Author Topic: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?  (Read 270663 times)

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Offline AGRBear

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #960 on: September 07, 2010, 01:38:52 PM »
Alexander III changed the rights of his family to inherit the title of Grand Duke or Duchess and also the amount of money they would receive from the royal appenages.  Can anyone imagine Nicholas II doing anything like that and actually getting anyone to accept it?

Alexander made autocracy work by sheer will.  He believed in himself and his position as head of the family. 

He only ruled for 13 years, but during that time, I don't recall many morganatic marriages or divorces.

He may have been narrow minded, blunt and a reactionary, but for 13 years Russia ..............................


This policy by Alexander III may have weakened, through resentment, the foundation inherited by his son.  IOW, the extended royal family may have been waiting for the opportunity to betray.

Nicholas II inherited a lot of baggage created by his father and his father's father, etc. etc. etc..

Just because you haven't read about the resentments and unrest within the family of Alex. III, doesn't mean there wasn't resentments and unrest.  In  those days,  "family skeletons" [secrets] were kept in "family closets".   Even their servants were loyal and held these secrets.  Unlike today,  people like Prince William of Great Britian hasn't any secrets because his life is followed and written about by reporters who received very nice sums of money and the world has a lot of free presses.

Because of the interest in Nicholas II,  we know about every pimple and failure.   My shelves are full of books written in English about Nicholas II.  How many books do I have about Alex. III.  I have a number of books about all the Tsars of Russia in which Alex. III is included.  They always mention how he held up the metal roof of the train to save his family when the train they were in was wreaked.  Figes claimed that he had called young Nicholas II a little "girlie boy"....  How many books are there that are just about Alex. III?   I have one.  Alexander III of Russia by Charles Lowe.  I thought I had another.....    Yes,  I have books about his wife, Dagmar, his daughters and his son Michael.  If Georgie left any thing in writing,  I'd be interesting in seeing.

Did Alex. III's tight fisted actions within the family mean he was a success or  was he just as much a failure in their family life  as was Nicholas II?  Two wrongs never make a right.

I've already voiced various kinds of betrayals Alex. III's  had accomplished as a father and as an Emperor with his son and heir.   Does anyone have anything more to add?

AGRBear    
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Alixz

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #961 on: September 07, 2010, 02:40:10 PM »
Everyone please take it easy.  We all know that threads are loose and can get tangled.

However, I never thought about the resentment that Alexander's changes might have caused because Bear is right.  How many books on Alexander do we have that truly discuss his reign?  It is almost as if historians who write biographies and histories jumped from Alexander II to Nicholas II without regard to anything that Alexander III might have done that would have set up his son for betrayal in the future.

« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 04:32:31 AM by Alixz »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #962 on: September 07, 2010, 03:00:26 PM »
Everyone please take it easy.  We all know that threads are loose and can get tangled.

However, I never thought about the resentment that Alexander's changes might have caused because Bear is right.  How many books on Alexander do we have that truly discuss his reign?  It is almost as if historians who write biographies and histories jumped from Alexander II to Nicholas II without regard to anything that Alexander III might have done that would have set up his son for betrayal in the future.



I think you are on to something, Alixz... In my view Alexander III's Russia was a pressure-cooker, just waiting to blow. The minute the old tsar patriarch was dead, that's the minute the pressure started to escape and things began to boil over. As I've said before, I think that this was inevitable, sooner or later, and that Alexander III was lucky to die when he did.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 04:32:53 AM by Alixz »
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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #963 on: September 08, 2010, 04:53:03 AM »
Alexander III was not as colorful as his father or his son.

Alexander II freed the serfs and was about to grant the beginnings of a representative government when he was killed.

Nicholas II was weak and vacillating.  He lost the opportunity to make meaningful changes in 1905 and then lost everything in 1917.

But Alexander III.  As Bear said aside from keeping a train roof from squashing his family and perhaps belittling his son, we just hear about his extraordinary physical strength and his narrow mindedness.

I have always said that Nicholas II was betrayed by his own family, but I was always thinking of his uncles and their wives.  Actually, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich was pretty quiet.  GD Alexei was noisy but in a self centred way.  Sergei was very much like Alexander III in his views and was (according to many) a tyrant as Governor General of Moscow (and how does one deal with an uncle who is also your brother-in-law?)  Grand Duke Vladimir and his wife were the most vocal in their contempt for Nicholas and Alexandra.

