Romanovs Essay, Research Paper
THE RUSSIAN MONARCHY For each coevals to respond against the coevals before it is a characteristic of many reigning dynasties ; but peculiarly of the Russian Imperial House in the century following the decease of Catherine the Great, when bossy Tsars alternated with Czars who were broad every bit necessarily as Fredericks alternated with Christians on the Throne of Denmark. Catherine & # 8217 ; s boy, Paul I, who reigned from 1796 to 1801, was bossy ; and it can frequently be said to hold reacted against his female parent who, while being a tyrant, was influenced by the philosophies of the Enlightenment. Paul was besides influenced by thoughts which came out of France ; but in his instance it was the strong monarchist and legitimist theories of the Gallic emigrants, who, together with the Knights of Malta and other victims of the radical turbulence, were given a safety in his rules. Whereas Catherine, though enlightened in her thoughts, was unscupulous in her methods, Paul & # 8220 ; wished to stay an honorable adult male, philosophical and spiritual, while regulating despotically & # 8221 ; . He hated the maltreatment of power, and he detested the offenses which he had seen his female parent commit. The belief in his ain Divine Right, which made some Monarchs more human, had the opposite consequence on him so that he was perceived to be an aloof, haughty, alone figure ; yet he was generous and sympathized with the bad lucks of others. He would frequently apologise to people whom he had punished unjustly in a tantrum of choler, doing damagess by encompassing them and lavishing them with nowadayss ; he visited the hurt Polish leader, Kosciuszko, in prison, ordered his release and treated him with great kindness. Strongly wedded as he was to legitimacy, the Emperor Paul, in the yearss of the Consulate, admired Napoleon, of who he would state & # 8220 ; I have found a adult male ; there is a adult male in the universe! & # 8221 ; The key to his contradictory nature seems to lie in the fact that he had secret uncertainties about the Godhead construct of Monarchy which he so strictly upheld. Bing unsure of his strong beliefs made him unhappy and oppressive in his behavior ; so that he became extremely unpopular, peculiarly among Russia & # 8217 ; s Lords. There was a secret plan to dethrone him & # 8211 ; the last of those palace revolutions that are such a characteristic of Russian history up to the beginning of the 19th century. It had the blessing of Paul & # 8217 ; s boy, the Tsarevitch Alexander, who was assured by the plotters that nil worse would go on to the Emperor than imprisonment. This was truly the purpose of some of them ; but when they attempted to prehend the unfortunate Paul, they were afraid that his calls would convey the castle guards to the deliverance ; so they put him to decease. The character and calling of the following Emperor, Alexander I, presents us with paradoxes that are typically Russian. As Tsarevitch, though he was heir to the wealthiest and most absolute Monarchy in Europe, he espoused the philosophies of 1789. A immature adult male of capturing temperament, with a touching, Rousseauesque delectation in the beauties of nature, he would state his intimate Prince Adam Czartoryski, that he & # 8220 ; would wish to see Republics everyplace & # 8221 ; and that he & # 8220 ; looked upon this signifier of authorities as the lone 1 suited to the rights and felicity of humanity & # 8221 ; . He had acquired some of his impressions from his coach, a Voltairian professor chosen for him by his grandma, Catherine the Great ; yet his Voltairian upbringing did non in any manner affect his pious and ardent Orthodox religion. The absolutist Paul had wished to do friends with the First Consul of radical France. The broad Alexander went to war with Napoleon a few old ages after wining to the Throne. Having been defeated at Austerlitz, he and Napoleon came to footings at Tilsit, where he astonished the nouveau-riche Emperor of the Gallic by keeping that Monarchies ought to be elected, whereas Napoleon argued with equal strong belief that they should be familial. Five old ages after Tilsit, Napoleon invaded Russia and Alexander led his state & # 8217 ; s heroic defense mechanism ; so, holding forced the Gallic to retrace their stairss, he chased the leftover of their Army all the manner back to Paris. When the Allied Sovereigns assembled in Paris and Vienna for the peacemaking, the tall, benignantly smiling Alexander, with his all right forehead and bright eyes, was the most impressive figure among them, every bit good as the most popular. In London, the disruptive welcome given by the public to the sing Tsar was in striking contrast to the unpopularity of the Prince Regent. But when the Allied solons got down to concern, they were dismayed by Alexander & # 8217 ; s proposal that Poland & # 8211 ; which had been partioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria at assorted times during the past 50 old ages & # 8211 ; should be reunited under his scepter. Castlereagh called it & # 8220 ; the program of the Tartar prince for turn overing Europe & # 8221 ; ; the fact that Alexander