• William Tyler

NICHOLAS II 1894-1917

The one thing everyone knows about the last Romanov Tsar is the nature of his death. Along with his entire family he was shot by a Communist firing squad in the city of Ekaterinburg in July 1918.

Yet Nicholas had reigned for nearly a quarter of a century before the two Revolutions of 1917 toppled the Russian throne and led on to his death. Russia had entered The First World War on a burst of national pride, but this was quickly replaced by a sense of impending catastrophe as both the Military and the Home Fronts began to crumble by 1916.

Nicholas was by nature ill suited to the role he inherited and he did little to stave off what we now regard as the inevitable finale to his reign - revolution. Somehow he and the institution of monarchy did survive both defeat (at the hands of Japan) and revolution just less than a decade before the First War began, but this proved to be an illusory success.

The positive actions that were taken, such as the establishment of the Duma (Parliament) were short-lived, and Nicholas' reliance on dubious advisers, most notably Rasputin, did nothing to shore up either his own reputation or that of the dynasty.

On a personal level although his marriage was a secure and loving one it was placed under enormous strain by the fact that his son and heir, Alexis, was born an haemophiliac.

The question that remains is, could anyone else have done any better than Nicholas to stave off revolution in 1917, or had Russia been too long set on that path ?

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