Russian_Imperial_Family_1911Quote: “I am not prepared to be a Czar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling.” Nicholas II, last Czar of Russia.

We still feel the effects of this catastrophe a century later. Few events have changed the course of modern history more than the Russian Revolution and the man most responsible for it occurring was Nicholas II, the last Czar.

The Facts: Nicholas II became Czar of Russia in 1896. He led his country into 2 disastrous wars, both of which were lost. He also presided at a time of great social unrest as the traditional serf system was breaking down during the technological revolution. He eventually abdicated in the face of unrelenting pressure, throwing Russia into an intense civil war between the Whites and the Reds, which led to his execution (along with that of his family) and the rise of the communist Soviet Union.

The Timeline:

19 May 1868: Nicholas II is born

20 Oct 1894: Alexander III dies and Nicholas II becomes Ruler

14 November 1894: Nicholas II marries Alexandra

14 May 1896: Nicholas II is crowned Czar of Russia; over 1,000 die in a stampede at the celebration festival for the people; that evening Nicholas attends the French ambassador’s gala

8 February 1904: The Russo-Japanese war begins with a sneak attack by the Japanese on the Russian Fleet at Port Arthur

15 October 1904: The Russian Baltic Fleet begins a journey halfway around the world to reinforce the remains of their Far East fleet

27-28 May 1905: The Russian fleet is defeated at the Battle of Tsushima

9 January 1905: Bloody Sunday starts the Russian Revolution

27 June 1905: The Potemkin mutiny

5 September 1905: Treaty of Portsmouth ends the Russo-Japanese War; Russia lost the war

17 October 1905: The October Manifesto promises civil liberties and a parliament.

15 July 1914: World War I begins

5 September 1915: Nicholas II assumes command of the Russian Army

17 December 1916: Rasputin is murdered.

23-27 February 1917: The February Revolution begins

2 March 1917: Czar Nicholas II abdicates

17 July 1918: Nicholas II and his family are executed

DEFINITION: Cascade Event: An event prior to a catastrophe that contributes to the actual catastrophe, but by itself, is not catastrophic.

CASCADE TWO: The Russo-Japanese War was a disaster for Russia & particularly Czar Nicholas II.

Later in this book I’m going to point out that the Japanese prior-to-war-declared assault on Port Arthur foreshadowed what happened at Pearl Harbor. Three hours before they declared war on Russia, the Japanese attacked the Russian fleet anchored at Port Arthur and crippled it.

It would only get worse from there for the Russians.

With the Far East fleet crippled, Nicholas II decided to send his Baltic Fleet to the Pacific. One only has to look at a map to question this decision. Add in the fact that the English wouldn’t allow passage of the Suez Canal after the Russians had mistakenly fired on some British trawlers, and the Fleet would have sail halfway around the world in order to just get to the battle zone.

It took the Baltic Fleet eight months to sail to the Pacific.

Port Arthur had already fallen, so the Fleet tried to make it to Vladivostok undetected. They almost made it. The Fleet was blacked out, trying to slip through the Tsushima Strait, which goes between Korea and Japan. Except for a Russian hospital ship which had its lights on in compliance with the rules of war which negated the blackout the rest of the fleet was operating under.

Things went downhill from there. At the end of the naval engagement, the Russian Fleet was essentially destroyed in one engagement and the war was lost.

To get an idea how this reverberated throughout Russia, by May 1905, the Black Sea Fleet had been stripped of experienced sailors and officers to join the doomed Baltic Fleet. When word reached the Fleet of the defeat at the battle of Tsushima Strait, morale plummeted. Activists spread dissension on the ranks.

On 27 June 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin revolted when they were served a meal of borscht made with meat infested with maggots. The ship’s captain was killed and the mutineers took over the ship.

This was a microcosm of what was developing in Russia.

ShitDoesntJust2_(8_smaller)(1)LESSON: Regimes rise and fall as wars are won and lost. Critical decisions such as going to war, and how to conduct the war, require decisive leadership, which also realizes when it is over-reaching.

Not only did Russia lose the war, they lost to an enemy that at the time was considered ‘inferior’ by the European powers; a humiliation piled on top of defeat. It greatly diminished the Czar’s image.

There are some who believe that Russia’s defeat indirectly destabilized the balance of power in Europe and led to the events that started the First World War. And looking even further, it could be argued that Japan’s victory built up a false sense of success that a generation later would lead to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the Second World War in the Pacific.

The defeat certainly damaged the Czar’s relationship with the Navy and the Russian Armed Forces. And a monarch relies on the military in order to stay in power.

Available at all platforms via this landing page.