Childhood and growing up

Within the family circle

Under the burden of power

The time of difficult decisions





Under the burden of power

  II.  1914 .

Emperor Nicholas II. Before 1914.

Among the masses the beginning of the new reign was met if not with enthusiasm then at least with great hopes and expectations. Faith in the monarch was still unshaken. The underlying public attitude consisted of dreams that Russian life, "frozen" during the reign of Alexander III, would become more lively. Recalling these years later General Alexei Ignatyev, then a page to the Empress, defined the public mood quite well: "No-one had any dark premonitions in that winter of 1895/96," he wrote. "We all keenly anticipated the best from the new young Emperor and took delight in his every gesture, seeing in this if not the start of a new era, then at any event the breaking down of the Gatchina existence established by Alexander III.

"The Tsar moved his residence to sunny, gay Tsarskoye Selo. The Tsar opened the rusted doors of the Winter Palace. The young couple without any guard simply rode about the capital in a sleigh. And even the statement about impossible dreams' that the Tsar made during a reception for the Tver nobility was perceived as a temporary misunderstanding."

The first gloomy omen for the new reign was the well-known disaster at Khodynka Field that took place in May 1896 during the coronation celebrations. It was this ominously symbolic event that became for Nicholas the beginning of a long series of personal, family and national tragedies and failures that with a dreadful inevitability led the age-old monarchy and its last ruler to a fatal end.

There was naturally, in nearly all cases, a gap in time between the succession of a new monarch and the coronation ritual in the old capital, Moscow, with its accompanying celebrations. The length of the interval varied and depended on a number of factors, but above all on the wishes of the new Emperor. Usually the coronation was timed for spring or summer as the people traditionally celebrated outdoors. On this occasion it was to take place in mid-May.

The coronation ceremony took place on 14 May, "a great, festive day, yet hard in a moral sense", as Nicholas described it. "All this took place in the Assumption Cathedral, although it really seems like a dream, the memory of it will last a lifetime!!!" He recognised in full measure the significance of a rite whose roots went back into the depths of time. Until he was anointed with holy oil, the monarch was not considered to have come to power completely only the Church through its senior clergy could give the Emperor ultimate authority.

The entire ceremony lasted about four hours. The service was conducted by Pallady, the Metropolitan of St Petersburg, with many other high clergymen in attendance. The Emperor recited the Creed, as required, then he was enrobed. Wearing the crown and holding the orb and sceptre, he pronounced the coronation prayer and listened to the response spoken by the Metropolitan on behalf of the people. After the liturgy Nicholas was anointed with holy chrism, made his oath, and for the first and last time in his life entered the sanctuary to take communion "by the royal rite". As he ascended the steps the chain holding the Order of St Andrew the First-Called slipped from his shoulders. This was seen only by those close by and for fear of unfavourable gossip the occurrence was hushed up.

In the days immediately after Khodynka, Nicholas and Alexandra travelled around the hospitals, witnessing terrible sights and comforting the victims, and also attended the requiem service. The sum of 1,000 roubles was allotted to the families of the dead and injured. All the funeral expenses the bodies each in a separate coffin and not in a common grave as often happened with disasters were met by the state. At the Tsar's own instruction a special orphanage was founded for children who had lost their parents. "No attempt was made to conceal or diminish what had occurred," S. Oldenburg wrote. "Reports of the tragedy appeared in the papers the very next day, 19 May, to the surprise of the Chinese envoy Lee Hun Chan, who told Witte that far from being published such sad news should not even have been conveyed to the Emperor! Public opinion began to seek out the guilty. Left-wing publications alluded to the general conditions' and wrote, among other things, that if the people had more sensible diversions, they would not have been so greedy to get the presents"

The reputation of the Emperor, who from that point on was referred to ever more often as "Nicholas the Bloody", was considerably tarnished and even the manifesto granting all manner of benefits to those affected (as was usual in such cases) did not improve the general negative impression.

Having at last reached the end of a very draining three weeks, Nicholas wrote in his diary with an enormous feeling of relief on 26 May: "Thank God, the last day has come!" After a glittering military parade, held on that same ill-starred Khodynka Field, a farewell reception for the foreign delegations, and a large dinner for the Moscow authorities and representatives of the different estates, the royal couple left the old capital. The following morning, at Ilyinskoye, the estate outside Moscow belonging to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Elizabeth Fiodorovna, Nicholas and Alexandra "woke up with the wonderful awareness that everything was over, and now we can live for ourselves quietly and peacefully!"

