Author Topic: Ranking the Tsars  (Read 14970 times)

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Offline edubs31

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Ranking the Tsars
« on: June 24, 2015, 01:50:22 PM »
Thought I'd make an attempt at stirring up some debate with a list on the Romanov Tsars. Inspired by the recent eight-part documentary I watched and some additional research done online below is my ranking of the Romanov Tsars...from Michael I to Nicholas II. I've given equal weight to each category and rated them based on the following criteria;

Leadership - Probably the single most important quality. Are you both respected and, when necessary, feared by your subjects? How much confidence did you inspire in your people?
Character - What sort of human being were you? Kind or cruel? Trustworthy or devious? Empathetic or Oblivious?
Crisis Management - Similar to the above but more focus on your ability to successfully steer your empire through times of turmoil. Points deducted for self-created turmoil such as over zealous foreign policy. You don't get credit for cleaning up a mess that you started.
Foreign Affairs - Ability to win wars, achieve territorial gains and, when necessary, prevent conflict and create peace.
Domestic Policy - Peace and stability within your empire, the economy, and the overall quality of life of your subjects.
Intellect & Vision - How intelligent you were and how admired your intellect was by both foreign leaders and subordinates. Were you a creative mind able to think outside box and find solutions to problems while advancing Russia towards greater peace & prosperity?
Political Skill - Working with foreign leaders and subordinates to bring about peaceful and profitable solutions to issues & conflict. Your ability to negotiation and, when necessary, compromise. All the while remaining powerful and respected.

The "Great"

1) Alexander I (1801-25)
2) Catherine II (1762-96)
3) Alexander II (1855-81)
4) Peter I (1682-1725)

The "Good"

5) Michael I (1613-45)
6) Elizabeth (1741-62)
7) Feodor III (1676-82)
8 ) Alexis I (1645-76)

The "Average"

9) Alexander III (1881-94)
10) Anna (1730-40)
11) Sophia (1682-89)
12) Nicholas I (1825-55)

The "Poor"

13) Paul I (1796-1801)
14) Nicholas II (1894-1917)
15) Ivan V (1689-96)
16) Catherine I (1625-27)

The "Awful"

17) Peter II (1727-30)
18) Peter III (1762)

(Ivan VI, whose disputed reign lasted for only a few months as a baby before being imprisoned for the rest of his short life has been removed from the rankings. Also removed are Constantine I and Michael Alexandrovich who never formally accepted the title of Tsar.)
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Offline Sanochka

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2015, 11:51:44 PM »
I agree, although I would place Peter I and Catherine II in a class of their own, above "the greats.  In addition to the qualities you list, each possessed charisma that place them among not just Russia's, but the world's truly great leaders.

I'm also seeing a pattern:  the better the tsar, the longer the reign.  Perhaps if Nicholas II's reign had been significantly shorter, the Romanovs might still occupy the Russian throne today, with another "great" produced by WWII.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2015, 12:04:41 PM »
I agree, although I would place Peter I and Catherine II in a class of their own, above "the greats.  In addition to the qualities you list, each possessed charisma that place them among not just Russia's, but the world's truly great leaders.

I'm also seeing a pattern:  the better the tsar, the longer the reign.  Perhaps if Nicholas II's reign had been significantly shorter, the Romanovs might still occupy the Russian throne today, with another "great" produced by WWII.

Good call Sanochka. Poor Nicholas's was my worst ranked among Tsar's with long reigns. It might be good to toss in an intangible category. Something that takes into account general likability and those Tsar's who were faced with nearly impossible situations. This would no doubt improve Nicholas's ranking, at least placing him ahead of Paul I. Conversely Alexander III had far less crisis to deal with in part because his father's assassination created sympathy and allowed for a conservative/reactionary reign. By the time Nicholas arrived significantly more Russians were demanding change and liberalism was back in vogue.

