, Rasputin, Sturmer, and their ilk.


I agree with you Tsarfan.

Two of Nikolai's greatest errors in judgement was not supporting the intellect of Stolypin and Witte.

As for Rasputin, that was not a decision he would countenance in view of Alexandra's strong attachment towards his perceived spirituality and alleged effect over Alexei's medical events.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 02, 2005, 10:10:52 AM
You are right that his lack of training alone was not the only reason why he made mistakes as Tsar. As I noted before he did not have the right temprament or personality for the task, nor strength to resist people who gave him bad advice like Alexandra, etc. He was indeed an average man who had average abilities, and was not trained to enhance those abilities. I think he would have been a good person to know in private life, but I am not sure I would have wished to live in the Russia of his reign ;). He had too much going against him for anyone in their right mind to blame him wholly for the mistakes of his reign. It would have had to be quite a Romanov to tackle the complex issues of Nicholas II's reign. It would have taken a exceptional ruler.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on November 02, 2005, 11:08:51 PM
Nikolai was an exceptional human being, but an average administrator.  ::)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 03, 2005, 10:36:38 AM
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Nikolai was an exceptional human being, but an average administrator.  ::)


So true.. often great rulers are people you would never have wanted to know in real life. They ruled well, but when it came to what they were like as human beings you can only say that you were glad you were born in a different era. Catherine the Great, and Peter the Great for example, good rulers for their era, but would you wanted to have known them personally? Well,maybe Catherine. Alexander the Great?
Napoleon, etc. It would have been nice to have known Nicholas II. ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on November 03, 2005, 06:21:47 PM
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It would have been nice to have known Nicholas II. ;)


I agree wholeheartedly!  :D ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 04, 2005, 08:55:20 AM
Yes, I have been fascinated with Tsar Nicholas since I first got into the Romanovs when I was 12/13. My favorite biography is Edvard Radzinsky's although I know this is a little imaginative. Still, the fascination Nicholas had, and what a good family man, and father he was comes through clear in this book. I think Tsar Nicholas was excellent  person who was born into a difficult time in history, and diffiicult position, but he did his best. Isn't that all anyone can ever do?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 04, 2005, 10:36:05 AM
I don't think members of the family ever respected Nicholas II during his reign as Tsar, perhaps because he didn't command respect. He did not have the personality or the force to command respect, at all. And so they chose not to respect him, which is rather sad, I think. But they were all strong personalities, all much stronger than him, so this was why. He was never a united leader of the romanov dynasty, which was a another role the Tsar was supposed to play. He did not suceed in goverment or in this more personal role. But who can blame him? His personality was not that of a leader.Also, the Romanov grand dukes were hard to lead.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on November 04, 2005, 11:08:04 AM
I wonder how much any one of us would have fared in his stance. Those were indeed a very difficult time in history, and indeed, he did his best.

Tatiana


Quote
Yes, I have been fascinated with Tsar Nicholas since I first got into the Romanovs when I was 12/13. My favorite biography is Edvard Radzinsky's although I know this is a little imaginative. Still, the fascination Nicholas had, and what a good family man, and father he was comes through clear in this book. I think Tsar Nicholas was excellent  person who was born into a difficult time in history, and diffiicult position, but he did his best. Isn't that all anyone can ever do?

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 04, 2005, 12:02:00 PM
Yes, it would have been a challenge for anyone, I believe. It would have tough for anyone to deal with what was going on at at the time. He did what he could, and that is what everyone should do with their lives to do what they can, the best way they can it. We all face challenges in our life and sometimes think them difficult, no doubt. When we do, we ought to remember that Nicholas faced challenges much more difficult than those we are called upon to face. Always keep this in mind when assessing blame.  :)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on November 04, 2005, 07:21:23 PM
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we ought to remember that Nicholas faced challenges much more difficult than those we are called upon to face. Always keep this in mind when assessing blame.  :)


Yes indeed romanov_fan. Well stated.

Nikolai's enemies, including those who even today prefer to view his era through rose-colored glasses, will always be quick to place blame on all of Nikolai's political decisions, without seeking to appreciate the merits of those decisions. ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Angwen on November 04, 2005, 09:07:56 PM
 Unfortunatly, we judge people by their actions and not their personality.

It was a shock that Russia, the most backwards country in Europe became the site of the first communist revolution.
Mainly because, even though their were many peasents & workers being exploited; there was barely a bourgeoise class to destroy.
One Marxist said on this subject "Lenin had to smash the feudal system, and that included killing the royal family."
Revolutions are not carefully planned events. They simply happen as a result of the working class not accepting the current burdensome status quo.
I'm a bit of a Trotskyist, myself.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on November 05, 2005, 09:20:01 AM
    Tsarist Russia seems to have produces some of the most outstanding or the most incompetent leaders imaginable. In times of change and crisis Russia had Peter the Great and Catherine the Great...and Nicholas  :-[.
   I cannot agree with those who would suggest that Nicholas should not be judged for his quiet gentle and fragile personality -- if that is a valid arguement - then neither ought Catherine or Peter be held in high esteam for their charisma, their savvy wit or their brilliance!
   Nicholas had numerous opportunities to 'change course' - he had the examples of his own family abroad to point out the impractical nature of an Autocracy in the late 19th century and the situations that were possible in even a semi-constitutional monarchic state. He had advisors who counciled him to make consessions. He failed to take these opportunities again and again.

   Maybe "he was nice" --  :-/ Maybe he was a witty and delightful dinner guest (I rather doubt it -  :P) but that is not the point. As Tsar, was Nicholas responsible? YES!
Did he fail ? YES!
  Is that his fault? To whom else ought the blame go - if not to him?
   Maybe only another Peter could have succeeded - but Nicholas was no Great Peter!


rs
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 07, 2005, 11:12:35 AM
Nicholas had a fascinating personality and was a good person. We know that. I would have loved to have met him, and judge that he did make a fascinatimg dinner guest. As for blame, it was  very difficult for Nicholas. He wanted to do what is right always, I think we can't question that. I think people mean well sometimes, but something happens between what they think and the doing of it. This has been true in my own life, I speak from experience. I am sure that Nicholas did feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we give into those feelings... Nicholas had much advive thrown at him. In his sitiuation, could we have done any better? You do speak the truth by the way. ;) Your truth. To each his own.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: elfwine on November 07, 2005, 07:20:16 PM
Quote
Nicholas had a fascinating personality and was a good person. We know that. I would have loved to have met him, and judge that he did make a fascinatimg dinner guest. As for blame, it was  very difficult for Nicholas. He wanted to do what is right always, I think we can't question that. I think people mean well sometimes, but something happens between what they think and the doing of it. This has been true in my own life, I speak from experience. I am sure that Nicholas did feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we give into those feelings... Nicholas had much advive thrown at him. In his sitiuation, could we have done any better? You do speak the truth by the way. ;) Your truth. To each his own.


HUH?

A good person? Maybe... But I don't think that he was "facinating" - to me he seems REALLY bland. A nice person, perhaps, but still bland... sorry :-/

No one here is an Autocrat - so the 'would you do any better' question, while thoughtful, is a non starter.  :-X

I think he was well meaning but clueless and he was responsible for his bad choices and his good ones - the fact that the poor choices outnumber the better ones is telling.
I don't "hate" him but I think he was simply lost.

Romanov-fan, we may disagree - but I sympathize with you.


elfwine
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 08, 2005, 08:57:24 AM
Yes, he was lost for the reasons I stated in my earlier posts. He did make bad deciscions as a ruler, true. No ome debates that. But I don't think we debate he was a good, interesting person. It can be debated if he was a good ruler... I would say he was average, no more or less. He did not have vast adiminstrative abilities.Don't we all get lost in life? In that way, can't we sympathize with Nicholas? I am not defending the mistakes he made during his reign. ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on November 08, 2005, 10:59:55 AM
From your posting, it seems you have in hand the better knowledge of Russian history then, and perhaps of today's world.

On that above basis of your writing, that his IH N was 'clueless' would you kindly allow the readers an understanding of what in particular he was 'clueless' about? I would like to understand your points better, and by your making a sound explanation, it will allow me to perhaps comprehend what you wish to imply. :)
This statement sounds vague and quite general, non specific.

Would you also convey to the reader what you mean by his IH N as being 'lost'. These words you use to describe his IH seem somewhat grabbed out of the air, when I'm sure you could convey more specifically what it is you wish the reader to comprehend.

Are you a history major, or a student of Russian History ?

Thanks.

Tatiana



Quote

 HUH?

A good person? Maybe... But I don't think that he was "facinating" - to me he seems REALLY bland. A nice person, perhaps, but still bland... sorry :-/

No one here is an Autocrat - so the 'would you do any better' question, while thoughtful, is a non starter.  :-X

I think he was well meaning but clueless and he was responsible for his bad choices and his good ones - the fact that the poor choices outnumber the better ones is telling.
I don't "hate" him but I think he was simply lost.

Romanov-fan, we may disagree - but I sympathize with you.


elfwine

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on November 08, 2005, 11:24:00 AM
I don't think that the point of the thread is whether Nicholas II was a good or interesting person (and of course both these adjectives need an objective outside measuring standard to be meaningful). It is also immaterial as to whether he had the flashy personality of a Catherine II or Peter I. After all, we don't judge them as successful rulers because they could charm dinner guests. It is what they did with their personalities that makes them great. In other words, their actions.

Nicholas involved Russia in two debilitating wars. His governments zestfully repressed those opposed to autocracy, while at the same time his chronic indecision combined with an overly dependent relationship with his wife made it difficult for him to function as an autocrat. Russia drifted into revolution throughout his reign, and in the end the imperial system of government was destroyed. His personality is more or less irrelevant, as is his goodness. Catherine and Peter weren't particularly "good" people, after all. But they were very good Tsars.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 08, 2005, 11:28:15 AM
Quote
From your posting, it seems you have in hand the better knowledge of Russian history then, and perhaps of today's world.

On that above basis of your writing, that his IH N was 'clueless' would you kindly allow the readers an understanding of what in particular he was 'clueless' about? I would like to understand your points better, and by your making a sound explanation, it will allow me to perhaps comprehend what you wish to imply. :)
This statement sounds vague and quite general, non specific.

Would you also convey to the reader what you mean by his IH N as being 'lost'. These words you use to describe his IH seem somewhat grabbed out of the air, when I'm sure you could convey more specifically what it is you wish the reader to comprehend.

Are you a history major, or a student of Russian History ?

Thanks.

Tatiana





I think this person, elfwine, meant that Nicholas didn't know what to do or how to really do it. I think he means Nicholas was overwhelmed, as people become overwhelmed in life, and lost . Lost means clueless I think. Lost in the way I defined it, means uncertain ,trying to do your best, but not really being aware of what to do.Clueless? I think he meant Nicholas didn't know how to rule a country. Well, he had a good idea, in my opinion, but that idea got lost in the process. We ought not sugar coat the Romanovs, but we don't want to be unfairely negative either.I have often in my life had good intentions. But then, things don''t turn out well. Hasn't that happened in most people's life?I think we can relate. Nicholas is often said to be a fatalist. I guess you could call me one too.I believe Nicholas had good intentions.

Between Nicholas and Alexandra, I feel he would have been the better one to know. However he did make his share of mistakes, and listened to bad advice, and took it. Some thigs you can't forgive him for. He wasn't a good autocrat, by any means. He would have made a good constitional Ruler. If George V had been a autocrat, could he have done any better? If Nicholas had been a constitional ruler, would there be ''Is he to blame threads''?Woudn't those be about George V?? These two men were cousins, lookalikes, rulers, and each had average abilities. Bit Nicholas was chosen by history for a much greater task.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on November 08, 2005, 11:43:54 AM
Lol, it's just like a family here at times, isn't it. You ask one person what they mean and everyone chimes in to state what they think that person meant in their posting.

Don't take offense, or a gate, ... I'm just trying to understand what Elfwine meant. Sometimes, when we mean well, and another person responds in their stead, then it takes away appreciatively from gaining directly what it is, that that person to whom the question is asked, what it is that they really meant.

So, if elfwine does not mind, would you kindly respond yourself ? Thank you, in advance. :)

Tatiana

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on November 08, 2005, 03:00:28 PM
Quote
Nicholas had a fascinating personality. We know that.


We do?

I've read his diaries (to the extent I could stay awake) and do not find bland recountings of the weather and who ate what for lunch "fascinating".  Particularly remarkable are the entries on days in which momentous political events occurred.  If Nicholas' diaries were the only source of information from his reign, we would have no clue that these events even occured -- much less any understanding of their implications.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: elfwine on November 08, 2005, 06:31:24 PM
Quote

I think this person, elfwine, meant that Nicholas didn't know what to do or how to really do it. I think he means Nicholas was overwhelmed, as people become overwhelmed in life, and lost . Lost means clueless I think. Lost in the way I defined it, means uncertain ,trying to do your best, but not really being aware of what to do.Clueless? I think he meant Nicholas didn't know how to rule a country. Well, he had a good idea, in my opinion, but that idea got lost in the process. We ought not sugar coat the Romanovs, but we don't want to be unfairely negative either.I have often in my life had good intentions. But then, things don''t turn out well. Hasn't that happened in most people's life?I think we can relate. Nicholas is often said to be a fatalist. I guess you could call me one too.I believe Nicholas had good intentions.


This is pretty accurate as far as I am concerned. I am not a student of Russian history or culture -  although I am trying to teach myself a few words in Russian...OK?

I have to second Tsarfan's point - Nicholas might have been nice but we in the 21st century would probably find him deadly dull.


elf

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on November 08, 2005, 07:01:25 PM
Quote
I don't think that the point of the thread is whether Nicholas II was a good or interesting person (and of course both these adjectives need an objective outside measuring standard to be meaningful). It is also immaterial as to whether he had the flashy personality of a Catherine II or Peter I. After all, we don't judge them as successful rulers because they could charm dinner guests. It is what they did with their personalities that makes them great. In other words, their actions.

Nicholas involved Russia in two debilitating wars. His governments zestfully repressed those opposed to autocracy, while at the same time his chronic indecision combined with an overly dependent relationship with his wife made it difficult for him to function as an autocrat. Russia drifted into revolution throughout his reign, and in the end the imperial system of government was destroyed. His personality is more or less irrelevant, as is his goodness. Catherine and Peter weren't particularly "good" people, after all. But they were very good Tsars.


Well written, witty and cogent. Bravo!

I agree with this point and with the postings of the 'ever clever' Tsarfan.

red
rskkiya
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on November 09, 2005, 10:15:54 AM
I think my point is made here... so I won't post anymore to this thread. Sorry if I offended people I have too many opinions. ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Silja on November 11, 2005, 01:30:02 PM
Quote

We do?

I've read his diaries (to the extent I could stay awake) and do not find bland recountings of the weather and who ate what for lunch "fascinating".  Particularly remarkable are the entries on days in which momentous political events occurred.  If Nicholas' diaries were the only source of information from his reign, we would have no clue that these events even occured -- much less any understanding of their implications.



But these royal diaries were never meant to express your inward feelings or thoughts about political developments. They were meant to record - and only to record - the events of the day. I doubt it`s fair to make these diaries the main basis of one`s judgement of Nicholas II`s character. In the same way that it was always absurd to use Louis XVI`s hunting diary and his "rien" from 14th July as evidence of his not having had a clue or not caring about matters.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rskkiya on November 11, 2005, 04:01:57 PM
Quote

But these royal diaries were never meant to express your inward feelings or thoughts about political developments. They were meant to record - and only to record - the events of the day. I doubt it`s fair to make these diaries the main basis of one`s judgement of Nicholas II`s character. In the same way that it was always absurd to use Louis XVI`s hunting diary and his "rien" from 14th July as evidence of his not having had a clue or not caring about matters.


  Well in the 20th and 21st centuries, people who keep diaries often attempt to express more of their personalities and personal thoughts in them rather than the simple lists of daily activities that Nicholas did.

   Silja - your comparison of Nicholas with Louis of France is truly witty and dark - I see this as disturbingly telling - both men were absolutely INDIFFERENT to the situations around them!

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on November 13, 2005, 11:36:37 PM
Quote

But these royal diaries were never meant to express your inward feelings or thoughts about political developments. They were meant to record - and only to record - the events of the day. I doubt it`s fair to make these diaries the main basis of one`s judgement of Nicholas II`s character. In the same way that it was always absurd to use Louis XVI`s hunting diary and his "rien" from 14th July as evidence of his not having had a clue or not caring about matters.


But some royal diaries are quite interesting, Queen Victoria's for example -- even after being edited by her daughter.  It seems fair to say that Nicholas' diary does not reflect well on him, unfortunately.  I think it's clear that Nicholas was not the kind of person who found pleasure in any kind of intellectual pursuits.  Another contemporary who kept a diary was Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, "KR".  He was Nicholas' cousin and presumably taught to keep a diary in the same manner Nicholas was.  I think if one compares diary entries from the two men, it's clear the the Grand Duke was much smarter than his cousin, the Tsar.  Konstantin Konstantinovich's diary entries are full of thoughtful observations and comments which are mostly absent in Nicholas' diaries.  I believe these kinds of comments and thoughts are absent from Nicholas' diaries because they never occurred to him.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on November 21, 2005, 12:05:13 PM
But RichC, it's not really fair to compare Nicholas's diaries with those of KR, who was after all a professional writer, a recognized poet and playwright, who no doubt expected his diaries to be published posthumously at some point (say 50 years after his death, when all of the famous names mentioned in it were long dead). In fact there was a whole cult of such diaries among writers and would-be writers in Russia in the early decades of the twentieth century, completely thanks to the example of Leo Tolstoy, who kept a diary from his youth and by the very end of his life was,  if memory serves, actually keeping THREE journals simultaneously - a diary for eventual publication, a more private diary to which only his wife had access, and finally, a totally personal and private diary to which no one but himself had access! Oh, the trials and tribulations of a great Russian writer! But no doubt KR in his own diary was striving to emulate the example of Russia's greatest living author, Tolstoy, especially in his self-flagellating, Rousseauesque (and very very very Tolstoyan) confessions of sinful thoughts about (not to mention sinful actions with) the beautiful boys in the banya. With writers you really have to look at literary influence first and foremost. And I'm sure in the area of diaries, for KR, Tolstoy was that influence.

But I admit I have not read anything but excerpts from Victoria's diaries and so cannot comment on those - except to say that most of these excerpts were about her great love for and courtship by Prince Albert and, prior to that, her various attractions to different men - not exactly historically enlightening stuff, and really not much different from Nicholas's interminable entries about his love for Alix.    
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on November 22, 2005, 01:45:20 PM
You are a fount of information, Elisabeth!  I did not realize that KR was consciously writing after the manner of Tolstoy.  I was just comparing them because KR and Nicholas were relatives and contemporaries.  

Shouldn't Nicholas have expected that his diary, too, would someday be published?  He seems to have cared very much, even up to the end of his life, that they be preserved.  I guess I'm feeling that because Nicholas was the Emperor, after all, we have a right to hold him to a very high standard and be very critical of his diary entries.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on November 22, 2005, 02:16:07 PM
Well, to be fair to you Rich, I am extrapolating. I'm assuming that 1) every real writer writes everything with a view to eventual publication and 2) Tolstoy was extremely influential, even to the point of influencing members of the imperial family (those who were literary-minded, at least).

Frankly I don't know if a Russian tsar would expect his diary to be published one day... although if that assumption were true it would certainly explain the deep-seated reticence of Nicholas's journal. Why write down anything truly revealing if it was going to be exposed to the public one day? But honestly I don't believe any tsar's private journals had ever been published before Nicholas's... and his only saw the light of day because of the October Revolution. I think that during the imperial era the tsar's diary was regarded as utterly sacred and totally private.

Whereas KR was probably expecting carefully selected excerpts from his diary to be published at the centennial of his birth, and so on.      
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ortino on December 05, 2005, 06:19:11 PM
Since I began recently reading Little Mother of Russia for the first time, I've been pondering this question. There were many factors that brought about the Revolution and the downfall of the monarchy. Had Alexander III lived to real "old age," would he have prevented these events or simply prolonged them? Would Nicholas still have brought about the end of 300 years of rule? I'm very interested in people's responses for please do respond!  ;D
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Caleb on December 05, 2005, 09:43:35 PM
The way I see it is that a revolution was inevitable, it was not an issue of "if", but "when". Such crackdowns & such poverty under Alexander III would, if not openly, would underground, cause dissent amongst the people & their would be, very probably, calls for assasination amongst the radicals & terrorists. If not the czar, than at least one of the scores of grand dukes. However those who wanted more liberty would probably make things worse. Had "Sasha" lived longer, at least another 20 years, he most likely would have avoided the wars that undermined the authority of Nicholas II. Also this would have helped family wise, in that Alix would have had more time to get used to Russia & there wouldn't have been such a rush to produce a czarevich & had a hemophiliac been born, Nicholas & Alexandra may have had the time to produce a secondary heir. So, revolution was probably inevitable, but probably the regime of Alexander III would have probably slowed it down. My opionion of Nicholas II was that he was well meaning, but he wanted to be the autocrat that his father was, but just couldn't fill his father's shoes.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: David_Pritchard on December 05, 2005, 10:28:25 PM
You are looking to the wrong emperor to save the empire. Had Emperor Aleksander II lived even a few years longer and died a natural death, the Revolution might not have happened. Once an embittered Aleksander III took over, the stage was set for some sort of clash, that he died unexpectedly leaving an untrained son to lead the empire (and further making the situation worse by marrying an unsuitable woman to fill the role of empress) just were the nails in the coffin.

David
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on December 09, 2005, 11:29:51 AM
I really think it's unfair to blame Alexander III for his eldest son's total lack of interest in politics. As I recall Nicholas II was the very first Romanov tsar to ascend the throne without already having some sort of political group in place around him, a group which was representative of his own individual political views. Historically the figure of the Russian tsarevich was the focus of any real political challenge to the (tsar's) existing status quo. That the Tsarevich Nicholas had no political party and indeed, no political views of his own, was not by any stretch of the imagination Alexander III's fault but the fault of Nicholas' own intellectual immaturity and lack of curiosity. As a youth he was most remarkable for the shallowness and callowness of his political views. His most frequent observation about his occasional meeting with administrators of the empire was that these meetings were "boring." (What a commentary on his own lack of imagination and brain power!) Upon coming to the throne he seems to have adopted wholesale the views of his old tutor, Pobedonostsev: reactionary, recalcitrant, keeping Russia in a deep-freeze as it were. Maybe this wasn't even so much from his own personal belief but as from emotional RELIEF, since otherwise Nicholas undoubtedly would have had to come up with some ideas of his own. And I would argue that this was simply beyond the intellectual capacity of Nicholas II.  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: SuSu on December 09, 2005, 01:28:05 PM
I suspect the death knell for the autocracy was already sounding long before Nicholas II.

