Author Topic: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?  (Read 194705 times)

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rskkiya

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #60 on: July 26, 2005, 11:13:48 AM »
So Tsarfan
Your'e suggesting that it was Alexander's fault and that Nicholas was unable - in over 20 years - to change things?

Hmmm!

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #61 on: July 26, 2005, 12:37:52 PM »
Not at all, rskkyia.

Alexander III was the one who turned the ship of state back onto the path of uncompromising autocracy from which Alexander II was tentatively veering.

Nicholas had twenty years of his own choices to make.  And he chose to stay on his father's course, to the extent he had the means.  I was simply saying that 1905 sounded the alarm that the built-up pressure to open up the political system was becoming explosive.  Nicholas' failure to heed that alarm was his own decision.

rskkiya

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #62 on: July 26, 2005, 12:41:56 PM »
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Not at all, rskkyia.

Alexander III was the one who turned the ship of state back onto the path of uncompromising autocracy from which Alexander II was tentatively veering.

Nicholas had twenty years of his own choices to make.  And he chose to stay on his father's course, to the extent he had the means.  I was simply saying that 1905 sounded the alarm that the built-up pressure to open up the political system was becoming explosive.  Nicholas' failure to heed that alarm was his own decision.


That seems clear rational and insiteful!



Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #63 on: July 26, 2005, 01:30:02 PM »
I just finished Margaret MacMillan's 1919, very compelling read. And I think she would agree that at least some of what happened in Russia could not have been prevented.

But I am unsure as to whether the Revolution would have been successful without the distraction of World War I. Don't you think that Imperial Germany would have intervened in a military way? I can't see her willingly allowing an unstable Russian state.

In terms of what actually did happen, I think Tsarfan is right in his assessment. And I don't think it is harsh to blame Nicholas. Throughout his reign there were people, like Stolypin, that were perfectly able to point out mistakes to the Tsar. He chose not to listen. In his case there is at least the extenuation of a poor, insular education. But Alexandra is more puzzling. How did she go from a liberal (more or less) background with regular exposure to the strongest constituional monarchy in the world (GB) to believing the kind of claptrap she was spouting to Nicholas by the end ("Russia needs the knout, it loves it", etc.).

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bluetoria

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #64 on: July 26, 2005, 02:14:17 PM »
I think so much of this is being seen with the benefit of hindsight. While Alexandra's statement was extreme, I think she had learned that Russia was a different place to Great Britain. Britain had had over 300 years of a more constitutional monarchy while Russia was developing under the Romanovs.
It may be true that industrialization could not maintain an autocratic system, but this we can see from a modern perspective. As it was happening, Nicholas was not in a position to understand as we can. Even in Britain, industrialization had led to a great deal of unrest & QV & her family had actually feared for their lives & fled to Osborne shortly after the birth of Princess Louise.
Maybe Nicholas should have learned from what happened in 1905 but remember, by the time of the war, even Lenin thought revolution was an impossibility. The dramatic change from an autocratic to a more moderate form of monarchy was not simply something Nicholas could have done overnight. He may have remembered his father's view, because his father was surely swayed in the knowledge that Alexander II's reforms led ultimately to his assassination.

I do not think that there is enough evidence to say that, were it not for the war, revolution would have happened in 1920....or whenever.

rskkiya

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #65 on: July 26, 2005, 02:15:42 PM »
Bluetoria
Then what was 1905 if not revolutionary in nature?

Lenin felt that as Russia was still an agromomic ecomony (based on farming rather than manufacture)  that an organic revolution of the proletariat was unlikely without a worldwide socialist movement.

I still cannot see Nicholas as somehow innocent of this situation.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by rskkiya »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #66 on: July 26, 2005, 02:33:49 PM »
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I think so much of this is being seen with the benefit of hindsight.


So true . . . and it certainly gives us the armchair advantage.

However, the signs that autocracy's time was running out were perceived by many at the time.

Witte, for instance, was a staunch supporter of the monarchy who nevertheless knew that it had fallen woefully behind the times and was not up to the task of taking Russia into the modern world as an unlimited autocracy.

Stolypin, who was more inherently conservative than Witte, also came round to the view that Nicholas had to lighten his grip on absolute power, at a minimum by giving a talented ministry more leeway to drive policies that would calm the political landscape.

Every minister with the insight and the talent to take Russia into the modern world eventually wound up finding Nicholas to be more the problem than those voices clamoring for change.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #67 on: July 26, 2005, 03:38:39 PM »
Stolypin, who was more inherently conservative than Witte, also came round to the view that Nicholas had to lighten his grip on absolute power, at a minimum by giving a talented ministry more leeway to drive policies that would calm the political landscape.