Peter the Great I ranked fourth. He's still a "great" Tsar but I find myself liking him a bit less the more I learn of him. While certainly intelligent he wasn't as intellectually superior as I had originally been lee to believe. He was also a bit of a tyrant and repressor scoring a mediocre "character" ranking from me.
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2015, 09:48:33 PM »
Upon further considering other "intangible" factors I've decided to rank Nicholas II one spot ahead of Paul I in the order. This would place him 13th overall and award him the somewhat dubious distinction of being the best of the poor and bad Romanov Tsars. Besides, unlucky #13 sounds about right for poor Nicky.
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Offline Greenowl

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2015, 01:37:40 PM »
Besides, unlucky #13 sounds about right for poor Nicky.

Unfortunately I have to agree with you there, as I do with your overall ranking. Well done!

Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2015, 05:04:31 PM »
Good ratings! putting Nicholas II right below Nicholas I is good remember Nicholas I lost the Crimean war and his autocratic policies set the stage for the problems faced by future Tsars.

Offline TimM

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2015, 05:22:35 AM »
I'll have to think about this one and get back to you.
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2015, 07:29:14 AM »
Good ratings! putting Nicholas II right below Nicholas I is good remember Nicholas I lost the Crimean war and his autocratic policies set the stage for the problems faced by future Tsars.

Yeah I have them very close James. Nicholas I is the worst of the "average" Tsars. Or perhaps we should refer to him as "below average", and Nicholas II - upon my revision - I'll consider to be the best of the "poor" Tsars.

There seem to be a number of parallels between their reign's as you point out. Both relatively lengthy reigns, both autocratic and reactionary, and both lost major wars. NII certainly seemed to be more passive and likable, whereas Nicholas I was the stronger leader. I guess it's hard to look past, no matter what eventual problems what have stemmed from NI's reign, that a successful revolution and the the end of monarchy happened under NII's reign, not his great-grandfathers.
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2015, 07:59:17 AM »
Very interesting, but I would be inclined to exclude Peter II from the reckoning, as he died at 14 and spent his entire reign under a regency. I might also exclude Ivan V as he was completely under the domination of his sister and half-brother.

Interesting that Feodor III is ranked quite high, even though his reign was short. what might he achieved had he been in good health and lived a normal span?

Ann

Offline Maria Sisi

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2015, 10:48:58 AM »
Very interesting, but I would be inclined to exclude Peter II from the reckoning, as he died at 14 and spent his entire reign under a regency. I might also exclude Ivan V as he was completely under the domination of his sister and half-brother.

Interesting that Feodor III is ranked quite high, even though his reign was short. what might he achieved had he been in good health and lived a normal span?

Ann

I don't know what Feodor III would have achieved if he was healthy and had lived a normal life span but the vibe I got from the "House of Romanov" documentary (there is a thread in the TV/film section) he would have done some enormous good for the country and may have ended up one of the greats if successful in his reform plans. They really seemed to hold him in high regard and their treatment of him gives you one of those great "what ifs" of Russian history feelings and chances are we would have had Feodor the Great along with Ivan, Peter and Catherine.

He seemed to have many of the same ideas as his half brother Peter except he seemed to be intellectually smarter and judging from the portrayal less extreme in his behavior.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 10:55:57 AM by Maria Sisi »

Offline edubs31

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2015, 12:02:27 PM »
I considered excluded Peter II, but he did "reign" for more than 2 1/2 years. And although he was young when he passed pretty much everything I've read about his personality suggested a poor trajectory and a Tsar that was destined to go down in the history books as forgettable, or worse.

Ivan V I'll put an asterisk next to for the reasons you mention. I personally see Feodor III as the Tsarist equivalent of a US President like JFK or James K. Polk. Short reign but a considerable amount of accomplishment and/or historical significance.

Quote
He seemed to have many of the same ideas as his half brother Peter except he seemed to be intellectually smarter and judging from the portrayal less extreme in his behavior.

I very much agree. Seems to have been ahead of his time in many ways. His health issues may actually have helped him to some degree. Perhaps creating a sense of humility and forcing him to spend less time on physical activity and more on developing intellectually. It certainly seems to have forced him to push his agenda more quickly. The aforementioned Polk was a sickly child and died just six-months after concluding his Presidential term in 1849 (he chose not to run for reelection which he almost certainly would have won). JFK had physical debilitation to deal with as well and two of the greatest Presidents, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, had to overcome major physical hurdles. Hard to imagine an FDR achieving the same level of political success without his polio. Prior to its onset at the age of 39 he certainly didn't seem destined for greatness.
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Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2015, 11:38:17 PM »
I don't know if it's a good or bad thing, but I found myself recently influenced a lot by the "Romanovs, Russian Dynasty" doc .Maybe too influenced.

