Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Final Chapter => Topic started by: ordino on April 25, 2006, 02:05:51 PM

Title: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ordino on April 25, 2006, 02:05:51 PM
I don´t know if this subjet is in the forum but my personal oppinion is that if Alexandra would have been with Nicholas in the moment of the abdication he had not abdicate. ( I´m very sorry because my verbs are really bad)
She was a very strong woman (intelectual), and she did know perfectly well all the situation. In several books we can read that she said to Nicholas " be strong your are the Tsar", so this was that Nicholas need to ear in the moment of the abdication.
So, what do you think?
Thanks. Ordino
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: LisaDavidson on April 25, 2006, 04:17:21 PM
This scenario only works if you think that Nicholas was a weakling and drew strength from his wife. This certainly seems to have been Alexandra's point of view at certain times.

However, I think the situation was far more complex than this. Both Nicholas and Alexandra were intelligent, for example, and certainly of the two, Nicholas was the better educated, although the point is somewhat moot. And, I don't think Nicholas was the weakling portrayed right after the Revolution., for example.

In a political sense, Nicholas was finished at the time of his abdication. Had Alexandra brow beaten Nicholas into not abdicating, all that would have happened would have been Civil War. We have many cases of Nicholas standing up to his "strong" wife, and I am certain that he would not have let anything that dire happen to Russia, wife or no wife.

So, I don't think Alexandra's absence was terribly relevant, although I am certain they would have preferred as a loving married couple, to have gone through it together.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on April 25, 2006, 04:19:27 PM
Alexandra was not intelligent.  She was stubborn.  There's a difference.

The trouble with the abdication situation was that neither Alexandra nor Nicholas realised how bad things had become, and by the time the abdication was considered necessary, there was really no alternative.  Nicholas didn't have a choice.  He didn't WANT to abdicate; he HAD to.  The country simply wasn't accepting his authority as Tsar any more, so his position had become untenable.  Nothing Alexandra could have said would have changed that situation.  

I have no doubt that Alexandra maintained the belief that if she had been there, Nicholas wouldn't have been forced into abdicating by those nasty generals, and this belief is bolstered by the fact she insisted on going with Nicholas, leaving her children behind, when the family were moved from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg.  In 'The Fall of the Romanovs' she is quoted as apparently saying to a guard something along the lines of 'I want to go with him in case he does something stupid like last time he was left alone'.  The thing is, Alexandra didn't have a CLUE about what was actually going on and she didn't realise that the abdication had nothing to do with a choice Nicholas made.  By the time Nicholas was given the papers to sign away his throne, all power he had was already gone.   He didn't have a choice, so her input wouldn't have made one iota of difference anyway.  The abdication would have happened whether she had been there or not.  By that point, it was inevitable.  

Vanity working on a weak head produces all sorts of mischief.  Alexandra is one of the best examples of that.

Rachel
xx
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Yseult on April 25, 2006, 05:25:52 PM
Mnnn...

I don´t think that  the presence Alix would change to better the situation in the train stopped at Málaia Víshera. In fact, I think that if Alix were at this place, at this moment, would change the situation to worse.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Belochka on April 25, 2006, 11:43:12 PM

Let us not forget that despite the contrasting Imperial personalities - Nikolai as Commander-in-Chief lost the confidence of the majority of his Generals.

That military betrayal was one critical factor that prompted Nikolai to consider his own position. Russian victory at the front was at all times the Emperor's primary consideration
.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ordino on April 26, 2006, 05:59:46 AM
Of course as Commander in Chief, Nicholas lost the confidence of the majoty of his Generals, and this was  very upset for him. But the Generals were not the Tsar, and may be Nicholas was in need of support, just somebody to say him, no better to remind him " Majestic your are the Tsar, you can do it, speak to the troops, do it something!". Let Alexandra apart, I agree with you, look just to Nicholas, he was really upset and desesperate and like Massie said in his book, his health was in bad condition ( about his heart problem),and he considered that Generals were his "military brothers", and because the lost of confindence of them, he just said "my Generals too say to me adbicate is better", but these Generals swored loyalty to him and Russia and they betrayed the Tsar and Russia. Some time ago in a TV program, History Channel, Michel of Greece, I think the same who wrote the book "white nigth in San Petersburg" or similar title, said that Nicholas was weak in a moment that he would have been more strong that ever. He was absolutely alone, anybody of his family or advisers were brave to say "Hey Nicholas, let´s go to do it, you are the Tsar, you can do it, you must do it". He was betrayed for everybody. He was in need of help, just a word to say "come to do this, and this and this".It´s for this that I think of  his wife to do this.  He was in need of support and who better in  those moments that his wife?, the Generals?, The Romanov family? the Duma? the Senators?. How many advicers had George in England or  has now Elisabeth II or Margarita of Denmark or Juan Carlos of Spain?
How many loyals advicenrs, loyals I say had Nicholas II in March 1917, where were they, at the train?
This was my idea, Alexandra was in fact theonly loyal advicer that Nicholas had in March 1917 and she was not at the train. ( By the way, of course Alix was stubborn yes, a lot, but al so was intelligent, the first is not obstacle for the second.
Thanks. Ordino
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Grace on April 26, 2006, 06:21:25 AM
Rachel, I agree with every word you have written here, especially the first three sentences.

WHY do people persist in saying Alexandra was intelligent?  She WASN'T!  Intelligent people have their eyes open to the world around them - they know what's going on and they're not oblivious to the input and opinions of others.  

Anyway, I think that whether or not she was present at the actual time of abdication would have made no difference - the situation was out of Nicholas's and her hands by then.  :(
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on April 26, 2006, 07:31:21 AM
Thanks Grace. :)

I too am perplexed by this belief that Alexandra was the 'intelligent' one who 'guided' Nicholas.  It is clear to see from letters during the war that Alexandra's misguided and uninformed 'advice' to Nicholas, all boiling down to 'shout at them until they listen' was not taken seriously by Nicholas. He did not blindly rely on Alexandra's judgement as is commonly believed, and he did not hire and fire people because of her say so.

Alexandra would have been an emotional support for Nicholas had she been there, but her counsel was neither wanted nor needed.  The idea of Alexandra being a counsel at such a time is laughable to me.  What would she have suggested? 'Don't let them bully you, Nicky...remember who is Tsar' would not have helped when your army is in mutiny and your generals are walking out on you. Alexandra never understood the Russian people, Russia in general or what was going on politically and economically.  Her comment to Nicholas that he shouldn't worry about the revolutionary activity in 1917 because the people still loved him and only wanted bread shows how unaware she really was.  

Alexandra saw things as she wanted to, and interpreted them in the way that suited her.  She didn't want to believe that Russia was crumbling and that Nicholas' power was eroding day by day, so she didn't.  She didn't see the mistakes they had made as a couple, how Rasputin had permanently ruined her reputation, etc, because she didn't want to.  Instead, she stuck her head in the sand and kept on telling Nicholas to be firm, to not back down, etc, and then everything would be alright.  Now that's stupid.

I'm sure Alexandra was a lovely lady, but she certainly was not the sharpest tool in the box.

Rachel
xx

Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: nene on April 26, 2006, 08:58:44 PM
I've been reading the posts here, and I just had to offer my opinion too. I also think that Alexandra's presence regarding the abdication would have made any difference; it would have happened regardless. I think the people were basically tired of being ruled by the Romanovs. They were tired that that family were able to live in paradise while the majority of the Russian people had to stand on long lines to get something to eat (or in some cases, not get anything at all).

I've been learning more about Alexandra from books and from reading the posts here, and the more I learn about her, the more I'm starting to like her less and less. I agreed that she never really understood the Russian people, or her role as Empress, or the Romanov dynasty in general. I think she was crazy to let Rasputin have such influence over her (I always thought he was a fraud and a hypocrite). She should have listened to other people who obviously knew better about him than she did.

I think the Russia that Alexandra saw was what she WANTED to see, rather than face the REALITY of Russia.  

Sorry if I got a bit long here. Alexandra is certainly a passionate person to talk about right?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Sarushka on April 27, 2006, 07:55:14 AM
Do you think Alexandra was presented with enough accurate information to formulate a realistic view of the situation in Russia at the time of the abdication? Remember, at one time, the Okhrana was deliberately deluding her by sending fake fan letters, so to speak, from peasants, so it's not as if she came by this rose-colored vision all by herself. Laying aside the issue of Alexandra's intelligence, and given her isolation from the front, and the capital itself during the war, was it really possible for her to have an accurate understanding?

Also, who was informing her?  Nicholas, of course, who didn't have such a great command of the situation himself. But what other reports would she have relied on? Were the reports written especially just for her? And if so, I wonder if they were selective in what news they presented. Yes, she was the empress and as such had a certain amount of power and was entitled to a certain amount of information. But she was also a woman, in a time when women were often thought of as faint of heart and weak of brain.

Now, I don't mean to come swooping to Alix's defense. I don't think she did much of a job processing the information she had been given. But I do wonder what she had to work with. She may have stuck her head in the sand, but I don't think she did it all by herself...
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on April 27, 2006, 12:23:18 PM
[size=9]Sarushka,

Your points are very valid and glad someone at last stated this. I waited for someone to state this, but all I saw was statements of HIH lack of intelligence. I beg to differ, for all the books written by various people about her person, who really knew her personally, on a daily time table where she could be properly understood? How many then or of the posters now, [lol] ruled any country, let alone knew the vast issues laid before them to make serious on hands decisions? It's all well and fine some 80 years later to say this about that, or how much someone read, and they have decided based on the limited writings of those who wrote the book, that she was not so sharp. [Even today, today's educator's state intelligence is addressed in many ways, etc.] She certainly may have not had the hands on experience or infinite knowledge of governing, but she was far from not understanding her country's issues. She was indeed intelligent.

As on other threads, we have gone through the infinite statements placed by their writers, and found many inconsistencies. Who is to say of what was written about HIH, or HIH was not fully of truth substance?

[Good Lord, our own President has his advisors, yet he has lost the full confidence of the people, and has trouble understanding the people's needs, yet his own father was a President, and head of the CIA. Now, that's really someone who is lost without real understanding of government, and or the people's heart. 57% loss of trust is quite telling].

As Sarushka has kindly put before us, the question and I quote : "Laying aside the issues of Alexandra's intelligence, and given her isolation from the front, and the capital itself during the war, was it really possible for her to have an accurate understanding?

Indeed, what sort of valid reports were coming through, and again, who could they trust ? I think also Sarushka, there were only selected news reports that HIH was offered. She was not the Tsar, so they quite possibly limited her intake of information. She also was thought as weak, because she was a woman. [Still today, what woman is given absolute reign to every corner of the world as men are freely? Still today, doors are closed, and that's a relevant fact.] Even if she wanted to do something, she would have been stopped in her tracks.

Again Sarushka thank you for thinking this through. I believe in responding to issues as such, is to look at all presenting facts, and not just go for the jugular. You always seem to think things through and it always shows in your postings. Thank you. As I said, you bring up very valid points ! Thank you.  ;)

Tatiana+[/size]


Quote
Do you think Alexandra was presented with enough accurate information to formulate a realistic view of the situation in Russia at the time of the abdication? Remember, at one time, the Okhrana was deliberately deluding her by sending fake fan letters, so to speak, from peasants, so it's not as if she came by this rose-colored vision all by herself. Laying aside the issue of Alexandra's intelligence, and given her isolation from the front, and the capital itself during the war, was it really possible for her to have an accurate understanding?

Also, who was informing her?  Nicholas, of course, who didn't have such a great command of the situation himself. But what other reports would she have relied on? Were the reports written especially just for her? And if so, I wonder if they were selective in what news they presented. Yes, she was the empress and as such had a certain amount of power and was entitled to a certain amount of information. But she was also a woman, in a time when women were often thought of as faint of heart and weak of brain.

Now, I don't mean to come swooping to Alix's defense. I don't think she did much of a job processing the information she had been given. But I do wonder what she had to work with. She may have stuck her head in the sand, but I don't think she did it all by herself...
[size=9][/size]
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on April 28, 2006, 04:05:53 AM
Good points, Sarushka.  I think that's certainly an interesting angle to look at, and one I hadn't really considered before.

