History of Europe
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The Romanovs

What did nicholas II do?

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01/15/2014

Nicholas II as a private person was a kindly and by his own admission to his wife, weak-willed man. But as a ruler he grimy held on to his autocratic powers, was totally out of touch with developments and feelings in his country and heavily influenced by his very conservative wife who constantly admonished him to never budge an inch to any reformist or democratic tendency in his country. His wife again was for a period influenced by the starets Rasputin, but he only confirmed her in her autocratic views and advice to her husband that she would have given him anyway.

Nicholas' wish to be an autocrat was however in no way matched by his talent to rule Russia by himself. Apart from blocking any tendency to progress and political freedom, he did not have any clear view as to how to rule and where to take his country. In international diplomacy he was easily influenced by others and often took decisions that horrified his ministers.

Finally on the eve of WW I he let himself first be persuaded to go for all-out mobilisation (thereby triggering an unwanted war with Germany) instead of limiting himself to protecting Serbia, which was his intention. When the war went badly for Russia, he took active command of the army, although he had no military expertise whatsoever. The result was that he now totally got out of touch with developments and feelings within Russia and did not notice the collapse of Russia's war economy. On top of that, his direct command of the army did not only do nothing for Russian success, but it made the Russian public blame him as directly responsible for Russia's military defeats and setbacks.

All this led to the revolution of February, 1917 and his deposition as Tsar.