Author Topic: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?  (Read 35231 times)

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Offline Nadezhda Edvardovna

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #105 on: October 17, 2006, 09:03:22 AM »
I've been thinking a lot about this question, and now I'm ready to put in my two kopeks.

One thing I always tell my students that in history, what people thought happened is more important than what actually happened.  In March 1917, Nicholas was the legal authority, but no one was paying any attention to legal niceties.  Even if he refused his generals' plea for abdication, his real authority was gone forever. 

I'm not far enough along in my reading of Giles MacDonogh's The Last Kaiser: The Life of Wilhelm II to say for certain, but I wonder that parallels may be drawn between Nicholas' experience and that of Wilhelm.  Wilhelm did not abdicate voluntarily: someone apparently announced that he had, and by then it was too late for him to do aught but comply.  Had Nicholas refused to abdicate, I speculate something similar might have occurred.

Pax, N.

Offline lexi4

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #106 on: October 17, 2006, 10:14:52 AM »
I've been thinking a lot about this question, and now I'm ready to put in my two kopeks.

One thing I always tell my students that in history, what people thought happened is more important than what actually happened.  In March 1917, Nicholas was the legal authority, but no one was paying any attention to legal niceties.  Even if he refused his generals' plea for abdication, his real authority was gone forever. 

I'm not far enough along in my reading of Giles MacDonogh's The Last Kaiser: The Life of Wilhelm II to say for certain, but I wonder that parallels may be drawn between Nicholas' experience and that of Wilhelm.  Wilhelm did not abdicate voluntarily: someone apparently announced that he had, and by then it was too late for him to do aught but comply.  Had Nicholas refused to abdicate, I speculate something similar might have occurred.

Pax, N.

I agree with that. I think Nicholas was powerless and really only had the option of abducating for alas, he had no army.
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Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #107 on: February 10, 2007, 09:48:40 AM »
I'm not far enough along in my reading of Giles MacDonogh's The Last Kaiser: The Life of Wilhelm II to say for certain, but I wonder that parallels may be drawn between Nicholas' experience and that of Wilhelm.  Wilhelm did not abdicate voluntarily: someone apparently announced that he had, and by then it was too late for him to do aught but comply.  Had Nicholas refused to abdicate, I speculate something similar might have occurred.

I fully agree. Both the Tsar and the Kaiser found themselves in the worst moment without an army to rely on -at least Wilhelm was near the Dutch border...-.

I believe that had it not been for the spontaneous occurances that led to the February Uprising in 1917, the Tsarist Government would have stood a chance of retaining power. For instance, the conclusion of an honourable and conditional peace with the Central Powers before February 1917 would have prevented the chaotic sequence of events that followed.

The problem is the Great War, to summarize. I think that we all agree in this point. Although certainly very different to the economies of Western and Central Europe (who embraced gradual free market policies, as opposed to the "closed economy" of Russia), the Russian Empire was on a path to reform and modernisation. Alexander III abolished serfdom and encouraged economic self-sufficiency.  He also proposed the formation of a consultative chamber in the "Ukaz Plan" but was, most unfortunately, assassinated before such a measure could be initiated. Consequently his son, Alexander III, cancelled the "Ukaz Plan" and strengthened the position of autocratic rule. And Nicolas II followed this path.

And his ministers didn't help either. Nicholas II may have been ill-suited to autocratic rule, but it was the ministers of the Imperial State Council who presented the highest obstacle to constitutional reform. Nicholas' inner circle of ministers were from the "old school" of thought - much more suited to the reign of Alexander III than Nicholas II.  Nicholas should ideally have answered to the pleas of the moderates in the Duma (Kadets, Octobrists) and not repealed the October Manifesto by issuing the Fundamental Laws of 1907, but the obstacle of the Imperial State Council proved to be too high.

