The Last of the Romanovs

Russia is probably one of the most mysterious and bizarre countries on earth. This country has always been in the middle of the biggest and strangest events in the world’s history. If anything happened in Europe, it was a big probability that Russia was involved in that. This country has been known among other countries like an odd state and there was always a certain amount of uncertainty about its government, rulers, its people, traditions and its lifestyle. It was allways different than anybody else’s and majority of the European population were even scared of them during the ages. There were many various rulers in Russian history that helped to shape the country the way it was. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great were famous for their political behavior and the type of rule. However, there were some Czars that were not as respected and not as smart in ruling their country. One of the rulers that was able too get Russia to the revolution and change its political, social and economical structure was Nicholas the Second. His politics and the way of ruling the country brought this country to the total chaos and ended the rule of Romanov Dy

ynasty – one of the biggest and most powerful families in Russia.
Nicholas II became the autocratic ruler of Russia in 1894 after the death of his father. However, he was not ready to be a czar and did not want to be one either. While being still a little kid he was raised in the family were the father was a very powerful and intimidating person. Nicholas was always afraid of him and was scared of a thought of becoming a czar of Russia some day. That was not what he wanted. His dad Alexander III tried to teach Nicholas how to prepare to become the ruler of Russia one day, He even sent his son to the world tour to visit otther countries and to see the different lifestyles around the world. However, all Nicholas was worried about was having a good time and partying while visiting foreign countries.
Therefore, the childhood of Nicholas II did not play any major role in making him a better candidate for the throne. After he became a Czar, he did not intend to change his lifestyle either. Nicholas was known for being irresponsible, goofy, narrow minded and weak ruler. His marriage with German princes Al
lexandra was another big factor of a weak leadership of the Russian Czar. Nicholas II was totally in love with her and did not seem to care about anything else than just to take care of his lovely wife and make sure she was comforted and happy with her life. As the matter of fact, Alexandra played a bigger role in the politics of Russia than Nicholas himself. She was the one telling the czar what to do, what kind of decisions to make on a certain policies or events.
Alexandra wanted to keep her husband isolated from the rest of the world as much as possible. She did not want Nicholas II to have many advisers around and be worried about politics all the time. The czarina thought that her husband had to take some time off once in a while and rest from all the Royal duties. Therefore, the whole Royal family spent a lot of their time in the place called ‘Tsarskoe Selo.’ This was a nice mansion in the woods, outside the city. The czar and his wife could spend their time with each other and be careless and irresponsible while they were there. They also ha
ad to take care of their only son, the future czar of Russia, who was hemophiliac. He was the only hope for the Royal family since, the first four children that were girls.
Therefore, while Nicholas II was more worried about his family than taking care of the country, Russia was struggling in keeping a strong economy and having the society happy. It was obvious that the czar was not going to take care of the county and make it any better. The advisors of the czar were playing a huge role in keeping Russia stable as much as they could. However, not having a strong leadership and not being able to make any sound decisions were bringing country’s economy and politics down.
One of the biggest events that played an important role in Russia’s history was Russo – Japanese War in 1904-1905. Nicholas II believed that he could expand his influence in Asia and Japan was one of the major barriers for that. He just saw that country as an aggressor for the security of Russia around that region. Moreover, Nicholas expected an easy and quick war with Japan, because he did not believe in the military capabilities of that country. However, the de
ecision for Russia to go to the war with Japan led to the horrible outcomes for the czar and his country. The war was not as quick and easy as the Russians expected. It took a lot of resources and money from the country’s budget. Moreover, Japan had a more advanced and skilled army. They were able to defeat the Russians in many naval and ground battles.

Even though Japanese started the war with a lot of victories, their economy was not going to hold any longer either. Both countries were putting themselves into a situation of a long and exhausting that would destroy their economies and would not let either side to get a final victory. Therefore, “in a response to a secret Japanese request, President Theodore Roosevelt arranged a peace conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in August 1905.” Russia had to stop the war and get out of it without gaining any land or any influence in the region. The Russo – Japanese War was just an exhausting event that took a lot of out of Russia’s economy and put country into a bad situation. There were many people starving, there was a food shortage, the whole economy was in a very unstable situation. Russian citizens were more and more unsatisfied with the government and the czar. Having horrible living conditions in the country, many people started forming secret political organizations. They wanted to overthrow the government and put somebody else in the power that could fix Russia’s economy and bring the country back to the level it was before Nicholas stepped into power. The outcomes of the Russo – Japanese War, dropping economy and dissatisfaction by the majority of the Russian citizens put the country on the verge of a revolution.
January 22, 1905 was a day known to be as “Bloody Sunday” in Russia’s history. Many workers got on the streets to protest against the government and the Czar. They wanted to have better working and living conditions, better economy, and also wanted the czar to loose the majority of its powers and create a constitutional government. The police of the capital fired at the masses and killed over one hundred and thirty people. This massacre led to a great outburst of resentment in the country and another boost to the revolutionary movement. Many workers that used to be loyal to Nicholas II lost their faith and respect after the killings of the “Bloody Sunday.”
“On October 30, the emperor, as advised by Witte, issued the October Manifesto. That brief document guaranteed civil liberties to the Russians, announced Duma with the true legislative function of passing or rejecting all proposed laws, and promised a further expansion of the new order in Russia.” Therefore, after this Manifesto, Nicholas II lost the majority of its powers and was not a powerful ruler anymore. The rule of autocracy was over, and Russian citizens finally got more rights and freedom from the government. According to the Programme of the Russian Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party, 1905, “All Russian citizens have the to organize public or private meetings, in dwellings as well as in the open air, to examine any problem they wish; All Russian citizens have the right to organize unions or societies without needing permission for it.” There were other important changes that took place in the country as well. The government apparatus had some changes in it, too.