Alexander II the Tsar Liberator was executed, there was at least one attempt on the life of Alexander III.

By the time of Nicholas II most of Europe had been through an industrial revolution. Most other monarchs were figureheads and subject to a Parliament and Constitution.

However Russia remained in the past. The aristocrats with their lavish lifestyle, the middle class seeking to become richer and more respected and then at the bottom the peasants trying to survive.

The atmosphere was right for the events that occured. Lenin able to sense that the time had come for change  and lit the fuse.

I am incredibly sympathetic with Nicholas II. In my opinion he tried his hardest to be the best ruler. He believed in his divine right to govern. He had always been taught this. A Duma or constitutional representation was against his grain. He loved Russia and did what he thought was best for Russia.

There was far too much for one man to do. In addition there was his sick son and the other issue of WWII.

I also humbly submit that I fell his conscience was clear with regard to his actions as ruler.

Unfortunately he surrounded himself with the wrong advisors. I am not sure he could have stopped the Revolution. The winds of change were already rumbling.

I look forward to being corrected :-X
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Claus_II on December 12, 2005, 03:17:44 AM
You are completely right in all your views, but remember Nicholas was only 26 becoming Emperor of the greatest Empire on earth, and certainly not the most ease Empire to rule. He was practically unprepared, and not willing to accept the challenge. I think Nicky knew his own limits. Alexander III much to blame.
The assignation of Alexander II was a disaster for Russia and for the world, with his reformation of Russia there would have been no revolution, no 1. or 2. world war, neither the oppression and destructive evil of communism to Russia and eastern Europe.  
C
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: SuSu on December 12, 2005, 10:51:53 AM
Claus
I have always wondered if Nicholas II had allowed the first 1905 Duma to continue - what kind of difference it would have made to prolonging his rule? It would have given the constitutional representation everyone wanted at the time. Plus it would have been the first step in de-centralising the Government.

It could be this was Nicholas II's one chance of continuing as tsar - albeit as a Constitutional Monarch.

(It was against all he had been taught. However even Queen Victoria was a constitutional monarch.)

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Dennis on December 12, 2005, 08:08:19 PM
It is apparent that assasins always mess up history, even as they think they are doing the right thing.

Alexander II was the best thing that Russia had going in the 19th century.  He freed the serfs and had prepared a written constitution at the time of his death.  

Think of John Wilkes Booth and Lincoln.  Lincoln was the best thing the south had going for it at the end of the Civil War.  Reconstruction would have been somewhat different had Lincoln lived.

Think of Lee Harvey Oswald.  How much longer would JFK have kept the U.S. in Viet Nam?

I think that much of the blame for Russia after AII assasination is with A III.  Even though his father had been killed, he would not have had to become so repressive.  It would seem that he should have taken the hint that perhaps his life would be safer and his country better off if he liberalized.  Certainly his brothers in law - the Prince of Wales, the King of Denmark, and the King of Greece should have talked and tried to influence him more.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on December 12, 2005, 09:16:28 PM
Thank you Dennis for your particular sharing, of which in sum I have to agree.

Tatiana


Quote
It is apparent that assasins always mess up history, even as they think they are doing the right thing.

Alexander II was the best thing that Russia had going in the 19th century.  He freed the serfs and had prepared a written constitution at the time of his death.  

Think of John Wilkes Booth and Lincoln.  Lincoln was the best thing the south had going for it at the end of the Civil War.  Reconstruction would have been somewhat different had Lincoln lived.

Think of Lee Harvey Oswald.  How much longer would JFK have kept the U.S. in Viet Nam?

I think that much of the blame for Russia after AII assasination is with A III.  Even though his father had been killed, he would not have had to become so repressive.  It would seem that he should have taken the hint that perhaps his life would be safer and his country better off if he liberalized.  Certainly his brothers in law - the Prince of Wales, the King of Denmark, and the King of Greece should have talked and tried to influence him more.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on December 20, 2005, 11:43:21 AM
It is really hard to know about this question, and others have contributed so much that I don't know what to say except that I think perhaps if Alexander III had lived Russia might have been saved, although it is hard to know. He was a very repressive ruler, but after his father was assisinated it must have been hard not to be. He was an old fashioned autocrat, at a time when Russia needed strong rule, but strong, liberalized rule more than anything else. Nicholas II was not as repressive, but he was not a strong ruler, and Russia needed someone in charge and in control of the country.I think many other factors explain why the revolution came besides who was Czar at the time. There was the fact of World War I, which Russia might have entered no matter who was ruler. There was the need for reform of the goverment because so many ministers suceeded one another at the end. And the promblems Russia faced were not caused by any one Czar, and it would have taken an exceptional ruler to deal with everything. I think part of the problem was Rasputin, but not all as some who say Alexandra listened to him, and thus brought down the goverment, etc. There were so many issues then, and perhaps Alexander II could have tackled them. I think the question is would Alexander II, had he lived longer in the 1890s or so, have been able to save Russia by his landmark reign, the good effects of which no othe ruler would have been able to undo? Yes, no doubt of that is my answer. ;)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on December 20, 2005, 10:38:44 PM
Quote
Well, to be fair to you Rich, I am extrapolating. I'm assuming that 1) every real writer writes everything with a view to eventual publication and 2) Tolstoy was extremely influential, even to the point of influencing members of the imperial family (those who were literary-minded, at least).

Frankly I don't know if a Russian tsar would expect his diary to be published one day... although if that assumption were true it would certainly explain the deep-seated reticence of Nicholas's journal. Why write down anything truly revealing if it was going to be exposed to the public one day? But honestly I don't believe any tsar's private journals had ever been published before Nicholas's... and his only saw the light of day because of the October Revolution. I think that during the imperial era the tsar's diary was regarded as utterly sacred and totally private.

Whereas KR was probably expecting carefully selected excerpts from his diary to be published at the centennial of his birth, and so on.      


I've been thinking about his Elisabeth, and as Nicholas was already out of power for over a year before he was shot, I'm thinking that he must have known (at least after the abdication) that his diaries would probably become part of some historical record.  If he really thought of them as totally private, why didn't he burn them?  I believe Alexandra burned at least some of her diaries -- she must have done it because she didn't want anyone else reading them.

I'm not sure, however, that I see too much difference in Nicholas' diary pre-abdication and post.  I've never read commentary about a difference.  He continues to write about a lot of mundane stuff, some political commentary here and there, and also some intensely personal stuff -- almost embarrassing to read.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on December 20, 2005, 11:57:30 PM
I'm very interested in your thoughts regarding Nicholas' last diary, Rich. I myself don't quite know what to make of it. On the surface it would seem that keeping a diary was such a part of the former tsar's daily routine that he kept up the habit even after news reached the IF of the October Revolution and the Bolshevik takeover. Surely at this point Nicholas did have to wonder if his diaries would become part of the public record someday? But no, his 1918 diary continues, unperturbed, until June 11 (Old Style)/June 24 (New Style), the day that King and Wilson estimate that the IF received the second letter from the "Russian Officer" wanting to rescue them (in reality the Cheka in disguise). On this date Nicholas suddenly fell silent for three days, until June 14/27. A significant silence when one considers that he had never before missed an entry since he had begun keeping a journal as a child. Interestingly, Nicholas, unlike Alexandra, confided to his diary on June 14/27, that the family had waited up all night for rescuers who never came - because of two letters they had received ("all this happened because in the last few days we received two letters") - yes, he even goes into that much detail - thus indicating to posterity that he had no suspicion whatsoever that the Bolsheviks would ever have the temerity to read his journal.

And from this date forward there are these continual breaks in his entries. Indeed, immediately after this entry on June 14/27 he falls silent for an entire week. An unprecedented event in his life. His last diary entry, forever and ever, was on July 13, three days before the murders. Perhaps it's significant in a man who was of such limited articulateness that his silences would seem so eloquent in retrospect. Certainly it's significant that when truly momentous, potentially earth-shattering things happened to him - or were supposed to happen but didn't - he abandoned his diary all together. (He didn't stop keeping his diary when he abdicated - only in Ekaterinburg, when the family obviously needed to be rescued - from what we all know.) Did he suspect that he and his family were doomed? (Well, that is the suspicion.) Was he still waiting for the Russian Officer to rescue them? (Doubtful, since by July 13 they hadn't heard from him in weeks.) We really have no idea because Nicholas is silent, but the situation truly must have looked grim with the Whites approaching and the Bolsheviks increasingly nervous and unfriendly towards the family, as Nicholas was quick to notice and record in his diary.

Alexandra was much more cagey and suspicious and didn't leave any record whatsoever of mysterious letters from Russian officers in her diary. The only clue we have that something unusual was going on was that she continually wrote of "arranging" her "medicines," i.e., her jewels and those of the girls. It's strange that in the same family, with a husband and wife who were so intensely close, that the two would confide to their diaries such completely different things. Also, that Alexandra would continue her diary without a break until the very end whereas Nicholas as we've noted had numerous unexpected interruptions and stopped making entries an entire three days before the murders.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on December 21, 2005, 11:34:09 AM
I agree, Elisabeth.  I wonder if perhaps Nicholas (and Alexandra) tenaciously stuck to keeping up their diaries as a way of trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in their lives.  All of this in the face of impending doom.  Each tried to get along as best as they could under the circumstances.  Perhaps it's foolish of me to imagine that, by the time of Ekaterinburg, Nicholas was even thinking in terms of what future readers of his diaries might think of him.  Perhaps he was slowly going to pieces with worry over his and his family's fate.  

I do recall, however, that in the family's response to one of the forged rescue letters, particular concern was expressed about the safety of Nicholas' diaries...

Also, to expand a bit, I wonder if Nicholas actually enjoyed keeping a diary throughout his life, or if it was something he just did automatically because he was taught to do it as a child?  I'm thinking the latter -- so many have commented how boring the contents are.  But, on the other hand, I recall seeing one of his diaries on display at the Newark Museum last year, and I think the one I saw included a drawing of something or other.  So, who knows?

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on December 21, 2005, 01:12:07 PM
Quote
Also, to expand a bit, I wonder if Nicholas actually enjoyed keeping a diary throughout his life, or if it was something he just did automatically because he was taught to do it as a child?  I'm thinking the latter -- so many have commented how boring the contents are.  But, on the other hand, I recall seeing one of his diaries on display at the Newark Museum last year, and I think the one I saw included a drawing of something or other.  So, who knows?


I suspect you're right and he mainly continued to keep a diary because he'd been taught to do so and had done so since the age of thirteen. But he was such a creature of habit and duty that I'm sure he also got a lot of pleasure from his everyday routine of recording the day's events. And while I haven't seen drawings included in Nicholas' diary, I do know he pasted into it photos of baby Alexei.

That reminds me of one of the most touching stories I've heard about Nicholas. (Unfortunately I can't remember where I read it.) His tutor recalled that when Nicholas was a very little boy and just learning how to write he was presented with a thick ream of paper. He was so impressed by the clean blank sheets of paper that he didn't want to write on them but just kept smoothing them with his hands and admiring them! I thought that was really sweet (waxing sentimental here, I'm fond of children in general!).  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on December 21, 2005, 04:47:16 PM
On the original question of "Was Nicholas Really To Blame?"  I am very interested in the question that was asked, "Was he to blame for the situation or for his reaction to the situation?"

The answers should be very different and of course very complicated.



Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rjt on December 22, 2005, 02:07:32 AM
Are the texts of any of these forged rescue letters (and the IF's responses) available anywhere online, please? Thanks.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Sadie on December 25, 2005, 08:07:23 PM
I don't think Nicholas was an evil or corrupt ruler or person. He was a good human being but an incompetent Czar.

I think with Nicholas I there were several things about him that really had him pretty much had him doomed from the start:
1. He simply did not want to rule: he had never wanted to become Czar. He would have been happy to never have the burden thrust on his soulders on the first place. You can not be a good an effective ruler if you don't even want the job in the first place and if your heart isn't in it you can't be expected to do a good job
2. Nicholas's belief that the people loved him always and that he wa ordained by God to rule: He kept falling back on these precepts that no matter what happened it would be those two things that would help him keep the throne. He believed his power was absolute and that he didn't have to share it with anyone. He got rid of several great advisors because of his refusal to lsiten and because he wanted to do things his way rather than the right way.
3. Nicholas was not adequately prepared to rule: Though he may have had the education of a prince and all the proper schooling there was one key component that was neglected and it is something that is essential if you are going to be a ruler. Statecraft. He simply did not know how to rule effectively and part of the reason was because when he was yougner it had never been expected of him to one day become Czar.
4. Nicholas was sheltered from the real world: Nicholas spent his whole life living in warm comfortable palaces. He didn't know what it was like for those who were practically slaved. He couldn't comprehend what it was like for so many people to go hungry. He didn't seem to realize that war was not a game. His army was so inadequately prepared for the WWI. Not even proper unifroms or artillery? I think that was one of the biggest problems with the monarchy in general was that they lost touch with their subjects.
4. Nicholas would no adapt to change: the world was changing, war was happening, new political ideal were springing up and Nicholas still held onto this backwards 16th century view that it he ruled by divine right and that his word was law. You can't still be spewing forth views on ruling by the will of God when you have the very real threaght of communists with the means to overthrow your government.

Neither Nicholas or Alexandra had any of the proper education to rule a country. Alexandra wasnever expected to go on to rule so her education was imited to what young women of her rank were expected to learn and Nicholas had a cushy life until he became the heir apparent. When you have rulers who spend most of their lives sheltered and are inadequately prepared to rule 9 times out of 10 they end up losing their heads. Take Marie Antoinette and Louis XVIII. Their situation is very similar to that of Nicholas and Alexandra. They grew up pampered with no knowledge of the real world and no one gave them the necessary education needed to rule a country. As a result both of them lost their throne and lives to the revolution.

Towards the time of the Russian Revolution the monarcy neglected their duty to rule their nation. If you are a King or Queen it needs to be you highest duty in life to devote your whole being to ruling. Look at the English Monarcy always putting duty above everything else. People look down on them for it but that doesn't change the fact that they are still around and their monarchy has lasted.  I think that was part of the problem with the Romanov's at the turn of the century. They didn't care enough about their people to provide for them adequately. When more than half your population can't read, people are starving, and you lose a few million young men to war but you think that's ok for the "greater good of the country" that means your vision is skewed beyond measure. Unfortuanately for Nicholas it wasn't until he was in Yekaterinburg about to be executed did he finally wake up.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RichC on December 27, 2005, 08:32:38 AM
Quote
Are the texts of any of these forged rescue letters (and the IF's responses) available anywhere online, please? Thanks.


I'm not sure if they are available online, but you might want to check the Final Chapter threads for translations.  I know the letters are reproduced in The Fall of the Romanov's, by Mark Steinberg and in The Fate of the Romanov's by Greg King and Penny Wilson.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Grace on January 04, 2006, 06:07:50 PM
A very well thought out post, Sadie, and I agree with you 100%.  :)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rjt on January 04, 2006, 11:53:50 PM
Quote

I'm not sure if they are available online, but you might want to check the Final Chapter threads for translations.  I know the letters are reproduced in The Fall of the Romanov's, by Mark Steinberg and in The Fate of the Romanov's by Greg King and Penny Wilson.

Thank you, Rich. They're on my to-buy lists already. Guess I'll have to just do it.

Just to add something so this post is on-topic, re: Elisabeth's original post: "So why do we seem to blame Nicholas II for everythign that went wrong in Russia both during and after his reign?" At this point, I don't think he can be held responsible for the Bolsheviks eventually coming to power, but he must a great deal of the burden of and blame for the original revolution and the fallout from that must rest squarely on his shoulders. Revolutions simply do not happen overnight. The feeling festers and grows until it explodes in an act, usually of violence. Had he been more willing to institute progressive reforms and hear the will of the people as expressed in 1905 (how many revolutions does it take?), he may have saved the State and himself in the long run.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: carl fraley on February 10, 2006, 12:21:34 PM
Someone mentioned earlier that Nicky didn't get respected as his father did.  I don't think most members of the Imperial Family even respected Alexander III (Sasha), more I think everyone was scared of sasha.  sasha himself once said that even his brothers had to have an appointment to stop by and see him, that he would not let famialarity (Sp??) leech on his authority.  Vladimir loved his brother and on some level i think he loved his nephew but as someone also said earlier Nicky was not forceful enough to be the "HEad of the Family".  On the one occasion when he did make his authority known was when Vladimir used the Royal Box at the opera and had allowed outsiders into the box w/out Nicky's permission.  This was the one time that i know of that Nicky stood up for himself as Head of the Family.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on February 10, 2006, 05:46:38 PM
 :) First of all, welcome Carlfraley.

Would you mind sharing from where you gained this information please. Was it from a book, or where ? I have never heard this story. Thanks for your sharing.

Tatiana+


Quote
Someone mentioned earlier that Nicky didn't get respected as his father did.  I don't think most members of the Imperial Family even respected Alexander III (Sasha), more I think everyone was scared of sasha.  sasha himself once said that even his brothers had to have an appointment to stop by and see him, that he would not let famialarity (Sp??) leech on his authority.  Vladimir loved his brother and on some level i think he loved his nephew but as someone also said earlier Nicky was not forceful enough to be the "HEad of the Family".  On the one occasion when he did make his authority known was when Vladimir used the Royal Box at the opera and had allowed outsiders into the box w/out Nicky's permission.  This was the one time that i know of that Nicky stood up for himself as Head of the Family.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on February 13, 2006, 08:41:52 AM
I think it is correct to state that members of the family didn't so much respect Alexander III, as feared him. He certainly could command both fear and respect, two things which Tsar Nicholas never managed to inspire in the family.. for many reasons. They were a hard family to lead, and anyone would have had to have really great leadership skills to pull it off, or the ability to comand fear, or respect or both. It was a hard role to play, so one can understand why Nicholas never was as feared or respected as his father.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Caleb on February 16, 2006, 09:07:01 PM
I think most of the Romanovs were independent minded people, so many were pulling the family into different directions. Needless to say, it's obvious that some of these family feuds didn't help matters in the family & in Russia.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on February 17, 2006, 08:17:37 AM
They were independent minded very true. That can be a good thing, but here it really wasn't and perhaps if they had had a general vision of what they wanted, things could have gone better. However, by this time the Romanov clan was huge, so it would have been asking a bit to have all them all united. It woudn't have hurt so much if they had gotten along better even if they wanted to conduct their lives independently.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on February 22, 2006, 10:14:17 AM
I think he just had a strong sense of duty, and believed that it was fate or god's will that he reign as Tsar. He believed that he had to do his duty, and serve the country as Tsar, even if he believed and knew that he wasn't prepared. But given that he had little choice, it wise not to say too much. He knew he had little choice but to be Tsar, and to do his best. Also, times were not opportune for him when he became Tsar.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Caleb on February 22, 2006, 03:53:17 PM
I think he did feel that it was his duty & like the Chinese emperors (as said above) he had something simillar to the "Mandate of Heaven". I think he would have been more content to have "a little farm & a yard full of kids" (I can't quite picture Nicholas II on a tractor with a John Deere hat though ;D), like his sister, Olga eventually had. He also, I think would have made an excellent photographer. I think the Romanovs were rather photogenic.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on February 23, 2006, 10:18:54 AM
Oh yes, the Romanovs were very photogenic, I agree. And also they were very artistic both in art and photography. It is possible that he could have made a good photographer, I certainly never thought of that. And many have said that he would have been a good farmer, and I agree.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Joy0318 on February 24, 2006, 11:52:46 AM
I agree with those who say that he felt it was his duty to be Tsar even though he didn't want to be. I think that his personality was not really cut out to be an autocrat like that of his fathers was.

It's unfortunate that he had to serve as a absolute monarch due to his personality. I think that if he had only had to be a constitutional monarch he would have been popular and well liked.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on February 27, 2006, 08:54:58 AM
Yes, as a consititional monarch he would have been as I think very good, and depending on what the country thought, popular and well liked. And if he had been born in England rather Russia, he would be rememebered quite well I think. But he always did his best, and accepted what happened, rather than speculating on how things could have been. So he was born where he was meant to, and did what he had to do. Neither was perhaps to be envied.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: carl fraley on March 27, 2006, 07:00:40 PM
Tania,  Sorry it took a while.. But I belive that the book "The Flight of the Romanovs" by John Curtis perry and Constantine pleshakov covers what i mentioned earlier.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Jay on April 27, 2006, 06:36:57 PM
I've read somewhere that Nicholas's personality leaned towards that of a country gentleman. I believe that he would've been a marvelous constitutional monarch.

His character might've also played a role in his inability to reign. That along with the changing times and lack of action was what attributed to his weakness as Tsar. That's just my humble opinion though.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: JD on April 27, 2006, 08:10:47 PM
It's frankly amazing to be how many of you discount the possibility of reform, implying he was just sadly doomed to his fate!  Clearly he wasn't suited for autocracy (and he arguably realized this) - he should've been GLAD to institute reforms proposed by Witte and others, well before his guards had a chance to slaughter all those protesters, and become a constitutional monarch. This probably would've been enough to head off a revolution (although there would still be plenty who'd want to topple the whole system), wouldn't have hampered (and might've helped considerably by opening it up) Russia's booming economy, would've suited Nicholas & family (ok, maybe not Alexandra) ideally, etc.  