Perhaps the golden opportunity to reform and "westernise" Russia into a true constitutional monarchy and to avoid the future nightmare was the October Manifesto. Had the tsar lept his promises of concessions made in that Manifesto, perhaps we could have there the foundation upon which a Constitutional Monarchy could have been built. However, the Fundamental Laws of 1907 effectively curbed the influence of the Duma upon Russian politics. The only slim chance he had was to prepare to the Great War and what followed was to recognize that the failed revolution of 1905 was a wake-up call, but he did not get it. Russia was going downhill since the 19th century – perhaps since Alexander II was murdered. What happened in teh end was the logical conclusion of this process, alàs...

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #108 on: February 14, 2007, 10:38:55 AM »
Grandduchessella referred us to this thread - 'Did Nicholas have to abdicate?' in order to discuss events surrounding the abdication.   I have now read the entire thread and the question of whether Nicholas had to abdicate - or not - has barely been raised, far less addressed.

However, I have Ella to thank for directing me to a fascinating and thought provoking thread, addressing as it does the degree to which Lenin was, or was not, actively complicit in the murder of the Imperial Family.

One or two points could be worth addressing -

Ekaterinburg almost certainly would not have been the first choice of the Bolsheviks.   It was the Provisional Government who settled on Tobolsk as a place of imprisonment, AND safety, for the family.   Ekaterinburg just happened to be the closest major town.   About the last place Kerensky et al would have placed the Imperial Family would have been in RED Ekaterinburg.   Lenin just happened to inherit this location.   The transfer from Tsarskoe Selo to Tobolsk took place in the high summer of 1917 - during the July Days.   Lenin, himself, did well to actually survive this period.   He did, of course, by running away.

Bev's (Reply 58) has certainly made me confront my own naivety.   Bob (Atchison) and myself both knew an old lady who loved nothing more than to talk about the Imperial children whom she saw every day.   Each year, on her birthday, namesday, Easter and Christmas, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia - and frequently - Alexei, personally delivered to her, and to her sister, baskets full of presents and special treats.   Her name was Vera Michailovna.   Michael, her father, was known to the imperial children as 'Uncle Misha'.   He had been a stoker on the imperial yacht 'Standart' where he proved very popular with the imperial family, as whole, in particular with the children.   As a result, he was promoted to become the fire keeper at the Alexander Palace.   Along with his wife and children, he lived in a cottage within a few hundred yards of the Alexander Palace.

On the Revolution, 'Uncle Misha' suddenly rose from being keeper of the fires, to become Palace Commandant.   For delicacies sake, this huge promotion was something I never addressed with his, then, elderly daughter.   I think Bev in Reply 58 has answered this question.

Forum Admin's Reply 76 - The answer to questions raised in this thread can be found in the document Rob cites.   Yakovlev in a telegram gives an alternative - and more practical - destination.   Why was this either ignored or not chosen?

Germany - At the time it was not what Germany said that mattered to the Bolsheviks, it was what they might do.   With the advantage of time and distance we can be forgiven for not understanding the kind of pressures brought about in the lead up to and as a result of the signing of the Brest/Litovsk Treaty.   Recall how Nicholas, always insisted he would sign nothing.   He was convinced the Bolsheviks were going to use him as a pawn in their negotiations with Germany.   Therefore the Bolsheviks' perception of Germany's attitude towards Nicholas, and particularly towards Alexandra and the children, is important.   Of course, Grand Duchess Ella had her own, much more personal, echoes to contend with.

From a neo-sociallist, or New Labour, United Kingdom, it seems to me that even in this very watered down varient, a major part of the mentality is all about planning, making, creating laws and passing laws, sometimes getting round to implementing them, but NEVER governing, only reacting.   I think a similar accusation can be pointed at Lenin and his nascent government.

tsaria   

PS:  What about Nicholas' health - mental and physical during the last weeks and months of his reign?   Any suggestions of where they should be addressed?   A vital period in history - the ramifications of which have never been fully explored, probably given the paucity of available first hand historical accounts - but a vital period nonetheless.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2007, 10:50:19 AM by tsaria »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #109 on: February 14, 2007, 12:41:10 PM »
From a neo-sociallist, or New Labour, United Kingdom, it seems to me that even in this very watered down varient, a major part of the mentality is all about planning, making, creating laws and passing laws, sometimes getting round to implementing them, but NEVER governing, only reacting.   I think a similar accusation can be pointed at Lenin and his nascent government.