We don't know what Alexandra was told regarding the situation in the cities, or in the war. Nicholas may have sugar coated information for her, and so may have ministers.  Ministers may also have manipulated information to get her to do what they wanted.  All of these things are possible, and Alexandra certainly wasn't bringing down Russia alone.  I didn't mean to suggest that.

I take your points that Alexandra was not close to the action, and yes, she was misinformed by people about the true state of affairs. However, Alexandra chose to be away from the city and she chose to believe what she was told without question.

I think it would have been easy for Alexandra to see what was going on if she had wanted to.  But she didn't.  Her view was very narrow minded; I get the impression from reading about Alexandra that her mindset was: 'the people love Nicky and anyone who says otherwise is a liar'.  That's what she wanted to believe, and so that's what she did believe.  If she had listened to the striking people in St Petersburg, she would have learned that the people DID hate her and Nicholas and Rasputin, but she didn't want to know about it, so she didn't listen.  She hid herself away in her own little world, and that is what shows her lack of intelligence.  Hiding from your troubles does not make them disappear.

Alexandra chose to ignore what didn't suit her.  I think it's certainly true that she wasn't always given the big picture and she was possibly misinformed on occasion, but to be so out of touch with your own people? I just can't excuse Alexandra for that.  Perhaps I am being a little hard on her, but her closed mindedness makes it very difficult for me to relate to her.

Rachel
xx
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Sarushka on April 28, 2006, 07:24:02 AM
Quote
I take your points that Alexandra was not close to the action, and yes, she was misinformed by people about the true state of affairs. However, Alexandra chose to be away from the city and she chose to believe what she was told without question.
I can agree with that.

IMO, narrow-mindedness is a form of stupidity, but it doesn't negate the possibiliity for other kinds of intelligence.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Lyss on April 29, 2006, 04:02:22 PM
Quote
$Intelligent people have their eyes open to the world around them - they know what's going on and they're not oblivious to the input and opinions of others.     :(

Going off topic for the moment. A lot of intelligent people don't have their eyes open to the world, are narrow minded and can say such stupid things just because they don't know what's going on around them. I'm speaking out of experience. I believe it's more than just a case of intelligence, it's also about your upbringing and a general curiosity about the world around you. I don't know why, but when peoplethink themselves superior they mostly lack that certain curiosity to all that around them which is actualy sad because the have the capacity to do it (=intelligence).
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 04, 2006, 04:56:35 AM
IMO, if Alexandra had been present on the abdication train, her hysterics  could have gotten them shot a lot sooner.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 04, 2006, 11:06:59 AM
[size=9]Robert,

Where in this thread [or any other thread on the AP Forum] does it point verbatim, that her IH Alexandra was hysterical in public with anyone outside the family, or even in the family ?

In what understanding of Alexandra's deportment in any interface whether incarcerated under house arrest, or in her regular imperial duties, was it pointed out, that whe was hysterical ?

Thanking you for any valid statements that can be of a purposeful point on this, because I think it would be a fair understanding to take if this actually transpired.

Tatiana+[/size]
Quote
IMO, if Alexandra had been present on the abdication train, her hysterics  could have gotten them shot a lot sooner.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 04, 2006, 11:41:58 AM
On the other hand, Alexandra had models for successful autocrats: Catherine II comes to mind. She was an integral part of the Imperial government by virtue of having Nicholas' ear. She had also been raised within a more-or-less liberal tradition.

Given these circumstances, she seems to have made every conceivable wrong choice. If she was unaware of conditions in Petersburg during the war, that was her fault. If she was ill-informed about foreign affairs, it was her responsibility to become better informed.

Look, being an autocrat is a job. And you don't get a free pass just because your son is sick and you have attractive daughters and a good relationship with your husband. As a matter of fact, both Ella and Sandro tried to warn Alexandra that she was out of touch with reality, and she rejected their advice. I'm sure there were others.

Why? Because she was convinced that she and Nicky, and they alone, knew best. The hallmark of stupidity. Does anyone think he would have abdicated if she had been on the train?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 04, 2006, 03:30:09 PM
[size=10]Hi Simon,

To lay blame on HIH Alexandra, more has to be known of just what was known and given to her as barifiable information. The word 'seems' to have made every conceiveable wrong choice, is still open to understanding.There is a big difference between 'seems' and making, and taking actions which may be the wrong choice, in terms of governing. She was not the Tsar, so in no way can anything be laid on her. She did not govern Russia !

In today's world it is easier to find out expansively what is happening, and transpiring million miles away in the outter areas of Mongolia, due the enhancements of technology, and 'toys' made for games of warfare, specifically. Just because a loved one of royalty may have a ruler's ear does not make staid policy, our bottom line outcome. There are not enough circumstances for her to have taken reign, nor dictated personal belief to become law, before the Revolution. The same to do with foreign-affairs. You are throwing a lot of suppositions out, but then again these are your opinions.

During the war and unrest, there was enough disruption and communication cut offs that it was hard for those in the field to keep track, so you can't say it was her fault. As on another thread here on the AP Board, some have tried to lay total blame on the Tsar. It just does not make truth.

It seems so easy to sit back and take overall stock of what we think may have transpired, but there was so much more involved, and not enough opened from soviet archives to date, to still read without distortion all that can, and still must come to light, imho.

Tatiana+[/size]


Quote
On the other hand, Alexandra had models for successful autocrats: Catherine II comes to mind. She was an integral part of the Imperial government by virtue of having Nicholas' ear. She had also been raised within a more-or-less liberal tradition.

Given these circumstances, she seems to have made every conceivable wrong choice. If she was unaware of conditions in Petersburg during the war, that was her fault. If she was ill-informed about foreign affairs, it was her responsibility to become better informed.

Look, being an autocrat is a job. And you don't get a free pass just because your son is sick and you have attractive daughters and a good relationship with your husband. As a matter of fact, both Ella and Sandro tried to warn Alexandra that she was out of touch with reality, and she rejected their advice. I'm sure there were others.

Why? Because she was convinced that she and Nicky, and they alone, knew best. The hallmark of stupidity. Does anyone think he would have abdicated if she had been on the train?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 04, 2006, 09:05:50 PM
Dear Tatiana,

I think she was a beautiful, troubled woman who produced an exceedingly attractive, devout family. I also think that she suffered, much like Marie Antoinette, with a resignation that endows her with a nobility of character.

That being said . . .

The idea that "she was not the Tsar, so in no way can anything be laid on her" is not supported by the facts of the marriage as told in their own words. The biggest support for my points comes not from Soviet propaganda, but from her own correspondence, which is filled with allusions to her and Nicky's presumed understanding of Russia and its' roles in both foreign affairs and internal politics. She governed Russia in that she governed him; he was Batushka and she was Matushka. You cannot have the marriage both ways, in that she dominated him privately and not publicly.

Indeed, that is the heart of the matter. She insisted upon a "private life", as though you could separate them as a Family from their imperial roles.

Have you read her correspondence? Much of it is reproduced upon this website, there is more in A PASSIONATE AFFAIR, and in collections which have been published since the 1920s. She was blamed by people during her time on the throne, people like Maria Feodorovna (who might be expected to have some idea of what imperial duties entailed), Grand Duke Sandro (who begged her to withdraw from meddling in government affairs just before the revolution) and her own sister, who urged her to separate herself from Rasputin.

If you accept the role of autocrat --- which she did --- then you accept the responsibility for your actions and decisions. If her information was faulty, that was indeed her fault. There were people (the above family members, Stolypin and others) who attempted to persuade the Tsaritsa stop meddling. She refused, out of concern for her husband, her son's inheritance, and let's face it, a temperamental inability to admit that she was in error. I can't imagine that there is a "smoking gun" in unreleased Soviet archives that will exculpate her as a ruler, nor was it Soviet propaganda that created the image she enjoys today as an hysteric. Alexandra did that. Well, she paid a terrible price for it, God rest her soul. But whitewashing her actions accomplishes nothing.

And please don't come back with something along the lines of "we can't judge her, she lived in a different age." No one seems to feel that way about the Bolsheviks (nor should they), who also operated with what might charitably be called a limited world view.

Read her letters, and then we'll talk.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Sarushka on May 04, 2006, 09:16:10 PM
Quote
If she was unaware of conditions in Petersburg during the war, that was her fault. If she was ill-informed about foreign affairs, it was her responsibility to become better informed.

Point well taken. This makes me wonder:

How do you think Marie Fyodorovna woud have conducted herself in Alix's place?



Quote
Why? Because she was convinced that she and Nicky, and they alone, knew best. The hallmark of stupidity.
Perhaps I'm splitting hairs, but I don't know if I'd call that stupidity. Conceit, perhaps...

It may be useful in this discussion  to distinguish between various types of intelligence: intellectual, emotional, social, etc. I'm inclined to argue that Alix was fairly smart intellectually -- in the classroom/theoretical/book-learning sense -- but not so blessed in the emotional and social arenas. Thoughts?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 04, 2006, 09:56:22 PM
Well, like Alexandra, Maria had the devoted love of her husband. On the other hand, she seems to have had no intellectual pursuits or habits to fall back upon (neither did her sister, Alexandra of England; neither was raised to be a bluestocking). I have a hard time imagining her meddling, simply because Alexander III would probably not have allowed that to happen. Nicholas II's temperament was different, and I think his mother tried to play upon his pliability, but found the way blocked once Alexandra arrived upon the scene. Greg King's THE COURT OF THE LAST TSAR has an interesting picture of the Dowager Empress. I have the impression that she confined herself to social rivalry with the Tsaritsa, and had little political interests.

In addition to a different kind of husband, Alex also had to deal with Alexei's illness. Maria had to deal with her son Georgiy's, of course, but Nicholas and Michael Alexandrovitch removed him from being center stage. I think that Alexei's precarious health exacerbated a lot of problems, but again, I fault Alexandra's inability to see "the larger picture". Her rigorous insistence that Alexei become the next Tsar, and that Nicholas transmit his imperial powers undiminished  . . . well, not so realistic.

And yes, I'm sure she was intelligent enough to function in other roles, although her reading tended to run to Marie Corelli novels and religious tracts --- nothing wrong with either of them, but she was hardly educated enough to assist in the rule of a 20th century state. And Nicholas wasn't educated at all, so they were an ominously ill-matched pair from a political stance. From the romantic, they seem to have been idyllic.

Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on May 05, 2006, 01:59:54 PM
Most historians of the Russian Revolution agree that Alexandra's political influence is greatly exaggerated in the popular imagination. In reality, she had little political influence with her husband, not for lack of trying, but simply because Nicholas was set in his own ways and opinions. Sure, there were a handful of disastrous ministerial appointments for which she might be viewed as "responsible;" on the other hand, as Nicholas' biographer Dominic Lieven summarizes, Alexandra's political opinions were so in tune with her husband's, and the number of candidates who fitted the political requirements of the imperial couple so limited, that these appointments would probably have taken place whether or not Alexandra had ever raised her voice in their favor.

Where Alexandra did real and permanent damage to the reputation of the Romanov dynasty was in her championship of Rasputin. Not so much because Rasputin had any real political clout with Nicholas, but because the public perception was that he did. But if Nicholas really had been ruled by his wife and Rasputin, then Russia would never have declared war on Germany and helped start World War I, to which Rasputin was totally and quite vocally opposed. No, Alexandra's supposed influence on prerevolutionary Russian affairs of state has been blown out of all proportion.  
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Belochka on May 05, 2006, 11:45:11 PM
Quote
IMO, if Alexandra had been present on the abdication train, her hysterics  could have gotten them shot a lot sooner.

Oh dear this may be your opinion Robert, but I find this statement absolutely appauling.

Who would have pulled the trigger?

Remember that when they were in exile, she never went into "hysterics" but carried herself with dignity throughout the tragic ordeal.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Belochka on May 05, 2006, 11:51:09 PM
Quote
Most historians of the Russian Revolution agree that Alexandra's political influence is greatly exaggerated in the popular imagination. In reality, she had little political influence with her husband, not for lack of trying, but simply because Nicholas was set in his own ways and opinions.   

