Author Topic: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?  (Read 203672 times)

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Offline Robert Wisener, PA

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Hypothetical question.  What could Nicholas have done to preserve his throne and that of his son.  

Should he have ended Russia's involvement in WWI, publicize Alexei's illness, create a better supply of food in the capital, reorganize the Duma?  

Any thoughts?  

It seems that other Romanovs realized how bad he was screwing things up.  If he would have listened to their advice instead of leaving everything in God's hands, he may have ruled until the end of his natural life.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 10:11:35 AM by Alixz »
The history of our race, and each individual's experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.
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Offline Reed

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2004, 05:43:05 PM »
my two cents.....I think the only time that Nicolas might have saved his throne was in 1905.  Then, only if he would have continued to make sweeping democratic changes in the government along with granting the Duma.  Plus avoiding involvment in WWI. Even then it may have not been possible.  If Alexander II would have lived long enough to grant a constitution and Alexander III would have continued to make reforms...the revolution may have never happened.  Catherine the Great toyed with a constitution and freeing the serfs. Alexander I did the same.  Absolute power is said to be very intoxicating. Add to that the nobles grumbling and plotting, it would have been difficult to change.  
I guess we will never know what could have been.

Offline JM

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2004, 06:01:57 PM »
Unfortunately Nicholas was not raised to be a constitutional monarch. He was raised to be an autocrat and he saw first-hand how ruthlessly his father ruled. That is what he believed was his duty. However, I recall that he wanted to grant reforms after the war.

Remember he was in a lofty position. He didn't and couldn't see what Russia needed. Whenever I think of his state of mind I always remeber 'absolute power corrupts, absolutely'.


Janet Whitcomb

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2004, 06:29:51 PM »
You have to wonder--well, okay, I do--if the current world situation isn't headed down the same slippery slope as was Nicholas, Tsardom, and the general European hierachy.

I do agree that the probable turning point was 1905.  If, if, if . . . the reforms had been gracefully accepted . . . the earlier war with Japan--a single battle, really--hadn't been so disastrous . . . and the matter re: Alexei had benefited from a more modern approach of honesty and directness--well, then Holy Russia might have had a chance.  But so much had been heaped on Nicholas's plate, even before he became Tsar, in the way of reactionary thought and action of the majority of his predecessors.  And people in general were so fearful of medical conditions such as hemophillia, cancer, communicable diseases, etc.--something that we've only just begun to deal with openly in the last 30 years or so.  Then add into the quotient the "royal reserve" of keeping all perceived negatives hush-hush.  Queen Alexandra let some fresh air into the situation, but it wasn't until Princess Diana that "taboo" issues were being truly confronted by a "royal."  So really, to expect Nicholas and Alexandra to confront generations of inhibitions, common to royalty, "upper classes," and the world population as a whole, and deal with the already teeming economic and political issues of their nation, not to mention most of the European continet . . . really too much for any but the most intelectually dynamic and forward thinking of individuals, let alone a shy, conservative, insulated couple raised in Victorian/Edwardian times.

Offline Reed

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2004, 08:43:23 PM »
The other part of the question was about the other Romanovs.  I don't know that any of the rest of the family would have been any more prepared to rule than Nicolas.  I'm sure they thought they could do a better job, but that is up to speculation.  Powerful families have powerful infighting.  They didn't like Alexandra's influence over Nicolas. Nor was Rasputin a hit with most of the family.  They were removed enough to see some of the problems that were developing, but could they have handled them differently....who knows.  They were dealing with a mind set as well as years of autocratic rule.  Although there were strong ties with France and England, they couldn't seem to make the jump to a constitutional monarchy.  No one likes to let go of control.

Offline Jane

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2004, 11:53:25 AM »
I find it tragically ironic that Nicholas and Alexandra were unable and unwilling to adapt their roles to those of "constiutional monarchs" rather like the British throne.  Nicholas and Alexandra, with their quiet lives, could have been a fine contemporary example of the "family values" image that the British royal family historically has aspired to achieve.  They were devoted to their family, to each other, and to Russia.  As a figurehead monarch, Nicholas probably would have been quite successful, rather like George VI of Great Britain (whom he so closely rphysically resembled).  Those who met Nicholas always emphasized his personal charm, etc.  It's simply one of those ironies of history and fate that this man was born to a autocratic role for which he was, regrettably, terribly unsuited.  Could the throne have been preserved?  I doubt it.

Jane

Offline Reed

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2004, 01:22:17 PM »
It is interesting to note that at the end of WWI, three of the largest monarchies were no longer in existence.  The only major one that survived was in England.  Although one could argue that the Romanov autocracy was simply replaced by the Lenin/Stalin autocracy.  

