Author Topic: Abdication and Alexandra  (Read 22426 times)

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Offline Tania+

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2006, 04:25:18 PM »
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This is a trifle off-topic, and a bit picky as well, but shouldn't it be HIM Alexandra, rather than HIH?
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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2006, 10:26:10 PM »
Dear Tania,

I did not say she was an "enemy of Russia". I said she was an inept Tsaritsa who was at least partially responsible for the diminishment of the monarchy that lead to Nicholas II's abdication.

Again, read her letters, especially during the war. If she didn't expect Nicholas to at least consider her advice regarding ministerial and military appointments, she wasted a lot of ink.

Furthermore, you really can't have it both ways. Either their marriage was a deep entwinement of two people who believed in the same things, or she was able to bifurcate Nicholas' job from the man himself.

Um . . . no, I don't think so.

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Offline RichC

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #32 on: May 07, 2006, 12:21:13 AM »
Most courses on the Russian Revolution barely mention the Empress.  She really didn't play a major role.  So her level of intelligence, her social skills, her understanding of the Russian people and Russian culture are almost beside the point.  

The only mention of Alexandra in any course on Russian history that I've ever taken is in regard to the damage Rasputin did to the prestige of the throne -- and this is only mentioned as a secondary or tertiary contributor to the fall of the dynasty.  

One professor said in class that the Alexandra/Rasputin scandal was a side show and that contrary to the Massie's thesis (that the the Russian empire collapsed due a mutated gene in the body of a little boy) the revolution had little to do with what was going on inside the palace.

As far as "blaming" Alexandra for her "malign" influence on Nicholas.  This is done typically to get him off the hook for his own mistakes.  Blame the wife.

Offline Grace

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2006, 07:58:21 AM »
Surely you can't ignore the fact that Alexandra had considerable influence over her husband?  Maybe not total, but it was there nevertheless, in my opinion.

Offline RichC

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2006, 09:18:01 AM »
But her influence didn't change anything.  Whether you factor in Alexandra's influence over Nicholas, for factor it out, you still get the same result -- revolution and the fall of the dynasty.

As for the level of influence she wielded, both Vyrubova and Gilliard speak of her opposition to the war -- but Nicholas would not hear of it.

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2006, 01:29:59 PM »
But there are sins of omission as well as comission, Rich.

Of course Alexandra wasn't "responsible" for the Russian Revolution in any meaningful way, although there is a stronger case to be made for her behavior with Rasputin eroding the support the dynasty might normally have expected to find amongst the nobility. My point is that you have these two basically inept people (politically) thrust into leadership roles in a chaotic situation. She had been exposed, at least, to countries such as her grandmother's and mother's, where shared power was the norm. Alexandra consciously rejected these models during her time as Tsaritsa. And whether her name shows up at council meetings, no one (including Nicholas, I'll bet) would dispute the idea that she was his principal adviser. And she failed to give him sensible advice.

They weren't malign, and to return to the topic of the thread, she certainly wasn't. Unfortunately for the future of the Romanov dynasty, they were mediocrities at best --- as rulers, I hasten to add. The similarities in captivity with Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are almost eerie. Both couples achieve a greatness in the way that they bear their sufferings. But nobility in the face of suffering doesn't exculpate them from the charge of being inept monarchs.

Could anyone else have done better? A pointless question, since the tide of history was working against monarchies by the end of First World War. Could they have done better? Yes, I think so. And I stand by my statement in an earlier post. An inability to consider other points of view --- which Nicholas and Alexandra possessed in spades --- is the hallmark of a mind not suited to rule.
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Offline RichC

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2006, 10:24:44 PM »
Your point about sins of omission, Louis_Charles, is well taken.  My main point is that Alexandra's responsibility pales in comparison to Nicholas' responsibility, at least in my opinion.  

But I want to add that as far as power-sharing goes, I agree that Alexandra consciously rejected this style of governing Russia until she died.  She never changed her mind about that.  She realized that Russia wasn't England or Germany, and what worked there, would not necessarily work in Russia.  It's too bad that Bush and his cronies were unable to apply the same logic to Iraq.

