Author Topic: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?  (Read 272114 times)

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Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #990 on: October 24, 2010, 04:17:08 AM »
The point that I was making about the two incidents (the Mongols and the last Tsars) was that they were similar in terms of the effects that they had on Russia.
     And Yes I am aware of both the climatic anormality and the positive effects of the Mongols in redeveloping trade routes like the Silk Road. Theonly problem was that they imposed autocratic political regimes in their colonies which hampered the development of strong, autonomic political systems in those countries. It was one of the reasons why Russia was still using a feudal agricultural system involving serfs in the 19th century when western countries had already been involved in the industrial revolution for 100 years.

I agree with you on the effect of the Mongul domination on Russia's development. The Tsars being autocratic - not only the last 2 imo - was also a result of this. In Western Europe autocracy wouldn't last as long as it did in Russia and was also different in caracter. In Russia there was never sufficient opposition to it and when it happened it was too late to make a democratic solution. The Tsars didn't give up power freely (I can't think of 1 politician giving up his powers deliberately, having power makes one dependent on it). And this was indeed one of the results of Mongul domination.

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #991 on: October 24, 2010, 05:48:57 AM »
When the autocracy was in the hands of Peter the Great, Russia evolved, when it was in the hands of Nicholas ll, Russia devolved and was transmogrified.

Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #992 on: October 24, 2010, 08:17:04 AM »
Modification of post #990:

The reluctance for giving up power is of course not the result of Mongul dominance. I meant that the Russian type of autocracy and the lack of a democratic development like the West had, was a result of it.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #993 on: October 24, 2010, 11:23:03 AM »
I think Ivan IV the Terrible's long and catastrophic reign actually had far more of a long-term impact on Russian history than the Mongol invasion. It is not really heresy to say this. The Mongols appear to have left the Russian princes pretty much to their own devices as long as they paid plenty of tribute in coin. Whereas Ivan the Terrible not only massacred the nobility, as well as ordinary inhabitants of cities like Novgorod, he also set up his own secret police state within a state to implement terror, the Oprichnina, and involved Russia in a disastrous war with Livonia, which bankrupted the treasury and left the country even more devastated. Some historians believe it was in fact the reign of Ivan IV, at a crucial crossroads in early modern European history, which firmly established autocratic government in Muscovy/Russia.

From a Fugger Newsletter of 1592:

The only fresh news I have to report at this time is that the Muscovite himself ravages and despoils his own land and nation. The folk are pitilessly and cruelly killed in their thousands in all towns and many villages. They freeze to death and perish by violent means. Corn, cattle, and all else that is needed for man's sustenance is burnt, corn is scattered in the street and the fields and altogether much wanton damage is wrought.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2010, 11:25:51 AM by Elisabeth »
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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #994 on: October 24, 2010, 01:29:22 PM »
Well Russia has suffered a lot of  disasters with a few geat spots in between.

Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #995 on: October 24, 2010, 05:41:53 PM »
For issues going back that far I have to rely on Wikipedia.

Mongol invasion of Rus'
A significant number of historians consider the oppression of Rus' by the Mongols to be the major cause of what is sometimes called "the East-West gap" - approximately 200 years delay in introducing major social, political and economical reforms and scientific innovations in Russia comparing to Western Europe. Specifically, the isolation from the West may have caused Russia's later non-involvement in the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and failure to develop a middle class
 
« Last Edit: October 24, 2010, 06:08:16 PM by Sergei Witte »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #996 on: October 24, 2010, 06:05:38 PM »
For such an oppressive reign, they left very few signs of it in the language. There simply aren't many words of Mongolian origin in Russian. There's literally a handful. Contrast this to the Bulgarian language, which has hundreds of Turkic words, a veritable feast of Turkic (one reason why Bulgarian has a much larger and richer vocabulary than Russian). At least linguistically speaking, Ottoman rule seems to have had a much bigger impact on Bulgarians than Mongol rule had on Russians. Just food for thought.

