Was Nicholas II responsible for his own downfall?

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Was Nicholas II responsible for his own downfall?

Nicholas II acted as an autocratic monarch rather than a constitutional leader, and this was a factor in his eventual downfall and abdication.

Other factors included, him leaving Russia in the incapable hand of his wife, Alexandra, who herself was greatly influenced by Rasputin. The ‘Holy Man’ Rasputin was becoming more and more popular with Alexandra for helping their only son, Alexis’s with his haemophilia, and his strange but powerful brand of spirituality certainly affected both Alexandra and Nicholas. It could be argued that Nicholas was himself responsible for allowing the power of Rasputin to extend so far and to influence his political decisions.    

Historians are in agreement that Nicholas lacked the necessary skills and qualities to rule a rapidly changing country. There were however factors outside of Nicholas’ control, including his son’s illness, that he could not be held directly responsible for. Indeed Russia was a huge country which was very hard to govern even for the most competent Tsar.

One of the first factors which Nicholas was responsible for was his weak character and the fact that he allowed Alexandra to be so dominant. She encouraged him to hold on to his absolute power when a change in his style of leadership may have been a more politically useful tactic.  

A very significant contributing factor to Nicholas’ downfall was the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-05. Russia and Japan went to war over control of Manchuria and Korea. Russia was alleged to have a quick and decisive victory over Japan. However the war did not go to plan and Russia was defeated. Japan destroyed Russia’s army in May 1905 at Tsushima later in September 1905 Russia accepted Japan’s treaty. The Japanese then had control of Korea and most of Manchuria. This made the Russian government and especially Nicholas very unpopular and although it could be said that it was not directly Nicholas’ fault that the Russian armies were defeated this did contribute greatly to his downfall.

Another contributing factor to Nicholas’ downfall was Bloody Sunday, which was mainly Nicholas’ fault because he should have stopped his troops from firing at the crowds. On January 22nd Farther Gapon led over 20,000 people through the streets of St Petersburg with a petition complaining about the poor conditions in which they had to live. As the people moved closer to the palace they faced a line of Cossack Calvary and with one command from the captain the troops began to shoot at the crowds and throw their swords into the crowds of people killing hundreds. As the people ran the troops chased them and kill them. Many innocent bystanders got caught in the crossfire and were killed in their own homes. Official figures said that 96 were killed and 333 were injured but the actual figures were probably much higher. The Bloody Sunday massacre shocked people all around the world, it caused a wave of protests against the Tsar more than half a million workers went on strike and later on the 17th February the Tsar’s uncle was killed. Nicholas wrote in his diary, “There has been serious disorder in St Petersburg because workmen wanted to come to the winter palace. Troops had to open fire; there were many killed and wounded. God, how painful and sad.” Following this incident more and more people began to join unions and peasants revolted by killing the landowners. Nicholas could be held  responsible for this contributing factor towards his own downfall.

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Another reason Nicholas could be seen as being responsible for his own downfall concerned the Duma. Nicholas was forced to set up a Duma, parliament, as a result of the October Manifesto to give Russian people more rights. However Nicholas made sure that ...

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This is a thorough and strong response that covers all the key points well. The author regularly links back to the question and offers a convincing conclusion. 5 out of 5 stars.