What type of leader was Tsar Nicholas II?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that history judges Tsar Nicholas as a very limited political leader in the midst of massive change.  Only a very skilled and shrewd political leader could have successfully navigated such change.  Czar Nicholas was not that.  He paid the ultimate of prices for his inability to successfully navigate change to his benefit.

Czar Nicholas did not understand the transformation taking place between an older order and a new one.  When Virginia Woolf speaks of Modernism as being a "shifting" between relationships, Czar Nicholas fell victim such a transformation.  He believed that he would enjoy the total submission of the poor and the peasantry in Russian society.  It never occurred to him that he needed to be more accessible to them, more reachable, and ensure that their voice was validated.  His refusal to work with the poor in Russian society as well as his autocratic measures in suppressing and silencing their voice contributed to intense dissatisfaction.  While he felt that entering World War I could silence this, Czar Nicholas failed to  understand that Russian participation in the war was not going to be decisive.  His failure to navigate a successful entry or a skilled exit strategy condemned him to the mercy of his critics, which were growing in large numbers.  Czar Nicholas' limitations as a leader also translated into domestic political messaging, something that he sorely lacked.  Unable to stop public perception that his wife failed to care for Russia and that members of his cabinet such as Rasputin were actually running the country, Czar Nicholas was seen as ineffective, at best.

The execution of the Czar and his family demonstrated how the Russian people ended up viewing him.  The cold and brutal execution of Russia's last royal family demonstrated how the public wished to erase he and his rule from memory.  Enhanced by his own limitation, the Czar brings this upon himself by making critical miscalculations and failing to effectively recognize them.

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