All of the four uncles had a huge influence on Nicholas in the beginning of his reign, but that influence seemed to fall away as time passed.  However, the influence of a parent, especially one who was (it would seem, especially to his weak and trembling son) all knowing and all powerful, would leave lasting scars.

Bear has one book in English on Alexander III Alexander III of Russia by Charles Lowe.  I think it would be an interesting read to those of us who are looking for the seeds of Nicholas II's failures.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #964 on: September 08, 2010, 03:33:55 PM »
R.K. Massie has a page about the Romanov family scandals that broke out immediately after Nicholas II came to the throne. Seems everybody was just waiting for the Grand Old Man AIII to die off before they exited to England or France and did their own thing... I will here paraphrase Massie (he really does give the best summation, p. 231-232 of the first edition of "Nicholas and Alexandra"): Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich turned in his wife for a commoner (divorce), Grand Duchess Anastasia (I think Nikolaevna, but am not actually sure) turned in the Duke of Leuchtenberg in order to marry Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievich (another divorce), and finally, that "quiet" young man Grand Duke Paul Aleksandrovich married his commoner girlfriend, already a divorcée. Multiple scandals, and all reflecting very badly on the hapless new ruler.

Also, shortly after that Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich married the divorcée Princess Victoria Melita, Empress Alexandra's former sister-in-law. So the scandals continued. Personally I don't give a hoot what people do in their private lives, but this was the Edwardian era, somewhat less repressed than the Victorian era but still pretty prim and proper when it came to sexual mores. And at the very foundation of all this moral holier-than-thouness were the laws of succession and most importantly, what they were based on, the Russian Orthodox Church... So, taken all together I think it's a rather frightening glimpse into how much Nicholas II was disrespected by his own family, even disdained by them. All these uncles and aunts and cousins and in-laws were obviously completely unafraid of him and any power of reprisal he might have had at his disposal.

But perhaps this is as much a reflection on Alexander III as it is on his son and successor, Nicholas II? To what extent did Alexander III not only oppress the Russian empire, but also his own family, so that after his death they were willing to break all the laws of conventional morality and even of their Church in order to follow their heart's desire? Obviously the old tsar had failed to inculcate in them any sense of self-sacrifice, any real willingness to devote themselves to the welfare of their native country, Russia itself.

 
« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 03:43:22 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Silja

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #965 on: September 09, 2010, 12:21:41 PM »

  However, the influence of a parent, especially one who was (it would seem, especially to his weak and trembling son) all knowing and all powerful, would leave lasting scars.


So wasn't it really Alexander III who betrayed Nicholas in that he didn't give him the proper training for the job? Despising a son's limited abilities and keeping  him in awe instead of fostering self-confidence was irresponsible. In view of the great task Nicholas II faced it looks almost cynical, as if Alexander III didn't really care what came after him. Maybe he was simply too dense and self-centred to really think ahead.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 12:23:20 PM by Silja »

Constantinople

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #966 on: September 09, 2010, 12:45:05 PM »
That's like saying that Nicholas had no responsibility for his own mistakes.  For a private person that is immaturity personified.  For an autocratic, that is tragic for the person and the country.

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #967 on: September 09, 2010, 01:37:05 PM »
That's like saying that Nicholas had no responsibility for his own mistakes.  For a private person that is immaturity personified.  For an autocratic, that is tragic for the person and the country.

An example:  If you are a parent and know that when your child at the age of  (I'll just throw out a number) 18, he or she will have to swim a river in order to live to be 18 years and one day.  What would you do?  Teach him or her to swim, of course.  

It you were Alex. III and  knew that Nicholas would have to swim a river,  then it would be his responsibility as a parent to make sure Nicholas knew how to not just swim but swim well.  Even if  Nicholas  was afraid of water,    Alex. III  knew quite well how to place enough fear in Nicholas  and Nicholas  would have obeyed.

