Little Bits of History

Saint Nick

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 1, 2013
Nicholas II's coronation

Nicholas II and Alexandra

November 1, 1894: Nicholas II begins his reign as Tsar of Russia. His official title was Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. He was also the Grand Duke of Finland and claimed to be King of Poland. His father, Emperor Alexander III, died and Nicholas assumed the throne although the official coronation was not held until May 14 (O.S.) or May 26, 1896.

Alexander III was the second son of Alexander II. He was not expected to assume the leadership role and so not properly trained. His older brother, Nicholas, died suddenly of meningitis in 1865 and Alexander became heir apparent. Nicholas was 21 when he died and Alexander III was 20.

Alexander’s training was accelerated. His reign began March 13, 1881 shortly after his 36th birthday. He was known as Alexander the Peacemaker. His father had ferreted out abuses in the military and among aristocrats and was assassinated for his efforts. Alexander III took up a position of appeasement and gained support of the autocrats. He felt Russia should be governed by the autocracy and should be unified under one nationality, one religion (Russian Orthodox), and one language. He instituted several anti-Semitic pogroms and so began the emigration of many Russian Jews.

Nicholas II became the Tsarevich upon his grandfather’s assassination; he was 13. His parents had a politically motivated marriage planned for the young man, but Nicholas rebelled and married Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt. They were engaged in the spring of 1894 and Alix converted to Russian Orthodoxy. Alexander III died much sooner than anyone expected. He should have ruled for another 20 years. Nicholas II assumed the throne unprepared and afraid. In order to assure the one person he could trust would not leave, the couple married on November 26, 1894 – months ahead of schedule.

Nicholas’s reign was a disaster. The first major issue was the Russo-Japanese War which began in 1904. The defeat was crushing and helped to bring about the 1905 Revolution. Nicholas’s mishandling of Bloody Sunday led to his being called Bloody Nicholas. He instituted the State Duma, a legislative assembly. His son was born and was a hemophiliac. His actions during World War I were severely questioned. The October Revolution resulted in the Bolsheviks seizing power. The Last Tsar of Russia and his entire family were executed on July 17, 1918. He was added to the Russian Orthodoxy sainthood in 2000.

“I am not yet ready to be Tsar. I know nothing of the business of ruling.” – Nicholas II

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” – unknown

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” – Thomas J. Watson

“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.” – Anne Bradstreet

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: In 1907 Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra invited a mystic healer to help with their young son, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia, a bleeding disease. Much of royalty throughout Europe was affected by this disease which sprang from the lineage of British Queen Victoria who was Alexei’s great-grandmother. The boy suffered terribly and so Rasputin was called in. The family, especially Alexandra, came to depend on Rasputin’s advice even if it did not have to do with healing the young Tsarevich. Rasputin was able to offer relief to the boy either by hypnosis or by keeping doctors and harmful treatments away from the child. As the royal family came to depend on him, Rasputin’s behavior became more controversial. He was accused of many crimes including the rape of a nun. After an unsuccessful murder attempt in 1914 where he was severely wounded, he was often in pain and used opium for relief. He was assassinated in December 1916 and because of the difference in dates between the Old Style and new calendars the date is often in question. It was probably December 30.

Also on this day: Michigan’s Bridge – In 1957, Mackinac Bridge opened.
When Harry Met Oscar (and Griselio) – In 1950, President Truman survived an assassination attempt.
A Little Learning – In 1886, Ananda College was founded.

3 Responses

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  1. hairballexpress said, on November 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    There was an awful lot of assassinations going on over there!

    Your posts are fascinating!@


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