Which of these three rulers would you have preferred to be?

Which of these three rulers would you have preferred to be?

  • German Kaiser Wilhelm II

  • Austro-Hungarian Kaiser Franz Joseph (or, alternatively, his nephew Franz Ferdinand)

  • Russian Tsar Nicholas II


Results are only viewable after voting.

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,731
SoCal
Would you prefer to be German Kaiser Wilhelm II, Austro-Hungarian Kaiser Franz Joseph, or Russian Tsar Nicholas II if you were given the opportunity by a magical wizard to be one (and only one) of these rulers?

For the record, you get to start at the beginning of their reign and decide to proceed from there. Also, you have a body which is identical to the one that the ruler that you chose had at that point in time. Thus, for instance, if you decide to become Franz Joseph, you would have a body which is likely to survive for an additional seventy or so years (relative to the start of your reign).

I chose these three monarchs because they are all from Eastern Europe and they all had very significant power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus, I felt that offering people a choice between these three monarchs and only these three monarchs is a good idea.

As for me, I would probably choose Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Austria-Hungary (or the Austrian Empire before 1867) was too fragmented and divided to become a power comparable to either Germany or Russia. True, A-H was a Great Power, but it certainly wasn't in the same league as either Germany or Russia. Also, while Germany might have been more powerful and more industrialized than Russia was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Russia had much more potential than Germany had in the long(er)-run due to its massively larger population (a population that was probably growing at a faster rate than Germany's population was growing). Thus, I'd like to be in charge of a future superpower. Also, I am a big fan of living space (the U.S. model--certainly not the evil and vile Nazi German model!) and Russia has by far the best expansion opportunities out of these three countries and also much more living space to settle than either Germany or Austria-Hungary has. Basically, I want to emulate the U.S. model of settler colonialism (or I suppose the French model of settler colonialism in Algeria--though that model was far less successful than the U.S. model was), but with much less brutality.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this?

Also, if you want, I can let you swap Franz Joseph for his nephew Franz Ferdinand. Then, you just need to be careful to avoid going to Sarajevo so that you won't get shot and killed there in 1914. :)
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,563
Netherlands
Wilhelm obviously. I wouldn't have to move far as I used to live nearby his exile palace.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,743
Lower Styria, Slovenia
Franz Joseph of course. I'd push through some reforms, especially in the army, which I wouldn't lead myself in battle although I would be present. I wouldn't be such a pain in the bum to my wife, would try to get along better with Rudolf and wouldn't let Msximilian go to Mexico. Instead, he would stay in charge of the Navy and do better work there. I'd still hope the Hungarians rebell because that would give me the excuse to pull off trialism of a sort, I'd really make it more federal like a new kingdom for every group. This would weaken the Hungarians and make others more content. On the other hand I wouldn't push for a großdeutsche solution, let the Prussians unify Germany and stay good allies with them. Instead I'd rather double down on the Italians more and actively help the Balkan states break free from the Ottomans, hoping to decrease Russian influence and increase my own.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,340
Sydney
Wilhelm , so much potential , being in charge of the most dynamic European economy
the country was boiling with scientists , intellectuals and artists
working with Bismark longer , kicking the Prussian general staff into shape
going slow on the Navy build up ( that was a waste of money )
easing the tension with France would be difficult , but a bit of money in the right deputies pockets ,
pumping up the traditional hatred of perfidious Albion ,mellifluous speeches of admiration for the Gallic rooster
and getting the Lorrains and Alsatians happy could go a long way
at least far enough not to get the Franco-Russian military treaty .

All of this leading to a German / Russian war unhindered by a Western front ,
and a permanent Brest / Litovsk settlement .

That would be the Merkel general idea , minus the shooting
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
The Kaiser and all the Prussian miltarists were idiots who were stuck in the past and didn't realize that Germany would come to dominate the Continent through sheer economic power mixed with cultural soft power. That's why I voted to be a sensible Kaiser.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,731
SoCal
The Kaiser and all the Prussian miltarists were idiots who were stuck in the past and didn't realize that Germany would come to dominate the Continent through sheer economic power mixed with cultural soft power. That's why I voted to be a sensible Kaiser.
If it wasn't for Bolshevism, though, Russia would be the one dominating Europe right now. Its population would have been much greater than that of Germany and thus its economy would have likewise been much greater than the German one if it wasn't for Bolshevism.
 
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Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
That's a big 'if' and it doesn't necessarily follow that Russia would have been able to outperform Germany economically, the Germans had a much better education system, a more coherent society and greater dispcipline among many other things. Not that Russia couldn't have developed in a much better way than it did, it now seems to have largely given up on proper economic development, relying on its natural resources along with some arms sales; which gives one cause to wonder why Stalin often seems to be praised there for having developed Russian industry!
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,731
SoCal
That's a big 'if' and it doesn't necessarily follow that Russia would have been able to outperform Germany economically, the Germans had a much better education system,
That can be fixed. If the Soviets can raise Russian literacy to virtually universal levels, so can the Russian Tsars.

a more coherent society
In exactly what sense?

and greater dispcipline among many other things.
Which other things?

Not that Russia couldn't have developed in a much better way than it did, it now seems to have largely given up on proper economic development, relying on its natural resources along with some arms sales; which gives one cause to wonder why Stalin often seems to be praised there for having developed Russian industry!
To be honest, I'm not sure that Russia is too dependent on natural resources:

Economy of Russia - Wikipedia

"As of 2012 the oil-and-gas sector accounted for 16% of GDP, 52% of federal budget revenues and over 70% of total exports."

I'd like to see what other things contribute to the other 84% of Russian GDP.

Also, for what it's worth, in regards to its academic performance, Russia (within its current borders) actually scores almost as well as Germany does on the PISA test:

Programme for International Student Assessment - Wikipedia

Given the close relationship between average national IQ and economic prosperity (indeed, please take a look at what the blogger Anatoly Karlin and the economist Garett Jones wrote about this topic; for instance, here is one Anatoly Karlin post about this: Education as the Elixir of Growth III ), this does suggest that Russia's full potential is close to Germany's level in regards to GDP per capita. True, if Russia keeps its empire, its peripheral regions might drag down its average IQ a bit--but then again, the U.S. has Blacks and Hispanics (on average) dragging down its own PISA scores (see the link above) and yet the U.S. still performs extremely well economy. Plus, Russia would also have a lot of natural resources to help it out.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
@ Futurist: Good points there, but Russia was still a largely peasant society when industrial development began, and the whole process was thus liable to involve a great deal of instability, there was a much smaller middle class than in Germany, and not the wide range of first rate universities and high schools in every region of the nation; I think Russia had immense potential if the Communists had not seized control, and it was making a good start on in dustrial development, but it would have been a bumpy and pretty chaotic process I think. And there was also the elephant in the room, the need for an eventual transition from the autocracy to some kind of liberal democcarcy (at the best), which couldn't be avoided for ever and was bound major disruption and disagreement. Germany by contrast had everything going for it at that time if it didn't drawn into war.
 
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