Opinion

Opinion: Tzar Nicholas II was one of the worst leaders in modern history

He had no specific ideology, unlike his father and grandfather, and made all the worst decisions that led to the fall of the Russian monarchy.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/henryliu114/" target="_self">Henry Liu</a>

Henry Liu

July 26, 2022
It’s 1894, the previous Tzar had just died and it’s time for a new one to be crowned. Nicholas II was crowned that year as Tzar of Russia. He was one of the worst leaders of the modern era. 

He was not ready to be Tzar when he was crowned. On Biography.com, it’s reported that, unlike the other Tzars, Nicholas was not properly taught how to rule a country. He was not a repressor like his father nor was he a reformer like his grandfather. Nicholas, with his lack of education, was easily swayed.

According to The Romanovs Royal Martyrs Project, when Nicholas was crowned, he went to a party with the French after the Khodynka tragedy, which left about 1300 people dead from a stampede to the celebration foods from the crowning. It was common for tzars to attend lavish parties at the expense of the people; Nicholas’s continuation of this unsightly behavior started ruining his reputation as their leader from day one.

During this time, many Russian people started seeking their fortunes elsewhere in Europe as those areas were rapidly industrializing. Russia was still underdeveloped. People felt as if the rule of the Tzar was getting old. Eventually, a communist party called the Soviets started rising up. 

At this time, Nicholas went to war with Japan over Manchuria. According to Alpha History, Emperor Meiji initially wanted to split the land, as he did not want war. However, Nicholas saw Japan as feudal and underdeveloped, so he declared war on Japan.

At first, Nicholas thought a puny little Asain country was no match against his Russian forces; little did he know, Japan was rapidly developing as well. And soon Russia lost the war and Manchuria. Angered, the people started rioting more and more. 

A breaking point occurred when a peaceful protest was led by Father Gapon to ask the Tzar for their rights. According to Alpha History, the protest was peaceful and respectful, but it ended in bloodshed with the guards firing on the protestors. Nicholas left the Winter Palace a few days before the protest. He never ordered the guards to fire, but as an autocrat, he got the blame. This breaking point led to a revolution. However, it was easily put down by Nicholas, with his powers at the time.

A few years later, Nicholas appointed Rasputin and allowed him to stay in his palace. According to Britannica, Rasputin was also known as a homeless wizard, who could mysteriously heal people. Hearing of this, Nicholas appointed him to his palace. Nicholas’s son, Alexis, had hemophilia. Rasputin somehow healed Alexis.

However, Rasputin was unsettling, to say the least. He loved to drink and also have orgies. Having a drunk and lustful homeless man at the palace ruined the Tzar’s reputation even more. It was a huge scandal at the time, and what people feared at the time was that Rasputin was influencing the Tzar.

Eventually, Rasputin was assassinated by some noblemen who opposed him, primarily to stop his influence on Nicholas. Rasputin was poisoned, but survived, then shot to death, his body then thrown into an ice-filled river.

The last straw for Nicholas was World War I. According to Biography.com, Nicholas went to the frontlines to lead the fight; however, during this time, Rasputin was still living in the Winter Palace. Nicholas left the control of Russia to Rasputin while he was gone to war. With the people angered at being under the rule of a disreputable advisor, they started revolting, eventually taking control of the country.

Led by Lenin, another revolution came up and successfully took over the country. With no leader around, Nicholas took the next train back; however, it never made it back, as he was captured. Nicholas soon had to sign a treaty giving the people more power, lessening his power. Nicholas finally abdicated his throne, giving the power to the Soviets.

On July 16, 1918, Nicholas II was executed, and his whole family was massacred by the Soviets.

In my opinion, I believe that Tzar Nicholas II was one of the worst rulers in modern history. He slaughtered his people, left his country in control of the hated Rasputin to fight on the frontlines of a war he would lose and most importantly, diminished and finally destroyed the throne.

He had no specific ideology, unlike his father and grandfather, and made all the worst decisions that led to the fall of the Russian monarchy. His failure to recognize the suffering of the people and his weakness led to his downfall and soon to his death. 

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