Nicholas II Alexandrovich (6 , Tsarskoye Selo – 17 July 1918, Yekaterinburg) – Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland (in addition, from the British monarchs had the titles of Admiral of the Navy (May 28) and Field Marshal of the British Army (18).
The reign of Nicholas II was marked by the economic development of Russia and at the same time by the growth of social and political contradictions in it, a revolutionary movement, which culminated in the Revolution of 1905-1907, the February Revolution of 1917 and the October Revolution. In foreign policy – expansion in the Far East, the war with Japan, as well as the participation of Russia in military blocs of European powers and the First World War.
Nicholas II abdicated in the course of the February Revolution in March 1917, after which he and his family were under house arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. In the summer of 1917, following the decision of the Provisional Government, he was exiled with his family and entourage to Tobolsk, and in the spring of 1918 was transferred by the Bolsheviks to Ekaterinburg, where in July 1918 he was shot together with his family and four entourage in the basement of the Ipatyev house.
Together with his wife and children he was glorified as a martyr by the Russian Orthodox Church on August 20, 2000, and earlier, in 1981, he was glorified as a martyr by the Russian Church Abroad.
The boy received the traditional Romanov name “Nikolai. In addition, this case can be classified as a case of “naming by his uncle” (a custom known since the Rurikovich family). He was named in memory of his father”s eldest brother and his mother”s groom, Caesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (1843-1865), who died young, with the same names, patronymics and namesake saints of the caesareviches themselves (Nicholas of Myrlyk) and their fathers (Alexander Nevsky). The namesake is December 6 according to the Julian calendar (Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker).
From birth he was titled His Imperial Highness (Sovereign) Grand Duke Nikolai Alexandrovich. After the death on March 1, 1881 of his grandfather, the Emperor Alexander II, in a terrorist attack by the Narodniks, and the accession to the throne of his father, the Emperor Alexander III, he became heir to the throne with the title “Tsesarevich Heir.
The full title of Nicholas II as emperor: “By the mercy of God, We, Nicholas the Second, Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia, of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod; Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan, Tsar of Poland, Tsar of Siberia, Tsar of Chersonesos of Tauris, Tsar of Georgia; Tsar of Pskov and Grand Duke of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, and Finland; Prince of Estland, Livonia, Courland and Semigallia, Samogitia, Belostok, Korela, Tver, Ugra, Perm, Vyatka, Bolgaria, and others; The Sovereign and Grand Duke of Novgorod and the Lowlands, of Chernigov, Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersk, Udorsk, Obdorsk, Kondy, Vitebsk, Mstislav and the Sovereign of all the North; Also the Sovereign of the Iberian, Kartalian and Kabardian lands and the province of Armenia; the Sovereign of Cherkassk and the Princes of the mountains and others, the Sovereign of Turkestan; the Heir of Norway, the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, of Stormare, of Ditmar and Oldenburg and so on and so on and so forth.
In connection with the events at Khodynka and January 9, 1905, nicknamed by the radical opposition “Nikolai the Bloody,” a nickname he used in Soviet popular historiography. His wife personally called him “Nicky.
Nicholas II is the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna. Immediately after his birth, on May 6 (18), 1868, he was named Nicholas. The infant was baptized by the confessor of the imperial family, protopresbyter Vasily Bazhanov, in the Church of Resurrection of the Great Tsarskoselsky Palace on May 20 of the same year; the substitutes were: Alexander II, Queen Louise of Denmark, Crown Prince Friedrich of Denmark, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna.
In early childhood the tutor of Nikolai and his brothers was an Englishman living in Russia, Carl Osipovich Heath (General G. G. Danilovich was appointed his official tutor as heir in 1877. Nikolai received his home education as part of a large gymnasium course; in 1885-1890 – according to a specially written program, which combined the course of state and economic departments of the Faculty of Law at the University with the course of the General Staff Academy. The classes were held for 13 years: the first eight years were devoted to the subjects of the expanded course of gymnasium, where special attention was paid to studying political history, Russian literature, English, German and French (the next five years were devoted to studying military affairs, law and economic sciences necessary for a statesman. Lectures were given by scholars of world renown: N. N. Beketov, N. N. Obruchev, C. A. Cui, M. I. Dragomirov, N. H. Bunge, K. P. Pobedonostsev and others. All of them were only lecturing. They did not have the right to ask questions in order to check the assimilation of the material. Protopresbyter Ioann Yanyshev taught the tsesarevich canon law in connection with the history of the church, the main departments of theology and the history of religion.
On May 6 (18), 1884, on reaching the age of majority (for the heir), he took the oath in the Great Church of the Winter Palace, which was announced by the Imperial manifesto. The first published act on his behalf was a rescript addressed to the Governor-General of Moscow, V.A. Dolgorukov: 15 thousand rubles for distribution, at his discretion, “among the inhabitants of Moscow, who most need help.
The first two years Nikolai served as a junior officer in the ranks of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. For two summer seasons he served in the ranks of the Life Guards Hussar Regiment as a squadron commander, and then – a camp in the ranks of the artillery. On August 6 (18), 1892 he was promoted to colonel. At the same time, his father introduced him into the affairs of governance of the country, inviting him to participate in meetings of the State Council and the Cabinet of Ministers. At the suggestion of the Minister of Railways S. Yu. Witte, in 1892, Nikolai was appointed chairman of the Trans-Siberian railroad construction committee to gain experience in public affairs. By the age of 23, the Heir was a man with extensive knowledge in various fields.
The educational program included trips to various provinces of Russia, which he made with his father. On top of his education, his father placed at his disposal the cruiser “Pamyat” Azov” as part of a squadron to travel to the Far East. During nine months he and his entourage visited Austria-Hungary, Greece, Egypt, India, Thailand, China, Japan, and later – he returned to the capital of Russia by land from Vladivostok through the whole of Siberia. During the trip Nicholas kept a personal diary. In Japan an attempt was made on Nikolai”s life (a shirt with blood stains is kept in the Hermitage.
An opposition politician and member of the first convocation of the State Duma, V. P. Obninsky, in his anti-monarchist essay “The Last Autocrat,” claimed that Nicholas “at one time stubbornly refused the throne,” but was forced to yield to the demand of Alexander III and “sign the manifesto on his accession to the throne in his father”s lifetime.”
First Steps and Coronation
A few days after the death of Alexander III (October 20 (the same day was sworn in by dignitaries, officials, courtiers, and troops), 14 (the honeymoon was held in an atmosphere of funeral services and mourning visits.
One of the first personnel decisions of Emperor Nicholas II was the dismissal in December 1894 of the controversial I. V. Gurko from the post of Governor-General of the Kingdom of Poland and the appointment in February 1895 of A. B. Lobanov-Rostovsky as Minister for Foreign Affairs – following the death of N. K. Girs.
As a result of the exchange of notes dated March 27 (April 8), 1895 there was established “the demarcation of the spheres of influence between Russia and Great Britain in the Pamir region, east of the Zor-Kul Lake (the Vakhan Ridge was designated in the Russian maps as the Emperor Nicholas II Ridge. The first major international act of the emperor was the Triple Intervention – the simultaneous (11 (23) April 1895), at the initiative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, presentation (together with Germany and France) requirements to Japan to reconsider the terms of the Simonoseck peace treaty with China, abandoning its claims to the Lyaodun Peninsula.
The first public speech of the emperor in St. Petersburg was his speech, delivered on 17 (29) January 1895 in the Nicholas Hall of the Winter Palace before the deputations of the nobility, zemstvos and towns, who came “to express to their majesties loyal feelings and congratulations on the marriage”; the text of the speech (the speech was written beforehand, but the emperor said it, only occasionally looking at the paper) read as follows “I am aware that recently voices have been heard in some zemstvo assemblies of people who have been fond of senseless dreams about the participation of zemstvo representatives in the affairs of internal government. Let everyone know that I, devoting all my energies to the good of the people, will guard the beginnings of autocracy as firmly and steadfastly as my unforgettable, late parent guarded it.
In the early 1910s, a representative of the left wing of the Kadets, V. P. Obninsky, wrote about the tsar”s speech in his anti-monarchist essay:
“It was assured that the word ”unfulfilled” was in the text . But whatever the case, it served not only as the beginning of a general cooling toward Nicholas, but also laid the foundation for a future liberation movement, rallying zemstvo activists and instilling in them a more decisive mode of action. <…> The speech of January 17 (29), 1895 can be considered the first step of Nicholas on the inclined plane, on which he continues to roll to this day, sinking ever lower in the opinion of his subjects and the entire civilized world.
Historian S. S. Oldenburg wrote about the January 17 speech: “The Russian educated society, in its majority, took this speech as a challenge to itself <…> The speech of January 17 dispersed the hopes of intelligentsia for the possibility of constitutional reforms from above. In this respect, it has served as a starting point for a new growth of revolutionary agitation. K. P. Pobedonostsev, a prominent representative of conservative circles, approved of the speech, but noted with concern that “everywhere in the youth and intelligentsia there is talk with some irritation against the young sovereign.
The coronation of the emperor and his wife took place on May 14 (26), 1896. Poor organization of the holiday led to a monstrous crush, in which, according to official data, 1379 people died and several hundred more were injured. The tragedy left an extremely grave impression on society (for details see the article Khodynka). In connection with the events at Khodynka and subsequent January 9, 1905 Nicholas II was nicknamed by the radical opposition “Bloody”. In the same year the All-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition was held in Nizhny Novgorod, which Nicholas II visited.In April 1896 the Russian government formally recognized the Bulgarian government of Prince Ferdinand. In 1896 Nicholas II also made a major trip to Europe, meeting with Franz Joseph, Wilhelm II, and Queen Victoria (concluding the trip was his arrival in the French allied capital of Paris. During the trip the tsar was accompanied by the comrade (deputy) Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. P. Shishkin, a man of little competence. Minister Lobanov-Rostovsky himself died suddenly on August 30 (September 11), 1896.
By the time the tsar arrived in Great Britain in September 1896, relations between Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire had sharply deteriorated in connection with the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and St. Petersburg had simultaneously drawn closer to Constantinople; while his guest at Queen Victoria”s in Balmoral, Nicholas, while agreeing in general terms to a joint draft for reforms in the Ottoman Empire, rejected the proposals made to him by the British government to remove Sultan Abdul-Hamid, to keep Egypt under English control, and in return to obtain certain concessions on the issue of the Straits. Then Nicholas went to Paris, where the French managed to induce him to approve joint instructions to the ambassadors of Russia and France in Constantinople. In particular, French proposals on the Egyptian question (including “guarantees of neutralizing the Suez Canal”) and on expanding the powers of the Ottoman Debt Office, to which the Russian government was to send its delegate (previously this institution had been ignored) were accepted. All in all, a big step was made toward establishing international control over Turkey, “domination over Turkey by the six,” which was contrary to the Russian government”s intentions. The tsar”s Paris agreements provoked sharp objections from Sergei Witte, Lamsdorf, Ambassador to Turkey Nelidov and others. Kapnist, the ambassador in Vienna, expressly called the proposed line of conduct in Paris “little consistent with the entire foreign policy of Russia and its interests. Nicholas for some time defended his decision and even promised the French ambassador that he would try to change Witte and Nelidoff”s mind, but in the end agreed with the arguments of Witte. On this occasion Lamsdorf noted with annoyance: “The young sovereign changes his points of view with terrifying rapidity.” A new change of course soon followed – a return to the agreements made at Belmoral, but rejected after his return to St. Petersburg. At the same time it was prepared and approved (with some reservations) a plan of landing the Russian landing party on the Bosphorus at a ministerial meeting on November 23 (December 5), 1896 under the presidency of the tsar. After a certain struggle, more moderate views prevailed, and it was decided to abandon the landing. Eventually, after the hasty steps of Nicholas II and Shishkin, by the end of 1896 the Russian diplomacy returned to the course determined by Lobanov-Rostovsky and Witte: to strengthen the alliance with France, pragmatic cooperation with Germany on certain issues, freezing the Eastern Question (that is, support of the Sultan and opposition to England”s plans in Egypt). The Ottoman Reform Project, which among other things envisaged measures to alleviate the plight of the Armenian population, was never submitted to the Sultan. In March 1897, Russian troops took part in the international peacekeeping operation in Crete after the Greco-Turkish War.
