Abdication of Nicholas II

A close analysis of primary texts is often helpful in understanding particular political and personal perspectives. Certain phrases and word choice in Czar Nicholas II’s official abdication highlight tensions present in 1917. Nicholas II chose phrases such as “sons of Russia” and “sons of our native land” to emphasize the folk and political ideology of the Czar as a fatherly figure to his citizens. This relationship, whether personal or political, requires a commitment of respect and obedience, since honoring one’s fathers and mothers was a significant and important cultural and religious value in Imperial Russia. This sentiment is further reflected when Nicholas II wrote “we call upon all faithful sons of our native land to fulfill their sacred and patriotic duty of obeying the Tsar.” The Czar’s paternalistic rhetoric contrasts sharply with the Revolution’s community-oriented rhetoric, which used words such as “brotherhood” and “comrade.” This shows that the values and ideology driving the Revolution were founded in a sense of equality and community.The parent-child ideology perpetuated by the Czar comes with a sense of unequal power – an antithetical position to his opposition.

However, Nicholas II’s word choice also exhibits Revolutionary values and it is with this that the Czar implored Russian citizens to “conduct the Russian State in the way of prosperity and glory.” He also used words such as “foreign enemy” to illustrate the severity of a Revolution in the midst of an international crisis and the need for unification against it. The Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich also took up Revolution rhetoric when he claimed that he was “animated by the same feelings as the entire nation – namely, that the welfare of the country overshadows all other interests.” He called for elections to determine whether the monarchy should continue, an act that shows his respect for the values of his opposition.

One thought on “Abdication of Nicholas II

  1. I agree with you, in that just from reading closely the specific language used by Nicholas II as compared to Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich their different intentions and views become readily apparent. One of the more dramatic lines that clearly showsThe Grand Duke’s leaning towards reform and a new executive system is, “I am firmly resolved to accept the Supreme Power only if this should be the desire of our great people…”. However, I had not realized the intense emphasis that Nicholas II put on the Czar as the paternal figure ideology.

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