That is all just my opinion, of course, and I too would like to hear more about why this didn't happen. I certainly understand why Alexander III did his "counter-reforms" - 1881 and his own personality accounted for that - but with Nicholas, it just seems like was the most obtuse man to ever walk the Earth.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: JD on April 27, 2006, 08:13:53 PM
The only explanation I've thought of, by the way, is that he simply wasn't strong enough to reform either, except at gunpoint.  But that's contradicted, to some extent, by what I know of his opinions - which definitely supported absolute rule, even while he seemed so desparately to want to shirk its responsibility.  It's strange, I can't figure it out.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Jay on April 27, 2006, 08:36:02 PM
I pondered the same question countless times. Why didn't he institute reforms. It might've saved his throne. I should've elaborated more when I said that lack of action helped contribute to his inabilities. His weak character just wouldn't allow him to do what was necessary.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on May 01, 2006, 10:49:13 AM
His personality was indeed very much more suited to a constitautional monarchy than autocracy. He was rather weak willed, and was swayed by people, so it was not easy for him to stick to a path, and implement it no matter what. Ironically, Alexandra did stay to her path, and was never swayed, and some have called her stubborn. This most likely had a pretty negative effect on the goverment, perhaps more than Nicholas with his legendary wavering. He simply didn't think that many reforms were neccesary, although if the sitiuation and people swayed him, he did as in 1905, grant reforms. He thought things were fated to be, he was a fatalist. He may not have thought reforms were fated- God's will. Autocracy was also meant to be, and coudn't be questioned. Perhaps he also coudn't see which reforms were neccesary, and as long as the system lumbered on, had no complaints.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Jay on May 01, 2006, 07:42:15 PM
True. You can't place total blame the ministers either. I say that because as you know, he replaced them on a regular basis it seems. They probably were afraid to offer solutions out of fear of being asked to resign. You're right about the Duma. That should've been a wake up call right there as well. But sadly, the Duma seemed more interested in consumeing power I believe than they were at instituting and initiating reforms.

That, along with other issues discussed in this thread is what I believed contributed to his inability to reign and eventually his downfall.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on May 02, 2006, 10:09:13 AM
Yes, there were issues with the whole system of goverment, and it was not just Nicholas, as the ruler. It's unfair to blame him personally for the revolution, although there was much needed change that he did not institute. He had inheirited many issues from his ancesters, and he reighned at a time of great change in the world in general. Russia seems to have always been, and always will be a hard country to rule. But when you throw in Alexandra, the goverment, the ministers changing, World War I,  and many other things, along with Nicholas as ruler, you get the revolution. It wasn't just one man.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on May 02, 2006, 05:52:09 PM
[size=9]Dear ImperialAngel,

Oh boy, you stated a lot when you said, HIH N, inheritated a lot. Yes, and then some! Many years ago, I heard a well known person say that what one might see of what is transpiring in 'today's governing' is probably not just the outcome of now. It may well be from the last 25 or 35 years that everything is starting to transpire. So of what you shared in the post of today, seems to make sense ImperialAngel. When change are needed, many times they are not acted upon, till that one day, when it suddenly comes too late, and reaction sets in. This is not one person's fault, certainly not. Just as the saying goes, it takes a community to raise a child, well it takes a community[ies] to be guardians of their freedoms, and everyone's well-being! This is not about 'my world', this is all our world, and here we must not be divided, but sincerely look for the best in terms of governing, not standing back and letting despair, conflict, fear, control take over. Russia in all probability may be a hard country to rule. It is a vast land, with many nationalities. Far more than most countries have to deal with in terms of keeping the peace...
Remember, Russia after Peter the Great, opened wide her lands and welcomed many nations to build, expand education, etc. So, Russia in some respects is not so distant in thought, or in addressing much of the issues that many other countries have in today's world. But then again, they are still resounding from many catastrophic issues since the revolution, WWI, etc. etc. etc. But then as now, it is not one person to lay blame on. As I think back on our given issues here, we could do with a bit of spring cleaning ourselves, lol. Thanks as always for your input ImperialAngel !

Tatiana+[/size]


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Quote
Yes, there were issues with the whole system of goverment, and it was not just Nicholas, as the ruler. It's unfair to blame him personally for the revolution, although there was much needed change that he did not institute. He had inheirited many issues from his ancesters, and he reighned at a time of great change in the world in general. Russia seems to have always been, and always will be a hard country to rule. But when you throw in Alexandra, the goverment, the ministers changing, World War I,  and many other things, along with Nicholas as ruler, you get the revolution. It wasn't just one man.
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Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on May 18, 2006, 06:30:04 AM
We who are into history; and historical people and places.   I've always tried to put myself in the shoes of those I'm research and or interested in. for the most part I've been pretty much able to rationalize with the people I'm interested in. but I happen to find Nicolas an enigma. Nicolas though a man was very much a boy. Highly educated yet very under developed. this man who was more comfortable doing a parade revue  and dressing up in military uniform's  then he was  with actually being in command. To look at Nicolas going back to his youth  this is person who was going to be the next emperor or Russia. Yet he was never placed in a position of any authority. The debate can be made that his farther never properly prepared him yet fault can be placed on Nicolas as well for never taking the steps he needed to prepare him for the position that he would one day assume.  

When that time finally did come the man had  no clue. He didn't bring in people that he trusted but instead kept on the same advisers that severed his father, for all his education he  was still unwilling to make any compromise after the 1905 revaluation. Even in his private life at home with his family he was still very much indecisive. Now I know it wasn't for lack of education because he was well educated, some of the things he was interested in such as flight, photography; in his time had been the cutting edge of technology  so we can see an understanding of intellect and a man with an open mind to new cutting edge technology’s yet he appears to be a man with a very closed mind when it came to making decisions

We can see a lot of evidence in his character both before and during the war.   But what really amazes me  about him  is during there captivity the blind faith he had so much so that he placed his family in the paws of the tiger I've read a lot in what has been said about him. That he was naïve, however I think it’s a lot more than that I think it was ignorance. He ignored the state of the situation that both he and his family were in. so what was it that made him tick? What were the forces besides Alex tat that motivated him.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on May 24, 2006, 04:23:05 PM
I don't think he ever ignored things on purpose. Being raised the way he was, where he was, and having his position did lead to some ignorance of the outside world, and that's something nothing could have been done about. He never ignored things on purpose, even if he might have out of habit or upbringing.  I don't see it so much as ignorance or naivety as much as fatalistic acceptance of everything, and not trying to change what he could clearly see. He accepted tradition, and sitiuations as fine, even if he perhaps knew something ought to be changed. He was perhaps more informed than we from our arm chair perspective would give him credit for. He isn't a an enigma to me, merely someone who thinks in a way we might never think. We don't perhaps know why someone would think that way, because we are from a different culture and country, and time. Nicholas wasn't ignorant as much as we might think, just very traditional, and fatalistic.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on June 05, 2006, 07:56:17 AM
I  see him as a boy and young man who thought as most young men do that he had all the time in the world to learn what he needed to know.

No one expected AIII to die as young as he did.

I see him as fatalistic, although why I see that, I'm not sure.  It could be his religious up bringing.  Fatalistic does not mean ignorant or uninformed.  It simply means that one believes in fate.  One example of that would be to say that everyone has a set number of years given to them at birth and that when they die, either at a young age or at 101, that they have lived all they were supposed to.  In that respect, no one is ever taken "too young", simply it was their time.

One can be fatalistic about everything in life, from breaking a toe to death.  To rail against fate is unproductive and unthinkable to those who have a strong belief in fate.

Nicholas believed that he was chosen by God to be Tsar and I believe that he felt that he was also chosen to travel the path to death by that same God and that there was no way that he, Nicholas, could change what was to come.  Rescue or death, either would be the will of God.

Some people take comfort in giving their lives up to the will of an almighty being.  How many times have we heard "as God wills."  So much relief and peace can be had by acknowledging the release of control to a wiser and more intelligent being than we mere mortals are.

That is what I think made Nicholas tick.  That would also make him more able to forgive his enemies as he seemed to do and to forgive his cousin George V for not rescuing his family.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tania+ on June 05, 2006, 12:55:29 PM
Dear Alixz,

At last, someone who understands, and sees beyond the dreams of youth. You have expressed and encapsulated everything into something that is not shrouded in mystery. It all makes sense for me at least.

I agree, no one including HIM thought he would die or his family at such a young age. Yes, he was fatalistic, and you are correct, it does not mean one is ignorant or uninformed. In terms of  his understaning, it is how I also have come to address and view my own life. You can't change much of your life, and what comes along. One more or less rolls with the punches life throws at one, and as you grow, you understand more. Your right again when you explain that, we all think we are young, even at 101. We all go when it is our time, and that is soon enough isn't it. I think those raised in the Russian Orthodox Religion are more prone to live the path that has been chosen for them by God. For many of us, we have come to accept our fate, but never cast aside our faith !

How HIM lived and how he died I believe, he felt was all in God's hands, and he left it solely to the will of God. For some, this may be too much to give to an almight being, when many believe that only they have the control of their lives. Still, how can one really understand, unless one is able to release the control and both acknowledge God, and give all their will to Him alone.

I think for HIM Nicholas, it is what made him tick, and all of his family members as well. It is why they were able to forgive others. When you read about them, you will read about how much faith in God played in their lives, and how they were able to die with that same completeness of faith. They lived it their whole lives, so change was not something they could do overnight.

Thank you for an illuminating understanding about the IF, Alixz !

Tatiana+

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on June 05, 2006, 01:56:18 PM
Alixz's summary of fatalism is very true, that is the more positive side of fatalism. Most people, or at least authors in books seem to think that only the negative qualities fatalism has are worth discussing. They always say that sure, Nicholas was fatalistic, but that this wholly negative. That is not actually all true. Like all things, there is both bad and good in fatalism. Nicholas was certainly a fatalist; this is a central truth of his life and character. But seeing only the bad side of this is a mistake, and I am glad that Alixz took the time to discuss the good side it certainly has. I am somewhat that way myself, I think inuition tells you that things are meant to be, and cannot be changed. Yet one likes to think that you can change some things., Fatalism is not just weakness, but strength.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on June 05, 2006, 10:26:27 PM
Be that fatalistic, I’ll agree with that. And add in being so isn’t it rather apparent that he didn’t really put forth much more of an effort? Don’t get me wrong I think he was a great family and man and farther probably more so than any other parent in his class within that era of time.

But when it came to ruling to me it appears to but much less effort. He caved in far to many times than he needed to do. As an example  during the time of his wedding he had wanted to break with tradition, his uncles being furious with this attempt caused an uproar within the family, thus he caved into there whishes. Perhaps that set the tone of how things were to be within his court and rule. Also perhaps if had stood his ground he may have had different out comes in many matters of state.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on June 06, 2006, 09:24:42 AM
I certainly agree that "caving in" to his uncles and being a fatalist are not the same thing.  In this case, Nicholas was an inexperienced young ruler who truly didn't know what was the right thing to do, so he took the advice of his uncles.  Could he have had more backbone?  Certainly.  But remember that he was scared and unprepared.  He was looking to do what he thought was right, but didn't have enough confidence in himself at that point to stand up to them.

Even someone who believes in fate, can also believe that we have control over the smaller things in our lives.   The decision of when and where his wedding was performed wouldn't have been a release of his life to fate.  Although, how many times have we ouselves worn (for example) a jewelry gift and on that day just happened to see the person who gave it to us.  We say wasn't that amazing, I have not worn that in years and today of all days, I wear it and I see the person who gave it to me.  Isn't that just like fate?

So much of this is based on the religious beliefs of those involved.  Some religions believe in "free will" and that everything we do we do by our own choice, except die and that is in the hands of the Almighty.

Fatalists could also be said to believe in pre-destination.  Perhaps that sounds less ominous and less uniformed than fatalist.

As to Nicholas being weak when making dynastic decisions, he also seems to have wanted to avoid confrontation as much a possible.  Not a good character trait for an autocrat.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on June 08, 2006, 10:13:57 AM
Well, you are right that he did not like confrontation; and that as an autocrat and head of a dynasty he needed to be more forthright. He was rather timid, and especially with men like his uncles, this wasn't going to get him very far. He was a fatalist; and also timid which perhaps caused him more trouble than any amount of fatalism would have done. Fatalism is something we understand, and if we do, then perhaps we understand Nicholas as well. We may not understand what it is like to be timid of we are not that way, but it seems from reading this thread everybody understands fatalism very well.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on June 09, 2006, 06:09:58 AM
One more thing about fatalism.  Because in English, fatal usually means life ending or life shattering, I believe that when we say fatalist, it just sounds like someone who gives up easily or gives in easily.

I don't see Nicholas that way.  He certainly didn't give up on autocracy.  He didn't give up on Alix, even though Rasputin must have drivin him nuts and there must have been times when he questioned her devotion to the man.

He never gave up on his loyalty to his country even though he wasn't in touch at all with what was truly going on with "his people".

He never gave up on his faith and beliefs.  

He never stopped "fighting" for what he believed to be the right way.

So to be a fatalist has nothing to do with a weakness of character or will.  Nicholas may not have been able to make a solid decision when it came to his government, but he never doubted that his way of governing was the right way.

That is why I believe that one who believes in "pre-destination" is a better description than "fatalist".  At least in English.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Bev on June 10, 2006, 09:07:10 PM
Hi, this is a very nice site, and I'm glad I found it.

Alixz makes a very good point - a better term than "fatalist" is "pre-destined".  It does fit his character much better.  He and his wife seemed to believe deeply that everything that happened was "God's will".
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Nathalie on June 11, 2006, 08:19:31 AM
As I have mentioned in an other thread, I think, Alexei Nikolayevich wasn't exactly his father's type-perhaps he would had been a better, stronger ruler.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on June 11, 2006, 08:43:12 AM
Nathalie - in the realm of supposition, I too believe you are right.  Alexei had a much different chlldhood and his illness made him alternately weak in body and strong in temperment.

Too bad Nicholas didn't abdicate just for himself.  Even as young as 13, Alexei might have been a
formidable force in conbination with Grand Duke Michael as his Regeant.

But as we mentioned above, the Tsar's powers had been weakened considerably after 1905 and with the advent of the Provisional Government, whoever took the throne would have the power of the Tsar weakened even more.

That is why Grand Duke Michael refused the throne.  He didn't see a firm support for another Tsar.  Unfortunately, the decision didn't save his life.

And since we must deal only in fact in this thread and not in supposition the whole question probably belongs in another thread.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on June 14, 2006, 11:01:39 AM
Indeed, fatalism if anything made Nicholas more commited to everything that otherwise. Fatalism is not weakness seen this way, even if some people could argue that his commitment to some of these things wasn't good for him or the country he ruled. He thought he had the right way, and being commited to things is a good trait. But you have to assess what you are commited to, although this wasn't Nicholas's problem. He was dealing with so much, and was not that suited in character to be an autocratic ruler. Events overtook him, with everything he was commited to and his good intentions. But he was a better personality to be a ruler than Alexandra ever was.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: David_Pritchard on June 14, 2006, 07:31:48 PM
Dear Imperial Angel,

Thank you for helping all of us to understand.

David
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on June 24, 2006, 05:12:28 AM
I do agree with imperial angel, I would like to add that Alexandra was way to unstable to be a good ruler.

In many ways Nicholas's was tossed into the frey way to early perhaps if he had more time to mature into his post he would have been a much better ruler. but that wasn't to be with the sudden death of his farther.but then if i had been in the same shoes as he, I too would have been taken back by it all as well.

Also on the other hand as well he had little constructive help from the people who should have been there for him.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on August 28, 2006, 12:33:12 PM
Yes, circumstances didn't favour Nicholas at times, and that's what causes some of the greatest tragedies of well meaning, and well doing people: circumstances. Nicholas was thrust into a role that was complex, and that he didn't have much preparation for, and that could make anyone go awry. Some of the greatest monarchs have had more preparation and time, and that only benefits them.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on August 29, 2006, 09:43:24 PM
So effectively we should look at Alexander 11 for not properly preparing his son to rule. Even though he thought he had much more time than he actually did. Even so, knowing that your son will one day rule perpetrations should have been made to prepare him properly.

 Granted he did have some perpetration in authority with the tans Siberian railway. and he was sent off to Japan.but that was hardly enough experience. Even in his opening speech or the Duma 1905 when he said he would follow the same course as his dead farther. With Nicolas there was no give perhaps if had bended somewhat imperial rule in Russia would have survived

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on August 30, 2006, 08:27:36 AM
Yes, he had little preparation for a position where preparation was essential. He realized that, but that realization coudn't do him much good at all. Alexander III died relatively young, so one can forgive him for thinking he had more time to train his son. Not that preparation was the only thing at all- but withoit being properallly prepared, it, you would either have had to learn fast, or have a genuis for rule, neither of which was true for Nicholas.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on August 30, 2006, 09:21:00 PM
Is it not sad then? Because Nicholas from what we know now, was a very caring person. Although, somewhat out of touch, at times. I’ll still stand by my thoughts in a previous post, that if his advisors gave him more support than they did. Perhaps things would have turned out differently.

I’ve often found myself thinking while reading and researching about Nicholas. Jee man open your eyes don’t be so darn blinded. It also appears to me that the elders in his family preferred to have him tucked away in Tsarskoe Selo. could i be wrong with this thought? or has anyone else had the same feeling?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on August 31, 2006, 10:23:31 AM
The first paragraph of what you wrote is true. Of the other part, I think there were many reasons why Nicholas coudn't see what we can see all too clearly when we read history. Since he was living it, we assume that he could have seen what we see that he should have done, or think he should have done anyway. But he came from a different vantange point, a different era, and he had to deal with things we might not grasp the complexity of.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on August 31, 2006, 09:47:13 PM
Perhaps yes, he did have to contend with his family. which in it’s self had been a very complex situation. It wasn’t simple for him by any means. Even in the manor in which elders in his family used the Royal box in the theater. Everything he had to deal with ended up being  complex  no matter how trivial the issue. In his time he had to deal with people in his family who had big heads. After all status was everything. I’m rather amazed that he didn’t actually split a bean over some of issues he had to deal with within his own family. Because I know I surly  would have.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 05, 2006, 08:56:10 AM
Yes, dealing with his uncles espeicially was a trial; they all thought they knew better than him, and liked to boss him around. And he wasn't as imposing as them, and often gave way, so they thought threy could get away with anything. He tried not to give way, but often felt forced to. There were other issues that he dealt with as head of the Romanov family, including unsuitable marriages on the parts of many of its members. It was tough being head of the House of Romanov.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: jehan on September 07, 2006, 05:20:48 PM
Of course Nicholas was in a difficult position as head of a house/family full of strong individuals, when he had the ultimate authority, but was not a strong or decisive man himself.

It's worth noting, however, that some of the decisions where he stood firm, did what he wanted and ignored the advice of his family and advisors were the most disastrous and ended up costing him his empire were keeping Rasputin around and taking command of the army in 1915.  Had he listened to advice there, he might not have lost everything.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 10, 2006, 06:06:12 PM
Well, he felt he was doing the best he could with taking control of the army. He felt that was the best thing for Russia, certainly. It did take him away from the capitol, and thus Alexandra could run the goverment more. But he didn't think of that, and anyway, whatever Alexandra did certainly was not the main cause of the revolution.As for Rasputin, he realized that there were deeper issues involved with Rasputin than Alexandra ever did; but he also realized that Alexandra needed Rasputin, amd that's why he kept him around. Nicholas can't be blamed for Rasputin.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: jehan on September 10, 2006, 07:59:46 PM
Well, he felt he was doing the best he could with taking control of the army. He felt that was the best thing for Russia, certainly. It did take him away from the capitol, and thus Alexandra could run the goverment more. But he didn't think of that, and anyway, whatever Alexandra did certainly was not the main cause of the revolution.As for Rasputin, he realized that there were deeper issues involved with Rasputin than Alexandra ever did; but he also realized that Alexandra needed Rasputin, amd that's why he kept him around. Nicholas can't be blamed for Rasputin.

Actually he can be blamed.  Whatever his reasons, he made the wrong choices in these instances, and stood by them, even when advised that it was the wrong course.  He obviously thought he was doing the right thing in taking command of the army, but it wasn't the right thing, was it?  And he paid dearly for his errors, as did his family and his country.  With power comes responsibility, and ultimately he had to take the blame when he made the wrong decisions  (and the credit when he made the right ones).

I'm not disagreeing that he had many reasons for doing what he did, many of them personal, but still , he seemed to take a strong stand against his advisors in the worst possible circumstances, while caving on the more minor issues.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 11, 2006, 08:10:41 AM
I think he followed what he thought best in most things; Alexandra defintely influenced him as well. Of course, he let her do that. And that it was his responsibility, it was. I don't think he could see what bad might happen from him being in command of the army. As to Rasputin, I think he could see that more clearly, but he felt that Alexandra and Alexei needed him, despite his reputation that wasn't doing credit to the dynasty.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on September 14, 2006, 09:39:06 AM
No leader is perfect, no one person is perfect. We are all fallible.As for world leaders we know there are some bent on destruction. There have been ones who purge there own countries to consolidate absolute power, we have seen leaders who have had vision and wisdom. We have seen some who have been weak, and we have seen some who tried to do what was right. But somehow it came out all wrong. Nicholas falls to the latter.

In looking at Nicholas he tried to do what was right, but he was torn between his upbringing that the tsar was absolute, he was unwilling to except change within government as the British royal family did. Thus preserving the monarchy in Britain. To me in how I look at him, if he had bended so that government actually governed thus making him a figurehead he most likely would have preserved the dynasty.

His second major mistake was taking command of the army. He was not a military commander, he didn’t under stand strategically how to conduct offensively or defense tactics that an army needed to succeed. His place was in the capital making sure that everything within the country was in total support of the war effort. Which includes supplying the army, and supplying the masses. With food and munitions. For it was he could have rallied support for the effort more so if he had stayed in the capitol.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 14, 2006, 10:17:12 AM
Well, it would have been better if he had not gone to command the army. And also if the reforms of 1905 had truly been carried through, and perhaps Stolypin had lived, things might have been different. I think he felt torn, and that sometimes led him astray. But at the same time, perhaps the sitiuation coudn't be saved after World War I started.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Suzie on September 14, 2006, 02:39:09 PM
I have a great deal of liking for Nicholas the man but I was really dismayed when I read  some of his letters and diary entries, especially toward the end of his reign and life. He seemed detatched, almost spacey sometimes. He would remark about some event and call it awful and then go right on talking about playing tennis or having tea. I know he was trained to write in his diary in much the same way as others of his time- noting daily occurrances and who he saw and all, but even in his letters to his family he doesn' seem to show much passion or real concern on what was going on around him. Sometimes I am reading something he wrote and I want to reach back in time and shake him and say "For heaven's sake, look what is happening around you! Do something! Don't tell me the flowers are blooming nicely for this time of year!"
Sigh.
Suzie
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Dmitry2 on September 15, 2006, 10:33:59 AM
Nicholas is more often condemned for what he wasn't than praised for what he was. 

When it was said that he would have been a much loved King of England because of his qualities, that is true.  He was kind.  He was brave.  He was thoughtful.  He was compassionate. 

