Responsibility Of Tsar Nicolas In Russia's Downfall

1078 words - 4 pages

Certain aspects of Tsar Nicholas 2's behaviour definitely contributed to bringing about the fall of the Russian Empire, however most of these qualities were not weaknesses in character as such, they were qualities we would associate with poor leadership. When we say 'weakness in character' we mean being easily influenced/controlled by others. Nicholas himself was a firm believer in autocracy; he was virtually unmovable in this belief. And this obstinant belief clearly illustrates he stuck to his beliefs, although in his early years as tsar his uncles had huge influence. That said, the fall of the Russian Empire was not all a result of Nicholas' character and poor leadership qualities, we must also see that the huge socio-economic changes happening as well as the outbreak WW1 hugely influenced the coming about of and the timing of the revolution. These changes would be hard for any government to manage. Nicholas 2's firm and obstinant belief of his commitment to autocracy can be clearly seen in a letter of reply he sent to a liberal zemstvo head before his coronation. "I shall maintain the principal of autocracy just as firmly and unflinchingly as it was preserved by my unforgettable dead father (Alexandra 3)"(Nicholas & Alexandra, Robert K. Massie). His ultra-conservative political outlook was influenced greatly when a child Tsar Nicholas was educated by the reactionary tutor Konstantin Pobenonstev, enemy of all reform. If there were any doubts about Nicholas' belief in autocracy they would have been put to rest. Pobenonstev was once called "The Highest Priest of Social Stagnation". He once declared, "Among the falsest of political principles is the principle of sovereignty of the people". In his early manhood Nicholas lived the life of an idle socialite uninterested in the affairs of state, he found government meetings 'boring' and uninteresting. As he had never taken a liking to political affairs he was underprepared to take the throne, this fact along -with his stubborn belief in autocracy- also goes a long way to explain his political naivete in many of the difficult situations he faced. Was this unwillingness to face the political realities due to him being blinded be his obstinate belief in autocracy or was it just that he was politically naïve? Throughout his rule as discontent rose Nicholas still believed that he still had the support of all his people save for a couple of 'undesirables'. In a sense he was living in an alternate political reality. An example of his political naivete was the 1905 revolution that nearly toppled the regime. Before this there had been enormous changes to the composition of the upper-class; the nobles-traditional upper-class- had lost a lot of their power and influence. The new upper-class of bankers, merchants and intelligentsia wanted reform to the system of government, the creation of a parliament (Duma). But Nicholas, blind to the threat of a united elite and lower class-they were already...

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