What are the Key factors which lead to the downfall of the Romanov Dynasty? To what extent is Tsar Nicholas responsible for his demise?
1917 saw the conclusion of the reign of the Romanov Dynasty, as well as the demise of Russia’s last monarch, Tsar Nicholas II. It is evident that the downfall of the Romanov Dynasty was directly linked to key factors such as the autocratic style of the Romanov dynasty and the nature of the social structure, as well as the evolving nation of Russia, as a result of industrialisation.
The Romanov family was viewed by the people of Russia as leaders ‘sent from God’. However as the 20th century neared, this mystical admiration the public possessed for the royal family receded and was replaced by intellect. A growing sense of political and social awareness of the lower classes, as well as the introduction of democratic ideas from the West had sparked a change. The twentieth century saw the birth of new ideologies such as Leninism, Marxism, Liberalism and Socialism. These ideologies proposed new models of government techniques and questions the ruling of the Romanov Dynasty. Tsar Alexander II sensed the rising threat of terrorism threatening the Imperial family and more importantly the Dynasty’s autocratic rule. The responsibility of Russia was bestowed upon Nicholas II, son of Alexander II, based on the dynasty’s ritualistic practice of passing the throne to the Tsar’s eldest son or closest senior male relative. Nicholas II was reluctant to accept the responsibility of Russia, as well as its 126 subjects; however he acknowledged the burden of the crown as a spiritual experience destined by God. By the beginning of the 20th century, Russia had established itself as a vast empire, however in comparison to other countries; Russia was a ‘backward society’ with mostly undeveloped resources. At this time, Russia had established rigid class distinctions, with 88% of the population farming the countryside as serfs, whilst land and high government positions were owned by 5% of Russia’s population. In 1816, serfdom was abolished and peasants were free, however were required to pay compensation for land that they believed they already owned. Although agriculture remained the principle means of maintaining a livelihood for the lower class, peasants often struggled to live above starvation level, as they used inefficient farming techniques and had little land available to them. Those who struggled with agrarian lifestyles flocked to the cities, consequently causing a major increase in the urban population. As a result factory working conditions also suffered. Factory workers received low wages, at times only 25-30% of British workers, as well as long working hours, sometimes extending to 15 hour shifts. Workers were forced to endure these conditions, with little hope of assistance, as the Russian government had provided no means by which workers could express their grievances or dissatisfaction with their present conditions. The Tsar’s power was unlimited with no political party or constitution to inspect the Tsar’s ruling, as well as a secret police, known as the Ohkrana, which terrorised those threatening public order. ‘I shall uphold the principle of Autocracy as firmly and as undeviating as did my late father’ (Nicholas II, first proclamation, 29th January, 1895 source:Punch,9 February 1895 ) This proclamation illustrates Tsar Nicholas’s incentives to intimate his father Alexender II, by means of resisting modernisation and change, in the nation of Russia. Despite these obvious signs of corruption within the Tsar, the public, largely due to the coercive influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, continued to hold a mystical admiration for the Tsar and the royal family. However, while the myth of Tsar Nicholas or the public’s ‘little father’ retained some currency, the events of the years 1904 to 1905 disrupted this myth dramatically.
In 1904, the government’s decision to go to...
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