intended to reign over a reunited Poland as a constitutional King did non do the proposal any more acceptable. Though his Polish dream came to nil, Alexander insisted on allowing a Constituition to that portion of Poland which he already held. This caused great green-eyed monster in Russia. Madame de Stael one time told him that his ain character was & # 8220 ; a charter and a fundamental law for his topics & # 8221 ; . Alexander & # 8217 ; s benevolence was still the lone Constitution which the Russians had. It was better than many a written charter ; but Constitutions were now all the fury ; particularly among those of the Tsar & # 8217 ; s topics who had picked up democratic thoughts while functioning with the Russian Army in western Europe ; one old General had complained that every officer in the Army had gone back to Russia with the bill of exchange of a Fundamental law in his pocket. Alexander & # 8217 ; s tyranny in Russia seemed inconsistent with his wishing for democratic authorities in other states ; though towards the terminal of his reign, he decidedly ranged himself on the side of the enemies of liberalism by going the title-holder of the Holy Alliance. Yet there were those who reckoned that it would hold been wholly infeasible to give a fundamental law to a state like Russia, with its huge, semi-Asiatic population ; and so, up to the present twenty-four hours, the thought has non truly been tried. Such was the unrest among the Russian aristocracy and other subdivisions of the educated categories at the terminal of Alexander & # 8217 ; s reign that in December 1825, shortly after his decease, there was a military and political rebellion. It was suppressed with great badness by his brother and replacement, Nicholas I, who hanged five ringleaders and sent 100s of plotters & # 8211 ; who were largely members of the nobility & # 8211 ; to Siberia. The Emperor Nicholas was stern by nature ; and this rebellion by some of his more influential topics on his accession to the Throne increased his sternness. For the remainder of his reign, his policy was one of repression ; and he governed every bit dictatorially as any of his immediate predecessors had done, doing rapid if arbitrary determinations, such as when, holding been consulted by the applied scientists as to the class of the projected railroad from St. Petersburg to Moscow, he took a swayer and drew a consecutive line between the two capitals. Nicholas & # 8217 ; s suppression of the Polish rise of 1830 increased his repute as a autocrat ; and he became the bugbear of every progressive in Europe. When he visited England in 1844, his response was non rather every bit enthusiastic as his brothers & # 8217 ; had been, 30 old ages before. It is another paradox of the Russian Emperors that although their state was the remotest in Europe, they took to going abroad sooner than any other European Sovereigns. Nicholas & # 8217 ; s son the hereafter Alexander II, besides visited England ; and a race was named the Cesarewitch in his honour. & gt ; /P & gt ; Whereas Alexander I & # 8217 ; s foreign policy had been directed at Poland, Nicholas I looked towards Turkey and set about work outing the & # 8220 ; Eastern Question & # 8221 ; . This made him more than of all time disliked in Britain, where Russia was seen as a menace to British involvements in the Near E. When Nicholas persisted in pressing his claims on Turkey, holding unluckily non been given sufficient warning by Lord Aberdeens & # 8217 ; s Government that these claims would non be tolerated by Britain and France, it led to the Crimean War. That struggle proved Nicholas & # 8217 ; s military system to be a failure, which broke his bosom ; he died in 1855, before the war came to an terminal. Nicholas I had below the belt gone down to history as an oppressor of his topics ; yet aliens who visited Russia in his clip did non happen the mistrustful, leery, spy-ridden people whom they had been led to believe that they would happen. Nicholas & # 8217 ; s topics suffered from a good trade of junior-grade government officials ; but it was about ever possible to acquire around the ordinances by graft. Above all, aliens did non happen the Russians, under Nicholas, either nescient or dull. Although unfavorable judgment of the Government was perfectly out, there was freedom of address on every other topic. The latest thoughts from Western Europe & # 8211 ; together with the novels of Dickens and George Sand & # 8211 ; found their manner to the remotest provincial towns of the Empire, thanks to the many widely-read literary reappraisals. And while the Russians were unusually familiar with the literature of other states, they besides had a booming literature of their ain. Both Pushkin and Gogol did most of their authorship in Nicholas & # 8217 ; s reign. Like many rough swayers, Nicholas was a devoted household adult male. One must non, hence, see the liberalism of the following Emperor Alexander II excessively much in footings of a reaction against his male parent ; and so, the act for which Alexander is best remembered, the emancipation of the helot, was really in conformity with his Nicholas & # 8217 ; s deceasing wish. Alexander & # 8217 ; s other major reforms included the puting up of local assemblies, which laid
