Tsar Nicholas II
Who was he: Tsar Nicholas II was the last of the Russian emperors. He is noted for his strong adherence to absolute autocracy, which ultimately led to the downfall of the Russian empire and rise of the Communist Revolution.
Tsar Nicholas II was also nicknamed Bloody Nicholas because of his execution of his political opponents and other acts of brutality. Bloody Sunday was one particularly infamous moment in his reign, in which he ordered Cossacks to kill more than 100 protesters who were demanding shorter working hours and higher wages. This incident prompted the 1905 Revolution characterized by nationwide strikes and dissent among the military.
It was during Tsar Nicholas II's reign that Russia's political and economic power fell drastically. One of the factors in this decline was the defeat of the Russians by the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War, during which the Russian naval fleet was destroyed.
As an attempt to rectify the internal unrest within the Russian Empire, Nicholas published the October Manifesto, which granted freedom of speech and assembly and abolished the practice of imprisonment without trial. The Duma, a consultative body, was established at that time to approve new laws. This did not satisfy the protesters, among whom was Leon Trotsky, who was instrumental in forming the St. Petersburg Soviet and 50 similar organizations across the country.
The labor unrest also inspired the development of radical ideologies such as Marxism, which became one of the pillars of Soviet Communism in subsequent decades. Ironically, Nicholas II later dissolved the Duma after rejecting its proposals.
While Tsar Nicholas II was leading his country to decline, he did inspire local citizens, especially the working classes, to rebel against his autocratic principles. He was deemed an incompetent ruler who failed to maintain the balance of power, unlike previous tsars. His very incompetence and stubborn adherence to autocracy became his own downfall, giving rise to the Bolsheviks and the birth of the Communist Party as the sole ruling party of a new nation, the Soviet Union.
It is ironic, given Tsar Nicholas II's failings, that what came after him was a thousand times worse than the autocracy over which he presided. Government solutions that are birthed in blood often give rise to genocide, as did the Russian Revolution.
Additionally, as Edward Griffin and other alternative historians have pointed out, there is a good deal more to the story of the fall of Tsar Nicholas II than has been told. The great banking families of the West, and the banks of Wall Street in particular, financed the Russian Revolution that led to Communism. Tsar Nicholas was ultimately done in by the West.
Background: Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov, Tsar Nicholas II, was born on May 18, 1868, the son of Tsar Alexander III. Nicholas succeeded his father to the throne when the latter died of liver disease in 1894. Nicholas was 26 at the time.
During that same year, Nicholas married Alexandra, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was unpopular among the elite despite her marriage to the Tsar. Alexandra was instrumental in influencing Nicholas to resist growing calls for democracy from the citizenry. She also angered many because of her constant reliance on the political advice of Rasputin, himself a controversial figure in the Russian Empire due to his unusual spiritual beliefs.
Upon being named Tsar, Nicholas II felt unprepared and ill-trained to rule Russia after his father's death, despite his previous stints in governance. Prior to his father's demise, he had served as Chairman of the Special Committee on Famine Relief, the Finance Committee and State Military Council. He chose to maintain his father's conservatism throughout his reign and was more of an administrator than a formulator of public policy.
Political and civil unrest escalated due to his autocratic policies and the terrible economic conditions resulting from Nicholas's inept rule. After a series of failures in suppressing industrial unrest climaxed by the February Revolution of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne the following month.
At first, Nicholas and his family were offered exile in Britain, but this was withdrawn by King George V who did not want to be associated with his autocratic cousin. Later they were moved to Ekaterinburg in Siberia, only to be attacked and murdered by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.