The Romanov dynasty

The Romanov dynasty was Russia's second imperial authority following the Rurik Dynasty. It established its control in the early 17th century and reigned until Nicholas II, the last of the Tsars, abdicated power (Azar). It was one of Europe's oldest governments, led by a royal family with the Tsar as its leader. Despite the fact that the Tsars were extremely affluent, the majority of the population was made up of peasants. This unequal balance of power and resources eventually led to the turmoil of the early nineteenth century, which resulted in successive strikes and uprisings by locals. Consequently, this situation led to the assumption of power by a provisional government after Nicholas II was obliged to step down from power.

Nicholas II

Nicholas II, the last Tsar in the House of Romanov, was the eldest son and apparent heir of Alexander III who was the ruler before him. Nicholas was forced to assume power due to the unexpected death of his father who died at the relatively young age of 49 (Azar). From the onset of his reign, Nicholas was ill suited for his position as emperor. He lacked both the temperament and the experience necessary to successfully steer his nation away from crisis. Nicholas could be described as reserved, shy and timid in nature although he had a charming side. He avoided close contact with his subjects and preferred the company of his family's circle.

Nicholas II, shortly after his ascension to the throne, married his fiancé Alexandra Feodorovna with whom he was passionately devoted to. She was previously known as Alixe of Hesse while she was still a duchy in the German Empire. She was also notably the grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England (Massie 28). Together, Nicholas and Alexandra had four daughters and a haemophilic son, Alexis. The haemophilic gene was passed on to from Alexandra to her son. She had the necessary resolve of character that Nicholas lacked and often imposed extreme advice of retaining autocracy and disregarding the views of the people to her husband.

Nicholas reign was marred by poor handling of public affairs and his insecurity in distrusting his ministers which only served to isolate him in power when he clearly lacked the administrative edge to govern Russia effectively (Keep). He was responsible for making decisions that caused a lot of civil unrest due to the socio economic consequences thereafter.

Russo-Japan War

Due to the Tsar's compelling interest to expand his empire, he decided to involve himself in contention for colonial possession. He had developed an interest in Asia awhile back and was set to establish dominance in Korea and Manchuria, an expansive region in North-West China. Unfortunately, the Japanese also lay claim to these regions and hence instigating war between the two countries (Fleming). Nicholas II used this opportunity as a classic political technique of diverting attention of the masses away from domestic concerns arising from economic depression being experienced then by engaging in a war with Japan. He used the war as a ploy to rally patriotic support from the masses. However, this only served to aggravate his already declining popularity as the war felt remote to the people since it was fought many miles away from their land.

Russia approached the war with haughtiness and presumption, severely underestimating Japan's military might. Japan was ridiculed as an Eastern nation which could not pose any real threat to Russia. Japan had improved its military ability over the century training its soldiers on unfamiliar western military techniques which involved the effective use of firing ammunition. The unexpected outcome of the war only served to be a huge embarrassment internationally, with Russia experiencing defeat in less than eighteen months on both land and sea. They lost control of the strategically placed Port Arthur in the region thus losing a significant portion of their military might (Lovell 58). Thousands lost their lives in the siege leading to hopelessness back in Petrograda. At Tsushima, the Russian Baltic Fleet also suffered a humiliating defeat by Japanese navy forcing the Tsar to initiate peaceful negotiations to end the war. Although the Russian navy had a larger fleet, the Japanese were able to employ ingenious military tactics to effectively surround their opponents and eventually sink their ship.

The result of the war only discredited the Tsar's authority and exacerbated the already receding economy. This led to the revolution of 1905, where he grudgingly agreed to create a national representative assembly called Duma where the country now shifted from becoming an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy (Lovell 123). However, in 1906 he was quick to ensure that he still had autocratic authority in the creation of Fundamental Laws. The first two representatives of Duma were also untimely dissolved as being insubordinate. This was a public statement of his will to continue his domineering rule without relenting.