During 1897, three heads of state came to St. Petersburg to pay a visit to the Russian emperor: Franz Joseph, Wilhelm II, and Felix Faure, president of France; during Franz Joseph”s visit, a 10-year agreement was concluded between Russia and Austria.
The Manifesto of February 3 (15), 1899 on the order of legislation in the Grand Duchy of Finland was perceived by the population of the Grand Duchy as an infringement of its autonomous rights and caused mass discontent and protests.
The Manifesto of June 28 (July 10), 1899 (published June 30), informed us of the demise on June 28th of the same year of “the heir to the throne, Caesarevich George Alexandrovich” (the latter was sworn to succeed the throne together with Nicholas), and declared as follows “Henceforth, as long as it has not yet pleased God to bless us with the birth of a son, the nearest right of succession to the Russian throne, on the precise basis of the basic State law on succession to the throne, belongs to our kindest brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. The omission of the words “Crown Prince” in the title of Tsesarevich caused perplexity in court circles, which prompted the Emperor to issue on July 7th of the same year an Imperial Decree which enjoined him to be known as “Sovereign Heir and Grand Duke.
Historian B. N. Mironov noted that as of 1889 and 1913 the proportion of the literate population was:
At the same time, Mironov points out that “shifts in the attitude of the people to literacy in the late XIX century were outlined, primarily among the urban population and workers,” although he admits that “the ability to learn from books, to be guided by the read and learned in their behavior developed slowly and by 1917 became an internal demand of the minority population. The problem of illiteracy of the population led to the fact that in 1906 the Ministry of National Education, under the leadership of Count P. N. Ignatyev, developed a project for the introduction of universal primary education. On May 3, 1908 the main principles of the ministerial project acquired the force of law, and from that time began a systematic increase of funds for public education, as well as the opening of schools throughout the empire, the ultimate goal of the project was to provide primary education for the entire population of the Russian Empire, regardless of class or national origin. As a result, by 1916 in the Russian Empire there were about 140 thousand schools of various types, and various indicators of infrastructural parameters of the school system (such as the ratio of schools to the population, their even distribution, spatial accessibility, manageability, etc.) exceeded not only most states of that time, but also the modern Russian Federation. The government has steadily increased spending on education: the budget of the Ministry of Public Education in 1901 increased from 33.1 million rubles to 142.7 million rubles in 1913.
In addition, the Russian Empire during the reign of Nicholas II achieved outstanding results in science and engineering education, bringing the number of students in higher technical, military engineering and commercial schools to 40-45 thousand and thus, by 1904-1914, becoming the world leader (along with the USA) in technical education, surpassing the German Empire. Among the graduates of Russian engineering schools were many famous specialists who, after the revolution and emigration, created entire industries and technological schools in Western Europe and the USA (such as I. I. Sikorsky, V. K. Zvorykin, A. E. Chichibabin, V. N. Ipatiev, S. P. Timoshenko, G. A. Botezat and others).
Also Russia actually became a pioneer in the field of “continuous education”, which took shape in 1907-1916 as a result of the reforms of P. N. Ignatyev. In most European countries similar reforms took place only in the 1950s – 1960s.
In January 1897 the monetary reform was carried out, which established the gold standard of the ruble. The transition to the gold ruble, among other things, was a devaluation of the national currency: imperials of previous weight and proof were now marked with “15 rubles” – instead of 10; nevertheless, stabilization of the ruble at the rate of “two-thirds”, contrary to predictions, was successful and without shocks.
A special tax on landowners of Polish origin in the Western Province, imposed as punishment for the Polish uprising of 1863, was abolished. The decree of June 12 (25), 1900, abolished criminal exile to Siberia, while maintaining political exile.
The Eastward Movement and the Russo-Japanese War
Court historian S. S. Oldenburg noted that as early as 1895 the emperor foresaw the possibility of a clash with Japan for priority in the Far East and was preparing for this fight – both diplomatically and militarily. From the Tsar”s resolution of April 2 (14), 1895 on the report of the Foreign Minister it was clear he wanted further Russian expansion in the Southeast (Korea).
On May 22 (May 22) China agreed with construction of the railroad through Northern Manchuria to Vladivostok, construction and exploitation of which was granted to Russian-Chinese bank. On September 8 (20), 1896 concession contract on construction of Chinese Eastern line (CEL) was signed between Chinese government and Russian-Chinese bank. On March 15 (27), 1898 Russia and China signed Russian-Chinese convention in Beijing. According to it Russia was granted a lease for 25 years for Port-Arthur ports (moreover Chinese government agreed to grant concession granted to the Company of CEL for construction of a branch line (South-Manchurskaya railroad) from one of CEL point to Dalny and Port-Arthur.
12 (24) August 1898, on the orders of Nicholas II, Foreign Minister Count M. N. Muravyov handed a government message (circular note) to all the representatives of foreign powers, staying in St. Petersburg, which said, among other things: “To put an end to the continuous armament and to seek means to prevent disasters threatening the world – this is now the highest duty for all States. In this spirit the Emperor deigns me to address the Governments of the States whose representatives are accredited to the Imperial Court with a proposal that a conference be convened to discuss this important task. In 1899 and 1907, The Hague Peace Conferences were held, some decisions of which are still in force today (in particular, the Permanent Court of Arbitration was created in The Hague). For his initiative to convene the Hague Peace Conference and his contribution to its organization, Nicholas II (and the famous Russian diplomat Martens Fyodor Fyodorovich) were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. The bust of Nicholas II stands in the UN Secretariat to this day and contains his Address to the Powers of Peace on the convening of the first Hague Conference.
In 1900, Nicholas II sent Russian troops to suppress the Ihe Tuan Rebellion with troops from other European powers, Japan, and the United States.
Russia”s lease of the Lyaodong Peninsula, the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway and the establishment of a naval base at Port Arthur, and Russia”s growing influence in Manchuria clashed with the aspirations of Japan, which also had a claim on Manchuria.
On January 24 (February 6), 1904 the Japanese ambassador handed to the Russian foreign minister V. N. Lamsdorf a note which informed him of the termination of negotiations which Japan considered “useless” and of the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia; Japan recalled its diplomatic mission from Petersburg and reserved the right to resort to “independent action” as it deemed necessary in defense of its interests. On the evening of January 26 (February 8), 1904 the Japanese fleet attacked the Port Arthur squadron without a declaration of war. The Imperial Manifesto issued by Nicholas II on January 27 (February 9), 1904, declared war on Japan.
The border battle on the Yalu River was followed by battles at Liaoyang, on the Shahe River, at Sandepu and Mukden; they all ended unsuccessfully for the Russian army.
December 20, 1904 (January 2, 1905) Port Arthur was surrendered. K. N. Rydzewski, according to the diary of Alexandra Bogdanovich, described the reaction of Nicholas II to this event as follows:
“The news, which mortified all who love their fatherland, was received indifferently by the tsar, not a shadow of sadness could be seen on him. Immediately Sakharov”s stories, his anecdotes, began, and the laughter did not cease. Sakharov knew how to amuse the Tsar. Isn”t that sad and outrageous!”
Yuri Danilov”s memoirs describe a different attitude of Nicholas to such events (about the situation before the inevitable (judging by the reports) surrender of Port Arthur Yuri Danilov writes:
“In the tsarist train most were dejected by the events, conscious of their importance and gravity. But the Emperor Nicholas II was almost alone in maintaining a cold, stony calm. He was still interested in the total number of kilometres he had travelled in Russia, recollecting episodes from all kinds of hunting trips, noting the awkwardness of those who met him, etc….. I was a witness of the same icy calmness of the Tsar later; in 1915, during the difficult period when our troops were withdrawing from Galicia; next year, when the Tsar”s final break with social circles was brewing, and in the March days of abdication in Pskov in 17″.
Nicholas II himself wrote about this event in his diary:
“December 21st. Tuesday. Got the startling news from Stessel at night about the surrender of Port Arthur to the Japanese because of the enormous losses and sickness among the garrison and the total depletion of shells! It was hard and painful, even though it was foreseen, but I wanted to believe that the army would rescue the fortress. The defenders are all heroes and have done more than could have been anticipated. God”s will for that!”
After the fall of the fortress of Port Arthur, few believed in a favorable outcome of the military campaign. Patriotic enthusiasm was replaced by irritation and despondency. This situation contributed to the strengthening of anti-government agitation and critical sentiments. The emperor for a long time did not agree to admit the failure of the campaign, believing that it was only a temporary setback. He undoubtedly wanted peace, only an honorable peace, which a strong military position could provide. By the end of the spring of 1905 it had become apparent that the possibility of a change in the military situation existed only in the distant future.
The outcome of the war was decided by the Battle of Tsushima on May 14-15 (28), 1905, which culminated in the almost total destruction of the Russian fleet. On May 23 (June 5), 1905 the emperor received through the U.S. ambassador in St. Petersburg, Meyer, a proposal of President T. Roosevelt to mediate for the conclusion of peace. The reply was not long in coming. On May 30 (June 12), 1905 Minister of Foreign Affairs V. N. Lamsdorf officially informed Washington by a telegram about Roosevelt”s acceptance of mediation. The Russian delegation was headed by the Tsar”s envoy, S. Yu. Witte, and in the United States he was joined by the Russian ambassador to the United States, Baron R. R. Rosen. On August 23 (September 5), 1905 in Portsmouth the Russian representatives S.Y. Witte and R.R. Rosen signed the peace treaty. Under the terms of the latter Russia recognized Korea as a sphere of Japanese influence, ceded to Japan the South Sakhalin and the rights to the peninsula of Lyaodun with the cities of Port Arthur and the Dalny.
The American scholar of the era, T. Dennett, stated in 1925: “Few people now believe that Japan was deprived of the fruits of the victories to come. The contrary view prevails. Many believe that Japan was already exhausted by the end of May, and that only the conclusion of peace saved her from collapse or total defeat in the confrontation with Russia.” Japan spent about 2 billion yen on the war, and its national debt rose from 600 million yen to 2.4 billion yen. The Japanese government was to pay 110 million yen annually in interest alone. The four foreign loans received for the war weighed heavily on the Japanese budget. In the middle of the year Japan was forced to take out a new loan. Realizing that it was becoming impossible to continue the war for lack of funds, the Japanese government, under the guise of the “personal opinion” of Minister of War Terawti, communicated to Roosevelt, through the U.S. ambassador, as early as March 1905, its desire to end the war. It was counting on U.S. mediation, which eventually happened.
Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (the first in half a century) and the subsequent suppression of the Troubles of 1905-1907 (subsequently exacerbated by rumors of Rasputin”s influence) led to a decline in the emperor”s authority in the ruling and intelligentsia circles.
With the beginning of the Russian-Japanese War, Nicholas II made some concessions to the liberal circles: after the assassination of the rebel internal affairs minister, V. K. Pleve, he appointed P. D. Svyatopolk-Mirsky, considered a liberal, to his post; December 12 (25), 1904 he gave the highest decree to the Senate “On the guidelines for improvement of public order” which promised the expansion of the rights of zemstvos, workers” insurance, emancipation of foreigners and unorthodox people, elimination of censorship. During the discussion of the text of the Decree of December 12 (25), 1904, however, he personally told Count Witte (according to recollections of the latter): “I will never, under no circumstances agree to a representative government, because I consider it harmful to the people entrusted to me by God.
January 6 (19), 1905 (the Feast of the Epiphany), during the waterworks at the Jordan River (on the Neva), in front of the Winter Palace, in the presence of the Emperor and his family, at the beginning of the singing of the Troparion, the shot from a gun, which accidentally (according to official version) was left by the cartridge after the exercises on January 4. Most of the bullets hit the ice next to the royal pavilion and the facade of the palace, in four windows of which the glass was broken. In connection with the incident, the editor of the Synodal edition wrote that “it is impossible not to see something special” in the fact that only a policeman named “Romanov” was mortally wounded and the flagpole of “our ill-fated fleet nursery” – the flag of the marine corps – was shot.