You are correct Elizabeth. Thank you for introducing this point.

When Alexandra was informed about the abdication - she did not go into "hysterics" but in the privacy of their bedroom she weep and wept. She wept for all ....  and she wept for Imperial Russia.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: LisaDavidson on May 06, 2006, 12:01:53 PM
Indeed, Alexandra behaved impeccably throughout her imprisonment, even to the last moments. And, she died after witnessing the brutal murder of her beloved husband.

That said, Alexandra did see it as her job to always support her husband's political decisions and to have the same political opinions as her husband. This was simply the way things were in her time. She also saw it as her job to prop him up if he was "weak". In this, she was not alone. I encountered many such traditional wives while growing up, and Alexandra was not exceptional in this type of viewpoint.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 06, 2006, 01:27:59 PM
I don't particularly quarrel with either Elisabeth's or your points, Lisa, but being the Tsaritsa of Russia is not the same thing as being the wife of the county commissioner. and influencing her husband about zoning issues.

Her letters demonstrate (particularly during the war) that she was an integral part of Nicholas' ability to make decisions. Thanks to the involvement with Rasputin and the unwillingness to concede that anyone other than she and her husband knew what was right for Russia, based upon a combination of temperament (Missy of Rumania had noticed that even as a child, Alicky was wilfull) and the identification of God's will with her own, i.e. the insistence upon a male heir, and then his succession even after it was clear he was unfit because of the disease, Alexandra did a lot of damage.

And then redeemed herself during the months of captivity by her Christian resignation. I have often wondered if she wasn't relieved to drop the burden of imperial rule.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Lyss on May 06, 2006, 01:45:12 PM
burden or no burde, with rule comes power and prestige. Although not all people like getting that kind of responsability, once obtained, it's harder to give it away.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 06, 2006, 03:54:30 PM
It is very interesting of how things are remembered and not. In my reading of several statements not only on this forum and threads, but in books, etc., I am understanding [and to most readers as well that for the mainstay, HIH Alexandra chose NOT to be involved in court interfaces, and stuck primarily to herself, her family, [in the role of mother], and was anything from most reports of how most other Imperial Tsar's wives were. So, this leads me to wonder all the more about those who state presently what they do about HIH Alexandra. Letters aside, what she actually did, and on a daily basis, points exactly to how and with whom her life revolved around. Remember, this was one of the main issues the people had with her, that she was more or less, an invisible part of court interchanges, functions, etc. She however was involved foremost in charitable understandings, and that of the Russian Orthodox Church. Of course she had her private thoughts, and was certainly entitled to them. Like any family member, she probably discussed what she wished. Nothing wrong with that. Every member of every family does that. Most importantly, she was a 'private person' when it came to her emotions. HIH Alexandra was not a person who was without poise, and how to conduct herself in public, or with others. It is careless to typify her as being anything but poised, intelligent and most regal !

IF HIH Alexandra was the way many think she was, in terms of being the opposite of how to conduct her station, etc., how on earth would she take the reigns or dictate her will? This in itself would have been noted immediately.

People don't change so drastically, especially for all the years HIH Alexandra took to herself, along with her illnesses, it did not allow her to involve her much in most issues of court life, or politics for that matter. Her whole life, and focus was her children, and of course the next heir to the throne. Here of course, she had the right to rightfully stand up for her son, and his future. Her thoughts of Russia was of great love. Belochka is quite right, when she wept privately, she wept for Russia. She was not Russia's enemy, quite the contrary !

Anyway, for all of us here, it is more of less conjucture of what we thought she did or did not do.
But based on everything put together of her profile, imho, it is what I come up with to date.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Sarushka on May 06, 2006, 04:15:00 PM
This is a trifle off-topic, and a bit picky as well, but shouldn't it be HIM Alexandra, rather than HIH?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 06, 2006, 04:24:21 PM
 ;D Thank you Sarushka.
'right church, wrong pew' !
my fingers don't won't to obey me of late.
Your right. 30 lashes with a wet noodle.
I suppose I was stating, Her Imperial Highness, but it should be Majesty.
Dang, protocol again.
I like your trifle's  :) ...but I'd love a plum pudding, but can't find any,
it's late in the season you know... :)
Back to Topic... :-*

Tatiana+


Quote
This is a trifle off-topic, and a bit picky as well, but shouldn't it be HIM Alexandra, rather than HIH?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 06, 2006, 04:25:18 PM
[size=9] ;D Thank you Sarushka.
'right church, wrong pew' !
my fingers don't won't to obey me of late.
Your right. 30 lashes with a wet noodle.
I suppose I was stating, Her Imperial Highness, but it should be Majesty.
Dang, protocol again.
I like your trifle's  :) ...but I'd love a plum pudding, but can't find any,
it's late in the season you know... :)
Back to Topic... :-*

Tatiana+[/size]

Quote
This is a trifle off-topic, and a bit picky as well, but shouldn't it be HIM Alexandra, rather than HIH?
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 06, 2006, 10:26:10 PM
Dear Tania,

I did not say she was an "enemy of Russia". I said she was an inept Tsaritsa who was at least partially responsible for the diminishment of the monarchy that lead to Nicholas II's abdication.

Again, read her letters, especially during the war. If she didn't expect Nicholas to at least consider her advice regarding ministerial and military appointments, she wasted a lot of ink.

Furthermore, you really can't have it both ways. Either their marriage was a deep entwinement of two people who believed in the same things, or she was able to bifurcate Nicholas' job from the man himself.

Um . . . no, I don't think so.

Simon
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 07, 2006, 12:21:13 AM
Most courses on the Russian Revolution barely mention the Empress.  She really didn't play a major role.  So her level of intelligence, her social skills, her understanding of the Russian people and Russian culture are almost beside the point.  

The only mention of Alexandra in any course on Russian history that I've ever taken is in regard to the damage Rasputin did to the prestige of the throne -- and this is only mentioned as a secondary or tertiary contributor to the fall of the dynasty.  

One professor said in class that the Alexandra/Rasputin scandal was a side show and that contrary to the Massie's thesis (that the the Russian empire collapsed due a mutated gene in the body of a little boy) the revolution had little to do with what was going on inside the palace.

As far as "blaming" Alexandra for her "malign" influence on Nicholas.  This is done typically to get him off the hook for his own mistakes.  Blame the wife.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Grace on May 07, 2006, 07:58:21 AM
Surely you can't ignore the fact that Alexandra had considerable influence over her husband?  Maybe not total, but it was there nevertheless, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 07, 2006, 09:18:01 AM
But her influence didn't change anything.  Whether you factor in Alexandra's influence over Nicholas, for factor it out, you still get the same result -- revolution and the fall of the dynasty.

As for the level of influence she wielded, both Vyrubova and Gilliard speak of her opposition to the war -- but Nicholas would not hear of it.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 07, 2006, 01:29:59 PM
But there are sins of omission as well as comission, Rich.

Of course Alexandra wasn't "responsible" for the Russian Revolution in any meaningful way, although there is a stronger case to be made for her behavior with Rasputin eroding the support the dynasty might normally have expected to find amongst the nobility. My point is that you have these two basically inept people (politically) thrust into leadership roles in a chaotic situation. She had been exposed, at least, to countries such as her grandmother's and mother's, where shared power was the norm. Alexandra consciously rejected these models during her time as Tsaritsa. And whether her name shows up at council meetings, no one (including Nicholas, I'll bet) would dispute the idea that she was his principal adviser. And she failed to give him sensible advice.

They weren't malign, and to return to the topic of the thread, she certainly wasn't. Unfortunately for the future of the Romanov dynasty, they were mediocrities at best --- as rulers, I hasten to add. The similarities in captivity with Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are almost eerie. Both couples achieve a greatness in the way that they bear their sufferings. But nobility in the face of suffering doesn't exculpate them from the charge of being inept monarchs.

Could anyone else have done better? A pointless question, since the tide of history was working against monarchies by the end of First World War. Could they have done better? Yes, I think so. And I stand by my statement in an earlier post. An inability to consider other points of view --- which Nicholas and Alexandra possessed in spades --- is the hallmark of a mind not suited to rule.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 10, 2006, 10:24:44 PM
Your point about sins of omission, Louis_Charles, is well taken.  My main point is that Alexandra's responsibility pales in comparison to Nicholas' responsibility, at least in my opinion.  

But I want to add that as far as power-sharing goes, I agree that Alexandra consciously rejected this style of governing Russia until she died.  She never changed her mind about that.  She realized that Russia wasn't England or Germany, and what worked there, would not necessarily work in Russia.  It's too bad that Bush and his cronies were unable to apply the same logic to Iraq.

I agree that they were both in over their heads, and that neither was a particularly good judge of character.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ordino on May 16, 2006, 06:19:06 AM
Quote
It is very interesting of how things are remembered and not. In my reading of several statements not only on this forum and threads, but in books, etc., I am understanding [and to most readers as well that for the mainstay, HIH Alexandra chose NOT to be involved in court interfaces, and stuck primarily to herself, her family, [in the role of mother], and was anything from most reports of how most other Imperial Tsar's wives were. So, this leads me to wonder all the more about those who state presently what they do about HIH Alexandra. Letters aside, what she actually did, and on a daily basis, points exactly to how and with whom her life revolved around. Remember, this was one of the main issues the people had with her, that she was more or less, an invisible part of court interchanges, functions, etc. She however was involved foremost in charitable understandings, and that of the Russian Orthodox Church. Of course she had her private thoughts, and was certainly entitled to them. Like any family member, she probably discussed what she wished. Nothing wrong with that. Every member of every family does that. Most importantly, she was a 'private person' when it came to her emotions. HIH Alexandra was not a person who was without poise, and how to conduct herself in public, or with others. It is careless to typify her as being anything but poised, intelligent and most regal !

IF HIH Alexandra was the way many think she was, in terms of being the opposite of how to conduct her station, etc., how on earth would she take the reigns or dictate her will? This in itself would have been noted immediately.

People don't change so drastically, especially for all the years HIH Alexandra took to herself, along with her illnesses, it did not allow her to involve her much in most issues of court life, or politics for that matter. Her whole life, and focus was her children, and of course the next heir to the throne. Here of course, she had the right to rightfully stand up for her son, and his future. Her thoughts of Russia was of great love. Belochka is quite right, when she wept privately, she wept for Russia. She was not Russia's enemy, quite the contrary !

Anyway, for all of us here, it is more of less conjucture of what we thought she did or did not do.
But based on everything put together of her profile, imho, it is what I come up with to date.

Tatiana+
A very good message, Tatiana+.
Thanks. Ordino
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on May 22, 2006, 04:19:05 PM
Quote
Your point about sins of omission, Louis_Charles, is well taken.  My main point is that Alexandra's responsibility pales in comparison to Nicholas' responsibility, at least in my opinion.  

But I want to add that as far as power-sharing goes, I agree that Alexandra consciously rejected this style of governing Russia until she died.  She never changed her mind about that.  She realized that Russia wasn't England or Germany, and what worked there, would not necessarily work in Russia.  It's too bad that Bush and his cronies were unable to apply the same logic to Iraq.

