Author Topic: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?  (Read 110925 times)

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #435 on: October 16, 2011, 02:44:39 PM »
His little Wifey "who wore trousers unseen"?

That perhaps makes some sense as an explanation for Nicholas's adherence to the principle of autocracy during World War I, when Alexandra actually penned these words to her husband. But it makes no sense for Nicholas and Alexandra as newlyweds. For one thing, Alexandra was a bride, only superficially acquainted with her adopted country, not fluent in the language or the culture, and she was almost pathologically shy to boot. Additionally, there's evidence that the young Alexandra was clueless about politics and didn't care (at the time) that she was clueless. A German relative, on hearing the news of the Tsarevich Nicholas's engagement, wrote words to the effect that Alix was a poor choice as a bride for a future tsar, because she was basically a "cow," uninterested in anything but bearing children and raising a family, whereas one of the other better educated, politically knowledgeable German princesses would have been more appropriate, given the dicey political situation in Russia.

My own opinion is that, given that very dicey political situation, any truly politically aware European princess of the time would have given Nicholas a very wide berth.

« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 02:48:04 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline TimM

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #436 on: October 16, 2011, 05:47:43 PM »
Quote
A German relative, on hearing the news of the Tsarevich Nicholas's engagement, wrote words to the effect that Alix was a poor choice as a bride for a future tsar, because she was basically a "cow," uninterested in anything but bearing children and raising a family

Ouch, that's harsh!

Besides, many say that part of the problem was that Alix got into politics later on.  Now someone said it was bad that she wasn't interested.  Poor Alix, the women just can't catch a break.

Offline historyfan

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #437 on: October 16, 2011, 08:46:21 PM »
Quote
A German relative, on hearing the news of the Tsarevich Nicholas's engagement, wrote words to the effect that Alix was a poor choice as a bride for a future tsar, because she was basically a "cow," uninterested in anything but bearing children and raising a family

Ouch, that's harsh!

Besides, many say that part of the problem was that Alix got into politics later on.  Now someone said it was bad that she wasn't interested.  Poor Alix, the women just can't catch a break.

Wonder if it was the same one who called her a "little scrubby Hessian princess, not even a Royal Highness"?

Alixz

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #438 on: October 17, 2011, 09:24:19 AM »
I was thinking in terms of his adherence ( or willingness to give it up) to the principles of autocracy until Alexandra got her hooks into him.  From day one of this reign, she was determined that the others would come to him and he would be the first to know everything.

We can read in her diary entries in his diary that she was obsessed with his station in life even before she became interested in politics later on during the war and especially obsessed with the future of the heir.

If he was of a mind to give up the throne to Vladimir I think that would have stopped as soon or sooner than his marriage.  I think that those who wrote of Alix as a cow with no interest in anything except bearing children weren't paying attention to the woman and the places she went and the things she did with her grandmother, Queen Victoria.

And from Livadia and the death of Alexander III, Alix was constantly chiding Nicholas to be the "one", the ruler and the head of the family.

And even though she didn't write about "trousers unseen" until during the war, I feel that she was wearing them from April of 1894 in some form or another.

She was going to support her husband in everything that she felt was important whether or not he felt it was important.  That is why she refused to let him leave Tobolsk without her.  He had signed away his throne while she wasn't there and she wasn't about to let him do anything else without her even though the whole game was over.  She just hadn't realized that yet and wouldn't let go.

That might be another reason why the grand duchesses were still with the family in Yekaterinburg.  Alexandra might have thought that the family had strength in staying together and if in some way they could be brought back to power, she wanted her whole family in one place and not scattered about the countries and the world.

Nicholas had been poorly prepared for rule by his father (and his mother who treated him like a child) and he married someone with a stronger will than his and the force to make him (though love and/or obedience) to follow the path she chose.  When he began to deviate from it she would always bring him back with those chiding little notes in his diary and later the letters written during the war.

Offline mcdnab

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #439 on: October 17, 2011, 02:47:37 PM »
In those early days after his father's death and his marriage to Alexandra it was very clear to her that he wasn't being treated as she felt he should have been - his Uncles towered over him, his mother was devastated and kept herslef closeted with her sister, one of his brother's was too ill to be much help the other too young - bolstering him up became her job for good or for bad.
She was offended on his behalf that the entire imperial household in the Crimea seemed to fall apart with the Emperor's death and didn't immediately look to Nicholas for a lead in how to proceed. - the following months whilst they lived at the Anitchkov with the Dowager with them effectively playing second fiddle to the Empress Dowager also seemed to spur Alexandra on in bucking him up and urging him to take charge.
I don't think he ever questioned his right to succeed or his intention to reign as an autocrat like his father before him - both Alexander III and NIcholas II's views regarding any form of constitutional change was completely coloured by Alexander II's assasination and never changed.
PS Vladimir wasn't even heir presumptive even if you discount George Alexandrovitch due to his poor health, Michael Alexandrovitch was a fit, healthy teenager.

Alixz

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #440 on: October 17, 2011, 03:50:15 PM »
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9403E7D71131E033A25751C0A9679D94659ED7CF

I misunderstood the referral to Vladimir.  From this article, and who knows where it came from, Nicholas was ready to renounce his title and Vladimir was ready to act as regent for Michael.

Interesting reading even if it is not true.

