You are Tsar Nicholas II just before power, what do you do?

Mar 2012
3,474
Redneck Country, AKA Texas
#1
Suppose you are Nicholas II in 1893, a year before he became married Alix of Hesse and became Russia's last tsar. With the benefit of hindsight, what do you do to ensure Russia is a global power in the 20th century, while maintaining the monarchy and avoiding communist takeover?

What I would do:

-Find a different bride. Alix was unpopular, held much sway over Nicholas, and was indirectly responsible for things like Rasputin.
-Go with Witte's plans of subjugating Asia through monetary methods rather than military force. Also, make sure that ministers and advisers are deserving of their positions, and not just given them because of rank in society.
-Recognize Austria-Hungary for the dead man walking it is, and talk to Germany about carving it up in the future. The same applies for the Ottoman Empire, except with Greece and Iran. I would want to seize control of Constantinople and the Hellespont for a much desired Mediterranean entryway from the Black Sea.
-Be on better terms with England. End the Great Game (which happened in real life).
-Reform both the domestic government and military. This includes training and ensuring competent officers will be in positions of power regardless of social class, training an army that has more advantages than just manpower alone, end anti-Semitic pogroms, ensuring a more free press, and creating a Duma with teeth modeled on the British Parliment.
-Large scale industrialization by 1900.
-Should a catalyst for a WWI break out, I would try my hardest to stay out of the fight. Should that fail, hopefully the reforms to both army and industry will ensure Russia comes out ok, if not on the winning side and on top.
 
Apr 2014
194
Lithuania, Šiauliai
#2
1st: Kill all commies
2nd: Get rid of Rasputin
3rd: Recognize Austria-Hungary, avoid wars, normalize/improve relationships with all countries like Germany the USA etc.
4: Modernize military.
5: Industrialize country
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,735
At present SD, USA
#3
If I were Nicholas II?

1) Still marry Alexandra. She may have been unpopular, but the love between them was real. The only difference in the relations with Alexandra would be that I (Nicholas II) stands firm and makes his OWN decisions, not letting her have so much influence.

2) Send Rasputin to Siberia to be eaten by wolves or bears, whichever gets him first. There is no need for a drunken rapist pretending to be a monk and messing around with the Royal Family.

3) Work more with men like Pyotr Stolypin, protecting him from assassination or continuing his policies even AFTER his assassination. Russia could go rapidly into a more democratic government (constitutional monarchy) as they had been under an autocracy for so long that going to democracy quickly would cause more chaos than good in the short term. Stolypin's reforms, however, were gradually taking Russia toward a constitutional monarchy, which historically Nicholas DID support.

4) No conflict with Japan. Offer them Port Arthur and a share of a sphere of influence in Manchuria in exchange for an alliance.

5) Engage in trying to turn Germany against Austria, but to also keep options open for friendly relations with France and Britain should Germany stick to Austria.

6) Emphasize not only industrial growth but also in infrastructure in terms of roads and rail networks. Much of what hurt Russia in WWI wasn't entirely the lack of industry, but that they didn't have the ability to get food to the cities and shells to the front at the same time. That's what fueled the initial stages of the revolution. Improved industry might give the army greater ability early on and greater road and rail links would allow the economy to avoid the tie ups that had their infrastructure divided in history.

7) Try to remain "neutral" in the start of WWI, but not to the point of abandoning Serbia or France. So... more Nicky-Willy letters.

8) If the war does come, don't take direct control of the army. Let Grand Duke Nicholas retain that post.
 
Dec 2012
1,556
U.S.A.
#4
!.) Don't marry Alexandra. She responded coolly to his initial interest and had Nicholas had more self confidence he would have found a mentally stable bride. Also, had Nicholas not married Alexandra, chances are his children would not be at risk for haemophilia, as it was not previously in the Romanov line. No haemophilia, no Rasputin. Solve two problems simultaneously by not marrying Alexandra.

2.) Avoid war with Japan. Let Japan control Korea and be content with Port Arthur.

3.) Modernize Russia. Hire foreign experts to modernize its industry, military, and agricultural production. Peter the Great showed that turning to the West does not spell catastrophe for Russia.

4.) Allow a Duma to be formed. Give the people at least some semblance of a say in affairs. Nicholas could have turned to the example of Octavian from ancient Rome--keep supreme power for yourself but give the illusion that the people have some power.

