February nineteen seventeen, in the throes of the First World War
, saw not only the anniversary of the invention of the artificial heart valve, but also the abdication of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, and riots which swept the capital from March 8th. With the abdication of the Tsar
on March 2nd, the throne passed to his brother Mikhail, who declined, leading to the end of the Romanov rule which had prevailed over Russia for some two hundred years. "We bequeath Our inheritance to Our brother the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich
and give him Our Blessing on his accession to the throne." His resignation, which many argue came from years of inefficient government, has, in recent years, been attributed more to Russia’s involvement with the war than any other factor.
There is an amount of evidence which would indicate that, contrary to the belief of many optimist-schooled historians, the Tsarist regime would have crumbled regardless of Russia’s involvement in the war. The fact that workers were able to overthrow the government, combined with the past attempted revolutions, indicates that the regime may not have been able to sustain itself for much longer, especially with a Tsar who is popularly believed to have been a poor leader. His lack of political interest was highlighted in a conversation he had with the president of the Duma on March 12th, the day before the Duma forced him to abdicate. A telegram was sent by the president reading “The situation is getting worse. Something has to be done immediately. Tomorrow is too late. The last hour has struck. The future of the country and the royal family is being decided.” The Tsar responded by saying that the “fat-bellied” president was once again pestering him with worthless and senseless facts, and said that he would not bother to reply. To many, this attitude was what sealed the fate of the regime.
There were a number of factors relating to decision made by the Tsar which may have lead to his eventual downfall, one of the main ones being the decision to personally lead the Russian army on the frontline. Seen by many as a move to rally the allegiance of the waning Russian public, could this move have ultimately cost the Tsar his throne, and turned Russia, in the words of Lenin, into “the freest country in the world”? The Tsar was, it is argued, not held in connection with the failures of the Russian government to manage the army and war, and therefore, had he not decided to link himself directly to the army, could quite possibly have escaped untouched, and his reputation untarnished. The fact that by February the government was in chaos, with the Tsar eventually failing to take action on any front, served to aggravate matters severely. It has also been said that the severity of the situation in Russia, especially in St. Petersburg at the time, was dire to the point where is was arguably impossible to reolve itself in any way other than through a full-scale revolution. “ The situation in Petrograd (formerly St Petersburg) was dire for most of the population.”
A second, equally critical mistake many feel contributed to the Tsarist downfall stemming from Russia’s participation in the war and the Tsar’s decision to lead his army was his leaving the Tsarina in charge, thus placing the country in the hands of a woman who was not only considered incapable by w wide section of society, but also took advice from a contempted figure by the name of Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd). This, alongside rumours that she was siding with the Germans (being half-German herself), served only to weaken the Tsars position in conjunction with the war. The March 8 riots in Petrograd highlighted the armies failure to respond to orders, as gruadually, on the twelth of Marchregiment after regiment moved over onto the side of the people. This gradual movement serves to highlight the instantaneousness of the revolution, with soldiers slowly being won over unit at a time.
Many argue that the loss of the army, who gradually mutinied as they failed to take violent action against rioters in the demonstrators as their orders demanded, was critical to the destabilising of the regime and the consequent revolution.
Looking at the evidence, it is clear that there were far more reasons simply than Russia’s involvement with the war, however it is likely had Russia not become involved with the war, the Tsarist regime may have been able to sustain itself for years to come. In fact, had the Tsar not become so personally involved with the conflict in an attempt to rally the support of his countrymen, the Tsarist regime may have survived the war regardless of his participation.
I wrote this some time ago when I was still at school, but I found it on my scratchpad and thought I'd post it. Some of the arguements may be somewhat regurgitated.