I wonder who HF is and where he/she got the story from.  It is supposed to be from the New York Times, November 2, 1894
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 03:52:32 PM by Alixz »

Offline TimM

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #441 on: October 18, 2011, 12:09:41 PM »
I think Alexander III's death had an impact.  He didn't think he would die so young (he was only forty-nine), so he didn't take the time to get Nicholas ready for the job. 

Offline historyfan

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #442 on: October 18, 2011, 01:46:18 PM »
I think Alexander III's death had an impact.  He didn't think he would die so young (he was only forty-nine), so he didn't take the time to get Nicholas ready for the job. 

Goes without saying that that was a HUGE mistake, I think.

Alixz

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #443 on: October 18, 2011, 01:53:05 PM »
An odd one, too.  Because Alexander III's father was killed by a terrorist bomb, one would have thought that he new life could be cut short and would have made better plans for his son.

After all, Alexander was not in line until Nixa died and he had the throne thrust on him when he didn't expect it.  It would have made sense for him to have done a better job in preparing his son and heir.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #444 on: January 27, 2012, 12:28:51 PM »
Disastrous error in judgement to be certain. I'm not sure why in the rough & tumble world of the 19th century, where life expectancies for even the wealthy and powerful were shortened (by today's standards) and difficult to predict, why Alexander would have run the risk of a younger unprepared son and successor.

I also wonder however how much it would have mattered though. Nicholas' ultra-conservative ideology seems to have every bit as much to do with his blunders and downfall as his general unpreparedness in assuming the throne. Clearly he didn't get the most out of his "on the job training" but you wonder how, going on twenty years leading up to the start of the World War I, he could have had continued to be so poorly suited to his role of leader, legislator, and commander in chief...I sometimes get to thinking that he possessed a crippled mindset that couldn't have been altered or improved upon in a century, much less twenty years. Although by the same token he was also intellectually submissive...so who knows I guess :-/
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Offline Selencia

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #445 on: February 19, 2012, 07:44:25 PM »
It is definitely strange that Alexander felt no need to prepare Nicholas at all. I have read that he perhaps was concerned about either his sons maturity or capability as a Tsar; perhaps he just didn't have the patience to teach him. It is just so hard to grasp the theory that Alexander didn't teach him because he thought he was going to reign for a long time and as a result put off his training. Not only was life dangerous for everyone during this time period, but Russia itself was especially dangerous especially for a Tsar. As Alixz stated he saw his father blown up!

Offline VR2009

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #446 on: February 23, 2012, 12:53:35 PM »
I'm not sure Nicky was actually quite as unprepared as is generally made out.  The main source we have for his so-called unpreparedness is his cousin Sandro (Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich) who alleged in his memoirs ("Once a Grand Duke") that Nicky had told him at his accession that he felt completely unable to take on the role.  But is there any corroboration of this conversation anywhere else?  Of course he was upset by his father's early death (though he had realised it was coming, having earlier that year abandoned plans to join Alix in Darmstadt for a holiday).  But he had ben playing some part in various committees (he certainly wasn't as unprepared as Paul I, for instance, whose mother Catherine II actively denied him access to affairs of state), & he had a very strongly developed sense of having been called by God to be Tsar, whether he liked it or not.

Virginia Rounding
Virginia Rounding
Author of "Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina"

Offline Pamela Parizo

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #447 on: March 30, 2013, 02:08:31 PM »
I just watched Nicholas and Alexandra and I have also been reading about the Windsors.
While the Windsors adapted to the modern world and the concept of a constitutional
government, the Romanovs could not grasp that.  Many were still living as if they were
in the days of Napoleon.  Nicholas himself embraced the concept of autocrat, not
because he was himself dictatorial, but because that was what he had come to
see as the role of the tsar.  A lot of the majesty of their rule was the fact that they
were all-powerful.  Had Nicholas embraced the concept of the Duma, I think things
would have been different.   




Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #448 on: March 31, 2013, 11:56:37 PM »
I agree with Virginia Rounding about Sandro's damaging quote about Nicholas. There is a detailed breakdown about why I think Sandro's quote was bogus in my chapter on Nicholas as a grand duke in "The Grand Dukes" (2010). While there were many present in Lavadia when Alexander III died, only Alexander Mikhailovich characterizes Nicholas as fretfull about his sudden elevation to power. It's true that he was sad and grieving over the loss of his father which is entirely understandable. However, he did not make his cousin prominent in his reign as the quote implies he would and in fact, Nicholas was schooled in governing, although no one thought he would come to rule as quickly as he did.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #449 on: April 01, 2013, 10:47:12 AM »
I agree with Virginia Rounding about Sandro's damaging quote about Nicholas. There is a detailed breakdown about why I think Sandro's quote was bogus in my chapter on Nicholas as a grand duke in "The Grand Dukes" (2010). While there were many present in Lavadia when Alexander III died, only Alexander Mikhailovich characterizes Nicholas as fretfull about his sudden elevation to power. It's true that he was sad and grieving over the loss of his father which is entirely understandable. However, he did not make his cousin prominent in his reign as the quote implies he would and in fact, Nicholas was schooled in governing, although no one thought he would come to rule as quickly as he did.

I'm trying to remember from my readings, but how much truth is there to the comment made by Alexander III to Sergei Witte about his son being unprepared to rule. The line about, "have you ever had a serious conversation with him...he's still a child."

This neither confirms nor denies the validity of Sandro's quoting of Nicholas with his father on his deathbed, but it does help paint a better picture of those close to the family believing him unfit to rule.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...