They were still happily ignorant of the fact that recent events were only the start of a long and difficult road, full of trials. The hardest times still lay ahead.

Nicholas came to power in a period of deep calm at home and enduring peace in Europe. The country's economy was developing at a hitherto unseen pace and Russia's established appearance was changing by the day. Factories sprang up on what had only recently been agricultural land on the outskirts of cities; a network of railways spread to more and more new industrial regions, mines and ports. In a mere decade the length of the Empire's railways and its industrial output both doubled. In metallurgy and machine-building the figures tripled. The "colossal wealth of the country", first shown in all its scope at the 1896 exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod, was truly striking.

The Russian ship of state continued by inertia to follow the course established by Alexander III, who with a firm hand put an end to the "sedition" and terrorist outrages of the late 1870s and loudly declared his will in domestic and international affairs. The outwardly indisputable prosperity of the first years of Nicholas's reign was a direct continuation of that period, but even then many more far-sighted people noted with disquiet the gradually multiplying signs that beneath the surface things were not well with the established order in the Empire, for all that it still seemed indestructible. From the very start of his rule Nicholas encountered many serious problems that grew ever more from year to year.

The new Emperor inherited unbridled power, but not his father's masterful nature and authority. Alexander III was able to engender respect even among his enemies and those who wished him ill, not to mention the assistants he himself appointed. The Emperor was noted for a crude directness in his relations with those around him, not shrinking from expressing harsh, at times quite frank opinions of people who had incurred his displeasure in some way.

Nicholas, by contrast, "did not possess the commanding character proper in a ruler." One of the most perspicacious contemporaries, who has left us perhaps the best psychological portrait of the last monarch, Vladimir Gurko wrote that "he completely lacked that inner power that subjugates people, forcing them to obey unquesti oningly. The chief characteristic of a popular leader a masterful authoritative personality the Emperor did not have at all. He himself sensed this; the whole country instinctively sensed it, still more those who had direct contacts with him."

It is remarkable that the beginning of Nicholas's reign was not marked by something characteristic of a change of power under any authoritarian regime the appointment of new people. Almost all the existing ministers remained at their posts; the grand dukes, who had been left in the shadows, became noticeably more active and increased their influence. Particularly forceful were his uncles Sergei Alexandrovich and Alexander Mikhailovich. "Having sat quietly while Alexander III was alive, the grand dukes now made their voices heard loudly and without restraint," recalled V. Krivenko who served in the Ministry of the Imperial Court for many years. "Vladimir Alexandrovich did not interfere in domestic policy, but advanced himself well to the fore in the sphere of external representation. Sergei Alexandrovich became a particularly close advisor, a representative of the Muscovite conservative party. Nikolai Nikolayevich began to gather the threads of military administration in his hands; and after him, somewhat later, a new claimant to power appeared Sergei Mikhailovich who managed to resurrect if not the title, then the traditions of the General-Feldzechmeister [head of artillery]. The appearance in the arena of state affairs of this group of irresponsible figures heralded nothing good for the future."

177@.jpg (16734 bytes)Emperor Nichola II reviewing the crew of the batleship Prince Suvorov formed up on teh quay of the Baltic Ship-Building

The grand dukes were very different characters and at times openly at loggerheads with each other. Vladimir Alexandrovich and Maria Pavlovna, who were the heads of the next most senior branch of the House of Romanov, clearly aspired to a special position at court, although many disliked their family for its inherent arrogance and presumption. Alexander Mikhailovich took a strongly negative attitude to the influence of "Uncle Sergei". Sergei Alexandrovich in turn regarded Alexander Mikhailovich and Konstantin Konstantinovich as dangerous liberals, advised the Emperor not to listen to "the harmful advice of Kostya and Sandro". There were also sharp clashes between Alexander Mikhailovich and Admiral-General Alexei Alexandrovich.

