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To what extent did Nicholas II's style of autocracy differ from that of his father and grandfather?

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Introduction

To what extent did Nicholas II's style of autocracy differ from that of his father and grandfather? Historians have often described Tsar Nicholas II as the most inept Russian leader. He was viewed by many as indecisive and ill equipped to fulfil autocracy successfully. However, he did have fundamental strengths such as his belief in family values. When compared to his father and his grandfather, many see his reign as inferior to theirs. Alexander II, known as "Tsar Liberator", beckoned in an age of reform. In comparison, Alexander III encouraged counter-reform. Nicholas' reign included both of these features and it is debated to what extent his seemingly incompetent reign differed from that of his ancestors. One key area, which decided their style of autocracy, is that of reform. All three Tsars had experience of it and handled it in very different ways. Nicholas lacked domestic policies. He sought industrial expansion and modernisation and the establishment of a secure financial base but expansion, which would ensure a stable climate, which was conservative, agrarian and dominated by the nobility. ...read more.

Middle

His father was a devout autocrat and refused to devolve any power to any other person or assembly than himself. His grandfather, although a fervent reformist and keen moderniser, also did little to involve a national assembly. Although the Duma was conceived in his reign, it was granted very little power and much authority remained with the Tsar and nobility. In this principle, Nicholas II's style of autocracy was different from his father and grandfather since he was the only Tsar to, although not willingly, concede to a form of democracy. Another key area of autocracy was personality. Nicholas was not meant to become Tsar. He had only ascended after the sudden death of his brother and so had not received the training to become an effective leader. He was renowned for his indecisiveness and his unwillingness to engage in politics. He lacked organisational skills and was inherently stubborn, which would ultimately prove to be his downfall. He preferred to spend time with his family and his ailing son and took little active role in his government. ...read more.

Conclusion

He also encouraged investment in industry and the economy. Russia was greatly strengthened by his influence. Unlike his successors, his reign was one of reform and change as opposed to backward repression. He also encouraged mistrust due to his relationship with Rasputin. However, much of this was due to the influence of his wife, Alexandra. She was also oppressive and is to have encouraged the massacre on Bloody Sunday and Rasputin's presence at court. In conclusion, although cursed by circumstance and enemies not of his own making, Nicholas II's reign was not wholly different from that of his father and grandfather. He encompasses ideals of his father, in his support of Russification, pogroms and the general maintenance of the Slavic way of life. He also attempted reform through Witte and encouraged industrial expansion and financial improvements, in the spirit of his grandfather. However, the concept that all three Tsars have in common is their support of the system of autocracy and it was only Nicholas, the last Tsar, who would ever see a partial democracy in Russia. ...read more.

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