Offline Jane

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2004, 02:25:39 PM »
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Although one could argue that the Romanov autocracy was simply replaced by the Lenin/Stalin autocracy.  


Good point, Reed.  Any acts of oppression under the Romanovs pale in comparison to the horrible atrocities perpetrated by Stalin.  Frankly, I'd take the Okhrana and some Cossacks any day over the Cheka/OGPU/KGB.

Jane


Offline Reed

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2004, 04:15:21 PM »
"Acts of oppression," are a matter of perspective.  I'm sure there are those who would be on opposite sides today with Iraq situation.  Which probably speaks to the fact that N&A could not see the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.  I think someone touched on the fact that N had been raised with the bias of a total autocrat.  Unfortunately, he was never trained to rule in that avenue.  Any "acts of oppression" he used, to him was simply defending the only system with which he could really relate.

Offline Jane

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2004, 04:56:44 PM »
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"Acts of oppression," are a matter of perspective.



Fair enough, Reed.  In my perspective, the Jewish pogroms, for example, were oppressive actions.  

Sure, Nicholas believed in the autocratic system, which was eliminated in 1905.  Even before that, however, it was failing.  To me, in my opinion, Nicholas' unwillingness to 'move with the times' had a direct impact on his fate and that of his family.  He wasn't a stupid man, at all, but he was stubborn.  Just my two cents.

Jane

Offline Reed

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2004, 05:34:32 PM »
I can agree with your opinion.  I would say stubborn in the final days of the empire.  Especially with several of the family and staff coming to him to try to head off what was coming.  Before that, possibly he was more motivated by traditions, customs, desires of the past.  Again I would have to say his lack of training and lack of political astuteness. He wasn't stupid, but not gifted as a statesman.  The article Bob just posted, on his duties sheds some light on his insecurity as a leader.  

Yes, the Jewish pogroms were vicious acts of oppression.  Having been raised in a country that was deeply anti-semitic surely would have greatly clouded his judgment on the treatment of the Jews.    I'm not defending him on that issue, but I see where his handling of the pogroms came from.  Much the same as our handling of the native Americans, Africans, or Japanese at different times in US history.

Offline Jane

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2004, 05:44:09 PM »
We're on the same page here.  I totally agree with your point about Nicholas' increasing intractability as the Revolution drew closer, for example.  I liked the way Greg and Penny explained it in their book--how Nicholas' religious beliefs allowed him to basically "trust in the Almighty" etc and how he and AF almost  well...not exactly willingly, but docilely, accepted their arrest/imprisonment/impending executions as the will of God.  Like you implied, one can't judge the poor man with today's sensibilities, but still, with the wisdom and vision of hindsight, it's so frustrating and sad to see where paths that could have or should have been taken were missed.  It was only the beginning of the Russian tragedy.  Am I making any sense here?  Sorry, I am suffering from sleep deprivation right now.

Jane

Offline Reed

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2004, 05:58:11 PM »
Yes, you're making sense.  That attitude of fatalism is still...or at least was when I was there...a large part of the Russian mentality.  Without getting into theology..the idea that we have no control over events in our lives.  What takes places is what has been planned for us.  

Offline Jane

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2004, 07:30:32 PM »
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Yes, you're making sense.  That attitude of fatalism is still...or at least was when I was there...a large part of the Russian mentality.  Without getting into theology..the idea that we have no control over events in our lives.  What takes places is what has been planned for us.  


How interesting that the sense of fatalism permeates even today in modern Russia.  I know so much of it is intertwined with Orthodoxy (and like you, I don't wish to touch too much into the theology).  But it does shed light on the sense of "resignation" I think that N. II and A.F. had with relation to their experiences.  

I wonder if we could ask the Forum Admin whether a thread for people to discuss their trips to Russia could be set up somewhere on the boards.  I would love to hear about some of the thoughts, adventures and impressions you and some of the others have picked up on your travels.  Russia is some place that I still have not been (yet), and I love hearing about it.  I am a shameless armchair traveler.

Jane

Offline _Rodger_

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2004, 08:00:21 PM »
There were other factors involved in the 'fatalism' of Nicholas and Alexandra.

Throughout his reign, Nicholas struggled with a bureaucracy that resistant to change, radicals that didn't think there was enough change, intrigue in his government, in his distant relatives, and constant foreign problems.

If you placed yourself in his shoes, and I know that's hard to do, the general resistance and the constant problems with running such a large and disparate empire would have been more than sufficient to make one rather resigned to fate . . .
WARNING!!!!  This post may be hazardous to one's sense of things.  Read with caution.