Why abdication?

Nicholas II abdicated the Crown and appointed his brother, Grand Duke Michael, to be his successor (( Abdication of Nikolai II, March 15, 1917 )). However, Michael agreed to “accept the Supreme Power” only in case it was the will of the nation. ((Declaration from the Throne by Grand Duke Mikhail, March 16, 1917)) The Provisional Government had been established to serve Imperial needs before the moment people decided on the country’s new form of government. At the very beginning of its’ work new “rulers” made a few important decisions: amnesty, freedoms, abolition of restrictions based on nationality and religion, etc. ((Izvestiia, 3 March 1917.)) But why did it happen? Was that necessary?

Of course, Nicholas II made a fatal mistake by shooting into people who went to the Winter Palace. But was it necessary to leave the Throne while the country was participating in the World War? He probably knew that his brother was not going to agree being the Emperor, so why did he do that and not just gave more power to the State Duma and restricted his own? I tried to reconstruct the possible logic.

Imagine that you’re the ruler of the country, who just lost all his trust from his nation by shooting into his people, loosing the war, etc. You have a brother, whom population loves more. He says he doesn’t want to rule the country. Now you have three choices.

The first one is remain on your Throne and wait if the dissatisfaction lowers, for example, with some good news from the battlefield. But that’s going to be very dangerous if your people decide to help you understanding that it’s high time to leave.

The second one is to restrict your power and give more to some representative organ, in particular, State Duma. In this case the fundamental idea of Russian Monarchy – Ablsolutism – is lost. You and your royal family hardly will be able to return the power back ever again.

And finally, you have your brother, who speaks as if he won’t accept the Crown. But actually it could be a kind of “cheap talk” ((In game theory, cheap talk is communication between players which does not directly affect the payoffs of the game.)). Because, as he gets all the power, the future of his nation is in his hands and he probably won’t let the country to have no leader at such a hard time. If population ask him for becoming a new Emperor, he possibly accept it. And, in any case, Michael is going to face the same choice: either to rule, to restrict his power or to give the Throne to the next in line for it. Why not try?

So, summarizing all written above, I came to the conclusion that Nicholas had chosen, probably, the option which costed him and his family less among the other alternatives at that moment of time. What this decision resulted to for the country? We’ll learn soon.

How the political and cultural revolution worked together in France

Before the French Revolution, there was a separation of power in France based on the way the country segmented their society. The society was split into three groups: the clergy, the nobility and the third estate. The leaders of the French Revolution sought to alter the power and create their own culture to overthrow the monarchy run under Louis XVI and establish an entirely new society.

In Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes’ What is the Third Estate? he argues that the Third Estate of France was entitled to more respect and power than they were currently given, being that the Third Estate makes up the majority, “nineteen-twentieths”, of France (Blaisdell 72). Sieyes motivates his people in the text by challenging them to rise up against the limitations placed on the third estate, as it “contains everything that pertains to the nation” (Blaisdell 74). Sieyes pushes this revolution on the grounds that a monarchy isn’t necessary for the people of France to operate and that they would live in a better society if they were to overthrow the monarchy.

In order to unite the people of France, culturally speaking, Maximilian Robespierre wrote The Cult of Supreme Being, advocating for the revolution under religious grounds. He advocated against the catholic church because many of the followers perceived the church as a way of repression and subjugation by the monarchy. Robespierre incorporates many atheistic views, under the concept of reason in his new religious system. Under this system there are many religious views of deism, where there was belief in a god, but a god that didn’t intercede with the plans of the people of the Third Estate. He also argues that humanity was designed to exist in harmony but the tyrants in power have polluted the system of power in France by oppressing its people. Without the writings and leadership of Robespierre, the French Revolution may not have been possible.

The French Revolution’s success can be attributed to the combination of the political and cultural revolution that occurred before it. Without revolutionary writers and leaders like Robespierre and Sieyes, motivating the majority of the Third Estate wouldn’t have been possible and the shift towards a more enlightened society would never have became a reality.

Questions to consider:

Do you think the French Revolution would’ve been possible without the combination of the  political and cultural revolution?

Are there any power shifts (clergy, nobility, third estate) throughout world history similar to the one caused by the French Revolution?


The Abdication of Nicholas II

Author: Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov (1868-1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, with the end of his reign (1917)  bringing upon the end of the Romanov dynasty. His reign was most known for military encounters (losses), such as the Russo-Japanese war and WWI. The populace was not happy with the way his cabinet was going about their business, and they finally overthrew him in 1917.

Context: This is his formal abdication letter after he realized the best decision was to give up his power and attempt to lay low. He could not remain Tsar as the people disliked him so much they would attempt to overthrow him.

Language: The language is overwhelmingly positive, as if this abdication was of Nicholas’ own choice and not forced upon him by his people. He stresses that this move is being made because it will help Russia win the war (which he believes is the most important goal for the country at this time). He hopes that taking himself off of throne will relocate the populace’s interest in the enemy, and not their own parliament.

Audience: The audience is everyone in Russia. He is writing this piece to inform them that he is no longer in power and that his brother is now in control of the throne.

Intent: To notify the people of Russia that he was stepping down as their monarch and leader. He told them that his brother, Michael Alexandrovich was taking over his position and that all of this was being done for the good of the country. It can be asserted that Nicholas thought that giving up his power would spare him from the wrath of the populace, but this turned out to not work in the end.

Message: People took this as he was trying to cop out of his responsibilities without taking blame for all he had done wrong. The populace (Bolshevicks), eventually found him and his family and executed them all, in punishment for being such a bad leader/selling out his people.

The Great French Transition

The French Revolution was the first major upheaval of state run institutions that resulted in the under appreciated getting what they desired. As a result of the turnover from a Kingdom to a Republic, the first and second estate were brought to its knees by the populace, who in turn were able to demand a change in how they were governed. This transitionary period modified everything about French culture – everything had become more secular and new-age. The populace began to think for itself instead of being roped in with what the clergy and monarchs wanted them to believe. The tax system was thrown out the window as it unfairly put the burden on the poor and kept them under the foot of the rich in terms of finances. People began to realize that they deserved those “inalienable rights”, and if they fought for them, they would be able to live as freely as they desired. The fact that those people were beginning to think for themselves was the most important facet of the revolution – they began to realize that they didn’t need to be under they tyrannical system of government that they had suffered through so long.


This Age of Enlightenment allowed many great ideas to flow through Europe. Since they were encouraged to think freely and “outside of the box”, great minds (Locke, Voltaire, Newton, etc.) were able to express their new age ideas in public forums, making the community a more conscious set of individuals. As they were now able to come up with their own ideas and spread them without the threat of persecution or death, many people invented tools that we use today (metric system, art, scientific method). Being able to think freely allowed these special people to spur on the most revolutionary time period since the Renaissance, and we thank them for it.


What is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is the abandonment of tutelage; the active seeking out of knowledge, freedom of thought, and the answers to earthly, religious, and spiritual queries. It is a process, not a state of being; to be truly and fully enlightened is a state of being that is unattainable. Enlightenment is particularly important in the presence of monarchs and despots who may restrict certain freedoms of their subjects. It is essential that the subjects of a monarchy question and argue in favor of freedom of thought, and not blindly obey in the face of an unjust and unenlightened tyrant. Kant argues that many people are unable or unwilling to seek enlightenment due to their self-incurred tutelage. He says that “a man may postpone enlightenment in what he ought to know, but to renounce it for posterity is to injure and trample on the rights of mankind.”