I agree that they were both in over their heads, and that neither was a particularly good judge of character.


it's off topic but i have to say it: maybe american democracy doesn't work in iraq because iraqis don't want americans telling them what to do. just an opinion.

as for this topic, this is a conversation i've had on another forum and i will again state the points i made there:

alexandra did influence her husband. she may not have been the sole brain behind his decision but you cannot deny that she did. if not in another way then by encouraging his need for isolation that was satisfying her own need for isolation. (and i am talking here about the way the imperial family isolated itself before the first world war...) this isolation alienated nicky not just from the russians but from his own family who were starting to fall apart and not be as united as they used to.

alexandra was intelligent. maybe she was not very well educated but she did have a pretty good intelectual intelligence. however, i must agree with the person that said that she didn't have much social intelligence. she did not know how to judge people, she did not know who people were right to trust and who weren't... and i'm not just talking about rasputin, although he is a good argument for that. i'm talking about how she misjudged the russian people. you can say she was misinformed but that she was because she was listening to the wrong people. we know that ella warned her about what was happening but instead of listening she cooled off her relations with her sister! if anyone was to be completely honest and disinterested around her that would have been ella but alix ignored her. she indeed chose to listen to the wrong people. because they were telling her what she wanted to hear.

the way she chose to ignore all the bad things she heard (and i'm sure she must have heard a lot cause there were a lot to be heard) about rasputin for the sole reason that she believed he could cure her son. she allowed a perverted human being in the presence of her teenage daughters (i believe he was allowed to see them in their bedrooms, even when they were wearing nightgowns!). let's say that nicholas was not influenced by alexandra in choosing rasputin's friends as ministers (although i sincerely doubt it). let's just accept that rasputin's influence on alexandra manifested only in the family. isn't that enough? imagine yourself in one of the girls' shoes. you may not be aware of it, but a perverted man is allowed to be intimate with you because your mother believes he can cure your little brother. even if he can, your mother sacrificed your happiness and well being for your little brother's. imagine there are four girls in that position. i think it's unforgivable to close your eyes to someone like that and allow him into your family like that. for no matter what reason.

the russian revolution could not have been avoided. however, the slaughter could have. look at the list of monarchs who were deposed by revolution and then looked at those of them who were killed in the process: charles 1st of england was initially not even going to be deposed. the revolutionaries just wanted him to rethink some attitudes. he insisted on doing things his way, he became hated and was executed. louis and marie antoinette were killed because they had the image of dancing while then poor man starved. no matter what the truth was, that was the image. that was the reason they were killed. that was the reason nicholas and alexandra were killed: they were personally hated. and i think that hatred was fed by alexandra's irrationality and incapacity of seeing how what she did affected the people around her. i think that the russian revolution would have happened anyway and nicholas and alexandra could have been sent out of the country and left to die. look at other monarchs of the time: charles of austria was deposed, william of germany was deposed. but they were not killed. they tried to come back, both of them, and yet they were not killed. later on, in romania, two kings were deposed, carol and michael. michael is still alive today, his father died a dozen years after he had been deposed. alexander of battenberg lost the throne of bulgaria and yet he lived for years after that. king constantine of greece was twice deposed.

why, out of this long list, were nicholas and alexandra killed? my answer: because they were hated. they, as people. and that was a result of their own mistakes, not of the political conjuncture...
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Ivan Komarov on May 22, 2006, 09:25:36 PM
Wow, Ilyala, those were some good points.  To a great extent, Alix's problem was her stubbornness - she was not so much misinformed as guilty of selective conversation and hearing.  Anyone can choose who they speak to, and thereby what is told to them; and furthermore anyone can choose to remember what they like (for the most part; on my end of things I usually get stuck with all the bad memories).  This does indeed prove that she had a lack of social intelligence; and although I don't doubt her actual intelligence and wisdom - though greatly questionable at times - her stubbornness against hearing anything she didn't want to was a huge detriment.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on May 23, 2006, 08:45:59 AM
Quote
Wow, Ilyala, those were some good points.  To a great extent, Alix's problem was her stubbornness - she was not so much misinformed as guilty of selective conversation and hearing.  Anyone can choose who they speak to, and thereby what is told to them; and furthermore anyone can choose to remember what they like (for the most part; on my end of things I usually get stuck with all the bad memories).  This does indeed prove that she had a lack of social intelligence; and although I don't doubt her actual intelligence and wisdom - though greatly questionable at times - her stubbornness against hearing anything she didn't want to was a huge detriment.

exactly. as i said before, all she knew was that she had a son who was hurting and that she had to cure him, that nicholas had to be an absolute ruler, that alexei had to inherit the throne as an absolute ruler... etc etc. she did not admit any alternatives. first of all, the way she was obsessed with providing an heir: i've said this on the other forum too (i'm mentioning this in case someone else reads both forums and gets bored of my articles), in russia of those times succession was no problem. succession would have been a problem with catherine the great had paul 1st been in danger. there was no problem at the beginning of the 20th century: alexander 3rd had two sons (if we exclude george who was dead by then), michael was alive, healthy and at that time untainted (at the time when alix was struggling to give birth to a boy). if something bad had happened to michael, alexander the 2nd had plently of sons to provide for an heir: there were the vladimirovich, who themselves had sons, paul also had a son. if by some highly unlikely chance, all these men were to die, nicholas 1st had plently of sons who had sons! there was no succession crisis. alix was obsessed with the idea of providing an heir because she made herself out to be. no-one blamed alexander 1st's wife for not giving birth to sons (at a time when the succession depended on much fewer people). why should anyone blame alix?

also, alix was a german princess raised by her grandmother who was a constitutional monarch. the most important constitutional monarch, actually. the fact that this princess once she got to russia could not understand anything other than absolute rule is absolutely impossible for me to understand! she was the one who protested when nicholas was urged to call the duma by saying: 'that is impossible! nicky is an absolute monarch!'. had she been a russian noble, educated with millions of serfs at her feet, maybe i would have understood. but she was raised by the most constitutional monarch there was! how could she close her eyes to the option of constitutional monarchy?

i think alix wanted to see herself as persecuted by fate and by people around her (she imagined people blaming her for not having a son, she became obsessed with producing one and then she became obsessed with transmitting him nicky's inheritance intact and by doing so she actually caused the people's hatred which in turn led to her death, nicky's death, her precious son and their four daughters on top of that - if we aren't to mention the servants). poor alix, her mother died young. poor alix, her in-laws didn't want her. poor alix, she can't have a son. poor alix, her son is a hemophiliac. she spent her life fighting these demons, that i believe were on most accounts her own and by doing so she ended up self-distructing (and taking her family down with her).
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on May 23, 2006, 10:51:12 AM
Quote
the russian revolution could not have been avoided. however, the slaughter could have. look at the list of monarchs who were deposed by revolution and then looked at those of them who were killed in the process: charles 1st of england was initially not even going to be deposed. the revolutionaries just wanted him to rethink some attitudes. he insisted on doing things his way, he became hated and was executed. louis and marie antoinette were killed because they had the image of dancing while then poor man starved. no matter what the truth was, that was the image. that was the reason they were killed. that was the reason nicholas and alexandra were killed: they were personally hated. and i think that hatred was fed by alexandra's irrationality and incapacity of seeing how what she did affected the people around her. i think that the russian revolution would have happened anyway and nicholas and alexandra could have been sent out of the country and left to die. look at other monarchs of the time: charles of austria was deposed, william of germany was deposed. but they were not killed. they tried to come back, both of them, and yet they were not killed. later on, in romania, two kings were deposed, carol and michael. michael is still alive today, his father died a dozen years after he had been deposed. alexander of battenberg lost the throne of bulgaria and yet he lived for years after that. king constantine of greece was twice deposed.

why, out of this long list, were nicholas and alexandra killed? my answer: because they were hated. they, as people. and that was a result of their own mistakes, not of the political conjuncture...

Whoa there, llyala, I have to disagree with you. Remember the terrorist tradition in Russian history - it went all the way back to the reign of Alexander II, the "Liberator Tsar," hardly an emperor deserving of political assassination... Nicholas II was hated by the Russian revolutionaries not because of anything he specifically did but simply by virtue of the fact that he was born tsarevich. Not only the Russian revolutionary Nechaev but also his admirer Lenin a generation later stated that the entire House of Romanov should be exterminated. So I think you are underestimating the role played in late imperial Russian history by the terrorist ideological underpinnings of the two main revolutionary groups, the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) and the Bolsheviks. Indeed, once the October Revolution took place, Nicholas and his family stood very little chance of emerging alive. Not because of anything they had done or would do but merely because they existed in the first place. This was class war; and the first class enemies who had to be liquidated were the Romanovs.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on May 23, 2006, 04:48:41 PM
had the revolution started in a few years' time after the death of alexander 3rd, your argument would have been unbeatable. we cannot deny that alexander's rule was indeed not pleasant for most people, and i'm sure he had a big contribution to what happened. however, in 20 years time, a tsar could have influenced many people in his favor. not to remain an absolute ruler, maybe. but to stay alive... had the hatred for all the romanovs been so big in the 1890s, the revolution would have happened a lot sooner. but it didn't. it happened in 1917. the war contributed, all the bad romanov rulers contributed... and nicky and alix contributed. you can't just say 'poor them, they are not responsible for the opinions people hold on their family' because they were the heads of their family. alexander 3rd had been gone a long time and i'm pretty sure that the revolutionaries had no thoughts on him when they rebelled.

as i said, the revolution could not be stopped. too much difference between the higher class and the lower class (as you said a class war). however, you cannot blame the revolution and the way it happened on alexander 3rd. not entirely, anyway. i think nicky could have had the time to soften the things out had he realized what was inevitable. what was coming. but he didn't. he was sitting on a bomb when he came to the throne, true, but he was the one who lit the fire. and alexandra was right behind him with a spare lighter in case he didn't do the job properly.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on May 24, 2006, 11:50:42 AM
Ilyala, there's a certain futility to arguing "what ifs" in history. It's an interesting intellectual game but actually doesn't shed any real light on what happened. Yes, the Russian tsars could have followed Alexander II's lead and been reforming tsars as opposed to repressive ones or, best case scenario, been like Nicholas II after the Revolution of 1905, that is, reluctant reformers but reformers nonetheless. But that's the point, I believe. Nicholas did make an effort to institute broad-sweeping reforms in Russia. He was not completely obtuse, he was willing to compromise in certain areas, for a certain length of time, given sufficient external pressure to do so.

But the whole point is that Russia's radical intelligentsia, the Bolsheviks and SRs primarily, no longer saw political compromise as a viable option. They wanted total revolution at any price, at whatever cost to the upper and middle classes and indeed to the entire existing order, which they wanted to overthrow for a brave and entirely brand new world. The irony is that Russia's revolutionaries had moved beyond compromise long, long before the autocracy showed itself willing to compromise. And they were certainly not swayed by the Russian tsar's willingness to make concessions towards democratic reform... no doubt because democracy was not what these revolutionaries had in mind!

Of course it's true, these very same radicals might not have won the final battle if it had not been for World War I. That was probably the final, fatal factor in the seemingly eternal stand-off between the Russian tsar and the Russian radicals. But as it turned out in this battle only one party could emerge victorious and alive. That was the all-or-nothing dogma, that was the extremist ideology of Lenin and his crew. They were a blood-thirsty lot, you have only to read their original works. Absolutely no compromise with the ruling powers... only total destruction of the ruling class.    
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 24, 2006, 12:04:18 PM
As usual Elizabeth, your responses are brilliant, to the point.
Thank you again !  

Tatiana+


[size=10]
Quote
Ilyala, there's a certain futility to arguing "what ifs" in history. It's an interesting intellectual game but actually doesn't shed any real light on what happened. Yes, the Russian tsars could have followed Alexander II's lead and been reforming tsars as opposed to repressive ones or, best case scenario, been like Nicholas II after the Revolution of 1905, that is, reluctant reformers but reformers nonetheless. But that's the point, I believe. Nicholas did make an effort to institute broad-sweeping reforms in Russia. He was not completely obtuse, he was willing to compromise in certain areas, for a certain length of time, given sufficient external pressure to do so.

But the whole point is that Russia's radical intelligentsia, the Bolsheviks and SRs primarily, no longer saw political compromise as a viable option. They wanted total revolution at any price, at whatever cost to the upper and middle classes and indeed to the entire existing order, which they wanted to overthrow for a brave and entirely brand new world. The irony is that Russia's revolutionaries had moved beyond compromise long, long before the autocracy showed itself willing to compromise. And they were certainly not swayed by the Russian tsar's willingness to make concessions towards democratic reform... no doubt because democracy was not what these revolutionaries had in mind!

Of course it's true, these very same radicals might not have won the final battle if it had not been for World War I. That was probably the final, fatal factor in the seemingly eternal stand-off between the Russian tsar and the Russian radicals. But as it turned out in this battle only one party could emerge victorious and alive. That was the all-or-nothing dogma, that was the extremist ideology of Lenin and his crew. They were a blood-thirsty lot, you have only to read their original works. Absolutely no compromise with the ruling powers... only total destruction of the ruling class.    
[/size]
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on May 25, 2006, 03:39:19 PM
Quote
Ilyala, there's a certain futility to arguing "what ifs" in history. It's an interesting intellectual game but actually doesn't shed any real light on what happened. Yes, the Russian tsars could have followed Alexander II's lead and been reforming tsars as opposed to repressive ones or, best case scenario, been like Nicholas II after the Revolution of 1905, that is, reluctant reformers but reformers nonetheless. But that's the point, I believe. Nicholas did make an effort to institute broad-sweeping reforms in Russia. He was not completely obtuse, he was willing to compromise in certain areas, for a certain length of time, given sufficient external pressure to do so.

