The Tsar and Political Authority

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  • The Tsar and Political Authority
    • The autocratic emperor of Russia in 1917 was Tsar Nicholas II, a member of Romanov dynasty that had ruled Russia since 1613
    • He was just 12 year old when his reformist grandfather, Tsar Alexander II had been blown up by a revolutionary bomb.
      • Both this incident, and the behavior of his reactionary father, Alexander III, who was determined to uphold tsarists power without concessions, had profoundly influenced him.
        • Brought up in a sheltered environment, Nicholas had been tutored  by an arch-conservative who had ensured that he had the moral correctness of autocracy instilled in him from a very young age.
    • Nicholas' personality ill suited him for the position
      • He was naturally rather shy and awkward in public: he found the intricate details of politics boring and tended to be over-cautious
      • Also, very stubborn resenting any uncalled for advice which he saw as criticism
    • Called prospects of a national assembly a "senseless dream". Eventually had a duma however tried to suppress it to minimize its influence
      • Felt that he had to keep his enemies weak, to preserve his own authority. Constantly pitted them against each other, becoming suspicious of those who grew powerful and since he hated confrontation he dismissed ministers behind their back instead of to their face.
        • His reluctance to innovate combined with perpetual problems of state finance and disorganization brought by the many overlapping institutions of Tsarists government  , all helped weaken political authority.
    • Conversely, his wife Alex was strong willed woman and her advice to Nicholas to "stand firm"
      • Introduced her husband to Rasputin. However Rasputin's influence over the tsar began to interfere with government appointment, particularly after war.
        • Rasputin was also known for womanizing and excessive drinking.
    • in 1913, the last year of peace, Nicholas seemed barely aware of discontent forming around him. This year was full of strikes

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