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Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #997 on: October 24, 2010, 06:13:26 PM »
Sorry Elisabeth,

My modification of my last post has crossed your reply.

I will think this over.

Offline Petr

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #998 on: October 24, 2010, 09:30:39 PM »
I happen to agree on the disasterous effect of the Mongol invasion on the Russian consciousness.  It was precisely the fact that they sat in Astrakhan and periodically rode out to lay waste the countryside (a pretty effective way to control vast areas without having to garrison troops) that it created this deferral to the remote "vishiya vlaste", "higher power", a term I've heard all my life and which I again heard when last I was in Russia. So the masses sit docile for extended periods until they rise up get rid of their leaders and then sit still another 100 years. The notion of evolutionary change seems to be a foreign notion. There is a disconnect between the rulers and the ruled (in the US to the contrary people have a proprietary feeling about their government and become very upset if they feel their elected representatives fail to take their views into account ...e.g., no taxation without representation). There is also a strong fatalistic streak in the Russian character as well as lassitude (oblomschina) which combine to create resistance to change unless and until things become so bad that you have an erruption.  Perhaps Jefferson was right, the genius of having elections every four years is that it gives the masses the right to revolt in an orderly fashion, lessening tectonic pressures and threreby avoiding earthquakes. There are some residual mongol/tatar influences...I love my khalat for example.     
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #999 on: October 25, 2010, 09:06:27 AM »
You have an interesting take on things, as usual, Petr. I don't doubt that the Mongol invasion and subsequent occupation left major traces on the Russian consciousness, especially when it came to distant rulers demanding absolute fealty. But maybe the horrible climate was also to blame for Russians' so-called national characteristics of submissiveness, disorganization, melancholy, etc.? And remember, according to The Primary Chronicle the Rus' were begging the Vikings (Varangians) to "come and rule over" them way back in the ninth century, because they couldn't keep order amongst themselves -- four whole centuries before the Mongols invaded.

I guess I'm not arguing that the Golden Horde didn't have a significant impact on Russian history, it just seems to me, from what I've read more recently, that the negative impact has been greatly exaggerated, perhaps in large part because of the work of 19th-century and early 20th-century Russian historians who tended to be pretty nationalistic and anti-Asia. But I am by no means an expert in this area.

Of course it's also possible that because Ottoman rule over Bulgaria lasted considerably longer (15th to the end of the 19th century, some 400 years) than Mongol rule over Russia (13th century to the end of the 15th, roughly, some 250 years) it also had a far greater influence on the language of the subject people.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 09:08:29 AM by Elisabeth »
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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #1000 on: October 25, 2010, 11:39:17 AM »
The Ottomans left Christians and Jews who did not convert to their devices.  They were charged a tax but they weren't required to change their culture or religious habits.  There was little persecution of minorities or millets as they were known.  The ottomans did conquerother lands and countries and the leadership was changed, as was the language but minotiry rights were supported as long as it did not mean separation and the seccesation and splitting up of the country.  For example, in 1492, all Jews who chose to leave Spain were given assylum in the Ottoman empire and were given complete freedom of language, culture and religion but were expected to pay a tax.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #1001 on: October 25, 2010, 01:24:19 PM »
The Ottomans left Christians and Jews who did not convert to their devices.  They were charged a tax but they weren't required to change their culture or religious habits.  There was little persecution of minorities or millets as they were known.  The ottomans did conquerother lands and countries and the leadership was changed, as was the language but minotiry rights were supported as long as it did not mean separation and the seccesation and splitting up of the country.  For example, in 1492, all Jews who chose to leave Spain were given assylum in the Ottoman empire and were given complete freedom of language, culture and religion but were expected to pay a tax.

Do you think this fundamental religious tolerance under the Ottomans had something to do with the Bulgarian churches' (not only Orthodox, but also Catholic and Protestant) willingness to intercede on behalf of the Jews during World War II? This was true even with the Jews of the territories annexed via the Third Reich from Romania -- the Bulgarian Orthodox Church formally protested the deportation of these Jews (who all perished in Polish death camps like Treblinka, where they are described arriving by Gita Sereny in her book about the Treblinka commandant Stangl, Into That Darkness). However, it must remain a credit to the Bulgarian nation that the vast majority of their Jews -- that is, nearly 100 percent of their Jews in Bulgaria proper, as opposed to the annexed territories -- survived the Holocaust.

