How Far Was Nicholas Ii Responsible for the Downfall of the Romanovs in 1917?

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There were many factors that contributed to the downfall of the Romanovs – and Tsar Nicholas II was not responsible for all of them. Some of the issues that caused the collapse of the Romanovs’ reign had begun even before he had come into power. However, the many mistakes he made during his reign undoubtedly sealed their fate. Problems with Russia’s monarchy had begun long before Nicholas II came to the throne. For example, a large contributor towards the Romanovs’ steady deterioration was the dissatisfaction of the people of Russia, particularly the peasants. Serfdom had existed since before the 1800’s, which meant generations of peasants had been basically enslaved to the land owners for hundreds of years. This unsustainable system came to an end during Alexander II (the Reformer)’s reign, but the serfs were still in a terrible position. They were forced to pay ‘redemption payments’ after being emancipated for up to 49 years, meaning they were still in a state of extreme poverty, and were also forced to live in ‘mirs’ - communes with other serfs, where they farmed communally and had to ask authorities to leave the commune. This continued cycle of unjust behaviour towards the serfs led to the beginning of distrust and a lack of faith in the monarchy from the public. The people of Russia continued to lose their faith in the monarchy when Tsar Nicholas came to the throne – one of the turning points for the reputation of the Tsar was the Russo-Japanese war in 1904/1905. This war was particularly significant because of the humiliation Russia suffered in this time: They had expected to win the war easily, as Russia was considered a huge and powerful country compared to Japan. However, when they were defeated easily by the Japanese, it was seen as an embarrassment, as well as an example of how the Russian army was not as powerful as it seemed. This, although not
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