Exactly so. There are numerous memoirs by men who served the Tsar complaining about his "Byzantine" ability to refuse to listen, and of course the surviving letters from Alexandra urging him to remain steadfast in the face of liberalism so that Alexei might inherit an undiminished imperial position. He took advice, but the wrong advice. And far from only appearing wrong in hindsight, there is ample evidence that people judged his decisions correctly at the time.

Nicholas experienced the assassination of his grandfather, the terrorist attack on the imperial train at Borki, the assassination of his uncle/brother-in-law, and numerous other demonstrations (but most especially the 1905). His ability to ignore his ministers contrasts with the amount of attention he paid Alexandra. Their deep love for each other is held up for admiration, but after all, there is evidence that George V loved Mary, and that Franz Josef loved Elizabeth, but neither of them allowed their consorts to effectively rule through them.

To paraphrase an old saying, as a man I take off my hat to Nicholas. As a Tsar, I put it back on ten times. He was a wonderful husband and father, and a terrible ruler for an emerging western power.


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Louis_Charles »
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Offline Georgiy

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #68 on: July 26, 2005, 04:12:59 PM »
But Russia is not a Western power. Eastern with quite a different outlook culture and mindset to western Europe.

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #69 on: July 26, 2005, 04:17:56 PM »
I'm not sure I agree with the idea that Russia is not a "western power", Georgiy, but I did say an "emerging" western power, and surely she is, and was, that. After all, she entered World War I on the side of the traditional western powers, and her soldiers (and civilians) bled and died in both World Wars as participants in western affairs. Like it or not, she is a western power, in much the same way that the United States is an Asian one, if you will.
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bluetoria

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #70 on: July 27, 2005, 05:47:30 AM »
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But Russia is not a Western power. Eastern with quite a different outlook culture and mindset to western Europe.


Yes, Georgiy, I agree completely; this is what I was trying - unsuccessfully- to express. I don't think it's possible to compare the role of George V with that of Nicholas because the former had very little power and the latter was landedwith the responsibility for a MASSIVE country of such diverse people.
Rskkiya, I agree, 1905 was revolutionary (I wrote in my previous post that maybe Nicholas failed to learn a lesson from it). All the same I think the shift from a largely agrarian culture to that of an industrialized nation was so great that no one could be expected to thoroughly grasp what was happening.
Even in Britain, throughout the 19th century, no one was prepared for this great shift - hence the building of slums and the unrest which led to the Chartist Movement etc.
Russia was going through the same process but was so much larger. The British Government had not foreseen the consequences - nor did Nicholas. It was because it was so 'new' and so different to anything that had happened before. For this reason, since he was immersed in the change and could not see it 'from above' as it were, as we can, I do not consider him to blame.

andrew_pahel

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #71 on: September 21, 2005, 10:55:14 AM »
Nicholas II obviously wasn't cut out to be a tsar. I think thats why Russia suffered during his reign.

Tania

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #72 on: September 21, 2005, 03:22:08 PM »
Bluetoria,

Very well said.

Tania

Tania

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #73 on: September 21, 2005, 03:33:27 PM »
Georgiy,

By your quote :

Posted by: Georgiy Posted on: Jul 26th, 2005, 4:12pm

"But Russia is not a Western power. Eastern with quite a different outlook culture and mindset to western Europe".  

Georgiy, that was then, and still to a degree I think Russia may still think along those lines. Would you mind sharing your thoughts about this ?

Tania

Caleb

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Re: Nicholas II was Unprepared to Rule. Why?
« Reply #74 on: September 21, 2005, 10:02:41 PM »
Personally I think many of the issues in Russia go back to Tsar Alexander II. Although Alexander III wasn't the original heir, I think his father, in the years between 1865-1881, should have prepared him for the heavy task of being Tsar. Also I think all Alexander III wanted after the assasination of his father (Tsar Alexander II) was revenge on those who killed his father. Tsar Alexander III refused to reform the nation as the way his father did, and how he had secret police everywhere is way overdoing it. Also because Alexander III was unprepared to be tsar, this carried on to Nicholas II. It also had to do with the fact that his mother doted on her children too much, and had the Dowager Empress been not so nasty to Alexandra, I think Nicholas would have been able to concentrate more on affairs of state, then settling family feuds & then Nicholas wouldnt have been having to take sides on family issues. Though "niether his reactionary father or conservative tutors prepared Nicholas to grasp the changing realities of a modern world," Alexander III would have known how to deal with someone like Rasputin. I really pity Nicholas, partially because he was trying to live up to his father's expectations even after his father had died.