Sorry, Tsaria, but I think that comparing New Labor with the Bolsheviks is a bit like comparing your average moderate Republican with the Nazis. The major differences far outweigh any vaguely remote similarities. Even the most cursory glance at Soviet history shows that Lenin and his Bolsheviks assumed power only in order to introduce a radical new social and political order, at least in Russia (but, they hoped, internationally as well). And in this objective they were largely successful, even in their first year or so of power. Lenin was in fact a new Robespierre. He was not reactive but completely proactive in the series of decrees he and his government issued and enforced during this period. Here's just a sampling:

October 26: Land Decree: the abolition of private property and redistribution of land are made official laws
October 27: The Russian press is muzzled by official state censorship
Nov. 10: All ranks and titles are abolished
December: The secret police, Cheka, is established
December 7: The Senate is abolished
Dec. 14/27: The nationalization of all banks is ordered; a Supreme Economic Council is created to oversee the Russian economy
January: Lenin abolishes the zemstvos, those local organs of self-government
Jan. 5, 1918: The Constituent Assembly is dissolved by force (on Lenin's orders)
Jan. 12: Russia is declared a Soviet republic, and a federation is to be formed with other Soviet republics (i.e., lands formerly belonging to the Russian empire)
February: All former debts incurred by the tsarist state are cancelled
Feb. 1/14: The Gregorian calendar is introduced; orthographic changes to the Russian language follow
Feb. 5: the Church is declared separate from the state and the schools
March 3: The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed
March 11: The capital is moved from Petrograd to Moscow
June 11: "Committees of Poor Peasants" are formed to "carry class warfare to the village," not only in fighting "kulaks" but in requisitioning grain
June 14: After this date, all Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries are excluded from participation in the soviets; arrests of people belonging to these parties begin in the following weeks
June 28: All major industries are nationalized without compensation
June-July: All Romanov property is nationalized
July 17: The former tsar and his family are murdered in Ekaterinburg
July 19: First Soviet Constitution is enacted; the middle class or bourgeoisie is officially banned from voting
September: The first concentration camps for political prisoners are set up in what was later to become known as the GULAG

Etc., etc.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2007, 12:57:30 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline ChristineM

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #110 on: February 14, 2007, 03:37:26 PM »
That was meant 'tongue in cheek' Elizabeth.   

But your post goes on to reinforce my point - laws, laws and more laws.   Albeit, and most importantly different, but it is part of a mentality.     In the case of the UK almost 4,000 in a decade.   It is said more than in all previous decades put together.

tsaria

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #111 on: February 15, 2007, 03:45:25 PM »
I guess I don't get the tongue-in-cheek part, Tsaria. Forgive me for being humorless, but I don't see any relationship between the laws enacted by Lenin and his Bolsheviks and the laws enacted by New Labour. The former were passed and enforced to quite deadly effect for tens of thousands of people in Russia. They reduced the entire country to a killing ground. I'm not aware that New Labour has had quite the same effect on Britain, please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Offline ChristineM

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #112 on: February 18, 2007, 02:44:33 PM »
I think you must have misread my post, Elizabeth.   I was not, in any way, comparing the laws - only the quantity - certainly never the content.

tsaria

Offline James1941

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #113 on: February 19, 2007, 01:41:51 AM »
What about the cocaine Nicholas sniffed for his bad cold and stuffy nose, or the "brews" that he took given to him by his holistic faith healer from Tibet, Bamaiev? Has this been discussed before?