The constitution of Russia was taken more seriously this time, and all the actions in the government were strictly based on it. Moreover, the role of the self-government in Russian society became much more important and had more powers than before the revolution. “Representatives in the organs of local self government, being close to the population by virtue of the organization of small self governing units, should be elected on the basis of universal, equal, direct, and secret ballot, regardless of sex, religion, and nationality, while assemblies of higher self – governing units can be selected by lower assemblies.”
There were other areas in Russia that faced some major reforms as well. The Courts in the country, the financial and economic policies, agrarian legislation, labor legislation and education spheres were restructured. Many limitations in the schools were eliminated, there was no more sex, origin or religious restrictions. Moreover, the professional education was going to be developed and more schools were about to be built throughout Russia. “Freedom of private and public initiative to found and organize all sorts of educational institutions, including education outside the school; freedom of instruction” was also promised to the citizens.
The revolution of 1905 was one of the major events to take place in Russian history. It provoked some major changes in the political, economical and social apparatus of this country. Citizens in the state were given more rights and were able to practice their freedom. Nicholas II lost the majority of his influence and powers to rule the country. The Duma had more responsibility and authority over the Russian politics. Therefore, this revolution was a major step towards the total destruction of the reign of the Romanov Dynasty.
However, a weak leadership and irresponsibility by Nicholas II were not the only reasons why Russia was facing such a tough times. There was one man that was able to get himself close to the Royal family and influence the governing and the decision making of the Czar. Gregory Rasputin was a priest that used to wonder all over the country, just going from one monastery to another, after leaving his wife and kids alone. This man was able to get close to the Royal family and obtain its trust on anything he did. Alexandra became very dependable on Rasputin and his prophecies.
He convinced everybody that he was able to talk to the God and many other saints. However, Rasputin was more of a crazy man than of a priest. He was famous for having outrageous drinking and sex orgies with many women since they totally believed in everything he did. He had a gift of being able to influence and convince people with ease. Rasputin used religion and his prophecies as the tool of controlling many people and using them for his own sake.
Therefore, Alexandra used to discuss with him all the matters of Russian politics and get his advises on the majority of the decisions. Since Nicholas II was totally dependable on his wife, the advices and prophecies of Rasputin were influencing him, as well. Having a crazy man to decide on the majority of political decisions did not help the Czar to get Russia back on its feet. Instead, he just wasted even more money from the states budget and put the country into a more serious problem. All the advisers and friends of the Royal family, warned Nicholas II and asked him to get rid of Rasputin, but the Czar was too weak to resist his wife and make that move.
During the period of the Nicholas II rule, Russia had to face all kinds of problems. The influence of Rasputin on the Russian politics and the revolution of 1905 were not the only crises that the Czar had to deal with. Another major event that played a big role in shaping Russia’s history was World War One. Having a weak economy already and breaking into the war with some of the most powerful and strong countries in the world did not leave Russia with much of a chance to come out as a winner.
Russian army did not have enough money to support its troops. Many soldiers were put in the battlefields without shoes, warm uniforms or even guns. They were told to find their ammunition from the dead soldiers. This was not getting Russia anywhere. They kept losing all the battles and they could not stand out against the superior artilleries and other weapons of Germany and Austria. Nicholas II still did not want to pull out of the war and kept putting his troops in the front and fighting much stronger armies. Russia’s economy was rapidly going down, and there were more people in the country that became dissatisfied with the war.
The Duma was trying to advise the Czar and make him pull his troops out of the WWI. They saw the situation in the state and did not want it to get any worse. However, Nicholas II did not co-operate. “Instead he came to rely increasingly on his wife Empress Alexandra, and on her extraordinary advisor, the peasant Gregory Rasputin. Moreover, in spite of the protests of ten out of his twelve ministers, the sovereign unwisely took personal command of the armed forces, which had been commanded by his relative Grand Duke Nicholas, leaving Alexandra and Rasputin ineffective control in the capital.”
The dissatisfaction of the masses in Russia grew rapidly. The situation in the country was getting out of control and Alexandra could not manage it anymore. While Nicholas II was fighting at the front, there were some major changes that were about to take place in Russia. The people were getting sick of Rasputin and his influence on the Royal family. In December of 1906 Gregory Rasputin was assassinated by one of the members of the imperial family, and another aristocrat related to the imperial family by marriage, who each tried to save the dynasty and Russia. As the year of 1907 began, there were rumors of a palace coup that would restore leadership of the imperial government. However, the popular revolution came first.