Events of January 9, 1905 in St. Petersburg
On January 9 (22), 1905 in St. Petersburg on the initiative of the priest George Gapon a procession of workers to the Winter Palace took place. On January 6-8, priest Gapon and a group of workers drew up a Petition to the emperor about the workers” needs, which in addition to economic demands contained a number of political demands. The main demand of the petition was the removal of the power of the officials and the introduction of popular representation in the form of a Constituent Assembly. The drafting of the petition and the attempt to deliver it to the tsar resulted from the mass strikes, during which the strikers were not supported by the authorities. This caused disappointment among the workers, who for the most part were pro-monarchist, and led to an increase in radical sentiments. When the government became aware of the political content of the petition, it was decided to prevent the workers from entering the Winter Palace and, if necessary, to detain them by force. On the evening of January 6, the military headquarters under the command of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich was established, and the army began to rush into the capital (a serious concern arose from the incident with the accidental firing of buckshot at the celebrations on the occasion of the water blessing). The next day, the situation cleared up, and at a meeting of ministers it was decided not to declare martial law and not to arrest Gapon. However, on January 8th Minister of the Court, Fredericks, a close friend of the Emperor, arrived from Tsarskoye Selo and told off Minister of the Interior P. D. Svyatopolk-Mirsky, giving orders to declare martial law and arrest Gapon. After that Svyatopolk-Mirsky called a new meeting, approved the disposition of the troops, refused to communicate with Gapon, and the evening of January 8, informed the Emperor of the measures taken, persuading him, however, not to introduce martial law. Contrary to the claims of Soviet historiography, it is not known whether Nicholas II gave the order to shoot, since the personal reports of the ministers to the Tsar were not recorded. The troops did not receive any additional instructions beyond the order to prevent demonstrators from entering Palace Square. The general mood of the government apparatus was expressed by General Nikolai Meshetich, Chief of Staff of the Guard and St Petersburg Military District, who said afterwards: “As for the shooting, it is an inevitable consequence of the recall of troops. After all, they were not summoned for a parade, were they?
On 9 (22) January 1905, many thousands of columns of workers with crosses, banners, icons and portraits of the Emperor moved from different parts of the city to the Winter Palace, one of the columns was headed by Gapon himself. At the outposts the columns were met by troops. If the crowd could not be dispersed by cavalry attacks, rifle volleys followed. Part of the workers broke through to Palace Square to deliver a petition to the Tsar (who had already left for Tsarskoye Selo on the evening of January 6), and after entreaties to disperse was dispersed by volleys. On Nevsky Prospect, on the news of shootings spontaneous meetings with radical slogans began to occur, and heated crowd began to beat policemen, but by the actions of detachment led by Colonel Riman N. K. was dispersed by fire. A barricade with a red banner was built on the 4th line of Vasilevsky Island.
The official report of the director of the police department, Lopukhin, laid the blame for the incident on the workers, stating that the workers, “electrified by propaganda”, persistently marched toward the center of the city, despite warnings and even cavalry attacks, and the troops were forced to fire volleys at the columns to prevent the 150-thousand-strong crowd from gathering in the city center. The report also mentions shooting at the troops, but it turned out that both policemen, who were killed at Narva Gate, were killed by volleys of the 93rd Irkutsk Regiment of Infantry. According to the official government information 130 men were killed and 299 wounded during the day of January 9 (22), 1905. It is known that some of the killed were urgently buried in the morning of January 10 in common grave at Preobrazhensky cemetery, despite protests and attempts to prevent gravediggers. According to the calculations of the Soviet historian V. I. Nevsky, there were up to 200 killed and up to 800 wounded. Evening of 9 (22) January 1905 Nicholas II wrote in his diary: “A serious riot occurred in St. Petersburg due to the desire of the workers to reach the Winter Palace. Troops had to shoot at various places in the city, there were many killed and wounded. Lord, how painful and hard!”
The events of January 9 (22), 1905 were a turning point in Russian history and marked the beginning of the First Russian Revolution. The liberal and revolutionary opposition laid all the blame for the events on the Emperor Nicholas. The priest Gapon, who hid from police persecution, wrote a proclamation on the evening of January 9 (22), 1905, in which he called for an armed uprising by the workers and the overthrow of the dynasty. “The beast tsar, his officials-customers and robbers of the Russian people deliberately wanted to be and became murderers of our unarmed brothers, wives and children. The bullets of the tsarist soldiers, who killed the workers behind the Narva Gate, carrying the tsarist portraits, shot through those portraits and killed our faith in the tsar. So let us take revenge, brothers, on the tsar cursed by the people, on all his serpentine tsarist brats, his ministers and all the robbers of the wretched Russian land! Death to them all!” The editor of the liberal magazine “Liberation” P.B. Struve wrote in his article “Executioner of the People”: “The people were coming to him, the people were waiting for him. The Tsar met his people. With nagai, sabers and bullets he responded to words of sorrow and trust. In the streets of St. Petersburg, blood was shed and the bond between the people and this tsar was forever severed. All the same, whether he was an arrogant despot, not wanting to defer to the people, or a contemptible coward, afraid to face the element from which he drew his strength, after the events of January 9 (22), 1905 Tsar Nicholas became the open enemy and executioner of the people. In the revolutionary press the day of January 9 was called “Bloody Sunday”. Subsequently, this name was fixed in the brief course of the history of the Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) and entered the Soviet and Russian historiography.
A telling example of Nicholas II”s attitude to the tragedy was the reception of a delegation of workers specially selected by the new town governor Trepov. Nicholas told the delegates that it was “criminal for a rebellious crowd to declare their needs to me,” but then forgave their guilt.
The Rise of the Revolution. Manifesto of October 17
On February 4 (17), 1905 a terrorist bomb killed Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich in the Moscow Kremlin, who espoused extreme right-wing political views and had a certain influence on his nephew.
On April 17 (30), 1905 the decree “On strengthening the principles of religious tolerance” was given, which abolished a number of religious restrictions, in particular in respect of “dissenters” (old believers).
Strikes continued in the country; unrest began on the outskirts of the empire: in Courland the “forest brothers” began to massacre local German landlords, in the Caucasus the Armenian-Tatar massacre began. Revolutionaries and separatists received support in money and arms from England and Japan. Thus, in the summer of 1905, the British steamer John Grafton, which was carrying several thousand rifles for the Finnish separatists and revolutionary fighters, was stranded in the Baltic Sea.
There were several revolts in the navy and various cities. The largest was the December uprising in Moscow. At the same time, the individual terror of the Social Revolutionaries and anarchists was on a large scale. In just a couple of years thousands of officials, officers and police officers were killed by revolutionaries – in 1906 alone 768 were killed and 820 agents and agents of the government were wounded. The second half of 1905 was marked by numerous riots in universities and theological seminaries: because of the riots almost 50 secondary spiritual educational institutions were closed. The adoption of the temporary law on the autonomy of universities on August 27 (September 9), 1905, led to a general strike of students and stirred up the teachers of universities and the theological academies. Opposition parties took advantage of the expansion of freedoms to intensify their attacks on autocracy in the press.
6 (19) August 1905 were signed the manifesto on the establishment of the State Duma (“as a legislative body, which is given the preliminary development and discussion of legislative proposals and the review of the State Income and Expenditures” – the Bulygin Duma), the law on the State Duma and the regulations on the election to the Duma. But the revolution, gaining strength, overcame the acts of August 6: in October, the All-Russian political strike began, more than 2 million people went on strike. 17 (30) October 1905, Nicholas, after much hesitation, decided to sign the Manifesto, which ordered, among other things: “1. To grant the population an immutable basis of civil liberty on the principles of personal inviolability, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association. <…> 3. To make it an inviolable rule that no law can assume power without the approval of the State Duma and that the representatives elected by the people have an opportunity to participate in supervising the legality of the actions of the powers vested in us. April 23 (May 6), 1906 were approved by the Basic State Laws of the Russian Empire, providing for a new role of the Duma in the legislation process. From the point of view of the liberal public, the manifesto marked the end of the Russian autocracy as an unlimited power of the monarch.
Three weeks after the manifesto political prisoners, except those convicted of terrorism, were granted amnesty; the decree of November 24 (December 7), 1905 abolished prior both general and spiritual censorship for periodicals issued in the cities of the empire (April 26 (May 9), 1906 all censorship was abolished).
After the publication of the manifestos, the strikes receded; the armed forces (an extreme right-wing monarchist public organization, the Union of the Russian People, emerged and was tacitly supported by Nicholas.
Milestones of domestic and foreign policy
August 18 (31), 1907 a treaty was signed with Britain on the delimitation of spheres of influence in China, Afghanistan and Persia, which generally completed the process of forming the alliance of the three powers – the Triple Entente, known as the Entente (at that time mutual military obligations existed only between Russia and France – under an agreement of 1891 and the Military Convention of 1892. On May 27-28 (June 10), 1908, King Edward VII of Great Britain met with the Tsar in Revel harbor, and the Tsar received from the King the uniform of a British naval admiral. The meeting of the monarchs in Revel was interpreted in Berlin as a step toward the formation of an anti-German coalition – despite the fact that Nicholas was staunchly opposed to rapprochement with England against Germany.
The agreement concluded between Russia and Germany on August 6 (19), 1911 (the Potsdam Agreement) did not change the general vector of Russia and Germany”s involvement in the military-political alliances that opposed each other.
On June 17 (30), 1910, the State Council and the State Duma approved the law on the publication of laws concerning the Grand Duchy of Finland, also known as the law on the order of the Imperial legislation (see: The Russification of Finland.
Due to the unstable political situation in Persia since 1909, the Russian military contingent was reinforced in 1911.
In 1912, Mongolia, which gained independence from China as a result of the revolution there, became a de facto protectorate of Russia. After that revolution in 1912-1913 the Tuvinian noyons (Ambyn-noyon Kombu-Dorju, Chamzy Khamby-lama, noyon Daa-ho.shuna Buyan-Badyrgy and others) repeatedly appealed to the tsarist government to take Tuva under the protectorate of the Russian Empire. 4 (17) April 1914 resolution on the report of the Minister of Foreign Affairs established the Russian protectorate over the Uryankhai region: the region was included in the Yenisei province, with the transfer of political and diplomatic affairs in Tuva to the Governor-General of Irkutsk.
The outbreak of hostilities of the Balkan Union against Turkey in autumn 1912 marked the collapse of the diplomatic efforts made after the Bosnian crisis by the Minister of Foreign Affairs S.D. Sazonov towards the alliance with the Porte and simultaneously keeping the Balkan states under his control: contrary to expectations of the Russian government, the troops of the latter successfully pushed back the Turks and in November 1912 the Bulgarian army was 45 km from the Ottoman capital Constantinople (see the Battle of Chatalgi).
In connection with the Balkan War, the behavior of Austria-Hungary became more and more defiant with respect to Russia, and in this regard, in November 1912, at a meeting with the emperor was considered the question of mobilizing the troops of the three Russian military districts. This measure was advocated by Minister of War V. Sukhomlinov, but Prime Minister V. Kokovtsov managed to convince the emperor not to take such a decision, which threatened to drag Russia into the war.
After the de facto transition of the Turkish army under German command (the German General Leman von Sanders at the end of 1913 took over as chief inspector of the Turkish army), the question of the imminence of war with Germany was raised in a note by Sazonov to the Emperor on December 23, 1913 (note Sazonov was also discussed at the Council of Ministers.
In 1913, a broad celebration of 300 years of the Romanov dynasty: the imperial family traveled to Moscow, thence to Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, and then on the Volga to Kostroma, where in the Ipatiev Monastery 14 (in January 1914 took place the solemn consecration of the Cathedral of St. Petersburg, erected to mark the anniversary of the dynasty.
Nicholas II and the Duma
The first two State Dumas proved unable to conduct regular legislative work: the contradictions between the deputies, on the one hand, and the emperor, on the other, were insurmountable. Thus, immediately after the opening, in a reply to the throne speech of Nicholas II, the left-wing Dumas demanded the elimination of the State Council (the upper house of parliament) and the transfer of monastic and state land to the peasants. On May 19 (June 1), 1906, 104 deputies of the Labor Group put forward a project of land reform (Draft 104), the content of which was reduced to the confiscation of the landed estates and nationalization of all land.
The Duma of the first convocation was dissolved by the emperor by an Imperial decree to the Senate of 8 (21) July 1906 (published on Sunday July 9th), which set the time for convening a newly elected Duma for February 20th (the ensuing Imperial manifesto of July 9th explained the reasons, among which was: “The elected representatives of the population, instead of working to build their own laws, have turned to investigating the actions of the local authorities on our behalf and to pointing us to imperfections in the Fundamental Laws which can only be changed by our monarchial will; and to actions which are clearly illegal, such as an address to the population on behalf of the Duma. The Decree of July 10 of the same year suspended the sessions of the State Council.
