Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Monarch Profile: Tsar Nicholas II, Part I - The Begining
This also grew out of the example of his father, a kind man and a man of simple tastes but one who would not tolerate any threats to the Orthodox autocracy on which the Russian monarchy was based; he was a man Nicholas always viewed with awe and respect. When the time came for his formal education to begin, as was customary, Nicholas was taught in the palace by private tutors such as General Gregory Danilovich who made sure the future Tsar was self-disciplined, hard working and devoted to those ideals of a monarch responsible to God. There was also the Englishman Charles Heath by whose influence Nicholas came to speak and write English fluently. As a boy his many instructors commented on his diligence, respectfulness and perfect behavior. When he was 18 he began his military service as the commander of a squadron of Hussars. Having no role in government, he was often bored but enjoyed the company of his brother officers. However, he was a conscientious officer, always careful in his duties, never overlooking the smallest task and he won the affection of his men by taking an interest in them and was always willing to help them with any problem. He also chaired the committee on the establishment of the Trans-Siberian Railway, a job which, despite a lack of faith in him, he performed well.
On November 26, 1894 Nicholas and Alix, who had taken the name Alexandra Fedorovna, were married. Finally, on May 14, 1896 the couple had their formal coronation as Emperor and Empress of Russia at Uspensky Cathedral in the Kremlin in Moscow. From the beginning Tsar Nicholas II stated his priorities as being the defense of the Orthodox autocracy, maintaining the alliance with France, seeking greater access to the sea and looking out for the Slavic peoples of eastern Europe. He also showed himself a man of peace by promoting the Hague Conference to stop the increasing arms races across the continent, however, he did not shirk from confrontation either. With no real hope for a warm water port in Europe, Russia expanded in the Far East but the Russians were met and blocked by the growing expansion of the rapidly modernizing Empire of Japan. In 1904 competition over Korea and Manchuria resulted in war when the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a surprise attack on the Russians at Port Arthur.
To be continued in Part II...