No, he did not gleefully dance on the bones of his subjects, as revolutionary cartoons portray. Far, far from it
Editor's note: A Russian website recently published a long, fascinating article by renown historian Gleb Eliseev. It names the eight most widespread myths about Nicholas II. We decided to relay it to you in a series of short weekly articles, in order to help people understand more why the Russian church made Nicholas II a saint. This is the second one in our series. For introduction and Myth 1, click here.
Most lists of Tsar Nicholas’s “crimes” begin with the Khodinka tragedy– the horrific human stampede that occurred in Moscow during the festivities after his coronation in Moscow in 1896. It resulted in 1389 deaths.
It’s as though Nicholas II had personally organized and sanctioned the tragedy.
If anyone at all is to blame for mismanaging the situation, it was the general - governor of Moscow, Sergey Romanov, who had grossly underestimated the flood of people who would attend the public celebration.
But people are most indignant about how the Tsar Nicholas--supposedly--- lightheartedly partied at a glamorous ball on the very day of the national tragedy.
The tsar was indeed obligated to attend the official reception of the French ambassador. Although he wanted to cancel the ball and told his ministers so, they and his relatives persuaded him that it would strain diplomatic ties.
He stayed 15 minutes at the reception.
On the next day, he and the Empress personally visited the hospital, talking to and consoling the injured victims of the stampede. Afterwards, they attended a requiem church service for the reposed.
Nicholas decreed that all those affected received a substantial pension from the government. They did, up until the Revolution in 1917. The ‘compassionate’ Bolsheviks wanted nothing to do with the simple people that they supposedly had elected to represent.
So that’s the backstory of the heartless tyrant—that’s where the radicals and revolutionaries got the idea for the ridiculous nickname “Bloody.”
After the Khodinka tragedy, the revolutionaries came out with a whole series of crude cartoons that they circulated among the peasants (see below). Sergey Huduev, a Russian Christian blogger, points out that if Nicholas really had been bloody, no one would have had the gall to create such cartoons. Ironically, unlike other rulers after him, “Bloody” Nicholas never took others’ advice to wipe out all opposition… and even real traitors...with extreme violence.
Attempting to answer the question of why Nicholas II did not crush all opposition with force and silence the slander against him, Vladimir Moss writes
Tsar Nicholas II, as we have seen, was the most merciful of men, and the least inclined to manifest his power in violent action.
Once the head of the police promised him that there would be no revolution in Russia for a hundred years if the Tsar would permit 50,000 executions. The Tsar quickly refused this proposal…
And yet he could be firm. Thus once, in 1906, Admiral F.V. Dubasov asked him to have mercy on a terrorist who had tried to kill him.
The Tsar replied: “Field tribunals act independently and independently of me: let them act with all the strictness of the law. With men who have become bestial there is not, and cannot be, any other means of struggle.
You know me, I am not malicious: I write to you completely convinced of the rightness of my opinion. It is painful and hard, but right to say this, that ‘to our shame and gall’ [Stolypin’s words] only the execution of a few can prevent a sea of blood and has already prevented it.”
Even the Tsar's wife tried to convince him to take extreme actions:
Moreover, this was precisely what the Tsaritsa argued in private letters to her husband: “Show to all, that you are the Master & your will shall be obeyed – the time of great indulgence & gentleness is over – now comes your reign of will & power, & obedience…” (December 4, 1916).
And again: “Be Peter the Great, John [Ivan] the Terrible, Emperor Paul – crush them all under you.” (December 14, 1916).
She urged him to prorogue the Duma, remove Trepov and send Lvov, Milyukov, Guchkov and Polivanov to Siberia. But he did not crush them. And in attempting to understand why we come close to understanding the enigma of the reign of this greatest of the tsars.
Yet, Nicholas the still refused, maintaining that ‘in wartime one must not touch the public organizations.’”
Here's how Archpriest Lev Lebedev explains Nicholas II's refusal to use violence:
“And what did his Majesty know? He knew that society was eaten up...that in it was error and cowardice and deception. But he did not know that at the base of the error, in its secret places, was treason. And he also did not know that treason and cowardice and deception were all around him, that is, everywhere throughout the higher command of the army.
And what is the Tsar without an army, without troops?! Then there is the question: could the Tsar have learned in time about the treachery among the generals? Why not! Let’s take, for example, Yanushkevich, or Gurko, or Korfa (or all of them together), whom Sukhomlinov had pointed to as plotters already in 1909 (!). In prison, under torture – such torture as they had with Tsars Ivan and Peter – they would have said everything, given up all the rest…! But in this case, he
Nicholas II, would have needed to be truly like Ivan IV or Peter I from the beginning – that is, a satanist and a born murderer (psychologically), not trusting anyone, suspecting everyone, sparing nobody.
It is significant that her Majesty joined to the names of these Tsars the name of Paul I. That means that she had in mind, not Satanism and bestiality, but only firmness (that is, she did not know who in actual fact were Ivan the Terrible and his conscious disciple, Peter I).
But she felt with striking perspicacity that her husband was ‘suffering for the mistakes of his royal predecessors’.
Which ones?! Just as we said, first of all and mainly for the ‘mistakes’ precisely of Ivan IV and Peter I.
Not to become like them, these predecessors, to overcome the temptation of replying to evil with evil means – that was the task of Nicholas II. For not everything is allowed, not all meansare good for the attainment of what would seem to be the most important ends.
The righteousness of God is not attained by diabolic methods.
Evil is not conquered by evil! There was a time when they, including also his Majesty Nicholas II, suppressed evil by evil!
But in accordance with the Providence of God another time had come, a time to show where the Russian Tsar could himself become a victim of evil – voluntarily! – and endure evil to the end.
Did he believe in Christ and love Him truly in such a way as to suffer voluntarily like Christ? The same Divine providential question as was posed for the whole of Great Russia! This was the final test of faith – through life and through death. If one can live only by killing and making oneself onewith evil and the devil (as those whom one has to kill), then it would be better not to live!
That is the reply of the Tsar and of Great Russia that he headed! The more so in that it was then a matter of earthly, historical life.
Here, in this life and in this history to die in order to live again in the eternal and new ‘history’ of the Kingdom of Heaven! For there is no other way into this Kingdom of Heaven – the Lord left no other. He decreed that it should be experienced only by this entry… That is what turned out to be His, God’s will!
“We recall that his Majesty Nicholas II took all his most important decisions after ardent prayer, having felt the goodwill of God. Therefore now, on considering earnestly why he then, at the end of 1916 and the very beginning of 1917 did not take those measures which his wife so warmly wrote to him about, we must inescapably admit one thing: he did not have God’s goodwill in relation to them!
Her Majesty’s thought is remarkable in itself, that the Tsar, if he had to be ruled by anyone, should be ruled only by one who was himself ruled by God! But there was no such person near the Tsar.
Rasputin was not that person.
His Majesty already understood this, but the Tsaritsa did not yet understand it. In this question he was condescending to her and delicate. But, as we see, he did not carry out the advice of their ‘Friend’, and did not even mention him in his replies to his wife.
The Tsar entrusted all his heart and his thoughts to God and was forced to be ruled by Him alone.”