Simultaneously with the dissolution of the Duma, instead of I. L. Goremykin, P. A. Stolypin was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Stolypin”s agrarian policy, successful suppression of the Troubles, his brilliant speeches in the Second Duma made him an idol of some right-wingers.
The second Duma turned out to be even more to the left than the first, since the Social Democrats and the Social Revolutionaries, who had boycotted the first Duma, took part in the elections. In the government the idea of dissolving the Duma and changing the electoral law matured; Stolypin did not intend to destroy the Duma, but to change its composition. The reason for the dissolution of the Duma became the actions of the Social Democrats: on May 5, in the apartment of a Duma member from the Russian Social Democratic Party Ozol, the police found a meeting of 35 Social Democrats and about 30 soldiers of the St. Petersburg garrison; in addition, the police found various propaganda materials calling for violent overthrow of the state system, various orders from soldiers of the military units and fake passports. On June 1, Stolypin and the chairman of the St. Petersburg Court Chamber demanded that the Duma suspend the entire Social Democratic faction from meetings and remove the immunity of 16 members of the RSDLP. The Duma refused the government”s demands, and the consequence of this confrontation was the Manifesto of Nicholas II for the dissolution of the 2nd Duma, published on June 3 (16), 1907, together with the Regulations on the elections to the Duma, that is, a new electoral law. The manifesto also indicated the date of the opening of the new Duma – 1 (14) November 1907. The act of June 3, 1907, in Soviet historiography was called “Tret”eunyu revolution”, because it conflicted with the manifesto of October 17, 1905, according to which no new law could be adopted without the approval of the State Duma.
According to General A. A. Mosolov, Nicholas II did not look at the members of the Duma as representatives of the people, but as “mere intellectuals,” and added that his attitude to the peasant delegations was quite different: “The Tsar met with them willingly and spoke at length, without fatigue, joyfully and amiably.”
From 1902 to 1905 the development of a new agrarian legislation at the state level was carried out by Russian statesmen and scientists: V. I. Gurko, S. Y. Witte, I. L. Goremykin, A. V. Krivoshein, P. A. Stolypin, P. P. Migulin, N. N. Kutler and A. A. Kaufman. The question of the abolition of the community was posed by life itself. In the midst of the revolution N. N. Kutler even proposed a project of alienation of part of the landed estates.
In 1913 Russia (excluding the provinces of Prislina) was in first place in the world in the production of rye, barley and oats, in third place (after Canada and the United States) in the production of wheat, in fourth place (after France, Germany and Austria-Hungary) in the production of potatoes. Russia became the main exporter of agricultural products, it accounted for 25 of all world agricultural exports. Grain yields were three times lower than those of England or Germany, potato yields were two times lower.
Transformations in the military sphere
The military reforms of 1905-1912, carried out after the defeat of Russia in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, which revealed serious shortcomings in the central government, organization, the system of manning, combat training and technical equipment of the army.
During the first period of military reforms (1905-1908) the higher military administration was decentralized (independent from the Military Ministry, the General Staff was established, the Council of State Defense was created, inspectors-general were directly subordinated to the Emperor), terms of active service were reduced (in the infantry and field artillery from 5 to 3 years, in other armed forces from 5 to 4 years, in the Navy from 7 to 5 years), officers were rejuvenated; The life of soldiers and sailors (food and clothing allowance) and the financial situation of officers and enlisted men were improved.
During the second period (1909-1912) higher administration was centralized (General Staff Office was included in the Military Ministry, the Council of State Defense was abolished, inspectors-general were subordinated to the Minister of War); at the expense of the reserve and fortress troops, which were weak in combat respect, the field forces were reinforced (the number of army corps increased from 31 to 37). The field units were provided with supplies which were assigned during mobilization for deployment of secondary units (including field artillery, engineering and railroad troops, communication units); machine-gun regiment teams and corps air detachments were created; cadet schools were converted into military academies with new programs, new manuals and instructions were introduced. In 1910 the Imperial Air Fleet was created and in the same year the Sevastopol Officer Pilot School (future Kacha) was opened in the Crimea.
World War I
July 19 (August 1), 1914 Germany declared war on Russia: Russia entered World War I, which for her ended with the collapse of the empire and the dynasty.
Nicholas II made efforts to prevent the war during all the pre-war years and in the last days before it began, when (July 15 (28), 1914) Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and began bombing Belgrade. On July 16 (29), 1914, Nicholas II sent a telegram to Wilhelm II proposing to “refer the Austro-Serbian question to the Hague Conference” (to the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague). Wilhelm II did not respond to this telegram.
The opposition parties in both the Entente countries and in Russia (including the Social Democrats) at the beginning of the war considered Germany as the aggressor. V. I. Lenin wrote in the fall of 1914 that it was Germany who unleashed the war, at a convenient time for her.
On July 20 (August 2), 1914 the Emperor gave and by the evening of the same day published the Manifesto for war, as well as the Imperial Decree, in which he, “not recognizing the possibility, for reasons of national character, to head our land and sea forces assigned for military operations”, ordered Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich to be Supreme Commander in Chief (Chief of Staff under him was General Yanushkevich).
The decrees of July 24 (August 6), 1914, interrupted the sessions of the State Council and the Duma from July 26. July 26 (August 8), 1914 issued a manifesto on the war with Austria. On the same day the highest reception was given to the members of the State Council and the Duma: the emperor arrived at the Winter Palace on a yacht with Nikolai Nikolaevich and, entering the Nicholas Hall, addressed the audience with the following words:
“Germany and then Austria declared war on Russia. The tremendous upsurge of patriotic feelings of love for the fatherland and devotion to the throne, which like a hurricane has swept across our land, serves as a guarantee in my eyes and, I think, in yours, that our great mother Russia will bring the war sent down by God to its desired end. <…> I am sure that all of you, each of you in his place, will help me to endure the trial sent down to me, and that everyone, starting with me, will do their duty to the end. Great is the God of the Russian Land!”
Chamberlain M. V. Rodzianko, chairman of the Duma, concluded his reply speech by saying:
“Without distinction of opinion, views, or convictions, the State Duma, on behalf of the Russian Land, calmly and firmly says to its tsar: “Go ahead, sovereign, the Russian people are with you, and, trusting firmly in the mercy of God, will not stop at any sacrifice until the enemy is broken and the dignity of the motherland is safeguarded.”
On August 5 (18), the Battle of Galicia began, a huge battle on the scale of forces engaged between the Russian troops of the Southwestern Front under General Ivanov and four Austro-Hungarian armies under Archduke Friedrich. The Russian army in the course of the offensive seized a huge, strategically important territory, eastern Galicia and part of Bukovina. By September 13 (26), the front stabilized at a distance of 120-150 km west of Lviv. Strong Austrian fortress of Peremyshl was besieged in the rear of the Russian army. The capture of Galicia was perceived in Russia as the return of the alienated part of historical Russia.
At the same time the Russian army suffered a severe defeat in East Prussia. General Samsonov”s 2nd Army lost two of its six corps – they were surrounded and taken prisoner. The commander of the front, General Zhilinsky, was removed from his post. The actions of General Rennenkampf, commander of the 1st Army, were considered unsuccessful, which was the first episode of characteristic distrust of military commanders with German surnames.
By the Manifesto of October 20 (November 2), 1914, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire:
“In the hitherto unsuccessful struggle with Russia, seeking by all means to multiply their forces, Germany and Austria-Hungary resorted to the aid of the Ottoman government and involved in the war with us Turkey, which they had blinded. The Turkish fleet, led by the Germans, dared to make a treacherous attack on our Black Sea coast. Immediately after this we commanded the Russian ambassador in Tsaregrad, with all the ranks of ambassadors and consuls, to leave Turkey. <…> Together with all Russian people we steadfastly believe that reckless Turkish intervention in the hostilities will only accelerate the fatal course of events for her and open the way for Russia to solve the historical problems bequeathed to her ancestors on the shores of the Black Sea “.
The government press organ reported that “the day of the Emperor”s accession to the throne took on the nature of a popular holiday in Tiflis in connection with the war with Turkey” and on the same day the governor received a deputation of 100 eminent Armenians headed by a bishop: the deputation “asked the count to cast at the feet of the monarch of Great Russia <…> feelings of boundless devotion and ardent love of the faithful Armenian people”; then a deputation of Sunni and Shiite Muslims was presented.
During the period of Nikolai Nikolaevich”s command, the Tsar traveled several times to the Stavka for meetings with the command (in November 1914 he also traveled to southern Russia and the Caucasus Front.
German command changed its strategy for 1915, deciding to shift the main blow from the Western Front to the Eastern Front, to inflict a military defeat on Russia and force it to a secessionist peace. German Army command intended to strike successive powerful flank attacks from East Prussia and Galicia to break through the defense of the Russian army, to surround and destroy its main forces in the outpost of Warsaw. As a result, the situation on the fronts deteriorated sharply (see The Great Retreat of 1915).
By the end of March Russian troops lost most of Bukovina with Chernivtsi. On March 22 the besieged Austrian fortress of Peremyshl fell, more than 120 thousand people surrendered, but the capture of Peremyshl became the last major success of the Russian army in 1915. Already at the beginning of June Peremyshl was surrendered. At the end of June Lviv was abandoned. All military acquisitions were lost, the loss of the Russian Empire”s own territory began. Society began to talk about the inability of the government to cope with the situation.
Both on the part of public organizations, the State Duma, and other factions, even many grand dukes began to talk about creating a “Ministry of Public Trust.
At the beginning of 1915 the troops at the front began to experience a great need for weapons and ammunition. It became clear the need for a complete restructuring of the economy in accordance with the requirements of war. 17 (30) August 1915 Nicholas II approved the documents on the establishment of four Special Meetings: on defense, fuel, food and transportation. These meetings, consisting of representatives of the government, private industrialists, members of the State Duma and the State Council and headed by the respective ministers, were to unite the efforts of the government, private industry and the public to mobilize industry for the war effort. The most important of these was the Special Conference on Defense.
Along with the creation of special meetings, in 1915 the Military-Industrial Committees – public organizations of the bourgeoisie, which were semi-oppositional in nature – began to arise.
Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolay Nikolayevich”s overestimation of his abilities led to a number of major military mistakes, and attempts to deflect accusations led to an increase in Germanophobia and spy mania. One of the most significant episodes was the execution of Lieutenant Colonel Myasoedov, a case that Nikolai Nikolaevich did not interfere with. This case led to an increase in public suspicion and played its role, among others, in the German pogrom in Moscow in May 1915. Military historian Anton Kersnovsky states that by the summer of 1915, “a military disaster loomed over Russia”, and it was this threat which was the main reason for the imperial decision to remove the Grand Duke from his post of Commander-in-Chief.
Nicholas II, who arrived at the Stavka on May 5 (18), 1915, postponed his departure home:
Could I have left here under such dire circumstances. It would have been understood that I avoided staying with the army in serious moments. Poor N., telling me all this, cried in my office and even asked me if I thought of replacing him with a more capable person. He was not at all agitated; I felt that he was saying exactly what he thought. He kept taking it upon himself to thank me for staying here, because my presence reassured him personally.
Failures at the front continued: Warsaw was surrendered on July 22, then Kovno, the fortifications of Brest were blown up, the Germans were approaching the Western Dvina, and the evacuation of Riga was begun. Under such circumstances, Nicholas II decided to remove the unsuccessful Grand Duke and himself to stand at the head of the army. According to Kersnovsky, such a decision of the emperor was the only way out:
It was the only way out of this critical situation. Every hour of delay threatened death. The Supreme Commander and his staff could no longer cope with the situation – they had to be replaced immediately. And for the lack of a military commander in Russia, only the Tsar could replace the Supreme.