I agree that they were both in over their heads, and that neither was a particularly good judge of character.

Offline ordino

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #37 on: May 16, 2006, 06:19:06 AM »
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It is very interesting of how things are remembered and not. In my reading of several statements not only on this forum and threads, but in books, etc., I am understanding [and to most readers as well that for the mainstay, HIH Alexandra chose NOT to be involved in court interfaces, and stuck primarily to herself, her family, [in the role of mother], and was anything from most reports of how most other Imperial Tsar's wives were. So, this leads me to wonder all the more about those who state presently what they do about HIH Alexandra. Letters aside, what she actually did, and on a daily basis, points exactly to how and with whom her life revolved around. Remember, this was one of the main issues the people had with her, that she was more or less, an invisible part of court interchanges, functions, etc. She however was involved foremost in charitable understandings, and that of the Russian Orthodox Church. Of course she had her private thoughts, and was certainly entitled to them. Like any family member, she probably discussed what she wished. Nothing wrong with that. Every member of every family does that. Most importantly, she was a 'private person' when it came to her emotions. HIH Alexandra was not a person who was without poise, and how to conduct herself in public, or with others. It is careless to typify her as being anything but poised, intelligent and most regal !

IF HIH Alexandra was the way many think she was, in terms of being the opposite of how to conduct her station, etc., how on earth would she take the reigns or dictate her will? This in itself would have been noted immediately.

People don't change so drastically, especially for all the years HIH Alexandra took to herself, along with her illnesses, it did not allow her to involve her much in most issues of court life, or politics for that matter. Her whole life, and focus was her children, and of course the next heir to the throne. Here of course, she had the right to rightfully stand up for her son, and his future. Her thoughts of Russia was of great love. Belochka is quite right, when she wept privately, she wept for Russia. She was not Russia's enemy, quite the contrary !

Anyway, for all of us here, it is more of less conjucture of what we thought she did or did not do.
But based on everything put together of her profile, imho, it is what I come up with to date.

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Offline ilyala

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #38 on: May 22, 2006, 04:19:05 PM »
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Your point about sins of omission, Louis_Charles, is well taken.  My main point is that Alexandra's responsibility pales in comparison to Nicholas' responsibility, at least in my opinion.  

But I want to add that as far as power-sharing goes, I agree that Alexandra consciously rejected this style of governing Russia until she died.  She never changed her mind about that.  She realized that Russia wasn't England or Germany, and what worked there, would not necessarily work in Russia.  It's too bad that Bush and his cronies were unable to apply the same logic to Iraq.

I agree that they were both in over their heads, and that neither was a particularly good judge of character.


it's off topic but i have to say it: maybe american democracy doesn't work in iraq because iraqis don't want americans telling them what to do. just an opinion.

as for this topic, this is a conversation i've had on another forum and i will again state the points i made there:

alexandra did influence her husband. she may not have been the sole brain behind his decision but you cannot deny that she did. if not in another way then by encouraging his need for isolation that was satisfying her own need for isolation. (and i am talking here about the way the imperial family isolated itself before the first world war...) this isolation alienated nicky not just from the russians but from his own family who were starting to fall apart and not be as united as they used to.

alexandra was intelligent. maybe she was not very well educated but she did have a pretty good intelectual intelligence. however, i must agree with the person that said that she didn't have much social intelligence. she did not know how to judge people, she did not know who people were right to trust and who weren't... and i'm not just talking about rasputin, although he is a good argument for that. i'm talking about how she misjudged the russian people. you can say she was misinformed but that she was because she was listening to the wrong people. we know that ella warned her about what was happening but instead of listening she cooled off her relations with her sister! if anyone was to be completely honest and disinterested around her that would have been ella but alix ignored her. she indeed chose to listen to the wrong people. because they were telling her what she wanted to hear.