His shortcomings were obvious, but more in the sense of the time and place in which he was born, rather than being flaws in themselves.  We cannot always choose who and what we are.  We all face making decisions and living our lives to the best of our abilities and beliefs.  How many can say that they have never made a mistake, or misjudgment?  How many amongst us can say that we have always done what we "should" have done?

Nicholas made mistakes.  Mistakes borne from the very fine qualities he possessed. 

Nicholas was a loving man who loved his family, his country and genuinely tried to do the best he could.  If that was not sufficient, or if the results didn't work as intended, that is not entirely his fault.

If a man has no legs, we would not expect him to run a four minute mile.  We would admire him for running the race in his chair, or on crutches, for doing the best he could with what he had to work with.

Nicholas II should be extended that very same courtesy.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on September 15, 2006, 10:59:40 AM
I understand (I hope) the limited array of skills Nicholas had with which to confront them his challenges.  Having said that, I do believe Nicholas can and must be blamed for his failures. The essence of autocracy is ultimate authority, which cannot accept praise but exclude blame.  The buck stops here, so to say.  He was an honest man, and I think he would readily assume his fair part of the blame--perhaps he does now, if those in Heaven can see us now and have perfect knowledge.  Understanding and compassion permit absolution, however. Pax, N.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 15, 2006, 04:28:38 PM
Nicholas was a loving man who loved his family, his country and genuinely tried to do the best he could.  If that was not sufficient, or if the results didn't work as intended, that is not entirely his fault.

If a man has no legs, we would not expect him to run a four minute mile.  We would admire him for running the race in his chair, or on crutches, for doing the best he could with what he had to work with.

Nicholas II should be extended that very same courtesy.

Nicholas was not a wheelchair racer in an amateur event.

Nicholas was a man who viewed himself as vested with the right to be absolute ruler of one-sixth of the world's land surface and to be the arbiter of all its resources.  He viewed himself as having the right to remove the most senior officials in government at his pleasure.  He viewed himself as having the right to determine for others what the "true" religion was and to curb the freedoms of those who disagreed.  He viewed himself as having the sole right to send his nation and its people into war.  He viewed himself as beyond all earthly answerability to others.

It took the humiliating defeat of his unprepared nation and a revolution in 1905 to get him to concede even a modicum of power.  He then promptly set about the business of recovering as much of his autocratic authority as possible.

In doing so, Nicholas lost the right to claim that he was just an average man who should be tolerated and respected for his weaknesses.  When one claims the right to ordain the fates of others, one accepts the responsiblity for the outcomes.

Why should a soldier sent to the front with inadequate food and ammunition feel constrained to extend to Nicholas the "courtesy" of overlooking the botched job of ruling Russia?  Why should a Jew forced to live in the Pale and prohibited from certain fields of work and study extend Nicholas the "courtesy" of allowing him to make their choices of conscience?  Why should an impoverished worker who is shot while petitioning in front of the tsar's palace extend Nicholas the "courtesy" of overlooking the bureaucratic bungling of Bloody Sunday?  Why should landless peasants who see Nicholas fail to support his own prime minister's land reforms extend Nicholas the "courtesy" of forgiving his failure to give them a chance to acquire an equitable portion of the land that had rested for centuries in the hands of serf owners?

During his own lifetime, Nicholas did not want to be humanized.  He wanted to be seen as God's inviolate and unchallenged representative on earth, placed by heaven at the very pinnacle of the social and political order, beyond the reach of all but the very privileged few.  The overwhelming majority of us on this board, had we lived in imperial Russia at something equivalent to our current stations in life, would have been viewed by him, his family, and his legions of staff as utterly beneath their notice.  We assume an intimacy with the man and his family that would have horrified and enraged them all.

He was the ruler of a nation and should be judged as such.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Dmitry2 on September 15, 2006, 06:06:43 PM
Fortunately, I don't fall under the category of "vast majority" on this board and would have not been subject to shock, horror or outrage by the Imperial Family.

However, it is easy to look back and state with absolutely conviction that something different should have been done.  Had Nicholas been able to look back, as we can, he would likely have been as condeming of himself as anyone.  He was an honest man. 

My point is that in doing what he thought right, in doing the best he could under the circumstances of his personality, birth, station, education and the circumstances that faced him, we should not be unduly harsh.  If we were to measure only by accomplishment, then the "vast majority" would likely not escape hanging, so to speak. 

I simply sought to point out that Nicholas has been condemned by people far removed from the time, the place, who have knowledge he did not have, hindsight he did not have, the benefit of education and, in many cases, training that he did not have and that, in light of those elements, a little understanding and fairness should be extended to him. 

It was pointed out that the same maelstorm that swept through Russia swept through most of the world, to a greater or lesser degree, a world changed before it was ready to change and the fate of Russia, and of Nicholas II, was as much due to the times as the efforts and actions of one man.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 15, 2006, 08:05:20 PM
I don't blame Nicholas for having limitations.  We all have them.  I blame him for not recognizing those limitations and doing what successful monarchs have done throughout history -- seeking the help of more talented men and giving them the authority and support they needed to get things done.  Despite the likes of Witte and Stolypin being available to him, Nicholas chose to rule without a Bismarck, a Metternich, a Burleigh, a Wolsley, a Colbert . . . .

Monarchy is a system for producing hereditary leaders, not strong ones.  The latter occur only by random chance.  The only prospect monarchies have for producing consistent sound government is to rely on the talents of others to cover the gaps.  Good leaders surround themselves with the best talent their countries offer and deal with the frictions that bright, competitive, ambitious, assured people inevitably create.  Bad leaders surround themselves with people who make them comfortable.

By most accounts, Nicholas was aware of his limitations.  However, he reacted by avoiding the presence or minimizing the influence of people who were his superiors in intellect and experience.  That mistake was fatal to him and to Russia.

Yes, the maelstrom that swept over Russia swept over the rest of Europe.  But the open societies of England and France weathered it.  Even Germany and Austria, though jettisoning their monarchies, remained relatively stable societies.  Russia alone descended into prolonged chaos.  And that was largely because Nicholas spent the years between 1906 and 1914 doing everything he could to reverse the moves toward a more pluralistic society that Witte and most of the intellectual elite of Russia knew were long overdue.  The folly of Nicholas' actions were apparent to a broad spectrum of Russian society at the time.  It did not require either hindsight or any particular insight.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 18, 2006, 08:41:46 AM
I agree with what Dmitry2 said in both his posts, but especially in the second. It's so easy to judge from our persepective in our modern age, historical figures. It's harder to put them in some context. I think he did this, in his posts. Nicholas was certainly better in private life than as a ruler, but there were many things he coudn't choose, correct. Our lives aren't made so much by what we wish they were as much as what they are; if we could have any life, I guess that some of us would like another! Nicholas was born a ruler, and did his best with that. He may not have been gifted as a ruler, but it was his birthright. Thanks for pointing that out.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 18, 2006, 01:02:50 PM
Nicholas . . . may not have been gifted as a ruler, but it was his birthright.

As innumerable deposed rulers throughout history have found, a "birthright" to rule is nothing more than paper money.  It has no intrinsic value in and of itself, but instead dervies its value from underlying assets.  In the case of a "birthright" to rule, those underlying assets are either the consent of the governed or the use of force.

By 1905, enough Russians were withdrawing their consent to Nicholas' autocratic rule to bring the monarchy to the brink of dissolution.  It was only by a reluctant compromise with mass discontent that Nicholas managed to hang onto a somewhat lessened power.  By 1917, Nicholas had so thoroughly alienated the remaining support of the aristrocracy, the military, his ministers, and even segments of his own family that all consent to be governed by Nicholas simply collapsed.

I have never understand why people talk of Nicholas' being deposed by a revolution in March 1917.  There was no revolution aimed at toppling the monarchy in March.  Government simply ceased to function as supply lines to the front and into the cities broke down, as Nicholas remained at Stavka and left his ministers in St. Petersburg to report to his wife, as his ministers began meeting on their own initiative with members of the Duma, and as soldiers simply walked away from the front and headed home.  There were no revolutionary guns trained on Nicholas or his officials in March.  Instead, there was a loose consensus among high civilian and military officials that government and order was collapsing around them and that they had to find someone else to lead them.  The very fact that the Duma delegates who met with Nicholas to receive his abdication fully expected the monarchy to pass to his heir indicates just how much Nicholas' toppling was not a rebellion against the monarchical order but an attempt to find an effective tsar.

From 1905 onward, Nicholas' "birthright" to rule was more and more the private fantasy of him and his wife and less and a less a sustainable claim to govern Russias as he alone saw fit.  It was just paper money . . . ultimately rendered worthless by Nicholas' refusal to acknowledge that the world around him was changing and that monarchy had to adapt to survive.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 18, 2006, 03:55:43 PM
Well, there are things you can say about him separate from him as a person. I think what you mentioned-that it wasn't a revolution that really made him abdicate, and that it wasn't a revolution until later, is exactly the argument some use for should he have abdicated or not? They are saying he may have had a choice, ''revolution'' or no.Some say he had no choice but to do so. Others say Alexandra would never have let him do so. I think it's true it started out quietly, but it seems it had elements of revolution from the begining. Nicholas had many conflicts regarding the autocracy, especially after 1905, and there are so many questions.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 19, 2006, 12:13:49 AM

By 1905, enough Russians were withdrawing their consent to Nicholas' autocratic rule to bring the monarchy to the brink of dissolution.  It was only by a reluctant compromise with mass discontent that Nicholas managed to hang onto a somewhat lessened power. 

Nikolai's power was never "lessened". His legitimacy always transcended all legislative and administrative decisions made on behalf of Russia. It was his inalienable right that was never diluted since the day he came to power. What he did was apportion  some of the intrinsic State powers, but as Head of State he always had the power of veto. The granting of a number of concessions in 1905, such as the formation of the Duma, election of its male representatives, formation of a political parties and such like, can not be viewed as a diminution of his own governance.

Margarita  
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2006, 06:43:26 AM
Nikolai's power was never "lessened". His legitimacy always transcended all legislative and administrative decisions made on behalf of Russia. It was his inalienable right that was never diluted since the day he came to power. What he did was apportion  some of the intrinsic State powers, but as Head of State he always had the power of veto. The granting of a number of concessions in 1905, such as the formation of the Duma, election of its male representatives, formation of a political parties and such like, can not be viewed as a diminution of his own governance.

There's a wonderful line from the movie, "La Nuit de Varennes", when Louis XVI is apprehended at Varennes during his flight to the border.  When Louis protests that he's still the king, he is given the answer, "a king who can be arrested by a postmaster is no longer a king."

Nicholas did not act voluntarily in 1905/06.  At the point of a sword, he made concessions that he and his family abhorred.  That is not the definition of "inalienable" or "undiluted" power. 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 19, 2006, 09:50:52 AM
Nicholas did not act voluntarily in 1905/06.  At the point of a sword, he made concessions that he and his family abhorred.  That is not the definition of "inalienable" or "undiluted" power. 


Those concessions were volunteered. He could have refused point blank. Yes they were granted unwillingly, but each of those concessions remained under his unfettered control.

Margarita
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 19, 2006, 10:23:26 AM

Those concessions were volunteered. He could have refused point blank.


Yes, and he would have been deposed in 1905 instead of in 1917.  Make no bones about it.  Nicholas made these concessions only because he believed he could not hold onto his throne otherwise.  Again, not a definition of undiluted power in my book.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Belochka on September 19, 2006, 11:46:10 PM
Again, not a definition of undiluted power in my book.

We obviously consult different books.

Margarita   ::)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 19, 2006, 11:50:02 PM
Could you please cite a single historian who believes that Nicholas II instituted the Duma "willingly"? I would be interested in reading the material.

Thanks,

Simon
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 20, 2006, 08:08:12 AM
Margarita, I think we are both trying to describe gray using only the vocabulary of black and white.

Certainly, Nicholas retained the legal power to rescind everything he granted with the October Manifesto, and in that sense he was "unfettered."  However, whether he could act with impunity in practice was quite another matter.

One of the first things he did when the government finally restored order across the country (which took almost a year) was to sack Witte, whom Nicholas intensely resented for having twisted his arm in granting concessions.  Also, it would seem to me the fact that Nicholas, when confronted with an uncooperative Duma, changed the franchise in order to recast the make-up of that body indicates he viewed the Duma as a new force on the scene that had to be reckoned with in some fashion.  If the Duma had no practical power to infringe on Nicholas' prerogatives, why would he have even bothered to worry about the franchise or to have established an upper house to counterbalance the Duma?

Whatever legal rights Nicholas comforted himself with having preserved, I think he knew full well that the landscape of autocratic power had shifted in ways that angered and worried him . . . and that forced him to deal with political forces that he had hitherto ignored.  The monarchy in 1910 was not what it had been in 1900.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 20, 2006, 08:25:18 AM
The landscape of autocratic power did shift, and he did have to deal with things that he never thought he would have had to at the begining of his reign, true. I think he may have thought that his reign would be one way, then had to deal with things that made it another way. He was obviously not sure of what do sometimes, and then did things that may not have been the wisest.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on September 21, 2006, 10:27:56 AM
Let me toss this notion into this mix. Was he a puppet of the family elders?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 21, 2006, 10:40:51 AM
Well, not in goverment matters, no. But in private matters, and private matters of the Romanov family that influenced goverment, he could be, I think. It was especially this way when he was younger, in the first few years of his reign.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on September 21, 2006, 05:21:55 PM
As to his diaries, unless one can read them in the original, I expect that we are missing a lot.  I feel in reading A LIFELONG PASSION that his entries are severely edited to show him as an almost imbecile, while Alix's are quoted in full to show her in the worst possible light.

I can not imagine, unless he WAS on drugs, that all Nicholas wrote about was the flowers and the weather while a war was raging near by.

And what sparked Alix's increasing lecturing of Nicholas in her letters?  It began before the murder of Rasputin.  She began to tell Nicholas that he was an idiot (forgive me lovey) and while it seems true that he was acting like one, what started it???
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Raegan on September 21, 2006, 06:34:19 PM
As to his diaries, unless one can read them in the original, I expect that we are missing a lot. 

Nicholas' diaries have been published in Russian, if that helps you any.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Helen_Azar on September 21, 2006, 06:53:44 PM
Sometimes I am reading something he wrote and I want to reach back in time and shake him and say "For heaven's sake, look what is happening around you! Do something! Don't tell me the flowers are blooming nicely for this time of year!"

I have a feeling this was just defense mechanism in action - his way of dealing with things happening around him. It is a common phenomenon actually. One of my cousins was caught in the World Trade Center on September 11th (she worked on the 68th floor of the  south tower). When she retold the story to us the next day, about people jumping, the buildings collapsing, people getting hit with jetfuel, etc., we thought she was being so casual about it - the way she told it, and couldn't understand what was the matter with her, as if this kind of thing happened to her every day. Yet within a couple of months she started to suffer all kinds of post traumatic stress, yet she still never verbalized how horrible the whole thing was. But this reaction was just her defense mechanism. This is how many people deal with things that are too much for them to accept, they go into some sort of denial and almost pretend it's not happening or that it's not a big deal. Wasn't Nicholas getting some sort of chest pains during this time that he wrote about? Obviously he was effected by all of it, and suffered great stress over it, but it was probably something he did not want to verbalize in his diary or letters - or just did not even know how to verbalize it.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mazukov on September 21, 2006, 07:06:11 PM
In letters, and telegrams sent  between husband and wife. They both used a lot of off the cuffs words that only they knew the meaning too. For fear they would be read by eyes other than there own. So when we read them now some 100 years later. There letters appear to us as OMG what are they thinking.

I don’t think that either one of them were bad people in fact I think they both were very good people. Not very smart, but then they had to deal with issues and family that we today could not possibly fathom. There world was very different than the world we live in today. The culture was different, the problems they faced in there time, would have been far greater then, than they seem to us today.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tsarfan on September 22, 2006, 06:19:21 AM
I think Nicholas' letters to Alexandra from Stavka in late 1916 / early 1917 reveal more about his approach to issues than do his diaries.  On one level, they reveal a tsar enmeshed in a faltering military situation who was waffling about almost all his key ministers at this late stage in the war.  And Nicholas was notably cynical, such as when he told Alexandra he disliked Trepov but was first going to "use him to do the dirty work" of dissolving the Duma and to take the political heat for it before giving him the boot.  (For a man who still styled himself an autocrat to think anyone would believe proroguing the Duma was done without his sanction is rather odd.  Either Nicholas was incredibly naive, or everyone at the time understood that the tsar's control of such things was not absolute.)

And those letters are remarkable in showing how many critical decisions Nicholas deferred until he could talk them over in person with Alexandra.  Two letters from that period are particularly telling.  In one, Nicholas opens by telling Alexandra her scolding of his actions had left him feeling like a remiss schoolboy.  In another, in December 1916, he "begged" Alexandra not to involve "our Friend" in a political issue, as it would reduce Nicholas' range of action.

The notion that Rasputin had the ability to reduce the tsar's range of action -- and that Nicholas had to "beg" his wife to keep Rasputin out of it -- indicates just how far Nicholas had ceded his prerogative to others.

No wonder Sandro, Ella, Dmitri and other members of the family were trying to insert themselves into affairs in the final months of the monarchy . . . and that they all addressed themselves either directly to Alexandra or took actions aimed at her involvement in affairs.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on September 22, 2006, 08:20:52 AM
Well, we know that he did listen to his wife; there is much proof of that. Also, perhaps much of the time their views were the same. The whole Rasputin thing Nicholas saw more sensibly though, actually. But then, he wasn't the one dependent on Rasputin as much as his wife. Nicholas eventually gave in on this subject, feeling he could do no more. As for defense mechanisms, I think Helen_A has a point that that is quite valid about this. I think these remarks of Nicholas's can't be seen as indicating that he was simply ignorant and paying attention to other things when his country was collapsing.Or that he didn't think it was important to pay attention, and thus was stupid as some commentators make out him to be. Instead, he was simply coping, and and that's a great point. I also thought Mazukov's points on his post very true.We weren't there dealing with the sitiuation, so how do we know or how could we say how they should have acted? What would have worked? Simply put, it is hard to say.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: James1941 on December 18, 2006, 11:33:16 AM
By the end of 1916 with the World War raging, the Entente, or Allied, nations found themselves losing. Germany was triumphant on all fronts. Romania had proved to be a fisasco, Turkey was holding its own, the Brusilov offensive had shattered the Austro-Hungarian armies but failed to push the Germans back, Italy had proven to be more of a drag than an asset, and on the western front the battles had become one of horrendous attrition which the Germans usually came out ahead on. The two main Entente powers, France and Britain, realized that new leaders were necessary to try and bring about a new direction of the war. Britian chose David Lloyd-George as its war leader and France chose Georges Clemenceau. [Yes, I know Clemenceau wasn't made premier until 1917 but the point still stands. France acted]. Russia, however, chose a syphillitic incompetent who was probably mentally insane at that point. This was Nicholas' choice. He had, contrary to what some had posted on this forum, a wide range of competent men to choose from who could have energized the Russian war effort. But to choose them would have meant dealing with the Rasputin issue. And it would have meant giving power to someone other than the tsar. Nicholas, for whatever psychological reasons, chose not to do so. As Constantinople has written above, the warning signs were clear for all to see, and many in Russian saw them, including most of the Romanov family. Yet Nicholas closed his mind to all and dithered on. The night of his abdication he wrote in his diary that he was surrounded by treason. But when the house is on fire and the person holding the water hose stubbornlyrefuses to direct the water at the fire what are the other inhabitants to do?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Kurt Steiner on February 17, 2007, 12:44:28 PM
We, as a general rule, usually tend to be harsh with the loosers, so to speak, just look at Wilhelm II. Nicholas, as it has been said many times, had a weak personality and was not at all prepared for his future post as Czar. This man found himself becoming the head of a huge state in full mutation after his father's death He had not anticipated that such a change in Russia may be possible -hey, who did it, really?-. He, in addition to this, reacted too late to events and having always in mind the prerogatives of monarchy, which made any kind of concession impossbile, even when those concessions were inevitable.

In some way, Nicholas's situation brings me George VI of the United Kingdom to my memory.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: lexi4 on February 17, 2007, 01:55:48 PM
I think you touched on an interesting point Kurt. I might add that one of Nicholas's failings was not listening to his ministers. Instead, he relied on his wife who relied on Rasputin. I kind of see Nicholas as the lynchpin in the evolutionary process of Russian government. Conditions for the workers, peasants etc. hadn't been good for years in Russia. In many ways, I think Nicholas was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: dmitri on July 04, 2007, 01:54:51 PM
The answer here is YES. He was Tsar and the buck stopped with him. Nobody else held the position.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: dmitri on July 23, 2007, 05:17:04 PM
very well said and objective
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2007, 07:02:33 PM
While I agree with most of what Constaninople has posted, and I agree that Nicholas's "communications skills were woefully underdeveloped and his low level of self esteem meant that could not debate his point of view or tell a minister to his face that he either disagreed with him or was dismissing him"  I don't believe that these deficiencies were Nicholas's fault.

While he was not trained or properly prepared to become tsar, and he did not make much effort to try to change this situation, his father and mother were truly at fault for not thinking of the future and what tools Nicholas would need to reign.

Also, in reading about Nicholas I, I believe that his repression of the country and the Russification of the country during his reign began the ball rolling and even though his son, Alexander II did have good education and a proper preparedness for the task of ruling, it could be said that his reforms and granting of concessions only made it easier for the revolutionaries and the activists to work more openly.

I find it interesting that most of those responsible for the turmoil and conflict and ultimate death of Alexander II were not peasants, but members of minor nobility and/or the family members of the tsar's ministers and "trusted" counselors.

It would have taken a man with an incredible capacity for forgiveness to become tsar on the murder of his father and not react as Alexander III did.  What he saw was that his father (Alexander II) had done more to ease the burdens of the serfs and the working poor than any tsar before him and the result was his murder.  However, Alexander III may not have taken into consideration what strata of society the conspirators came from.  He just saw that his father had been murdered.  He wanted not only revenge, but what he considered to be justice.

But Alexander II did what the U.S. government is always doing.  He passed legislation without providing for the implementation of it or for the future of those he thought would benefit by the legislation.  He freed the serfs as Lincoln did the slaves, but neither man (both were assassinated) left any clue as to how these freed people were to live and earn anything to support their families.  That is why the poor working class of Russia was formed.  These freed serfs could now go any where and do anything, but they were neither educated enough nor trained in any way to cope with and live with their new found freedom.