August 23 (September 5), 1915 Nicholas II assumed the title of Supreme Commander in Chief, replacing Nikolai Nikolaevich, who was appointed commander of the Caucasus Front. General Alexeyev was appointed Chief of Staff of the General Staff. Nicholas”s decision has caused mixed reactions, given that all the ministers were against this step, and only Alexandra Fedorovna unconditionally supported it. Minister Alexander Krivoshein said:
Russia has been through worse times, but there has never been a time when everything possible has been done to complicate an already impossible situation… We are sitting on a powder keg. It takes a single spark for everything to blow up… The Emperor”s assumption of command of the army is not a spark, but a whole candle thrown into the cannon arsenal.
Nicholas II”s decision to assume the title of Supreme Commander-in-Chief against the background of constant military defeats was a suicidal step for the autocracy. Isolated in his train at the Stavka, Nicholas II from the autumn of 1915 did not really take a direct part in the government of the country, but the role of his unpopular wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, increased sharply.
The soldiers of the Russian army met Nikolai”s decision to assume the post of Supreme Commander-in-Chief without enthusiasm. The generals and officers, according to General Denikin, understood that the personal role of the Tsar would be purely external, worried mainly about the personality of the Chief of Staff of the Supreme and were reassured when they learned of the appointment of Alexeyev. At the same time the German command was satisfied with the departure of Prince Nikolai Nikolaevich from the post of Supreme Commander in Chief – they considered him a tough and skilled opponent. A number of his strategic ideas were assessed by Erich Ludendorff as highly daring and brilliant.
Four days after Nicholas took office as Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Święcian breakthrough began, and the next day, August 28 (September 10), 1915, the Russian defenses were breached. The tsar tried to participate in directing the operations: “The Tsar believes that it is necessary to lay siege to the front of the 5th and 2nd Corps, at least to the line of Soly, Oshmyany,” Alekseev relayed. The commander of the Western Front Alexey Evert replied: “I would consider it undesirable to withdraw the right flank of the 10th Army to the line Soly and Oshmyany with leaving all the front”s armies on the occupied line. We must not retreat to the right flank but, if possible, put it forward. Alexeyev replied: “Tomorrow I will report your telegram to the Czar; I believe he will agree with your considerations. After this exchange of messages, Evert”s plan was adopted. As a result Russian troops were forced to leave Vilna and retreat along the entire line of the Western Front, however, thanks to the timely decisions of the command, the 10th Army managed to avoid encirclement, and the advanced German units, which had broken through at the junction of the two fronts, were counterattacked and pushed back. Subsequent attempts of the Stavka to organize an offensive in the area ended in failure. By winter both sides, exhausted to the extreme, switched to positional warfare, and the general front line remained little moved until 1917, with rare exceptions (see, for example, the Brusilov breakthrough). The fall draft of 1916 put 13 million men under arms, and war casualties exceeded 2 million.
The rise of revolutionary sentiments
The war, in the course of which widespread mobilization of able-bodied male population, horses, and mass requisitioning of livestock and agricultural products took place, had a detrimental effect on the economy, especially in rural areas. Among the politicized society of Petrograd the power was discredited by scandals (in particular, connected with the influence of Grigory Rasputin and his protégés – “shady forces”) and suspicions of treason; the declarative commitment of Nicholas to the idea of “autocracy” came into sharp conflict with the liberal and leftist aspirations of much of the Duma and society.
General A. I. Denikin testified about the mood in the army after the revolution:
“As for the attitude toward the throne, as a general phenomenon, in the officer corps there was a desire to separate the person of the sovereign from the court filth that surrounded him, from the political errors and crimes of the tsarist government, which clearly and steadily led to the destruction of the country and to the defeat of the army. The Tsar was forgiven and tried to justify him… By 1917 this attitude also shook a certain part of the officers, causing a phenomenon that Prince Volkonsky called the “revolution on the right”, but now on a purely political basis.
Contemporary Russian historian A. B. Zubov notes:
“The forces in opposition to Nicholas II had been preparing a coup d”état since 1915. These included the leaders of the various political parties represented in the Duma, the major military officers, the top of the bourgeoisie, and even some members of the Imperial family. It was assumed that after the abdication of Nicholas II, his minor son Alexei would ascend the throne, and that the younger brother of the Tsar, Mikhail, would become regent. During the February Revolution this plan began to be realized.
January 19 (February 1), 1917 in Petrograd opened a meeting of senior representatives of the Allied powers, which went down in history as the Petrograd Conference: from Russia”s allies there were delegates from Britain, France and Italy, who also visited Moscow and the front, had meetings with politicians of different political orientations, with the leaders of the Duma factions, the latter unanimously told the head of the British delegation of the imminent revolution – either from below or above (in the form of a palace coup).
By the beginning of the February Revolution the then Acting Duma of the fourth convocation had actually become the main center of opposition to the tsarist government. The moderate liberal majority of the Duma in 1915 united into the Progressive Bloc, openly opposing the tsar; the kernel of the parliamentary coalition was the party of Kadets (leader P. N. Milyukov) and Octobrists. The main demand of the Duma was the introduction in Russia of the responsible ministry, that is, a government appointed by the Duma and responsible to the Duma. In practice, it meant the transformation of the state system from an autocratic to the constitutional monarchy, modeled on Great Britain.
Throughout 1916 the collapse of power continued. The State Duma, the only elected body, met for only a few weeks a year, ministers were replaced incessantly, while others, not inferior and unpopular, were replaced by others. During 1916, Nicholas II replaced four chairmen of the Council of Ministers (Ivan Goremykin, Boris Sturmer, Alexander Trepov and Prince Nikolai Golitsyn), four Ministers of Interior (Alexei Khvostov, Sturmer, Alexander Khvostov and Alexander Protopopov), three Foreign Ministers (Sergei Sazonov, Sturmer and Nikolai Pokrovsky), two Military Ministers (Alexei Polivanov, Dmitry Shuvaev) and three Ministers of Justice (Alexander Khvostov, Alexander Makarov and Nikolai Dobrovolsky).
The February Revolution of 1917 began as a spontaneous outburst of the masses, but its success also contributed to the acute political crisis at the top, the sharp dissatisfaction of the liberal-bourgeois circles with the individual policy of the tsar. Bread riots, anti-war rallies, demonstrations and strikes at industrial plants in the city were superimposed on the discontent and ferment among the many thousands of the capital”s garrison, who joined the revolutionary masses who took to the streets. On February 27 (the troops who had come over to the side of the rebels occupied the most important points of the city and government buildings. In this situation the tsarist government showed its inability to act quickly and decisively. The scattered and small number of forces that remained loyal to him were not able to cope on their own with the anarchy that engulfed the capital, and several units withdrawn from the front to suppress the uprising, could not make their way to the city.
Nicholas II himself was at that time in Mogilev at the Supreme Commander in Chief, where he went on February 22 (March 7), 1917, having received before departure assurances from the Minister of Interior A. D. Protopopov that the situation in the capital was completely under his control. He learned of the beginning of the revolution in the evening of February 25 (March 10), 1917.
On the evening of February 26 (March 11), 1917, after the mass shootings of demonstrators in Petrograd, the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Prince Nikolai D. Golitsyn decided to announce a break in the work of the State Duma and the State Council until April, reporting to Nicholas II. Deputies (with the exception of the right-wing parties), however, having formally obeyed the decree on dissolution, decided to assemble on February 27 (March 12), 1917, under the guise of a “private meeting”. Was formed a body of power – the Provisional Committee of the State Duma (“Committee of the State Duma for the establishment of order in the capital and in order to communicate with persons and institutions”), whose chairman was Octobrist Michael Rodzianko. Almost simultaneously, a second center of power was formed – the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers” Deputies, which was headed by the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.
February 27 (March 12), 1917 in Stavka came a telegram from the Minister of War Belyaev, who announced about almost total transition of the Petrograd garrison to the side of the revolution and demanded to send troops loyal to the tsar. Revolt of the capital”s garrison greatly complicated the position of the tsar, but at the disposal of Nicholas II as commander in chief there was still a multimillion-dollar army at the front. General Alexeev, having reported to Nicholas II on developments in Petrograd, offered to restore calm in the capital to send a combined detachment headed by a commander with extraordinary powers. Nicholas II ordered Adjutant General Ivanov to take the royal family under his protection and restore order in Petrograd.
Meanwhile, in Petrograd the government had effectively ceased to exist. The Provisional Committee of the State Duma arbitrarily announced that it was taking power into its own hands because the government of Prince Golitsyn had ceased its activities.
In the morning on February 28 (March 13) 1917 imperial trains have left Mogilyov which should overcome about 950 versts on a route Mogilyov – Orsha – Vyazma – Lihoslavl – Tosno – Gatchina – Tsarskoye Selo. By the morning of March 1 the litter trains had only managed to get through Bologoye to Malaya Vishera, where they were forced to turn around and go back to Bologoye, from where they did not arrive until the evening of March 1 to Pskov, where the Northern Front headquarters was located. During this time, the unrest in Petrograd actually ended with the victory of the rebels, who suppressed both centers of former power – the Council of Ministers and the headquarters of the Petrograd Military District. On the night of February 28 (March 13), 1917 was seized Mariinsky Palace, which had previously been the seat of government, and by noon the remnants of the troops who remained loyal to the government, were disbanded from the Admiralty building to the barracks.
In this situation the mood of the tsarist generals and their readiness to organize the suppression of the revolution came first. The key figures were the commanders of the fronts and fleets and, in the first place, the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, General Alexeyev. It was Alekseev who abandoned his intention to gain control of the Ministry of Railways, and after that, by a circular telegram stopped all the combat-ready units bound for Petrograd, telling them that the unrest in Petrograd had subsided, and the need for suppression of revolt had disappeared. General Ivanov received Alexeyev”s order already at Tsarskoye Selo.
In the evening of March 1 (14), 1917 the royal train arrived in Pskov, where the headquarters of the armies of the Northern Front, commanded by General Ruzsky, was located. General Ruzsky, according to his political convictions, considered the autocratic monarchy an anachronism and disliked Nicholas II personally.
By this time there were reports of further deterioration of the situation – the beginning of the unrest in Moscow and Kronstadt, the murder of the military governor of Kronstadt, Vice-Admiral R. N. Viren. General Alekseev, who in the absence of the Tsar at the Stavka was charged with the duties of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, sent Nicholas II a telegram, warning him of the danger that the unrest could spread to the army, which could lead to “an ignominious end to the war with all the grave consequences for Russia. The general urged the tsar to immediately “take measures to calm the population and restore normal life in the country”, warning that “suppression of the riots by force, under present conditions, is dangerous and will lead Russia and the army to ruin”:
“While the State Duma is endeavoring to impose the best possible order, if Your Imperial Majesty does not issue an act of general pacification, tomorrow power will pass into the hands of the extreme elements, and Russia will suffer all the horrors of the revolution. I beseech Your Majesty, for the salvation of Russia and of the dynasty, to place at the head of the government a person whom Russia would trust and instruct him to form a cabinet. At present this is the only salvation. Delay is not possible and it must be accomplished without delay. Those who have reported to Your Majesty to the contrary are unconsciously and criminally leading Russia to ruin and disgrace and are endangering the dynasty of Your Imperial Majesty.
After receiving this telegram, Nicholas II received General Ruzsky, who also began to persuade him of the need to establish a government responsible to the Duma. The negotiations dragged on until late at night. The turning point was undoubtedly the receipt at 22:20 of the draft of the manifesto on the establishment of responsible government, which had been prepared at Stavka and sent to Pskov, signed by General Alexeev. At 1 a.m. on March 2 (15), 1917 Nicholas II gave General Ivanov instructions not to take any action and instructed Ruzsky to tell Alexeyev and Rodzianko that he agreed to form a responsible government. At the same time, General Ruzsky ordered to stop the advance of his troops to Petrograd and return them to the front, and telegraphed to the Stavka about the withdrawal of troops sent from the Western Front. Armed suppression of the rebellion in the capital did not take place.
Later, Nicholas II in communication with his relatives complained of the rudeness and pressure on the part of General Ruzsky, who forced him to change his moral and religious convictions and agree to concessions he did not intend to make. For Nicholas II and his wife, simply abdicating seemed morally far more acceptable than voluntarily giving up the responsibility for Russia and establishing a “government responsible to the Duma.
