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Transcript of Nicholas II
Called the "pace-setter of reaction" by liberals. Strong influence on both Alexander III and Nicholas II as their tutor and Cheif Procurator of the Holy Synod, They lay administrator of the Orthodox church.
Convinced that firmness was essential characteristic of good government.
Believed that democracy would bring about the end of the Russian empire.
Instrumental in driving Alexander III's Russification policy.
Sought to reeducate people by increasing number of clergy, churches and church schools.
Deeply anti-semitic and encouraged fierce pogroms launched against Jews during the 1800s.
Nicholas II came to the throne in 1894, after his father died unexpectedly. He was not prepared for his role and admitted that he did not want to become Tsar. Nicholas lacked the training and experience needed for leadership.
Nicholas was very influenced by his tutor Konstantin Pobedonostsev.
Pobedonostsev was a tutor, Chief procurator of the Holy Synod and the lay administrator of the Orthodox church under Alexander III and Nicholas II.
He was convinced that firmness was the essential characteristic of good government.
He felt that democracy would bring about the collapse of the Russian empire.
To evaluate how the character, attitude and abilities of Nicholas II effected his role as Tsar.
His private letters and diary are revealing. They provide evidence of his strong religious convictions and deep affection for his wife and family.
They also show a remarkable indifference to the world around him. For example he was deeply moved by the death of his dog, yet the events of the 1905 revolution received little attention.
He was charming to those around him and could command respect and loyalty.
He found it difficult to say unpleasant things to people to their face. However, he could also be vicious and merciless.
Nicholas was particularly attached to the army because of his upbringing and loved the superficialities of military life.
He saw it as his domain and appointed grand dukes and members of his family to high positions.
Often these were incompetents that damaged the army.
He was very anti-Semitic.
The problem for Nicholas was that he had to manage Russia through a time of major social and economic change.
His many inadequacies have been well documented: his inability to make decisions; his unwillingness to engage in politics or even read governmental reports; his weakness; his obstinacy.
From the beginning he made his intentions clear: "let it be known to all that I shall devote all my strength, for the good of the nation, to maintaining the principle of autocracy just as firmly and unflinchingly as it was preserved by my unforgettable father".
He believed that democracy, with it's elections and parliaments, would bring about the end of the Russian Empire.
He was ideologically incapable of accommodating the new middle class let alone a more demanding peasantry and working class.
Throughout his reign, he made it clear that he had a God-given duty to uphold the autocracy and proved unwilling to make any moves towards constitutional government, which may have aided his survival and helped Russia solve its political problems.
Nicholas II's Character is important when analyzing Russia at the point of revolution. Far from being unintelligent, as his critiques like to show, it was his lack of imagination that was evident in his reactionary policies that he followed.
He seemed to not understand the nature of the problems that his nation faced.
Nicholas II Emporor of all the Russias
Comparing the appearance of Nicholas II at his coronation with that of his father thirteen years before, Princess Radzivill remarked that, "there, where a mighty monarch had presented himself to cheers and acclamations of his subjects, one saw a frail, small, almost insignificant youth, whose imperial crown seemed to crush him to the ground and whose helplessness gave an appearance of unreality to the whole scene." His Sister-in -law (Princess Victoria of Hesse) was to comment that "his father's dominating personality had stunted any gifts of initiative in Nicky".
Constantine Pobedonstsev, Nicholas II's tutor, quoted in Orlando Figes,
A People's Tragedy
: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, 1997.
He only understands the significance of some isolated fact, without connection and with the rest, without appreciating the interrelation of all other pertinent facts, events, trends, occurrences. He sticks to his insignificant, petty point of view.
A People's Tragedy
The Russian Revolution 1891-1924,
Nicholas was the source of all the problems. If there was a vacuum of power at the centre of the ruling system, then he was the empty space. In a sense, Russia gained in him the worst of both worlds: a Tsar determined to rule from the throne yet quite incapable of exercising power. This was "autocracy without an autocrat". Perhaps nobody could have fulfilled the role which Nicholas had set himself: the work of government had become much too vast and complex for a single man; autocracy itself was out of date. But Nicholas was mistaken to try in the first place.
Reform had a bad name by the time Nicholas became Tsar and his upbringing and education made him suspicious of change.