But this thread is about Nicholas II and he inherited all of what the three tsars before him had wrought.  Sure "the buck stops here" as Harry Truman said.  We all know that Nicholas tried to maintain absolute authority without actually implementing absolute authority. 

Is one man ever the only one at "fault" for the events that surround him?  I don't think so.  Not even Hitler got the blame for everything that happened in World War II Germany.  See the Nuremberg trials.

But Nicholas II did try to run Russia single handedly, just as he saw his ancestors do.  He was not the right man for the job at the turn of the century in Russia, but he had the excuse of "being born" to the job.  We in democratic countries have elected representatives who were just as bad as their jobs and we have only ourselves to blame.  And , yes, we can just "vote them out" during the next election, but sometimes the bad job they did just lives on without them.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: dmitri on July 23, 2007, 08:01:25 PM
Alexander III cannot be blamed for the bungling ineptitude of Nicholas II as Tsar. Nicholas II had very good advisers in many cases and simply refused to listen to their advice. That was his mistake and not that of his father. So many people tried to help Nicholas. None of them wanted the monarchy to collapse. Nicholas though in appointing himself Commander in Chief was responsible for the military losses. He also absented himself from the capital where he was needed most to secure the stability of the throne. It was all a very sad and preventable disaster. Nicholas was a good father . Nobody doubts this. He was a sad ruler though and unsuited for the position.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on July 24, 2007, 09:11:27 AM
Alexander III did not listen to his advisers.  Alexander III ruled as an autocrat and that is what Nicholas grew up watching.

I am not disagreeing with the prevailing thought that he was a "sad ruler and unsuited for the position".  His taking command of the army in the Great War was a more than lamentable action.  And leaving Alexandra in charge of the government with Rasputin as her advisor was an even more lamentable decision.

I just think that what he saw and what he was and wasn't taught after he witnessed his grandfather's murder along with the questionable advice given by Pobedonostsev set him on the path he took. 

I don't believe that he grew up thinking, "I will be a wishy washy tsar."  He was shaped by his father's return to repression after Alexander II's death.  He was shaped by feeling inferior to a father who was "large and in charge".  And instead of Alexander III taking the time to groom his son and to begin (as young as 16) to help Nicholas "grow" into the role of Tsarevich and future Emperor, he and Dagmar both treated Nicholas "as a child".

And somehow, Nicholas grew up believing that on his coronation, all would be made clear.  That God would give him all of the strength and wisdom that he needed and being a fatalist (meaning an acceptor of the events around him as "God's will"), he expected that God's will was all he would need.

Then suddenly, at the age of 24, when he should have been at least part way ready to take over, he had no idea what to do.  And yes, there were many good advisers, but there just as many bad ones.  Read Once a Grand Duke by Alexander Mikhailovich where in he lists many many men whom Sandro, who witnessed all of this, thought would be able to help.

Sandro was writing in retrospect and, of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but I found great insight into the writings of other experts on Imperial Russia as I read Once a Grad Duke and found that many of the first hand quotes that other writers used came from that book.  In simpler terms, Alexander Mikhailovich, was seen as a very quotable source and a good source of information on the times and the people.

I am not here to argue the thread with "rose colored glasses" and I have never been one who said that "being a good father and husband" exempted Nicholas from being a good tsar.

But even in a court of law which is considering the sentence for a felon who could be sentenced to death, the court looks for mitigating factors. Even when a person who has been convicted of vehicular man slaughter (meaning having killed someone unintentionally with a motor vehicle) the courts look at the mitigating factors such as the weather, the time of day, the traffic conditions and the "line of sight".

I propose that Nicholas II unintentionally "killed" the Russian Imperial Empire.  While we are all very quick to judge him on his actions and his reactions and find that he was negligent, we are very often missing the mitigating factors.  (And by that I do not mean being a good father and family man).  Not every son born to an autocrat can be 'great".

And I still maintain that we forgive Peter for killing his own son and Catherine for conspiring to kill her husband and call both of them 'The Great".  Both of there acts were premeditated and have no mitigation. (In my opinion.)  Yet these two monarchs went down in history as great rulers even though they waged war in which many Russians and other nationalities were killed and, in Peter's case, built a city where in millions of Russians died just to build a monument to Peter's ego and dreams of a "window on the west".

What we are saying is that in Peter's and Catherine's cases "the end justified the means" and that is only because they emerged victorious.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on July 24, 2007, 09:12:12 AM
Had Nicholas II emerged victorious, no matter how badly he managed Russia, I believe we would be calling him "Nicholas the Great" who saved not only Russia, but the world from German domination and Bolshevism.

Just imagine if Nicholas II had been able to attend the peace conference in Paris in 1919??  I am now reading a book called Paris 1919 - Six Months That Changed The World   by Margaret Macmillan who is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George.  Already the chapter on Russia and what to do about the changes that had taken place with the "democratic revolution" of March 1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 is about confusion and procedure and recognition of a former ally or recognition of a new enemy.

Had Nicholas survived the war until the armistice and then been in Paris ( or sent a representative) the new world order that the "peacemakers" carved out would have been much much different.

I am not dealing in "what ifs" here, I am only saying that had Nicholas not abdicated and then been killed, we would most likely be celebrating his help in the combined allied effort to defeat Germany, the reason we are not is, whether or not what Nicholas did during the war helped or hindered the road to peace, he got killed.  And that is something that we can't accept in our great rulers.

They can be ruthless and commit murder or conspire to commit murder in their own families.  They can trample the rights of other countries like Sweden under Peter, and the Crimea under Catherine.  They can murder their own subjects and allow them to live in poverty and benignly begin to let education and self determination "trickle down" to the masses, but they better not get killed. 

That is something we can never forgive. And if they do, we begin to dissect not just their political lives, but their personal lives as well.  We begin looking for everything no matter how minor that they did to prove that they were inferior.

Yes, Nicholas II was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was a less than effectual ruler.  But I still maintain that he does not hold sole responsibility for what happened in Russia in 1917.  As I said before, even Hitler did not "get the blame" for everything that happened in Germany during World War II, if he had there would have been no need for the Nuremberg Trials.

So let's put Grand Duke Sergei (too reactionary) and Grand Duke Alexis (too uninterested in his position as Grand Admiral of the Fleet to keep it up and in running order) and Grand Duke Vladimir( more interested in the arts) on trial.  (Grand Duke Paul didn't interfere as much as they did).

I am beginning to sound argumentative and I don't want to.  So it is time for me to stop.  Forgive me if I have offended anyone.  I am not trying to force my opinions on anyone here or to make anyone alter their way of thinking.   

 


Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: dmitri on July 24, 2007, 06:23:02 PM
I understand where you are coming from. Nicholas though failed to realise what was necessary to stay in power and to preserve his dynasty. That was his greatest tragedy apart from being a fatalist which is a touch irrational.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: dmitri on July 24, 2007, 06:29:27 PM
I guess given the inability of Russia to provide the arms necessary to defeat Germany, it was very unwise to mobilise the Russian forces. Russia was incapable of winning the war. All Russia had were men and they were slaughtered in the millions due to a lack of weapons. I read somewhere Russian soldiers had only 3 bullets a day up against German machine guns and that many Russian soldiers had to pick up the guns of their fallen comrades as they were never equipped with guns in the first place. Nicholas should have learnt from the disaster of the Russo-Japanese war. Sadly he didn't.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on July 24, 2007, 06:34:44 PM
Had Nicholas II emerged victorious, no matter how badly he managed Russia, I believe we would be calling him "Nicholas the Great" who saved not only Russia, but the world from German domination and Bolshevism.

Just imagine if Nicholas II had been able to attend the peace conference in Paris in 1919??  I am now reading a book called Paris 1919 - Six Months That Changed The World   by Margaret Macmillan who is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George.  Already the chapter on Russia and what to do about the changes that had taken place with the "democratic revolution" of March 1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 is about confusion and procedure and recognition of a former ally or recognition of a new enemy.

Had Nicholas survived the war until the armistice and then been in Paris ( or sent a representative) the new world order that the "peacemakers" carved out would have been much much different.

I am not dealing in "what ifs" here, I am only saying that had Nicholas not abdicated and then been killed, we would most likely be celebrating his help in the combined allied effort to defeat Germany, the reason we are not is, whether or not what Nicholas did during the war helped or hindered the road to peace, he got killed.  And that is something that we can't accept in our great rulers.

They can be ruthless and commit murder or conspire to commit murder in their own families.  They can trample the rights of other countries like Sweden under Peter, and the Crimea under Catherine.  They can murder their own subjects and allow them to live in poverty and benignly begin to let education and self determination "trickle down" to the masses, but they better not get killed. 

That is something we can never forgive. And if they do, we begin to dissect not just their political lives, but their personal lives as well.  We begin looking for everything no matter how minor that they did to prove that they were inferior.

Yes, Nicholas II was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was a less than effectual ruler.  But I still maintain that he does not hold sole responsibility for what happened in Russia in 1917.  As I said before, even Hitler did not "get the blame" for everything that happened in Germany during World War II, if he had there would have been no need for the Nuremberg Trials.

So let's put Grand Duke Sergei (too reactionary) and Grand Duke Alexis (too uninterested in his position as Grand Admiral of the Fleet to keep it up and in running order) and Grand Duke Vladimir( more interested in the arts) on trial.  (Grand Duke Paul didn't interfere as much as they did).

I am beginning to sound argumentative and I don't want to.  So it is time for me to stop.  Forgive me if I have offended anyone.  I am not trying to force my opinions on anyone here or to make anyone alter their way of thinking.   

 




Well, I can't speak for everyone, but I  enjoy your views because they are well researched and thought out and thought provoking, on this subject. I'd love to read more. I have already posted my opinions on this subject long ago, but I would have to say, I agree with you. It's too easy to blame Nicholas, even if along with that people say he was a good man in regards to marriage and family life, for the political issues.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: dmitri on July 24, 2007, 06:52:06 PM
Yes he really was the wrong man for the job. It is sad that he was not replaced by a more competent Romanov. That was what had happened in the past to allow the survival of the dynasty. It is a tragedy indeed that the revolution occurred. It certainly could have been avoided. Change was necessary. It is said if evolution does not occur revolution soon follows. 1905 was the warning and it was not heeded. Nicholas never understood the need for peace. Those who attack his father do so unfairly as he knew it was necessary to avoid wars. It was truly a tragedy for Russia that Alexander III died young. Perhaps Alexandra might have become wiser if she had been the wife of the Tsarevich rather than the Tsarina. I doubt Alexander III would have tolerated her anti-social behaviour in ignoring her duties. 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Annie on July 25, 2007, 01:18:53 PM


Had Nicholas survived the war until the armistice and then been in Paris ( or sent a representative) the new world order that the "peacemakers" carved out would have been much much different.




I do wonder what difference he might have made. Of course, had he lived, Russia would not have fallen to the Bolsheviks and that alone would have been a big change in history. But since he was inept at politics, I wonder if he'd have had any say at all in what happened?

 Those 'peacemakers' did nothing but cause more wars, from WWII right up until today. How stupid, yes, stupid, they were to draw what they thought were convenient lines around areas of fallen empires to make new nations out of them, while forcing together groups of people who generally hated each other! Prime examples of this are Yugoslavia and Iraq. Those areas should never, never have been made into one country considering the cultural and political hatred of the various ethnic and religious groups living there! The disaster caused by those days in 1919 ruined the 20th century and is still damaging the 21st. The 'war to end all wars' started more than they ever imagined.

I can't believe they didn't do more research before drawing those lines. Kind of reminds me of my son when he was little, he wanted to make up his own interstate highway system so he sat down with a notebook and a road atlas and drew where it would go and what roads it would cross. But in that road atlas, all he saw was blank yellow space, where in real life there were towns, houses, businesses, enviornmenntally protected natural areas, etc. You can't just draw lines without considering what you're doing to the people involved. He was just a kid though, those politicians should have known better. What a disgrace and major tragedy for the world. How many millions have suffered and died, and continue to do so to this day?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Annie on July 25, 2007, 04:13:09 PM
Your logic is a bit strange when you say had Tsar Nicholas lived the Bolsheviks would not have taken over Russia.  Even if the White Russians had rescued the Imperial Family, the Whites were so badly outnumbered that the best they could have done was  try to get the Imperial family into exile, which they would have probably refused to do.

I was talking about if the dynasty could have been saved before the revolution.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Annie on July 25, 2007, 05:17:57 PM
No, none of that. All I was saying was, hypothetically, IF Nicholas had stayed in power, and the revolution never happened, and he was part of the victorious allies at the end of WWI what would he have done as far as the treaty of Versailles, if anything? That's all, nothing about rescues, Bolsheviks, Kerensky, etc. Of course it doesn't even matter, because he didn't, so never mind already.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on July 26, 2007, 08:46:54 AM
Constaninople said:


"I would suggest that you read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's works August 1914 and August 1916 to understand the conditions inside Russia that made that hypothetical situation extremely unlikely. Once the Germans understood the organizational abilities of Lenin and Parvus and shipped them into Russia, the desperate state of affairs of Russians both in the military and on the home front strongly opposed anything but revolution.  To suggest otherwise is not showing a good knowledge of Russian history.  You might as well say if the Russians had won the Russo Japanese war or if the Tsar had married another woman or if Rasputin had never been born.  All of these were factors that a causal relationship with the overthrowing of Tsarism."

And I reply:  So Nicholas was not solely to blame, after all.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Naslednik on August 13, 2008, 08:33:23 PM
I just read through most of a 2007 thread about the father-son relationship between AIII and Nicholas.  Much of what was said there related to the (purported) comment of AIII that his son was 'still a child, with childish opinions, etc.'  But wasn't this comment from Witte's memoirs?  Witte was brilliant, but we know that his relationship with NII soured over time.  Certainly I keep in mind the perspective of the narrator (Witte) in cases like this.  Nikolai was a protected child, but even before he became Tsar he had experienced significant sadness (grisly death of grandfather, missing his parents as a small child, Borki, Otsu, illness of Georgy, obstacles to marriage).  These kind of experiences don't necessarily mature a person, but certainly let them know that their life will be complex -- and that is no childish concept.  With experiences like these, I doubt that NII was as innocent or childlike as suggested.  I guess that I am wondering how everybody here weighs the validity of what many of Nicholas' contemporaries wrote about him.  Princess Radziwill, for example!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Halinka on October 02, 2008, 11:36:48 AM
Nicholas father gave his childeren very, very tough love. Both of there personailty's were so far off from each other I belive made it struggle somtimes.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: nena on October 02, 2008, 03:32:21 PM
I agree with Halinka. Also, I know Alexander III told that family is one of most importatnt things, and told to Nicholas II that he must to have a family. It was shortly before 1894. Also, Alexander III was full of love with his children.....
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Halinka on October 02, 2008, 06:57:51 PM
I agree with what you said to nena, it's very true he was tough love.


A good example of this tough love when Nicholas was born the doctor said he was week and small and should get rid of him, Alexander hurted him. This may be a myth though, does anyone know of this story.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Svetabel on October 03, 2008, 01:21:54 AM

A good example of this tough love when Nicholas was born the doctor said he was week and small and should get rid of him, Alexander hurted him. This may be a myth though, does anyone know of this story.

What a nonsense! Where did you read such a story? Doctor saying of getting rid of a male Romanov, long-awaited child of his parents, first-born of them??? Of course Nicholas was small (inheritance from his mother) and probably week in his first years but that only made the doctors/nannies treat him carefully.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Condecontessa on October 03, 2008, 10:05:17 PM
The story came from Edvard Radzinsky's book "The Last Tsar". I think it was over-dramatized.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Svetabel on October 04, 2008, 01:18:24 PM
The story came from Edvard Radzinsky's book "The Last Tsar". I think it was over-dramatized.

Ahh, yes, I forgot that I had read the Radzinsky. Of course he is not a reliable source.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Multiverse on January 08, 2009, 11:03:22 PM
I have wondered if as a child or adolescent if Nicholas ever felt overwhelmed by his future.

I understand that physically Alexander III was a big man. I've heard him described as the personal epitome of the Great Russian Bear, and he singlehandedly ruled Russia with supreme self confidence and self assuredness. By most counts Alexander III was a tough act to follow.

Even as an adult Nicholas didn't have the physical stature of his father. Nicholas was I think 12 years old when his grandfather was assassinated and his father became Tsar. Growing up with a father like Alexander III and maturing into manhood knowing that he would one day succeed him as Tsar Autocrat of this vast powerful Russian Empire must have at times seemed overwhelming to Nicholas as a teenager.

Is there any indication of that anywhere? Just wondering.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on January 09, 2009, 12:37:31 PM
The truth is that Alexander III considered Nicholas completely unsuitable to become emperor.
Nicholas as a child was very sensitive, resulting in his father's belief that Nicholas wasn't "man enough" to be emperor.
The life of emperor was not the life that he wanted, but that life was imposed to him from the destiny.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: nena on January 09, 2009, 12:45:34 PM
Thanks to Empress Maria, NII's grandmother, his life and of his brothers were very traditional, I think I read he washed with cold water, long walking every day, etc.  ;)

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on January 09, 2009, 12:48:55 PM
Yes, You are right, I have exactly read the same things.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Naslednik on January 09, 2009, 01:39:56 PM
I don't know -- so many untruths have been published about this family that I always try to look at primary sources and then weigh in with common sense.  Of course N was overwhelmed, who wouldn't be?  Nicholas I didn't want to be Tsar, and Alexander III as well, and both hoped to avoid ruling Russia.  But N2's relationship with his father has been distorted, in my opinion.  Too many assessments are measured on comments like Witte's ("have you ever had a conversation with him?"), but we know that Witte was bitter toward N2 by the time he wrote his memoirs, so that taints this comment, in my opinion.  Also, Witte contradicts himself: he talks about Alexander's reflection on N's immaturity, and then himself says that in N's young years as Tsar he had the "best the human heart and mind can offer" (paraphrased, sorry).  Alexander III loved his children: Olga's book demonstrates this, and Nicholas' lifelong devotion to his father also shows that the relationship was close. I suspect that N received the most severe discipline, but in the context of Victorian thinking, and weighing in Alexander III's well-known playfulness with kids, I believe that the relationship was as normal as could be hoped for.

Nicholas was observed at his coming-of-age ceremony as striding up confidently in front of everyone at church and speaking in a commanding voice.  If this is the case, I believe that he worked hard at modeling his public persona after his father and grandfather (and his mother too!), and to a large degree, succeeded.  He is almost always described as charming, calm and dignified in public.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: XJaseyRaeX on January 09, 2009, 01:42:40 PM
i used to hear that Nicholas never had any real desire to be Czar....was that true?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: historyfan on January 09, 2009, 10:03:54 PM
It is written in a few sources that after the death of Alexander III, Nicholas was distraught, saying (to Sandro, I think?) "I never wanted to be Tsar, I'm not prepared!"

That suggests to me that he'd had more than a passing thought about that prospect, but that he'd never expected it so soon.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Multiverse on January 09, 2009, 10:56:51 PM
It is written in a few sources that after the death of Alexander III, Nicholas was distraught, saying (to Sandro, I think?) "I never wanted to be Tsar, I'm not prepared!"

That suggests to me that he'd had more than a passing thought about that prospect, but that he'd never expected it so soon.

Given the enormity of the job is anyone ever really prepared to step into a position like that? It really would feel overwhelming to anyone.

Here in The United States someone will every now and then say of The Presidency of The United States, "why would anyone want the job? I wouldn't want the responsibility." I'm sure over the years there have been some Presidential candidates who realizing they might win or that they were going to win, and have said to themselves, "my God what am I getting myself into?"

It often sounds great at first until you realize the responsibility and headaches that come with the job.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on January 09, 2009, 11:12:11 PM
Elizabeth I remarked on this in her '' Farewell Speech'' to parliament in 1601 ( two years before her death) '' To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to those who bear it''- wise words. She was a wise ruler and clearly prepared to rule, despite facing challemges like the condition of England at the time she ascended the throne, her young age, and the challenge of being a female ruler in an age where that was very uncommon and women rulers were thought of as not up to the job. I think she was right. I think Nicholas did feel overwhelmed- his oft sited words to Sandro indicate this, it wasn't just something he said and didn't feel deeply. I think he felt overwhelmed. I think he felt ovehelmed when he was a child, but perhaps less so, as he no doubt assumed his father would have a long life, and he wouldn't be called upon to reign at a young age. Perhaps Alexander II's assination when Nicholas was about 13 increased his feeling overwhelmed, as it was a dramatic illustration of the dangers- pressures of being tsar.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Felicia on January 10, 2009, 12:26:13 PM
I want to ask - is it any information about this fact: Alexander III thought that Michael would be better Emperor than Nicholas, and he wanted Nicholas to reign for several years, until Michael will be 21, then abdicate? I've read about it in one "historical" novel, and I wonder if it's true...
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on January 12, 2009, 12:13:04 AM
I've never heard of that. It's fiction. Nicholas was the heir. Micheal was much younger than Nicholas, and only about 16 when Alexander III died, and nobody ever thought of him as heir to the throne during Alexander III's lifetime. People thought in later years when Micheal was heir, he wouldn't make a good Tsar if called to the throne. Alexander III never thought of Micheal as the heir, ever- it would be going over George, the middle brother to Micheal and Nicholas anyway- George was the next heir after Nicholas, although he was in poor health.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Felicia on January 14, 2009, 12:45:47 PM
imperial angel, thanks for information
In this novel, i see, reality was distorted, even it seemed real
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: historyfan on January 14, 2009, 08:29:12 PM
Elizabeth I remarked on this in her '' Farewell Speech'' to parliament in 1601 ( two years before her death) '' To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to those who bear it''- wise words. She was a wise ruler and clearly prepared to rule, despite facing challemges like the condition of England at the time she ascended the throne, her young age, and the challenge of being a female ruler in an age where that was very uncommon and women rulers were thought of as not up to the job.

Not to mention the weighty issue of religion she faced.

Sorry, just a bit off-topic, but why did Elizabeth I issue a farewell speech two years before her death?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on January 15, 2009, 12:58:18 AM
It was her last speech in parliament, I believe. It was the last sitting of Parliament before she died, although that was two years before her death. She was getting older then, especially for the 16th cenrury ( she was in her late 60s). She and everyone at the center of power in England sensed her reign was drawing to an end. I'm not sure it was thought of her as farewell speech at the time, that label may have come later. It remains a wise thing to say though, applicable to all rulers- including Nicholas II.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: historyfan on January 15, 2009, 09:49:10 PM
She was ahead of her time, most definitely.  That quote could apply to so many things - sort of like "Be careful what you wish for" or "With great power comes great responsibility".
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Terence on January 16, 2009, 12:07:22 AM
She was ahead of her time, most definitely.  That quote could apply to so many things - sort of like "Be careful what you wish for" or "With great power comes great responsibility".