Contacting Rodzianko in the early morning hours of March 2 (15), 1917, Ruzsky said that as a result of lengthy negotiations, Nicholas II finally agreed to entrust him with forming a government responsible “to the legislative chambers,” and offered to give him the text of the relevant royal manifesto. Rodzianko, however, stated that the situation in the capital had changed so radically that the demand for a responsible ministry had outlived its usefulness, and the “demand for abdication in favor of his son, under the regency of Mikhail Alexandrovich” was on the agenda.
General Alekseev, having received a telegram from the Stavka with a summary of this conversation, on his own initiative sent its summary to all the front commanders in chief, except for the Northern Front, asking them to urgently prepare and send to the Stavka their opinion:
The situation does not seem to permit any other solution… It is necessary to save the active army from disintegration, to continue to the end the fight against the external enemy, to save the independence of Russia and the fate of the dynasty. This must be put in the foreground, if only at the cost of costly concessions. I repeat that the loss of every minute may be fatal for the existence of Russia and that it is necessary to establish unity of thought among the highest ranks of the army in action and to save the army from hesitation and possible cases of treason to duty. The army should fight with all its might against the external enemy, and the decisions about the internal affairs should save it from the temptation to take part in the coup, which would be painlessly carried out by the decision from above. If you share this view, would you kindly telegraph your loyal request to His Majesty through Glavkosev. It is necessary to establish unity of thought and purpose among the highest commanders of the army in action and to save the army from hesitation and possible cases of treason to duty. March 2, 1917.
Fleet commanders were not questioned by Alexeyev, although both Nepenin and Kolchak, as well as the front commanders, reported directly to the Commander-in-Chief: according to historian PN Zyryanov, in this reflected the contemptuous attitude of the Russian generals to the fleet. In the evening of March 2 the commander of the Black Sea Fleet A.V. Kolchak received from Alekseev a telegram, which contained the texts of telegrams from the front commanders to Nicholas II with a request to abdicate. The informative telegram did not require a response, but the Baltic and Black Sea Fleet commanders in the same situation behaved quite differently: Nepenin sent the Sovereign a telegram on March 2, in which he joined the requests to abdicate the throne, while Kolchak decided not to respond to the telegram.
On March 2 at 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. replies began to be received from the commanders of the fronts. Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolay Nikolayevich declared that “as a loyal subject, I consider it my duty and the spirit of the oath to kneel to beg the sovereign to abdicate the crown in order to save Russia and the dynasty;” Generals Evert (Western Front), Brusilov (Southwestern Front), Sakharov (Romanian Front) and Admiral Nepenin, commander of the Baltic Navy (on his own initiative, in the evening of March 2) also supported abdication.
After some thought, Nicholas II announced his abdication in favor of the heir prince, with the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich appointed regent. For the royal retinue who followed the emperor in the train, the abdication came as a great surprise. Nicholas showed Commandant V. N. Voyekov a stack of telegrams from the commanders of the fronts and said: “What have I got left to do – everyone has betrayed me, even Nicholas” (Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich).
In the afternoon Ruzsky was told that representatives of the State Duma, A. I. Guchkov and V. V. Shulgin, were leaving for Pskov. V. Shulgin. They arrived late in the evening, and this gave the members of the entourage an opportunity to discuss the situation with Nicholas. When Nicholas learned that after his renunciation in favor of his son, the heir would probably have to live in the family of the regent, he came to a new decision – to renounce at once and for his son to leave him with him. He announced this decision during his negotiations with the Duma envoys.
Guchkov said that they should respect the paternal feelings of the Tsar and accept his decision. The representatives of the Duma proposed a draft of the act of abdication, which they had brought with them. The Emperor, however, said that he had his own revision, and showed the text which had been drawn up at the Stavka on his instructions. He had already made changes in it concerning the successor; the phrase about the oath of the new emperor was immediately agreed upon and also entered in the text.
On March 2 (15), 1917 at 11:40 p.m. Nikolai handed to Guchkov and Shulgin the Manifesto of renunciation which particularly read: “We command our brother to conduct the affairs of state in full and inviolable union with the representatives of the people in the legislative institutions on those principles which he will establish, and take an unbreakable oath to that effect.
In addition to the Act of abdication, Nicholas II signed several other documents: a decree to the Governing Senate dismissing the former Council of Ministers and appointing Prince G. E. Lvov chairman of the Council of Ministers, and an order for the Army and Navy appointing Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich Commander-in-Chief. It was officially stated that the abdication took place at 3.05 p. m., which was the precise moment when it was actually carried out in order to avoid giving the impression that it was done under pressure from members of the Duma; the time of the decrees of appointment was fixed as 2 p. m., so that they had legal force as having been made by the lawful emperor before the abdication and so as to respect the principle of the continuity of power.
At 6 a.m. on March 3 (16), 1917, the Provisional Committee of the State Duma contacted Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, informing him of the abdication of the former emperor in his favor.
During a meeting on the morning of March 3 (16), 1917, with Grand Duke Mikhail Rodzianko stated that if he accepted the throne a new uprising would immediately break out and that the question of monarchy should be referred to the Constituent Assembly. He was supported by Alexander Kerensky. After hearing the representatives of the Duma, the Grand Duke demanded a private conversation with Rodzianko and asked if the Duma could guarantee his personal safety. Hearing that it could not, Grand Duke Mikhail signed the manifesto renouncing the throne.
According to the memoirs of General A. I. Denikin, Alexeev told him confidentially that on arriving at the Stavka, the Emperor told him that he had changed his mind and asked to inform the Provisional Government that he now wanted to abdicate in favor of his son. Nicholas II has allegedly given Alexeev the corresponding telegram to the Provisional Government. The telegram, however, was never sent by Alexeev. Alexeev, not complying with the Emperor”s request and deliberately concealing it, explained this later by the fact that it was too late to change something, since two manifestos on the abdication of Nicholas II and Mikhail Alexandrovich had already been published (historian V. M. Khrustalev called these explanations “unconvincing”, since the documents of both abdications – Nicholas and Mikhail – were published only the next day, March 4). According to Denikin, this document was kept by Alexeyev until the end of May 1918, when he, handing over the supreme command of the Volunteer Army, gave Denikin the mentioned telegram as well. S. Melgunov, however, questioned Denikin”s version about some new telegram. He pointed out that the telegram announcing the abdication in favor of his son was composed by Nicholas II immediately after noon on March 2 in Pskov, but was not sent, and later was actually discovered by the Soviet historians in the archives of the Stavka. By the time the Duma deputies Guchkov and Shulgin arrived in Pskov the same evening, Nicholas II had already changed his mind and announced his abdication in favor of his brother. Melgunov believes, therefore, that the telegram, about which Alexeev told Denikin, was exactly the one that the Emperor made on March 2.
On March 8 (21), 1917 the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, when it became known of the tsar”s plans to leave for England, decided to arrest the tsar and his family, confiscate property and deprive them of civil rights. The new commander of the Petrograd District, General L. G. Kornilov, arrived at Tsarskoye Selo, arrested the Empress and deployed guards, including to protect the Tsar from the rebellious Tsarskoye Selo garrison.
On March 8 (21), 1917 before his departure, Nicholas II tried for the last time to address the troops, this appeal is better known as “The Last Order”. General Alekseev transmitted this order to Petrograd with some corrections (see below), but the Provisional Government, under pressure from the Petrosoviet, refused to publish it.
“For the last time I address you, my beloved troops. After my abdication for myself and for my son from the throne of Russia, power has been handed over to the Provisional Government, which emerged at the behest of the State Duma. May God help him to lead Russia along the path of glory and prosperity. May God help you, too, valiant troops, to defend Russia from the evil enemy. For the duration of two and a half years, you have rendered hourly combat service, much blood has been shed, much effort has been made, and the hour is near, when Russia, united with her valiant allies in one common desire for victory, will crush the last effort of the enemy. This unprecedented war must be brought to complete victory.
In the State Archive of the Russian Federation there is a slightly different document: a letter from the quartermaster-general of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Lukomski to the general on duty under the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, with an appeal, written by Nicholas II to the troops:
Quartermaster-General to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, March 10, 1917. № 2129. Stavka.
Before Nikolai left Mogilev, the representative of the Duma at the Stavka told him that he “must consider himself as if arrested.
On March 8 (21), 1917 Nicholas wrote in his diary:
“Last day in Mogilev. At 10 a.m. I signed the farewell order for the armies. At 10½ o”clock I went to the duty house, where I said goodbye to all the ranks of headquarters and departments. I said goodbye to the officers and Cossacks of the escort and Composite Regiment at home – my heart nearly burst! At 12 o”clock I came to Mamma”a in the wagon and had breakfast with her and her entourage, and stayed with her until 4½ o”clock. I said goodbye to her, Sandro, Sergei, Boris and Alec. Poor Nilov was not allowed to go with me. I left Mogilev at 4.45, and was seen off by a touching crowd. 4 members of the Duma accompanied me on my train! Went to Orsha and Vitebsk. Weather frosty and windy. It is hard, painful and dreary.”
On March 9 (22), 1917 at 11:30 the Tsar arrived at Tsarskoye Selo.
From March 9 (22), 1917 to August 1 (14), 1917 Nicholas II, his wife and children lived under arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.
At the end of March, Provisional Government Minister P. N. Milyukov attempted to send Nicholas and his family to the care of George V. N. Milyukov tried to send Nicholas and his family to England in the care of George V, to which the British side had given its prior consent, but in April, because of the unstable domestic political situation in England itself, the king preferred to abandon this plan – according to some accounts, against the advice of Prime Minister Lloyd George. Nevertheless, in 2006, some documents surfaced indicating that up to May 1918, the MI1 unit of the British Military Intelligence Agency was preparing an operation to rescue the Romanovs which was never brought to fruition.
In view of the intensification of the revolutionary movement and anarchy in Petrograd, the Provisional Government, fearing for the lives of the prisoners, decided to transfer them deep into Russia, to Siberia, to Tobolsk. They were allowed to take the necessary furniture and personal belongings from the palace, and to offer the attendants to accompany them voluntarily to the place of their new accommodation and further service. On the eve of departure the head of the Provisional Government A. F. Kerensky has arrived and has brought the brother of the former emperor – Michael Aleksandrovich (Michael Aleksandrovich has been exiled to Perm where on June, 13th, 1918 has been killed by the local Bolshevik authorities).
1 (14) August 1917 at 6:10 a. m. the train with the members of the imperial family and the servants, under the label “Japanese Red Cross Mission” set out from Tsarskoye Selo (from the Aleksandrovskaya railway station). 4 (17) August 1917 the train arrived in Tyumen, then arrested on the steamers “Rus”, “Kormilets” and “Tyumen” by the river transported to the evening of 6 (19) August 1917 in Tobolsk. Nicholas and his family lived for several days on the steamboat “Rus”, waiting for the repair of the “house of freedom” (the former home of the governor-general). On August 11 (24), 1917, they moved into the house. By the end of August, part of the square in front of the house was fenced off with a wooden fence for the family to walk around. Part of the guards and escorts were lodged opposite, in the house of the merchants Kornilovs. The family was allowed to walk across the street and the boulevard to the service at the Church of the Annunciation. The security regime here was much easier than in Tsarskoye Selo. The family led a quiet, measured life.
In early April 1918, the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) authorized the transfer of the Romanovs to Moscow for the purpose of their trial. At the end of April 1918 the prisoners were transferred to Yekaterinburg, where a private house was requisitioned to house the Romanovs. Here with them lived five service personnel: doctor Botkin, footman Trupp, room maid Demidova, cook Kharitonov and cook Sednev.
On the night of July 16 to 17, 1918, Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, their children, Dr. Botkin and three servants (except the cook Sednev) were murdered in the Ipatyev mansion in Ekaterinburg.
Former member of the Holy Synod in the pre-revolutionary years, Protopresbyter Georgy Shavelsky (who communicated closely with the emperor at Stavka during the World War), while in exile, testified to the “humble, simple, and immediate” religiosity of the Tsar, to his rigorous attendance at Sunday and holiday church services, to his “generous outpouring of many favors for the Church. The opposition politician of the early 20th century, Viktor Obninsky, also wrote about his “sincere piety, manifested in all divine services. General Mosolov noted: “The Tsar thoughtfully treated his dignity as God”s anointed. One should have seen with what attention he considered the requests for pardon of those condemned to the death penalty. <…> He took from his father, whom he venerated and tried to imitate even in the minutest details of life, an immutable faith in the destiny of his power. His calling came from God. He was responsible for his actions only before his conscience and the Almighty. <…> The king answered before his conscience and was guided by intuition, by instinct, by that incomprehensible thing, which today is called the subconscious <…>. He bowed only before the spontaneous, irrational, and sometimes even contrary to reason, before the weightless, before his own, ever increasing mysticism.