But the whole point is that Russia's radical intelligentsia, the Bolsheviks and SRs primarily, no longer saw political compromise as a viable option. They wanted total revolution at any price, at whatever cost to the upper and middle classes and indeed to the entire existing order, which they wanted to overthrow for a brave and entirely brand new world. The irony is that Russia's revolutionaries had moved beyond compromise long, long before the autocracy showed itself willing to compromise. And they were certainly not swayed by the Russian tsar's willingness to make concessions towards democratic reform... no doubt because democracy was not what these revolutionaries had in mind!

Of course it's true, these very same radicals might not have won the final battle if it had not been for World War I. That was probably the final, fatal factor in the seemingly eternal stand-off between the Russian tsar and the Russian radicals. But as it turned out in this battle only one party could emerge victorious and alive. That was the all-or-nothing dogma, that was the extremist ideology of Lenin and his crew. They were a blood-thirsty lot, you have only to read their original works. Absolutely no compromise with the ruling powers... only total destruction of the ruling class.    

...i said it before and i say it again: i do not blame the russian revolution on nicholas the 2nd. it would have happened anyway at some point. just like the anti-communist revolutions of 1989 could have been seen coming a long time before they happened by whoever wanted to look. however, just like the romanians in 1989 killed ceausescu because of ceausescu and not because they didn't want communism anymore (why did michael gorbachov live to tell the tale? see my point?), the russian people killed nicholas because of nicholas and not because of autocracy. that is all i'm saying. your arguments are good by taking the blame from nicholas about the revolution. but i never blamed him of that.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on May 26, 2006, 10:37:26 AM
Ilyala, the last Communist ruler of Russia is not a good example for the point you are trying to make because Gorbachev was essentially overthrown by a democratically elected leader, Yeltsin, and not by a coup d'état led by a tiny and elitist revolutionary group espousing principles of terrorism and absolutism, as the Bolsheviks who overthrew Kerensky's provisional government were... I wonder if I am simply not explaining well and that is why you keep missing the gist of my argument. What I am trying to say is, in the simplest terms, that ANY tsar, no matter how liberal and reforming, who ended up in the hands of the Bolsheviks would have been killed, probably without even the preliminary of a trial. This is because the Bolsheviks advocated terrorism against the ruling classes and did not balk at exterminating their "class enemies" to the extent it was possible. I agree, Nicholas II was not a good ruler, but whether he was good or bad made little difference to his ultimate fate once Lenin took power. IMHO you are underestimating the role of ideology in the attitude of the Bolsheviks towards the IF.

Ceausescu is not a good example, either, because again, he was not overthrown by a select revolutionary party of conspirators espousing terrorism and carrying within it the seeds of totalitarianism. He was overthrown by a mass movement of the Romanian people who had no single revolutionary ideology but were on the contrary bound together by a mass hatred of the totalitarian Communist system. Furthermore, IMO it is unfair to compare Nicholas II with Ceausescu. Nicholas Romanov was a well-intentioned and honorable man, if a weak and indecisive ruler, whereas Ceausescu was a murderous crook, plain and simple. It's like comparing Edward VIII with Al Capone, it just doesn't wash.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 27, 2006, 11:38:39 AM
A very good post, Elisabeth, especially in terms of the lack of resemblance to Gorbachev and Ceau-I'm-going-to-spell-it-wrong-so-I-will-stop-now.

My only cavil is the use of the word "ideology" to describe the motivations for the murders. I agree that Bolsheviks killed anyone and everyone who stood in their way, simply because they stood in their way. In that regard the Bolshevik ruling class --- much smaller and more difficult to crack than the Imperial ruling class --- reminds me of a Chicago mob in the 1920s on a much grander scale, and I wouldn't credit the mob with an "ideology". They (the Bolshevik leaders) were murderous thugs.

Simon
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 27, 2006, 01:18:38 PM
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also, alix was a german princess raised by her grandmother who was a constitutional monarch. the most important constitutional monarch, actually. the fact that this princess once she got to russia could not understand anything other than absolute rule is absolutely impossible for me to understand! she was the one who protested when nicholas was urged to call the duma by saying: 'that is impossible! nicky is an absolute monarch!'. had she been a russian noble, educated with millions of serfs at her feet, maybe i would have understood. but she was raised by the most constitutional monarch there was! how could she close her eyes to the option of constitutional monarchy?


Let's try to look at it another way.  Let's look at one of Queen Victoria's daughters, who became Empress of a foreign country and see how she fared.  Queen Victoria's oldest daughter, Victoria (Vicky) married the German crown prince in 1858 and for the next 40 years did her best to bring about liberal reform in Germany.  She did all she could to remake the German government into a facsimile of the British monarchial system.  And why not?  Afterall, hadn't Vicky had been raised by the "most important" constitutional monarch at the time?  Wasn't Britain's wealth and power growing by leaps and bounds during her mother's glorious reign?  Didn't Queen Victoria reign over an Empire over which the sun never set?

So, Vicky (who by all accounts had an unusually bright intellect) waltzed into Berlin and worked night and day to bring about liberal reform in Germany.  Well, guess what?  It didn't work.  Her heavy-handed efforts were so deeply resented that she pretty much accomplished the exact opposite of what she had planned.

Empress Frederick died realizing that she had failed miserably at trying to liberalize Germany.  Her initial belief that she could just remake Germany into a carbon copy of England was her undoing.  How naive!  Of course, Empress Frederick was merely a crown princess for most of that time;  who knows what would have happened if she had had more time to reign with her husband?  But she was unable to even inculcate her liberal values into her own children.

So, now, in 1894, Alix of Hesse goes to Russia, and in no time becomes the Empress.  She sees that Russia is a very different country from England, Germany, France or any other Western nation.  Very different.  She learns that Russia has a particular form of government (autocracy) that has been in place since at least the 16th century.  The government did not change under Peter the Great and his reforms, it did not change under Catherine the Great and her expansion, it held together under Napoleon's invasion, it did not change when Alexaner II freed the serfs.  The country is at least 10X the size of any other European nation.  It has a completely different culture and religion -- in fact the religion is closely tied to Russia's national identity.  They don't even use the Roman alphabet.  

Empress Alexandra embraced all of this.  She did not come to Russia to remake the country or mold it into another Western European nation.  I believe she thought, "This is my new country, I'm going to try to adapt to its ways and customs."  Who the hell is she to think she can come in and change everything.  She fought for the status quo, which was what was in place when she arrived on the scene.  And maintaining the status quo had always seemed to be the best way to preserve the peace.

Russia was not then, was not subsequently, and is not now a democratic country.  It never will be.  Nicholas and Alexandra knew that, which is more than can be said for most of the people on this board.  

Did Nicholas and Alexandra make mistakes?  YES

Did those mistakes help lead Russia into revolution?  YES

Did their failure to embrace western style constitutional reform lead to the revolution?  NO

Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tsarfan on May 27, 2006, 09:54:54 PM
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Did their failure to embrace western style constitutional reform lead to the revolution?  NO

RichC, I think your discussion of Vicky's experience in Germany is quite apt and makes a convincing case for the hopelessness of any attempts Alexandra might have undertaken to turn Russia onto a more liberal path by her own initiative.

However, I think one has to keep the 1905 Revolution in mind.  While I agree that western-style constitutional government might not have been the right recipe for Russia, there was a budding movement for Russian-style constitutional government that Nicholas, Alexandra, and the entire Imperial family despised and worked to suppress.

I was recently reading Greg King's Court of the Last Tsar, in which King described Nicholas' determination to block any representatives from the State Council and the Duma from participation in the centenniel celebration of the Battle of Borodino.  This was one of a series of actions Nicholas began to take with increasing frequency as he began to recover his balance after 1905.  His aim was clearly to marginalize any form of representative institutions and to remind the Russian people of their autocratic heritage . . . a heritage which was losing its power at the start of the twentieth century to extract unquestioning obedience, at least from the educated classes.

After Radzinsky's protests to the Master of Ceremonies about the Borodino centenniel were turned back, Radzinsky angrily countered that it was not Masters of Ceremonies that had turned the tide against Napoleon, but the Russian people.  The implications of that comment were beginning to become dangerous to ignore, even in Russia.

Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 28, 2006, 01:23:18 AM
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Did their failure to embrace western style constitutional reform lead to the revolution?  NO

RichC, I think your discussion of Vicky's experience in Germany is quite apt and makes a convincing case for the hopelessness of any attempts Alexandra might have undertaken to turn Russia onto a more liberal path by her own initiative.

However, I think one has to keep the 1905 Revolution in mind.  While I agree that western-style constitutional government might not have been the right recipe for Russia, there was a budding movement for Russian-style constitutional government that Nicholas, Alexandra, and the entire Imperial family despised and worked to suppress.

Tsarfan, my main idea here is that whatever Alexandra thought is really beside the point and I get so tired of people on this board who want to assign so much of the blame to her for the fall of the Russian monarchy when the blame really lies elsewhere.

Also, the "desire" for freedom among the Russian people was really a desire for good leadership -- that's what was lacking and what led to the 1905 revolution.  

But I agree with you that a "Russian-style" constitutional government was what was needed by 1905.  Nicholas' ministers convinced him to take that route and he did.  To learn more about what Nicholas thought about his role and the role of a constitution, I recently read selections of the minutes of the meetings of the Council of Ministers, over which Nicholas presided, in April 1906.  The Fundamental Laws were being revised and the big question was whether to refer to the sovereign's powers as "unlimited" in the new draft.  I think the transcript is quite fascinating as it shows how Nicholas viewed himself and his position as Emperor.



Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on May 28, 2006, 04:40:01 PM
first of all i believe that had emperror frederick been healthy at the time his father died and had he reigned longer (much longer, some 10-20 years), he would have made a lot of changes. not only because he was influenced by his wife but because he agreed with her. a carbon copy of england germany would have not become, because i don't think frederick wanted that. i do believe he saw the english system as an inspiration but i'm sure he would was flexible enough to know that some changes had to be made for it to apply well to germany and he would have made them.

nicholas, unlike frederick, needed a little more convincing. but i'm sure it could have been done. but alix not only did not try to inspire some sort of understanding of constitutional monarchy in him. she 100% embraced the russian system. had it worked well in russia, she could have said to herself 'well this is what works and this is what i'm accepting.' but it wasn't working! the russian people was rebelling! and she, instead of telling nicholas something like 'you know, in other countries democracy works, maybe we should try some reforms' she said 'nicholas cannot call the duma! he's an autocrat!'. when it was obvious that autocracy was not working anymore.

fighting to turn russia into england would have been just as futile. fighting to turn any other country but england into england is completely futile. english democracy is english democracy, french is different, american is different, spanish is different, you name it. that does not mean that the french cannot have a democracy with simmilar ideas, and same goes for other countries. she didn't have to copy the english laws and apply them to the russians. she had to at least try to open nicholas' mind towards constitutional mind. instead, she did the exact opposite: she supported his narrow-minded thinking. nicholas felt supported and went on. until there was nothing to be done anymore.

and no, i don't think he would have been killed anyway. king michael of romania was deposed by the communists in 1947 and yet he's still alive today. in my opinion, the difference was the fact that the romanian people were sympathetic with michael and the communists were not strong enough to face that. and in 1917 the communist russians were not that strong either. had they felt that the killing of the imperial family was going to cause a riot, they wouldn't have done it. but they knew that it wouldn't, that except for friends and family, the death of the imperial family caused at best feelings of pity and most of the times indifference. people shrugged and said 'oh well...'. and, again, that is their own fault.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 28, 2006, 07:09:58 PM
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nicholas, unlike frederick, needed a little more convincing. but i'm sure it could have been done. but alix not only did not try to inspire some sort of understanding of constitutional monarchy in him. she 100% embraced the russian system. had it worked well in russia, she could have said to herself 'well this is what works and this is what i'm accepting.' but it wasn't working! the russian people was rebelling! and she, instead of telling nicholas something like 'you know, in other countries democracy works, maybe we should try some reforms' she said 'nicholas cannot call the duma! he's an autocrat!'. when it was obvious that autocracy was not working anymore.