What I find very intriguing is that for all her words in this speech and her supposed duty to England, Elizabeth left the country with no clear heir to the throne.  So much for duty to the country.

Now that sounds like resounding self indulgence!  Only she can reign, then what is to follow for her beloved country/citizens/peasants?

Sorry, at the end of her life she wasn't a great anything.

T
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on January 16, 2009, 12:23:38 AM
I'd love to reply to your post, but I think I would be getting off- topic. If we continue to talk about Elizabeth I, we should move that discussion to the Tudors.- if you post your thoughts in the Tudor thread, I think it would make for a VERY interesting discussion The quote is wise- especially coming from a ruler. So many pieces of advice are wise regarding things like this, but aren't from someone who has been there. Elizabeth I WAS there. Nicholas and Alexandra interestingly enough took their duty to provide an heir to the throne ( Alexei) to Russia and then to preserve that heir's life very seriously, so much so, that Alexei's ''healer'' Rasputin ruined the reputation of their dynasty and contributed to the Romanovs' fall. So N and A's desire to provide Russia with an heir fulfilled that duty to their country, ( although there were other heirs- Micheal, but Micheal had no heir, his son was morgantic) but their trying to fulfill that duty perhaps damaged the dynasty in the long run more than it helped it.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Multiverse on January 18, 2009, 08:48:23 PM
Nicholas and Alexandra interestingly enough took their duty to provide an heir to the throne ( Alexei) to Russia and then to preserve that heir's life very seriously, so much so, that Alexei's ''healer'' Rasputin ruined the reputation of their dynasty and contributed to the Romanovs' fall. So N and A's desire to provide Russia with an heir fulfilled that duty to their country, ( although there were other heirs- Micheal, but Micheal had no heir, his son was morgantic) but their trying to fulfill that duty perhaps damaged the dynasty in the long run more than it helped it.

From everything I have read and heard, my sense is that Nicholas and Alexandra took all of their duty to Russia and to The Russian People very very seriously. Doing the right things, or what they truly believed were the right things, by Russia and The Russian People was very important to both Nicholas and Alexandra. In terms of his sense of dedication and duty and giving of himself to Russia and the Russian People, I think Nicholas II was an outstanding Tsar.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: GoldenPen on January 20, 2009, 08:15:54 AM
Nicholas and Alexandra interestingly enough took their duty to provide an heir to the throne ( Alexei) to Russia and then to preserve that heir's life very seriously, so much so, that Alexei's ''healer'' Rasputin ruined the reputation of their dynasty and contributed to the Romanovs' fall. So N and A's desire to provide Russia with an heir fulfilled that duty to their country, ( although there were other heirs- Micheal, but Micheal had no heir, his son was morgantic) but their trying to fulfill that duty perhaps damaged the dynasty in the long run more than it helped it.

From everything I have read and heard, my sense is that Nicholas and Alexandra took all of their duty to Russia and to The Russian People very very seriously. Doing the right things, or what they truly believed were the right things, by Russia and The Russian People was very important to both Nicholas and Alexandra. In terms of his sense of dedication and duty and giving of himself to Russia and the Russian People, I think Nicholas II was an outstanding Tsar.

I agree with you on Nicholas and Alexander love for there people, they consider themself "mama" and "papa" of Russia. But in that sence I belive Nicholas had 19th Century outlook on things in the 20 century. Which just caused a chain recation as you all know... 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Olga Maria on January 26, 2009, 02:55:11 AM
Is it true that Empress Marie likes Misha to be on the throne better than Nicky? I read it on Anna Vyrubova's book. Correct me if I'm wrong..Thank you!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: nena on January 26, 2009, 07:11:53 AM
I have read it too. But I can not disscuss about it, since I don't know much about it.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Olga Maria on January 27, 2009, 04:34:19 AM
I read it on Anya's book. I just wonder if there are any supporting details. Marie even hated Alexandra. She often quotes her initial M must be written first before Alexandra's A (it was on the case of a handmaid's initials). Correct me if I'm wrong. I have no copy of it here while typing this.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Selencia on January 29, 2009, 02:38:02 PM
This man really angers me and in a similar fashion that I blame Louis XV for what happened to Louis XVI, I blame Alexander for what happened to Nicholas and his family. Everywhere I turn people keep saying he was unprepared to be Tsar. There are some people who despite all the training they just can't rule, but Nicholas never had the freakin training! What was up with his daddy! His whole mentality of, I'm going to live many more years so I have time to teach him theme just pisses me off! I don't know how Russian Emperors dealt with their heirs but usually when I read about history, the reigning monarch is preparing their successor from an early age for their future role. I just can't help feeling that if Alexander III had spent more time teaching Nicholas the whole debacle MAY have been prevented.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: nena on January 29, 2009, 02:45:21 PM
You are right. AIII period was peaceful, he was strong and autocrat monarch. Nicholas II...wasn't.

NII was unprepared to become Tsar. We know after 1894, he was confused and didn't know what to do. I have never done something like be Tsar -- he said something like that at 1894/5. time.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on January 29, 2009, 03:13:44 PM
Interesting topic!...I'm agree.
I don't want to say that the entire responsibility of the failure of Nicholas II was of his father Alexander III, but however he often had negative effects on Nicholas.

Sorry for my wrong english, I'm from Italy.  :-[
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Carolath Habsburg on January 29, 2009, 03:15:32 PM
If someone knows..i d like to know how Alexander II and Alexander III were trained to be an Emperor
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Selencia on January 29, 2009, 04:43:43 PM
I definitely don't want to put the whole debacle on Alexander's soldiers. Nicholas and those around him didn't understand or refused to realize that Russia was no longer going to sit quietly as they suffered under an autocrat and it was time for the people to take action. But along with that was Nicholas' inability to be a good ruler which is father should have taught him.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: WhiteRussian on January 29, 2009, 04:53:35 PM
I think you have to put equal blame on both his parents. I've read that his mother never allowed him to have the same tutor for more than 2-3 sessions because she was afraid they might build up an influence with him. Also, his tutors were not allowed to challenge Nicholas at all. Thus his life was even more sheltered than the average Tsesarevich. Could you imagine not being able to be told you were wrong at school? That would have to mess up anyone, even an autocrat in training.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Selencia on January 29, 2009, 10:13:31 PM
Prince Charles has that same problem. Maybe his mother did baby him but it was his father's responsibility to train him. I am not blaming his father for Nicholas being spoiled and wanting his own way, I am blaming him for not teaching his son and heir how to do the job.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Olga Maria on January 29, 2009, 11:42:09 PM
Yup. I agree with you. Selencia.

I often wonder why most of the encyclopedias put on Nicholas II's biography about his "unpreparedness" and "weak ruling of Russian Empire".
I assume they've (authors of those) never read more about him. If they did, they would not put such words which hurt the Romanov fans.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Paul on February 08, 2009, 07:52:39 AM
If memory serves, a high official actually confronted Alexander III over his son's lack of experience in state affairs. The official told the Czar that Russia had the right to an experienced emperor. The Czar's reply was to cite Nicholas' personality. That exchanged might be found in Nicholas & Alexandra, but don't quote me on it.

Alexander III was an active, robust kind of a man. He seems the sort of man who would've been happier chopping trees or running a tavern. How fitting that he reminds one of a bear. His sons? Handsome, personally kind, but rather weak & insipid.

The relationship between Alexander III & Nicholas II could easily have degenerated into something like that of King Frederick William I of Prussia and his heir, Frederick the Great. Alexander III was a better human being- fortunately.

A father does have a lot of influence over a son's development, but one can't build a good house with defective material.  With his sons, Alexander didn't have a lot of material to work with. There was only so much that the poor man could do.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Grand Duchess Jennifer on February 08, 2009, 11:01:37 AM
I read somewhere that Alexander III bullied Nicholas and called him "Girly" or something like that. That's not very encouraging for a future Tsar. What father would do that?

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 08, 2009, 11:10:02 AM
I read somewhere that Alexander III bullied Nicholas and called him "Girly" or something like that. That's not very encouraging for a future Tsar. What father would do that?



Yes, it's true, I read the same thing.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: WhiteRussian on February 08, 2009, 12:28:23 PM
Indeed it is true. IIRC, Alexander called Nicholas "girly". It was pretty well known that Michael was Alexander's favorite son. I think Alexander should have started training Nicholas earlier, particularly if he knew the family history and that the majority of Romanov Tsars died before the age of 50 for various reasons. Supposedly he planned to train Nicholas after he turned 30, but he died when Nicholas was 26 because of the aftereffects of the train wreck. After the wreck Alexander complained of neck, back and kidney pain and died of nephritis (swollen kidneys).
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: romanov1918 on February 14, 2009, 07:32:38 PM
Selencia, you can't totally blame his father.  Alexander III was not given the special education and training a Tsarevitch did, because he wasn't supposed to be Tsar, his brother was. So maybe Alexander felt that if he could start being trained at such a later stage, so could Nicholas.  It was felt that Alexander would rule until late in his life and they would have plenty of time for Nicholas to be trained.  Nicholas didn't have his fathers stature or forceful personality, he was smaller physically and he did not like confrontations. 

You make it sound like they did absolutely nothing to familiarize Nicholas with the daily business of being Tsar, and this is not true. 

Nicholas himself felt he was not prepared, and he said this the day of his fathers death.  Of course he felt like that, his personality was gentle, quiet and kind, not the type to just take charge and take over and be a big Russian bear of a Tsar.  I think Nicholas tried his best at first, considering his mother, uncles, and wife (more so later on in his reign) were all trying to persuade him to do what they wanted.  He tried to please everyone, yet this was impossible, and he also wanted to follow his fathers reign, since it was peaceful. 

I think Nicholas truly did his best.  Towards the end of his reign, I believe he was tired, worn out, drained, and it did not take much to talk him into abdicating. 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Terence on February 14, 2009, 11:38:20 PM
You make it sound like they did absolutely nothing to familiarize Nicholas with the daily business of being Tsar, and this is not true. 

I'd be curious to know what WAS done to "familiarize Nicholas with the daily business of being Tsar".  Could you cite some examples?  I was always under the impression this was tragically neglected.

T
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 16, 2009, 08:13:07 AM
I have read that Alexander III was contrary to the marriage between Nicholas and Alexandra, and that he consented to their wedding only in deathbed...obviously he knew that Nicholas had to get married for allowing the continuity of the dynasty.
If I'm not wrong, Alexander III wanted that Nicholas married a French princess to strengthen the relationship of alliance between Russia and France.
Is this true?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ally Kumari on February 16, 2009, 08:15:38 AM
yes, but helen d ´Orléans was Catholic and refused to convert. Alexander III. only allowed Nicky to marry Alix also to "encourage him".
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 16, 2009, 08:34:08 AM
Thank you for the answer!, now I finally know the name of that french princess...Helen d'Orléans.
In reality I had read it but I didn't remember it.  :-[
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Carolath Habsburg on February 16, 2009, 12:24:49 PM
Helene D`Orleans wasnt Albert Victor s Love of his life?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 16, 2009, 12:39:47 PM
Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence?
Sincerely I don't know...maybe yes.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 16, 2009, 01:16:04 PM
Ah!, if I'm not wrong she was the wife of the Duke of Aosta...
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Carolath Habsburg on February 16, 2009, 01:24:04 PM
yes, it is her. Helena D` Orleans Married Manuel Filiberto Duke of Aosta and became duchess of aosta ;-)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: violetta on February 21, 2009, 01:21:01 PM
I `ve also happened to read that Misha was his parents` favorite son but it is hard for me to imagine that Mariya Fedorovna and AIII could have neglected the rules of succession. In fact, AIII ha dthese rules instilled from the cradle on. I guess that the welfare of the dynasty was uppermost in his mind. When his father AII married Ekaterina Yurevskaya, he obeyed his father although he objected to this marrriage but his father was the Emperor. And AII was so much grateful to his son. What is more, AIII fully justified the murder of Tzarevich Alexey i.e. Peter`s order to murder his son on the grounds that the Emperor was first of all the ruler. Being a father was not the major role. hence, changing the line of succession did not eno enter his mind. AIII was so much attached to the rules and traditions
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Olga Maria on February 21, 2009, 01:23:26 PM
Well said, violetta! :- >
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 22, 2009, 09:30:15 AM
AIII fully justified the murder of Tzarevich Alexey i.e. Peter`s order to murder his son on the grounds that the Emperor was first of all the ruler. Being a father was not the major role. hence, changing the line of succession did not eno enter his mind. AIII was so much attached to the rules and traditions

I know this fact, the senate had condamned Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich (son of Tsar Peter I) to death for conspiring rebellion against his father, but I didn't know that Alexander III fully justified that decision, thank you for the information!
And Peter I accepted the decision of senate without opposition?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: violetta on February 22, 2009, 11:50:04 AM
AIII fully justified the murder of Tzarevich Alexey i.e. Peter`s order to murder his son on the grounds that the Emperor was first of all the ruler. Being a father was not the major role. hence, changing the line of succession did not eno enter his mind. AIII was so much attached to the rules and traditions

I know this fact, the senate had condamned Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich (son of Tsar Peter I) to death for conspiring rebellion against his father, but I didn't know that Alexander III fully justified that decision, thank you for the information!
And Peter I accepted the decision of senate without opposition?

This wee I`mind vising the National library in Warsaw and I`m going to find some quotations confirming AIII`s opinion on the issue
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: violetta on February 25, 2009, 06:58:26 AM
Count sheremet`ev s.d. (1844-1918) , a court member,left his memories in 3 volumes, published in 2001, moscow. in volume 1 , p.463 he wrote:" I noticed that memory of Peter the Great was dear to him ( to Alexander III). He was his enormous admirer. Once we were talking about tzarevich Alexei and the verdict. AIII fully justified Peter and repeated that it was the only solution in this case. He often initiated conversations on historical subjects". Nikolay II ` favorite tzar was Alexis, the"humble' tzar, peter`s father. doesn`t it tell a lot about triking differences between the father and the son?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on February 25, 2009, 07:14:10 AM
Count sheremet`ev s.d. (1844-1918) , a court member,left his memories in 3 volumes, published in 2001, moscow. in volume 1 , p.463 he wrote:" I noticed that memory of Peter the Great was dear to him ( to Alexander III). He was his enormous admirer. Once we were talking about tzarevich Alexei and the verdict. AIII fully justified Peter and repeated that it was the only solution in this case. He often initiated conversations on historical subjects". Nikolay II ` favorite tzar was Alexis, the"humble' tzar, peter`s father. doesn`t it tell a lot about triking differences between the father and the son?

Thank you very much for the information!  :)
So, Alexander III fully justified the death sentence for Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich...This story is very sad, I wonder how it was possible that a son opposed to his father...but it's also hard to believe that a father would accept a death sentence for his own son...very sad story.  :(
Alexander III was convinced that this was the only solution, but it was really the only possible solution?
 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Ausmanov on March 28, 2009, 05:13:03 PM
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this. I have to admit I don't know allot about Nicholas's education .But I believe that Nicholas inherited his distrust of the idea of a  constitutional monarchy, Duma's and so on from his father, which may have been one of the reasons for the collapse of the Empire. I also read, i think it was in Romanov Autumn  that Nicholas did not have as much support from other members of the Romanov family as other Tsars have had, do you think this could have been a contributing factor? Also, as i understand it, Nicholas's brother Mikhail {is it spelt like that?} was not very involved in the nations politics, do you think it would have helped if this situation were different? I would love to hear your opinions on these ideas as i am only fair new at this and would love some clarification on these matters.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Tina Laroche on March 28, 2009, 06:11:47 PM
... Nicholas's brother Mikhail {is it spelt like that?} ...

It could be spelled Michail or Michael (English version for the same name, as far as I know), since it's "Михаил" in Russian, so both ways are acceptable.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on March 29, 2009, 01:42:22 AM
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this. I have to admit I don't know allot about Nicholas's education .But I believe that Nicholas inherited his distrust of the idea of a  constitutional monarchy, Duma's and so on from his father, which may have been one of the reasons for the collapse of the Empire. I also read, i think it was in Romanov Autumn  that Nicholas did not have as much support from other members of the Romanov family as other Tsars have had, do you think this could have been a contributing factor? Also, as i understand it, Nicholas's brother Mikhail {is it spelt like that?} was not very involved in the nations politics, do you think it would have helped if this situation were different? I would love to hear your opinions on these ideas as i am only fair new at this and would love some clarification on these matters.

It's defintely true about Nicholas inheiriting his distrust of the idea of constituational monarchy from his father, and it defintely was one of the reasons for the collapse of the empire. But Nicholas also inheirited this distrust from generations of Romanov ancestors, not just from his father, although his grandfather Alexander II had been more liberal. Indeed, Nicholas was not supported by his uncles for example, and there was much division and family strife and this did indeed contribute to the collapse pf the Empire, a house divided against itself can't stand, as they say. As for Nicholas's brother Mikhail (that's the Russian spelling of it, but it's correct)it's true he was not very involved in politics as you say, and it's hard to know had this sitiuation been different how much that would have helped, that's more speculative than your first two questions and nobody really knows for sure, in my opinion. You find the first two ideas you mentioned in many books about the Romanovs, so they are defintely factual.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on April 24, 2009, 07:46:57 AM
She was ahead of her time, most definitely.  That quote could apply to so many things - sort of like "Be careful what you wish for" or "With great power comes great responsibility".

What I find very intriguing is that for all her words in this speech and her supposed duty to England, Elizabeth left the country with no clear heir to the throne.  So much for duty to the country.

Now that sounds like resounding self indulgence!  Only she can reign, then what is to follow for her beloved country/citizens/peasants?

Sorry, at the end of her life she wasn't a great anything.

T


Hey T - Good to see you in this thread.

Peter the Great also left Russia without a legal successor.  So Elizabeth I is not the only ruler to have done that.

Peter died trying to write down a name, but he left it for too long.


Up until Paul I passed the Pauline Laws of Succession, the sovereign could name anyone to succeed him/her.  Paul changed all that, but oddly enough only at the end of the 1700s.  So the very Pauline Laws that we always talk about were only in effect for about 100 of the 300 years of the Romanov Dynasty.

I think that any of the Emperors could have changed the laws of succession.  After all, they were autocrats.  As to why they didn't?  Only they could say.  And it would be better to change the laws of secession by law than by murder as Peter and Catherine and Alexander I did.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Naslednik on May 12, 2009, 10:52:06 AM
Quote
"I also read, i think it was in Romanov Autumn  that Nicholas did not have as much support from other members of the Romanov family as other Tsars have had, do you think this could have been a contributing factor?"

I found that comment in Romanov Autumn interesting.  Charlotte Zeepvat's point, I believe, was that when AIII became Tsar, he and his brothers were old enough to brush away undue interference from their own uncles, and create support around the new Tsar.  But NII was so young, Georgy was ill, Misha a child, and their uncles in the prime of life (and used to being in the spotlight).  It would take a certain kind of strength, very close to bullheadedness, to go it alone with no help from your uncles or young brothers.  I understand NII's difficult position.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on May 13, 2009, 09:55:43 AM
I think that Nicholas was unprepared to rule because his father excluded him from the day to day administrative and public duties of a future monarch. Perhaps it was thought that because he was chosen by God to rule, he would automatically also be given the tools to become tsar as part of the  "package"
His education was certainly lacking, however, one does not know whether any appropriate subjects were available in those days. These days I would imagine that political science, history and law would be 3 subjects required to do the job. But I think the main reason was his exclusion from, and the basic involvement in 'running the show' by his father. King Edward VII was also thought to be unsuitable by his mother, QV, who also excluded him from everything, and he turned out to be a wonderful king, despite all the trouble he got into every now and then, because he liked to have a good time every now and then.
I think any monarch needs to win over the respect and support of the people they rule, this is the most important factor, in my opinion." Love" flies out of the window with the first bread shortage, as we saw in St Petersburg at the beginning of the Revolution. In those days bread symbolised many things to the ordinary people and workers.  Neither Nicholas or Alexandra imbued their people with any of this. They withdrew themselves because they were afraid of being assassinated. And look what happened in the end. The British Royal family have had many attempts, real and false, on their lives. You don't see QE11 scurrying off in her Daimler to hide at Balmoral because she is too afraid !!   Ruling a nation is not for sissies.
They had private tutors in those days, mostly appointed by their parents. Nicholas has an Englishman, and was then palmed off to the army.
So yes, I would imagine that his education and preparation was not up to the job of being Emperor of Russia.

This combined with a personality which was the opposite of his father, a number of dominant uncles, whom he feared and tried to keep happy, together with an interfering, incompetent, socially inept, demanding and unstable wife, was a recipe for disaster. What other reasons can there be ? None in my opinion. My apologies if this sounds harsh. We tend to " glamorise" the Romanovs, and sometimes forget the "nitty gritty" of the whole situation.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on May 13, 2009, 02:17:09 PM
Actually , Nicholas's education - the book learning part- was pretty comprehensive.

The actual involvement in day to day operations of the government, however, were not extended to him by his father who thought him "a child".

Edward VII was 60 years old when he came to the throne in 1901.

Nicholas II was only 26 in 1894.

Edward had more time to learn and to become comfortable with himself and his position even though Queen Victoria did not give him much to do.  Also, the personalities of the two monarchs were completely different.

Edward couldn't wait to take responsibility and Nicholas shrank from it.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: violetta on May 13, 2009, 02:27:17 PM
Quote
"I also read, i think it was in Romanov Autumn  that Nicholas did not have as much support from other members of the Romanov family as other Tsars have had, do you think this could have been a contributing factor?"

I found that comment in Romanov Autumn interesting.  Charlotte Zeepvat's point, I believe, was that when AIII became Tsar, he and his brothers were old enough to brush away undue interference from their own uncles, and create support around the new Tsar.  But NII was so young, Georgy was ill, Misha a child, and their uncles in the prime of life (and used to being in the spotlight).  It would take a certain kind of strength, very close to bullheadedness, to go it alone with no help from your uncles or young brothers.  I understand NII's difficult position.