Grigori Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin was a Siberian Peasant who made his way into the close family circle of the Tsar as a mystical healer. The Tsarina Alexander quickly took to him as he had successful alleviated her son's haemophilia unlike other medical practitioners. Rasputin used this opportunity to exert his influence over the imperial couple. He claimed to be a prophet and was widely despised by other government officials. He was used by journalists and a number of politicians to discredit the Tsar's credibility. Unfortunately for the Tsar, accounts of Rasputin's unbridled lecherous behaviour and remarks were documented by the media. Alexander always defended Rasputin giving the impression that he was a very close advisor to the rulers. The “mad monk” as he was referred to by government officials who despised him, was quick to exert his influence by advising the royal family bogusly. He suggested a list of unhelpful nominees to the Tsarina, with whom he enjoyed loyal support from even in the face of criticism among government officials. It was these reasons that fuelled his murder in 1916. Before he died, he had prophesied that disaster would befall the country and it did when Russia entered the First World War. He also correctly prophesied that the Tsar's family would be killed by the Russian folk should the Tsar himself be killed by the government. This came to pass when the Tsars family were all shot dead apart from those who are said to have fled the country.

Russia in the First World War.

In 1915, Nicholas took command of the military while his wife was left in charge of overseeing domestic matters. This had a significant role to play in the downfall of the empire. The decision to serve as the military personal command was against the advisement of his ministers who felt that it was a disruption of administrative duties which were crucial at the point (Selcer). In retrospect, it was a poor decision made by the Tsar if one was to take into account the successive losses Russia had just previously incurred leading to loss of lives in the millions and suffering a shortage of weapons and ammunition. The nation was in no position to successfully wage war.

While the Tsar did not interfere much with operational decisions while at the helm of military operations, he had left a disastrous situation at home (Selcer). He favoured the Tsarina's recommendations which only ended up making the already desperate national situation worse. Competent ministers and government officials were unceremoniously dismissed only for Alexander to appoint contemptible nominees of Rasputin. Rasputin was in high favour of upholding the autocratic government because with its downfall, he would face terrible consequences in the social hierarchy. This created an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust in the government.

The Russian army was considerably weakened in the early phases of the war. This only served to compound the already worse economic situation (Miller). The losses incurred in the World War led to intolerable living circumstances such as a high inflation rate, lack of food and exacerbating poverty levels in the nation.

Russian Revolution of 1917

It was these intolerable living circumstances that led to the uprising held in Russia. The first, which occurred in February was a demonstration by workers and soldiers who rose up in protest of the lack of bread and to end the war in general. The whole meltdown began due to the standstill caused in the railway service which supplied Petrograd with food and fuel. There had been blizzards and frosts which prevented the operation of the railway service (Stickland & Wood). This was what ignited the first spark of the demonstrations as women workers took to the streets to make their protests known. Within a short while men folk had joined the protests and the masses could not even be stopped by the local police on orders of the Tsar. It was too late since the government had officially resigned and the Duma supported the army to take control of the state thus forcing the Tsar to abdicate his position after just four days of the Revolution.

Shortly after the February revolution, there was an uprising in October which led to a coup by the Bolsheviks taking power from the Provisional Government that had been created soon after the Tsars abdication (Keep). These Bolsheviks are the ones who are responsible for the death of the Tsar and his family in 1918. They were shot dead in Ekaterinburg.


Nicholas II the second, together with his wife played a crucial role in the fall of the Romanov Empire. The imprudent series of decisions that were made by the Tsar and his wife, eventually were their own undoing leading Russia to horrendous revolutions and civil wars, even after their deaths. They were unfortunate in their authoritative style of rule since in the end they only managed to be hated by their own subjects without much personal success.

Works Cited

"Nicholas II, Czar Of Russia." (2013): Credo Reference Collections. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Azar, Hellen. Romanov Dynasty: A Brief History. 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <> Editors. Rasputin Biography. 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Fleming, Candace. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, And The Fall Of Imperial Russia. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2014. Discovery eBooks. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Keep, John L.H. Nicholas II, The Tsar of Russia. 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Lovell, Stephen. "Decline And Fall Of The Romanov Empire." TLS. Times Literary Supplement 5924 (2016): 15. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Massie, Robert K. Nicholas And Alexandra : The Fall Of The Romanov Dynasty / Robert K. Massie. n.p.: New York : Modern Library, 2012., 2012. Harvard Library Bibliographic Dataset. Web. 8 Feb. 2017

Miller, A. I. The Romanov Empire And Nationalism : Essays In The Methodology Of Historical Research. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2008. Discovery eBooks. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Selcer, Richard. "The last warrior-king: Nicholas II may not have led men in battle, but he did command from the front--to the ultimate detriment of his country, his army, his family and himself." Military History 2016: 42. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.

Stickland, J. Wood, J. Was the fall of the Romanov Dynasty Inevitable. 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.<>

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