Empress Alexandra saw her role as a support to her husband.  She supported him in his own already deeply held convictions.  This was always the case throughout Nicholas' reign -- except once -- that I can think of -- and that was when she argued with him over going to war with Germany in late July 1914; an argument she lost...  

She always supported him and encouraged him -- even to the detriment of the country.  
 

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she had to at least try to open nicholas' mind towards constitutional mind. instead, she did the exact opposite: she supported his narrow-minded thinking. nicholas felt supported and went on. until there was nothing to be done anymore.

She did not see her role as that of trying to change Nicholas' mind about these things.  You need to stop harping on that.  If you want to blame her, then you need to assign blame also to Empress Maria for not doing anything to influence her husband, Tsar Alexander III toward a more constitutional form of government.  Why does "dear Minnie" always seem to get off the hook in these discussions while Alexandra is hung out to dry?  Denmark was a constitutional monarchy.  What did she ever try to do to mitigate the iron rule of her husband, whose reign was FAR more repressive than anything Nicholas ever hoped for?




Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tania+ on May 28, 2006, 09:13:32 PM
Dear RichC,

Thank You !  

Tatiana+
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tsarfan on May 30, 2006, 09:29:48 AM
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Empress Alexandra saw her role as a support to her husband.  She supported him in his own already deeply held convictions . . . .

She did not see her role as that of trying to change Nicholas' mind about these things.  You need to stop harping on that.  If you want to blame her, then you need to assign blame also to Empress Maria for not doing anything to influence her husband, Tsar Alexander III toward a more constitutional form of government.  Why does "dear Minnie" always seem to get off the hook in these discussions while Alexandra is hung out to dry?  Denmark was a constitutional monarchy.  What did she ever try to do to mitigate the iron rule of her husband, whose reign was FAR more repressive than anything Nicholas ever hoped for?

I agree that Alexandra saw it as her duty to support Nicholas in his role at Autocrat.  And I certainly think the point about Empress Marie is very well taken.  However, I think Alexandra's reasons for her almost mystical attachment to autocracy ran deeper than just spousal encouragement.

I have always believed that Alexandra was deeply mortified at her failure for so many years to provide an heir, while Xenia was popping out male children left and right.  (This was, of course, in the days before people knew that the father's "contribution" was the primary determinant of offspring gender.)  Then, when the heir at long last arrived, he was afflicted with the disease she brought into the Romanov dynasty.

Given her inability to support the dynasty in her most critical function of producing a healthy heir, I think Alexandra psychologically compensated by becoming an ardent supporter in other ways.  But this support took quite an ironic form.  The real way to support autocracy -- and her husband -- was to assist him in keeping the ties strong between the monarchy on one hand and the nobility and the senior civil service on the other.  Instead, she encouraged Nicholas to retreat from public life and to wall off the autocracy from those classes of society who were the lifeblood of its support.  She joined Nicholas in fantasizing a mystical bond between the Little Father and the masses of the peasantry that no one else in educated society took seriously . . . and she came to believe this support by the peasant masses could bridge the autocracy over the chasm that she helped open between Nicholas and the classes that really mattered.

This is, I think, the critical difference between Alexandra and Marie.  Both were willing, with nary a blink, to turn their backs on their own political heritages.  But Marie gave meaningful support to her husband's goals, while Alexandra worked -- perhaps unwittingly and for reasons somewhat beyond her control -- against her husband's and the autocracy's interests.

Marie understood the mix of power, elevation, pomp -- and carefully-managed engagement with key classes of society -- off which autocracy fed.  In fact, she was probably better at managing that mix than Alexander himself.  But Alexandra utterly misunderstood the mix.

The nobility might have been wrong in thinking that Alexandra was haughty and censorious.  The extended imperial family might have been wrong in thinking that Alexandra exercised undue influence over Nicholas.  The urban classes might have been wrong in thinking that Rasputin was engaged in sexual escapades inside the Alexander Palace.  The masses of Russian soldiers might have been wrong in thinking Alexandra was a German spy.

But ultimately the perceptions became far more important than the reality.  Revolutions don't pause to make a judicial examination of the facts.  They are driven by mass disillusionment and popular perceptions.  And the fact was that many of the popular perceptions that helped oust the Romanovs from their throne began in the salons of St. Petersburg, with Alexandra as the protagonist.  For this, at least some of the blame must be laid at Alexandra's feet.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on May 30, 2006, 02:23:50 PM
i totally agree with you, tsarfan.

i also want to point out that alexander and nicholas were two different people. and minnie, even if she had tried to influence her husband, would have, no doubt, failed. i'm not so sure about alexandra.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Tsarfan on May 30, 2006, 04:30:02 PM
I obviously lay more blame at Alexandra's door than does RichC . . . but I also think RichC is right about Nicholas' determination, quite of his own accord, to maintain autocracy any way he could.

Without being wise, Nicholas was quite crafty.  And the strategy of his later reign to marginalize the Duma was one I feel he would have pursued in full measure even had Alexandra tried to prod him onto another course.  It requires much more finesse to share power than to exercise it unilaterally.  Being a realtively weak man who was easily intimidated by intelligence in others, Nicholas probably sensed he could ultimately maintain no influence whatsoever in a real power-sharing arrangement with representative institutions.  Even the few constitutional monarchs who could -- such as Elizabeth I -- ultimately succeeded only in slowing down the inexorable shift of power over time toward the representative institutions of government.

A lot has been made over the years of Alexandra's identifying herself with Marie Antoinette.  I suspect the more crucial lesson Nicholas and Alexandra took away from the French Revolution was a sound understanding of how quickly Louis XVI lost control of events after the calling of the Estates General and how utterly he failed at maintaining the royal voice in the cacophony that followed.

I have always been of the view that the only hope the Romanov dynasty had of avoiding revolution in 1917 was lost in its failure to embrace the constitutional experiment after 1905.  But I nurse no delusions that the Romanov dynasty would have remained a strong voice in the constitutional mix indefinitely into the future.  To do so would have required a level of astuteness that could never have been sustained with the random luck of primogeniture succession determining the rulers.  
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 30, 2006, 08:03:41 PM
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However, I think Alexandra's reasons for her almost mystical attachment to autocracy ran deeper than just spousal encouragement.

I have always believed that Alexandra was deeply mortified at her failure for so many years to provide an heir...when the heir at long last arrived, he was afflicted with the disease she brought into the Romanov dynasty.

Given her inability to support the dynasty in her most critical function of producing a healthy heir, I think Alexandra psychologically compensated by becoming an ardent supporter in other ways.  But this support took quite an ironic form.  The real way to support autocracy -- and her husband -- was to assist him in keeping the ties strong between the monarchy on one hand and the nobility and the senior civil service on the other.  Instead, she encouraged Nicholas to retreat from public life and to wall off the autocracy from those classes of society who were the lifeblood of its support.  She joined Nicholas in fantasizing a mystical bond between the Little Father and the masses of the peasantry that no one else in educated society took seriously . . . and she came to believe this support by the peasant masses could bridge the autocracy over the chasm that she helped open between Nicholas and the classes that really mattered.

I agree to an extent with this theory, Tsarfan.  The
thesis you have laid out here somewhat reflects Robert
K. Massie's ideas about what brought down the empire.
The problem that I have with it is that Alexandra
seems to have held this attitude from the beginning --
rather than it developing as the years went by.  Her
"ardent support" seems to have been present from the
start.  She was very protective of Nicholas -- that
is for sure.  But I doubt she contributed much to his
attitudes toward reform.  I've never heard anyone
claim that she was an influence in his famous
"Sensless Dreams" speech of 1895, for example.  That
was entirely his own doing.

As far as responsibility for the retreat of the
Imperial Family from public life, Alexandra must take
some of the blame for that.  There's no doubt about
that.  But there was also the ever-present fear of
assassination, which seems to have taken hold after
1905.  This seems to have been a factor, too, in the retreat from public life.

Quote
This is, I think, the critical difference between Alexandra and Marie.  Both were willing, with nary a blink, to turn their backs on their own political heritages.  But Marie gave meaningful support to her husband's goals, while Alexandra worked -- perhaps unwittingly and for reasons somewhat beyond her control -- against her husband's and the autocracy's interests.

Marie understood the mix of power, elevation, pomp -- and carefully-managed engagement with key classes of society -- off which autocracy fed.  In fact, she was probably better at managing that mix than Alexander himself.  But Alexandra utterly misunderstood the mix.

I agree completely.  I think you've hit the nail on
the head here.  Except that perhaps Marie's
understanding may have been more instinctive rather
than explicit.  I suspect that she just liked to have
a good time, to be honest with you.  

Quote
The nobility might have been wrong in thinking that Alexandra was haughty and censorious.  The extended imperial family might have been wrong in thinking that Alexandra exercised undue influence over Nicholas.  The urban classes might have been wrong in thinking that Rasputin was engaged in sexual escapades inside the Alexander Palace.  The masses of Russian soldiers might have been wrong in thinking Alexandra was a German spy.

But ultimately the perceptions became far more important than the reality.  Revolutions don't pause to make a judicial examination of the facts.  They are driven by mass disillusionment and popular perceptions.  And the fact was that many of the popular perceptions that helped oust the Romanovs from their throne began in the salons of St. Petersburg, with Alexandra as the protagonist.  For this, at least some of the blame must be laid at Alexandra's feet.

So true.  Here is what Grand Duke Andrei wrote on September 6, 1915 regarding a surprise visit to his mother Marie Pavlovna, from Alexandra:

A few days ago Alix came to have tea with Mama at Tsarskoe Selo...It should be noted that this is the first time in 20 years that Alix has been to visit Mama without Nicky....

Mama repeated several times that Alix had made a profound impression on her.  Here was very real despair; Alix looked at things exactly as we do, and everything that she said was clear, affirmative and true.

This episode in our family life is important, in that it gave us the possibility of understanding Alix.  Almost the whole of her life in our country has been veiled in a shadowy incomprehensible aura.  Nobody really knew her, in fact, or understood her, and the guesses or supposition that were made, became in time an array of the most varied legends.

We saw her in a new light, and realized that many of the legends are false, and that she is on the right path...



Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on May 30, 2006, 08:13:41 PM
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I obviously lay more blame at Alexandra's door than does RichC . . . but I also think RichC is right about Nicholas' determination, quite of his own accord, to maintain autocracy any way he could.

Without being wise, Nicholas was quite crafty.  And the strategy of his later reign to marginalize the Duma was one I feel he would have pursued in full measure even had Alexandra tried to prod him onto another course.  

Yes, this is what I mean.  You don't see many posts on this board that describe Nicholas II as "crafty" but you sure see them in spades when it comes to Alexandra.  We need to move away from the stereotypes of "dear, sweet Nicky" and "mean, old Alix".



Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on June 01, 2006, 09:47:08 AM
Nicholas II was not only "crafty," but also, according to his biographer Dominic Lieven, extremely strong-willed and obstinate when it came to the principle of autocracy. Despite the urgings of the bulk of the educated Russian people and even his own ministers, he remained recalcitrant on this point to the very end of his reign (and perhaps even beyond). Maybe his obstinacy did indeed have something to do with the "lessons" he had drawn from the example of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Nevertheless, what still astonishes me is that he didn't realize how much was at stake in the Russian setting. Terrorism was a real and ever-present threat long before 1905. The revolutionaries had tried to blow up the entire Romanov family at a dinner at the Winter Palace during Alexander II's reign - surely they wouldn't balk at trying to assassinate not only Nicholas and Alexandra but also their children??? Wasn't some sort of political compromise paramount to the imperial family's best interests, indeed, their very own physical survival?... But perhaps that's yet another reason why both Nicholas and Alexandra held so steadfast and stalwartly to the autocratic principle - because they were convinced that any sort of compromise with the forces of liberalism was the equivalent of opening the door to an onslaught of revolutionary terrorism?