the way she chose to ignore all the bad things she heard (and i'm sure she must have heard a lot cause there were a lot to be heard) about rasputin for the sole reason that she believed he could cure her son. she allowed a perverted human being in the presence of her teenage daughters (i believe he was allowed to see them in their bedrooms, even when they were wearing nightgowns!). let's say that nicholas was not influenced by alexandra in choosing rasputin's friends as ministers (although i sincerely doubt it). let's just accept that rasputin's influence on alexandra manifested only in the family. isn't that enough? imagine yourself in one of the girls' shoes. you may not be aware of it, but a perverted man is allowed to be intimate with you because your mother believes he can cure your little brother. even if he can, your mother sacrificed your happiness and well being for your little brother's. imagine there are four girls in that position. i think it's unforgivable to close your eyes to someone like that and allow him into your family like that. for no matter what reason.

the russian revolution could not have been avoided. however, the slaughter could have. look at the list of monarchs who were deposed by revolution and then looked at those of them who were killed in the process: charles 1st of england was initially not even going to be deposed. the revolutionaries just wanted him to rethink some attitudes. he insisted on doing things his way, he became hated and was executed. louis and marie antoinette were killed because they had the image of dancing while then poor man starved. no matter what the truth was, that was the image. that was the reason they were killed. that was the reason nicholas and alexandra were killed: they were personally hated. and i think that hatred was fed by alexandra's irrationality and incapacity of seeing how what she did affected the people around her. i think that the russian revolution would have happened anyway and nicholas and alexandra could have been sent out of the country and left to die. look at other monarchs of the time: charles of austria was deposed, william of germany was deposed. but they were not killed. they tried to come back, both of them, and yet they were not killed. later on, in romania, two kings were deposed, carol and michael. michael is still alive today, his father died a dozen years after he had been deposed. alexander of battenberg lost the throne of bulgaria and yet he lived for years after that. king constantine of greece was twice deposed.

why, out of this long list, were nicholas and alexandra killed? my answer: because they were hated. they, as people. and that was a result of their own mistakes, not of the political conjuncture...
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Offline Ivan Komarov

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #39 on: May 22, 2006, 09:25:36 PM »
Wow, Ilyala, those were some good points.  To a great extent, Alix's problem was her stubbornness - she was not so much misinformed as guilty of selective conversation and hearing.  Anyone can choose who they speak to, and thereby what is told to them; and furthermore anyone can choose to remember what they like (for the most part; on my end of things I usually get stuck with all the bad memories).  This does indeed prove that she had a lack of social intelligence; and although I don't doubt her actual intelligence and wisdom - though greatly questionable at times - her stubbornness against hearing anything she didn't want to was a huge detriment.
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Offline ilyala

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #40 on: May 23, 2006, 08:45:59 AM »
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Wow, Ilyala, those were some good points.  To a great extent, Alix's problem was her stubbornness - she was not so much misinformed as guilty of selective conversation and hearing.  Anyone can choose who they speak to, and thereby what is told to them; and furthermore anyone can choose to remember what they like (for the most part; on my end of things I usually get stuck with all the bad memories).  This does indeed prove that she had a lack of social intelligence; and although I don't doubt her actual intelligence and wisdom - though greatly questionable at times - her stubbornness against hearing anything she didn't want to was a huge detriment.

exactly. as i said before, all she knew was that she had a son who was hurting and that she had to cure him, that nicholas had to be an absolute ruler, that alexei had to inherit the throne as an absolute ruler... etc etc. she did not admit any alternatives. first of all, the way she was obsessed with providing an heir: i've said this on the other forum too (i'm mentioning this in case someone else reads both forums and gets bored of my articles), in russia of those times succession was no problem. succession would have been a problem with catherine the great had paul 1st been in danger. there was no problem at the beginning of the 20th century: alexander 3rd had two sons (if we exclude george who was dead by then), michael was alive, healthy and at that time untainted (at the time when alix was struggling to give birth to a boy). if something bad had happened to michael, alexander the 2nd had plently of sons to provide for an heir: there were the vladimirovich, who themselves had sons, paul also had a son. if by some highly unlikely chance, all these men were to die, nicholas 1st had plently of sons who had sons! there was no succession crisis. alix was obsessed with the idea of providing an heir because she made herself out to be. no-one blamed alexander 1st's wife for not giving birth to sons (at a time when the succession depended on much fewer people). why should anyone blame alix?