the foundation of a representative system, and the debut of unfastened jurisprudence tribunals, with test by jury. Equally good as transporting out reforms, Alexander, during the early old ages of his reign, repealed or relaxed most of his male parent & # 8217 ; s austere steps. The censoring was all but
abolished. The universities, which Nicholas had strictly limited, regarding them as a breeding ground of revolution, were thrown open to as many newcomers as possible; so that a university education became available to any Russian who could afford a few shillings a term in the way of fees. The Government spies and secret police were given a holiday. As is so often the case, Alexander turned out to have been too hasty in ending his father’s repressive regime. The virtual abolition of the censorship led to the dissemination of inflammatory and revolutionary doctrines throughout Russia. Far from being grateful for Alexander’s reforms, the middle classes were disgruntled because these reforms did not go further than they did. As a sign of the growing unrest in the country, there were student riots–those in Moscow being suppressed with the help of the ordinary workmen, who, like the peasants, could always be rallied in support of the Tsar. Student riots were followed by outbreaks of incendiarism; and then, early in the 1860s, the cancer of terrorism–then known as Nihilism–made its appearance in the Russian body politic. The expansion of the universities was to a large extent responsible for this terrible evil; for while it provided an endless supply of graduates to fill the ever-increasing ranks of the civil service, it also produced a corresponding number of failed students who inevitably became Nihilists. Now that the secret police and the spies had been allowed to relax their vigilance, it was possible for Nihilism to be stamped out, or even kept under control. Outrages became increasingly frequent. In 1881, a Nihilist bomb ended the Tsar’s life. Thus perished that benevolent giant of an Emperor, who would have taken his people far along the road to democratic government of only they had given him the chance. In fact, when he was murdered, he was on the point of setting up a form of Parliament. It was inevitable that the new Emperor, Alexander III, having seen the father whom he loved and revered mortally wounded by a Nihilist bomb, should attempt to combat Nihilism by re-introducing his grandfather’s stern measures. So liberals everywhere came to regard Alexander III with as much distaste as they had regarded Nicholas I; especially in Britain, where, just as Nicholas’s Turkish ambitions had seemed to threaten British interests in the Near East, so did Alexander’s Central Asian policy now appear as a menace to British India. The large and powerfully-built Tsar, with his beard, his loud voice and his rather terrifying eyes, seemed the very reincarnation of the Russian Bear. Queen Victoria never forgave him for having brought about the overthrow of the young ruler of Bulgaria, Prince Alexander of Battenberg, a particular favourite of hers; it was of Alexander III that she made her celebrated remark: “He may be an Emperor, but the Queen does not regard him as a gentleman”. But however bad Alexander III’s image may have been outside Russia, he was popular with the great majority of his subjects. He was, in fact, a most able and energetic ruler; thanks his strong government, there was a decline in the number of Nihilist outrages, and an increase in prosperity. Alexander may not have regarded his people as being ripe for modern democratic institutions; but he set out to modernize the country in every other respect; it was during his reign that Russia was transformed into a powerful industrial nation. Though he could be frightening, he could also be extremely genial, in a bluff, bantering way. He pleased the more aggressively Russian of his subjects by his policy of “Russianization”–which included making Russian the official language of the German-speaking Baltic provinces. Alexander liked to think of himself as a Russian peasant, and affected a rough simplicity in his clothes and way of life–though he was also the patron of Faberge. He spent much of his time at a modest house in the country; though this was for reasons of security, as well as by choice. Ever since the murder of Alexander II, there had been the most elaborate security measures to protect the Tsar and his family, who were consequently seen much less by their subjects. Nevertheless, Alexander III and the Empress Marie were never recluses like their son and daughter-in-law. The beautiful and vivacious Empress, who was a Danish Princess and the sister of the Princess of Wales, was very popular in Russian society. It was a tragedy for the Imperial House, for Russia and for the world that Alexander III died in 1894, when he was barely fifty. Had he lived for twenty or thirty years longer, his toughness, ability and realism might have saved Russia from the calamities that befell her during the first two decades of this century. Instead, the unwieldy Empire passed to his twenty-six year old son, the