Someone said that your "character is your fate" i e your education and knowledge of the entire system doesn`t necesserily lead to your being a good monarch. Nikolay was a mild and submissive person, his father looked down on him at times due to the afore-mentioned qualities.he was so well-behaved that count sergey vitte who opposed the tzar`s policy at the end of his life admitted that the emperor was the most well-behaved and polite person he had ever met.  Nikolay was, in all probability, not able to express his objection or his opposite opinion.  one of his contempoaries said that the tzar agreed with the opinion of the last interlocutor.no wonder that his uncles started to govern him and his decisions.obviously, they expressed they respect and obedience in public but in private they shouted at him and sisn`t restrain from criricising his deciisions. MF tried to be his main advisor in order to limit the influence of his tall uncles ( unlike all Romanov men Nicky was short, or of middle height, and his uncles towered over him thus producing unpleasant effects on the young monarch, I think ;)). in the initial period of his reign Nikolay often repeated :"I`ll ask mama". hence, lack of knowledge wasn`t the main impediment during Nikolay`s reign.his father wasn`t born to ascend the throne.in fact, his parents neglected him a bit and paid more attention to Nixa. What`s more Alexander Alexandrovich, the future Alexander III, wasn`t considered a bright person. his education wasn`t good enough either, his parents didn`t invest as much energy in him as in case of Nixa. Sasha became the heir tot the throne at 20 (if i`m not mistaken) so he was even less prepared. but he was a strong personality...he wasn`t considered a weak tzar...a symbol of russia with his beard and unbelievable physical strength...
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Naslednik on May 13, 2009, 03:38:06 PM
Quote
They withdrew themselves because they were afraid of being assassinated.

Well, I disagree with several things said here, and think it is important to try to throw away our 21st century glasses as much as possible.  The whole issue of NII's character is subject to the 'editing' that happens when one is not on the winning side of history.  Add to this Bolshevik propaganda.  And then N's charming, quiet, non-confrontational temperament gave him the reputation for being weak even in his lifetime.

But consider what it is you are saying when you call a man weak, or afraid of assassination.  First the facts: N was 12 when he saw AII's mutilated body.  He survived Borki (yes, an accident), Otsu, and even the Blessing of the Waters attempt in January 1905.  Read GD Olga -- she said N didn't even move when the shots went past him, and when questioned later by Olga replied something like "well, what could I do?"  I think it is fair to say that none or few of us knows what it is like to face the hatred of your own people, so we must be careful when we point fingers.

He did retreat from public view, no doubt, but that was not from fear or weakness.  I believe that Alexei's illness caused a fundamental change in his personality, but that's a thread that belongs elsewhere!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: mcdnab on June 19, 2009, 07:17:43 PM
Nicholas was certainly personally brave but that doesn't make a great monarch. He was terribly young to succeed and that was terribly bad luck for him. He fell in love with a woman completely unsuited to the position of Empress who despite the influence of her grandmother soon adapted to the idea of a monarchy that had in her view no need to be "loved" or "respected"  by the people. Nicholas' character, bearing and intelligence was completely unsuited to the position he was called to occupy and he had added handicaps he took after his mother's family in looks and stature which further reduced his capabilities to dominate his own family let alone the Russian Empire. Ironically despite his failures he remained committed to the autocracy egged on by his wife when others of his family might have thought a compromise was most likely to succeed.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on June 20, 2009, 08:30:29 AM
Quote
They withdrew themselves because they were afraid of being assassinated.

Well, I disagree with several things said here, and think it is important to try to throw away our 21st century glasses as much as possible.  The whole issue of NII's character is subject to the 'editing' that happens when one is not on the winning side of history.  Add to this Bolshevik propaganda.  And then N's charming, quiet, non-confrontational temperament gave him the reputation for being weak even in his lifetime.


I have been saying this for years.  Yet, I am often ridiculed for my thoughts on this matter.  I agree completely that "it is important to throw away our 21st century glasses as much as possible".
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on June 26, 2009, 10:13:29 AM
We can argue this subject endlessly. The bottom line is that they were both wrong for the job. Good parents they were, he was a good husband, but she was not Empress material and he was totally inept. Sure, they were Royal, and in charge of the largest country on earth, but that does not automatically qualify them for the job.
They went to Tsarkoe to protect the Dynasty from the revolutionaries. You read this in every history book on Russia.
So whether you look at the situation " with 20th century glasses" or "21st century" glasses it makes no difference. They withdrew from the Russian people and their duties as rulers of their country, and suffered the consequences. They inflicted it on themselves. 

If you are the ruler of a country, you rule, you are seen, you open hospitals, launch ships, mix with people you dont necessarily like, go  on royal tours, eat with the peasants, but you get out there and do the job until the day you die. That is what Royalty is all about. Its not for the faint hearted. Elizabeth II is a perfect example. She is in her 80's and she is still slogging away. the Queen Mother was the same.
Compare her to Alexandra !!
You do not hide away, lie on you mauve chaise longue all day, and criticise everyone and everything, and ignore good advice.

I think Nicholas and Alexandra would have saved themsleves and their country and millions of lives had they abdicated in favour of someone more suitable. Neither  of them were suitable. The end result proves their ineptitude.

And there were suitable family members in the Romanov family, who would have done a better job. I dont think Russians thrive on being ruled by weaklings. They like a bit of bloodshed and domination. Ivan the Terrible and Stalin, President Putin, its part of their nature, and part of Mother Russia. Russians are tough people.

AS QUEEN MARY SAID TO ONE OF HER CHILDREN WHEN THEY COMPLAINED ABOUT DOING ROYAL DUTIES :
 
" We are the British Royal family, we are never tired, and we love visiting hospitals"

Perhaps if they followed the same line of thought, and got closer to their people, many things would have been very different.

Queen Mary is also quoted as saying, in James Pope Hennessy's famous biography of her, that Alexandra was, because of her attitudel, responsible for the Russian revolution.

There were also other factors, but it does make one think !

We could argue about this endlessly as well, but both of them together certainly were good in many ways, and dismally lacking in the most important things. When you are the monarch of a country, EVERYTHING else comes second. Your duty to your country comes first.

Nicholas's unfortuanate personality was a disaster for his country.     
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on June 26, 2009, 11:49:02 AM
Queen Mary is also quoted as saying, in James Pope Hennessy's famous biography of her, that Alexandra was, because of her attitudel, responsible for the Russian revolution.  

Honestly, I'm sorry for Queen Mary (she was a great woman, and I have a deep respect for her), but I'm not agree with what she said about Alexandra...yes, it's very well know that Empress Alexandra was a real disaster during the WWI and that she was totally obsessed for Rasputin, and that she was a "possessive" wife, and so on...
But the revolution is a very complicated argument, and so I think that consider the revolution as "Alexandra's fault" seems to me excessive...just my opinion.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: imperial angel on June 26, 2009, 04:23:52 PM
I agree with Pavlov that Nicholas and Alexandra were not suited by personality to be rulers of a country such as Russia. In that sense, they contributed to the start of the Revolution;however, there were other factors at work, because the forces that led to the Revolution happening had been developing for years in Russia, long before the birth of Nicholas II, even. So these factors seem to have been more at work than Alexandra's personality and actions in causing the Revolution. Also, Queen Mary, King George V and the British royal family were constituentional monarchs, it must be kept in mind, which is rather different than being an autocrat like Nicholas II was, or an autocrat's consort, as Alexandra was. I think Nicholas would have made an excellant constitutional monarch, but he wasn't suited to be an autocrat. So the difference that the Romanovs, especially Nicholas and Alexandra had a lot of power, whereas the British royal family actually had very little power must be borne in mind, although it's true that Alexandra's personality and attitude was likely not suited to even being the consort of a constituentional monarch, and also Nicholas II was not a good autocrat.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on June 27, 2009, 09:22:32 AM
The topic of this thread and the question in the title is that Nicholas II was unprepared to rule and why was he unprepared to rule?

W know that he was "unsuited" as we always say, but why was he unsuited?  What was there about him and his up bringing that made him unsuitable.  What did he lack inherently and what was he denied by his surroundings that left him unable to rule the Russian Empire at the time that he was chosen to do so?

And why, when he was so lacking in the ability to make up his mind and seemed to agree with the last person he spoke to, was he so dead set on Alix as his only consort?

He courted her for nearly 10 years if you go back to his first meeting with her at the wedding of Ella and Serge.  If he had only put half as much effort into governing his country as he put into securing Alix for his wife, he would have been an admirable monarch.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Yelena Aleksandrovna on July 06, 2009, 08:04:08 PM
I read that He didn't feel able to became Tsar, and also he didn't want to
be Tsar
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Father Gregory on August 25, 2009, 03:54:26 PM
In The Last Days of the Romanovs there are references to drug use, "probably a blend of henbane and hashish administered by a Tibetan doctor, P.A. Badmaev, recommended by Rasputin to counter stress and insomnia."  I know this was discussed briefly in a thread about Alexandra's illness, but there was no further discussion about proof of this potential addiction that the royal couple may have shared.  There are also sources claiming that they were addicted to opiate analgesics, probably related to Nicholas' headaches and the Tsaritsa's sciatica, which continued during their captivity.  Being a physician, I can tell you that addicts go through hard-to-conceal withdrawal symptoms within a few days of missing their drugs (opiates).  This is not the same for hashish, which is a THC containing substance.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: nena on August 25, 2009, 04:23:42 PM
True. Rasputin had something do to with those 'pills/drugs' Tsar used sometimes. I read that in Razdinsky's Rasputin File.

In The Last Days of the Romanovs there are references to drug use, "probably a blend of henbane and hashish administered by a Tibetan doctor, P.A. Badmaev, recommended by Rasputin to counter stress and insomnia."
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on August 26, 2009, 05:49:32 AM
I think many people in the those days used drugs like hashish and cocaine, and even took small quantities of arsenic and strichnine for various ailments. Unless Nicholas abused his "medication", one will never know how this affected his performance as Tsar.

I think his situation would probably have driven most people to either drink or drugs. Who knows.....he may have found that being a bit high helped him get through the day ! 

I dont want to say this, but if I was married to Alexandra, I would probably not have been averse to a bit of self "medication" myself. 

   
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on August 26, 2009, 09:30:58 AM
I dont want to say this, but if I was married to Alexandra, I would probably not have been averse to a bit of self "medication" myself.  

The problem is that Nicholas II considered Alexandra has his self medication...he was undecided about a political decision?, he asked suggestions to Alexandra, he allowed Alexandra to read and comment his personal notes on his diary, he accepted Rasputin in the court life (as well as the political life!!!) because Alexandra asked him to do so...it looks like a dependence, isn't it?

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mexjames on August 26, 2009, 06:11:38 PM
In The Last Days of the Romanovs there are references to drug use, "probably a blend of henbane and hashish administered by a Tibetan doctor, P.A. Badmaev, recommended by Rasputin to counter stress and insomnia."  I know this was discussed briefly in a thread about Alexandra's illness, but there was no further discussion about proof of this potential addiction that the royal couple may have shared.  There are also sources claiming that they were addicted to opiate analgesics, probably related to Nicholas' headaches and the Tsaritsa's sciatica, which continued during their captivity.  Being a physician, I can tell you that addicts go through hard-to-conceal withdrawal symptoms within a few days of missing their drugs (opiates).  This is not the same for hashish, which is a THC containing substance.
Do you think that the lack of "medication" would have caused, in turn, a lack of decision-making on the part of the Emperor? Would the withdrawal symptom be, at least in part, a passive attitude?

On the other hand, I don't know to what extent the physicians of the day knew the effect of the drugs they prescribed, like opiates, for example.  Would there be any chance that the opposite would happen, that is, that realizing the Emperor's addiction, his captors would actually give him enough medication to keep him "high"? Could the Emperor's behavior also be due to the fact that his captors might have blackmailed him to "stay put", or else, no drugs?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Father Gregory on August 26, 2009, 07:40:48 PM
Withdrawal from opiates appears, at least to a casual observer, like a really bad "cold."  And there is too much cause and effect for even the most uneducated person to realize that they need the drug.  So I seriously doubt that this could have gone unnoticed, even back then by his lowly captors.  If this was used to their (the captors) benefit in anyway is totally speculative at this point because we have not established that Nicholas was addicted to these drugs.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Mexjames on August 27, 2009, 08:21:52 AM
Thanks!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: nena on August 29, 2009, 03:31:55 PM
I have been trying, for many times, to define Nicholas' personality from different spectars. (I am not Dominic Lieven  :D )

Nicholas lacked some important behaviours which were necessary for being the Sovereign Emperor of the Russia by the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, both Nicholas and Alexandra left one bad image of heartless couple which are dancing in palace while peasants are dying in Moscow's hospitals. (Khodinka disaster) Yet Nicholas was one clever man, and had remarkable memory. And Alexandra's influence was fatal -- she recognized in him on weak man, who needs her support in any way, and then she (un)wittingly used it to 'manipulate'. She was stubborn.  But, he had been raised in Russian Orthodoxy, and he believed that any decision aimed towards democracy, may require people's vengeance and weakness of his state. On the other hand, it is partly fault of Alexander III himself. Instead of referring to the Tsesarevich 'You are like girlie', he could have given to him general instructions of ruling the country. After Tsar's premature death in Autumn of 1894 at Livadia, Tsesarevich Nicholas automatically refused all obligations for country and future ruling. He only wanted to avoid bloodshed, which is a contradiction with some references he said about killing people, like - you should have shot them! And, several Nicholas' concepts of looking at people were wrong. I mean, he thought that they are only poor peasants who are willingly working in fields having God's protection, while they are completely loyal to him. By this, I don't mean that he dispraised them. Anyway he got an epithet 'Bloody Nicholas'.  I have been wondering, was it easy to rule and to have in hands cca. 1/6 territory of the Earth? Certainly it wasn't. Nevertheless, Narodnaya Volya won in the end, and all of this ended with pogroms and needless bloodshed.  

It is my effort for being critical a bit. I don't want anyone to take this as bad.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on August 29, 2009, 03:57:58 PM
It is my effort for being critical a bit. I don't want anyone to take this as bad.

I'm 100 % agree with you!...I think that you have done a very good analysis of the complex personality of Tsar Nicholas II.
I particularly appreciated what you said about the fault of Alexander III...referring to the future ruler of the biggest country of the world with the words "You are like a girl" was indeed injurious.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on August 31, 2009, 01:42:06 PM
 I think Nicholas II and Alexandra were, because of their mismanagement of Russia, entirely responsible for what happened in the end. If Nicholas had acted responsibly,and from a position of strength, instead of a position of weakness which was caused by their combined incompetence as rulers of the biggest nation on earth, they could have changed the course of events. Nicholas had many opportunities, even up to the end. He chose to ignore them.
The fact that they managed to survive the 1905 revolution was in itself a miracle. Senior court officials knew that Nicholas was aware of the march arranged by father Gapon, and chose to flee the Winter Palace for the safety of Tsarskoe Selo, coincidentally the night before the protest took place.  He left Grand Duke Vladimir to deal with the situation. They left in a carriage for the station  at the insistence of Alexandra who begged her husband to leave, and she was hardly ever to return to the capital since that fateful day. The divide between the Tsar and his people after that became complete, and the estrangement that separated him from Russian, fuelled by his wife's influence, assumed proportions that only became wider and wider as time went by. They therefore became distant and the subject of gossip. This combined with a bad education, neglect by his father as a weakling, the dominance of his ignorant and arrogant wife, made Nicholas totally unfit to rule Russia. How he managed to survive as long as he did is also a miracle.         
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Douglas on August 31, 2009, 07:27:13 PM
Nicholas II was not prepared to rule Russia because his father Alexander III was unprepared to rule with with any real intelligence.

These problems go back several generations.

The Tsars lived in an unreal fantasy world of pampered luxury.  Weathy people live lives that are shielded from reality.  This is especially dangerous if this goes on for many generations.  They get soft and lazy and before you know it...the masses revolt and storm the palace.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: wox24 on March 11, 2010, 10:28:00 AM
Maybe he was unprepared but he was a good tsar. I know claims about him but Ihave not any reason to change my idea.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Sergei Witte on March 12, 2010, 01:20:56 AM
Quote
They withdrew themselves because they were afraid of being assassinated.

Well, I disagree with several things said here, and think it is important to try to throw away our 21st century glasses as much as possible.  The whole issue of NII's character is subject to the 'editing' that happens when one is not on the winning side of history.  Add to this Bolshevik propaganda.  And then N's charming, quiet, non-confrontational temperament gave him the reputation for being weak even in his lifetime.


I have been saying this for years.  Yet, I am often ridiculed for my thoughts on this matter.  I agree completely that "it is important to throw away our 21st century glasses as much as possible".

I also agree. I would also add: throw away our 21th century Western-outlook glasses. Always take into account cultural and sociological aspects of that time and place which may differ from our point of view.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on March 12, 2010, 05:13:46 AM
 One must also remember that Autocracy was guaranteed to fail anyway because of its very structure.  By the time Alexander III came to the throne it had run its course anyway, and was no longer an acceptable form of goverment for any country entering the 20th century. He passed a doomed system onto his son.
Nicholas had neither the intelligence, foresight or lateral thinking to change anything for the better. His wife was an added ingredient in a recipe for disaster.

Whether he was prepared to rule or not, we all know it was the system that failed. He may have been a good constitutional monarch, had he been given the opportunity.     
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Sergei Witte on March 12, 2010, 01:07:51 PM
One must also remember that Autocracy was guaranteed to fail anyway because of its very structure.

What proof do you have for such a statement?

I am asking that because I am not so convinced of that.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: wox24 on March 12, 2010, 03:09:36 PM
Nicholas had neither the intelligence, foresight or lateral thinking to change anything for the better. His wife was an added ingredient in a recipe for disaster.

Whether he was prepared to rule or not, we all know it was the system that failed. He may have been a good constitutional monarch, had he been given the opportunity.     

I do not absolutely agree.

Russian ekonomic and technologic development was increased. Russian rubel was the third hardest currency in the world (after American and British). Even Sergei Witte said Nikolay did many for it. There were draw up a projects of eletrification of all Russia, BAM (Baykal-Amur Magistrale, it was made in 70th years latest century and only for army reasons.) Reforms of Stolypin imporoved of a situation of farmars. Etc. Simply said, 15-20 years (according West economists) and Russia would be in this situation as the U.S.A. is now.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: rosieposie on March 12, 2010, 06:09:36 PM
I read somewhere that Marie F begged the counsel for Mikhael to be Tsar instead of Nicholas.  Is this true?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 13, 2010, 12:37:40 PM
I don't think that the council had any say in the matter.  Nicholas was the heir and the next in line.

I am not sure that Michael would have been a better or different tsar.  His way of life when he was the heir presumptive was not in keeping with someone who actually cared about the position and was ready to take it.

Marie might have thought that Michael would have made a better tsar ( and I have read that she did), but she didn't have any power over anyone to change things.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Constantinople on March 14, 2010, 01:01:02 AM
The primary reasons that Nicholas was unprepared were that his father didn't think he was talented enough and so did not give him many positions to hone his skills (aside from some tasks like heading the grain commission during one of the famines).  Secondly, Alexander didnt believe in delegating power.  Thirdly, Alexander died prematurely.  Fourthly, as a result to the assassinatiion of Nicholas l, he became increasing more repressive which evaporated creative thinking in the circle of advisors and built up an increasingly more determined violent opposition to the idea of the Tsar.  Lastly, because of this fear of assassination, Nicholas ll travels outside Moscow were rare and only under high security so his contact with Russians was limited and his knowledge base of Russian conditions and problems was minimal.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 14, 2010, 02:39:02 PM
The assassination of Alexander II.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on March 15, 2010, 07:04:53 AM
Does anyone really think that Russia would have survived as an autocracy until the 21st century ?
I dont think so, irrespective of how their economy performed.
How many autocracies / dictatorships do we currently have ?
Korea, Zimbabwe etc. And they are all starving to death, tortured and beaten into submission. Autocracy did not work in the 19th century. It was a medieval and archaic system even in Nicholas's time.
So no, I dont agree with you. And I doubt anyone else will.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Sergei Witte on March 15, 2010, 06:06:53 PM
How many autocracies / dictatorships do we currently have ?


Well, we have White Russia and Russia also has autocratic treats. To mention a few.


 (please look above in this thread. We look too much through our 21st century, Western glasses.)
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Sergei Witte on March 16, 2010, 01:58:54 AM
Does anyone really think that Russia would have survived as an autocracy until the 21st century ?
I dont think so, irrespective of how their economy performed.
How many autocracies / dictatorships do we currently have ?
Korea, Zimbabwe etc. And they are all starving to death, tortured and beaten into submission. Autocracy did not work in the 19th century. It was a medieval and archaic system even in Nicholas's time.
So no, I dont agree with you. And I doubt anyone else will.


I think you are right in that the autocracy in its purest form had had his longest time. But earlier you said it was guaranteed to fail. There is a big difference between probably and guaranteed.

The subject here is why Nicholas II was unprepared to rule. I believe that after the assasination of Alexander II the chlidren of Alexander III were brought up very much protected. They lived in their Gatchina palace which looked more like a castle than a palace. And they had no contact outside the family. This may have caused the tendency of Nicholas to look only at his closest relatives for advice and comfort. He didn't trust anybody outside the family sphere.

With another ruler, who could look ahead of his own family and put a little more trust in other people like Witte etc. Russia would have followed a totally different course.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 16, 2010, 02:26:16 AM
When we look at why Nicholas II was unprepared to rule we actually have to look as far back as Peter the Great.  After Peter's death, the royal family and the line of succession in Russia was never actually secure.

Peter himself died in 1725, and he remains one of the most controversial figures in Russian history. Although he was deeply committed to making Russia a powerful new member of modern Europe, it is questionable whether his reforms resulted in significant improvements to the lives of his subjects. Certainly he modernized Russia's military and its administrative structure, but both of these reforms were financed at the expense of the peasantry, who were increasingly forced into serfdom. After Peter's death Russia went through a great number of rulers in a distressingly short time, none of whom had much of an opportunity to leave a lasting impression. Many of Peter's reforms failed to take root in Russia, and it was not until the reign of Catherine the Great that his desire to make Russia into a great European power was in fact achieved.
http://www.geographia.com/RUSSIA/rushis04.htm

But Catherine came to power with the murder of her husband Peter III.  Her son Paul may or may not have been Peter's child.  Paul was in turn murdered by a group which probably included his own son Alexander I.

Alexander I had no children and left his throne to his brother Constantine who didn't want it and so it went to his next brother Nicholas I.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 16, 2010, 02:39:24 AM
Nicholas I came to power in spite of the Decembrist Revolt and held the throne with a tight first and the help of his army.  He was wise enough to give his son Alexander II a very good education and see that he was prepared to rule, but he left his son with a population who was ready to over throw the autocracy.

