Assessing the Character of Nicholas II

“The daily work of a monarch he found intolerably boring. He could not stand listening long or seriously to ministers’ reports, or reading them.” Written by Kerensky, the leader of the government which took over from the Tsar in 1917, in his memoirs in 1934.

“His ancestors did not pass on to him one quality which would have made him capable of governing an empire.” Written by Trotsky, one of the leaders of the revolutionaries who opposed the Tsar, in 1932.

“Nicholas II was not fit to run a village post office.” Said by an unknown cabinet minister

“He never had an opinion of his own … always agreeing with the judgement of the last person he spoke to.” By Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich

: Nicholas was “kind to those around him and deeply religious. … He believed wholeheartedly in autocracy. … He genuinely wanted to bring happiness and prosperity to his people”. From a modern GCSE school textbook.

“He has a quick mind and learns easily. In this respect he is far superior to his father.” By Sergei Witte, chief minister under Nicholas, in his memoirs. Even though he disliked the Tsar, he said this of Nicholas.

“There is no doubt that Nicholas was a kind, well-meaning person, with a deep affection for his family. He was devoted to his wife, Alexandra, his son, Alexis, and his four daughters. Family photographs were in every room of the palace, including the lavatory.” From a modern GCSE school textbook.

“Nicholas would sooner spend time with his family than deal with governmental affairs. [He] could be cruel and merciless. He would not stand for opposition. His answer was always the same – violence.” From a modern GCSE school textbook.

“He kept saying … that he was wholly unfit to reign … And yet Nicky’s unfitness was by no means his fault. He had intelligence, he had faith and courage and he was wholly ignorant about governmental matters. Nicky had been trained as a soldier. He should have been taught statesmanship, and he was not.” From the diary of the Tsar’s sister, the Grand Duchess Olga.

“Nicholas believed wholeheartedly in autocracy. He thought that democracy with elections and parliaments would lead to the collapse of Russia. Nicholas knew very little about the [Russian] people. He did not visit factories or villages, or go on tours. His information about what was going on came from a small number of people, who were quite happy to protect him from the realities of life in Russia.” From a modern GCSE school textbook.

Nicholas was “even more poorly prepared than his father for the burdens of kingship. Nicholas had no knowledge of the world of men, of politics or government to help him make the weighty decisions that in the Russian system the Tsar alone must make.” From H. Rogger, Russia in the Age of Modernisation and Revolution, 1983

“Nicholas was not a stupid man … The problems Russia faced were very great … Nicholas II loved his country and served it loyally and to the best of his ability. He had not sought power … He was very kind, sensitive, generous. … [The situation] would probably have destroyed any man who sat on the throne.” From Nicholas II, Emperor of All the Russians, by Dominic Lieven, 1994.

“Nicholas’ problem was that he could understand many points of view and wavered between them … his personality meant that he was not very good at exercising it.” From Nicholas II, Emperor of All the Russians, by Dominic Lieven, 1994.

Nicholas’ wife, “Alexandra, was clearly very much in love with Nicholas. In the evenings, she demanded that he spend time with the family. She encouraged the Tsar to withdraw from public events to a private family world.” From a modern GCSE school textbook.

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This entry was posted in 1917, Communism, Historical Interpretation, History, Russian revolution, USSR and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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