Vladimir Gurko, a former comrade of the Minister of the Interior, emphasized in his 1927 essay in exile:
Nicholas II”s notion of the limits of power of the Russian autocrat was at all times a perverse one. <…> Seeing himself above all as God”s anointed, he regarded every decision he made as legitimate and essentially correct. “This is my will,” was a phrase that repeatedly flew from his lips and should, in his mind, put an end to any objection to the assumption he had made. Regis voluntas suprema lex esto-that was the formula with which he was permeated. It was not a conviction, it was a religion. <…> Ignoring the law, not recognizing either existing rules or entrenched customs was one of the hallmarks of the last Russian autocrat.
According to Gurko, this perception of the nature and nature of his power also conditioned the degree of the Emperor”s goodwill towards his closest collaborators: “He disagreed with the ministers not on the basis of disagreements in understanding the order of management of this or that branch of the state system, but only because the head of any department showed excessive goodwill towards society, and especially if he did not want and could not recognize the royal power in all cases as infinite. <…> In most cases the disagreement between the Tsar and his ministers was reduced to the fact that the ministers upheld the rule of law and the Tsar insisted on his omnipotence. As a result, only such ministers as N.A. Maklakov or Sturmer, who were willing to violate any laws in order to keep their ministerial portfolios, retained the sovereign”s favor”.
The American scholar R. Wortman gives the following analysis of Nicholas II”s views on his power:
The first public demonstration of patriarchal rituals after Nicholas II”s coronation was undertaken by him in 1900, when the Tsar was preparing for Easter, the most important holiday of the Orthodox calendar. In March 1900 the imperial family arrived in Moscow for Easter celebrations, the first “highest” visit to the city in 50 years during Easter. The celebration was widely covered in the press. In addition to newspaper articles, the government published a special report which was sent out free of charge to the 110,000 subscribers of the Rural Herald, an organ of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The parallels with the 17th century were deliberately emphasized.
The beginning of the 20th century in the life of the Russian Church, of which he was the secular head under the laws of the Russian Empire, was marked by a movement for reforms in church government; a significant part of the bishops and some laity advocated the convening of an All-Russian Local Council and the possible restoration of patriarchy in Russia. In Church and circum-Church circles since the 1910s there is a legend that in March-May 1905, at one of the meetings with the Synodals, Nicholas II proposed they restore the Patriarchate and simultaneously consider his candidacy for Patriarch, for which he was ready to abdicate the throne (in favor of Prince Alexis, with the regency of his brother Michael) and go into monkhood. The suggestion was so unexpected for the hierarchs, that they remained silent – in effect, refusing the tsar. This information was questioned both before 1917 and in recent years. In the report of Sergey Firsov, this story was called “the Orthodox apocrypha,” but even today there are supporters of the truth of this version of events. In 1905, there were attempts to restore the autocephaly of the Georgian Church (but he believed it to be untimely and in January 1906 established the Presidium, and with the highest command of February 28 (March 12) 1912, “a permanent presobornoye sobornoye sobornoye sobor [council] at the Holy Synod, until the convening of a council”.
At the beginning of the 20th century the policy of eliminating the independence of the Armenian Apostolic Church acquired an open character. On June 12, 1903 the tsarist government passed a discriminatory law which encroached on most of the property of the Armenian Church, including all donations, which in the form of capital and real estate were made to the Church institutions “nationalized” by the government. On May 4, 1904 Plevé sent a secret circular to the leadership of the provinces and regions in the Caucasus, which gave specific instructions regarding the Armenian churches.
On March 1 (14), 1916, he commanded that “in the future the reports of the chief procurator to His Imperial Majesty on matters concerning the internal order of church life and the substance of church administration should be made in the presence of the senior member of the Holy Synod, for the purpose of giving them full canonical coverage,” which was greeted in the conservative press as “a great act of royal trust.
During his reign there was an unprecedented (for the synodal period) number of canonizations of new saints, with the most famous of them, Seraphim of Sarov (Theodosius of Chernigov was also glorified (1896), These were also glorified as Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), Isidor of Yuryev (1898), Anna of Kashinsk (1909), Euphrosin of Polotsk (1910), Euphrosine of Sinozersk (1911), Iosaf of Belgorod (1911), Patriarch Hermogenes (1913), Pitirim of Tambov (1914), and John of Tobolsk (1916).
The Emperor met and had lengthy conversations with wanderers who had a reputation as “national saints. In Nicholas II”s diary of January 14, 1906 there is a record: “At 4 o”clock the man of God Dmitry from Kozelsk near Optina hermitage came to us. He brought an image painted according to a vision he had recently had. Talked with him about an hour and a half”. Evaluations of such meetings by modern historians are not unequivocal. In the opinion of the doctor of historical sciences Alexander Bokhanov, the person of the XXI century should deviate from modern representations about “the way of existence of protein bodies” and see in the communication of the emperor with the ignorant fool “spiritual joy, the holiday which the believer was given by the touch of the Divine light”.
As Grigory Rasputin”s interference in synodal affairs (acting through the Empress and the hierarchs loyal to him) increased in the 1910s, dissatisfaction with the entire synodal system grew among a significant portion of the clergy, most of whom reacted favorably to the fall of the monarchy in March 1917.
Most of the time Nicholas II lived with his family at Alexander Palace (Tsarskoye Selo) or Peterhof. In the summer he rested in the Crimea in the Livadia Palace. For relaxation he annually made two-week trips to the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea on the yacht “Shtandart”. He read both light entertainment literature, and serious scientific works, often on historical subjects; Russian and foreign newspapers and magazines. Smoked cigarettes.
He was fond of photography, also liked to watch movies; all his children also took pictures. In the 1900s, he became fascinated by the then-new mode of transport – automobiles (“the Tsar had one of the most extensive automobile fleets in Europe”).
The official government press organ in 1913, in an essay on the domestic and family life of the emperor, wrote in particular: “The Tsar does not like the so-called secular pleasures. His favorite pastime is the hereditary passion of the Russian Tsars – hunting. It is organized both in permanent places of tsarist residence and in special places adapted for this purpose – in Spalla, near Skernevits, in Belovezhye”.
At the age of 9, he began to keep a diary. The archive holds 50 voluminous notebooks – the original diary for the years 1882-1918; some of them were published.
There is some discussion that Nicholas II used to shoot crows, stray cats, and stray dogs while hunting and on his walks.
It is estimated that the value of the assets owned by Nicholas II by the beginning of the twenty-first century was about $300 billion. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE VALUE OF ASSETS OWNED BY NICHOLAS II AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 21ST CENTURY WAS ABOUT $300 BILLION.
The first conscious meeting between Tsesarevich Nicholas and his future wife took place in January 1889 (the second arrival of Princess Alice to Russia), when a mutual attraction arose. In the same year, Nicholas asked his father for permission to marry her, but he was refused. In August 1890, during the third visit of Alice, Nicholas”s parents did not allow him to meet her. The same year a letter to Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna from Queen Victoria of England, in which the grandmother of the potential bride probed the prospects of a marriage union, also had a negative result. However, due to the deteriorating health of Alexander III and the persistence of the tsesarevich, he was allowed by his father to make an official proposal to Princess Alice. On April 2 (14), 1894 Nicholas, accompanied by his uncle, went to Coburg, where he arrived on April 4. Queen Victoria and the German emperor Wilhelm II also arrived here. On April 5, the prince proposed to Princess Alice, but she hesitated because of the question of religious conversion. However, three days later after the family council with her relatives (Queen Victoria, her sister Elisabeth Feodorovna), the princess gave her consent to the marriage. On April 8 (20), 1894 in Coburg, at the wedding of Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hessen (brother of Alice) and Princess Victoria-Melita of Edinburgh (daughter of Duke Alfred and Maria Alexandrovna), their engagement was announced in Russia by a simple newspaper advertisement. In his diary, Nicholas called the day “The marvelous and unforgettable day of my life.
On November 14 (26), 1894 in the palace church of the Winter Palace took place the wedding of Nicholas II and the Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna, who received her name after the anointing (performed on October 21 (November 2), 1894 in Livadia, the next day after the death of Alexander III). The newlyweds first settled in the Anichkov Palace next to Empress Maria Fyodorovna, but in the spring of 1895 they moved to Tsarskoye Selo, and in the autumn to their apartments in the Winter Palace.
In July-September 1896, after their coronation, Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna made a major European tour as the royal couple and visited the Austrian emperor, the German kaiser, the Danish king and the British queen. The trip ended with a visit to Paris and a stay in the empress”s homeland of Darmstadt.
In the following years the royal couple had four daughters, Olga (3 (15) November 1895, Tatiana (May 29 (June 10), 1897), Maria (14 (26) June 1899) and Anastasia (5 (18) June 1901). The Grand Duchesses, in their diaries and correspondence, used the abbreviation “OTMA”, formed from the first letters of their names, which followed in birth order (Olga – Tatiana – Maria – Anastasia).
July 30 (August 12), 1904 in Peterhof was born the fifth child and only son – Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich.
All of Alexandra Feodorovna”s correspondence with Nicholas II has been preserved (only one letter by Alexandra Feodorovna is lost, all her letters are numbered by the Empress herself; published in Berlin in 1922.
The former chairman of the Council of Ministers, Count Sergei Witte, in connection with the critical situation on the eve of the manifesto of October 17, 1905, when it was discussed the possibility of introducing a military dictatorship in the country, wrote in his memoirs:
Otherwise I cannot explain to myself why the sovereign has not decided on dictatorship, since he, as a weak man, believes most of all in physical force (of others, of course), that is, force that protects him and destroys all his real and suspected <…> enemies, and, of course, enemies of the existing unlimited, spontaneous and serf regime, according to his conviction, are his enemies as well.
General Alexander Rediger (as Minister of War in 1905-1909, twice a week had a personal report to the Czar) in his memoirs (1917-1918) wrote about him:
Before the report began the sovereign always talked about something extraneous; if there was no other subject, it was about the weather, about his walk, about the sampling he was served every day before the reports, either from the Convoy or from the Composite Regiment. He was very fond of these brews, and once told me that he had just tasted a pearl soup which he could not achieve at his place: Kyuba (his cook) says that such a concoction can only be achieved by cooking for a hundred men <…> The tsar considered it his duty to know about the appointment of senior chiefs. He had an amazing memory. He knew a lot of people who had served in the Guards or whom he had seen for some reason; he remembered the military exploits of individuals and military units; he knew the units that had mutinied and had remained loyal during the turmoil; he knew the number and name of every regiment, the composition of every division and corps, the location of many parts… He told me that in rare cases of insomnia, he began to list in memory the regiments in order of numbers and usually fell asleep, when he got to the reserve parts, which he knew not so firmly. <…> To know the life of the regiments, he read the orders for the Preobrazhensky regiment every day, and explained to me that he read them every day, as it was only necessary to miss a few days and you would get spoilt and stop reading them. <…> He liked to dress lightly and told me that he sweated otherwise, especially when he was nervous. In the beginning he wore at home a white naval style jacket. Later, when the old uniform with crimson silk shirts was brought back to the imperial guards, he wore it in the summer heat right over his bare body. <…> In spite of the hard days that fell to his lot, he never lost his temper, always remained steady and affable, an equally hard worker. He told me that he was an optimist, and indeed, even in difficult moments he kept faith in the future, in the power and greatness of Russia. Always friendly and affectionate, he made a charming impression. His inability to refuse a request, especially if it came from a deserving person and was any executable, sometimes hindered the cause and put in a difficult situation the Minister, who had to be strict and to renew the army command staff, but at the same time it increased the charm of his personality. His reign was unsuccessful, and even more – through his own fault. His shortcomings are visible to all; they are also evident in my present recollections. His virtues are easily forgotten, as they were seen only by those who saw him closely, and I consider it my duty to mention them, especially as I still remember him with the warmest feeling and sincere regret.