amiable but weak Nicholas II. Compared with the big, forceful men who sat on the Throne of Russia before him, Nicholas looked almost like a child: a frail, gentle figure with “a caressing expression” in his eyes and a soft, low-pitched voice. To everyone with whom he had dealings, whether they were his subjects, his Royal relations or the ambassadors accredited to him, he was kind and considerate, but distant. As his cousin, Queen Marie of Roumania, wrote of him: “He seemed to live in a sort of Imperial mist”. Had Nicholas been married to a friendly and warm-hearted Princess like his mother, all might have been well with him; but the Empress Alexandra was even more withdrawn from the world than he was. Her fragile beauty was spoilt by her tight lips and the coldness of her eyes: she always looked miserable some thought. She was stiff, haughty, for ever on the defensive. This was due in part to shyness; but also to a sense of being superior to all other mortals, which had little or nothing to do with the fact that she was Royal, or an Empress; for the grandest of her Royal relations found her just as haughty and aloof as any of her subjects. Queen Marie of Roumania could remember ” the pinched, unwilling, patronizing smile with which she received all you said as if it were not worth while answering”. To make matters worse, she spoke in a whisper. For most of her husband’s reign, the Empress Alexandra refused to appear in public or to perform any of the duties of an Empress. Her behaviour can to a certain extent be explained by her desperate anxiety over her only son, the Tsarevitch Alexis, who was frequently in danger of death and very often in agony owing to the haemophilia which he had inherited from her side of the family. It was her belief that the so-called “holy man” could cure Alexis which led to her friendship with Rasputin. But even before Alexis was born, she had virtually become a recluse. Such was the Tsar’s devotion to her and his own reserve that it was all too easy for him to stay with her in her seclusion. Father, mother and children became entirely self-contained; they led a quiet, rather dull family life in a plainly-furnished corner of one of the vast and glittering Imperial palaces. St. Petersburg society was, to all intents and purposes, without an Emperor and Empress. The most influential section of the community came to regard the Imperial couple with indifference, or even resentment. Nicholas II cannot be fitted into the pattern of autocratic Tsars alternating with liberal tsars; for he was neither autocratic nor liberal. Or rather, he vacillated between liberalism and autwas neither autocratic nor liberal. Or rather, he vacillated between liberalism and autocracy; at one moment he called the Duma, at another he tried to rule as a despot. While he vacillated, Russia drifted to disaster. The events of his reign are all too well-known. There was the disastrous war with Japan, followed by a period of near-anarchy. Then came the rise of Stolypin, the first strong man Russia had seen since the death of Alexander III. With Stolypin in control, there was a miraculous recovery; but then he was murdered by a Nihilist during a gala performance in the theatre in Kiev. Dying, he raise Without Stolypin, the Empire began once again to drift. Then came 1914, when Russia went to war for the cause of Pan-Slavism; and in so doing set all Europe aflame. The country had only just recovered from the Japanese war; it should have been obvious to every thinking Russian that another war at this juncture would prove fatal. Alexander III, had he been alive, would almost certainly have realised this; and while sympathizing with Pan-Slavism, he would have kept the chauvinists of his country under control. But Nicholas hesitated between the advice of his pacific Foreign Minister, Sazonoff, and that of Sukhomlinoff, his chauvinistic Minister for War. He kept ordering mobilization and then cancelling it; until finally, when he ordered mobilization yet again, the War Office cut his telephone wire as to prevent him from countermanding the order until it was too late. During the war, the Tsar spent as much time as he could with his troops. In the easy atmosphere of the officers’ mess, Nicholas and his subjects were at last able to get to know each other; just as the supporters of Charles I of England–a monarch to whom Nicholas is frequently compared–only really got to know their King when he was their companion in arms. But it was too late. Soon, everything was out of control, and Russia was overwhelmed by the forces of revolution. The Tsar abdicated; the well-meaning but irresponsible Kerensky was ousted by the men who had arrived in a sealed train, carrying the plague bacillus of Communism with them. The Emperor, the Empress and their children were made prisoners, and moved from place to place; a journey which ended in the cellar at Ekaterinburg. That hideous murder of a father and mother, four young girls and a sick boy on a July night in 1918 was far from being the worst of the crimes committed in the name of Communism, either before or since; yet, with the possible exception of Katyn, it is the one which has caused the most horror and disgust.