also, alix was a german princess raised by her grandmother who was a constitutional monarch. the most important constitutional monarch, actually. the fact that this princess once she got to russia could not understand anything other than absolute rule is absolutely impossible for me to understand! she was the one who protested when nicholas was urged to call the duma by saying: 'that is impossible! nicky is an absolute monarch!'. had she been a russian noble, educated with millions of serfs at her feet, maybe i would have understood. but she was raised by the most constitutional monarch there was! how could she close her eyes to the option of constitutional monarchy?

i think alix wanted to see herself as persecuted by fate and by people around her (she imagined people blaming her for not having a son, she became obsessed with producing one and then she became obsessed with transmitting him nicky's inheritance intact and by doing so she actually caused the people's hatred which in turn led to her death, nicky's death, her precious son and their four daughters on top of that - if we aren't to mention the servants). poor alix, her mother died young. poor alix, her in-laws didn't want her. poor alix, she can't have a son. poor alix, her son is a hemophiliac. she spent her life fighting these demons, that i believe were on most accounts her own and by doing so she ended up self-distructing (and taking her family down with her).
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by ilyala »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #41 on: May 23, 2006, 10:51:12 AM »
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the russian revolution could not have been avoided. however, the slaughter could have. look at the list of monarchs who were deposed by revolution and then looked at those of them who were killed in the process: charles 1st of england was initially not even going to be deposed. the revolutionaries just wanted him to rethink some attitudes. he insisted on doing things his way, he became hated and was executed. louis and marie antoinette were killed because they had the image of dancing while then poor man starved. no matter what the truth was, that was the image. that was the reason they were killed. that was the reason nicholas and alexandra were killed: they were personally hated. and i think that hatred was fed by alexandra's irrationality and incapacity of seeing how what she did affected the people around her. i think that the russian revolution would have happened anyway and nicholas and alexandra could have been sent out of the country and left to die. look at other monarchs of the time: charles of austria was deposed, william of germany was deposed. but they were not killed. they tried to come back, both of them, and yet they were not killed. later on, in romania, two kings were deposed, carol and michael. michael is still alive today, his father died a dozen years after he had been deposed. alexander of battenberg lost the throne of bulgaria and yet he lived for years after that. king constantine of greece was twice deposed.

why, out of this long list, were nicholas and alexandra killed? my answer: because they were hated. they, as people. and that was a result of their own mistakes, not of the political conjuncture...

Whoa there, llyala, I have to disagree with you. Remember the terrorist tradition in Russian history - it went all the way back to the reign of Alexander II, the "Liberator Tsar," hardly an emperor deserving of political assassination... Nicholas II was hated by the Russian revolutionaries not because of anything he specifically did but simply by virtue of the fact that he was born tsarevich. Not only the Russian revolutionary Nechaev but also his admirer Lenin a generation later stated that the entire House of Romanov should be exterminated. So I think you are underestimating the role played in late imperial Russian history by the terrorist ideological underpinnings of the two main revolutionary groups, the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) and the Bolsheviks. Indeed, once the October Revolution took place, Nicholas and his family stood very little chance of emerging alive. Not because of anything they had done or would do but merely because they existed in the first place. This was class war; and the first class enemies who had to be liquidated were the Romanovs.
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Offline ilyala

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #42 on: May 23, 2006, 04:48:41 PM »
had the revolution started in a few years' time after the death of alexander 3rd, your argument would have been unbeatable. we cannot deny that alexander's rule was indeed not pleasant for most people, and i'm sure he had a big contribution to what happened. however, in 20 years time, a tsar could have influenced many people in his favor. not to remain an absolute ruler, maybe. but to stay alive... had the hatred for all the romanovs been so big in the 1890s, the revolution would have happened a lot sooner. but it didn't. it happened in 1917. the war contributed, all the bad romanov rulers contributed... and nicky and alix contributed. you can't just say 'poor them, they are not responsible for the opinions people hold on their family' because they were the heads of their family. alexander 3rd had been gone a long time and i'm pretty sure that the revolutionaries had no thoughts on him when they rebelled.

