To what extent was Tsar Nicholas II responsible for the fall of the Romanov Dynasty in
1917? What other factors led to the collapse of the regime?
Nicholas Romanov was appointed the Tsar of Russia in 1894 at the age of 26. He was thrust into the role after his father died prematurely at age 49. Nicholas was ill prepared to run such a vast country, especially during a time of such huge industrial change and modernisation. He was trained as a soldier, and often resorted to violence to maintain his autocratic rule - which he and his
German wife Alexandra, believed in with utmost faith. Despite Nicholas’s leadership issues and many bad decisions, he was not solely responsible for the revolution and the fall of the Romanov
Dynasty, which had lasted over 300 years, in Russia 1917. Other influences included the hold the mysterious Grigory Rasputin had on the royal family, the humiliation of Russia in the JapaneseRussian War, the First World War, the failure of the Nicholas’ reforms and the modernisation and industrialisation of Russia during Nicholas’s rule.
Due to the untimely and unexpected death of Alexander III, Nicholas’s father, Nicholas was not prepared to rule the country - he didn't even want to and he was trained as a solider, not as a political mind. This was detrimental to Nicholas’s reputation because during Nicholas’s rule Russia was experiencing rapid industrial change and growth. With a huge surge in population in the middle working class and in cities, there was a sudden boom that meant shortages of appropriate housing, poor hygiene and shocking living conditions for millions of people. Despite these forthcomings and tough times, and the need for change, Nicholas stubbornly maintained the firm belief that he was the ultimate ruler, and would therefore do what he wanted when he wanted. This refusal to listen to the people meant he lost his affectionate nickname “Little Father”. This idea of disaffection to the Tsar only worsened when on January 9, 1905, a procession of workers and peasants in St. Petersburg came to respectfully present a petition to the Tsar at the Winter Palace, hoping and believing that if he knew their problems he would save them. The Tsar’s soldiers were ordered to stop the procession, and opened fire after the protestants refused to leave. It was a bloodbath - now known as “Bloody Sunday”, with over one thousand deaths from the various marches taking place. Bloody Sunday sparked the 1905 revolution attempt as the hostility of this even echoed through the empire. The people responded with strikes, revolts, mutinies, demanding a constitution, and by forming worker’s soviets as well as participating in violent demonstrations against Russification Policies implemented by the ruler that denied their rights to freedom.
Tsar Nicholas believed that bowing to the people’s demands undermined his power, and continued to rule as he had always done. During the 1905 crisis, he finally was convinced to issue the
“October Manifesto” a document full of promises, but it fell short on delivery. The Manifesto declared that a State Duma would be assembled and elected and be given legislative powers, it made political parties legal and it gave Russians freedom of speech. However, Nicholas was bitter about having to do this and the Duma failed - two were dissolved very quickly, and the creation of a third “conservative” duma meant it was less fair representation of peasants and the working class and held very little power - every decision still had to go through Nicholas himself. The Manifesto also did not address the issues of poverty, poor living conditions and poor working conditions. On paper it looked good, but to Nicholas it was a negative notion. This was reflected in reality - the
Manifesto did very little to raise support for the Tsar or in solving Russia’s problems. Nicholas is responsible for the way this panned out - from the bloodbath of “Bloody