Nonetheless, the main problem for the Emperor proved to be not his relations with the grand dukes but the need to take decisions personally in affairs of state. Like any authoritarian regime, autocracy required for its political effectiveness a single will that united and directed all. Without that, state power, broken up into separate, mutually independent institutions not controlled by society, could only go with the current of events. After the death of Alexander III, who held the whole unwieldy mechanism of state under his control, a breakdown in its established operating routine began to show. In December 1894 the former state secretary Polovtsov noted in his  diary that with the change of reign the ministers had ceased to submit their proposals to the State Council, evidently waiting for the new direction of policy to be determined. This Russian peculiarity placed a heavy burden on the Emperor, requiring him to display not only diligence and strength of character, but a wide range of other abilities besides.

Nicholas was conscientious in the extreme regarding his duties. He personally acquainted himself with the contents of all the papers delivered to him like his predecessors he never had either secretaries or abstracters. Ministers, diplomats, senior military and civil officials were received as regularly as before. But Nicholas's approach to the use of his power was limited in character. He preferred to examine specific matters as and when they cropped up. Given such a view, the business of ruling was to a large extent reduced to making resolutions on the papers he received. The Emperor was reacting to events and in his position there was more than ever a need to be ahead of them, to direct their development with his decisions.

At the same time Nicholas had an extremely exaggerated conception of the extent of his power and its possibilities. That perhaps goes a long way to explaining the fact, paradoxical at first sight, that it was psychologically easier for him to abdicate, to lay down the burden of autocracy altogether, than to accept any restriction on it, even the slightest. His decisive rejection of the very idea of the public being involved even in the simple discussion of the affairs of state emerged clearly in the very first months of his reign.

On 17 January 1895, while receiving deputations of the zemstva (elected district councils) from the provinces following his succession, Nicholas abruptly dismissed the very timid wishes for "the right to express our opinion" contained in the address of the men from Tver province. The Emperor called them "impossible dreams", which immediately caused a large and on the whole hostile response among the public, who were clearly disappointed in their hopes for liberalism from the new monarch.

As he spurned any chance of giving elected figures a part in the government of the Empire, the new monarch came up against a no less difficult problem drawing up a plan of policy for the state and putting it into effect with the aid of people he himself appointed. The position was complicated by the fact that the ministers the Emperor had inherited from his father did not hold a common view on the possible courses of Russia's development. To some extent their disagreements reflected the two-sided policy that prevailed in the last years of Alexander III's reign: efforts, on the one hand, to accelerate in every way possible the country's industrial and financial growth; on the other, to ensure for the future too a stable, conservative, agrarian Russia dominated by the nobility. This dichotomy expressed itself in a clash of sorts in the late nineteenth century between two powerful government bodies the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Nicholas II's arrival on the throne did not change the new direction in the country's foreign policy that had finally taken shape in the last years of Alexander III's life. Although the late Emperor was followed to the grave almost immediately, in January 1895, by his long-time Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikolai Girs, the young autocrat's adherence to his father's legacy in foreign affairs was never in doubt. The next few years provided plentiful confirmations of that.

The most important of these was the official acknowledgement of the existence of a political and military alliance between Russia and republican France, the establishment of which at the end of the last reign had been kept strictly secret. An overt affirmation of the alliance came in the shape of an official visit to Paris by the Russian Emperor in autumn 1896 and a return visit to St Petersburg by President Felix Faure. After that Europe became accustomed to Franco-Russian summit meetings, and the alliance of the two countries became a fixed quantity in the balance of great powers on the continent.

206@.gif (14579 bytes)Nicholas II meeting with officers
going to war with Japan. Poltava,
Orel, Kremenchug. 1904

Equally traditional was the exchange of visits between the Russian and German monarchs, although the long-time allies had already managed to become rivals. There were still two decades left, though, to their direct clash on the battlefields of the First World War, and at the turn of the century Russo-German relations still preserved the semblance of warmth, something aided too by the good personal relationship between Tsar and Kaiser. Mutual understanding between the neighbouring powers was also strengthened by the agreement achieved in 189697 between two old rivals, Russia and Germany's closest ally Austria-Hungary, on the maintenance of peace in the Balkans for the next ten years. A symbol of the relative rapprochement was the appearance in St Petersburg of a rare guest for the northern capital Emperor Franz Josef.

While there were no radical changes, there was a distinctive feature to foreign policy in the first years of Nicholas's reign: a noticeable increase in Russian attention to the East. In the second half of the 1890s there were increasingly frequent visits by senior figures from Asia China, Japan and Siam.