I came away thinking more highly of Tsar Alexei than before and than other historical evaluations. He came to the throne very young and untutored and yet reigned reasonably well in a still turbulent era and expanded Russian Empire considerably (though that 's not an absolute positive).

Conversely, I have my doubts about both Catherine the Great and Peter the Great. For what it's worth, I think there's been a considerable historical revisionism regarding these two for some time now. When they were introduced to me in history classes in school a REAL long time ago, their greatness was virtually unquestioned and little was said of their flaws and failures.

I gather that's not so much the case now. And I concur. It's hard to reconcile greatness in the case of Peter with the establishment of his namesake city and vanity project Saint Petersburg via massive near forced  labor and the deaths therefrom of scores of thousands of poor workers.

As for Catherine the Great, she has earned the reputation of being open and enlightened,especially towards the French Enligtenment. And yet she was ruthless when sensing threats to her power and suppressed peasant risings on more than one occasion. She even turned against the later Enligtenment when its ideals clashed with her notions of sovereignty.

And  I must say , I have difficulty assessing an Empress as great or even legitimate when she gains the throne through a coup against her own husband.
And finally, under her reign, the Orthodox Church suffered both materially and legally under Catherine.

Because her influence and  true achievements were so vast, Catherine was great in some respects, but I'd still not rate her a First Rank here for these reasons and perhaps more.


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Offline edubs31

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2015, 09:22:33 AM »
Quote
I gather that's not so much the case now. And I concur. It's hard to reconcile greatness in the case of Peter with the establishment of his namesake city and vanity project Saint Petersburg via massive near forced  labor and the deaths therefrom of scores of thousands of poor workers.

Agreed. And if Peter the Great were alive today he would be the President of FIFA :-)

Quote
As for Catherine the Great, she has earned the reputation of being open and enlightened,especially towards the French Enligtenment. And yet she was ruthless when sensing threats to her power and suppressed peasant risings on more than one occasion. She even turned against the later Enligtenment when its ideals clashed with her notions of sovereignty.

On the whole I find myself liking Catherine more than Peter the Great. Most of her flaws, in my opinion, were rooted in what was a typical reactionary conservatism for Tsars. "Yes I'm willing to move the country forward and accept some reforms, but don't you dare question my power or importance to the Russia state." sort of attitude. Peter I on the other hand seems willfully devious. A true believer in the sentiment that the means are always justified by the ends. Still a world class leader and visionary, but I take a couple of points away in other categories.

Quote
And  I must say , I have difficulty assessing an Empress as great or even legitimate when she gains the throne through a coup against her own husband.
And finally, under her reign, the Orthodox Church suffered both materially and legally under Catherine.

Because her influence and  true achievements were so vast, Catherine was great in some respects, but I'd still not rate her a First Rank here for these reasons and perhaps more.

Good call. Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way but I actually give her more credit - purely from the standpoint of power & leadership - that she ascended the throne in such a controversial, dubious fashion. Also I have to give her some credit for overcoming one very obvious detriment to her power...her gender. I can't believe in patriarchal societies like...well...Russia and everyone else in the 17th and 18th centuries (and beyond) that it wasn't at least somewhat more difficult for a woman to gain the same level of respect and enduring power than a man.

You can argue that she may not have finished the race quite as quickly as the often compared to Peter the Great, but I feel like her hurdles were certainly higher.
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Ranking the Tsars
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2015, 02:33:48 PM »
I have to confess to being unable to see past the sad fate of Ivan VI when I think of Catherine and Elizabeth.

You say Peter was devious. So was Catherine. Her memoirs are an exercise in character assassination of Peter III, so successful that it's difficult to see what he was actually like. Clearly not a pleasant person and certainly not a successful ruler, but surely not the monster that Catherine portrays him as.

Ann