I can only throw out theories why Alex. III failed to prepare Nicholas for his future duties of  Tsar and Emp.:  (1) Alex. III didn't stress the need because he may not have liked his "girlie boy" Nicholas, so, he just didn't know what to do and ended up doing nothing.  (2) He may have even thought about passing over Nicholas  and making Georgie Tsar.  There seems to be hints that Nicholas II believed Georgie would have made a better Tsar than himself. But,  life doesn't always go as one plans.   Georgie came down with TB.   With that said,  I don't see any evidence that Alex. III was preparing Georgie either.  (3) There was Michael.... but he was far too young.  (5)  Last but not least,  he didn't expect to die when he did.  Maybe, he thought after Nicholas married, had some experince in life he might get stronger and more sure of himself.  This may have been the actual reason, however,  his throught process was faulty.  Especially since Alex. III  knew that  his "lampkins" Nicholas would never be a bull in a China shop like he was and needed a lot of preparation for his future duties...  

Of course, all responsibility then fell upon Nicholas II's head and from that point forward,  the ball was in his court.

AGRBear
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 01:45:02 PM by AGRBear »
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Constantinople

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #968 on: September 09, 2010, 02:42:30 PM »
Well that theory is valid for the first two years of Nicholas' rule but considerient he was stilll making the same mistakes after 20 years of rule, if he hadn't taken responsible for his mistakes at that point then he was delusional and to hoard absolute power when he was making massive policy errors was like dragging down both his dynasty and his country.  To hoard power after being given the option of ceding some power to a Duma means that he had no excuses and when that absoolute power led to the destruction of the Russian navy in 1905 and to the loss of millions of lives in the first world war, you can blame whoever you want but in the end, the buck stops with Nicholas and it was a blood stained buck.

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #969 on: September 10, 2010, 12:36:02 PM »
Well that theory is valid for the first two years of Nicholas' rule but considerient he was stilll making the same mistakes after 20 years of rule, if he hadn't taken responsible for his mistakes at that point then he was delusional and to hoard absolute power when he was making massive policy errors was like dragging down both his dynasty and his country.  To hoard power after being given the option of ceding some power to a Duma means that he had no excuses and when that absoolute power led to the destruction of the Russian navy in 1905 and to the loss of millions of lives in the first world war, you can blame whoever you want but in the end, the buck stops with Nicholas and it was a blood stained buck.

Most people believe Nicholas II was weak and a failure,  and because of these weakness and failures,  Russians, including his own family, betrayed him.  

At this time, we are discussing Nicholas II's father, how Alex. III, who  knowingly and/or  unknowingly  betrayed  Nicholas II.

A subject not touched upon was Alex. III's fear of assasisnation,  which means,  he was aware that he could indeed be blown to bites like his father at any time and any place.  Therefore,  he knew that at his death,  his son Nicholas would suddenly become Tsar and Emp..  And,  even with this thought in Alex. III's head,  he did not prepare Nicholas II to be Tsar  and Emp.

To give an example how far Alex. III's fear had reached,  on page 130 of  Charles Lowe's  ALEXANDER III OF RUSSIA  we're told the following:
>>June 1894 ...General  Tcherevin, who, as chief of the political police, had been repeatedly aimed at by the foes of an uncompromising despotism, was appointed General-in-Waiting, a special office revived on this occasion... [for]...the purpose of guarding the personal safety of his Majesty.  In constant attendance on the Tsar, he was practically invested with dictatorial powers in any town which his Majesty might be visiting or passing through.  Not only could he change at will the head police-masters, but, if he chose, he could even interfere in the administrations of the Government departments.<<

>>...even when Alexander  III was laying on his bed of death, he continued to be the object of the bitterest opposition...<<  The revolutionaries, one in particular with his body strapped with a bomb, revolver and dagger, declared:

>>Let his son, the Tsarvich, as well as his ambitious rivals, the grand Dukes Vladimir and Michael -- who [we] re ready to assassinate, in accordance, with the traditions of the Romanoff family to get possession of a bloody heritage-- let them through understand that every hour, and every step, they will find themselves fact to fact with the inflexible will of the the Revolutionaries.<<

AGRBear
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Offline Sergei Witte

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #970 on: September 12, 2010, 05:34:44 PM »
One thing not mentioned here is the fact that the early death of AlexIII might have caused psychological damage with Nicholas. He always admired his father and it is possible that he came to idealize his father (compensation for his own lack of confidence as a ruler) as a sort of holy father who was perfectly suited for the task that he was given. I always thought that it was personal that Nicholas woudn't give up his autocratic rights and therefore could not make consessions. Critisizing his politics was he felt like critisizing his person and the legacy of his much beloved father. The giant statues of AlexIII (ugly as they were) which were made for the celebrations of 1913 in Moscow were made to prove this.