 

Although Russian foreign policy under Alexander III and Nicholas II was in general directed towards peace, the country's influence in European affairs remained founded to a large extent on the might of its armed forces. From its very appearance under Peter the Great, the Russian Empire acquired the image of a strongly militarised state, in which the army had become one of the most important institutions. It was no coincidence that many foreign, and indeed Russian (Alexander Herzen) observers compared Russia with imperial Rome. By the late nineteenth century the country possessed the largest army in the world it numbered over 900,000 men, not counting the Cossack units. Military expenses amounted to some 300 million roubles a year, more than a fifth of the entire budget, and in this respect only neighbouring Germany could compete.

In the majority of Western states there was moreover a tendency to exaggerate the strength of the Russian army; it is not by chance that in French, German and British newspapers of the day you often come across assertions that "the Tsar holds the fate of peace in Europe in his hands."

Nicholas had a very serious regard for the Emperor's role as the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces.

The army was traditionally an object of special attention and concern for the reigning monarch, and scarcely a day went by when he did not receive someone from the military.

Inspections of the guards and the St Petersburg garrison, parades, attending military exercises, acquainting himself with new types of small arms and artillery, visits to forts and citadels under construction between them these accounted for a considerable part of the Tsar's time. But even "off-duty", Nicholas had an liking for military men and all things military. According to many accounts, his favourite leisure activity was to visit gatherings of officers, mainly of the guards regiments, where he would hold simple, free and easy conversations with the line officers, kindred spirits, about the trivia of regimental life, appointments and promotions, hunting and horses. In this society Nicholas, by his own admission, "relaxed spiritually" and often sat up through the night.

Military uniform was the customary dress for other members of the House of Romanov too. Even the girls of the ruling dynasty were appointed patrons of guards regiments from birth, and from an early age took part in various reviews, parades and regimental festivities. As for the male sex, any grand duke was considered first and foremost an officer on active service; any other inclinations or pastimes were at best tolerated, but by definition less worthy activities.

Konstantin Konstantinovich had a poet's calling. In his diary he recorded the powerful feeling of annoyance and shame that his first verses evoked in his father, Konstantin Nikolayevich. The father reminded the son that Nicholas I "did not accept that a grand duke might even think of some activity beyond the service of the state." Alexander Mikhailovich also recollected the heavy silence with which relatives received his brother Georgy's childhood wish to become a portrait painter (the boy drew well). He also conveyed Nicholas II's opinion on the grand dukes' proper activities in life: "For three hundred years my fathers and grandfathers earmarked their relatives for a military career. I do not want to break with that tradition."

The military capital of Russia was brilliant St Petersburg, glittering with the gold braid of elaborate uniforms. The guards units were located here, as well as the senior administrative bodies for the forces the army and navy ministries, the General Staff and it celebrated Academy, the Chief Naval Staff, and a large number of military colleges and cadet corps. By the beginning of the twentieth century St Petersburg was probably the only capital in the world to have such a quantity of barracks and military installations in its central districts.

The Empire's military facade was magnificent, but in reality over the decades since Nicholas I much had changed and the role of the forces, the generals and the officer class in the life of the country had clearly declined. Yet the militarised aspects of court life and the glamorous parades of guards on the Field of Mars (which were abandoned after Alexander II and revived in the first year of Nicholas II's reign) were still regarded as enormously important.

 

Nicholas had a very serious regard for the Emperor's role as the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces.

The army was traditionally an object of special attention and concern for the reigning monarch, and scarcely a day went by when he did not receive someone from the military.

Inspections of the guards and the St Petersburg garrison, parades, attending military exercises, acquainting himself with new types of small arms and artillery, visits to forts and citadels under construction - between them these accounted for a considerable part of the Tsar's time. But even "off-duty", Nicholas had an liking for military men and all things military. According to many accounts, his favourite leisure activity was to visit gatherings of officers, mainly of the guards regiments, where he would hold simple, free and easy conversations with the line officers, kindred spirits, about the trivia of regimental life, appointments and promotions, hunting and horses. In this society Nicholas, by his own admission, "relaxed spiritually" and often sat up through the night.

Military uniform was the customary dress for other members of the House of Romanov too. Even the girls of the ruling dynasty were appointed patrons of guards regiments from birth, and from an early age took part in various reviews, parades and regimental festivities. As for the male sex, any grand duke was considered first and foremost an officer on active service; any other inclinations or pastimes were at best tolerated, but by definition less worthy activities.