On 8 of March in 1907 riots and demonstrations took place in the capital. It was renamed to Petrograd from the German version of “St. Petersburg.” People were dissatisfied with the situation in the country and protested against not having enough food and good enough living conditions. There was no army left in Russia to put down the riots, since all the troops were stationed at the front. Moreover, the police forces that were still active in Petrograd joined the mobs. The authority had no other choice as to escape and hide from the revolutionary movement. The population of Petrograd was able to overthrow the government and then they turned to Duma to create a new leadership.
“On March 11 members of the Duma sidestepped an imperial dissolution, and the next day they created a Provisional Government, composed of a score of prominent Duma leaders and public figures.” Rodzianko and Kerensky were in charge of the Provisional Government. They took the matter into their hands and proposed the act for Nicholas II to pass its powers to his son and step down as the leader of Russia. However, the Czar did not think his son was ready for such a move and wanted to pass the powers to his brother Mikhail. Nonetheless, prince Mikhail refused to become the next czar of Russia and left the Provisional Government to decide on the future actions: “Invoking God’s blessing, I therefore request all citizens of Russia to obey the Provisional Government, set up on the initiative of the Duma and invested with plenary powers, until, within as short time as possible, the Constitution Assembly, elected on a basis of universal, equal, and secret suffrage, shall express the will of the nation regarding the form of the government to be adopted.”
The Provisional Government of Russia was able to create a democratic government. They promoted democracy and liberty in Russia; all the citizens achieved equality before the law, the freedom of speech, religion and press. This government was able to deal with the harshest issues that took place during that time period, and solve some of the most pressing and crucial problems. However, there were still many other political organizations that saw this chaotic situation in Russia as their chance of stepping into the government. Even though the Provisional Government was doing a good job in dealing with the crisis, their organization was not very strong. Kerensky and his Provisional Government were able to succeed only for about a six-month period.
In October of 1917, the Bolshevik party started another revolution that was led by communists this time. Lenin Ulyanov was a leader of this movement and wanted to make some major changes in Russia’s political, economical and social life. This revolution had very little opposition, since the Provisional Government did not have enough time to completely settle down and create a strong system. Therefore “The Great Revolution” took place and the Red Guards occupied various strategic objects in the capital, and arrested many members of the Provisional Government. Soviet Government was established in Petrograd and in the whole Russian country.
The “Great Revolution” was the last step towards the total destruction of the reign of Romanov Dynasty. After Bolsheviks stepped into power, Nicholas II his wife and his kids were under a house arrest for some time. However, Lenin was afraid that the opposition would try to save the imperial family and put them back in power. Therefore, the order to kill the whole Royal family was given to the Bolshevik troops that were guarding them. All the members of this family were killed at the same time and the bodies were hidden so nobody could know what really happened. That was an end of the rule Romanov Dynasty and Nicholas II himself as the “Last of the Romanov’s.”
Nicholas II was known as a weak and irresponsible ruler of one of the greatest Empires in the world history. His character did not fit the type needed for a strong Czar. Nicholas II was more concerned about his beloved wife and the family than he was about his own country. Moreover, Alexandra was able to influence her husband on many political decisions and weaken Russia even more. The role of Gregory Rasputin in the imperial family did not help Nicholas II to get more support from the people either. Rasputin was able to influence the politics and economics of the country and make it even worse. Therefore, the Russian population was getting more dissatisfied every day. The war with Japan and the WWI were another major factors that put even more unhappiness into the citizens of the country. The revolts and protests became a frequent thing in the capital. Because of that two major revolutions in Russian history took place. The 1905 revolution limited the powers of Nicholas II, and “The Great Revolution” of 1917 totally destroyed the monarchy in the country, and led to the massacre of the whole royal family. Therefore, the weak and irresponsible personality of Nicholas II brought Russia into the times of chaos and major changes. Nicholas II was a total failure and became known as “The Last of Romanov’s.”
Annotated Bibliography:
1. Nicholas V. Riasanovsky. A History of Russia, New York, Oxford University Press. 2000.
2. The Times, 19 March 1917, http://www.dur.ac.uk
3. The Russian Revolution. Before the Revolution, http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk
4. V. Ivanovich. Rosiiskaiia partii, soiuzy I ligi

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