Georgi Shavelsky, protopresbyter of military and maritime clergy, who communicated closely with the Tsar in the last months before the revolution, wrote about him in a study written in exile in the 1930s:
It is not easy for the tsars to know the real, unadorned life, because they are fenced off by a high wall from people and life. And the Emperor Nicholas II raised this wall even higher with his artificial superstructure. This was the most characteristic feature of his mental disposition and his imperial action. This happened against his will, thanks to his manner of treating his subjects. <…> He once said to the Minister of Foreign Affairs S.D. Sazonov: “I try not to think about anything seriously, – otherwise I would have long ago been in the coffin. <…> He put his interlocutor into a strictly defined framework. The conversation began exclusively apolitical. The tsar showed great attention and interest to the person of his interlocutor: to the stages of his service, to his exploits and merits <…> But as soon as his interlocutor left this framework – to touch any ailments of his current life – the tsar would immediately change or directly stop talking.
Senator Vladimir Gurko wrote in exile:
The social milieu which Nicholas II loved and where he would confess to having a rest of his soul was that of the officers of the Guards. Because of this he so willingly accepted invitations to officers” meetings of the regiments most familiar to him, and sometimes sat there until morning. <…> He was attracted by the reigning relaxedness of officers” meetings and the absence of burdensome court etiquette <…> in many respects the Emperor retained to his old age his childish tastes and tendencies.
Maid of Honor, Baroness Sophia Buxhoeveden:
Simple in His treatment, without any affectation, He had an innate dignity that never allowed us to forget who He was. At the same time Nicholas II had a slightly sentimental, very conscientious and sometimes very simple-minded worldview of an old Russian nobleman… He had a mystical attitude to His duty, but was also lenient to human weaknesses and had an innate sympathy for ordinary people – especially peasants. But He never forgave what He called “shady money matters.
Various opinions on the willpower of Nicholas II and his accessibility to the influences of his entourage
Many contemporaries noted the weak character of Nicholas II, including, for example, S. Witte, his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, who in her letters often urged him to be firm, tough and strong-willed. Tsarevich Alexei”s mentor, Pierre Gilliard, who was with the Romanov family from late 1905 to May 1918, said:
“The task that fell to him was too hard, it exceeded his strength. He felt it himself. This was the reason for his weakness toward the sovereign. Therefore he eventually became more and more subject to her influence.”
According to S. S. Oldenburg, in the New Year”s issue of the Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Pressa in 1910 there were memoirs by the former president of the French Republic, Emile Loubet, who spoke of Nicholas II as follows:
“It is said of the Russian Emperor that he is accessible to various influences. This is deeply untrue. The Russian Emperor pursues his own ideas. He defends them with constancy and great strength… Under the guise of timidity, a little feminine, the Tsar has a strong soul and a courageous heart, unwaveringly loyal.
S. S. Oldenburg himself wrote in his book, written on behalf of the Supreme Monarchical Council:
“The tsar also had a tenacious and indefatigable will to carry out his plans. He did not forget them, constantly returned to them, and often in the end achieved what he had. Another opinion was widespread because the Sovereign, on top of an iron hand, had a velvet glove … “The softness of treatment, friendliness, absence or at least a very rare display of harshness – the shell that concealed the will of the Sovereign from the eyes of the uninitiated – gave him in broad layers of the country a reputation of benevolent but weak governor, easily subject to all possible, often contradictory, suggestions. … Meanwhile, such a representation was infinitely far from the truth; the outer shell was taken for the essence. The Emperor Nicholas II, who listened attentively to all opinions, in the end acted according to his own judgement, in accordance with the conclusions, which emerged in his mind, often – directly contrary to the advice given to him. … But in vain were looked for any secret inspirers of the Sovereign”s decisions. No one was hiding “behind the scenes. One could say that the Emperor Nicholas II himself was the main “behind-the-scenes influence” of his reign.
Two of Nicholas II”s great-great-grandfathers were brothers-in-law: Friedrich of Hesse-Kassel and Karl of Hesse-Kassel, and two great-great-grandmothers were cousins: Amalia of Hesse-Darmstadt and Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Foreign (higher degrees):
Assessment in the Russian Emigration
The ambivalent attitude of the emigration toward the emperor is evidenced by the fact that the 1921 call of the Karlovac Cathedral for the restoration of the House of Romanoff to the Russian throne led to a split in the Russian Orthodox Church.
In the preface to his memoirs, General A. A. Mosolov, who for several years was close to the Emperor, wrote in the early 1930s: “The Emperor Nicholas II, his family and his entourage were almost the only object of accusation for many circles representing Russian public opinion of the pre-revolutionary era.
After the catastrophic collapse of our fatherland the accusations focused almost exclusively on the Sovereign. Mosolov attributed a special role in the repulsion of society from the imperial family and from the throne in general to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna: “The discord between society and the court <…> became so acute that society, instead of supporting the throne according to its rooted monarchist views, turned away from it and watched its collapse with real gloating”.
Since the early 1920s, monarchist circles in the Russian emigration have published works about the last Tsar that were apologetic (the most famous among these was a study by Professor S. Oldenburg, published in two volumes in Belgrade (1939), respectively. One of Oldenburg”s final conclusions stated: “The most difficult and most forgotten feat of Emperor Nicholas II was that he, under incredibly difficult conditions, brought Russia to the threshold of victory: his adversaries did not let her cross this threshold.”
In support of his words Oldenburg cites the opinion of Winston Churchill, British Minister of War during World War I:
“In March the Tsar was on the throne; the Russian Empire and the Russian army were holding out, the front was secured and victory undisputed. <…> According to the superficial fashion of our time, the Tsarist system is commonly interpreted as a blind, rotten tyranny, incapable of doing anything. But an analysis of the thirty months of war with Germany and Austria should correct these frivolous perceptions. We can measure the strength of the Russian Empire by the blows it endured, by the calamities it endured, by the inexhaustible forces it developed, and by the restoration of strength to which it proved capable. <…> Why deny Nicholas II this severe test? <…> Why not honor him for it? The self-sacrificing gusto of the Russian armies which saved Paris in 1914, the overcoming of the painful, indisputable retreat, the slow restoration of strength, the Brusilov victories, the entering of Russia into the 1917 campaign undefeated, more powerful than ever; was not his share in all this?”
Official assessment in the USSR
An article about Nicholas II in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1st edition, 1939) described the former Russian emperor as follows (cited with the spelling of the source): “Nicholas II was as limited and ignorant as his father. <…> Characteristic features of a dull, narrow-minded, conceited and selfish despot during his stay on the throne were especially vividly expressed. <…> The mental squalor and moral decay of the court circles had reached its utmost limits. <…> Until the last minute, Nicholas II remained what he was – a stupid autocrat, unable to understand either his surroundings or even his own benefit. <…> He was getting ready to march on Petrograd in order to drown the revolutionary movement in blood, and together with the generals close to him discussed a plan of treason.
В. Lenin never gave his characterization of Nicholas II as a person in his public speeches and articles; his political characterization of the emperor as “the first landlord” is most widely known.
The second most influential leader of the October Revolution, LD Trotsky, by contrast, wrote an article about Nicholas II in 1913.
Most of the later (post-war) Soviet historiographical publications for the general public in their description of the history of Russia during the reign of Nicholas II tried as much as possible to avoid mentioning him as a person and a personality: thus, in the 82-page text (without illustrations) “Handbook on the History of the USSR for preparatory departments of universities” (1979), which describes the socio-economic and political development of the Russian Empire at that time, mentions the name of the emperor who headed the state at the described time, only
From the 1920s, regular memorial services for Emperor Nicholas II were held in the Russian Diaspora at the initiative of the Union of Adherents of Memory of the Emperor Nicholas II three times a year (on his birthday, his namesake day, and on the anniversary of his assassination), but his veneration as a saint began to spread after the end of World War II.
On October 19 (November 1), 1981, Emperor Nicholas and his family were canonized by the Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR), then not having church communication with the Moscow Patriarchate in the USSR.
The decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church of August 14, 2000: “To glorify as Passion-Bearers in the realm of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia the royal family: Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Tsarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia (their memory – July 4 Julian calendar).
The act of canonization was perceived ambiguously by Russian society: opponents of canonization claim that the proclamation of Nicholas II as a saint was political in nature. On the other hand, there are ideas circulating within the Orthodox community that glorifying the Tsar as a martyr is not enough and that he is the “Tsar-redeemer. The ideas were condemned by Alexis II as blasphemous, since “the atoning deed is one – that of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In 2003, in Yekaterinburg, on the site of the demolished house of engineer N. N. Ipatiev, where Nicholas II and his family were shot, was built the Church on the Blood in the name of All Saints Who Shone Forth in the Land of Russia, in front of the entrance to which is a monument to the family of Nicholas II. And the first public prayer in place of the Ipatiev house, which was attended by about two hundred people, was held on Memorial Day of the royal family – July 17, 1989. Thirty years later, tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over Russia and other countries come to the open-air Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Blood. Among the guests of honor is traditionally the widow of Emperor Nicholas II”s nephew, Princess Olga Kulikovskaya-Romanova. On the night of July 17, 2019, sixty thousand pilgrims took part in the procession, which took place along the central streets of Yekaterinburg and repeated the twenty-kilometer route along which the bodies of members of the royal family were carried.
In many cities the construction of churches in honor of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers began.
Rehabilitation. Identification of remains
In December 2005, a representative of the head of the “Russian Imperial House,” Maria Vladimirovna Romanova, sent an application to the Prosecutor”s Office of the Russian Federation for the rehabilitation as victims of political repression of the executed former Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family. On 1 October 2008, after a series of denials, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation decided to rehabilitate the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II and members of his family (despite the opinion of the General Prosecutor”s Office, which stated in court that the demands for rehabilitation were not in accordance with the law because these persons had not been arrested on political grounds and because there had been no court decision to carry out an execution).
On October 30, 2008, it was reported that the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation decided to rehabilitate 52 people from the entourage of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
In January 2009, the Investigative Committee completed the criminal investigation into the circumstances of the death and burial of the family of Nicholas II; the investigation was terminated “in connection with the expiration of the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution and the death of the perpetrators of premeditated murder.
A representative of M. V. Romanoff, who calls herself the Head of the Russian Imperial House, stated in 2009 that “Maria Vladimirovna fully shares the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in this matter, which did not find sufficient grounds for recognizing the “Yekaterinburg remains” as belonging to members of the Imperial family. Other representatives of the Romanovs, led by N. R. Romanov, took a different position: the latter, in particular, took part in the burial of the remains in July 1998, saying: “We have come to close the era.”
On September 23, 2015, the remains of Nicholas II and his wife were exhumed for investigative purposes as part of the identification of the remains of their children, Alexei and Maria.
Museum of the family of Emperor Nicholas II in Tobolsk (10 Mira Street).
Monuments to Emperor Nicholas II
During the last emperor”s lifetime at least twelve monuments were erected in his honor in connection with his visits to various cities and military camps. Most of these monuments were columns or obelisks with the emperor”s monogram and a corresponding inscription. The only monument in Helsingfors, a bronze bust of the Emperor on a high granite pedestal, was erected to the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov. Neither of these monuments has survived.
The first monument to Nicholas II was erected in 1924 in Germany by the Germans who were at war with Russia: the officers of one of the Prussian regiments, whose chief was Nicholas II, “erected a worthy monument to him in an extremely honorable place.
Monuments to Emperor Nicholas II have been erected in the following localities and places:
In 1972-1973 years in the journal “The Star” was published a book devoted to the reign of Nicholas, his imprisonment and execution of Mikhail K. Kasvinov “Twenty-three steps down” (23 – the number of years of the reign of Nicholas II and also the number of steps of the stairs in the Ipatiev house, which Nicholas II passed before the execution). Later the book was republished several times. The book portrayed Nicholas as cruel, mean, cunning and at the same time limited. At the same time, the book is of interest because of its impressive bibliography: the author used materials from closed archives (including access to Yurovsky”s “Note”) and numerous little-known publications.
Several feature films were made about Nicholas II and his family, including Agony (1981), the English-American film Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), and two Russian films, Tsarevicide (1991) and The Romanovs. The Crowned Family” (2000). Hollywood has made several movies about Anastasia (Anastasia, 1956) and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (USA, 1986), as well as a cartoon Anastasia (Anastasia, USA, 1997), the allegedly rescued daughter of the Tsar.