Konstantin Konstantinovich had a poet's calling. In his diary he recorded the powerful feeling of annoyance and shame that his first verses evoked in his father, Konstantin Nikolayevich. The father reminded the son that Nicholas I "did not accept that a grand duke might even think of some activity beyond the service of the state." Alexander Mikhailovich also recollected the heavy silence with which relatives received his brother Georgy's childhood wish to become a portrait painter (the boy drew well). He also conveyed Nicholas II's opinion on the grand dukes' proper activities in life: "For three hundred years my fathers and grandfathers earmarked their relatives for a military career. I do not want to break with that tradition."

The military capital of Russia was brilliant St Petersburg, glittering with the gold braid of elaborate uniforms. The guards units were located here, as well as the senior administrative bodies for the forces - the army and navy ministries, the General Staff and it celebrated Academy, the Chief Naval Staff, and a large number of military colleges and cadet corps. By the beginning of the twentieth century St Petersburg was probably the only capital in the world to have such a quantity of barracks and military installations in its central districts.

The Empire's military facade was magnificent, but in reality over the decades since Nicholas I much had changed and the role of the forces, the generals and the officer class in the life of the country had clearly declined. Yet the militarised aspects of court life and the glamorous parades of guards on the Field of Mars (which were abandoned after Alexander II and revived in the first year of Nicholas II's reign) were still regarded as enormously important.

The turn of the century proved a fateful boundary in the political history of the Empire. Discontent with the supreme ruler began to grow with especial pace after threatening signs appeared that the "period of calm" would soon end. Student disturbances as early as February 1899 indicated the growth of tension in the country, as a gravely alarmed Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich wrote to Nicholas from Moscow. The Emperor, by contrast, remained convinced of the enduring "calm of our boundless Russia" and saw the students' protest as nothing more than youthful over-excitement. The years immediately following showed, however, that "Uncle Sergei" was more perspicacious than his crowned nephew.

The new century opened with threatening events. The shot fired by the former student Karpovich at Nikolai Bogolepov, the Minister of Public Education, heralded the return of political terrorism that had seemed long-since defeated. In April of the following year the Social Revolutionary Balmashev killed Dmitry Sipiagin, the Minister of Internal Affairs, as the latter entered the State Council building in military uniform. In a letter to his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Fiodorovna, Nicholas wrote: "For me this is a very severe loss, because of all the ministers I trusted him the most, and also liked him as a friend. He performed his duty honestly and above-board. Everyone acknowledges that, even his enemies" Society, however, was increasingly coloured by an attitude of liberal distaste for the authorities, all their undertakings and all their representatives, and Sipiagin's death was viewed almost as a feast of liberty. Among lawyers, professors, journalists, not to mention students, there were those who openly expressed sympathy with the minister's assassin. In the twenty years that had passed since the explosion on the Catherine Canal the public's views had had time to change radically and irreversibly.

Sipiagin's appointed successor, Viacheslav Plehve, proposed repressive measures to restore order in Russia. Tightening the police "screws", however, could not give the desired "calming effect" - that same year several southern provinces were affected by agrarian disturbances; the expression of opposition grew stronger in liberal, middle-class circles; and, most dangerously, the wave of political terror was rising ever higher. In only two years several provincial governors were slain, as were a large number of gendarme officers and particularly those who were regarded as "agent provocateurs" - the real or supposed police infiltrators into the revolutionary movement. Plehve himself fell victim to terrorism on 15 July 1904, when the Social Revolutionary Sazonov threw a bomb at his carriage. His funeral symbolised the collapse of the conservative course.

The deaths of people close to him, often those who shared his thinking, gravely affected the Emperor. Yet neither the outburst of terrorism, nor the increasingly frequent reports of rural unrest, industrial action, and growing murmurs among the educated populace could make Nicholas positively attempt to change the course of events in accordance with the demands of the time. As far as the Tsar was concerned he was the legitimate "master of the Russian land", exclusively answerable to God and to God alone for everything that took place in that land.

Events were, however, being less determined by the autocrat's will with every passing year. On top of the inexorably growing danger of revolution, there were serious complications in the Far East, that led ultimately to an ill-starred war with Japan.

