9 Myths About Last Russian Tsar Meant to Defame Him: #2 - The Coronation Stampede
No, he did not gleefully dance on the bones of his subjects, as revolutionary cartoons portray. Far, far from it
This article is the second part of an article series on Russia Insider, which originally appeared on: Russian Faith, a new website with news about the Christian renaissance in Russia. See their introductory video at end of article.
Editor's note: A Russian website recently published a long, fascinating article by renown historian Gleb Eliseev. It names nine 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.
f 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).
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.’
To continue reading about Nicholas II, click here.
A video introducing Russian Faith
Click here for our commenting guidelines