as i said, the revolution could not be stopped. too much difference between the higher class and the lower class (as you said a class war). however, you cannot blame the revolution and the way it happened on alexander 3rd. not entirely, anyway. i think nicky could have had the time to soften the things out had he realized what was inevitable. what was coming. but he didn't. he was sitting on a bomb when he came to the throne, true, but he was the one who lit the fire. and alexandra was right behind him with a spare lighter in case he didn't do the job properly.
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #43 on: May 24, 2006, 11:50:42 AM »
Ilyala, there's a certain futility to arguing "what ifs" in history. It's an interesting intellectual game but actually doesn't shed any real light on what happened. Yes, the Russian tsars could have followed Alexander II's lead and been reforming tsars as opposed to repressive ones or, best case scenario, been like Nicholas II after the Revolution of 1905, that is, reluctant reformers but reformers nonetheless. But that's the point, I believe. Nicholas did make an effort to institute broad-sweeping reforms in Russia. He was not completely obtuse, he was willing to compromise in certain areas, for a certain length of time, given sufficient external pressure to do so.

But the whole point is that Russia's radical intelligentsia, the Bolsheviks and SRs primarily, no longer saw political compromise as a viable option. They wanted total revolution at any price, at whatever cost to the upper and middle classes and indeed to the entire existing order, which they wanted to overthrow for a brave and entirely brand new world. The irony is that Russia's revolutionaries had moved beyond compromise long, long before the autocracy showed itself willing to compromise. And they were certainly not swayed by the Russian tsar's willingness to make concessions towards democratic reform... no doubt because democracy was not what these revolutionaries had in mind!

Of course it's true, these very same radicals might not have won the final battle if it had not been for World War I. That was probably the final, fatal factor in the seemingly eternal stand-off between the Russian tsar and the Russian radicals. But as it turned out in this battle only one party could emerge victorious and alive. That was the all-or-nothing dogma, that was the extremist ideology of Lenin and his crew. They were a blood-thirsty lot, you have only to read their original works. Absolutely no compromise with the ruling powers... only total destruction of the ruling class.    
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Offline Tania+

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Re: Abdication and Alexandra
« Reply #44 on: May 24, 2006, 12:04:18 PM »
As usual Elizabeth, your responses are brilliant, to the point.
Thank you again !  

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Ilyala, there's a certain futility to arguing "what ifs" in history. It's an interesting intellectual game but actually doesn't shed any real light on what happened. Yes, the Russian tsars could have followed Alexander II's lead and been reforming tsars as opposed to repressive ones or, best case scenario, been like Nicholas II after the Revolution of 1905, that is, reluctant reformers but reformers nonetheless. But that's the point, I believe. Nicholas did make an effort to institute broad-sweeping reforms in Russia. He was not completely obtuse, he was willing to compromise in certain areas, for a certain length of time, given sufficient external pressure to do so.

But the whole point is that Russia's radical intelligentsia, the Bolsheviks and SRs primarily, no longer saw political compromise as a viable option. They wanted total revolution at any price, at whatever cost to the upper and middle classes and indeed to the entire existing order, which they wanted to overthrow for a brave and entirely brand new world. The irony is that Russia's revolutionaries had moved beyond compromise long, long before the autocracy showed itself willing to compromise. And they were certainly not swayed by the Russian tsar's willingness to make concessions towards democratic reform... no doubt because democracy was not what these revolutionaries had in mind!

Of course it's true, these very same radicals might not have won the final battle if it had not been for World War I. That was probably the final, fatal factor in the seemingly eternal stand-off between the Russian tsar and the Russian radicals. But as it turned out in this battle only one party could emerge victorious and alive. That was the all-or-nothing dogma, that was the extremist ideology of Lenin and his crew. They were a blood-thirsty lot, you have only to read their original works. Absolutely no compromise with the ruling powers... only total destruction of the ruling class.    
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