On the whole Nicholas pursued a fairly cautious foreign policy. Back in 1896, for example, he had dismissed a suggestion made by the Russian ambassador in Constantinople and the head of the General Staff that Russia should exploit the domestic crisis in the Ottoman Empire and mount a surprise attack to gain possession of the fortified positions on the shore of the Bosphorus, and thus achieve a long-held geopolitical goal - to close the Black Sea to ships of hostile powers. Although Nicholas himself fully shared the feelings of those who called on him to "seize the moment", he did not risk such an active move for fear of provoking a Europe-wide conflict. In Russia's Far Eastern strategy, shaped to a large extent by the personal initiative of the Emperor, a due measure of statesmanly restraint was, however, lacking.

While for the greater part of the nineteenth century the attention of the Empire's military and diplomatic circles was riveted on the Balkans and the Black Sea straits, and in the 1870s and 1880s emphasis was placed on Russian expansion in Central Asia, towards the end of the century the eyes of the St Petersburg ruling clique turned ever more often to the shores of the Pacific. The political preference for the Far East was founded on the erroneous conception that the area contained no powerful opponents or rivals for Russia. China was in deep decline. The British spheres of influence lay much further south. There were few Russian statesmen in that period who took Japan seriously. As far back as 1880, Admiral-General Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich had written in his report for Alexander II's silver jubilee that "the time is approaching when not the Baltic or Black Sea ports, but ports on the Great Eastern Ocean will become the harbours of a new Russian fleet." To that end, as early as 1898, Russia leased the Laiodong Peninsula with the right to establish a naval base at Port Arthur from a China weakened by its recent defeat in the war with Japan. After the tremendous popular uprising
of 190001 in China that was suppressed by the intervention of the great powers (the Russian forces in Manchuria were actively involved, entering Peking under the command of General Linevich), Russia's expansionist plans in the Far East developed still further. Attempts to implements them, however, met with ever-increasing resistance from Japan, a new great power that became the chief opponent of Russian influence in Manchuria and Korea.

In Russian ruling circles there were various opinions on how best to achieve the country's strategic aims in the Far East. The most aggressive stance was taken by the "party of force" among whom were Admiral Alexeyev, the governor-general of the Far East, a number of figures close to the court, including, it was claimed, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, and several leading people in the War Ministry. A more cautious attitude was taken by Vladimir Lamsdorf, the Foreign Minister, and Sergei Witte, the Finance Minister; they proposed economic absorption of Manchuria rather than military-administrative measures and warned against a worsening of relations with Japan.

Nicholas himself most probably sympathised with the "party of force", but he was clearly not seeking a war, believing that little Japan "would not dare" to make the first move against the Russian giant. In the long drawn-out negotiations with the island empire Russia made concessions, but an aggressively-minded Tokyo demanded much more. In the circumstances Nicholas and those around him seriously underestimated Japan's military might and its resolve to use force in its dispute with Russia.

On 26 January 1904 news came from the Far East of a surprise attack by the Empire of the Rising Sun. The raid by Japanese torpedo-boats on Russian ships lying at anchor off Port Arthur preceded the declaration of war.

Alexei Kuropatkin, who was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in the Far East was, in the opinion of those who knew him well, a fine military administrator and staff officer, but lacked any great gifts as a commander in the field. Nevertheless the strategy he adopted was probably the most correct in the circumstances - considering the remoteness and small population of the Far East, he reckoned it sensible to avoid major battles with the enemy troops that were continuously being reinforced from their nearby homeland. Gradually wearing them down in small defensive actions, the Russian army was to withdraw into the depths of what was by the standards of the day an immense theatre of war, thus stretching the enemy's lines of communication and luring him away from the sea where the Japanese navy was dominant. But Kuropatkin found his hands tied by those who demanded rapid, impressive victories and the relief of the beleaguered base at Port Arthur. As a result of such pressure, the commander was obliged, against his better judgement, to risk major clashes - and more often than not they ended in failure.

The Emperor's thoughts and feelings were all with his army in the field, but the character of the war taking place in distant Manchuria did not give him the opportunity to take personal charge of military operations. Nicholas was forced to spend most of his time travelling around European Russia, inspecting troops bound for the East and attending church services where God was asked to send Russia victory. Yet there was no real upsurge of patriotic feeling in the country.


Childhood and growing up Within the family circle Under the burden of power The time of difficult decisions

1998 Liki Rossii Publishing House. All right reserved. , 1998.