Offline Petr

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #971 on: October 21, 2010, 05:53:30 PM »
I think AIII and his reign need a fresh look. Its easy to criticize hm for his failure to prepare Nicholas to be Tsar but then again he didn't know he would die so young. FDR never prepared Harry to be President even though we were at war and FDR was in much worse physical health than AIII and could have seen his impending mortality.  Much of the criticism of his reign has I believe been filtered through western academic lenses with all the leftist prejudices they have entailed and which I continue to rail against. For example, until Massie wrote his book no one ever took into account the effect of Alexei's hemophilia on the Tsarina's regard for Rasputin. A perfectly natural motherly and human instinct for which she never gets credit. All these men and women were human. Perhaps all this illustrates is that to be a good leader you must be dysfunctional as a human being.

Let me tell you a family anecdote. My Great Aunt Sophie and her husband Boris Trepoff were great friends with Dr. Botkin, as you the know the family physician. They both confirmed that Botkin confirmed to them the famous episode in Yalta described in Massie's book when Rasputin's telegram seemed to stop Alexei's bleeding that was killing him. Botkin couldn't explain it and neither could the assembled western experts.  Uncle Bob (that was his nickname and never lived a more gentlemanly soul) told me the following story. He was once present when Rasputin was invited to an apartment of a society woman who was holding an afternoon soiree. Uncle Bob, when told Rasputin was coming excused himself and went into another room and was playing solitaire.  Rasputin entered the apartment and stood at the door of the room and loudly announced that he understood that there was someone there who didn't want to meet him. Uncle Bob had his back to him, said nothing and kept playing cards but didn't turn around. He told me that frankly he was afraid to, that he felt as if some sort of force had entered the room. He fought in the artillery in the Civil War and certainly was no coward. Apocryphal?  Who knows but until you walk in someone's shoes you have to be careful how you criticize them.   
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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #972 on: October 22, 2010, 09:26:23 AM »
I definitely think that Alexander lll was a better leader than his son but his anti intellectual tendencies that closed or limited access to universities was a negative factor in Russia's development.

Offline Petr

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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #973 on: October 22, 2010, 11:20:03 AM »
Again you have to put things in context. A long view would agree that any restrictions on university attendance is not helpful and probably detrimental to development (both political and economic), but, then again in the last twenty years of the 19th century the universities were hotbeds of revolutionary activity. Whatever restrictions there were did not necessarily stop young revolutionaries from attending universities (viz., Lenin himself). Putting restrictions on university attendance because of revolutionary activities was not solely the province of AIII's government and in fact has been employed in modern countries in modern times (viz, France's reaction to the student riots of 1968 -- remember Danny the Red?).   I personally  lived through the Columbia riots of '68 which shut down the University so I'm intimately familiar with what AIII was facing (without necessarily the same level of violence thankfully, but then again there was the Weather  Underground which blew up a townhouse in Greenwich Village) and he was doing it with a 19th century mindset which is different from the one we have today (there was no such thing as being "politically correct"). The fact is he and his government were trying to keep the lid on the tea kettle which is hard when its at full boil,  even in modern times. As was pointed out by Sergei,  AIII was not an intellectual and I probably agree that he looked on the intelligensia with suspicion and distrust but then again that would be understandable given their dislike of the regime and, in fact, the activities of certain members in direct and sometimes violent opposition to it (they murdered his father after all).  I'm beginning to sound like an apologist for the old regime which is not my intent, its merely to remind folks that when looking at past history and the personalities who inhabited I think it it is important to try and place them in context and not judge them necessarily with 21st century standards, although criticism is fair game.  As they say hindsight is always 20/20.   
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Re: Who Betrayed Nicholas II?
« Reply #974 on: October 22, 2010, 01:35:18 PM »
Well it is a good example of how Alexander lll put his position and wealth ahead of the future prosperity of Russia and how he helped to set up Russia for communism by suffocating the development of political thinkers and showing that political variegation was not acceptable.  sometimes when you put a lid on a kettle and the pressure builds up enough, the kettle explodes.