Death of a Tsar: Romanov Execution - ENTER RASPUTIN

Vladimir Yegorovich Makovsky  (1846-1920) created a painting which depicts Russian peasants awaiting their celebratory gifts following the wedding of Nicholas II and his bride, Alexandra (one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters). The massive crowd was at Moscow’s Khodynka Field on the 18th of May, 1896. In this scene, we see no hint of the tragic stampede which soon followed. Makovsky created this work for the Royal Family. It is dated (in the lower-left corner) 1897. Image online via Wikimedia Commons. Click on it for a better view.


Nicholas II made many bad decisions when he was Tsar.

Following his marriage to Alexandra, and his coronation as the new Tsar, Nicholas held a customary banquet for his subjects. This traditional coronation feast turned into a stampeding mass of humanity as people—trying to grab morsels of food—crushed each other. How had such a disaster—known as the "Khodynka Tragedy"—occurred?

Gaudy tents had been set up with sweets on Khodynka Meadow [outside the city of St. Petersburg].  Mugs were to be given out as well, coronation mugs with seals - and all for free.  But forgotten ditches lay between the tents and the crowd that had gathered on the evening of the 17th [of May, 1896] ... Forgotten thanks to the sloppiness of those in charge. 

Many were those who had come for the free refreshments; at least half a million crowded around - the crush was so great a bullet could not have slipped through.  Everyone was waiting for the present-giving to commence.  Then shouts rang out - people were suffocating in the crowd.  Someone thought the dainties were being passed out!  They pressed in.  As this mass of bodies began to move, they fell into the trenches, and the crowd trampled over their heads, crushed their rib cages.  (Edvard Radzinsky, The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II, page 53.)

About two thousand people died.  Nicholas and Alexandra were devastated by the catastrophe and wanted to cancel plans for a ball to be held in the new Tsar's honor.  (They were dissuaded by the Tsar's uncles who thought it rude to disappoint European royals and officials who had already arrived for the celebrations.) 

Nicholas—who never wished to be Tsar in the first place—was learning what it was like to be torn between his own desires and the recommendations of his advisers.  As Radzinsky observes:

He had not wanted to be tsar, he had not wanted to distress his mother, he had not wanted anyone to be killed, he had not wanted Alix to be sad.  Yet all those things had come to pass.  That was what it meant to be tsar.  (The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II, page 56.)

As the years of his rule passed, Nicholas fought a war with Japan—in 1904—because he thought his country needed an ice-free Pacific port. It was a disastrous move which ended in stinging defeat. Russia had to surrender to Japan.

This embarrassment did not sit well with the Russian people.

When World War I broke out:

  • Nicholas decided to assume personal command of Russia's military. He miscalculated his ability as a military leader.
  • When support for the war eroded because people were starving, he could do little about it.

These mistakes did not sit well with his military generals.

Nicholas II made some bad decisions when he was Tsar.  But no decision was worse than allowing Rasputin to become a part of the royal family.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jul 01, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"ENTER RASPUTIN" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2001. Jul 17, 2019.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips