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).