How far was theTsar Nicholas the second responsible for his own downfall?

September 9, 2018 General Studies

?The ever declining popularity of world war one, the failure for the Tsar to make reforms after the 1905 revolution, along with ever growing forces of revolutionary parties all contributed to the fall of the Tsar Nicholas the II. But was he to blame? In this essay one will discuss the factors instigating the fall of the Tsar, and how far he was responsible for his own demise. The living conditions for the peasant population across Russia were atrocious. This presented itself as a major problem for the Tsar, as over 80% of the population was comprised of peasants, and this lead to them demanding reform.

Over 25% of the wealth of Russia was owned by just 1% of the population, this alarming statistic created a colossal division between rich and poor, further stressing the peasant’s point of reformation. By 1904 life expectancy in Russia was 40, despite serfdom being abolished, peasants had to pay redemption reparations to cover landowner’s workforce losses, these repayments lasted for 49 years, longer than a peasant’s lifetime, sometimes even two. These problems all lead to the widespread strikes and protest that spread across Russia between 1905 and 1917.

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The widespread unrests across Russia lead to the horrific event of ‘bloody Sunday’ where over 1000 peaceful protestors were killed, ruining Nicholas’ image as ‘the little father’. This event was the spark of the 1905 revolution, and through this, events such as the ‘Potemkin Mutiny’ occurred. As a result of this widespread uproar, the October manifesto was produced. This could have potentially resolved the problems, especially considering the duma, however the Tsar made bad decisions and still had complete autocratic power, a power that the duma could not control.

In reality the October manifesto did not solve anything, it merely postponed the inevitability of the Tsars downfall and increased his ever proliferating opposition. In 1914 Russia joined the war under the rule of Nicholas, initial response to the war was popular, and for a brief time the Tsars popularity soared, this was down to the new found hope of victory, reinforced by nationalism. However in reality it was a different story; early defeats lead to over one million deaths by the end of 1914, and this crushed any morale for the war.

As the war continued, Russia persisted to fight a losing battle, the death toll mounted and Russian lands were being lost rapidly. This soon made the war unpopular and as a result increased opposition to the Tsar. By 1916 the transport system had completely shut down, and the war had drained Russia into economic collapse. This lead to widespread famine across what was left of the Russian empire, and millions starved. The economic system had failed, leading to a loss in the value of the rouble, resulting in a distrust of government. This distrust had been growing, especially because the Tsarina was German, she was considered a spy.

Notably one of the Tsars greatest mistakes, and arguably the final straw was when he elected himself C-I-C of the army. He had next to nothing in terms of military experience, and left the German Tsarina in charge of the government. By 1917 the people of Russia demanded peace and an end to the war. This combination destroyed the Tsars reputation completely, and lead to the rise in support for revolutionary parties. During the time of the 1917 revolution, there were three main parties, the Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and the Social revolutionaries.

All three parties drove towards revolution, and forced the Tsar to abdicate. The Tsar had no other choice but to abdicate, unlike in 1905, the revolution was more organised and the Tsar had lost the support of his army, he could do nothing but flee or die, he chose the latter, only to postpone his inevitable fate. It was in 1917 that Alexander Kerensky, the leader of the social revolutionary party; took power after the Tsars abdication by instigating the provisional government after the march/February revolution.

In conclusion; the Tsar was almost entirely responsible for his own destruction. Despite many chances of amending his mistakes, such as that of the October Manifesto, he persisted to repress his people, leading to his imminent destruction as the leader of Russia. However in defence of the Tsar; he was ill equipped for the task as leader of Russia, especially after inheriting the throne unexpectedly from his father. He had received no training, no preparation, and had no military experience and was effectively stabbing in the dark with his political decisions.

This was notably no fault of his own, but more the fault of the tradition of Russian autocracy. The poor decisions are blindingly obvious to an individual who would have been trained; such as taking charge as C-I-C and ignoring the threat of revolution, and even being presented with the chance to amend his wrong doings, he turned away. These decisions ultimately cost him his life, and had he been adequately equipped for the job of Tsar, he would not have made these poor decisions.


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