5.) Allow, heck even encourage, factory workers to collectively bargain. By listening to your subjects and making conditions safer and better for them, he takes away the communists main talking point--that the Tsar is woefully out of touch with the peasantry.

6.) Let your generals run the war. And whatever you do...under absolutely no circumstances whatsoever do you open fire on Russian women protesting for bread.
 
Mar 2012
3,474
Redneck Country, AKA Texas
#5
If I were Nicholas II?

1) Still marry Alexandra. She may have been unpopular, but the love between them was real. The only difference in the relations with Alexandra would be that I (Nicholas II) stands firm and makes his OWN decisions, not letting her have so much influence.

2) Send Rasputin to Siberia to be eaten by wolves or bears, whichever gets him first. There is no need for a drunken rapist pretending to be a monk and messing around with the Royal Family.

3) Work more with men like Pyotr Stolypin, protecting him from assassination or continuing his policies even AFTER his assassination. Russia could go rapidly into a more democratic government (constitutional monarchy) as they had been under an autocracy for so long that going to democracy quickly would cause more chaos than good in the short term. Stolypin's reforms, however, were gradually taking Russia toward a constitutional monarchy, which historically Nicholas DID support.

4) No conflict with Japan. Offer them Port Arthur and a share of a sphere of influence in Manchuria in exchange for an alliance.

5) Engage in trying to turn Germany against Austria, but to also keep options open for friendly relations with France and Britain should Germany stick to Austria.

6) Emphasize not only industrial growth but also in infrastructure in terms of roads and rail networks. Much of what hurt Russia in WWI wasn't entirely the lack of industry, but that they didn't have the ability to get food to the cities and shells to the front at the same time. That's what fueled the initial stages of the revolution. Improved industry might give the army greater ability early on and greater road and rail links would allow the economy to avoid the tie ups that had their infrastructure divided in history.

7) Try to remain "neutral" in the start of WWI, but not to the point of abandoning Serbia or France. So... more Nicky-Willy letters.

8) If the war does come, don't take direct control of the army. Let Grand Duke Nicholas retain that post.
Agree on all of these (especially the bits about Stolypin and railroads) expect Alix. Her personality wasn't going to fair well with her husband being also strong willed, and in hindsight hemophilia isn't something I want passed on to my son.

I forgot to mention it in the OP, but modernizing the navy wouldn't hurt either.
 
Jun 2015
5,499
UK
#6
move towards constitutional monarchy. establish a plan and a constitution enabling industrialisation, peace with former enemies like Britain, and a higher living standard. This MAY avert the Feb. Revolution.

or if the s still hits the fan, then abdicate, flee and let the trokyites and leninists battle it out.
 
Mar 2012
3,474
Redneck Country, AKA Texas
#7
move towards constitutional monarchy. establish a plan and a constitution enabling industrialisation, peace with former enemies like Britain, and a higher living standard. This MAY avert the Feb. Revolution.

or if the s still hits the fan, then abdicate, flee and let the trokyites and leninists battle it out.
Would you say the office of the Tsar was long past saving then?
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,735
At present SD, USA
#8
Agree on all of these (especially the bits about Stolypin and railroads) expect Alix. Her personality wasn't going to fair well with her husband being also strong willed, and in hindsight hemophilia isn't something I want passed on to my son.

I forgot to mention it in the OP, but modernizing the navy wouldn't hurt either.
The trouble is that they already loved each other by the year before their marriage. I'm not really a fan of arranged or unloving marriages. The issue that hit Nicholas II was that he too easily let himself be talked into what Alexandra supported. A firmer stance and being more upfront on Nicholas's part would have likely changed the influence that Alexandra had, but I'm not sure it would have truly changed the personal love between the two of them.
 
Dec 2011
4,266
Iowa USA
#10
The trouble is that they already loved each other by the year before their marriage. I'm not really a fan of arranged or unloving marriages. The issue that hit Nicholas II was that he too easily let himself be talked into what Alexandra supported. A firmer stance and being more upfront on Nicholas's part would have likely changed the influence that Alexandra had, but I'm not sure it would have truly changed the personal love between the two of them.
Nicholas' life wasn't for him to be fulfilled in his personal relations, though, he was the State. There were over one and eighty million souls whose welfare trumped his personal happiness or unhappiness.

Many of his predecesors were able to make the compartmentalization that somehow this monarch would not make. (Typically you are much more of a realist, Sam!)
 

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