I do think it's difficult to underestimate the degree of mutual hostility, fear and misunderstanding between the tsar and the forces of change in his empire. On some level Nicholas must have identified all "liberal" change with the forces of (radical) revolutionary violence against his own family. Remember he witnessed the horrific death of his grandfather, Alexander II, by revolutionary terrorists, and he would doubtless have heard endless stories from his various relations about the Narodnaia Volia's many previous attempts to murder Alexander II. Additionally, think of the bombing of the imperial train at Borki and consider how this must have affected the young Nicholas.

As for Alexandra, I remember reading the diary of an English lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria who described the Hessian princess as a complete "cow," ready for breeding and totally uninterested in politics. This English lady believed that Russia would have been better served by a German princess on the lines of Empress Victoria, the Queen of England's daughter. IMO to the extent that Alexandra ever took an interest in politics it was from a purely personal (stereotypically "feminine") perspective - she wanted only to preserve the autocracy intact for her son Alexei. But since Nicholas was of exactly the same mind as his wife it's rather difficult to see how Alexandra could have "influenced" him in this regard. What it boils down to is that if Nicholas and Alexandra were not always in agreement upon the means by which their end could be achieved (i.e., the preservation of autocracy), they were nevertheless always in agreement upon the necessity of that desired end.

Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: bell_the_cat on June 01, 2006, 01:02:40 PM
Here's my 5c:

Well of course Nicholas was not always uncompromising in his defence of autocracy. He gave in under intense pressure in 1905 to allow the Duma, after which (as has been mentioned by other posters) he proceeded to back-pedal. In this he followed the bad example of Louis XVI, rather than learning from his mistakes.

I can't agree that Alexandra was uninterested in politics. Her wartime letters show that she saw it as her role to prop up Nicholas when it seemed as if he was caving in under pressure. Sure she agreed with him, but she was "plus royaliste que le roi". On some occasions he ignored her advice, when it might have been better to listen to her! I think, for example, that he would not have abdicated if she had been present, which would have been better for almost everyone.

Her retirement from public life was connected with her fear of social embarrassment. Strangely enough this phobia coexisted with an intense intellectual interest in her husband's job as autocrat. Like many "shy" people, she was possessed by a desire for greatness, and found a way of exerting power through her husband. I think this is the difference between her and her mother-in-law for whom the society aspects of being Empress were  enough.

I don't think the security issue was the main reason the N + A secluded themselves. After all other members of the family continued to take the risks associated with public life. I honestly think they preferred it that way, as they disliked the St Petersburg society they felt uncomfortable with (here again it was surely Alexandra more than Nicholas). Thus they alienated the people who should have been the biggest supporters of the monarchy.

Elisabeth, the incident at Borki, I always thought was a train accident. Sergius Witte (?) said it had been caused by the Tsar insisting that the train travel at full speed, and the railway officials not daring to say that the line was in poor condition.  :-/





Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2006, 07:48:30 PM
Quote

Well of course Nicholas was not always uncompromising in his defence of autocracy. He gave in under intense pressure in 1905 to allow the Duma, after which (as has been mentioned by other posters) he proceeded to back-pedal. In this he followed the bad example of Louis XVI, rather than learning from his mistakes.

Article 1 of the old Fundamental Laws -- promulgated by Emperor Paul:

The emperor of all the Russias is an autocratic and unlimited monarch [Monarkh Samoderzhavnyi i neogranichennyi].  That his authority be obeyed not only out of fear, but also out of conscience, God himself commands.

Under the new version of the Fundamental Laws, which were written in 1906, this article was changed to:

The emperor of all the Russias possesses supreme autocratic power [Verkhovnaia Samoderzhavnaia vlast].  That his authority be obeyed, not only out of fear, but also out of conscience, God himself commands. (this became article 4 under the new version)

Here are Nicholas II's comments on the matter in the State Council meeting, April 9, 1906:

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY:  Let us now take up article 4.  It contains the most important point in this entire matter.  I have not ceased thinking about this question since I first beheld the draft of the revision of the Fundamental Laws.  I kept the draft for a whole month and have thought about this question constantly also since the chairman of the Council of Ministers (he's referring to Witte here) submitted the altered draft to me.  All this time I have been troubled by the doubt whether I have the right, in the face of my ancestors, to alter the limits of the power I have received from them.  This conflict within me continues.  I have not yet reached a final decision.  One month ago it seemed easier to decide this question than it does now, after long reflection, when the moment for decision is drawing near.  During all this time I have daily received scores of telegrams, letters, and petitions from all ends and corners of the Russian Land, from people of all classes.  They express their touching feelings of loyalty to me, pleading with me not to limit my power and thanking me for the rights granted by the Manifesto of October 17.  As I ponder the idea of these people, I feel that they wish the Manifesto of October 17, and the rights granted by it to my subjects, to be preserved, but that not one step further be taken and that I remain the autocrat of all the Russias.  

I tell you most sincerely, believe me, that if I were convinced that Russia wanted me to abdicate my autocratic powers, I should gladly do it for the sake of its welfare.  I issued the Manifesto of October 17 with all deliberateness, and I am firmly resolved to bring it to completion.  But I am not convinced that it is necessary at the same time to abdicate my autocratic powers and to alter the definition of supreme authority [Verkhovnaia vlast] as contained in article 1 of the Fundamental Laws for the past 109 years.  It is my conviction that, for many reasons, it is highly dangerous to change this article....I know, moreover, that leaving article 1 without changes will provoke agitation and attacks.  But we should consider the source whence the reproach will come.  It will come, of course, from the entire so-called educated element, the proletarians, the third estate.  But I am confident that 80 percent of the Russian people will be with me, will support me, and will be grateful to me for such a decision...

Article 4 is the most important in the entire draft.  But the question of my perogatives is a matter for my conscience, and I shall decide whether the article should be left as it is or altered.

I.L. GOREMYKIN:  Eighty percent of the population will be distrubed, and many of them will be displeased, by a limitation of the boundaries of sovereign power...

COUNT K.I. PALEN [PAHLEN]:  The entire question is whether the word "unlimited" [neogranichennyi] is to be left in article 1 [i.e. in the old version].  I entertain no sympathies for the Manifesto of October 17, but it exists.  Until that time, you possessed the unlimited right to issue laws; but since October 17, Your Majesty can no longer issue laws by yourself, without the legislative institutions....The word "unlimited" cannot remain in the Fundamental Laws.














Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2006, 08:01:07 PM
M.G. AKIMOV:  There is no need to be confused by what is easily resolved.  I too am not a supporter of the freedoms granted to the people.  But on October 17, Your Majesty voluntarily limited yourself in the field of legislation....Where legislative power does not belong fully to the emperor, the monarch is limited.  To use the word "unlimited" at this time means throwing down the gauntlet and creating irreconcilable enmity in the Duma....The word "unlimited" must be excluded.

COUNT D.M. SOL'SKII:  Since you have decided, Sire, to carry out the Manifesto of October 17, article 1 must be changed....If you cannot bring yourself to do so, it would be best not to publish the Fundamental Laws at all.

HIS IMPERIAL HIGHNESS, THE GRAND DUKE NIKOLAI NIKOLAEVICH:  By the Manifesto of October 17, Your Imperial Majesty has already stricken out the word "unlimited".

HIS IMPERIAL HIGHNESS, THE GRAND DUKE VLADIMIR ALEKSANDROVICH:  I agree with my cousin.

P.N. DURNOVO:  Half-educated and educated persons can stir up even a well-intentioned people.  The entire unrest comes not from the people, but from educated society, which must be reckoned with:  the state is governed by educated society.  It is important to have as many well-disposed persons as possible among the educated elements.  After the manifestos of October 17 and February 20, the unlimited sovereignty of the monarch ceased to exist....The word "unlimited" cannot be left to stand, since this will not correspond to the manifestos of October 17 and February 20.  It will produce sedition in the minds of educated persons, and that will lead to nationwide sedition.  

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY:  We shall now recess for fifteen minutes.

LATER

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY:  I shall announce my decision later.  Let us now take up further questions.

MEETING OF THE STATE COUNCIL, APRIL 12, 1906

COUNT D.M. SOL'SKII:  Your Imperial Majesty was pleased to postpone decision on article 4.  What is your command:  shall the word "unlimited" be preserved, or excluded?

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY:  I have resolved to accept the wording of the Council of Ministers.

COUNT D.M. SOL'SKII:  Consequently, the word "unlimited" is to be excluded?

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY:  Yes, it is to be excluded.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2006, 08:10:57 PM
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Here's my 5c:

Her retirement from public life was connected with her fear of social embarrassment. Strangely enough this phobia coexisted with an intense intellectual interest in her husband's job as autocrat. Like many "shy" people, she was possessed by a desire for greatness, and found a way of exerting power through her husband. I think this is the difference between her and her mother-in-law for whom the society aspects of being Empress were  enough.

Where is this coming from?  Since when are "shy" people possessed by a desire for greatness?  

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Elisabeth, the incident at Borki, I always thought was a train accident. Sergius Witte (?) said it had been caused by the Tsar insisting that the train travel at full speed, and the railway officials not daring to say that the line was in poor condition.  :-/

This is what it says in Witte's memoirs.  The family thought it was a bomb, but it turned out that the tracks were unsafe.






Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Belochka on June 01, 2006, 09:52:40 PM
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Here are Nicholas II's comments on the matter in the State Council meeting, April 9, 1906:

[size=10]Hi RichC,

Could you please provide the full citation for this debate please?

Thanks in anticipation,

Margarita[/size]
[/color]  :)
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on June 01, 2006, 10:44:44 PM
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Quote

Here are Nicholas II's comments on the matter in the State Council meeting, April 9, 1906:

[size=10]Hi RichC,

Could you please provide the full citation for this debate please?

Thanks in anticipation,

Margarita[/size]
[/color]  :)


Hi Margarita,

The selection was originally taken from

Protokoly zasedanii soveshchaniia...po peresmotru osnovnykh gosudarstvennykh zakaonov (St. Petersburg: Gosudarstvennaia Tip., 1906)

I have a thick file of these, all translated into English, which was part of a course pack for a Russian history class I took at Yale many years ago.  I never threw it out.

I hope this helps!

Rich



Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Belochka on June 01, 2006, 11:49:52 PM
Quote
Quote
Quote

Here are Nicholas II's comments on the matter in the State Council meeting, April 9, 1906:

[size=10]Hi RichC,

Could you please provide the full citation for this debate please?

Thanks in anticipation,

Margarita[/size]
[/color]  :)


Hi Margarita,

The selection was originally taken from

Protokoly zasedanii soveshchaniia...po peresmotru osnovnykh gosudarstvennykh zakaonov (St. Petersburg: Gosudarstvennaia Tip., 1906)

I have a thick file of these, all translated into English, which was part of a course pack for a Russian history class I took at Yale many years ago.  I never threw it out.

I hope this helps!

Rich

[size=10]Thank you Rich!

A wise decision to retain those course notes.

Best regards,

Margarita[/size]
[/color]  :)
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: bell_the_cat on June 02, 2006, 01:17:51 AM
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Where is this coming from?  Since when are "shy" people possessed by a desire for greatness?  


It's a paradox I know, but many shy people suffer from the delusion that everyone is looking at them, which is connected to an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Small children are like this - and some adults - including, I would dare to say, Alexandra (and me sometimes!  :))
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: bell_the_cat on June 02, 2006, 01:24:38 AM
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This is what it says in Witte's memoirs.  The family thought it was a bomb, but it turned out that the tracks were unsafe.

Which was a good metaphor for the entire situation.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Belochka on June 02, 2006, 01:46:33 AM
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This is what it says in Witte's memoirs.  The family thought it was a bomb, but it turned out that the tracks were unsafe.

Which was a good metaphor for the entire situation.

