The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs

By A. A. Iskenderov; Donald J. Raleigh | Go to book overview

Emperor Nicholas II, 1894-1917

Russian readers waited long for a historical portrait of Nicholas II written by serious historians. B.V. Ananich and R.Sh. Ganelin, both corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, have devoted their careers to illuminating the reign of Nicholas II and in this regard are well qualified to author this essay. Their dispassionate approach to Nicholas results in a succinct account of his reign that will be familiar to readers who know the Western literature. Avoiding broad generalizations and even a unifying argument, the authors draw heavily on firsthand accounts and on Nicholas's own correspondence. Weak-willed and distrustful, Nicholas shared many of the views of his father and of his tutors, especially K. P. Pobedonostsev. More comfortable in his private life than in his role as emperor, Nicholas fell under the influence of the empress. Be that as it may, the authors deemphasize Alexandra's role and the health of the tsarevich in bringing down the monarchy. They also relegate Rasputin's indiscretions to a footnote. Like French historian Marc Ferro,1 the authors underscore the influence (often pernicious) of the grand dukes and the royal family, observing that conflict characterized it on the eve of the February Revolution. Although there has long been speculation over the private papers of Nicholas and Alexandra held in Soviet archives, Ananich and Ganelin do not discuss these materials and it is unclear to what extent they might have used them. The authors seem to suggest that no matter how sympathetic one might be to Nicholas and his plight (they are not), it is difficult to present him in anything other than a negative light. Ananich and Ganelin back the long-held view that Nicholas granted concessions only when confronted with revolution but later renounced them when the revolutionary wave had subsided and he once again had gained the upper hand. Ascending the throne without a program or policy other than the firm conviction that he must defend the autocratic order, Nicho-

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The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The New Russian History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • About the Editors and Contributors vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Emperor Peter I, 1682-1725 3
  • Empress Anna Ivanovna, 1730-1740 37
  • Empress Elizabeth I, 1741-1762 66
  • Emperor Peter III, 1762 101
  • Empress Catherine II, 1762-1796 134
  • Emperor Paul I, 1796-1801 177
  • Emperor Alexander I, 1801-1825 216
  • Emperor Nicholas I, 1825-1855 256
  • Emperor Alexander II, 1855-1881 294
  • Emperor Alexander III, 1881-1894 334
  • Emperor Nicholas II, 1894-1917 369
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 403
  • Index 405
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