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #114 on: February 19, 2007, 05:34:45 AM »
I think something on this might be found on the Rasputin threads.   Dr Badmaev was an herbalist.   I have met his grand-daughter who is an allopathically trained doctor in St Petersburg.   Even today, there is a much closer link between, what we in the west would describe as, alternative and allopathetic medicine.   In Russia they are viewed as complimentary.   The use of cocaine for medicinal purposes was widespread in those days.   Nicholas' use of cocaine for a cold was quite normal and regarded altogether differently to the way we view the use of cocaine today.   

tsaria

Offline Belochka

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #115 on: February 19, 2007, 06:18:35 AM »
What about the cocaine Nicholas sniffed for his bad cold and stuffy nose, or the "brews" that he took given to him by his holistic faith healer from Tibet, Bamaiev? Has this been discussed before?

Tsaria is correct about cocaine use in the early twentieth century. Cocaine was prescribed by Nikolai's practitioners for his medical use. It was a legal drug of choice to alleviate a few problems, including tooth ache, a condition that Nikolai was familiar with.

Mercury and lead were also used, before it was realized that each of these substances had deleterious effects following longterm usage. So why do you choose to emphasize Nikolai's legitimate use of medicinal cocaine? There was certainly a difference between practical use and deliberate abuse.

Russians have always been firm believers in the practicalities of holistic treatment which are seen to compliment conventional medical practices.

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Offline James1941

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #116 on: February 19, 2007, 10:45:06 AM »
The question was about the state of his health during the last few months and weeks before the crisis of the revolution. Nicholas use of an addictive and harmful drug is relevant to that question, no matter how common the practice was. I am quite familiar with medical practices of that time and just because mother's dosed their babies with laudanum on ignorant doctor's orders doesn't mean it was a healthy practice.
 What must be investigated is how often he used it and how much, and whether he became dependent on it. I do not accuse him of being a cocaine addict, but there is the possibility his health directly affected his mental state, which had bearing on why he acted as he did.
 And the question is what was in those brews that he was getting from Badmaiev?
They may have indeed been harmless, even helpful herbal remedies, and then again they may have have been herbs or plants that had a deleterious effect on Nicholas. Many observers commented on the tsar's health and state of listlessness and depression. It is an area that merits serious consideration, not dismissal out of hand.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #117 on: February 19, 2007, 10:58:14 AM »
These are all very relevant points, James.   The action, indeed interaction, of herbal remedies can be grossly underestimated.   You are quite right to bring up Nicholas II's drug regime vis-a-vis his mental state in the period leading up to the abdication.   I am not aware of any reference to what medicines, herbal and otherwise, were actually administered to the Tsar.    But you have uncovered a very important fact which, so far as I am aware, remains unexplored and its relevance could be vital to the case.   So, thank you very much.   I hope this might be an issue which will be explored here and opinions exchanged.

I was at a ballet last week performed by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia and, when the curtains opened, the smell of Valerianka was all-pervading.   The effects of Valerianka should not be underestimated.   I have to confess a fondness for the stuff and can see that it could be quite addictive.

tsaria

Offline James1941

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #118 on: February 19, 2007, 11:48:14 AM »
Thank you, tsaria. I also look forward to a discussion of this topic.
I must confess my complete ignorance. Would you be so kind as to digress on a further explanation of Valerianka. It sounds intriguing.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Did Nicholas have to abdicate?
« Reply #119 on: February 19, 2007, 12:33:17 PM »
It is a tincture made from the Valerian plant - a flowering plant common to northern Europe and Asia.   It is said to have calming properties and is also used for insomnia. 

To be found nowadays in most pharmacists, unfortunately this has little in common with the Russian product apart from the name.   In Russia the oils from the entire plant are extracted, not just from the petals.   It is meant to be diluted with water, but, good Scotswoman that I am, I prefer it neat.   I like the flavour and find the effects pleasant, though not soporific.   What on earth am I writing!

Now, this will delight you James - some historians believe that when Alexandra Feodorovna wrote about taking 'drops' when her 'heart was enlarged' it was Valerianka she was using.   Whether or not she slipped a few drops into her husband's tea, I don't know, but he could not have failed to detect it.   

Do not let this put you off!

tsaria