I think the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews is perhaps not as well known as the rescue of the Danish Jews not only because Bulgaria was behind the Iron Curtain until 1989, but also because the overwhelming majority of Bulgarian Jews immigrated to Israel after the second world war.

There is a marvelous documentary film, The Optimists (this title as far as I'm concerned sums up the Bulgarian national character!), about the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews, including interviews with Orthodox church officials. One of them, who went to great personal risk to intervene to save people, must be 90 years old in the film and looks like either a Biblical patriarch or a Tolkien elf, take your pick. He's enchanting, at any rate.

Otherwise, I have to say ordinary Bulgarians, as tolerant as they are in general, have a morbid fear of Turkey (whose admission to the European Union was viewed by the most paranoid as part of a larger Turkish conspiracy to take over Bulgaria). Still, even many (not all of) Bulgarian intellectuals in the elite I have met seem to harbor some residual fears towards Turkey. Perhaps this is only to be expected after so many centuries of occupation by a foreign country?
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 01:41:03 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Petr

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #1002 on: October 25, 2010, 03:57:33 PM »
There were two countries that really stepped up to the plate after the evacuation of Crimea by the Whites, Serbia and Bulgaria which agreed to take my Grandfather's troops who were sitting and suffering in deadful conditions in Gallipoli and Lemnos. None of the former erstwhile allies would agree to take them. The French would not permit them to be in Turkey whch was under their control and quarantined then in Gallipoli and Lemnos where they lived in tents and survived on WWI surplus rations and died from hunger and disease. It was King Alexander of Serbia who really saved the day taking the bulk of my Grandfather's troops and a number of civilians who settled in Sremsky Karlovscy. Another group went to Bulgaria. My Greandmother went on a speaking tour of the US in the early 20s to raise money for a tuberculosis sanitarium in Sofia as well as in Serbia, tuberculosis being the scourge (the Dulles brothers and Mrs. Astor were among her hosts).   One group of emigres went to Brazil and were imprisoned  in indentured servitude in the mines and plantations. Some found conditions so terrible on Gallipoli that they elected to go back and were shot. So among emigres there is a soft spot for the Serbs and the Bulgarians.
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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #1003 on: October 26, 2010, 04:01:49 AM »
I think that also there were a lot of muslims in Bulgaria. I know there were in Albania so that probably also applies to Bulgaria. I thinkin the Balakns, multicultural acceptance existed for a long time.

The area around Gallipoli, for example Ayvalik is a really nice part of Turkey. It was traditionally a Greek area, close to Lesbos. France controlled one part of post war Turkey with the other parts being controlled by Italy, Greece and Britain. I am surprised that they didnt move to another part of Turkey.  Attaturk would have been very accomodating except for the fact that he was accepting money from the Boshevik regime (at the same time he was killing Turkish communist leaders) and because he probably iknew about Russian designs on Constatinople.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #1004 on: October 26, 2010, 06:06:23 PM »
Older Bulgarians to this day have a soft spot for Russians. This is definitely because of Russia's role in helping to free Bulgaria from the Ottoman empire in 1877-1878. Even under the communists, the statue of Alexander II, the Tsar Liberator, in Parliament Square, was never removed, and the name of the street leading off of it, "Tsar Liberator," never lost common currency. This major street has retained its famous name even up until the present day.

There was a large and thriving Russian émigré community in Sofia after the Russian Revolution. Even now, I have elderly Bulgarian relatives who speak fluent Russian and who retain fond memories of the Soviet Union. My impression is that the relationship between post-WWII Bulgaria and the USSR was not as fraught as it was elsewhere in the Soviet bloc during this time, and did not leave so many hard feelings behind after the fall of communism.

... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam