Abdication of Nikolai II

By 1917, Russia’s populace faced a combination of very severe acute food shortages caused by the unorganized and uncontrolled war effort, and social disorder subsequent of several Liberal and revolutionary groups split in their ideas and desires but all dissatisfied with the minimal (or even lack of) reform afforded to them by the Dumas. Nikolai was therefore advised to abdicate, whereupon he drew up a manifesto abdicating his position and naming his brother, Grand Duke Michael, as the next Emperor. Nikolai had not genuinely tried to make any reforms to advance the lives of the general public, with the justification that he did not fathom the outlook or everyday condition of the people and consequently resorted to the Russo-Japanese War and the publication of the October Manifesto as endeavors to maintain the people’s allegiance to him and the autocracy. From Nikolai’s contracted abdication document we are able to see that even at the culmination of the Romanov dynasty, Nikolai had an idealistically optimistic vision of the future. He wrote in his abdication letter, “We call upon all faithful sons of our native land to fulfill their sacred and patriotic duty of obeying the Tsar… and to aid them, together with the representatives of the nation, to conduct the Russian State in the way of prosperity and glory.” This primary source is further evidence that Nikolai did not have a complete awareness of what the underlying problem was and what had gone wrong – the state was not only in chaos because of World War I but a massive social revolution was breaking out. The legislative institution had broken away from the government, more revolutionary tensions and activisms were arising, and the crushed army was motivated by the peasants’ aspiration to obtain land. In a time of anarchy within his State, Nikolai was speaking of an “organized” and “victorious conclusion” of the war. Nikolai’s inability to make decisions is also reflected by carefully worded explanation for not handing his “heritage” to his son (as he had in first abdication letter favored of his hemophilic son Alexei for the “Throne of the Russian State,” over his brother).

4 thoughts on “Abdication of Nikolai II

  1. While I agree with most points that you make, I don’t really understand how Nikolai II’s decision not to pass the throne onto his son is representative of indecisiveness. In his address to the Russian people, he couldn’t be completely honest and say that his son suffered from hemophilia–the general public would see the admission as a sign of weakness within the royal family and most likely dislike the family even more.

    Nikolai’s abdication and the First Provisional Government’s guiding principles suggest that Nikolai knew about the general public’s opinion towards him, however it appears doubtful that anyone could expect the events that followed his abdication from the throne.

  2. I also agree with the certain points you have made. Nikolai II was advised to abdicate, but one of the main influences for this decision was pressure from the public. The war brought upon many economic issues and many casualties, the public was upset with his rule and his tactics. Not only did he not properly address the issues of his nation, he let “internal troubles” continue to progress and develop, but he did make an effort to patch things up with the October Manifesto and by giving in to abdication, where he thought the Russian state would be in better hands. Although this endeavor did not go very far, he still saw disloyalty to his name and in response left everything, in order to lay down “the Supreme Power”, where he thought all would be saved.

  3. This post does a good job emphasizing the point that Nikolai’s abdication was a major event that was passed off by the royal family as an exchange of power. However Czar Nikolai II was forced to abdicate due to his terrible reputation as a weak ruler, it was not an abdication entirely by choice. The Russian people intensely disliked him, and were sick of the major losses suffered in the first World War. The country was reeling from the failed war effort, and the population was calling for change, and quick change.

    This sign was enough to make sure that the current royal family was indirectly driven from power. Nikolai’s speech of abdication was purposefully meant to show the strength of the monarchy. However it was purposefully made to cover up his weaknesses. Such as his hemophiliac son, and the massive financial problems that the monarchy was faced with. Nikolai’s abdication speech was a last gasp of a dying order, rather than a hopeful look into the future of the Russian state.

  4. The failure of the Duma to institute meaningful change lies with aristocratic unwillingness to allow the election of a truly revolutionary-minded body. This can come as no surprise, given the nobilities’ long history of maintaining power however necessary. Nor is this a history isolated to Russia. The position of those in power is, more often than not, to hoard power whenever possible, a position that stymies general welfare on many fronts.

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