Alexander II also gave his heir the Tsarevich Nicholas (Nixa) a good education, but unfortunately the young man died before he could do anything with the education he received and move into politics with the the legacy of his father who was quite liberal in thought and deed.

Then Alexander II was assassinated and Alexander III, who had not been trained as Nixa was, came to throne after seeing his father killed by an assassin's bomb.  Alexander III had not the formal training that either his father or brother had had to prepare his for the throne and so he himself was not ready or prepared to rule.

Alexander III showed that he had no faith in his heir the Tsarevich Nicholas (Nicky) by not giving him the kind of education that he needed to become a productive tsar.

Alexander probably thought that because he had not had the formal training of his brother or his father that his son didn't need it either.  At least not with so many years ahead of him.  I am sure that he did not expect to die at age 49.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 16, 2010, 02:49:19 AM
Most likely, Alexander III saw that all that formal training hadn't done his father Alexander II any good (it didn't save his life) and so thought that it was not something he needed and was not going to get for his own son, Nicholas II.

While Marie Dagmar was a perfect choice for Empress and she did her job with skill, she produced children who not physically anywhere near as impressive as did her in laws.  She also spoiled Nicky and, I believe, coddled him.  Perhaps to protect him from his massive father.

Somehow, IMHO, Alexander III thought that becoming Tsar was something that was absorbed by osmosis.  After all, he had not had any special training and he believed he was doing just fine.  And autocracy did seem to work under Alexander III.  He was so repressive and reactionary that he forced the system to work, even if he had to do it from behind closed palace doors.

Autocracy was, after all, divinely bestowed.  Whomever was chosen for the task by birth would just automatically know how to do the job when the time came.

Like almost all families, the Romanovs were quite dysfunctional from the time that Peter II had his son Alexei tortured and killed, though the murders of Peter III and Paul I and then the refusal of Constantine to take the throne because he liked being Governor of Poland and didn't want to give up that freedom.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 16, 2010, 02:55:41 AM
As Massie has said, "It was with special care that fate chose Nicholas II"

But it was also with special care that all of the kings who ruled at the beginning of WWI were chosen by fate.  All of them had their own special deficiencies whether it be physical or intellectual.

Kaiser Wilhelm II  -King George V - Tsar Nicholas II - Emperor Franz Joseph.  Dig into the background of any of these monarchs and you will see that not one of them was truly prepared to rule.  Especially during the first major word conflict of the 20th century.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: mcdnab on March 17, 2010, 06:23:47 AM
Your absolutely right about that. However one point you should not include George V in that - he was not educated to rule because as King Emperor he merely reigned rather than govern unlike his more absolutist cousins.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on March 17, 2010, 07:38:08 AM
There were so many "rulers' were unfit to rule in the 20th century. Perhaps that is why so many things went wrong.

Nicholas II ( Incompetent) Roosevelt ( Depressive) Churchill ( Depressive) Lenin ( Monster Lunatic ) Stalin ( Serial killer, megalomaniac and seriously unstable) and Hitler, well what do we say about him ? The worst monster in the history of the universe ?

The scary thing is, they all lived at the same time and were in positions of power almost at the same time as well.

 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Petrushka on March 17, 2010, 08:36:50 AM
There were so many "rulers' were unfit to rule in the 20th century. Perhaps that is why so many things went wrong.

Nicholas II ( Incompetent) Roosevelt ( Depressive) Churchill ( Depressive) Lenin ( Monster Lunatic ) Stalin ( Serial killer, megalomaniac and seriously unstable) and Hitler, well what do we say about him ? The worst monster in the history of the universe ?

The scary thing is, they all lived at the same time and were in positions of power almost at the same time as well.

 

Pavlov - no offence meant but Roosevelt and Churchill were democratically elected and so its entirely different.  More to the point Churchill was absolutely the right and best person to be leading Britain at that time - were in not for him, there is little doubt Britain would have followed the rest of Europe and come under German occupation - he alone ensured that Britain maintained its freedom and facilitated the Allies push on D-Day.  Sorry to sound so defensive but to include him in that summary is laughable.  Almost every single leader in history had his/her weakness/issues from Alexander to Bush - but they were men/women of their time and they shaped the world we live in - in Churchills case that was undoubtedly positive. Consider yourself told off!!!! :  )
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on March 17, 2010, 09:02:03 AM
PAVLOV, interesting list of leaders and discussion! But I agree only about Nicholas II in the case of unprepared and unfit rulership. I agree with previous post, that all these men, you've mentioned (excluding Mr Lenin and Stalin) were elected on free elections in the free/liberal and what's more important democratic countries, where educated by Lincoln and Adam Smith population, commonly elect their Presidents/Pr. Ministers! So, it will be better to say that not Mr Roosevelt or Churchill and others were unprepared or unfit to rule, but American/British population and political elites at that time were unable to elect someone another "prepared" and with brains. Btw, I think that today's sad example with intelligent and unprepared man (without names and countries!) is also shows us "left" and sad utopian mood in this free and great country. God bless the next elections!

As to the Stalin, I must say, that he was unprepared/unfit so much, that he ruled the country for about 30 years and even today Russians (those who live in Russia) are studying History by his own made/falsified history textbooks, thinking as he commonly thought and moreover he is universal figure for ordinary people (who didn't studied other non-Stalin History): biggest communist, biggest Russian nationalist, biggest monarchist, including all of the Romanovs and so on. All these qualities are in one man! This would be an impossible dream for Hitler, whose ideas are officially banned in the most modern countries, while communism and other "left" utopian ideas, which permanently lead to human blood as an any ultra-right, are not officially banned today in Europe. So, you can just go out to the street in Mr Stalin or USSR red shirt, and people around who don't know about Gulag would be saying you all the way: "Cool red colours!". Concluding, man doesn't exist already for about 50 years, but his ideas fully passed (with the help of penultimate Russian president) to the millions of Russians and even some Europeans! (happily they are in minority). I think that in that case term "unfit" is very unsuitable. Of course he was an evil or great evil, but not the man, who was unfit or even unprepared for the rulership. Just sober opinion.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 17, 2010, 02:23:18 PM
However, we are discussing Nicholas II and his contemporaries and the first World War not the second.

I think that Roosevelt and those who were in power during the Second World War should be discussed in a different thread.  These rulers were the result of what the victors did to Europe during the first war and then the result of the Treaty of Versailles.

I am currently reading the biography of Clementine Churchill by her daughter Mary Soames.  I thought it might give me a different outlook on Winston than most biographies that deal with him as the main character.

But lets get back to Nicholas II.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: PAVLOV on March 23, 2010, 07:44:37 AM
One can say the same of Wilhelm, who ruled for decades, but dragged the world into World War I. How prepared was he to rule if things ended up the way they did ? At what stage do we determine if they were unprepared to rule ? Before, or after ? Someone may be prepared to rule, and screw up, or the opposite.

I personally think that anyone who drags their country into a war is unprepared to rule. Nicholas is a perfect example, he had a choice, but because he mostly acted on bad advice, Russia was dragged into the war.

One can argue endlessly whether Churchill or Roosevelt were really that prepared to rule, but as you so rightly say, we are busy with Nicholas II.     
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Petrushka on March 26, 2010, 06:55:50 AM
But I don't think Nicholas had a choice and I certainly don't think he entered into war lightly.  It is farcical to say that anyone who takes their country to war is unprepared to rule - rightly or wrongly, war has defined the world we live in.  Should a country under attack meekly surrender?  should a way of life under threat just give up?

Nicholas was poorly advised, but war in Europe was an inevitability.  Nicholas had a commitment as protector of the Slavic nations.  Had he failed to mobalise the military, then disaster may well have struck far earlier than it did.  At that point in time Germany had adopted an extremely aggressive, imperialist mentality that could only collide with other European powers.  I think that Nicholas' actions in that respect were honourable and entirely appropriate.  The weaknesses in the military structure, supply lines and strategy were the areas that he has to share culpability - but again that was the result of decades of failure to modernise.

The decisions made after the war had started were the real disasters and illustrated Nicholas' naivety and inability to take good advice - the move to take command at Stavka and therefore be the entire focus of negativity was in many ways the final straw - and that is without even mentioning the way in which he allowed others to make politicall decisions back in Petrograd.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Sergei Witte on March 26, 2010, 02:29:32 PM
I found this recently:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9403E7D71131E033A25751C0A9679D94659ED7CF

Reading the article, it seems that there was more to the reluctancy of Nicholas to follow his father as Tsar. Did anybody know this? What eventually did Nicholas decide that he would be next Tsar anyway?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on March 26, 2010, 03:03:05 PM
Of course Vladimir was "ready to be regent" he wanted to be tsar.

Interesting story, though.  I wonder who was the Times correspondent who sent in that story and where he got his information?  Could it be from Vladimir and Marie Pavlovna?  I wonder...

And Empress Marie didn't need her family to back her up or "buck up" Nicholas.  Alexandra was there and there was no chance that she would have let Nicholas step down.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Clemence on June 13, 2011, 05:58:48 AM
could there be any other responsible for nicholas other than his father? in my opinion it was he who was unfit to prepare a future emperor in the best possible way!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Selencia on August 28, 2011, 01:20:34 AM
I personally can believe that Nicholas entered into war lightly. I don't recall which countries soldiers it was, but somewhere it was popular to say that the war would be over in 4 months time. Clearly these countries were not thinking clearly when they got into somebody else's war. I recall a scene in the Nicholas and Alexandra movie where Nicholas and his ministers are talking about going to war and it reminded me much of America's idiotic buildup to the war in Iraq and the refusal to listen to reason.  Nicholas' country had just gotten beat by those "heathen, unsophisticated" Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War; now they wanted to go to war with half of Europe.
As for Nicholas' unpreparedness, I blame his father as probably do most people. Alexander operated like he was going to live and reign for 40yrs and as a result didn't bother to teach his son the reigns. The man saw how his father was killed in the blink of an eye; but he still operated like he was invincible and as a result he left Russia with a 26yr old Emperor who was more like a 14yr old.
I don't know much about Wilhelm so I won't comment on his fitness to rule.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: LondonGirl on October 15, 2011, 03:53:09 PM
Most democratic politicinas are also unfit to govern - lol. How much better is democracy? People complain constantly now as much as they did then, and in countries far removed from absolute monarchy. I hink power just shifts from those with some class to those with less, without anything better being achieved.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 16, 2011, 11:10:19 AM
In most democratic countries the elections and the resulting leaders are usually the "lesser of all evils" instead of the best we have to offer.

I just heard a news bite where Michelle Bachmann who wants to be president of the US attacked her opponent Herman Cain's proposal for a 9% corporate tax and a 9% income tax and a 9% national sales tax by saying, "I think if you turn 999 (as the proposal is called) over you will find that the Devil is in the details."

Bachmann is not known for her knowledge of history or just about anything else, for that matter. but she was trying to be cute and cute is not what voters are looking for. But if she is chosen to represent her party, she will certainly not be the best we have to offer.

When I was in school I asked why democratic countries feel that changing their leader every four to six years is a good thing.  That countries with monarchs have more continuity and less change of policy.  However I was young (about 11 when I asked that) and I hadn't studied autocracies like Russia had when I was that young. 

I now see that no form of government is proof against getting a bad leader who makes bad decisions.

Nicholas II was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But there he was and there he would stay as he felt his oaths at coronation put him in charge and in the hands of the Lord.  I am truly surprised that he did abdicate as that went against all that he had ever believed and/or stood for.  But he did think that his abdication would help the Russian people and that was one of the deciding factors.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 16, 2011, 12:09:38 PM
I found this recently:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9403E7D71131E033A25751C0A9679D94659ED7CF

Reading the article, it seems that there was more to the reluctancy of Nicholas to follow his father as Tsar. Did anybody know this? What eventually did Nicholas decide that he would be next Tsar anyway?

Okay, let's take for granted for a moment that this 1894 New York Times story is true, and that Nicholas was indeed desperate to give up his rights to the throne to his uncle Grand Duke Vladimir. What does that tell us about Nicholas II's later, obstinate defense of his autocratic rights? Why, if he was so eager to abdicate as tsar before he'd even truly started his reign, was he so stuck in later years on being an absolute ruler? To the detriment of his dynasty, his government, and most of all his country?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 16, 2011, 01:00:21 PM
His little Wifey "who wore trousers unseen"?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 16, 2011, 02:44:39 PM
His little Wifey "who wore trousers unseen"?

That perhaps makes some sense as an explanation for Nicholas's adherence to the principle of autocracy during World War I, when Alexandra actually penned these words to her husband. But it makes no sense for Nicholas and Alexandra as newlyweds. For one thing, Alexandra was a bride, only superficially acquainted with her adopted country, not fluent in the language or the culture, and she was almost pathologically shy to boot. Additionally, there's evidence that the young Alexandra was clueless about politics and didn't care (at the time) that she was clueless. A German relative, on hearing the news of the Tsarevich Nicholas's engagement, wrote words to the effect that Alix was a poor choice as a bride for a future tsar, because she was basically a "cow," uninterested in anything but bearing children and raising a family, whereas one of the other better educated, politically knowledgeable German princesses would have been more appropriate, given the dicey political situation in Russia.

My own opinion is that, given that very dicey political situation, any truly politically aware European princess of the time would have given Nicholas a very wide berth.

Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: TimM on October 16, 2011, 05:47:43 PM
Quote
A German relative, on hearing the news of the Tsarevich Nicholas's engagement, wrote words to the effect that Alix was a poor choice as a bride for a future tsar, because she was basically a "cow," uninterested in anything but bearing children and raising a family

Ouch, that's harsh!

Besides, many say that part of the problem was that Alix got into politics later on.  Now someone said it was bad that she wasn't interested.  Poor Alix, the women just can't catch a break.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: historyfan on October 16, 2011, 08:46:21 PM
Quote
A German relative, on hearing the news of the Tsarevich Nicholas's engagement, wrote words to the effect that Alix was a poor choice as a bride for a future tsar, because she was basically a "cow," uninterested in anything but bearing children and raising a family

Ouch, that's harsh!

Besides, many say that part of the problem was that Alix got into politics later on.  Now someone said it was bad that she wasn't interested.  Poor Alix, the women just can't catch a break.

Wonder if it was the same one who called her a "little scrubby Hessian princess, not even a Royal Highness"?
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 17, 2011, 09:24:19 AM
I was thinking in terms of his adherence ( or willingness to give it up) to the principles of autocracy until Alexandra got her hooks into him.  From day one of this reign, she was determined that the others would come to him and he would be the first to know everything.

We can read in her diary entries in his diary that she was obsessed with his station in life even before she became interested in politics later on during the war and especially obsessed with the future of the heir.

If he was of a mind to give up the throne to Vladimir I think that would have stopped as soon or sooner than his marriage.  I think that those who wrote of Alix as a cow with no interest in anything except bearing children weren't paying attention to the woman and the places she went and the things she did with her grandmother, Queen Victoria.

And from Livadia and the death of Alexander III, Alix was constantly chiding Nicholas to be the "one", the ruler and the head of the family.

And even though she didn't write about "trousers unseen" until during the war, I feel that she was wearing them from April of 1894 in some form or another.

She was going to support her husband in everything that she felt was important whether or not he felt it was important.  That is why she refused to let him leave Tobolsk without her.  He had signed away his throne while she wasn't there and she wasn't about to let him do anything else without her even though the whole game was over.  She just hadn't realized that yet and wouldn't let go.

That might be another reason why the grand duchesses were still with the family in Yekaterinburg.  Alexandra might have thought that the family had strength in staying together and if in some way they could be brought back to power, she wanted her whole family in one place and not scattered about the countries and the world.

Nicholas had been poorly prepared for rule by his father (and his mother who treated him like a child) and he married someone with a stronger will than his and the force to make him (though love and/or obedience) to follow the path she chose.  When he began to deviate from it she would always bring him back with those chiding little notes in his diary and later the letters written during the war.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: mcdnab on October 17, 2011, 02:47:37 PM
In those early days after his father's death and his marriage to Alexandra it was very clear to her that he wasn't being treated as she felt he should have been - his Uncles towered over him, his mother was devastated and kept herslef closeted with her sister, one of his brother's was too ill to be much help the other too young - bolstering him up became her job for good or for bad.
She was offended on his behalf that the entire imperial household in the Crimea seemed to fall apart with the Emperor's death and didn't immediately look to Nicholas for a lead in how to proceed. - the following months whilst they lived at the Anitchkov with the Dowager with them effectively playing second fiddle to the Empress Dowager also seemed to spur Alexandra on in bucking him up and urging him to take charge.
I don't think he ever questioned his right to succeed or his intention to reign as an autocrat like his father before him - both Alexander III and NIcholas II's views regarding any form of constitutional change was completely coloured by Alexander II's assasination and never changed.
PS Vladimir wasn't even heir presumptive even if you discount George Alexandrovitch due to his poor health, Michael Alexandrovitch was a fit, healthy teenager.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 17, 2011, 03:50:15 PM
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9403E7D71131E033A25751C0A9679D94659ED7CF

I misunderstood the referral to Vladimir.  From this article, and who knows where it came from, Nicholas was ready to renounce his title and Vladimir was ready to act as regent for Michael.

Interesting reading even if it is not true.

I wonder who HF is and where he/she got the story from.  It is supposed to be from the New York Times, November 2, 1894
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: TimM on October 18, 2011, 12:09:41 PM
I think Alexander III's death had an impact.  He didn't think he would die so young (he was only forty-nine), so he didn't take the time to get Nicholas ready for the job. 
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: historyfan on October 18, 2011, 01:46:18 PM
I think Alexander III's death had an impact.  He didn't think he would die so young (he was only forty-nine), so he didn't take the time to get Nicholas ready for the job. 

Goes without saying that that was a HUGE mistake, I think.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Alixz on October 18, 2011, 01:53:05 PM
An odd one, too.  Because Alexander III's father was killed by a terrorist bomb, one would have thought that he new life could be cut short and would have made better plans for his son.

After all, Alexander was not in line until Nixa died and he had the throne thrust on him when he didn't expect it.  It would have made sense for him to have done a better job in preparing his son and heir.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: edubs31 on January 27, 2012, 12:28:51 PM
Disastrous error in judgement to be certain. I'm not sure why in the rough & tumble world of the 19th century, where life expectancies for even the wealthy and powerful were shortened (by today's standards) and difficult to predict, why Alexander would have run the risk of a younger unprepared son and successor.

I also wonder however how much it would have mattered though. Nicholas' ultra-conservative ideology seems to have every bit as much to do with his blunders and downfall as his general unpreparedness in assuming the throne. Clearly he didn't get the most out of his "on the job training" but you wonder how, going on twenty years leading up to the start of the World War I, he could have had continued to be so poorly suited to his role of leader, legislator, and commander in chief...I sometimes get to thinking that he possessed a crippled mindset that couldn't have been altered or improved upon in a century, much less twenty years. Although by the same token he was also intellectually submissive...so who knows I guess :-/
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Selencia on February 19, 2012, 07:44:25 PM
It is definitely strange that Alexander felt no need to prepare Nicholas at all. I have read that he perhaps was concerned about either his sons maturity or capability as a Tsar; perhaps he just didn't have the patience to teach him. It is just so hard to grasp the theory that Alexander didn't teach him because he thought he was going to reign for a long time and as a result put off his training. Not only was life dangerous for everyone during this time period, but Russia itself was especially dangerous especially for a Tsar. As Alixz stated he saw his father blown up!
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: VR2009 on February 23, 2012, 12:53:35 PM
I'm not sure Nicky was actually quite as unprepared as is generally made out.  The main source we have for his so-called unpreparedness is his cousin Sandro (Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich) who alleged in his memoirs ("Once a Grand Duke") that Nicky had told him at his accession that he felt completely unable to take on the role.  But is there any corroboration of this conversation anywhere else?  Of course he was upset by his father's early death (though he had realised it was coming, having earlier that year abandoned plans to join Alix in Darmstadt for a holiday).  But he had ben playing some part in various committees (he certainly wasn't as unprepared as Paul I, for instance, whose mother Catherine II actively denied him access to affairs of state), & he had a very strongly developed sense of having been called by God to be Tsar, whether he liked it or not.

Virginia Rounding
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: Pamela Parizo on March 30, 2013, 02:08:31 PM
I just watched Nicholas and Alexandra and I have also been reading about the Windsors.
While the Windsors adapted to the modern world and the concept of a constitutional
government, the Romanovs could not grasp that.  Many were still living as if they were
in the days of Napoleon.  Nicholas himself embraced the concept of autocrat, not
because he was himself dictatorial, but because that was what he had come to
see as the role of the tsar.  A lot of the majesty of their rule was the fact that they
were all-powerful.  Had Nicholas embraced the concept of the Duma, I think things
would have been different.   



Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: LisaDavidson on March 31, 2013, 11:56:37 PM
I agree with Virginia Rounding about Sandro's damaging quote about Nicholas. There is a detailed breakdown about why I think Sandro's quote was bogus in my chapter on Nicholas as a grand duke in "The Grand Dukes" (2010). While there were many present in Lavadia when Alexander III died, only Alexander Mikhailovich characterizes Nicholas as fretfull about his sudden elevation to power. It's true that he was sad and grieving over the loss of his father which is entirely understandable. However, he did not make his cousin prominent in his reign as the quote implies he would and in fact, Nicholas was schooled in governing, although no one thought he would come to rule as quickly as he did.
Title: Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
Post by: edubs31 on April 01, 2013, 10:47:12 AM
I agree with Virginia Rounding about Sandro's damaging quote about Nicholas. There is a detailed breakdown about why I think Sandro's quote was bogus in my chapter on Nicholas as a grand duke in "The Grand Dukes" (2010). While there were many present in Lavadia when Alexander III died, only Alexander Mikhailovich characterizes Nicholas as fretfull about his sudden elevation to power. It's true that he was sad and grieving over the loss of his father which is entirely understandable. However, he did not make his cousin prominent in his reign as the quote implies he would and in fact, Nicholas was schooled in governing, although no one thought he would come to rule as quickly as he did.

I'm trying to remember from my readings, but how much truth is there to the comment made by Alexander III to Sergei Witte about his son being unprepared to rule. The line about, "have you ever had a serious conversation with him...he's still a child."

This neither confirms nor denies the validity of Sandro's quoting of Nicholas with his father on his deathbed, but it does help paint a better picture of those close to the family believing him unfit to rule.