[size=10]Actually Witte attributted the Borki disaster to the train's weight (the two front locomotives) combined with the customary imperial speed. Both unusual factors had rendered the existing rails unfit for that journey. (Memoirs of Witte, pp 94-95)  
[/size]
[/color]
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on June 02, 2006, 02:49:34 AM
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Where is this coming from?  Since when are "shy" people possessed by a desire for greatness?  


It's a paradox I know, but many shy people suffer from the delusion that everyone is looking at them, which is connected to an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Small children are like this - and some adults - including, I would dare to say, Alexandra (and me sometimes!  :))

i don't know if this is in other countries too, but around here there's talk about 'the violence of the shy people'. a shy person holds back a lot and then blows up at the smallest of things. they do so usually when they feel they're being stepped on and they do that because they're aware of their own shyness and the fact that that could get them to be stepped on sometimes.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on June 02, 2006, 11:33:27 AM
Bell, I don't believe I said that Alexandra remained uninterested in politics her whole life long. What I actually said was that she was, to all reports, uninterested in politics at the time of her marriage. Obviously she only became interested after she had become the mother of a son and heir to the Russian empire (or arguably, perhaps a little sooner, during Nicholas' near-fatal illness from typhus shortly before the birth of Anastasia). What I was trying to say was, that Alexandra's stake in Russian politics always remained on a purely personal and very emotional level. She was not a true statesman, interested in politics for its own sake (nor for that matter a political junkie like my husband, who has to read all the British newspapers online and watch BBC America on TV every morning, or else he's irritated for the rest of the day!). She always translated politics on to an exclusively personal level - us against them - which was indeed not helpful in such a dangerous situation, but as far as I can see not so very different from her husband's own attitude.

I am inclined to think (unless persuaded otherwise) that both Nicholas and Alexandra believed that compromising with the forces of liberalism was tantamount to unsheathing the forces of darkness (revolutionary and/or peasant anarchism and violence). You can see this conservative impulse in Nicholas's intense reluctance to restrict his autocratic powers in the transcripts RichC gives above, but also in all his actions to curtail the Duma's powers after 1905. Whether Nicholas was right or wrong in taking this approach is something perhaps only RichC can address adequately. But needless to say the socio-political situation in Russia in the teens of the twentieth century was certainly radically different than that of France at the end of the eighteenth century. Russia's position at this time was not nearly as empowered as that of France's before Napoleon. For one thing, Russia lacked an adequately sized, strong middle class. There was only a tiny educated elite and as its counterpart, a vast peasant mass craving the very same land that mainly belonged to that very same elite. Stolypin tried to change this recipe for disaster - with only limited success (some say none). Then World War I came along and blew the entire Stolypin experiment to hell.

But how can you say Alexandra herself was a factor in this disastrous formula? If she was a factor, she was so minor as to be all but discounted...    
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: bell_the_cat on June 02, 2006, 01:02:20 PM
Elisabeth, I agree with you that Alexandra's political advice didn't affect things significantly. As you say mostly she agreed with her husband, and when she did disagree with him, he often ignored her. Alexandra's contribution to the Revolution was by "not doing her job" as Maria Pavlovna put it. By retreating from society she alienated the people at the apex of power, who were the ones who had most at stake in the regime.

I'm not sure about the young Alix - she certainly fancied herself as an intellectual, inspired by her brother Ernst. I wouldn't be surprised if she took in upon herself to read a few political tomes. She was also interested in Art and Music, so it wouldn't have been degree level Political Science though. What I am trying to say is she wasn't just interested in homes and babies as a young woman. She had the example of her mother to follow, as well as her sisters ( don't know about Irene) and brother, who were intellectuals by royal standards!
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on June 03, 2006, 03:28:05 AM
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But how can you say Alexandra herself was a factor in this disastrous formula? If she was a factor, she was so minor as to be all but discounted...    

i think it would have taken a miracle to stop the revolution. just like it would have taken a miracle to stop the french revolution. just like it would have taken a miracle to stop the austrian empire to disintegrate at the beginning of the 20th century. and a miracle would have also taken to keep any absolute regime you can think of. even if the current ruler of the absolute regime is a good one and people are pleased, there's bound to be a bad one coming either after him either after the person that comes after him and so on. and people invariably rebel when things don't go as they want them to. you cannot blame nicholas and alexandra for the russian revolution. you cannot blame louis xvi for the french revolution (i personally think louis xiv was more to blame but that's another discussion). you cannot blame charles of austria for losing his empire. these things were all coming. and yes louis and nicholas were unfit monarchs but i sincerely doubt anyone could have stopped the revolutions from happening. the roots were too deep.

however, you can blame louis and nicholas for their unpopularity. yes, alexandra was misunderstood, but that was her own fault. once people start thinking bad of you, for any reason, they will pick on every little thing you do. maybe she was not haughty but she showed herself to be. she was that woman from tsarkoe selo who wouldn't talk to anyone. no wonder people jumped to conclusions! she never bothered to show her real self to anyone but close friends and nicholas! she may have been shy but shyness can be fought, and i'm telling you that as a person who used to be painfully shy. she didn't, she just didn't talk to people. she may not have slept with rasputin but by allowing a man like him (and we must all agree that he was a really bad man to allow...) to enter her family the way he did is like smoking in a gas station. ok, so you didn't actually want to set the gas station on fire, you just couldn't help yourself from smoking, but that doesn't mean it's not your fault that the gas station is now burning. people didn't know about alexei's condition. she was too proud to let them know. all they knew was that rasputin was dangerously close to the family, they knew what he was like... from that to assuming that he must be doing the empress is a very small step. and assuming that people won't think that of you is stupid, if you don't mind me saying so.

she indeed did not help things. she made them worse. nicholas made them worse. and they died because of it. and their family with them. i sincerely believe (it must be the xth time i'm saying this) that they would have been left alive had there been one shred of respect for them.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: Elisabeth on June 04, 2006, 12:04:15 PM
We'll have to agree to disagree, Ilyala. I don't think the Bolsheviks cared one iota about public opinion. Lenin always believed in terror as a political tool and espoused it as such even in his earliest political writings, long before the October Revolution. So, I repeat for the nth time, even if Nicholas II had been a much-loved monarch it would not have saved him from the revolutionary vengeance of the Bolsheviks or for that matter the SRs, which was indeed the party with the most popular support amongst the Russian masses in 1918 (and a party which needless to say also believed in terror).

Have you ever seen the Bertolucci film about the last emperor of China? Called The Last Emperor, naturally... What most struck me about this film (aside from the gorgeous sets and the brilliant acting) was that the Chinese revolutionaries, as radical as they were, retained an almost religious awe before the figure of their former emperor, the Son of Heaven. They couldn't bring themselves to execute him, even if he was a mere vestige from the despised past - no, instead they sent him to a concentration camp to be reeducated. And this emperor was by no means popular with the Chinese people; in fact he was widely hated for his collaboration with the Japanese during World War II. Which only goes to show the tremendous difference between the Russian and Chinese imperial traditions - the Russian one was hated and destined for outright destruction, down to its last physical remnants, whereas the Chinese one, so many thousands upon thousands of years older, was so deeply ingrained in the Chinese psyche that even the most radical elements of the revolutionary movement could not bring themselves to lift a hand against the person of the former emperor.



Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: RichC on June 05, 2006, 01:08:59 AM
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We'll have to agree to disagree, Ilyala. I don't think the Bolsheviks cared one iota about public opinion. Lenin always believed in terror as a political tool and espoused it as such even in his earliest political writings, long before the October Revolution. So, I repeat for the nth time, even if Nicholas II had been a much-loved monarch it would not have saved him from the revolutionary vengeance of the Bolsheviks or for that matter the SRs, which was indeed the party with the most popular support amongst the Russian masses in 1918 (and a party which needless to say also believed in terror).

I have to agree with Elisabeth, here.  The Bolsheviks were vicious killers who eliminated anyone whom they suspected might stand in their way.  They did not concern themselves with public opinion in their decision making.  If there was concern about public opinion, they made sure that whatever happened was reported in such a way as to eliminate a negative public reaction.  In other words they lied.  I'm sure this is why no mention was made of the Tsar's family being killed with him.

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Which only goes to show the tremendous difference between the Russian and Chinese imperial traditions - the Russian one was hated and destined for outright destruction, down to its last physical remnants, whereas the Chinese one, so many thousands upon thousands of years older, was so deeply ingrained in the Chinese psyche that even the most radical elements of the revolutionary movement could not bring themselves to lift a hand against the person of the former emperor.

The only thing I wish to add here is that although the Tsar's family was wiped out, as well hundreds-of-thousands of other people associated with the ancien regime; the buildings, the churches, and many of the historical and cultural institutions created and supported by the Tsarist government were left intact and for the most part protected.

Despite the revolution, numerous reminders of Russia's imperial past were ever-present for many Russians who lived through the communist era.



[/quote]
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: ilyala on June 06, 2006, 03:05:26 AM
we'll agree to disagree. it is my personal opinion that no nation can be ruled in terror for long against its will. if you wish, look at the russian regime today. it's not far off from comunism, although it tries to maintain the illusion of capitalism. the moldavians elected the communist party out of their own free will to rule them. the communist regime was maintained in russia through terrorizing the ones who opposed them, true, but had they been that many, it wouldn't have worked. it worked for so long and it's still kind of working because the majority of the population were agreeing with it.

i read on this site, a biography of alexandra written by a baroness who lived with her almost till the end. a very favorable biography, mind you, and it still confirmed my opinion of her. in it, the baroness talked about the fact that the soldiers, after the revolution were starting to discuss their 'rights' (this is exactly how she put it: 'rights'...). the baroness couldn't understand how they could even think such things and not devote their lives to serving the mighty emperor of russia.  this was the general attitude at the beginning. the people finally felt free to discuss their rights, and they had the right to do so after years of oppression. nicholas and alexandra with their 'i'll do what i feel is right and the whole people must agree with me cause i'm the emperor and autocrat of russia and i don't need to explain myself to anyone' added to the whole seclusion in which they lived, added to the fact that they simply could not conceive rebellion, they didn't understand it, they didn't think anyone would want a free life and they thought of the ones who did and were lured by the (sometimes) charming ideas of communism as traitors. when in fact people thought of how it was before, they thought of what the communists were prommising and it sounded much better (communism sounds good in theory). nicholas and alexandra were the opressors then, they were the symbols of years of censorship, they made a strong contrast with the general people of russia who lived in poverty because of war and bad politics. they were the symbols of a depraved man who ruled the country because he got the tsarina dependent of him (or at least that was the general opinion). yes, the baroness mentioned the fact that once they talked to the tsarina, the soldiers got a better opinion, but how many, except the ones that guarded them got to do that? the general opinion was bad or, at best, indifferent. i don't think the russians felt too affected by the death of the imperial family at the time.
Title: Re: Abdication and Alexandra
Post by: imperial angel on September 11, 2006, 12:26:55 PM
I agree with everything Tania has said on this thread. Also, I think some others made good points. Alexandra is frequently blamed in popular history for the revolution, both because of Rasputin, and because she influenced Nicholas and that she had nothing to do with Russian society when she should have. It is true she should have presented herself to the court more, and gained people's support by that. But she was shy, and didn't see a particular reason to overcome that as we might. Nicholas undoubtedly was unfluenced by his wife; but I think much of the time they simply held views in common. I am not sure she was aware of the full damage Rasputin was doing to the reputation of the dynasty; not that she would listen to anyone saying, nor did she always have the chance to.She was dependent on him, and should have been more aware. But I think it's easier to blame her rather than think a bit deeper.

As for Nicholas, he did sometimes let his wife influence him. And he did sometimes feel torn, and then make desicions that might better not have been made. He was willing to go farther with a more liberal goverment than Alexandra; perhaps because he was pressured, or perhaps because he was better informed. Russia did need some reforms, and some were made and others never got beyond the planning stage. But reform woudn't have fixed everything, as one person said, and they also said that's what we assume, now. And I sort of used to think that, but after being on the forum, and reading what people have to say, I realize it's not all that black and white. I think Nicholas sometimes felt torn between tradition, and the pressure on him to reform- Alexandra never did. I also agree that it would have just caused people to dislike her even more if she had stayed loyal to English ideas of goverment, and then imposed them on Russia. This is a great thread, with great discussion.